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by Jason Williams MD
The George Washington Masonic Cave near Charles Town, West Virginia, contains a signature carving of George Washington dated 1748. Although this inscription appears authentic, it has yet to be verified by historical accounts or scientific inquiry. Like all great legends, there is probably a kernel of truth to the Cave—but so too is there likely an aura of embellishment that developed over time. This book painstakingly pieces together the chronicled events and real estate archives related to the cavern in order to sort out fact from fiction.
George Washington, the man, is justly remembered for his talents on the battlefield, in political arenas, and on his tobacco farms. He was also a smart surveyor and, by his own written account, a speleologist (that is, an explorer of caves). The Masonic Cave conveniently connects all of these fascinating chapters in the life story of Washington; through it, we can better view the transformation that occurred over the decades of the Virginian’s life. From his entrance into the secretive Masonic fraternity as a precocious teen to his associations with scores of captivating characters ranging from Lafayette to Lord Fairfax, to his worldly ambitions that became transmuted into something much bolder and universal, to his strong sense of guilt and remorse as a slaveowner (along with a desire to end that horrid practice), to his struggles with disease and his own mortality, many of the lesser-known aspects of Washington’s life are covered herein. Washington’s biography is one of the most inspiring in American history. Meandering the dark passageways of the Cave brings us to an even closer appreciation of why that is so.
Jason Williams, MD, grew up in California and Montana but now calls Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley home. He is a board-certified psychiatrist who trained at Johns Hopkins Hospital and has subspecialty training in psychosomatic medicine. He is also a proud father of three young adults. As an intrepid, independent scholar of largely forgotten history, Dr. Williams staunchly believes studying the past can lead to personal development and growth, which empowers our collective future.