The historian Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book, “Travels With George” is both a lighthearted travelogue and a timely exploration of Washington’s historical legacy. Philbrick follows Washington’s presidential excursions: from Mount Vernon to the new capital in New York; a month-long tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island; a venture onto Long Island and eventually across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Washington did the near impossible in his first years in office, managing to visit all 13 original states across a sprawling and sparsely populated country. The feat required a four-week tour through New England in 1789 and a three-month slog through the South in 1791, as well as shorter trips. The president traveled by carriage with an entourage often including secretaries, servants and slaves, as well as the carefully groomed white horse he would mount when he arrived at a city or town.
Written at a moment when America’s founding figures are under increasing scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with Washington’s legacy as a man of the people, a reluctant president, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery. At historic houses and landmarks, Philbrick reports on the reinterpretations at work as he meets reenactors, tour guides, and other keepers of history’s flame. He paints a picture of eighteenth century America as divided and fraught as it is today, and he comes to understand how Washington compelled, enticed, stood up to, and listened to the many different people he met along the way–and how his all-consuming belief in the Union helped to forge a nation.
Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of ‘In the Heart of the Sea’, winner of the National Book Award; ‘Mayflower’, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; ‘Valiant Ambition’, winner of the George Washington Prize; ‘Bunker Hill’, winner of the New England Book Award; ‘In the Hurricane’s Eye; Sea of Glory; The Last Stand’; ‘Why Read Moby Dick?; Away Off Shore; and Second Wind.
Watch a video with the author here.
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