XIII. West Point. The USMA holds George Washington in high esteem for myriad reasons, including for his defense of the Hudson Valley during The Revolution. I’ve visited West Point on several occasions as an “official guest” and had the honor to look into their archives through the generous offering of military and civilian staffers the Army’s Public Affairs section.
XIII-XIV. Glenn, Justin, The Washington’s: A Family History. (6 Volumes, Volume 6, Savas Publishing, El Dorado, Ca., 2014), p. 237. Note: Glenn’s 6 volume effort is a family history and also a genealogical mountain to climb. I have cherry-picked the book, citing this incident of John Washington Lewis’ fateful ride down Pennsylvania Avenue, but there are a lot of other choice stories of Washington family exploits, including many that my mother would recount to me as a child. Some of the Washingtons went west in the gold rush, one founding the San Francisco Examiner as a Confederate-loyal newspaper and the other murdered by his assistants while panning for gold.
XIV. Mount Vernon heir falls. Surkamp, Jim, “Mount Vernon Heir Falls, Lee Tells the Child,” Civil War Scholars. (Until her death, my grandmother, Louisa Fontaine Washington (Dawson) held onto a series of letters between Robert E. Lee and Louisa Fontaine Washington, the daughter of John Augustine Washington, the last “heir” to Mount Vernon.) March 5, 2012.
XIV. Buzkashi Match. In 2012, I participated with a friend, Hanif Ahmedzai, in a Buzkashi match held in Northern Afghanistan in the city of Mazar-I-Sharif and sponsored by several leading warlords. I was mostly present to film the event, but, after mounting a contestant’s horse to play, I quickly exited the fray to avoid being trampled or killed.
XIV. Surkamp, Jim, “Mount Vernon Heir Falls, Lee Tells the Child,” Civil War Scholars. (Until her death, my grandmother, Louisa Fontaine Washington (Dawson) held onto a series of letters between Robert E. Lee and Louisa Fontaine Washington, the daughter of John Augustine Washington, the last “heir” to Mount Vernon.) March 5, 2012
Quade, Alex, “Monument honors U.S Horse Soldiers…” CNN.com article, October 6, 2011.
GW finest horseman quote. Transcribed conversation between Thomas Jefferson and Dr. Walter Jones, 2 January 1814, quoted in William A. Bryan, GW in American Literature, 1775-1865. New York, Columbia Press, 1952, p. 49.
XVII. Prowess. Struna, Nancy L., People of Prowess: Sport, Leisure, and Labor in Early Anglo-America. (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1996.) Note: Though there are others, Struna’s book is probably the most detailed and comprehensive look at the meaning of sports in colonial Virginia. It does not have the breadth of anecdote that Carson’s book has, but the analysis is impeccable.
- Foster, Dennis: Interviews, January through March of 2015 with Lt.-Col. Dennis Foster in Millwood, Virginia. Foster is executive director of Master of the Foxhounds Association of America.
- Middleburg Tack Exchange. Situated in the center of small and vibrant town that boasts some of America’s oldest money, the MTE is a must-stop on the route of any aspiring or experienced fox hunter.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald. This story came from the occupants of Welbourne and is recorded elsewhere as well. Nate Morison was in school with my uncle in Alexandria, and later started a retreat for aging horses at Welbourne.
Part I: Englishman in America
- Snapp, Sam and Wayne. Interviews listed in bibliography. The Snapp family is an example of the German stock that came down from Pennsylvania. Anglo survey teams often called these families, Dutch, meaning Pennsylvania Dutch or German, in actual fact. Wayne’s direct relative worked directly for Lord Fairfax, who owned the Proprietorship, a Crown land grant consisting of over 5 million acres of land, much of it in the Shenandoah Valley.
- Early Diaries. Washington, George. Diaries and Letters, 1748-1765. George Washington Papers. Library of Congress. Searchable at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html
*(Further references to Diaries and Letters will be light herein as access provided below in searchable sites.)
- Berkeley Springs. The national park near to Berkeley Springs is rightly named the George Washington National Forest. There is camping, fishing, and horse riding available. I took full advantage of the views and the offerings, trying to conjure some of the scenes and meetings George would have had here as a teenager and surveyor. Over the next few years, he acquired large parcels of land in the area, also interesting members of his family in acquisitions here.
- George’s observance of Indian Dance. Explorer Michael Rockefeller, who perished in New Guinea in 1961, helped produce a documentary about ritual warfare in the highlands before this. Both the Dani tribes of the highlands and the Asmat of the lowlands, whom he met, engage – as did and do American native tribes — in elaborate mock warfare, which is also a characteristic of other ancient cultures. Dances, themselves, often mimic the moves of war, which may be why GW would later refer to his own form of dance as the “gentler conflict.”
- Lacrosse Game. Edwards, Elizabeth, “Deadly Lacrosse Game in Mackinac Straits…” My North (mynorth.com), 16 May 2010. Note: This deadly lacrosse game has been re-enacted on several occasions in northern Michigan, and there exist “youtube” videos of the event, which is entertaining to watch. It isn’t the only time in history that one side has used a “game” to dupe the other in time of war, but it is, nevertheless, an extraordinary moment in American sports history. It also makes crystal clear the close ties between military training, sports, and war.
- Fontaine, John, An Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia, 1710-1719, “Germanna to Shenandoah.” (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va., 1972.), pp. 20-110.
- Blackbeard. Yetter, George, “When Blackbeard Scourged the Seas.” (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Journal, Williamsburg, Va., 1992.) Note: Governor Spotswood, despite his intimations as a gentleman traipsing through the Shenandoah, was also – by this measure – a head hunter.
22-24. Fontaine, John, An Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia, 1710-1719, “Germanna to Shenandoah.” (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va., 1972.), pp. 94-97 Note: Even at this time, many of the Native American woodland tribes had been decimated by war and disease. Later, the Fairfax family, with George Washington sometimes doing their bidding, was trying to encourage the woodland natives to move further west to clear the way for white settlers.
- The Powhatan Indians of Virginia. Rountree, Helen. (University of Oklahoma Press, Norman and London, 1989.) pp. 83-87. Note: Rountree’s historical insights focus on ritual and habitat. Her descriptions of both the preparation for hunting and war are excellent.
23-25. Fontaine, John, An Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia, 1710-1719, “Germanna to Shenandoah.” (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va., 1972.), pp. 94-97
- Cavalier. In Charles I’s England, cavaliers “personified elegance. Mounted on blooded horses, they dressed in silk and velvet. Wide-brimmed, plumed hats topped their long, curled hair.” Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 16.
- Book of Sports. The “interregnum” lasted from 1642 to 1660, and was a challenging time for sportsman and gamesters, some of whom would flee across the Atlantic for more receptive shores.
- Malory, Dalton. Interviews. Dal is the author of an extensively footnoted and well-researched book on Westmoreland County graveyards. (See his book referenced in bibliography.) He is immensely knowledgeable about the leading families of Virginia, including the Lees, the Monroes, and the Washingtons of Westmoreland, but Dal also has kept track of the less-known in all these families. Many of the oldest graves in Westmoreland, including those of the early Washingtons have been obscured by weather and time, so his extensive courthouse research has been invaluable.
- Nathaniel Pope. Westmoreland County, Virginia, Courthouse files, U.S. Government records. Court filing on behalf of John Washington by Nathaniel Pope. Westmoreland County, Virginia records go back to the arrival of George Washington’s great grandfather in America. The moth-eaten pages have been transcribed into digital files by William & Mary College.
- Destroyer of Villages. Congdon, Charles, Allegany Oxbow (A history of the Seneca nation, 1967.) p 142. The Seneca phrase “Conotocarious,” roughly translated “Destroyer of villages,” was the moniker that the woodland natives gave George Washington during the French & Indian War. They said they remembered him for the exploits of his great grandfather, John, who fought them. Ironically, George was proud enough of this dubious moniker to sign his name, Contotocarious.
32-44. Lees of Virginia. George was born in a home whose now-marked foundations have been uncovered at Bridge’s Creek, less than a mile down the road from graves of his great grandfather, his grandfather, and his father. As George grew up, he would return to this same homestead, now a replica of a colonial plantation, to visit his half-brother Augustine, or Austin. The proximity of all these relatives in one place and the long Washington family’s relations with the Lee family has not been extensively examined, to my knowledge. The Lees helped with the land acquisitions made by the Washingtons on several occasions. However, it is clear that the Washingtons were, by George’s day, a family of good standing with all their neighbors, whose men folk had served long years as county and state officials. The notion that the Washingtons were a “middling plantation family” is a bit of a myth, given the evidence we have from Westmoreland County.
- John Washington (the first Washington in America). Murrin, John et al, Liberty, Equality & Power. (Cengage Learning, 6th edition, 2011.), p. 79. Note: There are numerous accounts of Col. Washington’s mission across the Potomac into Maryland. None provide any solid evidence that his men executed the prisoners. However, the events preceded Bacon’s Rebellion in which much of Jamestown was burnt to the ground because Bacon and his colleagues thought Governor Berkeley was coddling the Native Americans. Col. Washington did not participate in Bacon’s Rebellion and his property was partly damaged by the rebels. As his father Lawrence had been loyal to the Crown, the Washingtons remained loyal to the royal governor in Virginia, only altering their stance in the decade before the Revolution.
- Godiva. George Washington, who paid little attention to his royal ancestors, is directly related to King Edward III, which also makes him related to William The Conqueror and Charlemagne. Geneology was not as easy to trace in Washington’s day, and he might not even have known this. Maybe the takeaway, however, is the Washington had British and French chivalry in his family bloodlines, a “collective outlook” – if you will – that influenced his views about everything from honor to servitude.
32-33. Gus Washington. George Washington Parke Custis. Letter describing Augustine Washington. Though this letter describing George’s father was written in the early 19th Century, it appears be grounded in family history and insight. Note: Custis was the adopted grandson of George and also the father-in-law of Robert E. Lee.
- Fredericksburg, port city. Despite its location well inside of Virginia, an English vessel fully-loaded could set sail from any port in the motherland and said all the way to the docks just opposite George’s own home.
- Philip Levy. Levy was there in 2002, leading the archeological teams, when the remnants of Ferry Farm, George’s boyhood home, were finally uncovered.
- Swedish Leeches. The Washington Heritage Museums group runs the Mercer Apothecary, which is set in the original 18th Century shop run by General Mercer, who died after being bayonetted by British troops at the Battle of Princeton. Colonial impersonators of shopkeepers also keep the extra-large leaches, which they are quite proud of, but which made me cringe.
- Sister Better and the Lewis Family. Felder, Paula S., Fielding Lewis and the Washington Family: A Chronicle of 18th Century Fredericksburg. (The American History Company, Fredericksburg, Va., 1998.) Also Felder, Paula S., George Washington’s Fredericksburg. (The American History Company, Fredericksburg Va., 1988.) Note: Paula Felder’s work on Fredericksburg’s colonial history is some of the best, and, though she is deceased, she often revised it when she found inaccuracies. She has examined the close ties between the Lewis and the Washington family. When Augustine Washington moved his family to Fredericksburg, his family was already in close association with the well-to-do Lewis family, (His sister, Mildred, married a Lewis, and she was George’s godmother) a connection that extended through George’s youth and into the marriage of his sister, Betty, to Fielding Lewis. This is another “family tie” that puts paid to the myth that George Washington grew up with little on a farm. He had a lively world to grow up in and his family had ample means. Fredericksburg, itself, was one of the busiest small ports in the colonies at this stage and shipping records detail the extensive arrivals of vessels, often from Barbados, (with ample rum supplies) and on their way back to Europe.
- Tavern Sports, Life. Goldstein, Warren and Gorn, Elliot, A Brief History of American Sports. (University of Urbana Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1993.), p. 14. Note: The intimate ties between tavern life and sport that carried over to the colonies were long-standing in Europe, including in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This goes part of the way to explain why Roundheads and Puritans deplored what they collectively called the debauchery and decadence of these institutions. Play and drink often went hand in hand. However, just as today in America, there were upscale “sports bars” and those for the often-brawling and sometimes less-gentlemanly workingman and sailor, so the across-the-board accusations were never nuanced enough.
- The Rising Sun Tavern. Though it is Fredericksburg’s best recreation of a colonial tavern or ordinary, the Rising Sun is actually the real tavern that sprung up in the home of Charles Washington, George’s younger brother, who was a long-standing resident of the city before and after The Revolution. While it was established after George’s youth, the essence of the games residents played when they visited is still apparent, from the dining room to the games room. On the scale of similar establishments, The Rising Sun would have been upscale for “gentlemen,” the kind of tavern that George would have looks at enviously as a teenager, and could have entered with a guardian in his mid-teens. He visited ordinaries, however, as is documented and he also learned to play billiards, according to Freeman, in another such establishment. In his lifetime, there are few instances in which George ever had too much to drink.
- Josephine “Jo” Atkins has made it her passion for the last two decades to study the games, the pastimes, and the atmosphere of a typical colonial tavern on the Old Dominion. Much of my insight on cockfighting and gaming in the Colonial Era, however, is cross-referenced with historical evidence and information from the Williamsburg Foundation, which also maintains a well-written journal, expounding on subjects like cockfighting, gambling and cudgeling in 18th Century Virginia. Further insight into life in Fredericksburg, however, is also available through the city’s historic societies and in the books of Pamela Felder.
- Pope, Alexander. “Rape of the Lock” (poem) Editor: Thomas Parrot, London, 1907. Available through the gutenburg project with the link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9800/old/8rplk10h.htm
- Spontaneous Dance. Isaac, Rhys, The Transformation of Virginia. (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999), p. 119. Note: As Isaac, who influenced me early to see Virginia culture in an anthropological light, also notes on p. 89 that, “a number of activities might enable young men to prove their prowess, but dancing was at the center of those community gatherings…Indeed, Virginia dancing – especially the jig with is vigorous alternating pursuit and retreat – was a stylized representation of bold, active, courtship on the part of both sexes.”
- Enjoyment of dance. Philip Fithian, who was a tutor in at a large Virginia Plantation, (that of the Carter family) a decade or so later describes the great love that Virginians had for long dance parties. In many cases, musicians were either indentured servants or slaves, and together their efforts provide an early historical narrative about how American music blended formal music with “jigs” from both Europe and Africa. Fithian even caught his charges dancing with the “help” on one occasion and was appalled by this. Dances were overtly competitive with prizes offered to the best dancer, including shoes for men, or “pumps” as they were also known.
- Court days and county fairs. The rhythms of life in Fredericksburg were similar to those in Williamsburg, and they mimicked life in the Old World. In both the spring and the fall, residents flocked to town for various festivities, which included horse races, fiddling, dancing, wrestling, and even the chasing of a greased pig. Fredericksburg brought together equestrian interests from surrounding counties as well. Colonial Williamsburg often recreates these events and some clips are available for viewing online. Goldstein, Warren and Gorn, Elliot, A Brief History of American Sports. (University of Urbana Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1993.), pp. 5-45
- Horse Racing in Fredericksburg drew crowds, often to view young colts and fillies. Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 44
- Horses = Virility. Isaac, Rhys, The Transformation of Virginia. (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999.) p. 99. Note: Isaac points out that Virginia gentleman talked about their horses as a kind of extension of their virility, noting that “the role of the steed is an adjunct to virile self-presentation is revealed in endless conversation of the gentry about their horses…” Cock fighting also had a similar element of braggadocio, but did not have the same role in society as a sport that defined participants and observers along class lines.
- Equestrian Skills. Lawrence Washington, George’s revered older brother, returned from leading Virginia forces at the Battle of Cartagena, when George had not yet reached his teens. After his father died in 1743, George visited both Lawrence and his other brother, Austin, (at Bridge’s Creek in Westmoreland), on numerous occasions. We know little, however, of what he did on these farms, though he must have been up on a horse, considering that by the age of 16 he was already fording rivers. George’s mother also was an accomplished horse rider, even into her older years, when she was frequently seen riding to and from the Fredericksburg market on her horse.
- Stratford Hall. The Lee family built Stratford Hall as George Washington was growing up in Westmoreland County. It is today one of the finest architectural examples of luxurious plantation living in old colonial Virginia left standing. Ties between the Lees and the Washingtons extended back to the years of John Washington, the first immigrant. Far wealthier than the Washington family, the Lees did not condescend and the two families would intermarry considerably. The President of the Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee, one of the Revolution’s greatest orators and a close friend of George throughout his life and was one of several Virginia associates who struggled with the idea of human slavery, as Washington would do later in life. Richard Henry Lee’s daughter would marry George Washington’s brother Jack’s son, Corbin.
- Mother Mary. Notably, even a leading 21st Century biographer argues that Mary was self-centered and a major complainer. However, Galke argues persuasively that Mary was “quite creative in the performance of her maternal responsibilities,” despite tensions that might have grown later in life when George had achieved a modicum of fame.
45-46. Mary the Rider. Costa, Margaret and Guthrie, Sharon, Women & Sport. (Human Kinetics, Champagne, Il, 1994.) p. 51. Note: The authors, who cite Ludwell’s view of a strong and rugged matriarch, point out that Ludwell admires a woman with strong equestrian skills, which was undoubtedly the case of Mary, who ran the farm after the death of her husband.
- Maligned Mary. Galke, Laura, “The Mother of the Father of Our Country: Mary Ball Washington’s Genteel Domestic Habits,” Northeast Historical Archaeology, Vol. 38, 2009. pp. 32-43. Note: In addition to the paper conversations and edits back and forth with Laura, I’ve taken quotes from an interview Galke did with C-SPAN on recently-discovered artifacts from Ferry Farm.
- Devotion. A sign of George’s faith – if it could be said to be that – hung down over my dinner table as a youth. In their later years, somewhere along the line, George and Martha Washington would acquire two Italian pastels of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Saint John, the apostle, who also happened to be an important patron saint of the Free Masons, an institution George joined and admired. The Saint John hung on our wall and finally ended up back on the wall of Mount Vernon when their curators discovered that my mother owned it. The 17th or 18th Century pastel always made me wonder a bit about George’s faith, and various accounts of his not being the most Christian of our founding fathers. Here is the link the picture and Mount Vernon’s “New Room,” where it rests some of the time:
Mary the Devoted. Thompson, Mary V., In the Hands of a Good Providence. (University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 2008.), pp. 19-21. Note: Mary Ball Washington, according to persons who knew her, including Jack Parke Custis had a habit of “repairing everyday to a secluded spot, formed by rocks and trees neat to her dwelling.” She did the same when she moved into Fredericksburg and into a house there. That she had George sign her books of devotion suggests that she also instructed him on the contents.
- Philip Levy points out here, and I quote him, that George did not have an easy entry into the same “fellowship of genteel Britons” as did his father or brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, who had attended the Appleby School. Young men who had attended school overseas could be assured of “each others characters based upon intangibles like manners and airs,” Levy points out.
- David Muraca made it clear to me that – along with his younger brothers – George led a hearty childhood and one in which he was able to experiment with work and play. Parts of guns and remnants of swords were unearthed from the site of the farm.
47-48. Schooling. Warren, the former head of the Washington Papers project at the University of Virginia, has studied George’s youth closely. He notes that George carefully preserved his school papers, including exercises in math, and surveying as well as his famous list of Rules of Civility. These early papers also include “a series of basic geometry lessons, which seem to be among the earliest papers in the group dated August 13, 1945, when George would have been 13. “The Childhood of George Washington,” Mount Vernon Library.
- Quarter Horse races were events created by local gentry in which a “gentleman would declare that his horse or mare could take on any neighborhood contender and he would put up a purse to back his claim.” Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 22
- Spanish Horses. Another possible import route came when Cabeza de Vaca landed at St. Augustine, Fla. In 1527 and, after some exploration, turned the horses loose to run wild. Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 17
- Lengel, Edward G., General George Washington. (Random House, New York, 2007.) p.10
- Cage fighting reference to violent American sports.
(top) Isaac, Rhys, The Transformation of Virginia. (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999), pp. 95-98. Note: Isaac rightfully wonders how the violent sports of the Colonial Era were related to the violence of daily life in Virginia. I take his point well and I think a similar case could be made for sports in the current century: America has always been violent and the sports we play are a mirror of our lives. Specifically, on page 98, Isaac writes: “Slavery was only one extreme in a whole spectrum of labor systems that existed throughout the Atlantic world. Everywhere poverty and the brutal quality of the struggle for survival conditioned a ready acquiescence – even a delight in the violent infliction of pain and suffering.”
- Burnaby, Andrew, Travels through the Middle Settlements in North America. (T. Payne at the News-Gate, London, 1793.)
- Gouging. Carson, Jane, Colonial Virginians at Play. (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, 1989.) Note: Many references to colonial games, including violent sports and also some foxhunting, are quoted from Carson’s extensive research across the spectrum of colonial sporting life.
- Brown, Stuart, Virginia Baron: The Story of Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax. (Chesapeake Book Co., 1965.) p. 99
54-62. The Fairfax Family. There are differing historical accounts of precisely who in the Fairfax family took young George under their wing at an early age. Some say that Colonel William Fairfax, who built Belvoir, was the greater influence, but other historians say that Col. Fairfax like George but was doing the bidding of Lord Thomas Fairfax, who was the real mover and shaker and source of great wealth in this family. However, the point might well be moot. Lord Fairfax did not enter George’s life until 1747, several years after Col. Fairfax was already father-in-law to his brother, Lawrence. From letters and correspondence we can see that both men took a great interest in the fatherless, George. Washington probably first entered the Fairfax home as soon as his brother married Anne Fairfax, which would have been at the age of eleven or twelve. The manor was just down river from Mount Vernon, which was his brother Lawrence’s at the time. Belvoir was built in 1741 and the Washington-Fairfax marriage was in 1743. George was travelling frequently from his permanent home (with his mother, Mary) at the time at Ferry Farm to visit and stay with Lawrence. Notably, George’s quip about Lord Fairfax’s foxhunting interests does not include a reference to Col. Fairfax, though it is known they all hunted together when possible. George also talks about his fondness, in general, for the entire Fairfax family, suggesting an intimacy that is apparent in the letters he wrote to them.
50-62. Foster, Dennis. Conversations & Interviews.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey. Nun and Priest’s Tale. Note: I read the Nun’s and Priest’s tale as a junior in Berkeley in 1981 and I was amused then and still laugh today at the jocularity of Chaucer’s writings. They are available online, usually. Here is one link:
57-60. Foxhunting origins. Edward of Norwich (2n Duke of York), The Master of Game is a medieval book on hunting written between 1406 and 1413, of which 27 manuscripts survive. It is considered to be the oldest English-language book on hunting. The book is also illustrated and the animals in the pictures would have been quite familiar to George Washington, since they included bears, rabbits, deer, and fox.
- Rajamannar, Shefali, Reading the Animal in the Literature of the British Raj. Palgrave-MacMillan, New York, 2012. (pages 69-87) Note: Professor Shefali, who teaches in the University of Southern California, is an excellent resource on the anthropological significance of British hunting. She quotes Baden-Powell’s books at length and provides analysis of how hunting wild animals was a useful tool for the colonizers and the colonists. British officers actually encouraged the Indian aristocracy, the Sahibs, to hunt and be aloof in much the same way as the British aristocracy. She writes: “the ‘unapproachable Sahib’ on horseback, it was thought, added to the natural and unassumed hauteur essential to hold the huge Continent with a handful of men.” This same thinking was present, as Lord Fairfax rode with young George across the new frontiers of Virginia. It took deference and hauteur to control the “Old Dominion,” but to accomplish this it behooved British officers and wealthy landowners like Fairfax to instill an air of grandeur into their charges. By all indications, George Washington embraced his early hunts with Fairfax for the remainder of his life, becoming a great frontiersman first and an equestrian/hunter whose very presence demanded deference and respect across the colonies, but particularly with those who met him. Prof. Shefali offers a female perspective on the British and their obsessions with the hunt, as well, ridiculing what she sees as the silly claims that pig sticking and foxhunting improve a man’s virility and character.
- Gruneau, Richard, Aesthetics and The Politics of Representation: The Making of the Modern English Sport. (on amodern.net) Note: This article provides ample illustrations of 18th Century hunts, which were far more precise than in earlier ages. The paintings provide insight into the clothes worn by the gentry in this era, but also make clear the distinct class lines created when aristocrats sallied forth into the field. Often, what one does not see in such pictures, including the violence of daily life and the servitude of others, is as informative as the paintings themselves.
- Gentleman’s Sport. Foster, Dennis J., Whipper-in, (With Masters of the Foxhounds Association of America, Winchester Printers Inc., Winchester, Va., 2005.) Note: Col. Foster has written extensively about the rules of foxhunting as well as the proper protocol, particularly in this extensive book, which covers his hunting across North American and Europe. Protocol and playing by the rules is part and parcel of foxhunting today as it was in George’s day. In this respect, it is a very British sport. However, it also entails a lot of socializing and revelry. You can even drink a bit and hunt, I noted. The first sport I covered as a reporter was the national champion rugby team at the University of California. Rugby is another British sport, but the drinking behavior of the foxhunter is notably more refined and less wild per se by comparison.
- Beverley, Robert. The History and Present State of Virginia, in Four Parts, 1673-1722. (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill) and searchable online at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/beverley/beverley.html
- Mr. Cage. Brown, Stuart, Virginia Baron: The Story of Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax. (Chesapeake Book Co., 1965.) p.127 Note: The Cage note is also cited by Washington biographer, James Thomas Flexner. Brown’s biography of Lord Fairfax is better researched on the British end, but is, nevertheless, an invaluable resource on the Washington-Fairfax connection.
64-66. Dance & Corky Palmer
a) Wright, Louis B., The Cultural Life of the American Colonies. (Harper & Row, New York, 1957.) Kindle edition, location 3147. Note: The court documents for the Stagg family’s enterprise are in Williamsburg. They were both dance instructors, who ran a successful theater in Williamsburg, and Mary Stagg continued the work upon her husband’s death in 1736.
b) Van Winkle Keller, Kate & Hendrickson, Charles Cyril, George Washington: A Biography in Social Dance. (The Hendrickson Group, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 1998.) Note: Keller carefully examines the likelihood of precisely where George Washington would have learned to dance. Her conclusion is that he learned at his brother Lawrence’s Mount Vernon Estate and/or with the Fairfax family at Belvoir. The Fairfax family was one of the wealthiest – if not the wealthiest – families in this era and they certainly had extensive assets to entertain and pay itinerant dance instructors, which was the commonest means of instruction in this era.
Palmer, Corky. Interviews. Palmer is not only a dance instructor, but he is a student of music and 18th Century protocol. He serves on the steering committees of several colonial balls that are reenacted every year in Virginia. Later in life, George became arguably America’s most sought-after dance partner, so it is fortunate that he learned at a young age, Palmer pointed out.
Shakespeare, William, King Henry VI. I prefer to let Shakespeare help me define the word “sport” here for several reasons. When he uses the term “peaceful comic sport,” he gets to the heart of the other side of chivalry, which had nothing to do with war and everything to do with word play and ladies. Shakespeare himself, throughout his plays and poems, exemplifies the English “craving” for light mockery, and matters of the heart and mind. It is the bard’s refined touch when dealing with love and war that makes him arguably the greatest writer in English literature.
- Washington, George. Letter to his younger brother, Jack. Full text of letter available on this link: http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/digital-encyclopedia/article/fairfax-family/ Note: The key phrases here for George and Jack are that they are both “young beginners” and the key to their success, George believes, is to live in “Harmony and good fellowship” with the Fairfax family to achieve greater ends. That George, in his teens, had already lived in harmony and good fellowship with Virginia’s wealthiest family says much about his comportment and ambition. He clearly knew how to get ahead and also gave Jack, his favorite brother, (four years younger than he) good advice.
- Washington, George. Letter to Lord Fairfax. 1749. Full text of letter available on this link: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-01-02-0006
- Sportsmen and Patrons. Hussain, Shafqat, Sports-hunting, Fairness & Colonial Identity: Collaboration and Subversion in the Northwestern Frontier Region of the British Indian Empire, Dept of Anthropology, Trinity College, Hartford, CT. See online link at bibliography: http://www.conservationandsociety.org/article.asp?issn=0972-4923;year=2010;volume=8;issue=2;spage=112;epage=126;aulast=Hussain
Note: Professor Hussain’s work, like that of Prof. Shefali, appears, on the surface to be somewhat unconnected to the colonial life of George Washington. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth and I have relied on Prof. Hussain’s writing here and going forward in several respects. Firstly, Hussain points out that colonial frontier officers serving the Raj “hunted in the interstices of establishing the rule of the empire at its margins. They hunted while surveying the area, meeting local chiefs or paying routine visits to the frontier region.” Like George Washington, they demonstrated “their adeptness at hunting, and resulting familiarity with the local geography and knowledge of social and cultural system,” to lay claim to authority within the imperial bureaucracy. Furthermore, Hussain points out that such a young officer, who surveyed and hunted as part of his daily routines, regularly wrote “accounts, in which the author displayed knowledge of the geographical location of mountain passes, the availability of natural resources, and temperaments of local communities,” a process which “served to bolster his own authority.” The habits of these young surveyors and hunters working on the edge of the British Empire “slowly, overtime, became hunting codes which made a clear distinction between hunting as a sport, which built personal physical and moral character, and as a subsistence activity, which the lower classes practiced.” Hussain wisely ties his observations back to the history of hunting in Great Britain, when aristocrats and kings hunted to assert their power and dominance. In other words, hunting, surveying and dominance could – even on the fringes of empire – result in the creation of a sportsman’s identity and authority, precisely what George Washington was after in his early years as a surveyor for the Crown’s properties and for an expanding British empire. It is little wonder that — with the kind of experience he had as a surveyor and hunter – he would soon be chosen to lead men in battle on the same frontier.
- Pig-sticking. Hussain, Shafqat, Sports-hunting, Fairness & Colonial Identity: Collaboration and Subversion in the Northwestern Frontier Region of the British Indian Empire. (Department of Anthropology, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.) On the Website: “Conservation and Society,” See Bibliography.
- Primogeniture. George was the first born of his mother, but the third born for his father. As his great grandfather John Washington had done, a lot of British 2nd and 3rd sons would head to the colonies to make a fortune, thus diminishing somewhat the notion that first sons were better than their brothers. Indeed, in Tidewater Virginia, 2nd and 3rd sons often became upstanding members of the gentry, often surpassing their first brothers.
- Duke of Schonberg. On my visit to West Point to research this book and meet some academics, I made the acquaintance of Major Adrienne Harrison, PhD, who gives credence in her own book to the likely import of this panegyric on the life of a military leaders. As with other texts, it is difficult to know how much influence this quite chivalric real-life figure had on George’s young mind. However, he bought the book himself, which says something and he seems to have embodied a lot of the traits of the Duke, particularly as he grew older. Subsequently, when Harrison spoke at Mount Vernon (and I was in the audience,) she made the case for the influence of this book. Here is a link to Harrison’s book on George’s readings, George Washington: A Powerful Mind.
- Belvoir. Washington historian Jack Warren writes that, as a teen, George “became a frequent visitor to Belvoir in 1748-1749,” adding that, “he was a person of obvious promise. Though he lacked a polished liberal education, he made up for the deficiency with an abundance of energy, practical skill and self-assurance.” “Washington’s Childhood.” Mount Vernon Library.
- Theater. Though even in George’s youth, the theater was being used to educate young minds, its detractors were many, as noted by Silverman, quoting one at length: “Here the fine gentleman may be taught the genuine airs, manners and insincerity of a court; the rake all the lasciviousness and ribaldry of a stew; and the man whose native genius leads him pray to his fellow creatures, may here find ready invented to his hand, every species of fraud and inequity…” Silverman. p. 108.
Part II. War Games & Folly
- Half King, the drinker. Virginia’s senior leaders were already well aware of the Indian affection for spirits and Governor Dinwiddie had warned against distribution of alcohol. The French, on the other hand, appeared quite skilled at using liquors to their advantage, knowing it was one commodity that the Indians craved. Brown, Virginia Baron, p. 134.
- Seneca’s Morals. I read my own copy of Seneca’s Morals online. Fortunately, many of the works of Seneca can be found online for free, but here is the Amazon link:
- Destroyer of Villages. The Indians had given George the moniker of his ancestor either as a kind of ironic way to poke fun at a young warmonger or because they wanted to build up his own ego. It isn’t clear, but he definitely didn’t mind being called this, which says something about his youthful love of war.
- “Coolness” of George? Supreme Court Justice John Marshall’s multi-volume biography of George Washington is not easy to find. Fortunately, I found one in our family archives, especially ascribed to one of my Washington relatives. On pages 16-17 of the first volume, Marshall, who came to know Washington well, describes perfectly what it meant be “cool” in the 18th Century. Looking relaxed around the plantation wasn’t enough. Coolness also required “fearlessness” under fire, as well – that which manifested itself, I suspect, by not flinching in the saddle. John Marshall’s, The Life of George Washington.
- Benjamin Franklin wrote this in his autobiography in which he is often very sympathetic to the plight of the Indians.
127-128. Washington remarked several times on the bad tactics and cowardly behavior of the British forces. Preston. p. 248
- Braddock’s Sash. Mount Vernon has the original sash, which remains in remarkably good conditions. On the occasion of a book talk by Major David Preston of the Citadel, museum curators pulled the red sash out for all to see. Curiously, it has what look to be the actual bloodstains of Braddock, which might have made it even more interesting to George, who lionized the old war chief. See this MV Link: http://www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/general-braddocks-sash-on-display/
- GW Poetry. Most serious Washington historians have noticed George’s education in light and poetic flirtation, which he managed to use to his advantage in social spheres for the remainder of his life. For instance, in writing to Mme. Lafayette after the Revolution, he invites her to visit Mount Vernon, asking whether, “the warbling notes of feathered songsters on our lawns and meads can for a moment make you forget the melody of the opera?” F. 241
- Winchester, a den of iniquity: Another historian duly described the town as “generally a hell hole, owing to its many tippling houses – where their owners enticed soldiers to sell their clothing, arms, and anything they could steal, in return for liquor.” David Clary, FW, 18.
- Peter Hog. Clary’s astute research on this subject is the basis of much of the detail I provide from George’s stay and command in Winchester. Indeed, it Clary who points out the hypocrisy of some of young George’s commands, even though they were in keeping with his concept of what might be acceptable for an officer and a “Virginia gentleman.” David Clary’s George Washington’s First War. P. 172.
- Drunk Scouts. David Clary’s George Washington’s First War. P. 172.
157-158. “pay-for-scalp.” Major David Preston in his excellent book on Braddock’s defeat points out that Gen. Braddock, himself, was an advocate of this policy, which added to the burning of bridges with Native Americans. p. 116. Preston
- Indians are the butchering enemy. Ron Chernow points out the hypocrisy as well of trying to woo the Indians, on the one hand, and save the broader population from them. “Washington began to view himself as the self-styled champion of the backwoods people and was moved by their piteous plight,” he writes.
Ron Chernow. Chernow, Washington: A Life, p. 69-70.
159-160. Drinking to royal healths. Ibid. David Clary. Washington’s First War, p. 187.
- Philadelphia fashions. David Clary points out that George spent most of his week in Philadelphia visiting tailors and hatters. David Clary. Washington’s First War, p. 191.
- Boston Gazette. David Clary also points out that in Boston George again went shopping and purchased more “hats, suits, silver lace, and gloves,” suggesting that he was keen to return to Winchester in style. David Clary. Washington’s First War, p. 191.
- Tippling Houses. Lord Fairfax had tried to help George reign in the rowdy tavern life, which he said were “of great prejudice to our men.” He sent a band of drummers through the streets to herald residents and tell them not to entertain soldiers in inappropriate ways, according to Brown, 147.
162-164. George versus the Governor. Both David Clary and Ron Chernow remark upon George’s growing dispute with Dinwiddie, and I rely here on Howard Gardner’s theories of character development. George’s learning is very much in keeping with theories put forth by the esteemed Harvard Educator: Great leaders and creators often have a break with an authority figure at a young age. In this regard, the elderly Scotsman served as a foil for George’s rebellious spirit, which would, inevitably, turn him into a great leader and nation builder as well. Please find Gardner’s views in his books. Though he does not address George Washington’s personal development, his theories of kinesthetic learning and character development are applicable. For further insights, I recommend Gardner’s work:
- Fairfax benefactor. During the war Dinwiddie also asked Lord Fairfax to perform such services as furnishing boats to cross the “several runs” between Winchester and Will’s Creek and providing land to cooperative Indian tribes. Brown, Virginia Baron, p. 141, 142.
166-170. Washington on the folly of war. As George grew older, it is interesting to note that his views of heroism in war did change. Without his experiences in the folly two wars, one wonders whether George would developed into the kind of President that could lead a nation into a peaceful future as he managed with great difficulty. In particular, after the Revolutionary war, George wrote a telling letter to Marquis de Chastellux about the folly of war and, indeed, how it was better to make love than war. From Mount Vernon on April 25th, 1788, he wrote to Chastellux that,
It is time, he continued, “for the age of knight-errantry and mad-heroism to be at an end.”
“While you have been making love, under the banner of Hymen—the great Personages in the North have been making war, under the inspiration, or rather under the infatuation of Mars. Now, for my part, I humbly conceive, you have had much the best and wisest of the bargain. For certainly it is more consonant to all the principles of reason and religion (natural and revealed) to replenish the earth with inhabitants, rather than to depopulate it by killing those already in existence, besides it is time for the age of Knight-Errantry and Mad-heroism to be at an end. Your young military men, who want to reap the ha[r]vest of laurels, don’t care (I suppose) how many seeds of war are sown: but for the sake of humanity it is devoutly to be wished that the manly employment of agriculture and the humanizing benefits of commerce would supersede the waste of war and the rage of conquest—that the swords might be turned into plough-shares, the spears into pruning hooks—and, as the Scripture expresses it, the nations learn war no more.
PART III. Gentleman Sportsman
- Gentler Conflict. Flexner gets credit for the words of GW in this case, which he also thought “so agreeable and innocent an amusement.” Flexner, 239.
- Fiddler. George spent his own money on 54 gallons of strong beer and a Pound Sterling for fiddler. He was re-elected amid dance and drink. Flexner, p. 250.
- Augustan Age. An overemphasis on the idealists of the day like Locke and Montesquieu can sometimes make one think that political ideas were all the rage. Thought they were, Silverman points out that “Colonists quoted Addison, Thomson, Pope, Milton and Shakespeare as political authorities hardly less often than they quoted,” the political minds of the day. Silverman, p. 83.
- Lewis Hallam. Silverman points out that the polished actor had not been so lucking in sport and that a “fencing accident give one of his eyes a slight cast at times, imparting to his face an odd expression, which some reviewers criticized.” Silverman, p. 64.
- Models of Elocution. Douglass’ argument was an espousing what we now refer to as a “marketplace of ideas” but also the benefits of learning to act in public. Silverman 109-110.
- Bawdy Productions. Some of the plays in this era crammed in a fair bit of bawdiness. Silverman points out that one scene in “The Disappointment,” a play by Douglass’ troupe, “takes place in the Bordello of Moll Plackett, a prostitute who ‘rais’d and laid 500 in my time’ and whose slang surname means vagina. Her “cock-a-dandy” lover is Racoon, an aging and courtly black man.” It wasn’t exactly the Vagina Monologues, but it was racy for its day. Silverman, p. 105.
- George’s world of theater life would change over time. In addition to tasting the satire and parody of the British theater early on, theater would become, maybe more so than it is today, a “battleground of ideologies,” where in political ideas and fashionable behavior would be highlighted and pilloried. This fascinating early history is well-documented in Kenneth Silverman’s. A Cultural History of the American Revolution from 1763-1789.
- The Thespian Perceptor. Silverman, p. 65.
- This playful but serious interview with Lee Holfelder was arranged for by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, whose character actors study the personalities of 18th Century inhabitants for years before and during their portrayals. Martha burned almost all her letters to and from George to preserve the romance of their marriage, but one that survives from George reads simply, “I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time nor distance can change.” Chernow, p. 171.
- Burwell Bassett. This is certainly an objectified view of women. Flexner, p. 237.
- Thomas Posey. Flexner remarks that George’s good friend “became a dead beat, he spent time in jail, but he remained welcome at Mount Vernon to sleep, eat, drink and borrow money.” Flexner, 253.
- White Horses. Flexner gets credit for taking notice of George’s penchant for buying what he liked – often despite the dubious morality of the purchase. Flexner, p. 314.
- Porto Bello visit. William Southall Freeman, Washington, Kindle Edition. Scribner
- Revolutionary habits. Flexner writes poignantly that, “In a Williamsburg palpitating with premonitions of bloodshed, Washington went to church more often than he had ever done, and also gambled for higher stakes.” Apparently, everyone’s blood pressure was rising – maybe even George’s. Flexner, p. 321.
- William Rush’s description. Ron Chernow, Washington: a Life, p. 121
- Fishing was a cross-gender sport. As the staff at Mount Vernon pointed out to me, George did not usually foxhunt with women, but he did, on occasion, fish with them. Outside Philadelphia, George made a trip into New Jersey, “in the company of Mr. Robert Morris and his Lady and Mr. Gouverneur Morris, I went up to Trenton on another Fishing Party.” (GW Diaries)
- Fishing with Hamilton and Jefferson. On June 6 he accompanied Jefferson and Hamilton on a fishing trip off Sandy Hook. Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life, (2010) p. 627.
Part IV: Clever like a Fox
- Clever like a Fox. Douglas Southall Freeman’s extensive account of the austerity and key decisions of the revolution along with insights from John Ferling helped anchor my chapters on the Revolution. Freeman takes a newspaperman’s objective view of much of the proceedings, but he focuses on Washington’s thinking as well. Freeman shows how Washington not only embodied the ideal soldier and citizen but eloquently spoke to the masses in the simple phrase, “When we assumed the soldier we did not lay aside the citizen.” Douglas Southall Freeman, Washington, Scribner.
- Discouraging Vice. Washington appears to have recognized early on – possibly with reference to his most challenging days in Winchester – that controlling vice and striking a serious tone would be key to promoting the importance of the cause. Notably, while discouraging vice, he also encouraged literature and the arts, particularly during the Revolution.
- Gone Away. Silverman points out that it was a young American adjutant who felt so disgraced. Cultural History of the American Revolution, p. 352.
- My Brave Fellows. Freeman describes the scene thus: “Then Washington played his last card in the gamble of American independence. Before he had left the Pennsylvania side of the river he had resolved to offer a special bounty of ten dollars, besides continuance of pay, to each man who would agree to remain with the Army six weeks after the expiration of services on December 31. Freeman, Douglas Southall, Washington, Kindle Edition, Scribner.
- Washington shouted “Halt” and, in an instant, smoke enveloped everything. Douglas Southall Freeman, Washington, Kindle Edition. Scribner.
- Women at Valley Forge. Despite the hardships, the wives of senior officers did reside at Valley Forge for the harsh winder. Cokie Roberts recounts that “They gathered at the Washington’s little log dining room and encouraged everyone to sing, with the high-spirited Kitty Greene working especially hard to keep up morale. Martha even found musicians to help celebrate George’s birthday.” Roberts also recounts that dancing continued throughout the course of the Revolution. Cokie Roberts, Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised our Nation, p. 95.
- George’s demeanor at Valley Forge. Peter Henriques recommended this excellent book, which catalogues French impressions of George. After all, the French knew manners. Another Frenchman, M. Pontgibaud also described George, saying, “He was tall, his face was commanding, his eyes were kind, his language gracious, his gestures and words simple and above all a calm and firm behavior harmonized all these qualities…” GC, 13-31.
- Samuel Adams. Though he put a real damper on some parties in his day, he did get a beer named for him in the 21st Century. Quotes from Silverman, p. 364
- George Lillo, playwright. Silverman, p. 82.
- Flexner notes that while Washington loved the ideals espoused in Cato, he probably wasn’t as austere as the Roman rebel. “Cato indeed, resembled Washington at his most elevated and austere, but the American general was a much warmer and gentler man,” adding that, “Cato would never have set up, as was Washington’s habit, with the staff and guess over the supper table, cracking nuts and jokes hour after hour.” Flexner, p. 242.
- Mathew Carey. Silverman, p. 487.
- Men of real talents. Silverman points to Washington humility when it came to the arts: “Generous but frank, he invariably treated artistic homage with gratitude and encouragement without pretending to connoisseurship.” Silverman, p. 603.
- Northerners fought with blacks. George listened to petitions from his entourage of white officers. Despite this in 1175, he remained worried that fighting with blacks would damage southern cooperation. Flexner, 115.
285-286. Monmouth. Hamilton wrote after the battle about Washington’s poise: “His coolness and firmness were admirable. He instantly took measures for checking the enemy’s advance, and giving time for the Army, which was near, to form and make a proper disposition.” Freeman. Washington. Kindle. Scribner.
- Embrace. Ferling, p. 529.
- Pickax. John Ferling notes that Washington was hearty and ready to help dig the trenches. Ferling, p. 532.
- Slept under the stars. Ferling, p. 532.
- New American Man. As historian John Ferling remarks so succintly, during the Revolution, George “grew to be the very symbol of the selfless, dedicated patriot, remaining at his post year in and year out, never returning home before 1781, and disdaining the bountiful and ostentatious lifestyle.” In many ways, Washington had so embodied the idea of republican virtue, that his next moves would be seen in that light even when he took up some of his old and luxurious southern pleasures in Philadelphia.
Part V: Master of Manners
- Porpoises. It is hard to imagine a Presidential boat followed by a stream of porpoises, but George’s rather modest brown suit, worn the swearing in what is now downtown New York, set the stage for the birth of a republic amid so many monarchies and tyrannies. Two hours of fireworks and 13 canons fired to commemorate the date. Kenneth Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, p. 607.
- Martha the hostess. A French traveller Brissot de Warville remarked that Martha embodied, “that amenity and manifests that attention to strangers which render hospitality so charming.” Flexner. 234.
- Rufus Griswold was a true visionary. His work flew in the face of most historical accounting which focused on the political and military aspects of he American experiment. The idea of a “Republican Court” was a bit ridiculous even on the surface, but it aptly described a new American effort to reconcile aristocratic patterns with new and emerging notions of republican simplicity and virtue. Though it can read as dated now, Griswold’s account of George’s personality and travels is well worth reading through to understand the transformation of American thinking on this subject in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
299-300. Jefferson’s “republican sensibilities” were offended by the “obeisance” paid to George and Martha, writes Bushman.
- Doug Schmersal was the “docent” in charge of two immense mansions in Georgetown. The second, where George met a group of some 50 local ladies, was the Paul Trapier house, later bequeathed to his daughter, Elizabeth.
- Gullah. Prior to meeting Herb on this occasion, I had travelled to several of the remote sea islands where Gullah culture had grown in isolation. Africans living here were able to preserve some African traditions that melted away for many Virginia slaves, though the harsh treatment of slaves in Virginia and the Carolinas was similar. On his Southern Tour, George did nothing to address the evils of slavery and indeed his negotiations served to further solidify the institution.
- Heyward-Washington House. My afternoon tour of this downtown Charleston home put on display the extensive wealth of the South Carolinian rice plantation owners. Most of these plantation owners were far wealthier than even Washington, in land and slaves. Dan Heyward, who built the home on 1770 had some 1,000 slaves between Charleston and Beaufort, and handed much of this wealth down to his son, Thomas.
- Washington’s favorite horses were not his racing horses, but his war horses, including his favorite “Nelson,” a gift from the Governor of Virginia, Thomas Nelson, Jr. Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 16
- Slader’s horse. The fine in this case was exceptionally high, in my view at 100 pounds for the taylor’s brazen attempt to compete against a Virginia gentleman. Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 24
315.Nicholls track. Barbara Crookshanks and Virginia Johnson. Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, p. 20
- Letter to Stockton. George also wrote with a touch of flattery, “Nor would I rob the fairer sex of their share in the glory of the revolution” and that “ladies are in the number of the best patriots America can boast.” Cokie Roberts. Founding Mothers, p. 230.
- Miss McEvers Feathers Cokie Roberts. Founding Mothers, p. 233.
328-329. Branson writes eloquently about the prevailing sexism of the day, but shows how the French Revolution inspired a new brazen crowd of “turban-headed females” parading in the streets of Philadelphia. This is an era that is often overlooked as a forerunner of liberation movements that emerged much later. Branson. P. 74.
- The Contrast. As Silverman notes, the play pitted America’s competing virtues, including “stoicism and high-mindedness against the new spirit of display and fun, republicanism against aristocracy, country against city, soldier against beau and the language of the heart against Frenchified elevation, American simplicity and sincerity against European affection and preoccupation with fashion. As the author notes, Americans turned to the theater for answers. Silverman, p. 560.
- This reference to the words of Manly in the play, The Contrast, can be found in copies of the play that are available both online and at Mount Vernon, where George stored a copy of the play. The Contrast, kindle Loc 461 of 1378.
- Serfs. Flexner, p. 65.
- Proof of their insanity. Flexner, p. 77.
- George the Romantic? Flexner has a lovely passage about young Washington. “Had Washington died in his mid-20s, he could have been presented truthfully as a romantic, almost a Byronic hero. He suffered from dark love for his neighbor’s wife. Turning his back on civilization, he plunged into the wilderness, braving savage dangers, showing herculean strength as he pulled his frozen body out of an ice-filled mountain river. In his pride, he battled during the French & Indian wars with his superiors…” Flexner. P. 486.
- Lafayette’s plan. As Flexner notes, Lafayette’s idea to buy a plantation in French Guiana and to free black slaves was a wild scheme that ended up going nowhere. However, the idea of establishing a “free state” of slaves outside the new United States was an idea that lived on for decades including when George’s nephew, Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington, helped to establish the country of Liberia. When I worked there for the U.N., off the coast of the capital city, Monrovia, was Bushrod Island, a legacy of his engagement to establish a liberated state for freed American slaves. The only catch had been that the Amero-Liberians had set up Antebellum-style plantations, which had been the cause of a recent civil war. I was almost embarrassed to play golf on the Firestone Plantation course as the Firestone company had bought rights to rubber plantations for the equivalent of a dollar an acre through the same plantation managers.
- Jefferson’s slave babies. Flexner points out that Jefferson instructed his manager in 1819 that, “I consider the labor of a breeding woman as no object, and that a child raised every two years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man. In this, as in all other cases, Providence has made our interests and our duties coincide perfectly … I must pray you to inculcate upon the overseers that it is not their labor but their increase which is the first consideration with us.” When one considers the moral repugnancy of this view, it is hard to take Jefferson’s ramblings about the rights of men and free speech very seriously, but then almost every Founding Father suffered from some degree of hypocrisy. Flexner, p. 447.
343-344. Washington’s Will to free his slaves. When Abigail Adams visited Martha after George’s death she remarked on Martha’s fear that her own slaves, about the witness the freedom of George’s slaves, would rise up against her. Adams remarked that, “She (Martha) did not feel as though her life was safe in their hands, many of whom would be told that it was in their interest to get rid of her.” Flexner, p. 446.
- Breeder of Hounds. Flexner recounts George’s interests and close attention to dog breeding in the following passage. “We learned from his diary that Old Harry most wanted to reproduce and was slow on the uptake when Tipsey became ‘proud’ (in heat) she was ‘lined’ (impregnated) before Harry noticed by the ‘little spaniel dog Pompey.” Flexner. P. 240.