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Experience... is the best rule to walk by. --George Washington to John Parke Curtis, West Point, August 24, 1779

SPRING 2003, Seattle:
“George Washington: A National Treasure” on Tour
Tennessee Declares GW Education Day
A Blast From the Past
Not Our Finest Hour
Death Be Not Proud
Trippin' Through Time
The Pudding Papers
* WINTER 2003, Los Angeles
* FALL 2002, Las Vegas
* WINTER 2002, Promotional

The Patriot Papers
print-friendly version MIDDLE SCHOOL, SPRING 2003, SEATTLE

We interrupt this edition of The Patriot Papers news to bring you the nearly news-a collection of intimate historical glimpses into the past, captured in not-so-living color in The Pudding Papers. Our on-the-scene trusted correspondents include: Silas Silvertongue, our presidential reporter; Titus Blunt, our congressional correspondent; and our own Prudence Pudding, who provides social notes from all over. (We leave it for you to decide, dear reader, whether she is an upstart hussy or a man in disguise.) In the spirit of the freedom of the press guaranteed by our new Bill of Rights, we intend to act as a watchful eye and a listening ear, sometimes bringing a plate of gossip, but never a dish of scandal.

* Editor's note—We apologize in advance for any improprieties, insults, or slanderous remarks on the part of our correspondents. They are, at times ill-mannered, sometimes indiscreet, and, at all times, want of wit.


Patience Wright by an unidentified artist, etching 1775.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Social Notes from All Over...

April 23, 1789

HE COMES! HE COMES! George Washington, President-elect of the United States, has just set foot on the New York shore after an eight-day triumphal journey from Mount Vernon. The excitement here is unbelievable. Thousands line the streets—all you can see are heads standing as thick as ears of corn before the harvest. Ladies are crowded in every window, anxious for a glimpse of the illustrious man. “I have seen him!” we heard one young lady call out, “and though I had been entirely ignorant that he was arrived in the city, I should have known at a glance that it was General Washington: I never saw a human being that looked so great and noble as he does. I could fall down on my knees before him.” Washington, it can well be believed, is more popular than the new government he is to head.


John Adams by John Trumbull (detail), oil on canvas, circa 1793.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

May 14, 1789

WHAT IS THE PRESIDENT TO BE CALLED? Debate, we are told, rages behind the closed doors of the Senate over a proper title for the President. Vice President John Adams and a number of the senators have insisted that a grand and high-sounding name, such as “Elective Excellency” or “Elective Highness,” is necessary to give respect to the office. Sources tell us that the committee appointed to draw up a list of titles “of all the Princes of the Earth” has recommended “His Highness the President of the United States of America, and Protector of their Liberties.” But the House of Representatives refuses to agree, and Mr. Washington will be simply called President of the United States. As one member of Congress told us, no other title was necessary to add to the respect the whole country had for General Washington.


Martha WashingtonAbigail Adams

Martha Washington (above left) by an unidentified artist, after Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale, oil on canvas, 1800-1825. Abigail Adams (above right) by Raphaelle Peale, hollow-cut silhouette, 1804.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
May 30, 1789

THE PRESIDENT’S LADY. Mrs. Washington, who needed some time to prepare for her journey, has now arrived in New York. The President’s lady will give no interviews to the press, but this correspondent has talked to many of her friends and acquaintances. Mrs. Adams, the Vice President’s lady, who first met Mrs. Washington when she came to be with the general in Cambridge at the beginning of the war, told The Patriot Papers that Mrs. Washington is a lady of patience and prudence. “Her manners are modest and unassuming, dignified and feminine, not the Tincture of ha’ture about her.”

July 9, 1790

WHERE IS THE CAPITAL TO BE? Ever since the old Congress left Philadelphia in 1783, arguments have raged over where the permanent seat of government should be built. At last, the residence is decided. The government is to leave New York and spend the next ten years in Philadelphia. The permanent capital will be a new city created on the banks of the Potomac River, the exact location to be chosen by President Washington. Some folks speculate that it will not be far from Mount Vernon. New Yorkers, after they have gone to so much trouble and expense to accommodate the government, feel betrayed and one angry letter to the editor speaks of the President as the country’s “former favorite guardian and deliverer.”


Alexander HamiltonThomas Jefferson

Alexander Hamilton (above left) by James Sharples, pastel on paper, circa 1796. Thomas Jefferson (above right) by Mather Brown (detail), oil on canvas, 1786.
Gift of Charles Francis Adams. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
February 1792

POLITICAL PARTIES. Not a word about political parties in the Constitution, but they are here and with a passion. Federalists, who are friends of the government, and the Republicans, who find much to criticize, are at it tooth and nail. Most folks say the parties started over the differences between Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton, the friend of business and manufacturers, has pushed for a strong federal government; Jefferson, who wants to see America stay a land of farmers, is deeply suspicious of moneymen and banks. But what has really stirred things up is the war between France and England, with the Republicans being passionately on the side of France, which has beheaded its king and become a republic, and the Federalists seeing the old mother country as an important trading partner. The President, who wants to keep both Hamilton and Jefferson in his cabinet and to steer a neutral course between France and England, is beset by difficulties.

August 2, 1793

THE PRESIDENT ENRAGED. Sources tell us that the President lost his usually well-controlled temper at a recent meeting of his cabinet. Shown a satiric piece describing his head being chopped off by the guillotine, printed in Republican editor Philip Freneau’s newspaper, the President went suddenly into a towering rage, spoke bitterly of the newspaper abuse to which he had been subjected in past months, and defied any critic to indicate one selfish act committed by him in office. He said he would rather be a farmer than emperor of the world, and yet that “rascal Freneau” insinuated that he would like to be a king. To add insult to injury, Freneau sent three copies of every issue to the President’s dwelling.

Philadelphia, April 1791

OUT AND ABOUT. The President of the United States, it is well known, is very fond of the theater and has gone outside the city to Southwark, where plays are performed. During an affecting moment leading to a happy ending, Washington was observed to shed a tear. As the humorous scenes unfolded, those playing the parts of Priscilla Tomboy and Young Cockney received the approving smiles of the old hero. General Washington goes often to concerts but has been heard to say, “I can neither play Musick nor sing Songs.”

Philadelphia, January 1791

MRS. WASHINGTON’S DRAWING ROOM. On Friday evening at eight, your humble correspondent was among the ladies and gentlemen in attendance at Mrs. Washington’s weekly reception. Mrs. Washington, plainly dressed, but in a gown of rich silk, sat on a sofa by the fireplace and arose to greet her guests with a curtsy which each lady returned. Each gentleman bowed low. Coffee, tea, and cake were served, and had I come in the summer, I would have been offered lemonade and ice cream. The ladies swish about, and as candlelight is a great improver of beauty, they appear to great advantage. President Washington circulated among the crowd, chatting agreeably with all the ladies. It is said that he keeps count of the numbers who come to pay their respects to Mrs. Washington and was pleased to find the room so crowded.


"Death March and Monody," sheet music, circa 1799-1800.
Gift of Charles Francis Adams. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Philadelphia, February 1797

NEW THEATER ON CHESTNUT STREET. We are informed that the President of the United States intends visiting the theater this evening and has sent his carriage to bring the Vice President and his family to join him. The play to be performed is Columbus, or, A World Discovered, and it will display scenery, machinery, and decorations, the likes of which have never been seen before. A representation of a storm, an earthquake, a volcano eruption, as well as a procession of Indians, await all who enter. Columbus will be followed by a farce called A Wife at Her Wit’s End.




Philadelphia, July 13, 1793

RICKETT’S AMPHITHEATRE. Word that the President and his family were to attend a performance of Mr. John Bill Rickett’s dangerous feats on horseback brought a large crowd this evening to what is called the Circus. The acrobatic performance was held to raise money to buy firewood for the poor during the coming winter. Mr. Ricketts, demonstrating his agility by drinking a glass of wine while on horseback, raised his glass to the health of “The Man of the People.” This produced an immediate clap of applause and a loud hurrah from every part of the Circus. Mr. Ricketts has expressed his agreement with those who call General Washington the finest horseman of the age, saying “I delight to see the general ride, and make it a point to fall in with him when I hear that he is abroad on horseback; his seat is so firm, his management so easy and graceful, that I who am a professor of horsemanship, would go to him and learn to ride.”


Charles Willson Peale, self-portrait, oil on canvas, circa 1791.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Philadelphia, September 1796

PEALE’S MUSEUM. A visit to Mr. Peale’s museum, Prudence Pudding tells us, is well worth the admission fee of one fourth of a dollar, if only to see the huge American Buffalo. Peale’s rooms are filled with monsters of the earth and sea, a rich array of birds, and a great collection of the bones, jaws, and teeth of tigers, sharks, and many other fearful animals. In one room are rattle, black, and spotted snakes, confined in cases enclosed with wire and glass. She was astonished to see Mr. Peale take out a black snake about four or five feet long feet long, which he permitted to touch his cheek and twine itself around his neck. In the yard and stable were eagles, owls, baboons, monkeys, and a six-footed cow. Mr. Peale is also a painter, and there can be seen in his museum more than a hundred portraits of the more noteworthy personages of our country, including our illustrious Washington.

June 1791

THE PRESIDENT ON TOUR. When he entered upon the duties of his office, George Washington decided he would visit all parts of the United States to please the citizens and to see how they felt about the new government. Silas Silvertongue, who is with the President’s party, reports that they are nearing the end of their two-month journey of 1,887 miles. Everywhere there has been a remarkable outpouring of affection for the President, Silvertongue informs. Towns have been in a bustle of preparation, and at every stop the citizens have come out to meet him with addresses of welcome. Ladies, some rouged up to the ears, have bedecked themselves with sashes and headbands painted with images of the President and patriotic slogans. The festivities include the ringing of bells, bands of music, cannon salutes, and some very bad poetry. (see Poet's Corner)

Will the Real George W. Please Stand Up?
Actor William Sommerfield brings George Washington to your community for a 3-day trip back in time.
Actor William Sommerfield brings George Washington to your community for a 3-day trip back in time.

Actor William Sommerfield
Photograph by
Jack Manning,
New York Times

Hailed by historians and politicians as the definitive dramatic portrayer of George Washington, William Arthur Sommerfield fascinates audiences with the insights, warmth, and humor of our first President. Sommerfield strips away the marble image of the ideal man and replaces it with a portrayal of George Washington, the intensely human being—a man of humor, anger, sorrow, failure, sacrifice, and love.

Check local venues for details.


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