Here Comes the Bride

This invitation to the wedding of Mount Vernon employee Sarah Johnson appears in the scrapbook of Margaret Sweat, Vice Regent for Maine (1866–1908). Johnson was born enslaved to John Augustine Washington III, the last private owner of Mount Vernon, in 1844. After the Civil War, Johnson returned to Mount Vernon to work for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association with her husband, Nathan. She worked as the Mansion’s housekeeper, sold lunches and milk to visitors, and performed all manner of domestic chores around the estate. During her long employment with the MVLA, she earned the high respect of many Vice Regents and fellow employees. Mary Carver Leiter, Vice Regent of Illinois (1885–1913), purchased the wedding dress for Johnson’s second marriage to William Robinson in 1888. The wedding was held at Johnson’s house, on Mount Vernon’s grounds, after visiting hours. Superintendent Harrison Dodge reported to a Vice Regent, “the bride looked radiant in her yellow gown.” A year after her wedding to Robinson, Sarah Johnson purchased four acres of her own land just north of Mount Vernon, a plot formerly owned by John Augustine Washington III. The flag at Mount Vernon was flown at half-mast when she passed away in January 1920.