The George Washington Institute of Living Ethics (GWI)
The GWI is a uniquely American center for ethics where decision-makers, academics, business leaders, and government officials from the global community at large can identify and address the many ethical challenges facing the world today. The Institute will provide the opportunity to discover, rediscover, and build upon the wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers’ enlightened and more effective ethics policies and practices in business, governance, healthcare, and environmental management. Through an extensive set of educational programs and products, other sectors of American life will be discussed, developed, and made known to people of all ages.
America’s Founding Fathers believed in an America whose ideals of freedom and democracy were founded upon religious and metaphysical ideas of the nature of man, the uniqueness of the individual, and the search by each person for what is valuable and unique to them and the community of their allegiance. This idea of democracy is not the pursuit of material wealth, but rather an introspective, personal process such that each person may pursue life and truth guided by civic responsibility and a broad conception of ethical conduct for the common good. It is the goal of bringing people together under the guidance of a common conscience that lies at the heart of the idea of a democratic republic in its uniquely American form.
George Washington — A Benchmark Ethical Standard
George Washington is revered for his incorruptible moral virtue and renowned for his ownership and development of Mount Vernon. Born on the banks of the lower Potomac River in rural Virginia and raised at Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, his roots lie in the Northern Neck, between the Rappahannock and the Potomac in what is now Virginia and West Virginia.
While much of the Washington legacy is preserved in and around Washington, DC, Fredericksburg, Virginia, and other portions of the family homeland, there is relatively little public recognition or celebration of the family’s heritage in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
As a teenager, George Washington helped survey the lower Shenandoah Valley for Thomas, Lord Fairfax, and was captivated by the beauty and rich agricultural potential of the Valley. In 1750, at age 18, he used his earnings from surveying to buy 453 acres in what is now Jefferson County, West Virginia. He also encouraged his older half-brother Lawrence to buy land in the Valley. Shortly after Lawrence died in 1752, his younger brothers George, Samuel, Charles, and John Augustine inherited his extensive Valley holdings.
Recognizing an opportunity to build upon the historic nature of George Washington’s legacy, we have established a living monument commemorating his ideals and those of the Founding Fathers within the Washington family’s homeland. Here we will help others rediscover and apply the wisdom and core values so unique to the Great American Experiment of the 1700s. This is not so much our vision, but rather the vision of George Washington and those who collaborated in the formation of the government of the United States.