Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy (Wilkinson Lecture 2021)

Time Period
1764 to 1824
1925 to Today
Media Type
Domestic Life
Politics & Government
Nathaniel Philbrick

On October 20, 2021, bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick delivered the 2021 J. Harvie Wilkinson, Jr. Lecture based on his newest book, Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy.

When George Washington became president in 1789, he undertook a tour of the ex-colonies to talk to ordinary citizens about his new government, and to imbue in them the idea of being one thing—Americans. In the fall of 2018, Nathaniel Philbrick embarked on his own journey into what Washington called “the infant woody country” to see for himself what America had become in the 229 years since. Writing in a thoughtful first person about his own adventures with his wife Melissa and their dog Dora, Philbrick follows Washington's presidential excursions. The narrative moves smoothly between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries as we see the country through both Washington’s and Philbrick’s eyes. Written at a moment when America’s founding figures are under increasing scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with Washington's legacy as a man of the people, a reluctant president, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of several bestselling books, including In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award; Mayflower, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Valiant Ambition, winner of the George Washington Prize; Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award; In the Hurricane's Eye; and Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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