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Cassandra Alexis Good
Marymount University (Arlington, VA 22207-4299)
First Family: George Washington’s Heirs and the Making of America

Research and writing of a history of the heirs of George and Martha Washington between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

George Washington was more than the nation’s father; he was a surrogate father for Martha’s four grandchildren via her first marriage. The Custis grandchildren led remarkable lives that paralleled America’s story in its first century: military triumph and tragedy; democracy and old aristocratic ties; visions of liberty alongside the horrors of slavery. With lives stretching from the American Revolution to the eve of the Civil War, the Custises were celebrated figures that used George Washington’s legacy to weigh in on the nation’s political struggles. They deployed their ties to Washington as a source of power, both socially and politically. The Custises also put in conscious efforts to shape themselves as George Washington’s heirs, despite their lack of blood ties to him, revealing the ways family was constructed rather than natural. Their remarkable story offers new perspectives on the meaning of family and its role in American political life.

Project fields:
Cultural History; U.S. History; Women's History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 6/30/2022