Tag Archives: George Washington

Washington’s Home: Mount Vernon

WashingtonHome

President George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon was far more elegant than Lincoln. Although orphaned early in life, Washington was home-schooled by tutors, then worked at various jobs until he found a home in the military. His best personal decision was marrying the rich widow, Martha Custis.

While managing his own estate and those of his wife and step-children, he became one of the wealthiest men in the state. His enterprises included farming and a distillery. In spite of his wealth, Washington spent many years in service to his country –  first, as a soldier in the French and Indian Wars, in the politics of the Virginia colony, as Commander of the Continental Army, and then as President of the United States. Washington was both wise and patriotic.

In my opinion, his greatest act of patriotism was refusing a third term as President of the United States. The United States could have become a monarchy with  George as its first king.

 

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How Washington Escaped A Trap

After the battle of  Trenton, Washington went back across the Delaware River. He had not men enough to fight the whole British army. But the Americans were glad when they heard that he had beaten the Hessians. They sent him more soldiers. Then he went back across the river to Trenton again. There was a British general named Cornwallis. He marched to Trenton. He fought against Wash­ington. Cornwallis had more men than Washington had. Night came, and they could not see to fight. There was a little creek between the two armies. Washington had not boats enough to carry his men across the river. Cornwallis was sure to beat him if they should fight a battle the next morning.

Cornwallis said, “I will catch the fox in the morning.” He called Washington a fox. He thought he had him in a trap. Cornwallis sent for some more soldiers to come from Princeton in the morning. He wanted them to help him catch the fox. But foxes sometimes get out of traps.

When it was dark,Washington had all his camp fires lighted. He put men to digging where the British could hear them. He made Cornwallis think that he was throwing up banks of earth and getting ready to fight in the morning.

But Washington did not stay in Trenton. He did not wish to be caught like a fox in a trap. He could not get across the river. But he knew a road that went round the place where Cornwallis and his army were. He took that road and got behind the British army.

It was just like John waiting to catch James. James is in the house.  John is waiting at the front door to catch James when he comes out. But James slips out by the back way. John hears him call ” Hello ! ” James has gone round behind him and got away.

Washington went out of Trenton in the darkness. You might say that he marched out by the back door. He left Cornwallis watching the front door. The Ameri­cans went away quietly. They left a few men to keep up the fires, and make a noise like digging. Before morning these slipped away too. When morning came, Cornwallis went to catch his fox. But the fox was not there.

He looked for the Americans. There was the place where they had been digging. Their camp fires were still burning. But where had they gone? Cornwallis thought that Washington had crossed the river by some means. But soon he heard guns firing away back toward Princeton. He thought that it must be thunder. But he found that it was a battle. Then he knew that Washington had gone to Princeton.

Washington had marched all night. When he got to Princeton, he met the British coming out to go to Trenton. They were going to help Cornwal­lis to catch Washington. But Washington had come to Princeton to catch them. He had a hard fight with the British at Princeton. But at last he beat them.

When Cornwallis knew that the Americans had gone to Princeton, he hurried there to help his men. But it was too late. Washington had beaten the British at Princeton, and had gone on into the hills, where he was safe.  The fox had got out of the trap.

SOURCE:  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans                                                      By Samuel Eggleston                                                                                                           American Book Co  1893                                                                                                       Digitized by Google                                                                                                                 Available for free download from Google Books

Tomorrow, Washington’s Last Battle    Rita Bay

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Rita Bay’s Wonder of the World #2: Mount Rushmore

 

The Avenue

The Shrine to Democracy features the 60-foot high faces of four American presidents sitting 500 feet up looking out over South Dakota’s Black Hills. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were selected by sculptor because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. Controversy was involved with the construction of the monument because the Black Hills area was granted by an early treaty with the US to the Lakota Sioux. The US later exerted a claim to the area.

 

Confederate Memorial Stone Mountain, GA

In 1927, sculptor Gutzon Borglum who had  worked on the Confederate Memorial at Stone Mountain selected the Presidents to be honored and began drilling into granite of the mile+ high mountain near Keystone, South Dakota. After 14 years and $1 million the project was completed by Lincoln Borglum with no loss of life.  The Avenue of Flags, the primary approach to the monument, features the flags of all of the states and territories. The Memorial is managed by the National Parks Service.

FYI, the monuments were originally designed to be carved from waist up. The design was modified to busts only due to financial limitations.  The original carving of Jefferson that was located on Washington’s right but was dynamited and recarved because of technical problems with the rock.

Tomorrow, St. Peter’s Basilica     Rita Bay

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The Art of Surrender

Sorry about two days of missing posts.  Technical problems. RB

In medieval times, part of the ritual of knighting was the awarding of the sword.  The sword, therefore, came to be the mark of an officer and a gentleman. Surrendering one’s sword became a token of submission.  It was also the custom to take an officer’s sword away from him and breaking the blade when he was dismissed from the service in disgrace.

When Cornwallis was defeated at Yorktown in October of 1781, the surrendering soldiers marched out of their fortification with colors folded, surrendered their arms at a predetermined location, then departed to detention; the British officers were allowed to keep their side arms and to depart to Britain or to a British-occupied American port; and the officers and soldiers were allowed to retain personal possessions.

Surrender at Yorktown by Turnbull

On the day of surrender, in a breech of military etiquette, Cornwallis declined to attend the surrender ceremony, claiming illness. His second in command, Brigadier General Charles O’Hara, in an attempt to avoid the humiliation of turning over Cornwallis’ sword to Washington, attempted to present the token to General Rochambeau. The French commander refused to accept the sword and pointed to Washington. When O’Hara turned to make the presentation,Washington called on his second-in-command, General Benjamin Lincoln, to accept it. The defeated Brits were reported to march to surrender to the tune of “The World Turned Upside Down.”

     If ponies rode men and grass ate cows,
     And cats were chased into holes by the mouse . . .
     If summer were spring and the other way round,
     Then all the world would be upside down.

In Turnbull’s painting, General O’Hara is pictured. The French are lined up on the left and the Americans on the right.  Cornwallis is absent, pleading illness. 

Tomorrow,  Medieval Matchmaking    Rita Bay

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More of Washington’s Rules of Civility

Below are a few more of George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation that relate specifically to the manners of the time:

Young Washington

2d When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered.

4th In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

7th Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Drest.

10th When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.

12th Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

13th Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

29th When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.

Tomorrow,  A Medieval Welcome   Rita Bay

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Washington’s Rules of Civility

June’s theme on RitaBay’s blog is To the Manner Born, a look at manners–past and present.  Tomorrow, we’ll have the full introduction for the month but today, we begin with a short general introduction to manners as written by George Washington.

George Washington

George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation were originally composed by French Jesuit priests in 1595. Washington’s rules were copied as an assignment given to him by his schoolmaster.   Later in Washington’s life, the rules provided a framework for the treatment of equals among equals, a profound belief of American society that all men were created equal.  Whether serious or humorous (for our time), the rules provide a foundation of self-respect and self-esteem and respect and esteem for others. Here’s a few favorites in their original form—others will be featured throughout the month.  

110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company

1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

20th The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.

21st: Reproach none for the Infirmaties of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

22d Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

23d When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always shew Pity to the Suffering Offender.

24th Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Publick Spectacle.

86th In Disputes, be not So Desireous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.

87th Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.

88th Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressigns, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.

89th Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

108th When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & wt. Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.

109th Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.

110th Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

More to follow later this month.    Tomorrow,  To the Manner Born     Rita Bay

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Washington on Weapons

Washington's Pistol

     George Washington was a warrior before he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, a statesman that helped fashion the Constitution, and the first President of the United States.  He wrote in support of firearms:  “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”  His favorite weapon was this decorative flintlock pistol with embossed wood and metal grips is 13.5″ long and weighs 1.2 lbs. 

     George Washington wore this simple hanger sword as his battle sword while serving as commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  The sword has a slightly curved, grooved forged steel blade, a silver mounted cross guard and pommel, and a green ivory grip.  The scabbard was leather with silver trim. The dimensions were: 3.5″ H x 36.25″ W x 1.25″ D.  It was made in Fishkill, New York by John Bailey, an immigrant cutler from Sheffield, England. The sword was inherited by Washington’s nephew, Samuel T. Washington, an army captain.  Samuel’s son donated the sword to the United States government in 1843.  It is housed at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Behring Center.

     According to Washington’s will, his swords were bequeathed “To each of my Nephews, William Augustine Washington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, Bushrod Washington, & Samuel Washington, I give one of the Swords or Cutteaux of which I may die possessed; and they are to chuse in the order they are named. These swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood, except it be for self defence, or in defence of their Country & its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands, to the relinquishment thereof.”

Tomorrow, Sunday’s Storytellers: An Eyewitness Account of the Death of George Washington.   Rita Bay

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Washington on God & American Exceptionalism

     General George Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Army to the Congress in 1783. His resignation established civilian rather than military rule, leading to democracy rather than potential dictatorship. He presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and was elected President in 1789, the only president unanimously elected by the US Electoral College.  His inauguration was held at the Federal Hall in New York City.  Below is the wordy excerpt of Washington’s First Inaugural Address relating to God and country which may have set out the concept of  American exceptionality.  Tomorrow, George’s love letter to Martha.  Rita Bay 

 “Fellow Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives”      

     Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.
By the article establishing the Executive Department, it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into that subject, farther than to refer to the Great Constitutional Charter under which you are assembled; and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications, I behold the surest pledges, that as on one side, no local prejudices, or attachments; no seperate views, nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests: so, on another, that the foundations of our National policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free Government, be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its Citizens, and command the respect of the world.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

Read the full text of the speech here: http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/gw-inauguration/

 

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Whisky & Washington’s Wealth

Welcome to the launch of Rita Bay’s Blog.  This week’s salute to Washington will include the distillery post below, an excerpt of Washington’s 1789 inaugural address which should be required reading for all US Government servants, one of the few surviving love letters he wrote to Martha, Martha’s home remedy for respiratory problems, a report on the high-tech examination of Washington’s dentures, his statements on the necessity of carrying weapons and an eyewitness account of his death.  Most posts include links to read more info and all of this week’s posts are suitable for children. 

The Reconstructed Distillery

     George Washington, although he farmed around 8,000 acres, rarely had cash on hand.  As a matter of fact, when he was elected President he had to borrow money to relocate to New York City which was the center of the American government in 1789. 

     His fortunes changed, however, when James Anderson, his Scottish plantation manager, recommended that he open a distillery on his Mount Vernon estate.  Mount Vernon possessed the requirements for a successful venture:  nearby access to a market in Alexandria by road or on the Potomac, a consistent source of grain and wood and a constant overhead flow of good quality water.  The distillery was constructed below the millrace to take advantage of the water source available by the flow of gravity.  The cooper in the Mount Vernon cooperage built the barrels for the production and shipping of the whisky

The Distillery's Foundation

     The first batch of 600 gallons in 1797 was so successful that the initial purchase of one copper still was soon followed by the purchase of three additional stills and the construction of a larger distillery.  Washington soon became the largest distiller of whiskey in the United States.  In 1799, his distillery produced 11,000 gallons of rye whiskey with a profit of $7,500.

      The distillery which measured 75’ x 30’ and included a residence for the distiller was torn down about 15 years after his death. Archaeologists at Mount Vernon discovered the foundations of the distillery and began excavations in 1999 with a grant from the Distilled Spirits Council of the US.  After the excavations were completed in 2005, a working distillery was reconstructed which produces whisky using Washington’s own recipe which was 60% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malted barley.

During Reconstruction

    Washington, who had stopped growing tobacco as a cash crop decades before, was an entrepreneur who sought to make Mount Vernon a self-sufficient community.  In addition to wheat as a primary cash crop, he operated a gristmill (which has also been rebuilt) to grind his and his neighbor’s wheat into a fine flour and maintained a fishing operation in the Potomac River which caught and salted shad and herring for consumption at Mount Vernon and for sale to local merchants.  Washington also operated a smithy in which the blacksmith worked for the surrounding farms.  Tomorrow, Wednesday’s Worthy Words post will present an excerpt of Washington’s First Inaugural Address.

For More Info check out:  

Archaeology Magazine’s interactive website Distilling the Past from 2003 or the Mount Vernon website:  http://www.mountvernon.org/learn/pres_arch/index.cfm/sss/82/

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