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Seaport in Virginia George Washington's Alexandria   By:

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First Page:

SEAPORT IN VIRGINIA

[Illustration: GEORGE WASHINGTON

By Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick. A painting in oil after a pastel by James Sharples. ( Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies' Association )]

SEAPORT IN VIRGINIA

George Washington's Alexandria

by

GAY MONTAGUE MOORE

[Illustration]

Drawings by Worth Bailey

Photographs by Walter Wilcox

The University Press of Virginia Charlottesville

The University Press of Virginia

Copyright © 1949 by The Rector and the Visitors of the University of Virginia

Second printing 1972

ISBN: 0 8139 0183 9 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73 188711

Printed in the United States of America

TO MY HUSBAND

CHARLES BEATTY MOORE

TOGETHER WE HAVE DELVED INTO WHAT RECORDS WE COULD FIND THAT MIGHT THROW UPON THE SCREEN SOME SHADOW OF THOSE WHO BUILT AND LIVED IN THE OLD HOUSES IN ALEXANDRIA

[Illustration]

PREFACE

Twenty years ago on a hot and sultry July afternoon, my husband and I started to Mount Vernon to spend the day. On our return to Washington, we lazily drove through the old and historic town of Alexandria and bought a house!

The town at once became of vital interest to us. We spent months and years going through every vacant building into which we could force an entrance. Our setter dogs could point an empty doorway as well as a covey of quail, and seemed as curious about the interiors as we were ourselves. I became obsessed with a desire to know the age of these buildings and something of those early Alexandrians who had lived in them.

Old maps and records littered my desk. Out of the past appeared clerks on high stools wielding quill pens and inscribing beautiful script for me to transpose into the story of one of America's most romantic and historic towns. It has been impossible to write about every house in Alexandria even about every historic house. I tried to recall the old town as a whole. A succession of hatters, joiners, ships' carpenters, silversmiths, peruke makers, brewers, bakers, sea captains, merchants, doctors and gentlemen, schoolteachers, dentists, artisans, artists and actors, began to fill my empty houses. Ships, sail lofts, ropewalks, horses, pigs, and fire engines took their proper places, and the town lived again as of yore in my imagination.

Everywhere I turned I found General Washington: as a little boy on his brother Lawrence's barge bringing Mount Vernon tobacco to the Hunting Creek warehouse; on horseback riding to the village of Belle Haven; as an embryo surveyor carrying the chain to plot the streets and lots. He was dancing at the balls, visiting the young ladies, drilling the militia, racing horses, launching vessels, engaging workmen, dining at this house or that, importing asses, horses, and dogs, running for office, sitting as justice; sponsoring the Friendship Fire Company, a free school, the Alexandria Canal, or other civic enterprises. He was pewholder of Christ Church and master of the Masonic lodge. To town he came to collect his mail, to cast his ballot, to have his silver or his carriage repaired, to sell his tobacco or his wheat, to join the citizenry in celebrating Independence. His closest friends and daily companions were Alexandrians. The dwellings, wharves, and warehouses of the town were as familiar to him as his Mount Vernon farm.

In Alexandria Washington took command of his first troops. From the steps of Gadsby's Tavern he received his last military review, a display of his neighbors' martial spirit in a salute from the town's militia. An Alexandrian closed his eyes, and Alexandrians carried his pall.

Washington belongs to Alexandria as Alexandria belongs to him. This is George Washington's Alexandria .

GAY MONTAGUE MOORE.

Alexandria, Virginia September 1949

[Illustration]

CONTENTS

PREFACE vii

PART ONE: PROLOGUE

AN ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE SEAPORT OF ALEXANDRIA

PART TWO THE PRESENCE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1749 1799

CHAPTER

1: William Ramsay: Romulus of Alexandria 52

2: John Carlyle and His House 62

3: The Married Houses 71

4: The Fairfaxes of Belvoir and Alexandria 77

5: The George William Fairfax House 87

6: John Gadsby and His Famous Tavern 99

7: The Michael Swope House 112

8: Dr... Continue reading book >>




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