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Unidentified photographer 
Ann Pamela Cunningham, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association 
1850s (ca) 
Ambrotype, 1/6 plate 
Internet - Original source ill-defined 
Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers,, The Manuscript, Space & Collectibles Auc (#73) 04/06/2013, Lot 61 
Lot description
[Mount Vernon Ladies' Association] Ambrotype of Ann Pamela Cunningham, Sixth plate ambrotype of the woman who founded the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association and served as its first regent, and who oversaw the purchase and restoration of Mount Vernon. Cunningham (1816-1875) is pictured to the left of Washington's tomb; three other women are visible at the right margin. Fine condition. The ambrotype is housed in a period case with floral and bird designs. The hinge of the case is broken; both clasps are present.
Cunningham, who was raised on a plantation in South Carolina, was motivated to raise funds to purchase and restore Mount Vernon after her mother sailed past Mount Vernon and wrote to her about the distressing state of disrepair into which the home of our First President had fallen. Cunningham launched an unprecedented appeal for donations through newspaper articles directed toward the women of the south, beginning in December 1853. In 1854, the appeal was extended to women of the north.
Mount Vernon was owned by George Washington's great-grandnephew, John Augustine Washington III. On April 6, 1858, Washington sold Mount Vernon to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association for $200,000. The terms were $18,000 down, with an additional $57,000 to be paid no later than the first of the year. The rest was to be paid in three annual installments, but with donations from thousands of people, including President James Buchanan. The Association was able to pay Mount Vernon's purchase price in full on December 9, 1859, two years earlier than expected and took possession on February 22, 1860, the 128th anniversary of George Washington's birth. The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association is the oldest private preservation organization in the United States. It is still all female and still presides over Mount Vernon, which attracts over one million visitors each year. Ex Claude Harkins Collection. 

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