There are several possible answers. Perhaps it was a sort of Virginian vanity which made Washington believe that not only were Virginia's citizens remarkable, but also the state's geographic features. Perhaps Washington was in fact so enamored with his countrymen that he quite literally believed there was something in the water.
Washington probably hoped that his vision of a Potomac western passage was true because he knew it would enrich his homeland immeasurably. Had he been correct, the city of Alexandria, Virginia would have lived up to its Egyptian namesake in commercial success and Chesapeake Bay would today brim with cargo ships from all over the world. Perhaps, as was so often the case in Revolutionary times, the explanation was a thirst for glory.
If Washington could be later seen as a visionary who saw the potential of the mighty Potomac, he could be an American Alexander, the benefactor of a great Alexandria, the First in War, First in Peace and First in the Potomac. However, to fully grasp the nature of George Washington's connection to the Potomac River, we must consider the stories of two places which are now intimately related to him - his plantation home and the home of the government he helped to found.
George Washington romantically thought of himself as the American Cincinnatus, the Roman man who assumed dictatorial powers in a time of crisis, resolved it, then went back to his farm to live out the rest of his days peacefully. Washington could probably have been crowned as a king had he wished, but instead, after the Revolution, he retired peacefully to his estate - Mount Vernon.
He inherited the plantation when he was just 20 years old, and considered it home until his death at the age of It was an enormous, 8,acre plantation, with the main house and its piazza overlooking the blue Potomac. Much of Washington's later years, especially before and after his eight-year Presidency, was devoted to improving his plantation's operations and his home. Each morning, he rode out to survey his lands and the work being done by its slaves. Each day, he must have glimpsed the beautiful Potomac several times.
It would be difficult to not have an abiding love for a river that accompanies you through life and greets you each morning.
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The Potomac was Washington's partner, a witness to every event in his life, from his service as a young officer in the French and Indian War to his final act of magnanimity, the gift of freedom to all of his slaves. One oft-unnoticed detail of history took place in Mount Vernon in The Potomac was not only a witness to the events, but was the primary concern of them. This would later be known as the Mount Vernon Conference. A group of delegates from the states of Virginia and Maryland had met in Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss disputes about the navigation, fishing and trade over the Potomac River.
Washington invited them to his home for the deliberations and, not surprisingly, they accepted.
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The conference was very successful. It produced something known as the Mount Vernon Compact, to govern the river. The report issued by the committee ironed out a few other details and was soon ratified by both states. Excited by the success of this meeting, the Virginia General Assembly called for a meeting of the states to discuss arbitration of interstate commerce. This would be known as the Annapolis Convention. It was not as successful.
Some historians would prefer to call it an utter flop. However, it was the Annapolis Convention, spurred by the Mount Vernon Conference, that called for a convention in Philadelphia in May of the following year. This convention would eventually produce the United States Constitution. In some fleeting way, the Potomac River can therefore claim a small but important part in the creation of the US Constitution.
The river and Washington's beloved Mount Vernon must have meshed into a single entity in the mind of America's First President. Since, by all accounts, Washington did not particularly enjoy his time in public service, Mount Vernon must have greeted him as a well-earned piece of domestic paradise when he retreated to it for long breaks during his Presidency. He must have particularly cherished the sight of it, and the beautiful Potomac, when he left public service once and for all in The story of how the capital city of the US came to sit on the Potomac mostly revolves around the story of a dinner party in at Thomas Jefferson's home.
The question of where to put this city had been a running debate for quite some time.
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There had been many temporary capital cities over the course of the Revolution and the subsequent years. However, the Constitution had called for a permanent seat of government, and so a single site had to be chosen. Each region, and each state, vied for the capital. There were some 16 or so candidates, but the leading choices were sites in the areas of Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.
A site on the Potomac was considered to be a possibility, but not necessarily a serious one. James Madison, one of America's founding fathers and a Virginian, was the leader in Congress of pushing towards a permanent capital on the Potomac. He held the same sort of delusion about the Potomac which gripped Washington, and to a lesser extent, Jefferson. He led the fight against a Pennsylvania site, and even attempted to argue that the geographic centre of the nation was at the Potomac, and more specifically the absolute centre was, eerily enough, Mount Vernon. Of course, this silly claim was easily refuted by anyone with a map.
Madison was mocked for his delusions, on the floor of the US Congress no less, in a way that Washington never would have been. At the same time, Madison was also the leader in fighting against a public debt scheme, championed by the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. The idea behind the debt scheme was that all the states would pool their debts incurred during the Revolutionary war and the Federal Government would raise some revenue and pay the debt off, rather than allowing the states to do it individually. For the most part, southern states, specifically Virginia, had already retired their debts, and did not want to pay for the debt of the northern states, who had in their view irresponsibly put off payment.
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Virginians, and most southerners, were adamantly against Hamilton's piece of legislation. During the time of all this political maneuvering, the nation's capital was in New York City. Jefferson invited his friend Madison and his arch-enemy Hamilton to dinner, and over one of the courses 6 they agreed to a bargain. Hamilton would encourage his allies to support a Potomac site for the national capital and would reduce Virginia's monetary burden for the debt assumption plan. In exchange, Madison would allow Hamilton's plan to pass Congress, though he personally voted against it.
Four Congressmen with districts situated around the Potomac ended up switching their votes to allow for the debt assumption plan to go through. It is fitting that the new national capital, to be known as Washington, was created from a messy, politically-charged process. The finer details of how and where to build the new city were left to President Washington. He chose a chunk of land just a stone's throw away from Mount Vernon.
The rest, as they say, is history. Washington, DC 7 is now the largest city on the Potomac. In the early spring, the city's blooming cherry blossom trees, a gift from the Empire of Japan, are reflected by the glittering Potomac. Today, the Jefferson Memorial is visible across the Tidal Basin, an extension of the Potomac, and the massive Washington Monument towers above the city and its river.
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Thus, two of the river's most fervent admirers are now immortalised in stone on its banks. While his body was laid to rest in New York, his image in sculpture gazes out across the capital. When he wanted to get away from the rigours of office, he used to take relaxing voyages on his presidential yacht, the USS Potomac, on, you guessed it, the Potomac.
In fact, some of the most personable and humorous stories about Roosevelt come from the times he spent on the Potomac. Other Presidents have taken advantage of their proximity to the river as well. President John Quincy Adams used to regularly swim nude through the river take a look at his portrait before you consider doing likewise. Harry Truman gambled and told salty stories with his friends on the yacht he inherited after his predecessor, President Roosevelt, died.
The Kennedy family used to sail on the Potomac during long weekends. The Potomac has been a cherished recreational venue for American politicians, and for ordinary citizens to an even greater extent. Fishing, hunting, swimming and boating abound, and apparently there are lots of geese to shoot at. Any river is a natural boundary, between the far bank and the near bank. Some rivers are such powerful boundaries that separate cultures emerge on either side of them.
This is what has happened with the Potomac. To the north of the river is what is generally considered to be the northeastern part of America 8. Culturally, the Potomac is an important dividing point in America. Full Cast and Crew. Release Dates. Official Sites. Company Credits.
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