A descendant of George Washington

Background on informant: Informant is a senior at USC, studying philosophy, politics and law. He is from New York City.

Informant: My mom seems to think that my family is related to George Washington. It’s something that she’s told me but she’s never really proven it. She doesn’t really have any evidence as far as I know. She’s been able to trace our lineage back to a solider who fought in the Revolutionary War. But as far as I know, she doesn’t have any evidence of George Washington. But she says that it’s true. She says that he’s my great-great-great grandfather but I feel like a lot of people claim to have lineage from George Washington, so I really don’t know. It makes me feel virtuous and honorable. It inspires me.

Analysis: This was a fascinating legend because it highlights how important lineage is to families and how people assume their descendants without necessarily having proof to back it up. The fact that there is no proof does not detract from the meaning, however. As the informant says, “it makes me feel virtuous and honorable,” even though he also knows that the legend is unlikely true. It is interesting that they know they are related to a Revolutionary War soldier and assume that it is George Washington, perhaps because it gives the story more salience with a contemporary audience who would know George Washington by name and not necessarily the actual Revolutionary War soldier who the informant is related to.