Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine
Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon The Forgotten History of an American Shrine Author:Scott E. Casper New Stories From an Old American Shrine — — The home of our first president has come to symbolize the ideals of our nation: freedom for all, national solidarity, and universal democracy. Mount Vernon is a place where the memories of George Washington and the era of America’s birth are carefully preserved and re-created for th... more »e nearly one million tourists who visit it every year. But behind the familiar stories lies a history that visitors never hear. Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon recounts the experience of the hundreds of African Americans who are forgotten in Mount Vernon’s narrative. Historian and archival sleuth Scott E. Casper recovers the remarkable history of former slave Sarah Johnson, who spent more than fifty years at Mount Vernon, before and after emancipation. Through her life and the lives of her family and friends, Casper provides an intimate picture of Mount Vernon’s operation during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, years that are rarely part of its story. Working for the Washington heirs and then the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, these African Americans played an essential part in creating the legacy of Mount Vernon as an American shrine. Their lives and contributions have long been lost to history and erased from memory. Casper restores them both, and in so doing adds a new layer of significance to America’s most popular historical estate.« less
A dangerous book, couched as it is in the rhetoric of revealing a forgotten history, but which relies on historical evidence created by the oppressors and agents of marginalization-- along with feigned empathetic but anachronistic emotive imaginings that fail to take into account contemporary critical scholarship on slavery as an institution and related perspectives on race as a political project.
Casper's book is appallingly naive in its romanticized prose treating on complicated and frequently violent histories.