Kindle version of vintage magazine article originally published in 1901. Contains lots of great info and illustrations seldom seen in the last 110 years.
Read excerpt -
Arlington once was the property of George Washington, and about it cluster many memories of the time when the nation was in its swaddling clothes. It be¬longed to Robert E. Lee when the Civil War broke out, and it was in the old mansion that the Virginian soldier wrestled with his, conscience, and finally decided to cast his lot with the Confefederacy—a decision that meant much, for he was one of the world's great military geniuses.
Time was when the old mansion was the scene of many activities, and the thought of death was farthest from the minds of those who worked and played and laughed there. General Washington had a fine eye for valuable land; in fact, in these days he would be called something of a real estate speculator. Mount Vernon, Abingdon, and Arlington were among his possessions on the southern shore of the Potomac. He bequeathed Arlington to the little boy who stood beside him when he was sworn in as the first President of the United States, his foster son and the grandson of his wife, George Washington Parke Curtis. When Mrs. Washington died, in 1802, Mount Vernon passed into the hands of Judge Bushrod, the general's nephew. Then the foster son, who had lived at Mount Vernon since childhood built a mansion on the plantation left him by Washington, and thereafter he was usually known as “Mr. Custis of Arlington." For a few years he kept bachelor's hall, and then he married.
It was at Arlington that he wrote his memoirs of General Washington, practised many arts, and became famous for his eloquence and hospitality. He wrote poetry, decorated the walls of his home with his own paintings, and attempted battle pictures, but with indifferent success. Upon the green lawns and slopes, under which the dead now lie, there were once merry parties. On these occasions Mr. Custis used to set up an old tent which General Washington used during the Revolution, and under its weather stained canvas brilliant men made eloquent speeches. This tent was the great attraction at the annual sheep shearing contests which Mr. Custis introduced in this county, to encourage the manufacture of cloth in the United States. These contests took place late in April. His praises and prizes developed a friendly rivalry between the farmers of Virginia and Maryland, and he made the most of this. In one of his speeches at the annual gathering, standing in the shadow of Washington's tent, he said prophetically: "America shall be great and free, and shall minister to her own wants by the employment of her own resources. The citizens of my country will proudly appear when clothed in the product of their native soil."
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