Washington Was Good With a Buck, Accounts Show

Long-ignored financial records a 'treasure trove,' historians say
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2009 9:53 AM CDT
George Washington's Mount Vernon estate is seen during a holiday tour Dec. 4, 2004 in Mount Vernon, Va.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Fitting enough for the guy who ended up on the dollar bill, George Washington seems to have tracked every buck that crossed his path. The first president not only left scores of diaries and letters reflecting his views, but also assiduously documented his financial transactions. The result? A treasure trove detailing everything from the first books Washington bought at age 15 to "a Wench Dinah" and her four children he purchased in 1773. This weekend a group of scholars gathered at Mount Vernon to discuss how best post the vast collection online.

The records’ value lies not so much in what they reveal about Washington as their glimpse into day-to-day life at the dawn of America, the Washington Post reports. The papers, when fully analyzed, will constitute a great contribution to what a Harvard historian calls “material culture.” "What kind of clothing, what kind of food, what kind of medical care did people have? When did ordinary people have cash?"