Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why President George Washington didn't like David Burnes

A very fortunate man was David Burns, another of the original land-holders. His property was situated largely in what is now the fashionable northwest quarter of the city. Burns—" crusty Davie Burns," as he was called—was a very bigoted, choleric Scotchman; fond of controversy, and never known to agree with anyone in the slightest particular. He lived in a rude cottage near the river, and cultivated a large plantation extending over the spot where the White House now stands. The demand for his land made him very wealthy, and his only child, Marcia Burns, was known in all the country around as " the beautiful heiress of Washington." For some time Burns was opposed to the projected transfer of land to the government, and the President and the commissioners had several conferences with him in his cottage to explain the advantages of the plan. On one of these occasions, so the tradition runs, the testy old planter answered one of Washington's arguments by this outburst: " I suppose, Mr. Washington, you think people are going to take every grist from you as pure grain; but what would you have been if you hadn't married the rich widow Custis I" The usually sedate Washington at this audacious remark is said to have actually lost his temper, and left the house in indignation. He afterward spoke of the impertinent Scotchman as that obstinate Mr. Burns," and would never meet him again.

Sources courtesy of 
http://www.visitwashingtondconline.com/washington_dc_history7.htm

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