J.L Bell is reading Philip Levy’s new book, Where the Cherry Tree Grew: The Story of Ferry Farm, George Washington’s Boyhood Home. Yesterday he wrote an interesting post at Boston 1775 on what we know and what we don’t know about George Washington’s mother, Mary Washington. (Sunday was the anniversary of her death in 1789). Here is a taste:
We have rather little information about Mary Washington, despite her son being so important in American history. Authors have therefore used her as a vessel for their times’ conception of motherhood. She was nearly sainted in the nineteenth century: Benson Lossing even titled the book he wrote about her and her daughter-in-law Mary and Martha.
Then in the twentieth century, around the same time psychiatrists were saddling mothers with the blame for autism and schizophrenia, Mary Washington became a burden and a shrew….