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A Life of Purpose: Conservation Legacy
If no one else will do it, I will do it.''
George Washington's mansion at Mount Vernon

View of the Potomac River from Mount Vernon
Frances Payne Bolton's patriotism, her love of nature, her personal generosity, and her interest in historic preservation came together in her effort to preserve the beauty and tranquility of George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virginia. For Mrs. Bolton, Mount Vernon was a symbol of Washington's legacy of freedom for the American people. When a sewage plant threatened the natural vista across the Potomac River, Mrs. Bolton mounted a campaign to save the view. To her, more than a scenic vista stood in jeopardy. The unspoiled landscape, enjoyed from the veranda of Mount Vernon from George Washington's time to our own, was an important part of the nation's cultural heritage and should be protected from unthinking commercial exploitation. She was not dissuaded when developers suggested that people should not worry about the sewage plant's aesthetics because they intended to construct it as a replica of Mount Vernon!

Mrs. Bolton used her own funds to set up the Accokeek Foundation to acquire thousands of acres of undeveloped land. Some parcels were donated. Others were purchased outright by Mrs. Bolton herself. It took more than a decade, but eventually the foundation's holdings were deeded to the government. The Department of the Interior purchased additional parcels to create Piscataway National Park in 1974. President Gerald R. Ford, who signed this legislation, called Piscataway National Park one of the most important conservation projects in the nation. Now, 2,100 acres of parkland are available to the American people for recreation. Because of Mrs. Bolton's timely financial and political support, the view from Mount Vernon is still very similar to the one that George Washington enjoyed when he returned from fighting the British during the American Revolution.

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Politician, humanitarian, philanthropist, and patriot The Life of Frances Payne Bolton (1885-1977)