Supporting Stratford Hall

Most of us who like Stratford Hall have an interest in history. While I’m not a historian, I decided to do a little armchair research on someone who has particular significance this season – the Father of the Charitable Deduction on Income Taxes. It’s not as a snappy a title as “The Father of Our Country” but it’s still a title nonetheless. As individuals consider making year-end charitable contributions, they might be interested in knowing more about how making gifts to charity got to be not only a smart move financially, but also part of the American culture.

Who is the Father of the Charitable Deduction on Income Taxes, you ask? My search for the answer actually took me to American Public Media’s Marketplace website. And the answer is Senator Henry French Hollis of New Hampshire. I’m borrowing heavily from Marketplace’s website, but here’s the scoop…

The year was 1917 and America was embarking on the first World War. In order to pay for the war, Congress was prepared to levy high taxes on the wealthiest individuals. Those same individuals had been ones that had founded libraries, museums and universities in the previous decades. Worried that these higher taxes would decrease the sums of money these philanthropists were pouring into charitable organizations across the United States, Senator Hollis helped create an incentive for them to continue giving.

Now, “year-end giving” has become part of the American culture for all Americans. You may do it because it’s a smart financial move, or just because it’s the time of year when you take stock of your blessings and share with others – it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to support the causes you care about.

We are grateful for the support of the many Friends of Stratford that help to make our work possible. Whether you love Stratford Hall for its historic and natural resources, or because of the compelling stories of the Lees of Virginia, please give a sign of support by giving this year. Visit and click on “Support Stratford” for more information.

Thank you and happy holidays!

-Chandler Battaile, Director of Development