George Washington promised to visit every state in the new union during his presidency, and in the spring 1791 he set off from his Mount Vernon, Virginia home and traveled all the way to Savannah, Georgia and back. In researching his journey for her book “Methodists and Moonshiners,” Smith followed the president’s tour, investigating not only where he stayed and who he met, but what he drank. A major distiller of rye whiskey in his post-presidency years, Washington was greeted with glasses raised in toasts (and punctuated with cannon fire) everywhere he went, and the party lasted for a week in Charleston. Smith’s slide lecture compares the present-day Southern cities to the historic ones Washington visited, guiding the audience to places they can visit today — including the rebuilt distillery at Mount Vernon, where rye whiskey is again being made to the original specifications.
George Washington’s 1791 Tour of the South: Where He Went and What He Drank