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

At the end of March [1783] Franklin applied to [French Foreign Secretary] Vergennes for permission to publish a complete translation of the United States constitutions in French, the only language in which they could be widely read. He was eager to correct Europe’s misapprehensions about the new nation; he knew as well that he was offering up an advertisement for American trade and immigration.... Copies went out over the summer to the entire diplomatic corps and, in extravagantly bound editions, to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The most influential of Franklin’s European publications the constitutions were universally well received.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)