ARLINGTON, Va. – George Washington's adopted son was a bit of a ne'er-do-well by most accounts, including those of Washington himself, who wrote about his frustrations with the boy they called "Wash."
"From his infancy, I have discovered an almost unconquerable disposition to indolence in everything that did not tend to his amusements," the founding father wrote.
At the time, George Washington Parke Custis was 16 and attending Princeton, one of several schools he bounced in and out of. Before long, he was back home at Mount Vernon, where he would be accused of fathering children with slaves.
Two centuries later, the National Park Service and the nonprofit that runs Washington's Mount Vernon estate are concluding that the rumors were true: In separate exhibits, they show that the first family's family tree has been biracial from its earliest branches.
"There is no more pushing this history to the side," said Matthew Penrod, a National Park Service ranger and programs manager at Arlington House, where the lives of the Washingtons, their slaves and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee all converged.
President George Washington had no direct descendants, and his wife Martha Custis was a widow when they married, but he adopted Martha's grandchildren -- "Wash" and his sister "Nellie" -- and raised them on his Mount Vernon estate.