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Our GW Collection

During fraternity rush season, when the fire whistle blows, the call from pledges rings out: “George, George, Are You All Right??”

Standing at the foot of the Hill Dorms, George Washington presides over graduation ceremonies, weddings, and Town Ball games on the Campus Green. The statue, a gift to the College by sculptor Lee Lawrie, was installed in 1957 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of our founding.

In front of Hodson Hall Commons, a bronze bust of George—a gift from the Class of 2000—greets passersby.

Evidence of our connection to George Washington is everywhere. Over the years, the College has amassed a collection of  images and artifacts that hang in Miller Library, Bunting Hall, and throughout our historic buildings: Hynson-Ringgold House, the Custom House, and the Patrick Henry House.

Artifacts

Among the treasures  are a portrait of Washington wrought in needlework and paint, a small bust of Washington made from Confederate money, and a steel engraving of Washington and his troops. That so much Washington memorabilia has been absorbed in the fabric of our campus landscape, and the collective impact of all these items gathered under one roof, gives strong evidence of our indelible link with George Washington.

  • Calligraphic Reproduction of Washington’s Farewell Address

    Calligraphic Reproduction of Washington's Farewell AddressThis piece is a calligraphic reproduction, in miniature handwriting, of Washington’s Farewell Address. The piece is believed to have been made in Washington, D.C., between the years of 1855-1859. This piece was presented to Washington College on July 10, 1936 by Mr. William S. Walker, Jr., of Ottawa, Illinois. Mr. Walker was a grandson of Judge Ricaud, to whom this item belonged. Walker believed that the piece was done in Washington during the time that Judge Ricaud was a Representative in Congress (1855-1859). Ricaud graduated from Washington College in 1828.

    Date: 1855-1859
    Artist: unknown
    Gift of: Mr. William S. Walker, Jr., of Ottawa, Illinois, grandson of Judge Ricaud, an 1828 alumnus of Washington College.

  • Bust of George Washington

    Bust of George WashingtonThe image of George Washington has long been a powerful national symbol. Depictions of the founding father range from the highly realistic to very idealistic, yet from Gilbert Stuart’s `Atheneum’ portrait to Charles Willson Peale’s work, to Houdon’s bust and statue, there seems to be an underlying theme. David Meschutt, curator of art at the West Point Museum, observed, “These great varieties of representation, for all their differences, have much in common—a sense of dignity, of seriousness, even melancholy; and all of Washington’s life portraits reflect their creators’ consciousness of the man as a hero.” (Description from The Museum at Stony Brook’s Exhibit, ‘George Washington: American Symbol’)

    Date: unknown
    Artist: unknown
    Gift of: unknown

  • Gilbert Stuart Portrait of George Washington

    Gilbert Stuart Portrait of George WashingtonWinifred Gordon painted this piece in 1944 based on the original portrait by Gilbert Stuart. Throughout the world, many envision Washington based on how he appears in Gilbert Stuart’s paintings. Throughout his career, Stuart painted several famous portraits of the President. Stuart’s other major works include portraits of Benjamin West, William Woolett, John Hall, John Philip Kemble, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and W. Grant of Congalton. (Description from The Dictionary of National Biography)

    Date: 1944
    Artist: Winifred Gordon based on Stuart portrait
    Gift of: Unknown

  • Washington and His Generals

    Washington and His GeneralsIn 1755, while serving as an aide to British General Edward Braddock during the French and Indian War, George Washington began his military education by copying many of Braddock’s General Orders. During the Revolutionary War, Washington issued many General Orders, including the one that launched his Continental Army, reminding his men that they “are now Troops of the United Provinces of North America” and adding the hope that “all Distinctions of Colonies will be laid aside; so that one and the same Spirit may animate the whole….” (Description from the Smithsonian Exhibit ‘George Washington: A National Treasure’)

    Date: unknown
    Artist: Published by Emile Seitz and Engraved by A.H. Ritchie
    Gift of: Presented by the Washington College Historical Society in 1935.

  • An Account of Washington College in the State of Maryland

    An Account of Washington College in the State of MarylandThis is a copy of a brochure giving a full account of Washington College through mid-1784. It is believed to be a copy of William Smith’s An Account of Washington College in the State of Maryland, printed in Philadelphia by Joseph Cruikshank in 1784; however, since the cover and title page are missing, it is difficult to identify precisely. It is at least as old as 1792, which is the date that a former owner, David Kerr, has inscribed on the top of page three. This volume contains, among other things: “An Act for Founding a College at Chester;” a list of the subscriptions for the foundation of the college as delivered to the Maryland General Assembly on November 26, 1782 (with George Washington at the head of the list); copies of the letters of 1782 between William Smith and George Washington; and accounts of the Spring Commencements of 1783 and 1784.

    Printed book, paper bound with string
    Date: ca. 1792
    Author: Rev. William Smith
    Gift of: unknown

  • Water dipper and chain

    Water dipper and chainThis dipper and chain were used at the well which was at one time located at the foot of the hill where Middle, East, and West Halls now stand. It is said that on the occasion of his visit to Washington College in May, 1784, George Washington took a drink from this dipper.

    Forged iron
    Date: ca. 1784
    Craftsperson: unknown
    Gift of: unknown

  • Washington Crossing the Delaware

    Washington Crossing the DelawareThis embroidery piece is based on Emmanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting, George Washington Crossing the Delaware. The original piece was not painted in the United States, but in Germany. In the years following the German Revolution of 1848, Leutze and his artist friends set up shop in a Dusseldorf studio, inspired by the spirit of uprising. Though Leutze’s intentions had more to do with the spirit of freedom and revolution than any historical reality, the painting has come to symbolize much more to American viewers, who tend to see the piece more as a historical document of the American Revolution than a work of art. (description from National Public Radio’s ‘Present at the Creation’)

    Embroidery—silk, wool and metallic threads on silk
    Date: Unknown
    Artist: Unknown
    Gift of: Unknown

  • Sacred to General George Washington

    Sacred to General George WashingtonOriginal design based on an engraving from 1799. Similar work was done during this period to memorialize other lost loved ones. This is one of many pieces made at this time in memory of George Washington.

    Embroidery—silk, paint, paper on silk
    Date: 1800-1820
    Artist: Mary Graham, daughter of Hamilton and Mary Gaussen Graham of Baltimore. Stitched while Mary was between 10 and 16 years of age.
    Gift of: Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson Naylor Kelly; 1973.

  • Lansdowne Portrait after Gilbert Stuart painting

    Lansdowne Portrait after Gilbert Stuart paintingThis portrait is one version of Gilbert Stuart’s best-known full-length image of Washington. These are known as the “Lansdowne” portraits because this version was the gift of Mrs. William Bingham to William Petty, second Earl of Shelburne and first Marquis of Lansdowne, a British supporter of the American cause during the Revolutionary War. Washington agreed to sit for the portrait in the spring of 1796. (description from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery)

    Berlin work pattern—Wool on canvas
    Date: unknown
    Artist: unknown
    Gift of: Class of 1998

  • Washington’s Last Birthday

    Washington's Last BirthdayOn February 22, 1799 on what would be his last Birthday, George and Martha Washington hosted Reverend Davis and Mr. Geo Calvert to dinner. Washington’s granddaughter, Miss Nelly Custis and Lawrence Lewis were married by candlelight this same evening. The wedded couple, with Nelly seated, is painted into the far right. The remaining guests, family members on hand for the ceremony, greet the Washingtons in front of the fireplace in the living room at Mount Vernon.

    Color print based on oil on canvas
    Date of print unknown, date of painting circa 1920
    Artist of print unknown, artist of original painting—Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

  • Engraved Print of Washington

    Engraved Print of WashingtonWashington is seen standing in civilian dress near a chair and table with writing materials on it. Washington is also wearing a ceremonial sword, which, although he is pictured in civilian dress, he is known to have worn. This most likely portrays Washington during his term in office as President of the United States.

    George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789, on the steps of Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan, New York City.

    Steel plate engraved print
    Date: Unknown
    Artist: Engraved and Published by W.L. Ormsby based on the portrait by Gilbert Stuart
    Gift of: Washington College Historical Society, January 1936.

  • Porthole Portrait after Gilbert Stuart painting

    Porthole Portrait after Gilbert Stuart paintingThis is one of the many images, painted, engraved, or in this case embroidered, featuring George Washington. It was done by Lady Ann Herbert at age 16 while in a French convent. Lady Ann Herbert was a distant relative of William M. Paca, Jr. and the needlepoint passed through his family to Washington College in 1984.

    Berlin work pattern—Wool on canvas
    Artist: Lady Ann Herbert
    Date: ca. 1830
    Gift of: William M. Paca, Jr. ‘42 and Helen Paca Blackwell ‘78, in memory of Dorothy and Florence Winchester Paca. Governor William Paca, an ancestor of the donor, was a guest of honor at the first graduation of Washington College on May 14, 1783. A day later he laid the cornerstone for the first college building.

  • General Washington on the Battlefield at Trenton

    General Washington on the Battlefield at TrentonAfter his famed crossing of the ice-filled waters of the Delaware River, Washington ordered the attack of the Hessian garrison in Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas Day, 1777. The Hessians were caught by surprise, and the Continental Army was able to score one of its few easy victories during the Revolution.

    Engraved print
    Date: Unknown
    Artist: Engraved by W. Warner based on the portrait by John Trumbull
    Gift of: Unknown

  • Interview of Howe’s Messenger with Washington

    Interview of Howe's Messenger with WashingtonOn July 20, 1776, just prior to the Battle of Long Island, British General William Howe sent a messenger to Washington asking for negotiations to prevent war. Howe did not want to acknowledge the authority of Congress and addressed the letter, “George Washington.” It was promptly refused. Later, Washington did meet with Lieutenant Colonel James Patterson at the quarters of Henry Knox near Battery Park. Washington indicated that he lacked all authority to negotiate a truce. And since Howe could only grant pardons, Washington felt this was of little use to Americans who believed they were simply exercising their rights and were not committing any offense needing a pardon.

    Artist: Joseph Stancliffe from the painting by M.A. Wageman
    Date: ca. 1860
    Gift of: unknown

  • Confederate Bust of George Washington

    Confederate Bust of George WashingtonA small bust of George Washington purportedly made in the 1860s of 5,000 dollars worth of Confederate currency. The small label on the bust is illegible.

    Paper Currency
    Date: 1860s
    Artist: unknown
    Gift of: unknown

  • Washington at Home

    Washington at HomeThis piece depicts George and Martha Washington with their grandchildren at home in Mount Vernon. Martha was first married to Daniel Parke Custis who died in 1757. Upon the marriage of George and Martha Washington, the two children were brought to live at Mount Vernon.

    Lithograph
    Date: 1867
    Artist: Engraved by Henry Bryan Hall after a painting by Alonzo Chappel
    Gift of: unknown

  • George Washington Taking the Salute at Trenton

    George Washington Taking the Salute at TrentonThis lithograph depicts the famous Faed portrait of Washington traveling through Trenton, New Jersey, on his way north in 1775. Local citizens and dignitaries would often admire Washington as he rode through towns on his way to and from Mount Vernon. He would return in late 1776 for the decisive Battle of Trenton.

    Date: ca. 1860s
    Artist: Printed by William Holl based on the portrait by John Faed
    Gift of: unknown

  • Peale Portrait of George Washington

    Peale Portrait of George Washington

    Charles Willson Peale painted two versions of this famous portrait: one with Washington at the Battle of Princeton in December, 1776, and the other at the Battle of Trenton in January, 1777. Peale and his brother, James, were present at the Battle of Trenton.

    Washington is pictured with his sword leaning against a cannon. A battle flag, probably Hessian, rests partly on the ground while a young soldier holds the reins of a horse, which is gazing at Washington. An early American flag flies in the upper right corner.

    From the original painting by Charles Willson Peale between 1779-1781.

    Date: unknown
    Printer: unknown
    Gift of: unknown

  • John Scott’s Commission as Collector of the Port of Chester, Maryland

    John Scott's Commission as Collector of the Port of Chester, Maryland

    The commission authorized Mr. John Scott, a member of the first graduating class of Washington College, to act as the Collector of the Port of Chester(town), Maryland. With the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, President George Washington signed Mr. Scott’s commission on August 4, 1789, in New York City.

    John Scott was a medical doctor who graduated from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and offered his medical services in vaccinating 500 soldiers of the Continental Army in Chestertown. After hostilities, he served along with George Washington as one of the first three members of the Board of Visitors and Governors. This truly connects George Washington with the early history of the developing College at Chester.

    Printed U.S. Government Document
    Date: August 4, 1789
    Artist: George Washington (Signature)
    Gift of: Dr. Glenn W. Zeiders, Jr. and his family