George Washington’s original copy of the Acts of Congress is returning to Mount Vernon. On June 22, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association secured the prized volume for the shelves of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. The acquisition ranks among the most significant in the history of the association.
Emblazoned with Washington’s bookplate and featuring his handwritten notes penciled in the margins, the 106-page book contains Washington’s personal copy of the U.S. Constitution, a draft of the Bill of Rights, and other documents recording the early acts of the new Congress. Washington received the book in 1789, his first year in office as U.S. president, and brought it with him to Mount Vernon upon his retirement from public office in 1797.
“Washington himself once wrote, ‘The Constitution is our guide, which I will never abandon.’ By acquiring this book– his personal copy of the Constitution– we are taking him quite literally,” said Ann Bookout, Regent, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. “It is extremely rare to see a book of such significance change hands, and we felt that it was essential to muster our resources to bring this extraordinary document home to Mount Vernon.”
The volume will be a centerpiece for the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Currently under construction near the main entrance to the estate, the library will serve as a place to safeguard Washington’s documents as well as a gathering place for leaders and scholars. The association has currently raised more than $85 million of the $100 million needed for the construction of the library and its initial slate of programming.
“We hope that other patriotic Americans will be inspired by our decision to secure this most important and unique document and cornerstone of our nation’s history and step up to lend their support to our cause,” added Bookout.
For more information about the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of Mount Vernon, visit MountVernon.org/WashingtonLibrary.