Archaeologists discover 35 glass jars at Mount Vernon from 1700s, most containing edible preserved fruits

During an on-going renovation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, archaeologists have discovered 35 glass jars from the 1700s, with most containing preserved cherries and berries that appear completely edible.

Of the 35 bottles, 29 are intact and contain perfectly preserved cherries and berries, likely gooseberries or currants. The contents of each bottle have been carefully extracted, are under refrigeration at Mount Vernon, and will undergo scientific analysis. The bottles are slowly drying in the Mount Vernon archaeology lab and will be sent off-site for conservation.

Only a small quantity of the preserved fruits has been analyzed, with the following results:

  • 54 cherry pits and 23 stems have been identified thus far, suggesting that the bottles were likely full of cherries before bottling. Cherry pulp is also present.
  • Microscopy suggests that the cherries may have been harvested by snipping from trees with shears. The stems were neatly cut and purposefully left attached to the fruit before bottling.
  • The cherries likely are of a tart variety, which has a more acidic composition that may have aided in preservation.
  • The cherries are likely candidates for DNA extraction, which could be compared against a database of heirloom varieties to determine the precise species.
  • The pits are undergoing an examination to determine if any are viable for germination.

The last point is most fascinating. Imagine if a new cherry tree could be grown from a pit that was likely picked when George Washington was alive.

Today is George Washington’s birthday; He is the man we should always honor, not “presidents”

Washington at the Constitional Convention
Washington at the Constitional Convention

Monday was not “Presidents Day”, celebrating all our past presidents, both good and bad. In fact, it never was.

Originally we celebrated the birthday of George Washington, the Father of our country, on February 22nd, his birthday. Then in 1968 our lovely Congress decided to devalue Washington’s memory by shifting the holiday to the third Monday of the month. The idea was it would give people a three-day weekend, and encourage commerce. What it really did was eliminate the memory of Washington entirely from the holiday.

And yet we mustn’t. Washington not only won the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, acting as general, but he took the lead in writing and establishing the Constitution when the original Articles of Confederation failed to work. Along the way he repeatedly and in no uncertain terms rejected calls for him to take over as king. He then put a final period on his life’s work by serving as the nation’s first president, and most important, refusing to serve more than two terms. He stepped down, and demanded the nation elect a new leader, forcing through what was then a truly unprecedented thing — the peaceful transition of power from one leader to another.

His final public act of importance was his farewell speech upon leaving the office of the presidency, where he made two points for the future that sadly we appear to have decided to forget.
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A thumbnail bio of George Washington

An evening pause: This day, February 22nd and the birthday of George Washington, was once celebrated yearly by Americans to honor the leader of the American army in the Revolutionary War, the leader in the effort to write the Constitution, and the country’s first president who had the humbleness to step down after two terms in office.

Congress in 1971 turned that celebration into the empty “Presidents Day” holiday, that means nothing and devalues the profound importance of Washington, especially when compared to the generally mediocre individuals — with the except possibly of Lincoln alone — who followed him in that office.

I choose to celebrate Washington instead, on this the actual anniversary of this birth. The video below is a short but succinct and accurate outline of his life. It only touches the surface of the man’s unfathomable importance to American history, but it is start.

George Washington’s Farewell Address

An evening pause: In honor of George Washington’s birthday, here is his farewell speech, in which he outlined his advice for the citizens of this country to sustain a free America into a long and prosperous future.

The wisdom of these words is astonishing. More so is their predictive quality. Washington knew, possibly better than anyone, the greatest risks that threatened liberty. Woe to us all if we choose to ignore his warnings.

A Jewish congregation’s letter to George Washington welcoming him to Rhode Island in 1790.

On Washington’s birthday: A Jewish congregation’s letter to George Washington welcoming him to Rhode Island in 1790.

Washington had come to Rhode Island in celebration of that state’s ratification of the Constitution. This paragraph, written by these immigrant Jews, speaks directly to today’s far less tolerant government and society that now believes it has the right to squelch religious freedom:

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People ~~ a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance ~~ but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: ~~ deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine.