Matthew Costello's article "Bones, Blood, and Soil: Virginian Identity and the Relics of George Washington" will be featured in Essays in History, the annual journal of the Corcoran History Department of the University of Virginia, and published by the University of Virginia Press. It is a study of George Washington's remains, or relics, in relation to the shifting ideas of Virginian identity in the early Republic. I examine the 1799 Congressional resolution to inter Washington in the Capitol in Washington D.C., passed unanimously, and its resurrection in 1832 by Henry Clay to celebrate the centennial of his birth. The article also surveys intrastate sectionalism in Virginia and the growing polarizations between Western and Eastern Virginians. Political representation and suffrage, taxation, slavery, colonization, and internal improvements all make appearances in my essay. It certainly appeared that Virginians had much to disagree over, but local representatives unanimously supported a declaration that explicitly prohibited the federal government from taking Washington's body. The incident provided Eastern Virginians a way to reassert their authority, challenge the federal government, and bridge the gap between the east and the west. This falls into the broader argument of the importance of the Founding Generation for historical memory in the antebellum period. These figures had the malleability to unite and divide the same groups over different issues, and as local and regional interpretations offered different memories, these individuals and events became points of conflict. Washington was certainly a national symbol by 1832, but this attempt to turn his body into a national relic threatened Virginians' collective memory of Washington: he was first a Virginian, and second, an American. The article is now available online at


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