Archive for the ‘George Washington’ Tag

The Whiskey Rebellion   1 comment

Whiskey Rebellion 00

The painting depicts George Washington and his troops near Fort Cumberland, MD, before their march to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Unknown artist, attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer. Circa 1795. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Jefferson was a great President. He opposed the taxation of whiskey. And he had red hair! How could I not be a fan?

It all started in 1791, when the House of Representatives, on a vote of 35 to 21, passed the Excise Whiskey Tax. This legislation was wildly unpopular with farmers and eventually precipitated the “Whisky Rebellion.” Farmers, whose grain crop was a chief ingredient in whiskey, loudly protested the tax.

The year was 1794. US citizens in Pennsylvania had decided that the new government’s decision to tax whiskey was unfair.

In July, a mob of whiskey rebels attacked and destroyed the home of a tax official. The reports are unsure, but it seems that some tax officials were tarred and feathered , and some were ridden out of town on a rail … both of which were “extra-judicial” punishments that were exacted by vigilante mobs, not the fledgling government.

There were published illustrations of this phenomenon, such as the one below. It is important to note that the tar used in such spectacles was not the hot, asphalt-based tar that one might expect. Rather, the tar was pine tar, which can be in liquid form at room temperature. But still … the spectacle sought to punish the focus of the event with humiliation. It’s also true that if you were truly riding a triangular, split rail, then you would be, uh, uncomfortable. Injured, even.

Beware the whiskey tax rebels!

Whiskey Rebellion 02

“Famous whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania”, an illustration from America’s first century: being a popular descriptive portraiture of the one hundred great and memorable events of perpetual interest in the history of our country by R. M. Devens (Springfield, Mass, 1882). From the New York Public Library Digital Gallery; illustrator unknown.

The first US Secretary of the Treasury (1789 – 1795) was Alexander Hamilton, who understood that he needed to create a way for the new republic to pay for itself. One of his solutions was a tax on whiskey.

Pennsylvanians revolted, and an armed rebellion was in the offing. Hamilton advocated the use of military force, which Jefferson passionately opposed. President Washington decided to put the state militias on alert, and then sent in negotiators. When that didn’t help, Washington embraced Hamilton’s view, and sent a force of 13,000 troops – led by Hamilton and Virginia governor Henry Lee – to end the rebellion.

George Washington reviewed the troops at the Carlisle BarracksWhiskey Rebellion 03The final result?

The rebels saw the awesome power of the army, and folded. Ultimately, there were only 2 civilian casualties. Rebellion over.

From The Atlantic.com:

Not everyone fell in line, though. Albert Gallatin, a Pennsylvania politician who would later become one of Hamilton’s successors as Treasury secretary, called the levy a hypocritical attempt by elites to “tax the common drink of the nation,” even as they continued to enjoy their imported fine wines and brandies. Georgians launched a petition to exempt peach brandy as “necessary of life … in this warm climate.” And Thomas Jefferson, who was known to enjoy a drink, led a successful effort to repeal the tax shortly after he was sworn in as president.

More

Carlisle Barracks History

Alexander Hamilton: The Whiskey Rebellion

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion, Part II: Enforcing The Wealth Tax

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion, Part III: Ending The Rebellion

Portraits: George Washington   1 comment

Portrait by Rembrandt Peale

Portrait by Rembrandt Peale, 1795

George Washington (1732 – 1799)

The 1st President of the United States, 1789 – 1797

AKA: The Father Of His Country, The American Fabius, The American Cincinnatus

From: Virginia

College: None; he did receive a surveyor’s certificate from The College Of William & Mary

Married to: Martha Dandridge Custis

Children: None

Party: None

Previous Jobs: County surveyor, General in the Virginia Militia, Planter, Delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Distiller, President of the Constitutional Convention

In His Words:  “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

“But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”

“Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

The  Athenaeum Portrait was left unfinished by Gilbert Stuart, but it is the image used on the dollar bill.

The Athenaeum Portrait was left unfinished by Gilbert Stuart, but it is the image used on the dollar bill.

“A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.”

“By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was levelling my companions on every side.”

“As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

“It is infinitely better to have a few good men than many indifferent ones.”

“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.”

“Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

Not true: From The Moral Washington:

George Washington’s reputation as a man of moral fortitude reveals more about America’s view of morality than it does about the man himself. Washington was an exceedingly bland heroic leader, embodying an eighteenth-century ideal of republican virtue that emphasized duty, sacrifice and honorable disinterest. Flamboyance and daring were emphatically not required. Washington’s virtue was admirable, but not overly interesting.

Perhaps this is why the most famous example of his fortitude of character is, in fact, just fiction. The story of Washington and the Cherry Tree, a tale which still lingers through probably every grammar school in the U.S., was invented by a parson named Mason Locke Weems in a biography of Washington published directly after his death. Saturated with tales of Washington’s selflessness and honesty, A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits, of General George Washington (1800) and The Life of George Washington, with Curious Anecdotes Laudable to Himself and Exemplary to his Countrymen(1806) supplied the American people with flattering (and often rhyming) renditions of the events that shaped their hero. Weems imagined everything from Washington’s childhood transgression and repentance to his apotheosis when “at the sight of him, even those blessed spirits seem[ed] to feel new raptures” (Weems, 60). According to historian Karal Ann Marling, Weems was struggling to “flesh out a believable and interest ing figure … to humanize Washington” who had been painted as “cold and colorless” in an earlier, poorly selling biography. While it is likely that some readers of the time questioned the authenticity of the tales, Weems’ portraits soared in popularity in the early 1800s.

More than a century later, Weems would be vigorously debunked by a new corps of biographers intent on resurrecting the real truth of Washington’s life. Some favored dismantling the myth wholesale and dismissing it from the record. Others, however, intended to portray the story as apocryphal, but commend its inspirational value anyway. As Marling quotes from a woman who remembered every verse of the story from her days as school, “If the tale isn’t true, it should be. It is too pretty to be classified with the myths” (Marling, 310).

The Washington Family by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha Washington, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels.

The Washington Family by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis (Grandson of Martha), George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis (Granddaughter of Martha), Martha Washington, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels.

True: George Washington had false teeth that were carved from whale bone, rhinoceros ivory and deer antlers. Sources disagree on whether there were wooden teeth made for him. He still had one tooth when he was elected President.

Only George Washington has received 100 percent of the electoral votes, in both his first election in 1789 and his second in 1792.

The first constitution of the USA was titled “Articles of Confederation” and was in force between 1781 and 1788. It created a single house of Congress and no executive – but for one year during this period (1781-2), John Hanson served as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.” Hanson was followed by Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788). George Washington was the first President under the Constitution of June 21, 1788, ratified by 1790.

His first inauguration address was 90 seconds long and consisted of 183 words. The second inaugural address was only 135 words. That was the shortest inaugural address by a president.

George Washington was a passionate reader. He especially liked English books on agriculture. He even read books while riding horseback. His reading speed was not particularly fast, but he was consistent and persistent.

Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee all joined the Union during his Presidency.

He was the only President to not live in Washington, DC … he lived at Mount Vernon, in Virginia.

Washington served 2 terms, and refused to serve a 3rd term. His willingness to walk away from power — when many wanted to make him a king — was one of his most powerful demonstrations of what a President should be.

At one time he was the largest distiller of whiskey in Virginia.

In his will, Washington freed his 300 slaves.

The Official Portrait: Gilbert Charles Stuart painted George Washington many, many times. One of his paintings is unfinished, called The Athenaeum. It is his most celebrated and famous work: this is the image of Washington used on the $1 bill. Stuart and his daughters are known to have made 100+ copies of the painting, which they sold for $100 each.

The Official White House Portrait of Washington is one of four copies of what is called the Landsdowne portrait. It was completed in 1797, and hangs today in the East Room of the White House. (Another version hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.) Congress allocated $800 in 1800 to purchase the portrait for the White House.

During the War of 1812, British troops burned Washington. This painting was saved through the intervention of First Lady Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, a slave owned by President James Madison.

George Washington, Official White House Portrait

Washington,-George,-FINAL

More

Big Mo

The Moral Washington

National Portrait Gallery: The Landsdowne Portrait

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: American’s Love George Washington’s Nose

The President’s Mother   Leave a comment

Only known portrait of Mary Ball Washington. Quoth her son, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

Only known portrait of Mary Ball Washington. Quoth her son, our first President, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

Abigail Adams, to her son John Quincy Adams, during his first semester at Harvard, "If you are conscious to yourself that you possess more knowledge upon some subjects than others of your standing, reflect that you have had greater opportunities of seeing the world, and obtaining a knowledge of mankind than any of your contemporaries. That you have never wanted a book but it has been supplied to you, that your whole time has been spent in the company of men of literature and science. How unpardonable would it have been in you to have been a blockhead."

Abigail Adams, to her son John Quincy Adams, during his first semester at Harvard, “If you are conscious to yourself that you possess more knowledge upon some subjects than others of your standing, reflect that you have had greater opportunities of seeing the world, and obtaining a knowledge of mankind than any of your contemporaries. That you have never wanted a book but it has been supplied to you, that your whole time has been spent in the company of men of literature and science. How unpardonable would it have been in you to have been a blockhead.”

Statue of the Lincoln family, with Mary Hanks Lincoln holding Abraham. In 1851, he was quoted as saying, Abraham said of his mother, "God bless my mother; all that I am or ever hope to be I owe to her."

Statue of the Lincoln family, with Mary Hanks Lincoln holding Abraham. Abraham’s law partner quoted him as saying, “God bless my mother; all that I am or ever hope to be I owe to her.”

US Flag: The First   13 comments

US Flag - Betsy RossThe Big Lie

I hate it when people lie.

And when people lie to kids, that’s just evil.

I was lied to.  You too, probably.

Here’s the truth:  Betsy Ross didn’t sew the first American flag.  Here’s more truth: no one really knows who created the first flag, but the smart money seems to be on Francis Hopkinson, a delegate to the second Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence!  He actually submitted a bill to the Congress for services rendered in designing the flag.

Which they refused to pay, as many people were involved in the design.  According to Congress. And they never lie.

The Betsy Ross legend, come to find out, didn’t even become public until 1870, 34 years after her death and nearly 100 years after the American Revolution.  The story was first presented in a paper by William J Canby, Ross’ Grandson, in a paper presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Canby declared that in early 1776, a secret committee from the Continental Congress came to Betsy Ross, a single mother running an upholstery business, to sew the flag based on a design George Washington sketched on Betsy’s table.  The secret committee included Betsy’s uncle, George Ross, Robert Morris (perhaps the wealthiest man in America at the time) , and George Washington – who had the pew next to her at church.

The iconic moment, captured in many paintings, was when Betsy demonstrated to the gentlemen that rather than using the 6-pointed star that they proposed, a 5-pointed star would be better as it could be cut with one motion of her scissors.

But there’s no proof this ever happened, except for family stories passed down within the Ross family … which kept it a secret for almost a hundred years.

However, Canby’s story captured the imagination of America and it became a part of the public discourse … and was generally accepted as true.  I learned it in school as fact.  How about you?

The Basics

To figure out who made the actual first flag for the United States of America, there are a few basic questions to be answered.

1. When could such a flag have been made? Not before there was a nation, certainly.  The Declaration of Independence was not ratified until July 4, 1776 … and Ross had received a commission to make the US flag months earlier?  It seems difficult to designate a flag before you have a nation.

HOWEVER, historians have cited the “first” flag as the Continental Colors, which was used on both US ships (before there was a US) and at garrisons of the Continental Army.  This flag was used until a more official flag was designated in 1777.

The Grand Union Flag, AKA The Continental Colors, was first hoisted on the ship Alfred, in Philadelphia on December 2, 1775, by Lt. John Paul Jones.

The Grand Union Flag, AKA The Continental Colors, was first hoisted on the ship Alfred, in Philadelphia on December 2, 1775, by Lt. John Paul Jones.

2. Who had the authority to create a flag to represent the country? A “secret committee” of the Continental Congress?  I don’t think so.  Even if Washington — the leader of our armed forces in time of war! — made the time to meet with a flag maker, it strains credulity to assume there would be no contemporary proof of the event.  It’s also possible Washington simply needed a standard or battle flag for his army … that kind of flag has been very common through history.  Armies “rally to the flag.”

3. Who designed it, and who made it? We’ll never know.

Finally, on June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress adopted the following: Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

There was no provision for exactly how the stars should be arranged, nor what the size of each element should be.  Those details varied in the subsequent years.

Here’s the “Betsy Ross Flag” that I grew up assuming was our nation’s first flag, along with two others that also fulfill the Congressional Resolution of 1777.

It's certainly true that Betsy Ross made flags, and may well have designed this flag.  Was it official?  No more than the other contemporary designs that fulfilled the Continental Congress' resolution.

It’s true that Betsy Ross made flags, and may well have sewn this flag. Was it official? No more than the other contemporary designs that fulfilled the Continental Congress’ resolution.

This is the flag that Hopkinson billed Congress for the creation of.  It certainly fulfills their requirements laid out in the June 1777 resolution.

This is the flag that Hopkinson billed Congress for the creation of. It certainly fulfills their requirements laid out in the June 1777 resolution.

The Cowpens Flag was was said to have been carried by William Batchelor of the 3rd Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781.

The Cowpens Flag was said to have been carried by William Batchelor of the 3rd Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781.

Originally entitled Yankee Doodle, this is one of several versions of a scene painted by Archibald M. Willard in the late nineteenth century that came to be known as The Spirit of '76. Often imitated or parodied, it is one of the most famous images relating to the American Revolutionary War. The life-sized original hangs in Abbot Hall in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The painting uses a Cowpens flag.

Originally entitled Yankee Doodle, this is one of several versions of a scene painted by Archibald M. Willard in the late nineteenth century that came to be known as The Spirit of ’76. Often imitated or parodied, it is one of the most famous images relating to the American Revolutionary War. The life-sized original hangs in Abbot Hall in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The painting uses a Cowpens flag.

There is a belief among many that the first “official” US flag was raised at a summer-long encampment of the Continental army at Middlebrook, New Jersey in 1777. That flag is assumed to be the Hopkinson flag, not the Betsy Ross flag.

If the Continental Congress approved a specific version of the flag, that was never recorded.  We do not know which design was the first accepted flag of the United States of America. That distinction was apparently not important to our founding fathers, and didn’t become important until truth seekers began to clamor for an answer about 100 years after the fact.

And that is frustrating.  Life was much simpler in grade school, wasn’t it?

Betsy Ross showing Major Ross and Robert Morris how she cut the stars for the American flag; George Washington sits in a chair on the left. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris.

Betsy Ross showing Major Ross and Robert Morris how she cut the stars for the American flag; George Washington sits in a chair on the left. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930).

The Birth of Old Glory, by Percy Moran, has Betsy Ross showing her flag to George Washington and three other gentlemen.

The Birth of Old Glory, by Percy Moran, has Betsy Ross showing her flag to George Washington and three other gentlemen. Painting was done circa 1917.

Charles Weisgerber's 1893 painting of The Birth of Our Nation's Flag, helped make Betsy Ross the most famous woman in American history. Since no images of Ross existed, Weisgerber created her face from photographs of her daughters and other female relatives.

Charles Weisgerber’s 1893 painting of “The Birth of Our Nation’s Flag” helped make Betsy Ross one of the most famous women in American history. Since no images of Ross existed, Weisgerber created her face from photographs of her daughters and other female relatives. The publication of this illustration – in a book authored by Ross’ descendants, no less – cemented her place in American lore.

More
US Flag: The Second
US Flag: The Third
US Flag: The Snake Flags
Common Place
The Betsy Ross Story
CyberSarge

//

%d bloggers like this: