Women and the Power of Preservation
History tells us of women who were saviors of many things and leaders when men were expected to carry the torch. As my husband and I plan to travel to our country’s Capital, Washington, D.C., I felt it was important to also find out something about Mt. Vernon, which was the home of our first President, General George Washington.
Probably the home, which had fallen into disrepair would not be here today if it had not been for the efforts of a woman from South Carolina. As she sailed down the Potomac River, she saw the mansion and could not believe that the people of our nation would allow this historic place to disintegrate in front of the world. This woman was Louisa Dalton Bird Cunningham who told her daughter, Ann, of the disgraceful situation. In fact, there had been plans to demolish Mt. Vernon.
Never heard of Louisa or Ann Cunningham? Most likely you have not. You probably have not heard of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association either, but they are women who should be honored for restoration efforts. This is the story, according to Wikipedia:
Ann Pamela Cunningham (August 15, 1816, Rosemont Plantation, South Carolina – May 1, 1875) is credited with saving George Washington’s beloved home Mount Vernon from ruin and neglect. In a letter to Ann Pamela, Cunningham’s mother described the crumbling condition of the estate as she saw it in 1853 while on a steamship heading down the Potomac River. Cunningham was in her 30s and, having been crippled in a riding accident as a teenager, decided she would initiate a campaign to save the estate. She raised funds to purchase Mount Vernon by launching an unprecedented appeal for donations through newspaper articles directed toward “the Ladies of the South” and founded The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, the group that still owns and manages Washington’s estate, and served as its first regent. The group purchased Mount Vernon for $200,000. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is the oldest private preservation organization in the United States. It is directed by a Board of Regents, comprised solely of women, who represent nearly 30 states.
We congratulate these women for their efforts to restore rather than destroy our history.
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