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King & Queen of Spain to Visit Mount Vernon

14 September 2015 No Comment
Mount Vernon.  Photo by: KJ Mushung

Mount Vernon. Photo by: KJ Mushung

George Washington’s Mount Vernon welcomes Their Majesties, The King and Queen of Spain, on Tuesday, Sept. 15. During the couple’s first visit to Mount Vernon, they will lay a wreath at the tomb of George and Martha Washington. Following the wreathlaying ceremony, a tour of George Washington’s Mansion will be led by Mount Vernon’s president, Curt Viebranz.

“Their Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia requested that the first act of their first official visit to the United States would be a visit to Mount Vernon as homage to George Washington, and to highlight the long-standing historic relations between our two countries,” said Ramón Gil-Casares, Spanish ambassador to the United States of America.

While not an official ally of the United States, Spain played an important role in helping win the American War of Independence. The governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez, helped fund the American war effort, and personally led successful attacks against British-held Baton Rouge (1779), Mobile (1780), and Pensacola (1781). The Spanish navy also combined forces with the French to threaten an invasion of Great Britain (1779), lay siege to Gibraltar (1779-1783), and capture the Mediterranean island of Minorca (1781). These actions kept the bulk of the British Royal Navy in European waters, and paved the way for George Washington’s capture of British General Charles Cornwallis’ forces at Yorktown (1781).

During the war Washington had regularly cordially welcomed Spanish representatives and shared political and military intelligence. For their part, the Spanish regularly offered arms, ammunition, and other supplies, items particularly welcome during the scarcity of war.

Spanish-American friendship continued to be strong after the war. In 1785, the King of Spain, Charles III, gave Washington a prized Spanish donkey. Washington, ever the agricultural re-former, had long sought a donkey so that he could breed mules at Mount Vernon.

Two years later, Spain’s ambassador to the United States, Don Diego de Gardoqui, presented George Washington with an impressive leather-bound copy of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Although Washington could not read the Spanish language version of the book, he had earlier purchased an English translation on the same day that he signed the Constitution of the United States. The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon owns both of Washington’s copies of “Don Quixote.”

— Press release

By: Contributing Author

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