Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Free Black Men and Women in Maryland

In Church. The Illustrated London News

From the 17C on there was a growing free black population in Maryland. This population grew quickly in the antebellum years. African Americans were usually emancipated for diligent work, good conduct, familial connections, or commendable service. At other times white owners experienced a change of heart, an attack of conscience, or, in the case of Quaker meetings, freed their slaves in following their religion.

The methods for manumission in Maryland included court actions, instructions in owners' wills, self-purchase, purchase of one's own family member's freedom with money earned when hired out, governmental decrees, or rewards for military service. In Maryland, according to acts of 1697 and 1692, the law declared that children followed the condition of their mother. Thus, when children were born to a free mother, they were free also.

In 1752, the population of Baltimore County included 166 mulatto slaves, 96 free mulattoes, 4,027 black slaves and eight free blacks. The census of 1790 recorded that about eight thousand free blacks lived in the state at that time. The free black population was concentrated in northern and western Maryland.

In 1830, the free black population was just under 53,000, about 12 percent of Maryland's population, according to the U.S. Census. That meant that about one-third of the entire Maryland African American population in Maryland was free.

Free blacks generally were not accorded the same privileges as white citizens. Maryland changed its laws relating to free blacks depending on the political climate. For a brief period some free blacks had the right to vote, but the law was later rescinded. Blacks could not carry firearms or testify against whites in court.

Free black men & women & especially children lived under the threat of being beaten or kidnapped by whites who would sell them into slavery. One reason whites formed the Maryland Abolition Society was to try to protect free blacks from kidnappers. Maryland passed and repealed several laws prohibiting blacks from assembling or carrying firearms. Maryland county governments often vacillated about the right of free blacks to hold and bequeath property. Whites often sought to restrict the type of work blacks could do because they did not want to compete with them. At various times the Maryland Assembly tried to pass laws prohibiting blacks from reading abolitionist literature, operating boats, obtaining licenses for pedaling, participating in certain trades, or having or driving hacks, carts or drays. There was also an effort keep free blacks from owning dogs. Slaveholders' motive for many of the laws, particularly those prohibiting free blacks from owning conveyances, was to prevent them from aiding runaway slaves.

In spite of numerous restrictions, free black men & women in Maryland formed their own churches, schools, benevolent societies, and businesses. By 1847 there were at least thirteen black churches in Baltimore alone. Many churches were a part of larger denominations which met periodically in various states to discuss both religious and political matters.

The 1850 Census indicates that over 50 percent of Maryland free black men & women could read and/or write. Free persons of color worked as domestics, small farmers, innkeepers, street vendors, ship caulkers, stevedores, sailors and boatmen, draymen, barbers, teamsters, blacksmiths, and liverymen. Blacks who had purchased their freedom were usually able to do so, because they had earned money with their skilled labor.

Some free blacks, like astronomer Benjamin Banneker and preacher Daniel Coker, were able to record their own experiences. Banneker published an almanac and aided in the survey of the Federal District, later to become the District of Columbia. Coker became one of the first emigrants to return to Africa with the American Colonization Society.

Written by Debra Newman Ham for the Maryland Online Encyclopedia..

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington 1731-1802 Life as 1st Lady in Philadelphia.

Although Grorge Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States of America on April 30, 1789; it wasn't until 1790, that arrangements were being finalized for a residence for the First Family (certainly not called the "first family" in those days, sorry) in Philadelphia. In 1790, Washington finally was able to begin making plans to move Martha and her 2 nearly teenage grandchildren up from Virginia to live in the house of Robert Morris in Philadelphia.

Her grandchildren's father was Martha's deceased son John Parke Custis (1755-1781). Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis (1779-1852) was about 12, when she arrived in Philadelphia; and her little brother George Washington "Washy, Wash, or Tub" Parke Custis (1781-1856) was 2 years younger. Both children remained at Mount Vernon, after their widowed mother remarried. Their grandmother Martha Dandridge Custis Washington also had been widowed by the death of her 1st husband Daniel Parke Custis only 7 years after their 1750 marriage. She married George Washington 2 years later.

Washington's Philadelphia Residence on High Street.

Washington wrote to his secretary Tobias Lear (1760-1816) describing the house in which they would all live on September 5, 1790. Tobias Lear & his new bride would also live in the house. Lear had just married Mary (Polly) Long (1766-1793), his childhood sweetheart. While living in the President's house, they would have a baby boy; but Polly would die in 1793, during the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic that claimed nearly 5,000 people "The house of Mr R. Morris had, previous to my arrival, been taken by the Corporation [the city of Philadelphia] for my Residence. — It is the best they could get. — It is, I believe, the best.Single house accommodation of my family. — These, I believe will be made. The first floor contains only two public Rooms (except one for theupper Servants). — The second floor will have two public (drawing) Rooms & with the aid of one Room with a partition in it, in the back building, will be sufficient for the accommodation of Mrs Washington & the children & their maids — besides affording me a small place for a private study & dressing Room. — The third story will furnish you & Mrs Lear with a good lodging Room — a public Office (for there is no place below for one) and two Rooms for the Gentlemen of the family [Washington's office staff]. — The Garret has four good Rooms which must serve Mr and Mrs Hyde [the steward and his wife] (unless they should prefer the Room over the wash House), — William [Osborne, Washington's valet] — and such Servants as it may not be better to place in the addition (as proposed) to the Back building. — There is a room over the Stable (without a fireplace, but by means of a Stove) may serve the Coachman & Postillions; — and there is a smoke House, which possibly may be more useful to me for the accommodation of Servants, than for the Smoking of Meat. — The intention of the addition to the Back building is to provide a Servants Hall, and one or two (as it will afford) lodging Rooms for the Servants, especially those who are coupled. — There is a very good Wash House adjoining the Kitchen (under one of the Rooms already mentioned). — There are good Stables, but for 12 Horses only, and a Coach House which will hold all of my Carriages..."In a fortnight or 20 days from this time, it is expected Mr Morris will have removed out of the House. — It is proposed to add Bow Windows to the two public Rooms in the South front of the House, — But as all the other apartments will be close & secure the sooner after that time you can be in the House, with the furniture, the better, that you may be well fixed and see how matters go during my absence."

Detail with Slave 1789-96 Edward Savage (1761-1817). The Washington Family. 

It was apparent that Washington felt he needed his personal, house slaves from Mount Vernon to meet the needs of his family and entourage in Philadelphia, at a time when slavery was under grave scrutiny in that Northern city.

Tobias Lear, Washington's protective secretary, wrote to George Long trying to fend off any anticipated criticism, "[Washington's] negroes are not treated as blacks in general are in this Country, they are clothed and fed as well as any labouring people whatever and they are not subject to the lash of a domineering Overseer — but still they are slaves." 

Foreign visitors from privileged backgrounds, such as Viscount de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), were surprised at the lack of security and informality at the President's house in Philadelphia. "September 14, 1791 — A small house built in the English style, and resembling the other houses in its neighborhood, was the palace of the President of the United States; no guards, not even footmen.  
I knocked, a young servant girl opened the door. I asked her if the general was at home; she said that he was. I told her I had a letter to hand him. The girl asked my name, difficult to pronounce in English, and which she did not succeed in retaining.  She then told me gently, 'Walk in, sir,' and she led the way through one of those narrow corridors which serve as vestibules in English houses, introduced me into the parlor and begged me to wait the general's coming."

The first floor of the President's Philadelphia house was constantly a buzz with drop-in & invited visitors, both foreign and native, sometimes very native. In his diary, John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) reported on July 11, 1794, "By the invitation of the President, I attended the reception he gave to Piomingo and a number of other Chickasaw Indians. Five Chiefs, seven Warriors, four boys and an interpreter constituted the Company.  
As soon as the whole were seated the ceremony of smoking began. A large East Indian pipe was placed in the middle of the Hall. The tube which appeared to be of leather, was twelve to fifteen feet in length.  The President began and after two or three whiffs, passed the tube to Piomingo; he to the next chief, and so all around ..."

Supreme Court Justice John B. Wallace described a more sedate, traditional audience with the President, "Washington received his guests, standing between the windows in his back drawing-room. The company, entering a front room and passing through an unfolding door, made their salutations to the President, and turning off, stood on one side."

George Washington did not particularly like surprises and was most comfortable with a set routine which he had practiced and memorized. William Sullivan wrote of the regular formal levee. President Washington, "devoted one hour every Tuesday, from three to four, to these visits...The place of reception was the dining room in the rear, twenty-five of thirty feet in length, including the bow projecting into the garden. At three o'clock, or at any time within a quarter of an hour afterwards, the visiter was conducted to this dining room, from which all seats had been removed for the time.  On entering he saw the manly figure of Washington clad in black velvet; . . . holding a cocked hat with a cockade in it, and the edges adorned with a black feather about an inch deep. He wore knee and shoe buckles; and a long sword, with a finely wrought and polished steel blade, and appearing from under the folds behind. The scabbard was white polished leather.  The visiter was conducted to him, and he required to have the name so distinctly pronounced, that he could hear it. He received the visiter with a dignified bow, while his hands were so disposed of as to indicate that the salutation was not to be accompanied with shaking hands. As visiters came in, they formed a circle around the room. At a quarter past three, the door was closed, and the circle was formed for the day. He then began on the right, and spoke to each visiter, calling him by name, and exchanging a few words with him.

When he had completed his circuit, he resumed his first position, and the visiters approached him in succession, bowed and retired. By four o'clock this ceremony was over."
1790 Edward Savage (1761-1817). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

During Washington's presidency, family affairs remained important to Martha Washington. In 1786, the president's nephew George Augustine Washington (1758-1793), who was acting as Washington's estate manager & living at Mount Vernon, had married Martha Washington's favorite niece Frances Bassett (1767-1796) of Eltham, who also was living at Mount Vernon.

George Augustine Washington died in 1793, & his widow Fanny Bassett Washington subsequently married Washington's secretary Tobias Lear, a widower with a young son. Before she accepted Lear's proposal, Fanny sought the advice of George & Martha Washington. Martha wrote her on 29 August 1794, "My dear Fanny, I wish I could give you unerring advise in regard to the request contained in your last letter; I really dont know what to say to you on the subject; you must be governed by your own judgement, and I trust providence will derect you for the best; it is a matter more interesting to yourself than any other.
The person contemplated is a worthy man, esteemed by every one that is aquainted with him; he has, it is concieved, fair prospects before him;--is, I belive, very industri[ous] and will, I have not a doubt, make sumthing handsome for himself.--  As to the President, he never has, nor never will, as you have often heard him say, intermeddle in matrimonial concerns. he joins with me however in wishing you every happyness this world can give.--you have had a long acquaintance with Mr Lear, and must know him as well as I do.--he always appeared very attentive to his wife and child, as farr as ever I have seen; he is I believe, a man of strict honor and probity; and one with whom you would have as good a prospect of happyness as with any one I know; but beg you will not let anything I say influence you either way.  The President has a very high opinion of and friendship for Mr. Lear; and has not the least objection to your forming the connection but, no more than myself, would wish to influence your judgement, either way--yours and the childrens good being among the first wishes of my heart. "

Fanny married Lear in the summer of 1795, but died in March of 1796. After her death, Tobias Lear moved to Washington's River Farm on the Potomac with his own young son & with the 2 children of George Augustine & Fanny Washington, George (1792-1867) & Anna (1788-1816) . Lear married again, this time to the young Frances Dandridge Henley (1779-1856). His new wife was also nicknamed Fanny and was also a niece of Martha Washington.

Martha Washington met and entertained visitors as well. Henry Wansey (1752-1827) wrote in his journal."Friday, June 6 [1794]. Had the honor of an interview with the President of the United States, to whom I was introduced by Mr. Dandridge, his secretary. He received me very politely, and after reading my letters, I was asked to breakfast...
Mrs. Washington herself made the tea and coffee for us. On the table were two small plates of sliced tongue, dry toast, bread and butter, etc., but no broiled fish, as is the general custom. Miss Custis, her grand-daughter, a very pleasing young lady, of about sixteen, sat next to her, and her brother, George Washington Custis, about two years younger than herself. There was little appearance of form: one servant only attended, who had no livery; a silver urn for hot water, was the only article of expense on the table." 1791-2 Archibald Robertson (1765-1835). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

Charlotte Chambers (1768-1821) daughter of General James Chambers (1743-1805) wrote to her mother Katherine Hamilton Chambers (1737-1820) on February 25, 1795, describing the February 22 birthday celebration for President George Washington where she met the President and his wife.

The morning of the 'twenty-second' was ushered in by the discharge of heavy artillery. The whole city was in commotion, making arrangements to demonstrate their attachment to our beloved President. The Masonic, Cincinnati, and military orders united in doing him honor. Happy republic! great and glorious! . . . Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, with Dr. Spring, called for me in their coach. Dr. Rodman, master of ceremonies, met us at the door, and conducted us to Mrs. Washington. She half arose as we made our passing compliments. She was dressed in a rich silk, but entirely without ornament, except the animation her amiable heart gives to her countenance. Next her were seated the wives of the foreign ambassadors, glittering from the floor to the summit of their head-dress. One of the ladies wore three large ostrich-feathers. Her brow was encircled by a sparkling fillet of diamonds; her neck and arms were almost covered with jewels, and two watches were suspended from her girdle, and all reflecting the light from a hundred directions. Such superabundance of ornament struck me as injudicious; we look too much at the gold and pearls to do justice to the lady. However, it may not be in conformity to their individual taste thus decorating themselves, but to honor the country they represent...The seats were arranged like those of an amphitheatre, and cords were stretched on each side of the room, about three feet from the floor, to. preserve sufficient space for the dancers. We were not long seated when General Washington entered, and bowed to the ladies as he passed round the room.  'He comes, he comes, the hero comes!' I involuntarily but softly exclaimed. When he bowed to me, I could scarcely resist the impulse of my heart, that almost burst through my bosom, to meet him. The dancing soon after commenced... Next morning I received an invitation by my father from Mrs. Washington to visit her, and Col. Hartley politely offered to accompany me to the next drawing-room levee...On this evening...The hall, stairs, and drawing-room of the President’s house were well lighted by lamps and chandeliers. Mrs. Washington, with Mrs. Knox, sat near the fire-place. Other ladies were seated on sofas, and gentlemen stood in the centre of the room conversing. On our approach, Mrs. Washington arose and made a courtesy—the gentlemen bowed most profoundly—and I calculated my declension to her own with critical exactness.

Less than a month later, Charlotte wrote to her mother again on March 11, 1795.  
In a previous letter, I wrote of being at the President’s, and my admiration of Mrs. Washington. Yesterday, Col. Proctor informed me that her carriage was at the door, and a servant inquiring for me. After the usual compliments and some conversation, she gave me a pressing invitation to spend the day with her; and so perfectly friendly were her manners, I found myself irresistibly attached to her. On taking leave, she observed a portrait of the President hanging over the fire-place, and said 'She had never seen a correct likeness of General Washington. The only merit the numerous portraits of him possessed was their resemblance to each other.'

Martha Washington often attended state dinners as the only female in the company. Massachusettes Congressman Theophilus Bradbury (1739-1803) wrote to his daughter Harriet of Christmas Dinner at the Philadelphia President's House in 1795, "In the middle of the table was placed a piece of table furniture of wood gilded, or polished metal, raised only about an inch, with a silver rim round it like that round a tea board; in the centre was a pedestal of plaster of Paris with images upon it, and on each end figures, male and female, of the same. It was very elegant and used for ornament only.  
The dishes were placed all around, and there was an elegant variety of roast beef, veal, turkeys, ducks, fowls, hams &c.; puddings, jellies, oranges, apples, nuts, almonds, figs, raisins, and a variety of wines and punch.  We took our leave at six, more than an hour after the candles were introduced. No lady but Mrs. Washington dined with us.  We were waited on by four or five men servants dressed in livery."

Isaac Weld, Jr. (1774-1856) reported that on the President's birthday in February of 1796, the President received company in the 2 first floor parlors, while Martha Washington received the female guests in the second floor drawing room, On General Washington's birthday, which was a few days ago, this city was unusually gay; every person of consequence in it, Quakers alone excepted, made it a point to visit the General on this day.  
As early as eleven o'clock in the morning he was prepared to receive them, and the audience lasted until three in the afternoon.  The society of the Cincinnati, the clergy, the officers of the militia, and several others, who formed a distinct body of citizens, came by themselves separately.  The foreign ministers attended in their richest dresses and most splendid equipages.  Two large parlours were open for the reception of gentlemen, the windows of one of which towards the street were crowded with spectators on the outside.  The sideboard was furnished with cake and wines, whereof the visitors partook.  I never observed so much cheerfulness before in the countenance of General Washington; but it was impossible for him to remain insensible to the attention and compliments paid to him on this occasion.  The ladies of the city, equally attentive paid their respects to Mrs. Washington, who received them in the drawing-room up stairs. After having visited the General, most of the gentlemen also waited upon her...A public ball and supper terminated the rejoicings of the day.

Robert E. Gray, who had grown up in Philadelphia, remembered that after such state entertaining, the President "always smiled on children! He was particularly popular with small boys...After his great dinners he used to tell the steward to let in the little fellows, and we, the boys of the immediate neighborhood, who were never far off on such occasions, crowded about the table and made quick work of the remaining cakes, nuts and raisins."

Visiting Englishman Thomas Twining (1735-1804), who was accustomed to traveling from one country to the next, was also surprised at the lack of security and the spartan decoration on the interior public rooms at the President's Philadelphia house. "May 13, 1796: [I] was shown into a middling-sized, well-furnished drawing room on the left of the passage. Nearly opposite the door was the fireplace, with a wood-fire in it. The floor was carpeted. On the left of the fireplace was a sofa, which sloped across the room. 
There were no pictures on the walls, no ornaments on the chimneypiece. Two windows on the right of the entrance looked into the street."
1795 Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

Elizabeth Bordley Gibson (1777-1863) was more impressed by Martha Washington's attention to her grandchildren in the midst of her state entertaining obligations, "Mrs. Washington was in the habit of retiring at an early hour to her own room, unless detained by company, and there, no matter what the hour, Nellie attended her.  
One evening, my father's carriage being late in coming for me, my dear friend invited me to accompany her to grandmama's room.  There, after some little chat, Mrs. Washington apologized to me for pursuing her usual preparations for the night, and Nellie entered upon her accustomed duty by reading a chapter and a psalm from the old family Bible, after which all present knelt in evening prayer;  Mrs. Washington's faithful maid then assisted her to disrobe and lay her head upon the pillow; Nellie then sang a verse of some sweetly soothing hymn, and then, leaning down, received her parting blessing for the night, with some emphatic remark on her duties, improvements, etc.  The effect of these judicious habits and teachings appeared in the granddaughter's character through life."

One of those grandchildren, George Washington Parke Custis remembered the formal levees and processessions with joy. "On the great national days of the fourth of July and twenty-second of February, the salute from the then head of Market street (Eighth street) announced the opening of the levee.  
Then was seen the venerable corps of the Cincinnati marching to pay their respects to their president-general, who received them at headquarters and in the uniform of the commander-in-chief.... [Each veteran] gave in no name — he required no ceremony of introduction — but, making his way to the family parlor, opened the general gratulation by the first welcome of Robert Morris.  "A fine volunteer corps, called the light-infantry, from the famed light-infantry of the Revolutionary army, commanded by Lafayette, mounted a guard of honor on the national days.  When it was about to close, the soldiers, headed by their sergeants, marched with trailed arms and noiseless step through the hall to a spot where huge bowls of punch had been prepared for their refreshment, when, after quaffing a deep carouse, with three hearty cheers to the health of the president, they countermarched to the street, the bands struck up the favorite air, "forward" was the word, and the levee was ended."

In a letter to Jared Sparks from Woodlawn in 1833, grandaughter Nelly Custis recalled how Sundays were spent during Washington's presidency and reflected on her grandparent's religious beliefs, In New York and Philadelphia he never omitted attendance at church in the morning, unless detained by indisposition.  The afternoon was spent in his own room at home; the evening with his family, and without company. Sometimes an old and intimate friend called to see us for an hour or two; but visiting and visitors were prohibited for that day [Sunday]. No one in church attended to the services with more reverential respect.  My grandmother, who was eminently pious, never deviated from her early habits. She always knelt. The General, as was then the custom, stood during the devotional parts of the service.  On communion Sundays, he left the church with me, after the blessing, and returned home, and we sent the carriage back for my grandmother...I had the most perfect model of female excellence [Martha Washington] ever with me as my monitress, who acted the part of a tender and devoted parent, loving me as only a mother can love... approving in me what she disapproved of others.  She never omitted her private devotions, or her public duties...She had no doubts, no fears for him. After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, she resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Savior and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity.

President and Mrs. Washington and the grandchildren, to escape the yellow fever epidemics, spent part of 2 summers (1793 & 1794) in the hills of Germantown, nearly 10 miles from the city. Ironically, the house they stayed in had been headquarters for British General William Howe after the American defeat at the Battle of Germantown.

1793-4. The Washington Family's Temporary Residence in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

George Washington's term as President ended on March 4, 1797. Bishop William White (1748-1836) wrote of the Washington family's final days in Philadelphia, "On the day before his leaving of the Presidential chair a large company dined with him. Among them were the foreign ministers and their ladies, Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Mr. Jefferson, with the other conspicuous persons of both sexes.  
During the dinner much hilarity prevailed; but on the removal of the cloth it was put an end to by the President: certainly without design.  Having filled his glass, he addressed the company, with a smile on his countenance, as nearly as can be recollected in the following terms: 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last time I shall drink your health as a public man. I do it with sincerity, and wishing you all possible happiness.' "
1796 Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

Private citizen George Washington, his wife Martha, and their grandchildren returned to Mount Vernon, where they continued to receive visitors on a daily basis, finally and happily relieved of the burden of the office.

Benjamin Latrobe visited the couple at their Virginia home in 1796, writing that Martha Washington, retains strong remains of considerable beauty, seems to enjoy very good health, & to have as good humor. She has no affectation of superiority in the slightest degree, but acts completely in the character of the mistress of the house of a respectable and opulent country gentleman.

1796 James Peale ( 1749-1831). Martha Washington (1731-1802).

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Indentured Servant Scottish Schoolmaster tells of the Food & Children in 1774 Virginia

John Harrower (1733-1777) was a 40 year-old Scottish merchant who set out in 1774, for the American colonies as an indentured servant.  Like many of the 40,000 residents of the Scottish Highlands who left after 1760, he faced poverty with little opportunity.  After several weeks in London, Harrower signed an indenture to travel to Virginia as a schoolmaster. He sailed with 71 other male indentees from across England and Ireland. With his relatively privileged training, Harrower was fortunate and found a new life on a tidewater plantation. Harrower’s four-year indenture contract was sold to Colonel William Daingerfield of at Belvidera at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Harrower kept a journal of his life at Belvidera
Harrower served as tutor to the Colonel’s children & those of other nearby planters. Among these was 14 year-old neighbor John Edge, who was deaf and mute. Tradition has it that John was the first deaf person to obtain an education in the new nation of America. John Harrower wrote, “that, after five months, John Edge could write right well, understand the value of each figure and could work at single addition a little.” Harrower’s diary also mentions the quality of Belvedere’s fine strawberries, cherries, melons, honey, cider and toddies. This section begins with his meeting his future master after arriving in Virginia 13 days earlier and staying on board ship as others who had sailed with him were chosen for indenture by local Virginians.  He simply waited.  These entries reflect his reactions to his new life in the colonies during his first six months.

May, Munday 23d. 1774 This morning a great number of Gentlemen and Ladies driving into Town it being an anuall Fair day & tomorrow the day of the Horse races. At 11 am Mr. Anderson begged [me] to settle as a schoolmaster with a freind of his one Colonel Daingerfield and told me he was to be in Town tomorrow, or perhaps to night, and how soon he came he shou’d aquant me. At same time all the rest of the servants were ordred ashore to a tent at Fredericksbg. and severall of their Indentures were then sold. About 4 pm I was brought to Colonel Daingerfield, when we imediatly agreed and my Indenture for four years was then delivered him and he was to send for me the next day. At same time ordred to get all my dirty Cloaths of every kind, washed at his expence in Town; at night he sent me five shillings on board by Capt. Bowers to keep my pocket.

Tuesday 24th. May 1774 This morning I left the Ship at 6 am having been sixteen weeks and six days on board her. I hade for Breackfast after I came ashore one Chappin sweet milk for which I paid 3 1/2 Cury. At 11 am went to see a horse race about a mille from Toun, where there was a number of Genteel Company as well as others. Here I met with the Colonel again and after some talk with him he gave me cash to pay for washing all my Cloaths and Something over. The reace was gain’d by a Bay Mare, a white boy ridder. There was a gray Mare started with the Bay a black boy ridder but was far distant the last heat.

Wednesday 25th. I Lodged in a Tavern last night and paid 7 1/2 for my Bedd and 7 1/2 for my breackfast. This morning a verry heavy rain untill 11 am. Then I recd. my Linens &ca. all clean washed and packing every thing up I went on board the ship and Bought this Book for which I paid 18d. Str. I also bought a small Divinity book called the Christian Monitor and a spelling book, both at 7 1/2 & an Arithmetick at 1/6d. all for my own Accot.

Thursday 26th. This day at noon the Colonel sent a Black with a cuple of Horses for me and soon after I set out on Horseback and aravied at his seat of Belvidera about 3 pm and after I hade dined the Colonel took me to a neat little house at the upper end of an Avenue of planting at 500 yds. from the Main house, where I was to keep the school, and Lodge myself in it.

This pleace is verry pleasantly situated on the Banks of the River Rappahannock about seven Miles below the Toun of Fredericksburgh, and the school’s right above the Warff so that I can stand in the door and pitch a stone on board of any ship or Boat going up or coming doun the river.

Freiday 27th. This morning about 8 am the Colonel delivered his three sons to my Charge to teach them to read write and figure. His oldest son Edwin 10 years of age, intred into two syllables in the spelling book, Bathourest his second son 6 years of age in the Alphabete and William his third son 4 years of age does not know the letters. He has likeways a Daughter whose name is Hanna Basset...Years of age.

Soon after we were all sent for to breackfast to which we hade tea Bread, Butter & cold meat and there was at table the Colonel, his Lady, his Childreen, the housekeeper and myself. At 11 am the Colonel and his Lady went some where to pay a visite, he upon horseback and she in her Charriot.

At 2 pm I dined with the Housekeeper the Children and a Stranger Lady. At 6 pm I left school, and then I eat plenty of fine straw berries, but they neither drink Tea in the afternoon nor eat any supper here for the most part. My school Houres is from 6 to 8 in the Morning, in the forenoon from 9 to 12 and from 3 to 6 in the afternoon...

14th. June 1774.
"As to my living I eat at their own table, & our witualls are all Dressed in the english taste. We have for breackfast either Coffie or [Chocolate], and warm loaf bread of the best floor, we have also at Table warm loaf bread of Indian corn, which is extreamly good but we use the floor bread always at breackfast.

For Dinner smoack'd bacon or what we cal pork ham is a standing dish either warm or cold. When warm we have greens with it, and when cold we have sparrow grass. We have also either warm roast pigg, Lamb, Ducks, or chickens, green pease or any thing else they fancy.

As for Tea there is none drunk by any in this Government since 1st. June last, nor will they buy a 2d. worth of any kind of east India goods, which is owing to the difference at present betwixt the Parliament of great Brittan and the North Americans about laying a tax on the tea; and I'm afraid if the Parliament do not give it over it will cause a total revolt as all the North Americans are determined to stand by one another, and resolute on it that they will not submit..."

6 Decr. 1774.
"Know that I have not drunk a dish of Tea this six Mos. past, nor have I drunk a dram of plain spirits this seven Mos. past, nor have I tasted broth or any kind of supping mate for the above time unless three or four times some soup; Notwithstanding I want for nothing that I cou'd desire, and am only affraid of getting fatt, tho we seldom eat here but twice a day.

For Breackfast we have always Coffie with plenty of warm loaf bread and fine butter. At 12 oClock when I leave School, I have as much good rum toddie as I chuse to drink, and for Dinner we have plenty of roast & boyld and good strong beer, but seldom eat any supper."

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

18C Portrait of an American Woman

1795 Mrs. Joseph Anthony Jr. (Henrietta Hillegas) Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755–1828)

The Met tells us that Mrs. Joseph Anthony Jr., born Henrietta Hillegas in 1766, was one of ten children of Michael and Henrietta Hillegas of Philadelphia. Her father made his fortune in sugar refining and iron manufacturing, and served as the first treasurer of the United States. Henrietta married Joseph Anthony in 1785. As with many of Stuart’s portraits of Philadelphia society women, Mrs. Anthony’s likeness is endowed with an individuality and a sensuousness rare in American portraiture.  As the New Republic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British/American silhouette. The waistline climbed higher, until it reached the bust. Textiles were lighter. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were seldom seen.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Susanna Haswell Rowson (1762-1824) Best Selling Author, Actress, & Educator

Susanna Haswell Rowson (1762-1824) This 1790s portrait is among the Susanna Rowson Papers, 1770-1879, Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

Susanna Haswell Rowson (1762-1824) was a British-American novelist, poet, playwright, religious writer, stage actress, and educator. Rowson was the author of the 1791 novel Charlotte Temple, the most popular best-seller in American literature, until Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1852.

Susanna Haswell was born in Portsmouth, England, the only child of William Haswell,  a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, by his 1st wife, Susanna Musgrave, daughter of a commissioner of customs.  Other members of the Haswell family included 2 of Susanna’s 3 half brothers-Robert Haswell, an American naval officer & writer, & John Montresor Haswell, cited by congress for his bravery in the war with Tripoli, & her cousin Anthony Haswell, who came to Boston about 1770 & became a famous editor & balladeer in early Vermont. 

Since her mother had died in giving her birth, Susanna’s early rearing was entrusted to relatives. About 4 years after her birth, her father was assigned to duty in the revenue service in Massachusetts. There he married Rachel Woodward of George’s Island in Boston harbor & settled in nearby Nantasket. In 1768, Haswell returned to England for his daughter. In her partly autobiographical novel, Rebecca, of Fille de Chambre (1792), Susanna recounted the hazards of her voyage to America, ending in shipwreck on an island in Boston harbor & then the contrasting years of peaceful & simple pleasures of life at Nantasket.
The Haswell’s circulated easily in the literate & stable aristocracy of the Boston area & enjoyed the best of life in the New World.  Susanna’s precocious knowledge of the classics at the age of 12 is said to have impelled their eminent summer neighbor James Otis, to call her “my little scholar.”  But the quiet harmony of their life was soon shattered by the Revolution. Applying for permission to leave American in the fall of 1775, Haswell (a member of the hated revenue service) was denied his request.  His property was confiscated, & he & his family were interned as loyalists.  After being held at Hingham for 2 years, they were moved in the fall of 1777 to Abington.  Finally, in the spring of 1778, Haswell was permitted, on giving his parole to Gen. William Heath, to take his family to Halifax, Nova Scotia, & then to London, where they lived in poverty because of a several years’ delay in the granting of Haswell government pension.
Susanna began job-hunting at once & soon became governess to the children of the Duchess of Devonshire.  In this role she not only toured Europe but also saw something of the private lives of the aristocracy, which she later used as material for her fiction.  In 1786, she published her 1st novel, Victoria, with a dedication to the Duchess.  She then retired from her job to marry, in 1787, William Rowson, a hardware merchant & a trumpeter in the Royal Horse Guards.  A handsome, sociable man, too fond of liquor, too trusting in business enterprises, &father of an illegitimate child, Rowson was not an ideal husband.  There can be little doubt that certain of the trials of female patience recounted in Mrs. Rowson’s major novel, Charlotte Temple (1791), had some foundation in her own life.  

With the failure of Rowson’s hardware business in 1792, both husband & wife took to the stage, playing in Edinburgh in 1792-93.  There they were booked by Thomas Wignell to act in his company in the new Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.  She & her husband accepted Wignell’s offer sailing to Philadelphia aboard the George Barclay later that summer. She remained with Wignell’s company until the fall of 1796, when she left to join the Federal Street Theatre in Boston, where she spent one season before retiring from the stage to embark on a teaching career.
The Old Chestnut Street Theatre, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The New Theatre on Chestnut Street, opened in 1794, was where Susanna Rowson performed during her time in Philadelphia between 1794-1796. She wrote several of the plays she acted in, including Slaves in Algiers; or, a Struggle for Freedom in 1794.

After performing in Annapolis, Philadelphia, & Baltimore, in 1796, the Rowsons settled in Boston to play at the Federal Street Theatre.  Although not a gifted actress, Mrs. Rowson had a warm personality & versatile talents; she could dance, sing, play the harpsichord  & guitar, write plays, & compose both lyrics & librettos.  

During her 5-year career in the theatre she acted 129 different parts in 126 different productions, a number of them written by herself, & some with the collaboration of musicians such as Alexander Reinagle of Philadelphia.  The most successful of her theatrical works was the operetta Slaves in Algiers, or a Struggle for Freedom (1794), in which a group of American women, captured by North African pirates & held for ransom, eventually make their escape.  Other of her plays were The Volunteers (1795), a musical farce based on the Whiskey Rebellion; the comedic melodrama The Female Patriot; or, Nature’s Rights (1795); The American Tar, or the Press Gang Defeated (1796): & Americans in England, or Lessons for Daughters, a 3-act comedy, 1st presented in 1797, in which she made her last appearance.

In the spring of that year, now in her mid-30s, Mrs. Rowson retired from the stage opening a Young Ladies Academy in Boston.  She moved it in 1800 to Medford, in 1803 to Newton, & in 1811 back to Boston, where until her retirement in 1822 she occupied quarters on Hollis Street. One of the 1st schools established in the United States to offer girls some education above the elementary level, the academy was highly successful. Mrs. Rowson wrote some of her own textbooks, including An Abridgement of Universal Geography, together with Sketches of History (1805?), A Spelling Dictionary (1807), & Biblical dialogues between a Father & His Family (1822). The school was also unusual in offering its young women formal instruction in public speaking & in providing well-qualified music teachers trained in Europe.

In other contributions to Boston’s cultural life, William Rowson played a  memorable trumpet in the Handel & Hayden Society’s performances of the Messiah, while Mrs. Rowson, who counted among her friends such as leading musicians as the Graupners & Von Hagens, helped organize concerts.  When the  Boston Weekly Magazine was begun in 1802. Mrs. Rowson became a contributor, as she was to the Monthly Anthology & Joseph T. Buckingham’s New England Galaxy.  She had meanwhile published other ventures in the field of the novel, among them Trials of the Human Heart (1795), a rather loosely organized 4-volume work to which both Benjamin Franklin & Martha Washington were subscribers, Reuben & Rachel (1798), a rambling historical novel dealing with the heirs of Columbus. Sarah, the Exemplary Wife, a series of fictionalized moral tracts first published in her Boston Weekly Magazine, appeared in 1813.
Illustration from Charlotte Temple.

Varied as were Mrs. Rowson’s activities, her main importance is as the author of one book - Charlotte Temple (London 1791; Philadelphia, 1794), the 1st American best seller, which has seen over 200 editions to date.  (She also wrote a sequel, Charlotte’s Daughter; or, The Three Orphans, published posthumously in Boston in 1828.)  A sentimental novel patterned on the standard seduction story, Charlotte Temple tells of a sheltered English schoolgirl possessed of more tenderness than prudence who is seduced, carried off to New York, & abandoned by a British army officer whose villainy is punished, after Charlotte’s death, by the torments of remorse.  The subtitle of the book, “A Tale of Truth,” may well be correct, for some evidence exists that the original of the seducer, Montraville, was Mrs. Rowson’s cousin, Col. John Montresor.  Like many best sellers, Charlotte Temple is more significant for the historian of popular taste than for the literary critic.  Although hinting at the power of the sexual impulse & detailing the penalties meted out to women for accepting illicit love under the “double standard” may well have been a useful part of the education of a young girl.
Although Mrs. Rowson had no children, her household was large, for it included her husband’s younger sister, Charlotte; his illegitimate son William; her own niece, Susan Johnston; & her adopted daughter, Fanny Mills.  To these last 2 she turned over her school in 1822, though she apparently still maintained much of the alertness & vivacity that had marked all her life.  Mrs. Rowson regularly attended the preaching of the Rev. John S. Gardiner at Trinity Church, & found scope for expressing her humanitarian convictions by serving for some years as president of the Boston Fatherless & Widows’ Society.  She died at her home in Boston & was buried in the family vault of her friend Gottlieb Graupner in St. Matthew’s Church, South Boston.  When this church was demolished in 1866, her remains were transferred to Mount hope Cemetery in Dorchester.
Reared in a loyalist family, Mrs. Rowson became an ardent, articulate American patriot.  An active proponent of the theatrical & musical arts in the early years of the United States, a broad-minded & effective teacher, she was also one of the 1st to express, through her writings, a subtle protest against the dependent status of women in her day.

See: Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Eds. Edward James, Janet James, Paul Boyer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Brandt, Ellen B. Susanna Haswell Rowson, America’s First Best-Selling Novelist. Chicago: Serbra Press, 1975.

Durang, Charles. “Philadelphia Stage from 1749 to 1821.” Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch, 1854-1856. The Sept. 10, 1854 edition contains a concise history of the New Theatre.

Nason, Elias. A Memoir of Mrs. Susanna Rowson, with Elegant and Illustrative Extracts From her Writings in Prose and Poetry. Albany: Munsell, 1870.

Parker, Patricia. Susanna Rowson. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

Pollock, Thomas. The Philadelphia Theatre in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968.

Richards, Jeffrey H. “Susanna and the Stage; or, Rowson Family Theatre.” Studies in American Fiction 38.1-2 (Spring and Fall 2011): 1-31.

Rust, Marion. Prodigal Daughters: Susanna Rowson’s Early American Women. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Weil, Dorothy. In Defense of Women: Susanna Rowson (1762-1824). University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

18C Portrait of an American Woman

Mrs. John Winthrop 1773 John Singleton Copley (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1738–1815 London)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art tells us that Hannah Fayerweather (1727–1790) was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Waldo Fayerweather. She was baptized at the First Church in Boston in February 12, 1727. She was married twice, in 1745 to Parr Tolman and in 1756 to John Winthrop, a professor of mathematics and natural history at Harvard University and a noted astronomer. Although this portrait has traditionally been dated 1774, a receipt dated June 24, 1773, places its execution in the previous year. The portrait is one of a number in which Copley prominently featured a beautifully reflective tabletop.

The clothing worn by 18C British American women, until the end of the American Revolution, was characterized by great diversity, as one would expect in a society ranging from royal governors & wealthy landowners to indentured servants & slaves. During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's dress usually consisted of a gown & petticoat. The gown consisted of the bodice & skirt joined together, with the skirt open in the front to reveal the separate petticoat, which was an essential part of the dress & not an undergarment. The textiles used for the dress ranged from elegant to simple depending on the tasks of the wearer. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

From Virginia Aristocracy to Boarding House to Cookbook Author - Mary Randolph (1762-1828)

Mary Randolph (1762-1828)

Mary Randolph (1762-1828), early Southern cookbook author, was born in Virginia at either Tuckahoe, her father’s plantation in Goochland County, or Ampthill, that of her mother’s family in Chesterfield County.  Both parents were members of the planter aristocracy.  Mary’s father, Thomas Mann Randolph (1741-1793), served Virginia in the colonial house or burgess;  in the Revolutionary conventions of 1775 & 1776., & later in the state legislature; her mother, Anne (Cary) Randolph, was a daughter of Archibald Cary (1721-1787), planter & statesman.  Mary was the oldest of 13 children.  Her brother Thomas Mann Randolph (1768-1828) became a Congressman & governor of Virginia & married Martha Jefferson (daughter of kinsman Thomas Jefferson.)

Growing up in this close-knit clan, Molly Randolph, as she was known, was married in December 1780 to a 1st cousin once removed, David Meade Randolph (1760-1830), of Predque Isle, Chesterfield County.  Of their 8 children, 4 lived to maturity; Richard (born 1782), William Beverley (1789), David Meade, & Burwell Starke (1800).  Her husband, after serving as a captain in the Revolutionary War, was appointed by President Washington United States marshal (a federal court official) for Virginia, making his home in Richmond.  There, at the turn of the century, he built Moldavia, a handsome residence on South 5th Street.  But his Federalist politics brought his removal from this post by President Jefferson. 

To support their growing family the Randolphs sold Moldavia & moved to more modest quarters, where Mrs. Randolph conducted a fashionable boardinghouse. Soon dubbed “the Queen,” she attracted, says a Richmond chronicler, “as many subjects as her dominions could accommodate. . . .There were few more festive boards. . .Wit, humor & good-fellowship prevailed, but excess rarely” (Mordecai, pp.96-98). 

Mary Randolph had been noted for her knowledge of cooking even before her boardinghouse days.  From her practical experience as keeper of a large establishment, & perhaps in the hope of further augmenting the family income, she compiled the book of recipes which was published (under her own name) in 1824 in Washington as The Virginia Housewife.  As the preface indicated, it was written to meet the need she had encountered, on entering housekeeping, for a book “sufficiently clear & concise to impart knowledge to a Tyro.”  The work was well received; a second edition followed in 1825, & it was often republished-in Baltimore in 1831 & 1838, in Philadelphia in 1850.  The recipes were practical in details & specific as to weights & measures, much simpler than those in the 18C English cookbooks which had previously supplied the American market.  The regional emphasis made the work especially popular in the South.  “Every Virginia housewife,” a later writer (Letitia Burwell) recalled of the antebellum period, “knew how to compound all the various dishes in Mrs. Randolph’s cookery book.”
But Mrs. Randolph lived for less than 4 years after the 1st edition of her cookbook.  Little is know of her then save that she was living in Washington, D.C., at the time of her death.  Possibly the care of an invalid son hastened her end, for the stone on her grave terms her “a victim of maternal love & duty.”  By her own wish she was buried at Arlington, the residence of her cousin George Washington Parke Custis, stepson of George Washington & father of Mary Custis (Mrs. Robert E.) Lee.

See: Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Eds. Edward James, Janet James, Paul Boyer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Politics Became her Passion - Deborah Norris Logan (1761-1839)

Detail of 1903 photograph of an 1830 painting of Quaker historian Deborah Norris Logan.

Deborah Norris Logan (1761-1839), collector of historical records, was peculiarly fitted by inheritance & experience to be a chronicler of provincial & early national history.  Related by blood or marriage to most of the leading figures in early Pennsylvania, she lived through the formative years of the new American nation in close association with many of its founders.  She was the second child & only daughter among the Norris & his second wife, Mary Parker.  Her father’s Philadelphia house, where she was born, was 2 doors away fro the State House; on July 9, 1776, when she was 14, she stood on the garden fence to hear the Declaration of Independence first publicly claimed.

She commenced her education under Anthony Benezet at the Friends Girls’ School in Philadelphia & continued it by an extensive self-imposed course of reading, especially in history.  On Sept. 6, 1781, she was married to George Logan, a young Quaker physician just returned from his medical education at Edinburgh & London.  

Two years later, her husband giving up his practice for the life of a gentleman farmer, they moved to Stenton, the Logan family mansion north of Philadelphia.  There the vivacious & beautiful Debby exchanged the life of a Philadelphia belle for the quite domesticity of a Quaker matron, managing the farm household & rearing her 3 sons, Albanus Charles, Gustavus George, & Algernon Sidney, while her husband gradually moved from a rustic life of agricultural experimentation into an active career as a Republican politician & ideologue, self-appointed peacemaker during the quasi-war with France in 1798, & finally United States Senator.  Dr. Logan’s political enthusiasms (which she never fully shared) exposed her to public opprobrium; his mission to Paris not only made her fear for his safety & reputation but brought her ostracism from the Federalist families among whom she had grown up.  Nevertheless, she upheld him faithfully, at the same time seeking for herself a serenity of mind into which she could  retire “as into a safe retreat from the conflicting passions of the world.”

Though she regarded current politics as a dangerous “distraction,” past politics became her passion.  In the attic at Stenton she discovered heaps of old letters, tattered & worm-eaten, which she recognized as the correspondence of Pennsylvania’s 2 great early leaders, William Penn & James Logan, the latter her husband’s grandfather.  Conceiving it her duty & privilege to reveal “some of the remote rills & fountains” from which “majestic river” of her state’s wealth & greatness flowed, she regularly arose before daybreak, starting in 1814, to copy the voluminous correspondence.  Her transcripts, a source collection of the utmost importance for early Pennsylvania history, she presented to the American Philosophical Society; they were ultimately published in the Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (vols. IX-X, 1870-72).  

After her husband’s death in 1821 she wrote a memoir of him, published many years later by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania as Memoirs of Dr. George Logan of Stanton  (1899).  A charming literary monument of wifely devotion, it is also a valuable historical source, for it contains letters & intimate glimpses of Washington , Jefferson, Citizen Genet, John Randolph of Roanoke, & other political figures whom she & her husband had entertained at Stenton.
From 1815 to her death she kept a full diary in which, along with comments on her reading & her daily life, she set down the reminiscences of Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress; unfortunately, perhaps, she later inked out some of his less edifying anecdotes of the Fathers.  Some of Thomson’s stories, together with her own memories & the manuscripts she had rescued from decay, she shared with the antiquarian John F. Watson, who made use of the in his Annals of Philadelphia (1830).  She also composed poetry, some of which was published by her friend Robert Walsh, editor of the National Gazette; she had a fondness for the sonnet form, though it seemed to her like “putting the muse into corsets.”  A portrait in later life shows her as a grave, clear-eyed Quaker matron in plain bonnet & cap.  She died at Stenton & was buried there in the family burying ground.  The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, of which she was the first woman member (elected to honorary membership, 1827), spread on its minutes a tribute to her as “an enlightened & able illustrator” of Pennsylvania history.  With such writers & collectors as Mercy Otis Warren, Jeremy Belknap, & Ebenezer Hazard, Deborah Logan stood in the 1st generation of Americans who looked backward with self-conscious national pride into the colonial &  Revolutionary past & gathered the materials for the nation’s history. 

See: Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Eds. Edward James, Janet James, Paul Boyer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Revolutionary Deborah Sampson 1760-1827

Deborah Sampson (1760-1827)

Deborah Sampson (1760-1827), supposed Revolutionary soldier & early woman lecturer, was born in Plympton, near Plymouth, Mass., the oldest, apparently, of 3 daughters & 3 sons of Jonathan Sampson, a farmer, & Deborah (Bradford) Sampson.  She came of old Pilgrim stock, her mother being descended from Gov. William Bradford & her father from Miles Standish & John Alden.  Jonathan Sampson’s disappointment in his share of his father’s estate was so corrosive that he fell into intemperate habits, went to sea, & finally abandoned his family, probably losing his life in a shipwreck. Mrs. Sampson, finding it difficult to support her young family, was obliged to disperse her children.  Deborah lived for 3 years with a Miss Fuller & afterward, at about 10, was bound out as a servant in the homed of Jeremiah Thomas of Middleborough, where she remained until she was 18.  Here she developed into a strong, capable young woman, skilled in the domestic arts.  Part-time attendance at the Middleborough public school, supplemented by instruction from the Thomas children, enabled her to obtain some education, & when her term of service in the Thomas family expired in 1779, she taught for 6 months in the same local school.  In November 1780 she became a member of the First Baptist Church of Middleborough.   Two years later (Sept. 3, 1782) this body excommunicated her on the strong suspicion of “dressing in men’s clothes, & enlisting as a soldier in the Army,” after having “for some time before behaved verry loose & unchristian like.”  By then she had disappeared from Middleborough.
Deborah Sampson Delivers a Letter to Commanders

The venturesome young woman had, it seems, walked to Boston & from there to Bellingham, Mass., where on May 20, 1782, she enlisted in the Continental forces under the name of Robert Shurtleff (Shirtliff).  A member of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment, Capt. George Webb’s company, she was mustered into service at Worcester on May 23.  Her height, which was above the average, her strong features, her stamina, & her remarkable adaptability enabled her to conceal her identify & perform her military duties.  She participated in several engagements & was wounded in one near Tarrytown, N.Y.  Not until she was hospitalized with a fever in Philadelphia was her sex finally discovered.  She was discharged by Gen. Henry Knox at West Point on Oct. 25, 1783.

On her return to Massachusetts in November, she went to live with an uncle at Sharon.  Here she resumed female attire, met Benjamin Gannett, a farmer, & was married to him on Apr. 7, 1785.  Three children were born to them: Earl Bradford, Mary, & Patience.  Reports of Deborah Sampson’s adventure began to attract attention, & in 1797 Herman Mann, to whom she had told her story, published a romanticized biography under the title The Female Review.  Mann next prepared a lecture for her which told her story in extravagant phraseology extended beyond the bounds of truth.  Beginning with an appearance at the Federal Street Theatre in Boston, on Mar. 22, 1802, she toured various New England & New York towns until Sept. 9, giving her  “Address” as advertised in the local press.  Besides b ringing her some remuneration & considerable personal satisfaction, the trip enabled her to visit one of her former commanding officers, Gen. John Paterson, who probably assisted her in obtaining a pension from the United States government. 

Her first pension came from Massachusetts, which in 1792 awarded her the sum of 34 pounds bearing interest from Oct. 3, 1783.  In 1804 Paul Revere wrote to a member of Congress in behalf of Deborah Gannett, who was then in poor health & financial difficulties.  On Mar, 11, 1805, she was placed on the pension list of the United States at the rate of four dollars per month, beginning Jan. 1, 1803; the amount was afterward increased.  After her death her husband petitioned the federal government for a pension, representing himself to be in indigent circumstances, with two daughters dependent on his charity; he declared that for many years he had paid heavy medical bills for his wife, whose sickness & suffering were occasioned by her military service.  The belated response of Congress was an “Act for the relief of the heirs of Deborah Gannett, a solider of the Revolution, deceased,” approved July 7, 1838, which provided for a payment of $466.66, the equivalent of a full pension of eighty dollars per annum, from Mar. 4, 1831, to the decease of Benjamin Gannett in January 1837.  This sum was paid to the three heirs, Earl. B Gannett, Mary Gilbert, & Patience Gay.  Deborah herself had died in Sharon in 1827 at the age of sixty-six.  Her grave is in Rockridge Cemetery, Sharon.

See: Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Eds. Edward James, Janet James, Paul Boyer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Execution Declaration of Rebekah Chablit 1733

Rebekah Chamblit (ca.1706-1733) lived in Boston, Massachusetts. She was tried and executed in 1733 for infanticide. Her "declaration," reportedly "read at the place of execution," September 26th, 1733, may not have been in fact written by Chamblit herself; scholars suggest the text represents a forced or fictional confession in an extremely patriarchal society.
Chamblit was 27 years old and unmarried. According to society norms, she should have remained celibate. Her declaration was a broadside prepared by ministers to be as widely distributed as possible. It was the middle of the Great Awakening, when women were gaining some religious recognition & power, as traditional Puritan ministers were losing some of their power. Reportedly the ministers posed questions to Chamblit, as she walked to the gallows & stood on a ladder waiting to be hung. She answered as long as she could, saying what they wanted to hear. Then she "grew disordered and faint, and not capable of attending further to continu'd discourse."
Infanticide was certainly not a new phenomenon. For centuries, unwed mothers in Europe had occasionally killed their offspring, because they were unable to face the ignominy of raising an illegitimate child. As legal & cultural responses to crime changed by the 18th century, unwed and impoverished mothers might abandon the baby on some local doorstep hoping that the newborn would receive a more healthy upbringing with a different family.Infanticide narratives written in New England colonies & states are particularly revealing. In most infanticide narratives, the murder of the child is not mentioned. The woman is charged with having led an "unclean" life which warrants her execution. Female deviations from the norm, even after the witch hunts had subsided, were met with extreme consequences, especially when the traditional power of the dominant males was being threatened. The details contained in Chamblit's purported declaration seem calculated to fit within the Massachusetts Bastard Neonaticde Act exactly as written, thereby completely justifying her hanging. The declaration, dying warning and advice of Rebekah Chamblit. A young woman aged near twenty-seven years, executed at Boston September 27th. 1733. According to the sentence pass'd upon her at the Superior Court holden there for the county of Suffolk, in August last, being then found guilty of felony, in concealing the birth of her spurious male infant, of which she was delivered when alone the eighth day of May last, and was afterwards found dead, as will more fully appear by the following declaration, which was carefully taken from her own mouth. Boston: Printed and sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green, in Queen-Street, 1733. "On Saturday The Fifth day of May last, being then something more than Eight Months gone with Child, as I was about my Household Business reaching some Sand from out of a large Cask, I received considerable Hurt, which put me into great Pain, and so I continued till the Tuesday following; in all which time I am not sensible I felt any Life or Motion in the Child within me; when on the Said Tuesday the Eighth of may, I was Deliver'd when alone of a Male infant; in whom I did not perceive Life; but still uncertain of Life in it, I threw it into the Vault about two or three Minutes after it was born; uncertain I as, whether it was a living or dead child; Tho' I confess it was probable there was Life in it, and some Circumstances seem to confirm it. I therefore own the Justice of GOD and Man in my Condemnation, and take Shame to my self, as I have none but my self to Blame; and am Sorry for any rash Expressions I have at any time uttered since my Condemnation; and I am verily persuaded there is no Place in the World, where there is a More strict regard to Justice than in this Province."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

1790 Diary of Weaver Elizabeth Fuller Age 14 Massachusettes

Elizabeth Fuller (1775-1856) was 14 years-old, when she started keeping a diary. She made regular entries from October 1790 through December 1792. She lived with her family on a farm in Princeton, Massachusetts.
Pehr Hillström (Swedish artist, 1732-1816) A Woman Spinning, 

Weaving is the process that creates all kinds of things, such as: clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, & sails to name a few. In early America almost all fabric was imported from England. Though England dominated the American market, the colonies had domestic producers, mostly in the northeast.  Some southern planters had their slaves make cloth, keeping agricultural laborers busy off-season & in bad weather. 
However, when trade in the United States became restricted during the period before & during the Revolutionary War, weaving not only became a necessity, but a patriotic duty.

The Boston Chronicle in April, 1766, wrote that women there "exhibited a fine example of industry, by spinning from sunrise until dark."  Spinning bees were held in early America to encourage the production of yarn to provide homespun fabric. In the 1760's these events became popular as a means to demonstrate opposition of the importation of heavily taxed British goods and for the mutual aid for those in their community.  The tradition continued after the conflict had ended.

However, spinning was a domestic chore not much practiced in colonial Virginia, as it was very time-consuming, and most cloth was imported. It would take 12 spinners of wool to keep a weaver busy at the loom, and 100 spinners of cotton to keep a full-time weaver busy. The technology of the spinning wheel dates to 500 B.C. in India.

Unmarried young women in rural New England during the 18C, often spent their days at home engaged primarily in textile production for both their own family's use & to trade for other items. Elizabeth Fuller washed, carded, & spun wool, while assisting with everyday chores such as making cheese & cooking.  The term spinster, once used to denote an occupation, began to refer to an unmarried woman in the 18C, as many continued to spend their days making textiles for the use of their extended families.
Platt Powell Ryder (American artist, 1821–1896) Woman at Spinning Wheel

Oct 1790
13 — Mrs. Perry, Miss Eliza Harris, Miss Sally Puffer, and Miss Hannah Haynes, and Wareham, and Rebekah Hastings were baptised by immersion. — I was fifteen to-day.

14 — A hard storm. Mr. Eveleth was buried.

18 — Pa and Ma set out for Sandwich. I am quite sick, don’t sit up but very little.

21 — I was so bad that we sent for Dr. Wilson. When he came he told me I had a settled Fever.

1790 Nov.
5 — Nathan Perry here about an hour this eve. I am a good deal better, have been out of my room two or three times. 8 o’clock Pa and Ma came home, we were over joyed to see them, but had done expecting them.

7 — Sabbath, no preaching in town.

11 —Timmy went to mill.

14 — Sabbath. Mr. Sparhawk preached, came here at night.

19 — Nathan Perry here this evening.

20 — Leonard Woods here this morn. Mrs. Perry here this afternoon a visiting.

21 —Sabbath. Mr. Brown of Winchendon preached.

22 — Revd. Mr. Brown breakfasted with us this morning. He is an agreable pretty man.

23 — Mr. Gregory killed a cow for Pa.

24 — We baked two ovensfull of pyes. — Mr. Nathan Perry here this eve.

25 — Thanksgiving to-day we baked three ovensfull of pyes. There was no preaching so we had nothing to do but eat them. The pyes were a great deal better than they were last Thanksgiving for I made them all myself, and part of them were made of flour which we got of Mr. H. Hastings therefore we had plenty of spice.

26 — Mr. Ephriam Mirick here. Pa went to town meeting.

27 — Mr. Gregory killed our hogs to-day.

28 — There is no preaching in this town. There came a considerable snow last night.

30 — Caty Eveleth was married the 22nd inst.

1790 Dec.
1 - I went to Mr. Perry’s to make a visit this afternoon, had an excellent dish of tea and a shortcake. — Betsey Whitcomb at work there. Had a sociable afternoon.

2 — Silas Perry here to-day before sunrise. Pa is very poorly having a very bad cough. I am a good deal afraid he will go into a consumption. Oh! if my soul was formed for woe how would I vent my sighs My grief it would like rivers flow, from both my
streaming eyes. I am disconsolate to-night.

4 — I minced the Link meat.

6 — Timmy has gone to the singing meeting.

11 —Sabbath. David Perry here to borrow our singing book.

16 — John Brooks here killing our sheep. A severe snow storm.

17 — Very cold. I made sixteen dozen of candles.

19 — Sabbath cold enough to freeze fools but I was so wise I would have gone to meeting had not Ma kept me at home. I had not sense enough to more than balance my folly. Pa went to meeting, got there time enough to hear three hims and the prayer, but it was as much as ever he did. Mr. Lee preached.

21 —James Mirick is here, says Ephraim is gone to Fitzwilliam to bring Mrs. Garfield and her household stuff down.

22 — David Perry here to get Timmy to go to the singing school with him.

24 — I scoured the pewter. Pa went to Fitchburg.

26 — Sabbath. Stormy weather. We all stayed at home. Pretty warm.

28 — Cold and pleasant to-day. Pa sold his mare, is to have eleven dollars and a cow. Pa and Timmy went to Mr. Holden’s in Westminster to drive the cow home. She behaved so bad they did not get her farther than Mr. Dodd’s. Mr. Woods here to borrow some books of Pa.

30 — Very pleasant. Mr. Eveleth’s personal estate vendued. Pa and Tim gone there.

31 — Cloudy and cold, evening. Mr. Nathan Perry herethis evening...

1791 Mar.
1 — Pa went to Mr. Stephen Brighams to write his will. Ma began to spin the wool for Pa’s coat. I card for her & do the household work.

2 — Ma is a spinning.

3 — Ma spun three skeins. — Nathan Perry here. — Pa is gone to Mr. Hastings this eve.

4 — Mrs. Perry here to spend the afternoon.

5 — Ma spun.

6 — Sabbath, no Meeting in Town.

7 — very warm. Anna Perry here visiting. — I made 18 dozen of candles & washed.

8 — Ma spun.

9 — Miss Eunice Mirick here a visiting this afternoon.

10 — Warm and rainy. — Francis Eveleth here to borrow our singing Book. Ma spun.

11 — Rainy weather. Mr. Thomson here to-day after rates. Mr, Parmenter here, bought two calf skins of Pa, gave him ten shillings apiece. — David Perry here. — Timmy went to Mr. Brooks.

12 — David Perry here to-day.

13 — Sabbath no Meeting.

14 — March Meeting Mr. Crafts asked a dismission, had his request granted without the least difficulty, so now we are once more a free people ha ha, he is going to Weymouth to keep shop a going out of Town this week 'tis thought he has not much to carry with him I do not know nor care what he has.

15 — Revd. Mr. Rice & Mr. Isaac Thomson here. Mr. Rice Dined here.

16 — Pa went to Mr. Bangs to-day.

18 — Capt. Clark here this evening.

19 — John Brooks here to-day. — Nathan Perry here for the newspaper. — Ma spun two skeins & an half of filling yarn.

20 — Sabbath. Pa went to church Mr. Saunders Preached, he is one of Stephen Baxters classmates, the going was so bad that none of the rest of our Family went to hear him.

21 —- Cold. Mr. Brooks here.

22 — Pa went to Mr. Bangs.

23 — Pa went to Mr. Rolphs to-day. On the 13th inst. Miss Caty Mirick was Married to Mr. Joshua Eveleth.

24 — Mr. Brooks here to-day to get Pa to write a Deed of Mr. Hastingses Farm for him.

25 — Ma finished spinning her blue Wool to-day.

26 — Ma went to Mrs. Miricks to get a slay Harness. Mrs. Caty Eveleth came home with her.

27—Sabbath very pleasant I went to church. Mr. Rolph Preached. — Esqr. Woolson here to tarry all night.

28 — Esqr. Woolson went from here this morning. A man here to-day that was both deaf and dumb, he is Son to a Merchant in London, he went to sea & the ship was struck with Lightning & which occasioned his being deaf & dumb, he could write wrote a good deal here. He was a good looking young Man, about 25 he wrote his name Joel Smith. I really pitied him. I went to Mrs. Miricks & warped the piece.

29 — Mrs. Garfield came here to show me how to draw in Piece did not stay but about half an hour.

30 — I tyed in the Piece & wove two yards.

31 — Fast. I went to Meeting all day. Mr. Rolph preached half of the day & Mr. Saunders the other half. Mr. Saunders is a very good Preacher & a handsome Man. — David Perry here this evening to sing with us.

1791 April
1 — I wove two yards and three quarters & three inches to-day & I think I did pretty well considering it was April Fool day. Mr. Brooks & Mr. Hastings here to get Pa to do some writing for them.

2 — I wove three yards and a quarter,

3 —Sabbath. I went to church. — an anular eclipse of the sun, it was fair weather. 4— I wove five yards & a quarter. Mr. Cutting here this eve.

5 — I wove four yards. Mrs. Garfield & Mrs. Eveleth who was once Caty Mirick here a visiting. —The real estate of Mr. Josiah Mirick deceased is vendued to-day. (eve) Timmy has got home from the vendue Mr. Cutting has bought the Farm gave 255£ Sam Matthews has bought the part of the Pew gave eight dollars.

6 — I got out the White piece Mrs. Garfield warped the blue, came here & began to draw in the Piece.

7 — I finished drawing in the Piece & wove a yard & a half. Sam Matthews here to-day.

8 — I wove two yards & a quarter.

9 — I wove two yards & a quarter.

10 — Sabbath. I went to church in the A.M. Mamma went in the P.M. she has not been before since she came from Sandwich.

11 —I wove a yard & a half. Parmela Mirick here to see me.

12 — I wove to-day.

13 — Mrs. Brooks here a visiting. I wove.

14 — I got out the Piece in the A.M. Pa carried it to Mr. Deadmans. Miss Eliza Harris here.

15 — I began to spin Linnen spun 21 knots. I went to Mr. Perrys on an errand. Pa went to Mr. Matthews to write his will & some deeds. He has sold Dr. Wilson 20 acres of Land & given Sam a deed of some I believe about 25 acres.

16 — Pa went to Mr. Matthews again. — I spun 21 knots.

17 — Sabbath I went to church all day Mr. Davis Preached Mr. Saunders is sick.

18 — I spun two double skeins of Linnen.

19 — I spun two double skeins.

20—I spun two double skeins. — Ma went to Mrs. Miricks for a visit was sent for home. — Revd. Daniel Fuller of Cape Ann here to see us.

21—Revd. Mr. Fuller went from here this morn. Ma went to Mrs. Miricks again. — I spun two skeins. — Sukey Eveleth & Nabby here to see Nancy.

22 — I spun two double skeins O dear Quadyille has murdered wit, & work will do as bad, for wit is always merry, but work does make me sad.

23 — I spun two skeins. Nathan Perry here. — Ware-ham Hastings at work here.

24 — I went to church. Mr. Thurston Preached. — Mr. Saunders is sick.

25 — Leonard Woods here all this forenoon, brought Hoi-yokes singing Book. Left it here.

26 — Pa went to see Mr. Saunders. I Pricked some tunes out of Holyokes Singing Book.

27 — I spun five skeins of linnen yarn.

28 — I spun five skeins of linnen yarn. Pa went to Sterling.

29 — I Pricked some Tunes out of Holyokes singing Book. I spun some.

30 — I spun four skeins to-day.

1791 May
1 —Sabbath I went to Meeting to-day.

2 — I spun five skeins to-day.

3 — I spun five skeins to-day.

4 — I spun two skeins to-day finished the Warp for this Piece. — Nathan Perry worked here this P.M.

5 — I spun four skeins of tow for the filling to the Piece. I have been spinning, Pa went to Worcester to get the newspaper. Nathan Perry here this eve.

6— I spun four Skeins to-day.

7 — I spun four Skeins to-day.

8 — Sabbath. I went to church A.M. Mr. Thurston preached. Mr. John Rolph & his Lady & Mr. Osburn her Brother & a Miss Anna Strong (a Lady courted by said Osbourn) came here after Meeting and drank Tea.

9 — I spun four skeins. Mr. Thurston here this P.M. a visiting he is an agreeable Man appears much better out of the Pulpit than in.

10— I spun four Skeins to-day.

11 — I spun four skeins.

12 — I spun four skeins. Lucy Matthews here.

13 — I spun four skeins. — Ma is making Soap. Rainy.

14 — I spun four skeins. Ma finished making soap and it is very good.

15 — I went to church A. M. Mr. Thurston Preached he is a ——. — Mr. Rolph drank Tea here.

17 — I spun four skeins to-day.

18 — I spun four skeins of linnen yarn to Make a Harness of. — Ma is a breaking.

19 — I spun two skeins and twisted the harness yarn.

20— Mrs. Garfield came here this Morning to show me how to make a Harness, did not stay but about half an Hour. — Mrs. Perry & Miss Eliza Harris here a visiting.

21 — I went to Mrs. Miricks and warped the Piece.

22 — I went to church in the A.M. Mr. Saunders preached gave us a good sermon his text Romans 6th Chap. 23 verse. For the wages of Sin is Death.

23 — I got in my Piece to-day wove a yard.

24 — Wove two yards & an half.

25 — Election. I wove three Yards to-day. — Mrs. Perry here a few moments.

26 — I wove three Yards to-day. The two Mrs. Matthews here to Day. I liked Sam’s Wife much better than I expected to. — Miss. Eliza Harris here about two Hours.

27 — I wove five Yards to-day.

29 — Pleasant weather. Pa went to Sterling. My Cousin Jacob Kcmbal of Amherst came here to-day.

30 — General Election at Bolton. — Mr. Josiah Eveleth & Wife & Mrs. Garfield here on a visit.

1791 June
1—Moses Harrington carried off Mr. Hastings old shop.

2—Elislia Brooks here to-day.

5—I made myself a Shift. — Mrs. Perry here a visiting. Nathan Perry here this evening.

6—Sabbath. No Meeting in Town. Elisha Brooks here to see if there was a meeting.

7—I made myself a blue worsted Coat.

8—Aaron & Nathan Perry here. — Pamela Mirick here a visiting this afternoon.

9—Mrs. Brooks here a visiting. — I helped Sally make me a blue worsted Gown.

10—I helped Sally make me a brown Woolen Gown.

12—Sally cut out a striped lutestring Gown for me.

13—Sabbath I went to church. Mr. Green Preached.

14—Aaron Perry here.

15—I cut out a striped linnen Gown. — Sally finished my lutestring.

16—Rainy weather. Ma cut out a Coattce for me. —Salmon Houghton breakfasted with us. — Elisha Brooks spent the afternoon here.

17—Ma, Sally & I spent the afternoon at Mrs. Miricks.

18—Cool. Sally finished my Coattee.

19—I finished my striped linnen Gown. Mr. Soloman Davis here. Sabbath.

20—I went to Church, wore my lutestring, Sally wore hers we went to Mr. Richardsons & Dined. —rained at night.

21—Pleasant weather. Mr. Bush here.

22—Capt. Moore here to-day. Put in my dwiant Coat & Sally & I quilted it out before night.

23—Sally put in a Worsted Coat for herself and we quilted it out by the middle of the afternoon. Very pleasant weather.

24—I made myself a Shift.

Source: Francis E. Blake, “Diary Kept by Elizabeth Fuller,” History of the Town of Princeton (Princeton, Massachusetts: Town, 1915)