The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Makes History While Preserving It

by
George Washington's Constitution Courtesy of Mount Vernon Estate
BooksGood CausesHistoryNewsPolitics 2 Comments

Following this week’s celebration our nation’s independence, we thought it was fitting to share this news surrounding the legacy of our first President, as originally reported by Patrick Hruby of The Washington Times on Friday, June 22, 2012…

Having set a world record, George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution is heading home. A book containing Washington’s annotated Constitution and a draft of the Bill of Rights was purchased for almost $10 million by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in an auction Friday at Christie’s in New York. Printed and bound in 1789, the book featuring Washington’s signature on the title page sold for a winning bid of $9,826,500 – an amount the venerable auction house said was a world auction record for an American book or historical document.

Part of Washington’s original private library at Mount Vernon, the book will once again be housed at the historic Virginia estate as part of the collection at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, currently under construction and set to open next fall.

“Washington himself once wrote, ‘the Constitution is our guide, which I will never abandon,'” Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association regent Ann Bookout said in a statement. “By acquiring this book – his personal copy of the Constitution – we are taking him quite literally.

“It is extremely rare to see a book of such significance change hands, and we felt that it was essential to muster our resources to bring this extraordinary document home.”

While the book was expected to sell for as much as $3 million, a bidding war between the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and an unidentified party drove up the cost.

To read The Washington Times’ article in its entirety click here.


WYSK Op-ed:

Before you click over there to continue reading… here’s some WYSK food for thought. The article goes on to report that, “The book’s previous owner, Pennsylvania businessman and Colonial art collector H. Richard Dietrich Jr., purchased it at a 1964 auction for $27,000, about $200,000 in today’s dollars.” One has to wonder why Mr. Dietrich didn’t just do the honorable thing and donate/return this incredibly important piece of American history to Mount Vernon himself. We guess the allure of the $9,000,000 profit the auction netted him could trump anyone’s sense of patriotism or do goodery. We’re just thankful that the ladies of Mount Vernon were at Christie’s with plenty of cash in hand to win the bidding war, ultimately safeguarding this most precious national treasure and bringing it home.


About The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union:

The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union is a private, non-profit organization (501c3) founded in 1853 by Ann Pamela Cunningham. The Association is the oldest national historic preservation organization in the country, and it has always been in the forefront of the restoration field.

The mission of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is to preserve, restore, and manage the estate of George Washington to the highest standards and to educate visitors and people throughout the world about the life and legacies of George Washington, so that his example of character and leadership will continue to inform and inspire future generations.

Mount Vernon is the most popular historic estate in America and is open 365 days a year.

  • Anne

    Kudos to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association for being so persistent in their bidding. They knew this document belonged at Mount Vernon, and they were going to make sure it came home. Because of it’s historical importance, this document is actually priceless. But, it is so disappointing to know that the lure of money got in the way of much lost patriotism. Had Mr. Dietrich donated it to the Library, his name would forever be linked to this historic document.

  • gargouille

    On the one hand it does seem scandalous that it was auctioned. On the other, it’s no mean feat to go down in history as the nation’s most expensive document. Surely George would get a kick out of that. I think the greater shame lies with the person who kept bidding against the MV Ladies! There’s no mention in the article that 1789 was the year the French revolutionized. I wonder if the decision to bind it for posterity had something to do with that.

NAVIGATE