Daily Archives: August 15, 2020

Made in Africa: Empowering women through argan oil


Published on Aug 15, 2020

#Morocco produces the best argan oil, known as liquid gold, in the world. For centuries, argan oil has been used for culinary purposes and as a beauty aid. The amber-hued oil is produced by a number of cooperatives in Morocco to empower women in rural areas of the country.

Washington as Land Speculator  |  George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker  |  Articles and Essays  |  George Washington Papers  |  Digital Collections  |  Library of Congress

Edward Redmond
Senior Reference Librarian
Geography and Map Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC

In 1752 Washington made his first land purchase, 1,459 acres along Bullskin Creek in Frederick County, Virginia. This act inaugurated the second and more profitable phase of his cartographic career, in which he assumed the role of land speculator.

Building a Gentleman’s Estate

In 1752 Washington made his first land purchase, 1,459 acres along Bullskin Creek in Frederick County, Virginia. This act inaugurated the second and more profitable phase of his cartographic career, in which he assumed the role of land speculator. Over the next half century Washington would continue to seek out, purchase, patent, and eventually settle numerous properties. His will, executed in 1800, lists 52,194 acres to be sold or distributed in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley. In addition to these properties, Washington also held title to lots in the Virginia cities of Winchester, Bath (now Berkeley Springs, West Virginia), and Alexandria, and in the newly formed City of Washington.

In 1758 Washington left military service and returned to civilian life and in January 1759 married Martha Custis, a wealthy widow. No sooner had the couple settled at Mount Vernon, which had become Washington’s home, than he begin to expand the estate. In 1760 a neighbor, William Clifton, approached Washington with an offer to sell a 1,806-acre tract on the northern border of the estate, and the two men settled on a price of £1,150 sterling. Shortly afterwards, however, Clifton agreed to sell the same tract of land to another neighbor, Thomson Mason, for a slightly higher price. Despite Clifton’s original agreement and a series of angry letters, Washington eventually paid £1,250 sterling to secure the land for himself.11 The area became the Washingtons’ River Farm.

* * * *

Western Lands and the Bounty of War

Washington’s lifelong interest in land speculation is illustrated in the fight over bounty lands promised to the veterans of the Virginia Regiment who fought with him in the French and Indian War. In this episode Washington acted on behalf of his fellow veterans as well as vigorously, sometimes aggressively, in staking out his own land claims.

In 1754, Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie issued a proclamation designed to encourage enlistment in the local militia for the war against the French. In addition to their pay, those who enlisted in Lieutenant Colonel George Washington’s fledgling Virginia Regiment were offered a share in two hundred thousand acres west of the Ohio River. Unfortunately for the men who fought under Washington in the Braddock and Forbes expeditions against the enemy at Fort Duquesne, they were not to see these bounty lands until more than twenty years had passed, during which time Washington led the struggle to secure their title.

At first, the formal conclusion in 1763 of the worldwide war between Britain and France, of which the French and Indian War had been a part, aroused hope that the land would be quickly granted. These expectations were overshadowed by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which (among other provisions) forbade colonial governors from issuing land grants west of the Allegheny Mountains. Yet Washington chose to forge ahead, as evinced by a September 1767 letter to William Crawford, a Pennsylvania surveyor:

. . . I can never look upon the Proclamation in any other light (but this I say between ourselves) than as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians. It must fall, of course, in a few years, especially when those Indians consent to our occupying those lands. Any person who neglects hunting out good lands, and in some measure marking and distinguishing them for his own, in order to keep others from settling them will never regain it. If you will be at the trouble of seeking out the lands, I will take upon me the part of securing them, as soon as there is a possibility of doing it and will, moreover, be at all the cost and charges surveying and patenting the same . . . . By this time it be easy for you to discover that my plan is to secure a good deal of land. You will consequently come in for a handsome quantity.12

Washington was clearly willing to take considerable risks in seeking out choice land for himself. In the same letter, however, he warned Crawford “to keep the whole matter a secret, rather than give the alarm to others or allow himself to be censured for the opinion I have given in respect to the King’s Proclamation.” He concluded by offering Crawford an alibi should his behavior be called into question. “All of this can be carried on by silent management and can be carried out by you under the guise of hunting game, which you may, I presume, effectually do, at the same time you are in pursuit of land. When this is fully discovered advise me of it, and if there appears a possibility of succeeding, I will have the land surveyed to keep others off and leave the rest to time and my own assiduity.” In fact, the letter marked the beginning of a very profitable fifteen-year partnership. Less than two weeks after he had received it, Crawford informed Washington about several tracts in the vicinity of Fort Pitt, and the two men continued to collaborate until Crawford’s death in 1782.

* * * * * *

Washington persisted in his attempts to secure the military bounty lands. In 1769, Governor Botetourt of Virginia at last gave him permission to seek out a qualified surveyor and to notify all claimants that surveying would proceed. Once the surveying was completed the land could be divided among the remaining Virginia Regiment veterans or their heirs. Washington arranged to have Crawford appointed the “Surveyor of the Soldiers Land.” In the fall of 1770 Washington, Crawford, and a fellow veteran named Dr. James Craik set out from Fort Pitt by canoe to explore possible sites for the bounty lands, making notes and observations as they journeyed to the junction of the Ohio and Great Kanawha Rivers and several miles up the Great Kanawha.

The next year, Crawford began to survey the tracts he and Washington had identified on the Great Kanawha expedition. Eight of these tracts are shown on a composite map now in the collections of the Geography and Map Division that Washington drew in1774 from Crawford’s surveys. Out of a total of 64,071 acres apportioned on the map, 19,383, or approximately 30 percent, were patented in Washington’s name. In a 1794 letter to Presley Neville, Washington said that these lands were “the cream of the Country in which they are; that they were the first choice of it; and that the whole is on the margin of the Rivers and bounded thereby for 58 miles.”13In

addition to Washington’s acreage the map shows the lands surveyed and apportioned to other Virginia Regiment members, including Colonel Joshua Fry, Colonel Adam Stephen, Dr. James Craik, George Mercer, George Muse, Colonel Andrew Lewis, Captain Peter Hog, Jacob Van Braam, and John West. Several of these individuals were distinguished in their own right. Joshua Fry, for example, was one half of the team which produced the well-known 1755 Map of Inhabited Parts of the State of Virginia, considered to be one of the finest examples of colonial mapping; Jacob Van Braam had been Washington’s interpreter at Fort Necessity in the French and Indian War; and Dr. James Craik was Washington’s lifelong friend and physician.

* * * * *

Cartography and Leadership in Revolutionary Times

A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia, 1755

Any discussion of Washington’s cartographic career would be incomplete without reference to the American Revolution. Deeply concerned about the lack of accurate maps available to his army, Washington created the office of Geographer to the Continental Army and appointed Robert Erskine to fill it in July 1777. Erskine, a Scottish-born engineer and inventor, may have come to Washington’s attention with his plans for “Marine Chevaux de Frise” designed to block British ships from sailing up the Hudson River.14 Erskine’s assistants in his Continental Army post included William Scull, author of a 1770 map of Pennsylvania and grandson of the noted cartographer Nicholas Scull; Simeon DeWitt, who would later become Surveyor General of New York State; and Thomas Hutchins, author of A Topographical Description of Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, published in 1778.15

Washington as Public Land Surveyor  |  George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker  |   Articles and Essays  |  George Washington Papers  |  Digital Collections   |  Library of Congress

Edward Redmond
Senior Reference Librarian
Geography and Map Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC

Washington created surveys and maps from his boyhood through the French and Indian Wars.

Boyhood and Beginnings

George Washington was born February 22, 1732, to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington at Popes Creek Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia. When his father died in 1743, eleven-year-old George inherited the small Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River where he was then living with his mother and siblings, while his older half brother Lawrence Washington inherited the larger farm at the junction of the Little Hunting Creek and Potomac Rivers that he renamed Mount Vernon. As he grew to maturity, young George had little use for the meager prospects at the Ferry Farm plantation. After flirting briefly with the idea of a career in the Royal Navy, he began studying geometry and surveying, using a set of surveyor’s instruments from the storehouse at Ferry Farm.

Among the earliest maps attributed to Washington are sample surveys included in Washington’s so-called “School Boy Copy Books,” housed in the George Washington Papers in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. The schoolbook includes lessons in geometry and several practice land surveys Washington prepared at the age of sixteen. These include a survey of the turnip garden belonging to Lawrence Washington, on whose Mount Vernon estate he had been spending increasing amounts of time. Early in 1748, with as few as three practice surveys under his belt, George Washington accompanied George William Fairfax and James Genn, Surveyor of Prince William County, on a month-long trip west across the Blue Ridge Mountains to survey land for Thomas, Lord Fairfax, 6th Baron Cameron. Although the surveys were actually performed by the more experienced members of the party, the trip was Washington’s formal initiation into the field and led him to pursue surveying as a profession. The trip also marked the beginning of a lifelong relationship between Washington and the powerful and influential Fairfax family that gave the young surveyor access to the upper echelons of Virginia society.

The Fairfax Connection

A survey of the northern neck of Virginia, 1747

In the Northern Neck of Virginia, the extensive region between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, land matters were governed by the Proprietor, Lord Fairfax, and his Virginia representative and first cousin, William Fairfax, through the Northern Neck Proprietary Office. In 1649 King Charles II of Englandhad deeded five million acres lying between the rivers to a group of loyal supporters, including the Fairfax family. Through death and marriage the land was consolidated under one man, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, who established his seat at Belvoir, approximately four miles upstream from Mount Vernon. Later, he moved west of the Blue Ridge Mountains to Greenway Court in Frederick (now Clarke) County, Virginia.4

Prospective settlers in the Northern Neck were required to obtain a survey warrant from the Northern Neck Proprietary Office for a set amount of acreage in a specific location. The survey warrant, issued directly from the Northern Neck Land Office to the county surveyor, instructed the surveyor to make a “just and true” survey of the land, thereby officially determining and limiting its boundaries. Because they were responsible for laying out the land claims, surveyors had a unique role in Virginia society. Their appointments guaranteed a certain social prominence, since nearly all parties interested in gaining title to an area of land were required to deal with the surveyor. Surveyors were also among the best-educated Virginians and were often in the best position to purchase land for themselves. It was not unusual for surveyors to acquire large estates from the many opportunities they had to patent land in their own names. Additionally, their intimate knowledge of the land and official capacity as representatives of large land holders such as the Fairfaxes made their participation politically and practically essential to large land companies such as the Loyal Land Company of Virginia, the Ohio Company, and the Mississippi Land Company.5

In July 1749, at seventeen years of age and largely through the Fairfax influence that he had cultivated, Washington secured an appointment as county surveyor for the newly created frontier county of Culpeper, where he served until November 1750. He then continued to work in the Northern Neck with the permission of the Fairfax family from November 1750 to November 1752.6 During his three years on the frontier he established a reputation for fairness, honesty, and dependability, while earning a very decent living. Philander Chase, the current editor of the Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, writes that frontier surveyors “could earn an annual cash income that was exceeded only by the colony’s finest trial lawyers.”7 From the records documenting the 199 professional surveys attributed to Washington it is clear that he did not confine himself to Culpeper County, even while he served as its official surveyor. Rather, Washington did the majority of his surveying in Frederick and Hampshire Counties, the westernmost counties of the Northern Neck. Partly because of his close relationship with the Fairfax family, he may have had a distinct advantage over other Northern Neck surveyors.

Culpeper, the Frontier, and Alexandria

George Washington’s survey of the site of Belhaven (Alexandria) Virginia, 1748.

Of the 199 surveys credited to Washington, fewer than seventy-five are extant today.8 All display a finished, stylized, and symmetrical appearance. The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress has several examples of Washington surveys, including a November 17, 1750, survey plat for John Lindsey of 460 acres along the Great Cacapon River, on which Washington used the initials “S.C.C.,” Surveyor of Culpeper County, to denote his official role. This is one of the last survey plats Washington prepared in his capacity as county surveyor.

In addition to the public surveys he made on the western frontiers of the Northern Neck, Washington prepared two remarkable maps of the area that became the city of Alexandria, Virginia, on the Potomac River. The earliest is the Plat of the Land whereon now Stands the Town of Alexandria, drawn in 1748. As the title suggests, this map is a simple outline of the future town, with the land area annotated as “Area 51 acres, 3 Roods, 31 Perch.” The site map shows the location of existing structures such as a tobacco-inspection warehouse and includes notes on the land within the proposed town limits indicating its suitability for use. The map also provides soundings and shoal locations in the river, information vital to the operation of any port city. The absence of a street grid suggests that the map may have been drawn sometime between March 1748 and July 1749, when the town of Alexandria was formally incorporated.

Plan of Alexandria, Now Belhaven, 1749

The second map, entitled Plan of Alexandria, Now Belhaven, includes a street grid but, as the title suggests, may have been made just before the town’s incorporation, when it was still known by its earlier name of Belhaven. This map may have been used for the sale of lots, which took place on July 14 and 15, 1749. It lists the name of the holder of each lot, its location, and the price paid for it. The names of Washington’s older half brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, of William Fairfax, and of George William Fairfax appear on the list.

Based on these maps, some have erroneously concluded that Washington personally designed or was at least heavily involved in the city’s formation. While both maps are clearly in Washington’s hand, no documentary evidence supports this claim. As he had with the maps he prepared during his first surveying trip, Washington probably derived or copied these from originals drawn by someone else–in this case John West Jr., Deputy Surveyor of Fairfax County, who is generally credited with the actual surveys. 9

… (read more).

The British Museum is full of stolen artifacts


Aug 5, 2020

And so far, it isn’t giving them back. Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO Some of the world’s greatest cultural and historical treasures are housed in London’s British Museum, and a significant number of them were taken during Britain’s centuries-long imperial rule. In recent years, many of the countries missing their cultural heritage have been asking for some of these items back. Benin City in Nigeria is one of those places. They’ve been calling for the return of the Benin Bronzes, hundreds of artifacts looted in 1897 when British soldiers embarked a punitive expedition to Benin. Many are now housed in the British Museum. And it’s just the beginning. As the world reckons with the damage inflicted during Europe’s colonial global takeover, the calls for these items to be returned are getting louder and louder.

To dig deeper into the 1897 Benin Punitive Expedition and the Benin Bronzes check out this book by Staffan Lunden: https://www.academia.edu/28886529/Dis…

And this article in the Journal of African History by Philip A. Igbafe: https://www.jstor.org/stable/180345?r…

For more information on the two Benin Bronzes returned by Mark Walker, check out this piece by The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2…

Here are some links to learn more about the other contested items on the British Museum’s “Don’t Miss List” we reference in the video: Greece seeks return of Parthenon Marbles amid restoration project https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/0…

Egypt called; it wants its Rosetta Stone back https://www.npr.org/templates/story/s…

Easter Islanders call for return of statue from British Museum https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2…

Tajik leader wants treasure from British Museum https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-taj…

Lastly, here is an opinion piece by prominent lawyer Geoffrey Robertson arguing why the pieces should be returned: https://www.theguardian.com/world/201…

And here is another opinion piece by author Tiffany Jenkins arguing why the pieces should stay in Western museums: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2…

Edge of Extinction: Planetary Hospice

Nature Bats Last

Aug 13, 2020

Join this channel to get access to perks: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyer…

Confronting Climate Change: What’s Needed, What’s Feasible, What’s Achievable?

The Whole Truth with David Eisenhower

Jul 19, 2020

The Whole Truth with David Eisenhower
The Earth is warming. The climate is changing. In the wake of the growth of human population and human economic development, carbon levels in the atmosphere, with its greenhouse effects, have risen to a level not believed to have existed for perhaps 3 million years. Scenarios about what all this will mean for humanity for the rest of the 21st Century vary, but the range of predictions go from merely bad, to terribly worse. What should be done? What’s needed? What’s feasible? What’s achievable?


• Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund
• Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science & Director of the Earth System Science Center, Penn State University; co-author of “The Madhouse Effect”
• Ted Halstead, Chairman & CEO, Climate Leadership Council
• John Rie, Founding Member, Stable Climate Group