Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who Knew One of Our Founding Fathers Was An Entrepreneur?

On Saturday, Jim wanted to take his vintage BMW out for a drive to take advantage of the beautiful weather! We first drove down to Old Town Alexandria so that I could show him the two new potential Zoe spaces.  He really enjoyed looking at each one and hearing me explain the pluses and minuses for each space.  No word on the LOI yet on the King Street space but I would expect to hear something this week.

After we left Old Town, we drove down the George Washington Parkway to Mount Vernon and then continued on toward Mason Neck.  In the course of our drive past Mount Vernon, we saw signs for Washington's Grist Mill and Distillery.  Neither of us had ever been there so we decided to stop.  The grounds are open from April - October and it is very interesting and educational.  Signage on the grounds talks about Washington's role as an entrepreneur but an excerpt from this article in Reason magazine summarizes it well:

Washington's political and military exploits are of course well-known: He was a member of colonial Virginia's House of Burgesses and a delegate to the Continental Congress; he led the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and won a hard-fought victory for independence; and he served as the first president of these United States.
Yet his business ventures are impressive in their own right. During America's time as an English colony, Washington ran a fishing operation that processed 1.5 million fish per year and sold them throughout the 13 American colonies and the British West Indies. The mill he built ground 278,000 pounds of flour annually that was shipped through America and even exported to England and Portugal. In the 1790s, during the last years of his life, Washington built one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the new nation. No wonder he ended up first in the hearts of his countrymen.
Scholars have documented that Washington's life work was as enthralling as that of any of the Founding Fathers. Whereas Franklin built gadgets at his homestead, and Jefferson built fancy buildings, Washington built was a series of integrated businesses. It may be time to think of him as Steve Jobs 1.0.
It is fun to combine my love of history with business!


  1. Thanks for sharing this little known history! And I love the new blog look. :)

  2. Thank you, Juice! I'm having fun experimenting with the look!