“…a sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.”

This quote is from a letter George Washington wrote to his step-granddaughter Eleanor Parke Custis on March 21, 1796. Eleanor Parke Custis (known as “Nelly”) was the youngest of Martha Washington’s three granddaughters. George Washington viewed Nelly as his own granddaughter and often gave her valuable life advice via letters.

On George Washington’s final birthday, February 22, 1799, Nelly married his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, who had become part of the Mount Vernon household shortly after the family returned at the end of the presidency. Following Martha Washington’s death in May 1802, Nelly Custis and Lawrence Lewis moved to nearby Woodlawn Plantation, which remained their home until Lawrence’s death in the fall of 1839.

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