Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Washingtons: George and Martha "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love."

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Washingtons: George and Martha "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love."

Article excerpt

The Washingtons: George and Martha "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love." By Flora Fraser. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. Pp. xviii, 440. $30.00, ISBN 978-0-307-27278-2.)

Until the publication of biographer Flora Fraser's The Washingtons: George and Martha "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love," the relationship between George and Martha Washington has received little scholarly consideration. While letters written by both Washingtons to friends, family, and acquaintances survive in large numbers, their letters to one another, with the exception of a handful, do not. After the death of President Washington in 1799, Martha destroyed the bulk of their correspondence, which must have been voluminous, as the couple often found themselves separated by war and political necessity. Thus, from the outset of her project, Fraser faces an enormous challenge in getting to the heart of the relationship between George and Martha. Relying on letters written by the couple to others, as well as Washington's account books, Fraser pieces together a picture of a marriage initially based on friendship that grew into one of mutual respect and love.

In 1758 George Washington began courting Martha Dandridge Custis, who had been widowed and left with two young children in 1757. While both were in their mid-twenties, George and Martha occupied slightly different rungs on the socioeconomic ladder of colonial Virginia. Martha's husband had left her and her two children a large fortune and a great deal of property, including over four hundred slaves. While Washington had made some land purchases on the frontier, until the death of his sister-in-law, Anne Fairfax Washington, he would not hold the title to Mount Vernon. The match thus represented a step up for Washington and helped grant him entrance into the upper echelons of colonial society. When the couple married in 1759, Fraser suggests, they joined together as friendly companions, not as passionate lovers.

However, over the next forty years, a close bond developed between the couple. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.