One of the luxuries of being a full time RV is traveling slow. Now that we are taking a break from work, we rarely drive two days in a row. It is just not necessary. I have doctor appointments in Texas in March. We need to be there by then. Until then we are slowing making our way down the east coast until we want to go west to Texas. We stopped outside of Richmond to relax on our drive down to South Carolina. This stop was all about Donna once we realized that this is where Edgar Allen Poe was born. There is a museum dedicated to him in this town. It is part of home he lived in as a boy. It was informative for me and a highlight on our tour since he is one of her favorite authors.
We also decided to do some urban hiking on the James River Pipeline. This was a fun experience.
We also visited the Maggie L. Walker historic site. Who is Maggie L. Walker? I didn’t know about her either. She was the first woman to ever create a bank. in 1903 she created the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. This idea came about after she was told that she could not teach anymore because she had gotten married. She hired women to work her bank. She wanted to create jobs for women.
Maggie was the daughter of an enslaved woman and a confederate solider. She was born in 1864. I find her story incredibly moving. Even more, that her family kept that house in the family until they sold it to the Park Service in the 1970s. The home is wonderfully preserved with family relics. You can tour the home but you must sign up.
Our last stop was to find the White House of the Confederacy. We did not go in but I wanted to see where it was located. It is surrounded by the VCU medical complex.
This is an amazing place. I was so pleased to learn so much about the younger George Washington. In our formal education systems, we seem to learn about George Washington as the impressive General or as the first President of the United States. Seeing this home along with the impressive grounds and visitor made him more human and nuanced. If you plan on visiting Mount Vernon, don’t plan to do anything else for the rest of the day. We basically closed this place down. By time you do the home tour, visit the grounds and then hit the visitor center (don’t miss the 4D movie, awesomeness), your day will be done. That doesn’t include the grist mill and distillery which are a little further down the road.
But it gets better. The day we were there George Washington’s personal physician, James Craik was on the grounds. The man who interprets his doctor was very knowledgeable. We were able to ask all matter of questions regarding George Washington’s health. I was particular curious on how our first President died. He was able to explain the infection and how there was no way to treat it. He explained the process of bleeding, enemas and leeches and other treatments that were used.
There were people over different parts of the grounds who could explain functions on the farm. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association runs this property. They make note that they are very deliberate in the use of language. They used the term ‘enslaved people’ rather than ‘slaves’ as a way to “emphasize their humanity, rather than a status imposed by others.” I very much appreciated that this association does not gloss over the importance of enslavement to his farming success.