MOUNT VERNON, Va. — George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate says it will no longer sell a souvenir depicting the founding father’s false teeth amid criticism that Washington’s dentures were made with teeth pulled from the mouths of his slaves.
Critics said selling a souvenir magnet depicting Washington’s famous false teeth trivialized the fact that Washington’s slaves had to give up their own teeth.
On Wednesday, Mount Vernon said on Twitter that it would remove the magnet from its online store. The webpage on which the magnet had been offered for sale was disabled as of Wednesday afternoon.
The old story that Washington’s dentures were made of wood has long been known to be false. It has been known for years that Washington paid about six pounds for nine teeth that were pulled from slaves’ mouths. The payment is recorded in a 1784 ledger.
The fact has received renewed attention following publication of a revisionist biography.
Mount Vernon on its website notes that while the slaves received payment, it does not change the fact that they essentially had no choice in giving up their teeth. Mount Vernon also says that selling teeth and hair was common in the 18th century.