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The Birthday of George Washington

 
Accession number AR.EP.PC.0660
Places
United States
Date
c.1917
Measurements
3.5 x 5.5 inches
Materials/Techniques
illustration
Work types
postcard

Description

TRANSCRIPTION

February twenty-second the Birthday of George Washington / the boy who could not tell a lie

W-17

POSTAGE

Addressed to Fabiola Hospital, Oakland, CA

NOTE

Feb 21st 1917.

Dear Clarence, I hope when you received this card you are feeling fine and that you will be able to come out of there soon / best love from your Aunt Winnie.

EXHIBITION

Seeing Cherries
March-August 2018

Few stories told about George Washington have had such an enduring hold on the American imagination as the cherry tree myth. In the story, a six-year old George Washington damages his father’s prized English cherry tree with a hatchet he has just received as a gift. The angry father confronts young George, who bravely replies  “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Moved by his son’s honesty, Washington’s father embraces young George, and all is forgiven.  

By all accounts, the story of the cherry tree is apocryphal, the invention of Mason Locke Weems, an itinerant minister and one of Washington’s first biographers. Eager to cater to popular demand for stories about Washington, Weems added the story of the cherry tree to the fifth edition of The Life of Washington in 1806, casting George Washington as a model of virtue for America’s young. In the 1830s, William Holmes McGuffey, a Presbyterian minister and college professor, wrote a series of grammar school textbooks called McGuffey’s Readers and included the myth of the cherry tree in his Eclectic Second Reader to teach children the value of honesty. McGuffey’s readers remained in print for about a hundred years, selling more than 120 million copies and introducing the story of Washington’s cherry tree to generations of American children.

Collection

Ephemera Collection
 

Repository

Dumbarton Oaks Archives, 054.SUZ.02.PCbox.094
Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC
Accession number AR.EP.PC.0660
Places
United States
Date
c.1917
Measurements
3.5 x 5.5 inches
Materials/Techniques
illustration
Work types
postcard

Index Terms

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