American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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George Washington
as a Surveyor

Holograph manuscript survey
George Washington (1732-1799)
Holograph manuscript survey,
Page 2
March 22, 1750
Manuscript Division
Acquired by purchase in 1998
with funds from the
Madison Council (109B.4)

Occupational portrait of an unidentified surveyor
Anonymous
Occupational portrait of an unidentified surveyor
Sixth-plate daguerreotype
Prints & Photographs Division Purchase/exchange, 1981 (109B.5)
[Digital ID# cph 3g03941]

Trained as a surveyor at Mount Vernon, George Washington began work as a surveyor's assistant in 1748 when he was just sixteen-years-old. Because the neighboring plantation of Belvoir was owned by a member of the Fairfax family, in 1749 Washington was named one of the surveyors of Lord Fairfax's Northern Neck Proprietary of five million acres between the Potomac and Rappahanock Rivers in Virginia. During his three years in service as one of the proprietor's surveyors, Washington prepared this survey of two hundred acres in Frederick County, Virginia, for John Madden.

Also shown is a mid nineteenth-century daguerreotype of an unidentified surveyor photographed with a transit and calipers—indispensable tools of the trade.

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