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George Washington, Entrepreneur

How Our Founding Father's Private Business Pursuits Changed America and the World

John Berlau

All Points Books

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ISBN10: 1250172608
ISBN13: 9781250172600


272 Pages



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A business biography of George Washington, focusing on his many innovations and inventions.

George Washington: general, statesman . . . businessman? Most people don't know that Washington was the country's first true entrepreneur, responsible for innovations in several industries. In George Washington, Entrepreneur, John Berlau presents a fresh, surprising take on our forefather's business pursuits.

History has depicted Washington as a gifted general and political pragmatist, not an intellectual heavyweight. But he was a patron of inventors and inveterate tinkerer, and just as intelligent as Jefferson or Franklin. His library was filled with books on agriculture, chemistry, and engineering. He was the first to breed horses with donkeys to produce the American mule. On his estate, he grew countless varieties of trees and built a greenhouse full of exotic fruits and flowers. Unlike his Virginia neighbors who remained wedded to tobacco, Washington planted seven types of wheat. His state-of-the-art mill produced flour which he exported to Europe in sacks stamped GW Flour—one of the very first branded food products. Mount Vernon was also home to a distillery and became one of the largest American whiskey distributors of the era.

Berlau's portrait of Washington, drawn in large part from his journals and extensive correspondence, presents a side of him we haven't seen before. It is sure to delight readers of presidential biography and business history.


Praise for George Washington, Entrepreneur

“Just when you think the scholarship on our first president has become exhausted, along comes a book like George Washington, Entrepreneur to open your eyes and impart new knowledge about our greatest president. Berlau is an exquisite writer and historian.”—Craig Shirley, author of Mary Ball Washington, presidential historian, and Reagan biographer

“Surveyor, agribusinessman, patron of inventors: John Berlau shows how Washington brought his skillset—curiosity, persistence, flexibility—to his life as an entrepreneur.”—Richard Brookhiser, senior fellow, National Review Institute

George Washington, Entrepreneur tells a dramatic story . . . In no small part, British efforts to curb American entrepreneurialism led to the American Revolution.”—Kevin J. Hayes, author of George Washington: A Life in Books, winner of the George Washington Prize

“Washington's entrepreneurial spirit and business skills are relevant not only to the hundreds of thousands of present day FFA and Farm Bureau members, but important to the founding of our nation . . . business is at its heart a creative act, necessary to liberty, and Washington's dedication to freedom in commercial pursuits may well have been the impetus for his role in the Revolution and the founding. Berlau's book is timely and important, and I highly recommend it.”—Blake Hurst, farmer and Missouri Farm Bureau president

"At a time when others downgrade so many historical figures, John Berlau lifts a worthy man higher—Washington. Berlau gives us a fascinating tour of Washington's business side, illuminating the relationship between entrepreneurial, military and political achievement."—Amity Shlaes, biographer, author of Coolidge

Reviews from Goodreads


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The Washington name derived from that of George Washington’s paternal ancestors, the Wessyngtons. From the thirteenth century...

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About the author

John Berlau

JOHN BERLAU is an award-winning journalist, recipient of the National Press Club’s Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, and Senior Fellow for Finance and Access to Capital at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He is a columnist for Forbes and Newsmax, and has contributed to Financial Times, Washington Post, Politico, Wall Street Journal,and Washington Times. He is a frequent guest on CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and Fox Business. He lives near Mount Vernon in Alexandria, VA.

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