The Virtual Tour of Mt. Vernon
Historians often look at textual sources from the period they study. In recent years they also use objects and space to understand how people from the past saw the world, what they valued and how they were defined by the society in which they lived. Mt. Vernons Virtual Tour is a great way to do your own historical investigation of the past.
Read description and instructions below and then go to the attached link posted here. To navigate, you can click on the green box on the bottom left to open up a panel for the different places to visit, as well as move through the space via arrows.
Virtual Tour of Mt Vernon https://virtualtour.mountvernon.org/
In the 1700s, Mt. Vernon, the plantation estate of George Washington, served many roles. It was a commercial property, cultivating and exporting corn and wheat to other colonies and abroad; a private house for the Washington family; a place to entertain diplomats and other dignitaries visiting the first president of the United States; and a village to the 96 slaves who worked in the Great House and in the fields.
The rooms and architecture of the plantation, as well as the objects displayed, all provide a window into the social and economic power structures of the 18th century, as well as how gender and race defined the experiences and aspirations of the plantation community.
Visit the main house and in particular, the West Front, the Dining Room, the West Parlor and Washingtons Bed Chamber. Read the descriptions of the objects and look at the videos. What do you think were the functions of these spaces? Do they differ from how a modern family would use the space in a house? What does the architecture, the interior paintings on the walls and the objects displayed tell you about relationships between Washington, his visitors and his family and what was important to them?
Now look at the buildings and other spaces that surround the main house–the male and female slave quarters, the storehouse, the slave cabin and the slave cabin yard–again noting the spaces, the objects within and the videos. What do they tell you about the slave society and their work routines? What do you think slaves felt was important in their daily lives?
Based on your answers to the questions above, describing the daily lives and values of people who lived on the plantation.