George Washington

Founding Father / Tobacco Icon

As a member of the landed gentry of colonial Virginia, George Washington grew tobacco at his plantation estate, Mount Vernon. Tobacco had been a staple crop in the American colonies since its introduction by John Rolfe at the Jamestown colony in 1612; however by 1765 George Washington questioned the profitability of his tobacco crops writing to his broker, Robert Cary, in London

“Can it be otherwise than a little mortifying then to find, that we, who raise none but Sweetscented Tobacco, and endeavor I may venture to add, to be careful in the management of it, … should meet with such unprofitable returns?  Surely I may answer No!”

Eventually, Washington diversified his crops and marginalizing tobacco, but the founding father’s likeness would remain as a ubiquitous advertising motif and tobacco companies throughout history readily promoted themselves using the father of the nation.