George Washington kept a balanced checkbook, Mt. Vernon ledger shows


Everyone knows George Washington was a military titan and our first president. What's less remembered is that he was also a successful businessman. From his Mount Vernon estate, he ran a diverse suite of enterprises that included fishing, farming, and whiskey production. In fact, George Washington was the largest whiskey producer in all of America, which then had mostly a farm-based economy.

I visited the research library at Mount Vernon to examine Washington's personal accounting book for fisheries and his distillery, dated from the end of his life. In it, I found some curious clues about how early Americans conducted their finances, and I witnessed history as a long-lost George Washington signature was reunited with the book it was torn from some two centuries ago.