In 1860, Benson Lossing authored a biography of Washington with input from Washington’s grandson

In 1860, Benson Lossing joined the list of authors who published popular biographies of George Washington. To write his biography, he interviewed and drew extensively upon the remembrances of George Washington Parke Custis (see photo above), the adopted grandson that George Washington raised as his own son, and thus perhaps knew George Washington more intimately than anyone else. Meanwhile, Benson Lossing became the most published American historian of his day, writing a pictorial field guide to the American Revolution where he interviewed many of the survivors (such as the wife of Alexander Hamilton) and inspected almost every known significant document and artifact from the American Revolution known to be available at his time. It is unfortunately that the practice of footnotes had yet to be developed, since Lossing provides detailed information about many aspects of the American Revolution, Mount Vernon, and George Washington whose source has since been forgotten. Yet one has to assume that Lossing had sources for his statements since so much of his writings have since been confirmed by the research of other historians and the discovery of original documents. Benson Lossing was a prolific writer who also wrote field guides to the War of 1812 and the Civil War, writing perhaps the first illustrated history of both wars. His first book, which was biographic sketches of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was published in 1848. His next book, which was a field guide to the American Revolution, was published in 1850-52. Prioring to his writing a biography of Washington in 1860, he authored a book entitled “Mount Vernon and Its Associations” in 1859, which is still a classic about the history of George Washington’s home. In 1870, he wrote another book on Washington entitled “Washington and the American Republic.” And in 1873 he wrote his “Our Country: A Household History of the United States for All Readers, From the Discovery of America to the Present” – a book that helped to bring a history of the U.S. into all homes for the young and old alike.

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~ by americanpresidents on May 23, 2009.

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