Columnist, author, and local historian Charlie Clark discusses his recently released book: “George Washington Parke Custis: A Rarefied Life in America’s First Family.” Custis was raised at Mount Vernon by George and Martha Washington. Young “Wash” appears in Edward Savage’s 1789 painting of the first presidential family, his small hand placed symbolically on a globe. He would later make his mark on the national landscape by building Arlington House on the Potomac. A poor student, he emerged as an agricultural reformer and sought-after Federalist orator. He championed the plights of Irish Americans and war veterans.
Inheriting much of the vast Custis fortune, he also was the enslaver of more than 200 people. The slow march toward their emancipation became a central struggle of his life, particularly after his daughter’s 1831 marriage to Robert E. Lee. This first full-length biography of Custis offers a 21st century reappraisal of a life that dramatically bridged the American Revolution and the Civil War.
This event was held on November 11, 2021. It is part of a monthly series of public programs sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society and Marymount University’s Department of History and Politics. It took place in the Reinsch Library Auditorium on the Main Campus of Marymount University.
This video is 1 hour and 22 minutes in length. The book upon which this event is based is for sale in the AHS online bookstore: https://arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org/product/book-george-washington-parke-custis-a-rarefied-life-in-americas-first-family/