About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
March 10, 2020

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for this afternoon’s program, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through Facebook or YouTube.

Before we hear from today’s speaker, though, I’d like to tell you about two other programs coming up soon in the McGowan Theater.

On Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m., we invite you to a special tribute to Harriet Tubman. Tubman—a Civil War spy, scout, nurse, Underground Railroad conductor, and woman suffrage supporter—will be celebrated by her thrice great grand-niece, a Tubman living history performer, the All Souls Jubilee Singers, historian Carol Gibbs, violinist Roy Hill, and the Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers.

And next week on Tuesday, March 17, at noon, the author of What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War will be here to tell us about her new book. Sarah Wagner tells the stories of America’s missing service members and introduces us to the scientists and others who seek to bring the missing back home.

To keep informed about events throughout the year, check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Check out their website—ArchivesFoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

* * *

Most of what we read of George Washington ends with his departure from the Presidency, in which he established the pattern of a peaceful transition of power. Washington lived a little less than three years more after leaving office, but those years were not idle retirement.

Today’s guest speaker, Jonathan Horn, examines those last years and reintroduces us to a Washington pulled between the calls of public and private life.

We are fortunate to have the actual words of the early leaders of our nation preserved and readily accessible. For more than 50 years, projects supported by our own National Historical Publications and Records Commission have organized and published the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. And in the 21st century the NHPRC has made those papers freely available to all through the online portal Founders Online.

The ability to read about historical figures in their own words is invaluable in piecing together the stories of the past. And, as Mr. Horn remarked in his book’s Acknowledgments, the work of the editors of these papers projects allows the researcher to “follow the trail” through the writings of the prominent personalities of the early Republic.

* * *

Jonathan Horn is an author and former White House Presidential speechwriter whose Robert E. Lee biography, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, was a Washington Post bestseller. Jonathan has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS Sunday Morning, and PBS NewsHour, and his writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times’ Disunion series, Politico magazine, the Daily Beast, the Weekly Standard, and other outlets.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jonathan Horn.