Yes, George Washington did sleep in Augusta.
In 1791, the nation’s first president spent three months on his “Southern tour.” A marker commemorating his visit to Augusta received some sprucing up on Sunday in honor of the Presidents Day holiday Feb. 20 and Washington’s 291st birthday Feb. 22.
“Deeds above words,” said Kevin de l’Aigle, attributing the phrase to the firts president.
As part of the Coalition for Action in Downtown Augusta, he organized the efforts to clean up the marker and plant knock-out roses and pansies at the site on Sixth and Greene streets. Sixth Street is also known as Washington Street.
Dedicated by members of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1932, the marker pays tribute to Gen. George Washington. The space in front of the marker had flowers at one time and is fitted with a sprinkler head, but it was mainly filled with weeds when the group came Sunday afternoon.
“Not long after George Washington became President in April 1789, he contemplated a tour of every region of the United States. However, the duties of office and the care of Mount Vernon delayed a trip to the South until the spring of 1791. Washington left Philadelphia on March 21, 1791 to avoid “the warm and sickly months” of the lower southern states. His itinerary targeted towns and cities along the eastern seaboard, from Maryland to Savannah, Georgia with a return journey that followed a western route from Augusta, Georgia back to Virginia. Washington estimated that the journey would take slightly more than three months and cover over 1700 miles,” according to the Mount Vernon website.
Mount Vernon was Washington’s home and is operated as a museum.
Washington visited Waynesboro on May 17, 1791, two days after leaving Savannah, according to a historical marker outside the courthouse in Waynesboro. He traveled to Augusta upon leaving Waynesboro. Augusta was the state capital at the time.
The Augusta Chronicle reported that the president spent three days in Augusta meeting with Gov. Edward Telfair and George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who lived in Augusta.
He reportedly rode down Broad Street on a white horse.
There were dinners parties, a tea and a ball. And the first president attended a graduation at the Academy of Richmond County.
The Sunday effort was fresh from the coalition members meeting on Saturday with Commissioner Jordan Johnson, former Commissioner John Clarke and Downtown Development Association executive director Margaret Woodard.
Although he lives in south Augusta, Dan Funsch is a member of the group. He pulled weeds, scrubbed the granite marker and planted on Sunday.
He said Saturday’s meeting was a good way to facilitate dialogue between citizens and their governmental leaders.
“There are complex issues,” he said, and people don’t always know the full story.
The group meetings aren’t about politics, he said; they are to find out what’s best for the city and how to get that done.
One of the group’s initiatives is to maintain and repair monuments in the city.
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at email@example.com. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter here.