George Washington and Smallpox

Presidential History Blog

George Washington’s image in his old age. The smallpox scars are visible.

Smallpox was a dreaded contagious disease. If one survived, one could be scarred and disfigured for life.

George Washington and his Brother Lawrence

Augustine Washington died when his son George was eleven. He had four younger siblings. He also had two older half-brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, from his father’s first marriage. Fortunately for George, Lawrence Washington (1718-1852), some dozen years his senior, had always displayed a brotherly affection for the boy, and took him under his wing.

Lawrence Washington

Mount Vernon, Lawrence’s property, was a modest plantation with a modest house, situated on the banks of the Potomac River, midway between Alexandria (which he helped found) and Fredericksburg. Lawrence had married Anne Fairfax, the 15-year-old daughter of his near-neighbors, and George was invited to spend time at their plantation, with ready access to the Fairfaxes, one of the…

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