George Washington, Distiller

  • There is a fascinating What if ... article by Michael Bechloss about George Washington and his distillery at Mount Vernon (The New York Times, 12-Feb-2016). Following his presidency in 1797, Washington found himself in need of money, despite an 8,000 acre plantation and labor by hundreds of enslaved African-Americans. His plantation manager suggested starting a distillery, which in 1799 produced nearly 11,000 gallons and achieved a profit of about $7,500 (about $142,000 today). What might have become one of the great businesses of the early republic — it was already the largest distillery in America — was cut short when Washington died in December 1799.
JDN | 15-Jan-2017

By the mid 1770s, Champlain’s Quebec had grown into a huge province stretching to the Mississippi River and including modern-day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It was home to eighty thousand inhabitants, though only 2 percent of them spoke English. Despite its official status as a North American colony under British rule, Quebec never became a part of the coalition of colonies that eventually declared their independence in 1776. Language and religious differences set the Québécois well apart from their neighbors to the south, and when representatives of the lower thirteen colonies met at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774, no delegate from Quebec answered the roll.

Thomas A. Desjardin
Through a Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold’s March to Quebec, 1775 (2006)