George Washington and His World

George Washington and His World

Led by: Prof. Denver Brunsman (George Washington University)

Course Number: AMHI 623

Semesters: New Course


Image: A portrait of George Washington by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1846 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 24.109.86)

Painting of George Washington by Rembrandt Peale

Course Description

This course provides the unique opportunity to engage with the life, times, and memory of George Washington. Known in his own life as America’s father, Washington has long been identified as the country’s indispensable founder by scholars. More recently, historians have focused on his shortcomings, particularly his record with Native Americans and as an enslaver. We will examine Washington’s record in totality, as a soldier, politician, entrepreneur, enslaver, consumer, president, private/family man, national icon, and more. Heavy emphasis will be placed on the use and interpretation of primary sources, including historical documents and material culture at the Mount Vernon estate. Through these various materials, students will develop their own critical interpretations of the American founding era and Washington’s place in it.

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About the Scholar

Denver Brunsman, Associate Professor of History, George Washington University

Denver Brunsman writes on the politics and social history of the American Revolution, early American republic, and British Atlantic world. His courses include George Washington and His World, taught annually at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. He is the author of the award-winning book The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (2013) as well as the e-books Leading Change: George Washington and Establishing the Presidency (2017) and George Washington and the Establishment of the Federal Government (2020) and coauthor of a leading US history textbook, Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People (2016; 2020), among other publications. His honors include the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence and induction into the George Washington University Academy of Distinguished Teachers as well as selection to the College Board AP US History Development Committee (2018–2023; Higher Ed Chair, 2021–2023). He frequently leads K–12 professional development programs for organizations such as the George Washington Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, with whom he has twice partnered to lead the NEH Summer Institute “The Making of America: Colonial Era to Reconstruction.”

The views expressed in the course descriptions and lectures are those of the lead scholars.