Martha’s Letters tells the story about John Mason, the Chief Building Inspector for national parks and landmarks in the Commonwealth of Virginia. During his routine inspections at the Mount Vernon estate he encounters an object he had never seen before on any of his numerous past visits. It’s a needlework sampler with a poem created to lead him to a tin box buried in the kitchen near the Washington mansion. He digs up the box and opens it later at his home and discovers letters written by George and Martha Washington throughout the early months of the Revolutionary War, letters claimed to have been destroyed by Martha. The first box contains a note from Martha indicating that there are twelve more boxes of their “destroyed” letters hidden on the grounds.
John has to make a decision. Turn in what he’s found to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, that oversees the landmark, or keep and record all the letters and publish them in a book to preserve the priceless documents for the entire world to see. He opts for the latter choice, which embroils him in a precarious journey to retrieve all the letters while under the intense scrutiny of the park’s security force, the Mount Vernon ladies, the police and the FBI. He further decides to select several letters, and “polish” them for flow and easy readability to demonstrate the incredible love affair between Martha and George. His arrest for grand theft of government documents and the ensuing trial provide the last act of the story with a most unexpected twist: (Spoiler Alert) Martha, in her very first note, declared that the finder of her letters to be the heir to all of them. John Mason owns all 700 historical letters. John’s book, Martha’s Letters, becomes a huge best seller that makes him and Mount Vernon the recipients of the book’s fortune in royalties.