Since the heady moment when he married Martha Custis in 1759, combining their estates into one of the preeminent holdings in northern Virginia, everything Washington touched had turned to brass. He had failed repeatedly to grow profitable tobacco crops. In London his leaf had acquired an unshakable reputation for mediocrity. Meanwhile the expenses of maintaining a great planter’s lifestyle, while keeping up a slave labor force and several plantations, had proved unrelenting. His own debtors — former comrades-in-arms who unhesitatingly touched him for loans, neighbors with whom he ran accounts, tenants who owed him rent — were slow to pay, and sometimes never did; yet he was too tightly bound by the expectations of gentlemanly behavior to refuse a loan when asked, or to press a debtor insistently when payment fell due. By 1763 Washington found himself deep in debt, doubting that he would ever extricate himself by growing tobacco, and casting about to find some way out of his predicament.
John Trumbull (1756—1843)
Oil on wood; 9.8 x 7.6 cm (3 7/8 x 3 in). Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
Oil on canvas. 76.83 x 61.28 cm • 30 1/4 x 24 1/8 in. Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
Oil on canvas; 96.5 x 121.9 cm (38 x 48 in). Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
Oil on wood; 14 x 11.1 cm (5 1/2 x 4 3/8 in.) Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
Oil on canvas; 9 3/4 x 50in. (101 x 127cm). Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT.
Oil on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm). Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA.
Oil on canvas; 36 x 28 in. (91.4 x 71.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
Oil on canvas. City Hall Portrait Collection, New York, NY.
Oil on canvas; 30.125 in. x 20.125 in. (76.517 cm. x 51.117 cm.). Winterthur Museum, Wintherthur, DE.
Oil on canvas; 235 x 160 cm (92 1/2 x 63 in.) Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.