Let Freedom Ring: American Founding Fathers and Gardening

Today is Independence Day in the United States, and mostly we sit around, drink some beers and fire off some fireworks. Not surprisingly, hospital ERs tend to be jumping on the 4th of July.

I did not do much gardening today but I did take a moment to reflect what this country owes to gardens. We don’t just owe a few flowers and vegetables, but political precedent and early livelihoods of some of the most prominent founding fathers.

For example, George Washington, the first president of the U.S. was offered a third term in office and could have even had himself declared king after the U.S. Revolutionary War. But he so loved his garden estate, Mount Vernon, that he declined. He just wanted to return to Mount Vernon, where he could enjoy the peace and beauty. Because he did this, he set a precedent and only one U.S. president has ever served more than 2 terms in office. It is now actually law that a president cannot serve more than 2 consecutive terms. Some historians even claim that because George Washington set the pattern and stepped down without a fight, that this is why no president in th U.S. has ever tried to stay beyond his term. All because a man wanted to enjoy his garden.

Another example is, Benjamin Franklin. He actually was the creator of Poor Richard’s Almanack, which was full of advice on weather, planting and general life.

I think the most impressive to a garden blogger like myself is Thomas Jefferson. He actually kept a garden blog. Well, one in the sense of the 1700 and 1800s. He kept detailed records of what he planted at Monticello and Shadwell, his farms and gardens.

Jefferson was, like Washington, a great lover of his garden and wished only to be at home in Monticello. Thomas Jefferson was a well known lover of horticulture and was growing and developing tomato strains at a time when most people in the U.S. thought they were poisonous. According to some sources, he was the first person to grow them here, but I have a hard time believing that as tomatoes had long been regarded as decorative plants before this.

Yep, those founding fathers knew what they were about. Gardening is important and one can’t let little things like politics and wars get in the way of a beautiful garden.

Happy Independence Day!

One thought on “Let Freedom Ring: American Founding Fathers and Gardening
  1. John Dumas on

    I would like to use this quote. Do you have a citation?

    “George Washington, the first president of the U.S. was offered a third term in office and could have even had himself declared king after the U.S. Revolutionary War. But he so loved his garden estate, Mount Vernon, that he declined.”

    [Reply]

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