Commonwealth Books of Virginia is pleased to announce that James Thompson Has Unraveled the Mystery That Has Enshrouded George Washington’s "Mulatto Man" for 200 Years

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James Thompson has drawn back the veil and discovered who Billy Lee really was. As is the case with many pieces of accepted history, the reality is nothing like the common knowledge.

George Washington's Mulatto Man - Who was Billy Lee ?

"The truth is stranger than fiction," Mark Twain

Only four of the men who painted George Washington’s portrait knew Billy Lee. These were John Trumbull, Edward Savage, James Peale, and James’s famous brother Charles Willson Peale. The groom in Trumbull’s 1780 portrait of General George Washington is frequently presented as rendering of Billy Lee. Thompson explains that this is not so. The attendant in Edward Savage’s portrait of George Washington’s family is also said to be Billy Lee. Thompson explains why this is not the case either. James Peale helped his brother finish up to eighteen renderings of General Washington at Princeton. Before now, no one has suspected the groom in the background of this work to be Billy Lee, evidently because this figure is not black. While everyone today expects that George Washington's mulatto man was black, the author explains that this expectation is no more true than the other assumptions.

Thompson’s work is the product of extensive original research. He is therefore able to explain, for example, that Charles Willson Peale spent far more time with the General and his mulatto man than all of the others together. Charles Willson Peale painted the first of his seven portraits of Washington in 1772 while Washington was still a Colonel in the Virginia Militia. He notes that Captain Peale was with General Washington at Princeton and fired at least one shot at the British in Washington’s presence. Thompson knows that Peale only painted with live models and that when he painted his famous portrait of Washington at Princeton in 1779, the General and his mulatto man were both present.

Thompson sees Billy Lee as more than a dim background figure. Although his association with George Washington allowed him to become famous, the reality of his life was a tragedy. Thompson traces it through all its vague twists and turns. In the process, he reveals a number of unfamiliar and fascinating qualities in George Washington’s character and a number of neglected and astonishing aspects of America’s racial history. “George Washington’s Mulatto Man – Who was Billy Lee?” will be released on 15 October 2015 and distributed by Casemate Distribution Services of Havertown, Pennsylvania.

James Thompson studied Philosophy as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student, he lived on the farm of Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. During his four years there, he began what has proven to be an ongoing investigation into "the philosophy" of Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Thompson developed an interest in the History of Ideas teaching courses in Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics and Western Civilization at Strayer University in Alexandria, Virginia. He completed his first book, “Beyond the Veil of Reason - Thomas Jefferson's Early Political Initiatives,” as a Batten Fellow at the Jefferson Center for International Studies at Monticello. Commonwealth Books of Virginia published “The Birth of Virginia’s Aristocracy” in 2009 and “The Dubious Achievement of the First Continental Congress” in 2011. “The First Revolutions in the Minds of the People” will be released in the fall of 2015.

Commonwealth Books of Virginia is a small press founded in 2009. In keeping with our motto, “Where History, Philosophy, and Art Meet,” we publish historical commentaries, non-fiction narratives in History and Political Philosophy, memoirs, historical fiction, and art. Our authors write great books. We build visibility for them and their work using technology that presents them to national audiences. We connect authors and their work with opinion makers, book reviewers, and commentators. We inform affinity groups and targeted communities of readers. We produce beautiful books. Our sales team takes our books into all channels of the book trade. Readers of our books expect to expand their horizons while enjoying themselves.

ABOUT THE BOOK: “George Washington’s Mulatto Man – Who was Billy Lee?”

Cloth Edition:
ISBN: 978-0-9909592-2-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013946747
Size: 6" x 9"
Pages: 240
Images: 25 (Color and Black & White)
Retail Price: $25.00    
Publication Date: October 15, 2015

Ebook Editions:
EPUB ISBN: 978-0-9909592-0-5
PDF ISBN: 978-0-9909592-1-2
Mobipocket ISBN: 978-0-9909592-3-6
Retail Price: $8.95    
Publication Date: October 15, 2015

Paperback Edition:
ISBN: 978-0-9909592-4-3
Retail Price: $20.00    
Publication Date: Pending

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