How George Washington’s Mom Impacted Need for Independence

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By Jill Brooke

Talk about July 4th and our independence, and you think of George Washington, right?

Well turns out that the first President and rosarian of the United States had to carve out his independence from his controlling aristocratic mother. She “dismissed the American experiment even as her son led the successful rebellion against the crown.”

In the book, “The Mother of the Father of Our County,” Craig Shirley explains how Mary Bell Washington’s lack of praise and Old World ways fanned his fierce independence.

“Though she raised her eldest son to become one of the world’s greatest leaders, and passed down her strength and individuality to George, she also sought to protect him from the risks he needed to take to become a daring general and president,” says Shirley. “But it was this resistance itself which fanned the spark of George’s independence into a flame. The constant tug of war between the two throughout the early years helped define George’s character.”

Mary Washington shared her love of gardening with her son. Although a prickly relationship, it became one of admiration too. In fact, George Washington named the first rose he bred after his mother Mary – not his beloved wife Martha.

The Mary Washington rose turned out to be as formidable as George Washington’s widowed mother. She raised six kids singlehandedly and ran a large farm at a time when most women’s duties were relegated to household matters.

The white noisette Mary Washington rose is still in existence today. It grows 5 feet and 4 feet wide. It has between 26-40 petals.  The rose didn’t become the flower of the United States until 1986- however, our first President was a big fan.

In 1789, just before she passed away, George Washington came to ask her blessing before attending his inauguration as the first President of the United States

And yes, there also was eventually a Martha Washington flower. The flower was named after his beloved wife whom he was married to for forty years – but not by George Washington.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and a contributor to Florists Review magazine.