Wednesday, May 13, 2009

$50,000 George Washington Book Prize to be Awarded at Mount Vernon

Annual Prize One of Largest Literary Awards

Chestertown, MD — The $50,000 George Washington Book Prize will be awarded at Mount Vernon on May 28 to the author of the most important book on America's founding era published in 2008. The fifth annual award ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. at George Washington's Mount Vernon home overlooking the Potomac River, with music and candlelit tours of the mansion, and a black-tie dinner.

Washington College, which co-sponsors and administers the award, announced the three finalists in February to commemorate George Washington's birthday. They are Annette Gordon-Reed's The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton); Kevin J. Hayes's The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (Oxford); and Jane Kamensky's The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse (Viking).

The books were selected by a three-person jury of prominent American historians: Joyce Appleby, professor of history emerita at the University of California, Los Angeles, who served as chair; Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Maryland; and Jay Winik, best-selling author and one of the country's leading public historians.

The George Washington Book Prize ($50,000) is one of the most generous in the United States, with a monetary award greater than the Pulitzer Prize for History ($10,000) and the National Book Award ($10,000). Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City, and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association collaborated in 2005 to create the prize, which was awarded in its inaugural year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton; in 2006 to Stacy Schiff for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America; in 2007 to Charles Rappleye for Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution; and in 2008 to Marcus Rediker for The Slave Ship: A Human History.

About the Sponsors of the George Washington Book Prize

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. The Institute serves teachers, students, scholars, and the general public. It helps create history-centered schools, organizes seminars and programs for educators, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, sponsors lectures by eminent historians, and administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state. The Institute also awards the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and George Washington Book Prizes, and offers fellowships for scholars to work in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. The Institute maintains two websites, and the quarterly online journal

Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington's place in history as "First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen." Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, America's oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.

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