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[Detail] George Washington. Portrait by Gilbert Stuart c1929.

The first release (Series 2) of The George Washington Papers, 1741-1799 contains forty-one letterbooks (about 8,000 pages), with manuscripts from the years 1774-99. The series includes materials that capture the history of George Washington's life, and, the historical progression of events that led to the founding of the United States of America. The collection can be used to explore key history content such as colonial America, the American revolution, the Constitution, and the Presidency. Subsequent releases will be coming online periodically, culminating in a total of 65,000 documents.

Colonial America

The thirteen English colonies in North America were well established by the mid-eighteenth century. In size, population, and prosperity, Virginia ranked among the first order in colonial America. As a Virginia gentleman, George Washington's story was illustrative of the compelling aspects of life in that part of the country. The collection contains original manuscripts and transcriptions of correspondence that contain such topics as farming, geography, slavery, Native Americans, economics, politics, and military life.

For example, as a young officer in the British army during the French and Indian War, Washington often found himself in dangerous situations.

Search on remarkable to find the July 18, 1755 letter in which he tells his brother about his brush with death:

... As I have heard since my arriv'l at this place, a circumstantial acct. of my death and dying speech, I take this early oppertunity of contradicting both, and of assuring you that I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence, that protected me beyond all human expectation; I had 4 Bullets through my Coat, and two Horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt.

Letter from George Washington to John Augustine Washington, July 18, 1755 [Transcription]