OVERRIDE

Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon

The Forgotten History of an American Shrine

Scott E. Casper

Hill and Wang

Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon brilliantly restores the lives and contributions of African Americans to the legacy of Mount Vernon. Digging beneath the well-known stories of George Washington and the era of America’s birth, Scott E. Casper recovers the remarkable history of Sarah Johnson, who spent more than fifty years at Mount Vernon, in slavery and after emancipation. Through her life and those of her family and friends, Casper provides not only an intimate picture of Mount Vernon during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—years that are rarely part of its public story—but also a window into a community of people who played an essential part in creating and maintaining this American landmark.

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Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon
ONEOliver Smith's MemoriesTo most visitors, Oliver Smith was the slave who had seen George Washington die. Again and again, pilgrims to Washington's tomb in the 1830s described this "venerable colored man" in his seventies, whose gray hair alone suggested an authentic connection to the past. One writer claimed to repeat Smith's own words: he was "as familiar with the General as with the palms of his own hands." Oliver Smith told of Washington's character and habits, so methodical and exacting that the slaves respected him better than they liked him. On the piazza
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REVIEWS

Praise for Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon

“A fascinating look at a national shrine from another angle.” —Jules Wagman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
“Casper lays bare the unique narrative of America’s first sacred shrine, capturing the dizzying complexity of an early American community largely unrecognized and misunderstood.” —Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Now, at last, Casper tells the story of the invisible men and women who worked the 8,000-acre riverfront estate for generations. While innumerable books have been written in recent years about the Founding Fathers, it’s refreshing to read one in which slaves play a central part . . . Casper deftly uses the limited sources available to depict Johnson’s life with an authenticity that is moving.” —W. Ralph Eubanks, The Washington Post Book World
 
“Casper must piece the prism together from many sources . . . The efforts pay off. His account is evenhanded and scrupulously detailed, yet always emotionally connected to the life of housekeeper Sarah Johnson.” —Erin Aubry Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Scott E. Casper

  • Scott E. Casper is a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the author of Constructing American Lives, which won the 1999 Book History Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing.
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Available Formats and Book Details

Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon

The Forgotten History of an American Shrine

Scott E. Casper

  • Trade Paperback

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Hill and Wang

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