The Ghost of George Washington?
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Josiah Quincy III (1772 – 1864) was one of Massachusetts’ more prominent figures. He served in the US House of Representatives from 1805 to 1813, as mayor of Boston from 1823 to 1828, and as President of Harvard University from 1829 to 1845. In 1806, he visited Mount Vernon, inherited by George Washington’s nephew Bushrod Washington. Quincy stayed overnight, and Bushrod hosted him in George Washington’s bedroom – the one which the great man had died. By then, rumors already abounded of spooky encounters with Washington’s ghost in that bedroom. Quincy, who like most Americans of his generations revered George Washington, was not afraid.
Quincy actually hoped “that he might be found worthy to behold the glorified spirit of him who was so revered by his countrymen“. As his son Josiah Quincy Jr. recounted decades later, his father was not disappointed. At some point that night, he reported that he did, indeed, meet the ghost of George Washington. Frustratingly, however, Quincy Jr. gave no details, other than inform readers that his father’s “assurance in this matter was perfect“. We are thus left to wonder what might have passed between the Massachusetts bigwig and the spooky ghost of America’s first president.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading
Artsy – This Iconic American History Painting Gets the Facts Wrong
Black Loyalist – Washington’s Revolution (Harry, that is, not George)
Boleslaw, Mastai – The Stars and the Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the Republic to the Present (1973)
Burns, Patrick – American Working Terriers (2006)
Chernow, Ron – Washington: A Life (2010)
Daily Beast – Happy Mother’s Day! Meet the Worst Mothers in History
Encyclopedia Britannica – Benjamin Tallmadge: American Continental Army Officer
Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia – Trenton and Princeton Campaign (Washington’s Crossing)
Founders Online – From George Washington to William Howe, 6 October 1777
Furlong, William Rea – So Proudly We Hail: The History of the United States Flag (1981)
History Collection – Scandals the US Founding Fathers Tried to Keep Secret
History Network – Did Betsy Ross Really Make the First American Flag?
Horne, Gerald – The Counter Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (2014)
Misencik, Paul R. – The Original American Spies: Seven Covert Agents of the Revolutionary War (2013)
Mount Vernon – Great George’s Ghost: Josiah Quincy III and His Fright Night at Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon – Soldier, Statesman, Dog Lover: George Washington’s Pups
New England Historical Society – A Spy For a Spy: John Andre Hanged
New York Times, December 15th, 1985 – Remembering a Master Spy at Home
PBS – George Washington’s Runaway Slave, Harry
Rose, Alexander – Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s first Spy Ring (2007)
Schama, Simon – Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves, and the American Revolution (2006)
Study dot Com – The Role of New York in the American Revolution
The Mount Vernon Digital Collection – The Journal of Major George Washington
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Digital Commons – The Journal of Major George Washington (1754)