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Oct 15, 2019 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association has released a new episode the 1600 Sessions podcast: “George Washington’s Legacy.” In this episode, host and President of the White House Historical Association Stewart McLaurin interviews Historian Dr. Matthew Costello, author of The Property of the Nation: George Washington's Tomb, Mount Vernon, and the Memory of the First President, about our first president’s legacy and the precedents Washington set. The book explores how the nation remembers and memorializes presidents. Dr. Costello is also Assistant Director of the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History.

Dr. Costello explains that while Washington never lived in the White House, he played an instrumental role in its design, as well as the design of the capital city that bears his name. “What I always tell people is that Washington may not have lived in that building, but that building is very much a representation of what Washington envisioned for the presidency.”

This book focuses on what happened to George Washington after his death, including his burial and the evolution of his legacy over time.

“Washington passed away in the evening of December 14, 1799. John Adams wrote Congress about convening a committee to determine what were the best methods for commemorating Washington. That committee suggested removing Washington's body at a later date to be entombed in the Capitol. This is where we really kind of see the first clash of contention about where Washington should be buried,” Costello said. “Even though Washington didn't end up in the tomb that was designated for him, they used that space to store the Lincoln Catafalque. It's an elevated platform that was created in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. It was placed down there and then it was used for future presidents, members of Congress, essentially anyone who is given that honor by Congress to lay in state.”

The 1600 Sessions

In this podcast series, White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin interviews luminaries, historians, and eyewitnesses to history about America’s most famous residence and office—the White House. Each episode includes a prominent guest or guests to discuss varying facets of White House history, including insights from former staff and many other topical issues.

Purchase The Property of the Nation: George Washington's Tomb, Mount Vernon, and the Memory of the First President at

The 1600 Sessions is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher. To hear the full episode, visit

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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