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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:33 am 
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One day in 1791, President George Washington received a bill for 60 pounds, 1 shilling and 7 pence from his physician friend James Craik, who regularly made the rounds at Mount Vernon. The invoice ran two pages:

"Anodyne Pills for Breachy . . . Laxative Pills for Ruth . . . syphilic Pills for Maria . . . oz 1 Antiphlogistie Anodyne Tincture . . . Bleeding Charlotte . . . oz 4 Powdered Rhubarb . . . Extracting one of your Negroes tooth . . . a Mercurial Purge for Cook Jack . . ."

This brief glimpse of life in the 18th century is contained in what historians say is a vast and underappreciated cache of financial documents from the life of the first president. Washington's diaries and letters, many composed with one eye on history, have been carefully transcribed, annotated and bound in stately volumes. But his financial records have been treated as scraps.

Documenting the lives of ordinary people -- merchants, tradesmen, servants and slaves -- these records are scattered at multiple institutions. In most cases, they have never been transcribed or published in accessible form.

That archival quandary lured 25 scholars, some of them "forensic accountants," to Mount Vernon this past weekend for a workshop to strategize about how to get the records online, with hyperlinks to the already published letters and diaries.

"It is going to be a treasure trove," said Ted Crackel, editor in chief of the Papers of George Washington, a project based at the University of Virginia.



"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman

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