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Thomas Jefferson: Sacred and Undeniable?

Anectotage.com provides many stories about famous people. Check out this one on Thomas Jefferson
     Thomas Jefferson was not responsible for the final version of the most stirring passage in the American Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Jefferson’s original draft read: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable, that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

     The Second Continental Congress cut or changed 500 of Jefferson’s words, “mutilations” for which he remained bitter for the rest of his life. Years after the Constitutional Convention, he was still sending both versions to friends to ask which one they preferred.

     The final insult to Jefferson’s legacy came two centuries later, however, when the home in which he had drafted the Declaration of Independence was torn down – and replaced with a hamburger stand.

 Source: http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=7533

Tommorow:  A Special Valentine

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Jefferson on Guns

     “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” 

                            Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to his nephew Peter Carr, August 19, 1785.

    Jefferson over years owned numerous firearms.  The most well known firearms owned by Jefferson were a pair of Turkish pistols received from the estate of General Isaac Zane in place of a money bequest. Jefferson described them and, at the same time, modestly alluded to his ability as a pistol shot: “They are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel at 30 yards with them…” 

    In a letter to Payne Todd dated August 15, 1816, Jefferson wrote:  “You must now accept a keep-sake from me, which may suit you as a sportsman, better than myself who have ceased to be one. I send by the stage, to be lodged for you at Orange C.H. a box containing a pair of Turkish pistols. They were originally with wheel-locks, which not being convenient, I had locks of the modern form substituted, but so that they can be changed for the former in a moment. They are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel 30. yards with them. I fixed one in a wooden holster to hang in the loop of the pommel of [my saddle] to be handily taken out and in…I had other holsters also made for both [to] hang them at the side of my carriage for road use, and with locks and staples to secure them from being handled by curious people. One of the wheel locks is a little out of order, and will require a skilful gunsmith to put to rights.”

For more info:  http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/firearms

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Jefferson on Jenner’s Smallpox Vaccine

 Despite his skepticism of many medical treatments, Jefferson was an early advocate of smallpox inoculation. Smallpox epidemics caused many deaths in the American colonies. However, in 1766 at age twenty-three, Jefferson made a special visit to Philadelphia in order to be inoculated for smallpox. In later years, he would have his daughters, grandchildren, and slaves inoculated as well. 

In later years, Jefferson penned a note to Dr. Edward Jenner, who developed the small pox vaccine.

Letter from Jefferson To Dr. Edward Jenner,Monticello, May 14, 1806

  SIR, — I have received a copy of the evidence at large respecting the discovery of the vaccine inoculation which you have been pleased to send me, and for which I return you my thanks.  Having been among the early converts, in this part of the globe, to its efficiency, I took an early part in recommending it to my countrymen.  I avail myself of this occasion of rendering you a portion of the tribute of gratitude due to you from the whole human family.  Medicine has never before produced any single improvement of such utility.  Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood was a beautiful addition to our knowledge of the animal economy, but on a review of the practice of medicine before and since that epoch, I do not see any great amelioration which has been derived from that discovery.  You have erased from the calendar of human afflictions one of its greatest.  Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.  Future nations will know by history only that the loathsome small-pox has existed and by you has been extirpated.

        Accept my fervent wishes for your health and happiness and assurances of the greatest respect and consideration.

Tomorrow:  Jefferson on Guns     Rita Bay

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Jefferson’s Ice Cream Recipe

     Thomas Jefferson was able to enjoy ice cream throughout the year because ice was “harvested” from the Rivanna River in winter and taken to the Monticello ice house, which held sixty-two wagon-loads. The ice house located in Monticello’s north dependency wing was used throughout the year primarily to preserve meat and butter, but also to chill wine and to make ice cream. In 1815, Jefferson noted, the ice supply lasted until October 15.  Tomorrow, Jackson’s statement of the Essential Prinicples of Government from his 1st Inaugural Address.  Rita Bay

 

    The original recipe is found in the Jefferson Papers collection at the Library of Congress.  The recipe written in Jefferson’s own hand is the first American recipe for ice cream.  The sabottiere Jefferson refered to is the inner cannister shown in the drawing. There was no crank to turn it; when Jefferson wrote “turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes” he meant for someone to grab the handle and turn the cannister clockwise and then counterclockwise.

Ice Cream.

     2 bottles of good cream.
     6 yolks of eggs.
     1/2 lb sugar

Mix the yolks & sugar. Put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla. When near boiling take it off & pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar.  Stir it well. Put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it’s sticking to the casserole.  When near boiling take it off and strain it thro’ a towel.  Put it in the Sabottiere then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served.  Put into the ice a handful of salt. Put salt on the coverlid of the Sabottiere & cover the whole with ice.  Leave it still half a quarter of an hour.  Then turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes  Open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabottiere. Shut it & replace it in the ice open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides  when well taken (prise) stir it well with the Spatula.  Put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee. Then put the mould into the same bucket of ice. Leave it there to the moment of serving it. To withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out & turn it into a plate.

MODERN VERSION  From Marie Kimball’s Thomas Jefferson’s Cook Book 

Beat the yolks of 6 eggs until thick and lemon colored. Add, gradually, 1 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil 1 quart of cream and pour slowly on the egg mixture. Put in top of double boiler and when thickens, remove and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. When cool add 2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla. Freeze, as usual, with one part of salt to three parts of ice. Place in a mould, pack with ice and salt for several hours. For electric refrigerators, follow usual direction, but stir frequently.

Source of full text:  http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/home-activity-0

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Washington’s Dentures Put Under the Laser

     Story was that Washington’s false teeth were made of wood.  In 2005 researchers at the dental museum in Baltimore conducted a high-tech study of Washington’s famous false teeth.  High-tech laser scans revealed that the dentures are made from gold, ivory, lead, human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were common components). The dentures had springs to help them open and bolts to hold them together.

Washington had Several Sets

     Scientists and historians plan to use the information to help create new, expressive, life-sized figures of plaster and wax to show aspects of the 6-foot-3 Washington’s personality they consider underappreciated.

Tomorrow, a salute to to Thomas Jefferson begins with his recipe for ice cream, the first recorded in the US,

For more info check out: the Associated Press article of  1/27/2005  at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6875436/ns/technology_and_science-science/

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An Eyewitness Account of the Death of George Washington

George Custis in 1844

     George Washington Custis, Martha Washington’s grandson, was a witness to George Washington’s death.   Custis who was 19 years old when Washington died in 1799 records his account of Washington’s death in Recollections of Washington (1860). Tomorrow, a high-tech look at Washington’s dentures.

     “On the morning of the thirteenth, the general was engaged in making some improvements in the front of Mount Vernon. As was usual with him, he carried his own compass, noted his observations, and marked out the ground. The day became rainy, with sleet, and the improver remained so long exposed to the inclemency of the weather as to be considerably wetted before his return to the house. About one o’clock he was seized with chilliness and nausea, but having changed his clothes, he sat down to his indoor work – there being no moment of his time for which he had not provided an appropriate employment.

     At night on joining his family circle, the general complained of a slight indisposition, and after a single cup of tea, repaired to his library, where he remained writing until between eleven and twelve o’clock. Mrs. Washington retired about the usual family hour, but becoming alarmed at not hearing the accustomed sound of the library door as it closed for the night, and gave signal for rest in the well-regulated mansion, she rose again, and continued sitting up, in much anxiety and suspense. At length the well-known step was heard on the stair, and upon the general’s entering his chamber, the lady chided him for staying up so late, knowing him to be unwell, to which Washington made this memorably reply: ‘I came so soon as my business was accomplished. You well know that through a long life, it has been my unvaried rule, never to put off till the morrow the duties which should be performed today.’

     Having first covered the fire with care, the man of mighty labors sought repose; but it came not, as it long had been wont to do, to comfort and restore after the many and earnest occupations of the well-spent day. The night was passed in feverish restlessness and pain…The manly sufferer uttered no complaint, would permit no one to be disturbed in their rest on his account, and it was only at daybreak he would consent that the overseer might be called in, and bleeding resorted to. A vein was opened, but no relief afforded. Couriers were dispatched to Dr. Craik, the family, and Drs. Dick and Brown, the consulting physicians, all of whom came with speed. The proper remedies were administered, but without producing their healing effects; while the patient, yielding to the anxious looks of all around him, waived his usual objections to medicines, and took those which were prescribed without hesitation or remark. The medical gentlemen spared not their skill, and all the resources of their art were exhausted in unwearied endeavors to preserve this noblest work of nature.

    The night approached – the last night of Washington. The weather became severely cold while the group gathered nearer to the couch of the sufferer, watching with intense anxiety for the slightest dawning of hope. He spoke but little. To the respectful and affectionate inquiries of an old family servant, as she smoothed down his pillow, how he felt himself, he answered, ‘I am very ill.’ To Dr. Craik, his earliest companion-in-arms, longest tried and bosom friend, he observed, ‘I am dying, sir – but am not afraid to die.’ To Mrs. Washington he said, ‘Go to my desk, and in the private drawer you will find two papers – bring them to me.’ They were brought. He continued -‘These are my Wills -preserve this one and burn the other,’ which was accordingly done. Calling to Colonel Lear, he directed – ‘Let my corpse be kept for the usual period of three days.’

     The patient bore his acute sufferings with fortitude and perfect resignation to the Divine will, while as the night advanced it became evident that he was sinking, and he seemed fully aware that ‘his hour was nigh.’ He inquired the time, and was answered a few minutes to ten. He spoke no more – the hand of death was upon him, and he was conscious that ‘his hour was come.’ With surprising self-possession he prepared to die. Composing his form at length, and folding his arms on his bosom, without a sigh, without a groan, the Father of his Country died. No pang or struggle told when the noble spirit took its noiseless flight; while so tranquil appeared the manly features in the repose of death, that some moments had passed ere those around could believe that the patriarch was no more.”
For more info, check out:  “The Death of George Washington, 1799,” EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2001).

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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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Martha Washington’s Cure for Respiratory Ills

Indian Turnip

     One of the duties of the mistress of the home was to treat the injuries and illnesses of the household.  Martha Custis Washington was known for her proficiency as a household manager.  As a young widow with children, she even managed the business dealings of her plantations which was uncommon for the time.  Although she didn’t want to leave Mount Vernon to move to New York to become the first First Lady, she supported her husband (as she always had) and was a gracious hostess to all.  Check out her recipe for respiratory illnesses.

     Take the wild or Indian Turnip when it is in blossom or has the fruit on it, wash and cut it in thin slices Run a thread thro it, and hang it in the chimney corner to dry quickly but do not let the fire come to it – when it is very dry power it in a mortar – the potion to take as much as will lay on the point of a knife when the difficulty of breathing or coughing come on make it in to a bolus with honey – it may be repeated as often as the stomack will bear till it gives ease.

For more information:   http://marthawashington.us/items/browse?tags=medicine

Tomorrow, George Washington in his own words on the right to carry and when weapons should be used.  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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