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Small Sword

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

"To each of my nephews, William Augustine Washington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, Bushrod Washington, and Samuel Washington, I give one of the swords or cutteaux of which I may die possessed, and they are to choose in the order they are named. These swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood except it be for self-defense, or in defense of their Country and its rights, and in the latter case to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment thereof."
- George Washington, Last Will & Testament

This rather conventional small sword was one of seven swords inventoried in George Washington's Study after his death, and the fourth chosen according to his Will by Bushrod Washington, who also inherited the bulk of the Mount Vernon estate. Family tradition maintained it was George Washington's "mourning" sword because he purportedly wore it to funerals. While possible that it is the "A Genteel Mourng. Sword, with Belt Swivels &ca." he received from London following the death of Martha Washington's daughter Patsy in June 1773, the term "mourning" could have meant it was suitable for everyday wear or less formal occasions.

Gift of W. F. Havemeyer, 1892 [W-83/A]

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  • Title: Small Sword
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