About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s conversation with Nathaniel Philbrick about his new book, Travels with George, which retraces George Washington’s tour of the United States shortly after his inauguration as our first President.

Before we begin, I’d like to tell you about two programs you can view next month on our YouTube channel.

On Wednesday, November 3, at 6 p.m., we welcome Steve Roberts, who has written a tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of his wife, legendary journalist Cokie Roberts, in his new book—Cokie: A Life Well Lived. Steve and Cokie’s daughter, Rebecca Boggs Roberts, will join her father in conversation.

 And on Thursday, November 4, at 1 p.m., Philip Bigler, the author of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will share the history of the Tomb, which marks its 100th anniversary this year and is America's most cherished and revered military shrine.

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In Travels with George, Nathaniel Philbrick both recounts the historical journeys made by George Washington through the new United States and describes his own experiences as he followed the same routes in the present day.


As Philbrick’s progress and thoughts are recorded in this book, Washington’s own words are preserved in his diaries. Transcriptions of these diaries, and his correspondence, are freely available at Founders Online, a searchable website hosted by the National Archives through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Founders Online has transcriptions of thousands of documents written by and to the nation’s founders.

There you can find Washington’s letter to his Cabinet—written before setting off for Savannah, Georgia—laying out his itinerary and instructions should any serious matter occur in his absence. You can also read entries from his diary, which record the places he stopped, the conditions of the roads and lodgings, the weather, and the terrain and major crops of the area.

While following Washington’s paths, Nathaniel Philbrick came to know our first President not as a monumental figure of our history, but as a man, a traveler like himself. In reading the words preserved in traditional and digital archives, we too can become more familiar with Washington and the other Founders.

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Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of award-winning books, including the New York Times bestseller Mayflower, which was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in history and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His book In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award for nonfiction and was adapted as a film in 2015.

Joining him in conversation is Evan Thomas, who is the author of numerous books including The Very Best Men, Robert Kennedy, The War Lovers, Sea of Thunder, and John Paul Jones.

Now let’s hear from Nathaniel Philbrick and Evan Thomas. Thank you for joining us today.