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May 07, 2020 Washington D.C.

Today, The White House Historical Association released the May episode of its monthly The 1600 Sessions podcast: “Founding Mother, Mary Ball Washington.” The topic, in light of Mother’s Day, features a conversation with author and historian Craig Shirley about how the first president’s life and personality were shaped by the unique character of his mother. The topic is the focus of Shirley’s latest book, Mary Ball Washington: The Untold Story of George Washington’s Mother, released September, 2019.

“She [Mary Washington] was a singular unique woman. Her husband, Augustine, had died when George was only eleven years old. So she was left alone to raise six children. He became everything he was because of her. Her fierce independence, her faith, her intelligence, her “stick-to-it-ness,” her determination. We're pretty sure that she was a British sympathizer until along about halfway through the Revolutionary War. She did come to embrace it, the idea of freedom and independence for a woman who was already free and independent. She had come around seeing that the Revolution was something important and she was proud of her son. Washington was like all of us in a long search for his mother's approval. There was a loving relationship, no doubt about it.”

This conversation was recorded on January 16 at a book event for Mary Ball Washington: The Untold Story of George Washington’s Mother.

Craig Shirley has also written bestsellers on Ronald Reagan including, Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America, Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All, Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan, and Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980 (2017).

The 1600 Sessions is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.

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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.

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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 nonprofit, nonpartisan 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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