Friday, June 29, 2018

Martha Washington's Supervision of the Philly President's House, Food. & of Her Slave Chef's Ultimate Freedom

1793 John Trumbull (1756-1843). Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802)  (Daniel Parke Custis) (George Washington)


Hercules: Master of Cuisine, Slave of Washington
The Philadelphia Inquier  February 21 & 22, 2010 
by Craig LaBan, Restaurant Critic 

"In kitchen togs or fancy duds, Hercules left his mark in the President’s House & on the town in 1790s Philadelphia. He was one of the first great chefs of Philadelphia - in fact, of the young nation. The chief cook in President George Washington's home here in 1790 had only one name: Hercules.

"In the mansion's open-hearth kitchen, where elaborate banquets were prepared, where spitted meats sizzled & "fricaseys" simmered in cast-iron pans over hickory fires, underlings scurried to execute the orders of Hercules, "the great master-spirit," according to one account, who seemed to be everywhere at once...To Washington, however, Hercules was what he called that "species of property" - a slave. And though his talents would earn Hercules extraordinary privileges, including an income, fine clothes, & freedom to roam the city, Washington also went to great lengths to maintain the bondage of his prized cook ...eventually, an attempt to stash him at Mount Vernon...But contemporary historians such as Mary V. Thompson of Mount Vernon, Anna Coxe Toogood of Independence National Historical Park, David R. Hoth of the Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, & Edward Lawler Jr. of the Independence Hall Association have gone beyond Custis' memories to tease the outlines of Hercules' narrative from household account books, correspondences, & Mount Vernon farm reports...

"George Washington was no gourmet. Unlike his political rival Thomas Jefferson, forever a foodie after his diplomatic years in France, Washington was steeped in the ritual of simple tastes. He ate hoecakes for breakfast at 7, the white corn-mush patties swimming in butter & honey (to soften them for his famously sore teeth), with 3 cups of black tea. For his informal Saturday evenings, the fish-loving Washington regularly ate a humble hash of boiled beets, potatoes, onions, & salt fish (conveniently supplied by New England's congressional delegation) covered with fried pork scraps & buttery egg sauce. But the president could also host in capital style, with regular feasts for 30 or more guests: senators, foreign dignitaries, Indian chiefs. And he needed a kitchen that could carry it off.

"Hercules, the...father of four, was the Washington's choice. Little is known about his early life; Washington is believed to have purchased him in 1767, when Hercules was a 13-year-old ferryman. But Hercules clearly learned his kitchen craft well at Mount Vernon from Martha Washington's longtime slave cook, Old Doll. By the time Hercules was about 36, the president tapped him to come north to Philadelphia...Washington was keenly aware of the political importance of dining room ceremony, & his regular Thursday dinners with members of Congress would set an impressive standard for the nation's first power meals...With Congress drawing to a close & talk of avoiding another war with Britain likely swirling around the table, May 1794 brought forth a presidential gush of banquets. During the week of May 19, for instance, the kitchen prepared 293 pounds of beef, 111 pounds of veal, 54 pounds of mutton, 129 pounds of lamb, 16 pounds of pork, calves' feet (for sweet colonial Jell-O), 44 chickens, 22 pigeons, 2 ducks, 10 lobsters, 98 pounds of butter, 32 dozen eggs, myriad fruits & vegetables, 3 half-barrels of beer, 20 bottles of porter, 9 bottles of "cyder," 2 bottles of Sauternes, 22 bottles of Madeira, 4 bottles of claret, 10 bottles of Champagne, & 1 twenty-eight-pound cheese...

"And contrary to the Washington's grandson) Custis' image of him, he may not have always been in charge, either. The steward oversaw all the marketing, inspected each morning by Martha Washington after breakfast... 

"But while the hired cooks & stewards came & went, Hercules was the mainstay in the kitchen. And the Washingtons rewarded him with tokens of their approval. There were tickets to see a play at the Southwark Theater (The Beaux' Stratagem) & the spectacular riding acrobatics at Ricketts' Circus (America's 1st), according to account books. There were bottles of rum to mourn the death of his wife, Lame Alice, an enslaved Mount Vernon seamstress. A reluctant Washington also granted Hercules the favor of bringing his 13-year-old son, Richmond, to Philadelphia as a kitchen scullion & chimney sweep. Most telling, though, was allowing Hercules the right to sell the kitchen "slops" - the remaining animal skins, used tea leaves, & rendered tallow that would have been compost on the plantation...For Hercules, that meant annual earnings of up to $200, if Custis is accurate, as much as the Washingtons paid hired chefs...

"Pennsylvania had already become the first government in the New World to begin the abolition of slavery with its Gradual Abolition Act of 1780. And with the Quaker-backed Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery & Free African Society working on their behalf, there were 1,805 free blacks in the city in 1790, while only 273 remained enslaved, according to the federal census as noted in (Gary) Nash's book. By 1800, the slave number had dropped to 55 among a black population of 6,436, about 10 percent of the city's population. To circumvent the Gradual Abolition Act, which allowed citizens of other states to hold slaves only 6 months before the slaves could claim their freedom, the Washingtons regularly & illegally shuttled their slaves across state lines before the deadline expired, thus resetting their residency at zero. And Washington wanted to keep it secret at all costs - even if it meant a lie.

"I wish to have it accomplished under the pretext that may deceive both them & the public," he wrote to Lear. "...This advise may be known to none but yourself & Mrs. Washington." It wasn't long before the slaves figured out why they were being shuffled back & forth between Philadelphia & Virginia by stagecoach & boat, but Hercules, Lear wrote Washington in 1791, was "mortified to the last degree to think that a suspicion could be entertained of his fidelity or attachment to you..." Martha Washington showed her trust by allowing Hercules to stay, at least once, beyond the 6 months. But the president clearly never relaxed.

"Washington signed the Fugitive Slave Act that Congress had overwhelmingly approved in 1793, which allowed slave owners to retrieve their runaways anywhere, even if captured in non-slavery states...The once-trusted chef, also noted for the fine silk clothes...suddenly found himself that November in the coarse linens & woolens of a field slave. Hercules was relegated to hard labor alongside others, digging clay for 100,000 bricks, spreading dung, grubbing bushes, & smashing stones into sand to coat the houses on the property, according to farm reports & a November memo from Washington to his farm manager. "That will Keep them," he wrote, "out of idleness & mischief." When Hercules' son (13 year old) Richmond was then caught stealing money from an employee's saddlebags, Washington made his suspicions of a planned father-son escape clear in a letter: "This will make a watch, without its being suspected by, or intimated to them..." 

"By February, after several days of working in the damp chill, Hercules had had enough. Before dawn on Feb. 22, 1797, he launched his quest for freedom. The discovery by Mount Vernon historian Mary V. Thompson of this key detail in the weekly farm report from Feb. 25, 1797 - "Herculus absconded 4 [days ago]" - ...By the time Hercules fled in 1797, the 3 children he'd raised since his wife died 10 years earlier ranged from in age from 11 to 20. A 4th child, a daughter of 6, seemed to have understood her father's need to leave. A Mount Vernon visitor asked whether she was "deeply upset that she would never see her father again." She replied, according to the future French king Louis-Philippe, in his Diary of My Travels in America: "Oh! sir, I am very glad, because he is free now..."

"Hercules resurfaced at least once more in the United States. He was spotted in late 1801, by Col. Richard Varick, Washington's former recording secretary, who was then mayor of New York. In responding to his alert, Martha Washington wrote "to decline taking Hercules back again..." On Jan. 1, 1801, according to biographer Patricia Brady, Martha Washington had decided to free all 123 of her late husband's slaves, despite his wish that they would not be freed until both he & his wife were dead."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Thomas Jefferson, Art Collector, seemed to collect little art about Women

John Trumbull (American painter, 1756-1843) Thomas Jefferson 1788

Thomas Jefferson was acutely conscious of the importance of historical icons in the formation of a national identity, like Indian artifacts and mastodon bones.  In 1803, a list of the artworks at Monticello showed 126 items, including "17 in the entrance hall, 49 in the parlor, 10 in the dining room, and 36 in the tearoom (most of the works in this small room were miniatures)." Jefferson was also known to have a "large portfolio of unframed prints and drawings."

When he was making plans for building the first Monticello, he included in his "Construction Notebook" a "wish list" of 19 works of sculpture and painting.  His primary interest was sculpture, for the same classical education that turned him to Rome for architectural inspiration directed him to statuary, the representational art form most directly linked to classical antiquity. Here, at the head of his list were the definitely feminine Medici Venus and also the Apollo Belvedere. 
Copies of the Medici Venus were popular with "learned" gentlemen in the 17C & 18C.  The Venus de' Medici or Medici Venus is a Hellenistic marble sculpture depicting the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite.  The goddess is depicted in a fugitive, momentary pose, as if surprised in the act of emerging from the sea, to which the dolphin at her feet alludes.  Visitors to Rome like John Evelyn   (1620-1706, English writer, gardener & diarist) found it "a miracle of art."  
One of  John Zoffany's (1733-1810) most complicated conversation pieces is his 1772 painting The Tribuna of the Uffizi (now in the Royal Collection), showing the Venus (right) on show in the Tribuna, surrounded by English and Italian "art connoisseurs."

Copies of the works at the top of Jefferson's wish list "were most likely intended for two niches in the parlor of the original house." Jefferson never acquired them, but during a lifetime of collecting, he managed to amass a sizeable number of sculptural busts, and enough paintings, prints, and maps to fill the available wall space of the public rooms of Monticello.

Jefferson acquired much of his collection randomly, buying some items in Paris at auction, commissioning copies of others, and receiving some as presentation copies. The one artist whose work he owned was Jean-Antoine Houdon, whom he became acquainted with in Paris.  He brought to Monticello a total of 7 busts by Houdon, mostly of American patriots, including the famous Houdon likeness of Jefferson himself.  Jefferson’s painting collection included a number of copies of old masters, including Raphael, Leonardo, and Rubens. Copies of famous paintings, particularly if done by a competent hand, were considered in good taste in the 18C.

In addition, the walls of Monticello were decorated with geographical and historical scenes of America, as well as portraits of its male luminaries. He acquired likenesses of such gentlemen explorers of the Americas as Columbus, Cortez, Magellan, and Vespucci, and of the colonizer of Virginia, Sir Walter Raleigh. To these were added a gallery of paintings or prints of American male patriots, including Washington, Adams, Franklin, Lafayette, and Paine. He displayed in the lower tier of works hung in the parlor a set of ten medals of officers who had distinguished themselves during the Revolution.

There were also portraits of his private European male heroes, "the three greatest men the world had ever produced," Bacon, Newton, and Locke, for their contributions to the intellectual foundations of the nation.  Jefferson encouraged John Trumbull to paint scenes of the Revolutionary War, and acquired a print of the most famous of these, "The Declaration of Independence." It was added to a wide collection of Americana, including scenes of Harper's Ferry, Niagara Falls, the Natural Bridge, New Orleans, Mount Vernon, and an elevation of Monticello by Robert Mills.

Jefferson's Monticello collection of art works, natural history specimens, and American Indian artifacts, many from the Lewis and Clark expedition, has become emblematic of his remarkable intellect and his dedication to the gentlemen of country that he helped found.

(excerpts from McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: The biography of a builder. New York : H. Holt, c1988, p.360-3)

For further information about the art collection of Thomas Jefferson, see:

Adams, William Howard. Jefferson and the arts: An extended view. Washington : National Gallery of Art, 1976.

Berman, Eleanor Davidson. Jefferson among the arts; An essay in early American esthetics. New York, Philosophical Library [1947].

McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: The biography of a builder. New York : H. Holt, c1988.

Stein, Susan R. The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. New York : H.N. Abrams, in association with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc., 1993.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), Coffee Houses, Business Women, & the American Revolution

Alvan Fisher (1792-1863) Coffee Clap

The gentle "ladies" of Boston, staged a "Coffee Party" in 1777, reminiscent of the earlier Boston Tea Party of 1773. The town's women confronted a profiteering hoarder of foodstuffs confiscating some of his stock of coffee, according to a letter from Abigail Adams to her husband, who would become the 2nd president of the United States.
Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blyth (American artist, 1740-1787) 1766.

Writing from Boston, on July 31, 1777, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, away attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia,
"There is a great scarcity of sugar and coffee, articles which the female part of the state is very loath to give up, especially whilst they consider the great scarcity occasioned by the merchants having secreted a large quantity. It is rumored that an eminent stingy merchant, who is a bachelor, had a hogshead of coffee in his store, which he refused to sell under 6 shillings per pound.

"A number of females—some say a hundred, some say more—assembled with a cart and trunk, marched down to the warehouse, and demanded the keys.

"Upon his finding no quarter, he delivered the keys, and they then opened the warehouse, hoisted out the coffee themselves, put it into a trunk, and drove off. A large concourse of men stood amazed, silent spectators of the whole transaction."
1674 London Coffee House

It seems that the one of the first colonists to bring a knowledge of coffee to the settlers of colonial British North America was Captain John Smith, who founded the Colony of Virginia at Jamestown in 1607. Captain Smith became familiar with coffee in his travels in Turkey.

WOMEN & Coffee Houses in Early Boston

Coffee had been popular in Boston for over a century, when the Revolutionary women of the town became patriotically incensed. Many women owned coffee houses, which traditionally had been frequented by men.  Dorothy Jones had been issued a license to sell coffee in Boston in 1670. “Mrs. Dorothy Jones, the wife of Mr. Morgan Jones, is approved of to keepe a house of publique Entertainment for the selling of Coffee & Chochaletto.” The last renewal of Mrs. Jones's license was in April 1674, at which time she was accorded the additional privilege of selling "cider & wine." Her husband Morgan Jones was a minister & schoolmaster who moved from colony to colony frequently, leaving Dorothy Jones to make her own way financially for herself and their family.
Ned Ward, The Coffee House Mob, frontispiece to Part IV of Vulgus Britannicus, or the British Hudibras (London, 1710)

After the Welsh gentlewoman Dorothy Jones opened her 1670 Boston coffee & chocolate establishment, the next colonial coffee house may have been in Maryland. In St. Mary's City, Maryland, the 1698 will of Garrett Van Sweringen, bequeaths to his son, Joseph, "ye Council Rooms and Coffee House and land thereto belonging," which Van Sweringen had opened in 1677.

Approved by the town-fathers of Boston, “Jane Barnard approved to keepe a house of publique Entertainment for the  sellinge of Coffee and Chucalettoe”  Chocolate!  Chocolate was first brought to Charles V in Spain by Cortez in 1524, and its use as a hot drink spread. While Jane Barnard did have a tavern license already, she was only allowed to sell coffee and cider.  She saw a future in chocolate in North America just like Dorothy Jones saw a future in coffee.  It was a leap, but they were both right. Chocolate and coffee were both introduced to colonial British America at just about the same time.  There was a Boxton goldsmith, John Hull who was selling chocolate in 1667, but it hadn’t really caught on.  While coffee was relatively novel and unknown in 1670’s colonial British America, some colonists did know its popularity elsewhere. England had taken to coffee almost 20 years prior.  As coffee became popular in Europe, these women saw potential. 

Coffee houses patterned after English & Continental prototypes were established in the colonies, quickly becoming centers of social, political & business interactions. Among the earlist were London Coffee House in Boston, in 1689; the King's Arms in New York in 1696; and Coffee House in Philadelphia in 1700.
1664 wood cut of English coffee house

The name coffee house did not come into use in New England, until late in the 17. The London Coffee House and the Gutteridge Coffee House were among the first opened in Boston. The latter stood on the north side of State Street, between Exchange and Washington Streets, and was named after Robert Gutteridge, who took out an innkeeper's license in 1691. Twenty-seven years later, his widow, Mary Gutteridge, petitioned the town for a renewal of her late husband's permit to keep a public coffee house.  In 1718, Mary Gutteridge became full owner of the Gutteridge Coffee House in colonial British America.  As a widow, she petitioned the town of Boston to keep the business license, and it was granted.

Boston's British Coffee House, whose named changed during the pre-Revolutionary period, also appeared about the time Gutteridge took out his license. It stood on the site that is now 66 State Street, and became one of the most widely known coffee houses in colonial New England.

The Crown Coffee House opened in 1711 and burned down in 1780. There were inns and taverns in existence in Boston long before coffee & coffee houses. Many of these taverns added coffee for patrons who did not care for the stronger spirits.

In the last quarter of the 17, quite a number of taverns and inns sprang up in Boston. Among the most notable were the King's Head (1691), at the corner of Fleet and North Streets; the Indian Queen (1673), on a passageway leading from Washington Street to Hawley Street; the Sun (1690-1902), in Faneuil Hall Square; and the Green Dragon, which became one of the most celebrated coffee house & taverns, serving ale, beer, coffee, tea, and more ardent spirits. In the colonies, there was not always a clear distinction between a coffee house and a tavern.
Boston's Green Dragon

The Green Dragon stood on Union Street, in the heart of the town's business center, for 135 years, from 1697 to 1832, and figured in practically all important local and national events during its long career. In the words of Daniel Webster (1782-1852), this famous coffee-house tavern was dubbed the "headquarters of the Revolution." John Adams, James Otis, and Paul Revere met there to discuss securing freedom for the American colonies. The old tavern was a two-storied brick structure with a sharply pitched roof. Over its entrance hung a sign bearing the figure of a green dragon.

The Bunch of Grapes, that Francis Holmes presided over as early as 1712, was another hot-bed of politicians. This coffee house became the center of a rowsing celebration in 1776, when a delegate from Philadelphia read the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the inn to the crowd assembled below. In the excitement that followed, the inn was nearly destroyed, when one celebrant built a bonfire too close to its walls.

By the beginning of the 18, the title of coffee house was applied to a number of new establishments in Boston. One of these was the Crown, which was opened in the "first house on Long Wharf" in 1711 by Jonathan Belcher, who later became governor of Massachusetts, and then New Jersey. The first landlord of the Crown was Thomas Selby, who also used it as an auction room. The Crown stood until 1780, when it was destroyed in a fire that swept the Long Wharf.

Another early Boston coffee house on State Street was the Royal Exchange. It occupied a two-story building, and was kept in 1711, by Benjamin Johns. This coffee house became the starting place for stage coaches running between Boston and New York, in 1772. In the Columbian Centinel of January 1, 1800, appeared an advertisement in which it was said: "New York and Providence Mail Stage leaves Major Hatches' Royal Exchange Coffee House in State Street every morning at 8 o'clock."


In the latter half of the 18C, the North-End coffee house in a 3 storey 1740 brick mansion, stood on the west side of North Street, between Sun Court and Fleet Street. One contemporary noted that it had forty-five windows and was valued at $4,500. During the Revolution, it featured "dinners and suppers—small and retired rooms for small company—oyster suppers in the nicest manner."

WOMEN & Early Coffee Houses in Philadelphia

William Penn is generally credited with the introduction of coffee into the Quaker colony which he founded on the Delaware in 1682.  The first public house designated as a coffee house was built about 1700 by Samuel Carpenter, on the east side of Front Street, probably above Walnut Street, and was referred to as Ye Coffee House at Walnut & Chestnut Streets.  Ye Coffee House also did duty as the post-office for a time. 

Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, in an issue published in 1734, has this advertisement:  All persons who are indebted to Henry Flower, late postmaster of Pennsylvania, for Postage of Letters or otherwise, are desir'd to pay the same to him at the old Coffee House in Philadelphia.  Franklin also seems to have been in the coffee business, for in several issues of the Pennsylvania Gazette around the year 1740 he advertised: "Very good coffee sold by the Printer."
Unknown artist of the English School. The Coffee House Politicians

Opened about 1702, the 1st London Coffee House was the gathering place of the followers of Penn and the Proprietary party, while their opponents, the political cohorts of Colonel Quarry, frequented Ye Coffee House.  The first London Coffee House resembled a fashionable club house in its later years, suitable for the "genteel" entertainments of the well-to-do Philadelphians. Ye Coffee House was more of a commercial or public exchange. Evidence of the gentility of the London is given by John William Wallace: The appointments of the London Coffee House, if we may infer what they were from the will of Mrs. Shubert [Shewbert] dated November 27, 1751, were genteel. By that instrument she makes bequest of two silver quart tankards; a silver cup; a silver porringer; a silver pepper pot; two sets of silver castors; a silver soup spoon; a silver sauce spoon, and numerous silver tablespoons and tea spoons, with a silver tea-pot.

Widow Roberts' Coffee House stood in Front Street near the first London house believed to have come into existence about 1740. There was a sale at auction is advertised in the year 1742, as "to take place at Mrs. Roberts' Coffee House," which was in Front street below Blackhorse alley, west side—indicating that, while she kept her house there, a Mr. James was keeping another coffee house at Walnut street.  There she certainly continued until the year 1754, when the house was converted into a store.  As early as the year 1725, there was notice of a theft, in which the person escaped from "the Coffee House in Front street by the back gate opening out on Chestnut street;" which may have been the same widow Roberts' house, or some house still nearer to Chestnut street. In 1744, a British army officer recruiting troops for service in Jamaica advertised, that he could be seen at the Widow Roberts' Coffee House. During the French & Indian War, when Philadelphia was in grave danger of attack by French & Spanish privateers, the citizens felt so great relief when the British ship Otter came to the rescue, that they proposed a public banquet in honor of the Otter's captain to be held at Roberts' Coffee HouseWidow Roberts seems to have retired in 1754.

Contemporary with Roberts' Coffee House was the resort run first by Widow James, and later by her son, James James. The Gazettes of 1744 and 1749, speak of incidents at James' Coffee House. The James Coffee House was established in 1744, occupying a large wooden building on the northwest corner of Front and Walnut Streets. The James Coffee House was patronized by Governor Thomas & many of his political followers.  
The London Coffee House, Philadelphia

The 2nd London Coffee House, on the southwest corner of Second and Market Streets, was opened in 1754, by William Bradford printer of the Pennsylvania Journal. It quickly was more frequented than any other tavern in the Quaker city and was famous throughout the colonies.  It was "Having been advised to keep a Coffee House for the benefit of merchants and traders, and as some people may at times be desirous to be furnished with other liquors besides coffee, your petitioner apprehends it is necessary to have the Governor's license."
The London Coffee House, Philadelphia

The London Coffee House was "the pulsating heart of excitement, enterprise, and patriotism" of the early city. The most active citizens congregated there—merchants, shipmasters, travelers from other colonies and countries, crown and provincial officers. The governor and persons of equal note went there at certain hours "to sip their coffee from the hissing urn, and some of those stately visitors had their own stalls." It had also the character of a mercantile exchange—carriages, horses, foodstuffs, and the like being sold there at auction. It is further related that the early slave-holding Philadelphians sold negro men, women, and children at vendue, exhibiting the slaves on a platform set up in the street before the coffee house.
The London Coffee House, Philadelphia

The London Coffee House building was a three-story wooden structure, with an attic that some historians count as the fourth story. There was a wooden awning one-story high extending out to cover the sidewalk before the coffee house. The entrance was on Market (then known as High) Street. Bradford gave up the coffee house when he joined the newly formed Revolutionary army as major, later becoming a colonel. When the British entered the city in September, 1777, the officers resorted to the London Coffee House, which was much frequented by Tory sympathizers.

The last of the celebrated coffee houses in Philadelphia was built in 1773 under the name of the City Tavern , which later became known as the Merchants coffee house, possibly after the house of the same name that was then famous in New York. It stood in Second Street near Walnut Street.  The City Tavern was patterned after the best London coffee houses; and when opened, it was looked upon as the finest and largest of its kind in America. City Tavern was 3 stories high, built of brick, and had several large club rooms, two of which were connected by a wide doorway that, when open, made a large dining room 50 feet long.

The gentlefolk of the city resorted to the City Tavern  after the Revolution as they had to Bradford's coffee house before. However, before reaching this high estate, it once was near destruction at the hands of the Tories, who threatened to tear it down. That was when it was proposed to hold a banquet there in honor of Mrs. George Washington, who had stopped in the city in 1776 while on the way to meet her distinguished husband, then at Cambridge in Massachusetts, taking over command of the American army. Trouble was averted by Mrs. Washington tactfully declining to appear at the tavern.  After peace came, the City Tavern was the scene of many of the fashionable entertainments of the period.

New York's First Coffee House

Although the Dutch also had early knowledge of coffee, there is no written evidence that the Dutch West India Company brought any of it to the first permanent settlement on Manhattan Island (1624). Nor is there any record of coffee in the cargo of the Mayflower (1620), although it included a wooden mortar & pestle, later used to make "coffee powder."
Depiction of a 1600s London coffee house with women at the table

The earliest reference to coffee in America is 1668, at which time a beverage made from the roasted beans, & flavored with sugar or honey, & cinnamon, was being drunk in New York.  Coffee first appears in the official records of the New England colony in 1670. In 1683, the year following William Penn's settlement on the Delaware, he is buying supplies of coffee in the New York market & paying for them at the rate of 18 shillings & 9 pence per pound.

Some researchers of New York's early days are confident that the 1st coffee house in America was opened in New York; but the earliest authenticated record they have presented is that on November 1, 1696, John Hutchins bought a lot on Broadway, between Trinity churchyard & what is now Cedar Street, & there built a house he used as a coffee house, which would come to be called King's Arms.

Later dubbed The King's Arms, this house was built of wood, & had a front of yellow brick, said to have been brought from Holland. The King's Arms building was two stories high, & on the roof was an "observatory," arranged with seats, & commanding a fine view of the bay, the river, & the city. Here the King's Arms coffee-house visitors frequently sat in the afternoons.  It stood for many years on Broadway, opposite Bowling Green, in the old De Lancey House, becoming known in 1763 as the King's Arms, & later the Atlantic Garden House.
17C London Coffee House

The sides of the main room on the lower floor were lined with booths, which, for the sake of greater privacy, were screened with green curtains. There a patron could sip his coffee, or a more stimulating drink, meet with others to discuss news, or just relax & read his mail.  The rooms on the second floor were used for special meetings of merchants, colonial magistrates & overseers, or similar public & private business.  These meeting rooms seem to have been one of the chief features distinguishing a coffee house from a tavern. Although both types of houses had rooms for guests, & served meals, the coffee house was used for business purposes by permanent customers, while the tavern was patronized more by transients. Men met at the coffee house daily to carry on business, & went to the tavern for convivial purposes or lodgings. Before the front door hung the sign of "the lion & the unicorn fighting for the crown."

For many years the King's Arms seems to have been the only coffee house in New York City; or at least no other seems of sufficient importance to have been mentioned in colonial records. For this reason it was frequently designated as "the" coffee house.

WOMEN & Coffee Houses in 18C New York

On September 22, 1709, the Journal of the General Assembly of the Colony of New York refers to a conference held in the "New Coffee House." About this date the business section of the city had begun to drift eastward from Broadway to the waterfront; & from this fact it is assumed that the name "New Coffee House" indicates that the King's Arms may have been superseded in popularity by a newer coffee house. The Journal does not give the location of the "New" coffee house. Whatever the case may be, the name of the King's Arms does not again appear in the records until 1763, & then it had more the character of a tavern, or roadhouse.

The Exchange Coffee House is thought to have been located at the foot of Broad Street, abutting the sea-wall & near the Long Bridge of that day. At that time this section was the business center of the city, & here was a trading exchange.  The Exchange Coffee House may have been the only one of its kind in New York at the time.  In 1732,  an announcement of a meeting of the conference committee of the Council & Assembly "at the Coffee House."  And an advertisement in 1733 in the New York Gazette requesting the return of "lost sleeve buttons to Mr. Todd, next door to the Coffee House."  Robert Todd kept the famous Black Horse tavern which was located in this part of the city.

Daniel Bloom, a mariner, in 1737 bought the Jamaica Pilot Boat tavern from John Dunks & named it the Merchants Coffee House. The building was situated on the northwest corner of the present Wall Street & Water (then Queen) Street; & Bloom was its landlord until his death, soon after the year 1750. He was succeeded by Captain James Ackland, who shortly sold it to Luke Roome. The latter disposed of the building in 1758 to Dr. Charles Arding.

The doctor leased it to Mrs. Mary Ferrari, who continued as its proprietor until she moved, in 1772, to the newer building diagonally across the street on the southeast corner of Wall & Water Streets. Mrs. Ferrari took with her the patronage & the name of the Merchants Coffee House, & the old building was not used again as a coffee house.  The original coffee house which was opened on the northwest corner of Wall & Water Streets about 1737, moved to the southeast corner in 1772.

The building housing the original Merchants Coffee House was a two-story structure, with a balcony on the roof, which was typical of the middle 18C architecture in New York. On the first floor were the coffee bar & booths described in connection with the King's Arms coffee house. The 2nd floor had the typical long room for public assembly.   During Bloom's proprietorship the Merchants Coffee House had a long, hard struggle to win the patronage away from the Exchange Coffee House, which was flourishing at that time. But, being located near the Meal Market, where the merchants were wont to gather for trading purposes, it gradually became the meeting place of the city, at the expense of the Exchange coffee house, farther down the waterfront.
Merchants Coffee House at Wall and Water Sts NYC 1804

Widow Ferrari presided over the original Merchants Coffee House for 14 years, until she moved across the street. She was a keen business woman. Just before she was ready to open the new coffee house she announced to her old patrons that she would give a house-warming, at which arrack, punch, wine, cold ham, tongue, & other delicacies of the day would be served. The event was duly noted in the newspapers, one stating that "the agreeable situation & the elegance of the new house had occasioned a great resort of company to it."

Mrs. Ferrari continued in charge until May 1, 1776, when Cornelius Bradford became proprietor & sought to build up the patronage, which had dwindled somewhat during the stirring days immediately preceding the Revolution. In his announcement of the change of ownership, he said, "Interesting intelligence will be carefully collected & the greatest attention will be given to the arrival of vessels, when trade & navigation shall resume their former channels." He referred to the complete embargo of trade to Europe which the colonists were enduring. When the American troops withdrew from the city during the Revolution, Bradford went also, to Rhinebeck on the Hudson.

During the British occupation, the Merchants Coffee House was a place of great activity. As before, it was the center of trading, & under the British régime it became also the place where the prize ships were sold. The Chamber of Commerce resumed its sessions in the upper long room in 1779, having been suspended since 1775. The Chamber paid fifty pounds rent per annum for the use of the room to Mrs. Smith, the landlady at the time.

In 1781, John Stachan, then proprietor of the Queen's Head tavern, became landlord of the Merchants Coffee House, & he promised in a public announcement "to pay attention not only as a Coffee House, but as a tavern, in the truest; & to distinguish the same as the City Tavern & Coffee House, with constant & best attendance. Breakfast from seven to eleven; soups & relishes from eleven to half-past one. Tea, coffee, etc., in the afternoon, as in England." But when he began charging sixpence for receiving & dispatching letters by man-o'-war to England, he brought a storm about his ears, & was forced to give up the practise. He continued in charge until peace came, & Cornelius Bradford came with it to resume proprietorship of the Merchants Coffee House.

Bradford attempted to change the name to the New York Coffee House, but the public continued to call it by its original name, & the landlord soon gave in. He kept a marine list, giving the names of vessels arriving & departing, recording their ports of sailing. He also opened a register of returning citizens, "where any gentleman now resident in the city," his advertisement stated, "may insert their names & place of residence." This seems to have been the first attempt at a city directory. By his energy Bradford soon made the Merchants Coffee House again the business center of the city. When he died, in 1786, he was mourned as one of the leading citizens. His funeral was held at the coffee house over which he had presided so well.

The Merchants Coffee House continued to be the principal public gathering place until it was destroyed by fire in 1804. During its existence it had figured prominently in many of the local & national historic events:  the reading of the order to the citizens, in 1765, warning them to stop rioting against the Stamp Act; the debates on the subject of not accepting consignments of goods from Great Britain; the general meeting of citizens on May 19, 1774, suggesting a congress of deputies from the colonies & calling for a "virtuous & spirited Union;" the mass meeting of citizens following the battles at Concord & Lexington in Massachusetts; & the forming of the Committee of One Hundred to administer the public business.  The Merchants coffee house was the site 1784, where the Bank of New York was formed, the first financial institution in the city.  In 1790, the 1st public sale of stocks by sworn brokers was held there.

When the American Army held the city in 1776, the Merchants Coffee House became the resort of army & navy officers. On April 23, 1789, when Washington, the recently elected first president of the United States, was officially greeted at the coffee house by the governor of the State, the mayor of the city, & the lesser municipal officers.

The Whitehall Coffee House, was opened briefly by 2 gentlemen, named Rogers & Humphreys,  in 1762, with the announcement that "a correspondence is settled in London & Bristol to remit by every opportunity all the public prints & pamphlets as soon as published; & there will be a weekly supply of New York, Boston & other American newspapers."

The early records of the city occasionally mention the "Burns coffee house," sometimes calling it a tavern. It is likely that the place was more an inn & tavern than a coffee house. It was kept for a number of years by George Burns, near the Battery, & was located in the historic old De Lancey house, which afterward became the City hotel.  Burns remained the proprietor until 1762, when it was taken over by a Mrs. Steele. Edward Barden became the landlord in 1768. In later years it became known as the Atlantic Garden House. Traitor Benedict Arnold is said to have lodged in the old tavern after deserting to the enemy.

In 1791, 50 merchants organized the Tontine Coffee House. This enterprise was based on the plan introduced into France in 1653 by Lorenzo Tonti, with slight variations. According to the New York Tontine plan, each holder's share reverted automatically to the surviving shareholders in the association, instead of to his heirs. There were 157 original shareholders, & 203 shares of stock valued at £200 each. The directors bought the house & lot on the northwest corner of Wall & Water Streets, where the original Merchants Coffee House stood. The cornerstone of the new Tontine Coffee House was laid June 5, 1792; & a year later to the day, 120 gentlemen sat down to a banquet in the completed coffee house to celebrate the event of the year before.  The Tontine Coffee House had cost $43,000.

A contemporary account of the Tontine Coffee House in 1794 is supplied by an Englishman visiting New York at the time: "The Tontine tavern & coffee house is a handsome large brick building; you ascend six or eight steps under a portico, into a large public room, which is the Stock Exchange of New York, where all bargains are made. Here are two books kept, as at Lloyd's [in London] of every ship's arrival & clearance. This house was built for the accommodation of the merchants by Tontine shares of two hundred pounds each. It is kept by Mr. Hyde, formerly a woolen draper in London. You can lodge & board there at a common table, & you pay ten shillings currency a day, whether you dine out or not."

See William Harrison Ukers (1873-1945) All About Coffee published by The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company, 1922

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Women in the Whiskey Rebellion, America's 1st Civil War

Initially, US soldiers & local militias maintain the union in the Early Republic.  Washington Reviewing the Western Army, at Fort Cumberland, Maryland, after 1795, attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer (German-born American artist, c.1755-1821)

Not long after the United States was created, it faced one of its first domestic tests -- and booze was at the heart of it.  In 1791, America was drowning in war debt, so President Washington reluctantly levied a tax on whiskey to help repay the country's creditors. Unfortunately, corn whiskey was much more valuable than raw corn, so many farmers focused their production on booze, rather than grain. Some laborers were even paid in whiskey.

During the American Revolution, individual states had incurred significant debt. In 1790, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton pushed for the federal government to take over that debt. He also suggested an excise tax on whiskey to prevent further financial difficulty.  At first, President George Washington was opposed to Hamilton’s suggestion of a whiskey tax.  In 1791, Washington journeyed through Virginia & Pennsylvania to speak with citizens about their views.  The idea was enthusiastically supported by citzens & local government officials alike, & Washington took this assurance back to Congress, which passed the bill.  But protests against the new tax began immediately, arguing that the tax was unfair to small producers, and they were right.  Under the new law, large producers paid the tax annually at a rate of 6 cents per gallon, & the more they produced, the further the tax breaks.  Small producers, however, were stuck with a 9 cents per gallon rate. Farmers took further issue because only cash would be accepted for tax payment.

The resulting Whiskey Rebellion was a 1794 uprising of farmers and distillers in Western Pennsylvania in protest of a whiskey tax enacted by the federal government. Following years of aggression with tax collectors, the region finally exploded in a confrontation that had President Washington respond by sending troops to quell what some feared could become a full-blown 2nd revolution. 

1791 Local violence by men disguised as women...

The law was immediately a failure, since refusals to pay the taxes were as common as intimidation against officials hired to collect them.  Excise officers sent to collect the tax were met with defiance & threats of violence. Some producers refused to pay the tax.  Perhaps inevitably, violence broke out. On September 11, 1791, excise officer Robert Johnson was riding through his collection route in Western Pennsylvania.  Johnson was surrounded by 11 men dressed as women, who stripped him naked & then tarred & feathered him before stealing his horse & abandoning him in the forest.  Johnson recognized two men in the mob. He made a complaint & warrants were issued for their arrest.  A cattle drover named John Connor was sent with the warrants, & he suffered the same fate as Johnson, & was tied to a tree in the woods for five hours before being found. In response, Johnson resigned his post, fearing further violence.  Incidents escalated over the next few years. 

1793 A local tax collector's wife & children are assaulted...

In 1793, the home of Pennsylvania excise officer Benjamin Wells was broken into twice. The first time, a mob of people forced their way in & assaulted Wells’ wife & children.  The second incident involved six men, in disguises, while Wells was home. The intruders demanded Wells’ account books at gunpoint & insisted he resign his position.
Frederick Kemmelmeyer (American artist, c.1755-1821) President George Washington reviewing the Western army at Fort Cumberland October 18, 1794, the day before they arrived in Bedord, Pennsylvania

In the summer of 1794, Federal Marshall David Lenox began the process of serving writs to 60 distillers in Western Pennsylvania who had not paid the tax.  On July 14, Lenox accepted the services of tax collector & wealthy landowner John Neville as guide through Allegheny County.    On July 15, they approached the home of William Miller, who refused to accept his summons.  An argument ensued, & when Lenox & Neville rode off, they were face-to-face with an angry mob, armed with pitchforks & muskets—some were believed to be drunk.  Someone had told the mob that federal agents were dragging people away, but Lenox & Neville were allowed to pass, once that was understood to be untrue.  Nonetheless, a shot was fired as the 2 men rode away.  On the morning of July 16, Neville was asleep in his home, Bower Hill, when he was awakened by a crowd of angry men—some of whom had been served summons the previous day.  The men claimed that Lenox needed to come with them, because there was a threat to his life.  Neville didn’t believe the men & ordered them off his property.  When the mob refused to move, Neville grabbed a gun & shot at the crowd, striking & killing Oliver Miller.  In retaliation, the mob shot back at the house.  Neville made it inside the house & sounded a signal horn he had devised for just such an occurance, after which he heard the sound of his slaves attacking the crowd with firearms.  Six of mob were wounded, before they fled with Miller’s body.  By evening, the mob had reconvened for a meeting with a group of other people, who declared revenge on Neville.
General Wayne Obtains a Complete Victory Over the Miami Indians, August 20th, 1794 by Frederick Kemmelmeyer (German-born American artist, c.1755-1821)

July 1794 Mob allows women to flee before burning house down...

On July 17, 1794, as many as 700 men marched to drums & gathered at Neville’s home. They demanded his surrender, but Major James Kirkpatrick, one of 10 soldiers who had come to the property to help defend it, answered that Neville was not there.  In fact, Kirkpatrick had helped Neville escape the house & hide in a ravine.  The mob demanded that the soldiers surrender.  When that request was refused, they set fire to a barn & slave dwellings.  The Neville women were allowed to flee to safety, after which the mob opened fire on the house. Following an hour of gunfighting, the mob’s leader, James McFarlane, was killed.  In a rage, the mob set fire to other buildings & the soldiers soon surrendered as the Bower Hill estate burned to the ground.

Less than a week later, the mob met with local dignitaries who warned that Washington would send a militia to strike them down & they had to strike first. Wealthy landowner David Bradford, along with several other men, attacked a mail carrier & discovered three letters from Pittsburgh expressing disapproval of the attack on Neville’s property.  Bradford used these letters as an excuse to encourage an attack on Pittsburgh, inciting 7,000 men to show up at Braddock’s Field, east of the city.  The city of Pittsburgh, fearing violence, sent a delegation to announce that the 3 letter writers had been expelled from the city & to offer a gift of several barrels of whiskey.  As the day ended, the crowd had drunk deeply from the barrels & weren’t inspired to descend on Pittsburgh with any fury, instead gaining permission to march through Pittsburgh peacefully.
Jonathan Welch Edes (American artist, 1750-c 1793-1803) Overmantel showing Militia in a Field, 1790, Massachusetts

With signs that the rebels were hoping to reignite the conflict & believing it was linked to unrest in other parts of the country, Alexander Hamilton wanted to send troops to Pennsylvania, but George Washington opted for a peace envoy instead.  The peace envoy failed, & state militia—consisting of more than 12,000 men from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland & New Jersey—followed.  Led by George Washington, it marked the first & last time a sitting president led armed troops.  Washington met first with the rebels, who assured him the militia was not needed & that order had been restored.  Washington opted to retain the military option until proof of submission was apparent.  The large & well-armed militia marched into Western Pennsylvania & was met with angry citizens but little violence. When a rebel army didn’t appear, the militia rounded up suspected rebels instead.  However, the rebellion’s instigators had already fled, & the militia’s prisoners weren’t involved in the rebellion. They were marched to Philadelphia to stand trial regardless.  Only 2 men were found guilty of treason, & both were pardoned by Washington.  The federal response to the Whiskey Rebellion was widely believed to be a critical test of federal authority, one that Washington’s fledgling government met with success.  The whiskey tax that inspired the rebellion remained in effect until 1802. Under the leadership of President Thomas Jefferson & the Republican Party (which, like many citizens, opposed Hamilton’s Federalist tax policies), the tax was repealed after continuing to be almost impossible to collect.
 A Militia Meeting. Satirical English print 1773

Opposition to the whiskey tax & the rebellion itself built support for the Republicans, which overtook Washington’s Federalist Party for power in 1802.  But, of course, women could not vote in The United States of America until 1920.

See
The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution. Thomas P. Slaughter.
Failures of the Presidents. Thomas J. Craughwell.
Whiskey Rebellion. National Park Service.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Women, Their Children, Their Servants & Pet Deer & Deer Parks in 18C America

1712 Justus Englehardt Kuhn (fl in Maryland 1708-1717). Charles Carroll of Annapolis (1702 - 1782).

In colonial British America, the sons of gentry were painted with deer pets, while their elders often built reserves to protect & nurture deer. A deer park was a large enclosed natural area of wood & field on the pleasure grounds near a dwelling. It served as a refuge in which to keep & preserve natural & imported deer. A park is nature bounded, preserved, and protected for a wide range of uses & values.

Initially, deer were kept to be eaten. As economic stability increased & the industrial revolution began making inroads on rural life, the focus of the deer park changed from keeping deer for food and the pleasure of the hunt to keeping deer nearby in a natural setting to inspire & renew the owner's family & guests' social & psychological well-being.

Venison & buckskin became staples of the British American colonial economy with the first landings at Jamestown, & Plymouth. Deer were hunted by both the settlers & the native Americans. Once the natives learned that a venison haunch was worth a yard of fabric or a trade axe; they trapped, snared, & killed deer with impunity. By 1630, many coastal tribes had access to European firearms; and one Indian hunter with a gun could kill 5 or 6 deer in a day.

Deer declined rapidly along the Atlantic seaboard throughout the 17C. As early as 1639, authorities in Newport, Rhode Island recognized the danger of deer depletion and established the first closed season on deer hunting in the colonies. In 1646, the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, followed suit ordering a closed season on deer hunting from the first of May till the first of November; and if any shall shoot a deere within that time he shall forfeit five pounds …” The ordinance set a pattern for laws adopted by most of the colonies by 1720.
c. 1730-1735 Gerardus Duyckinck (American artist, 1695-1746). De Peyster Boy with a deer.

The preamble of the Connecticut law reflected concern over the future of native deer, "The killing of deer at unseasonable times of the year hath been found very much to the prediudice of the Colonie, great numbers of them having been hunted and destroyed in deep snowes when they are very poor and big with young, the flesh and skins of very little value, and the increase greatly hindered."

In 1705, the General Assembly at Newport, Rhode Island, noted that it, "hath been informed that great quantities of deer hath been destroyed in this Collony out of season … and may prove much to the damage of this Collony for the future, and … to the whole country, if not prevented." And in 1705, New York passed a law to protect deer.

In 1727, Virginia's Governor William Gooch decided that he could turn the large deer park at the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg "to better use I think than Deer."

Deer laws varied from colony to colony, calling for closed seasons, sometimes terms of years, to the prohibition of using hounds; killing does; export & sale of deer skins; hunting with fire at night; & hunting on Sundays. The goal of these laws was to protect the food resource represented by deer.

Laws protecting deer were loosely enforced. There were only scattered convictions; and by 1750, there were relatively few deer left to protect near towns & larger rural communities. Frontier settlers still lived off the land and killed for venison & hides, when they needed them. Along the edges of the retreating American wilderness, natives & European market hunters still combed the thickets for game in all seasons, far from the reach of any local “deer reeve” or "deer warden." (In New England, these were the mid 18th-century government officers appointed to track down poachers.)

Poachers were dealt with much less seriously in the British American colonies than they were in mother England. In fact, Pennsylvania & Vermont allowed fishing & hunting on all open lands in their colonies. The 1696 Frame of Government of Pennsylvania stated, "That the inhabitants of this province and territories thereof, shall have liberty to fish and hunt, upon the lands they hold, or all other lands therein, not inclosed, and to fish in all waters in the said lands."
1730s Gerardus Duyckinck (American artist, 1695-1746) Boy with a Deer - John Van Cortlandt (1718-1747) Note: The Brooklyn Museum, which owns this painting, relates that the artists (for this painting & the image above) employed a popular British mezzotint portrait print as the source for this composition & for details such as the fawn, the tree, the masonry wall, & the pilaster, as well as the curved stone step before the figure.

Peter Kalm, the Swedish-Finnish explorer and naturalist who traveled through North America from 1748 - 1751, published an account of his travels in a journal entitled En Resa til Norra America, which was translated into German, Dutch, French, and English.  Kalm noted that “The American deer can likewise be tamed. A farmer in New Jersey had one in his possession, which he caught when it was very young; at present, it is so tame that in the daytime it runs into the woods for its food, and towards night returns home, frequently bringing a wild deer out of the woods, giving its master an opportunity to hunt at his very door.”

Deer parks certainly existed in the New York area during this period.  Rev Andrew Burnaby described a deer park in New Jersey in 1760, "I went down two miles further to the park and gardens of...Peter Schuyler...in the park I saw several American and English deer, and three or four elks or moose-deer."

In 1764, the commandant at Fort Pitt near Pittsburg, Capt. Simeon Ecuyer, was in the midst of fencing the fort's gardens, when he commented on the fort's,  "deer park, the little garden and the bowling green, I am just now making into one garding, it will be extremely pretty and very useful to this garrison, the King's Garden will be put in proper order in due time we want seeds very much and we have no potatoes at all."

About 17 miles from Annapolis, Bel-Air, the estate of Marylander Benjamin Tasker, was advertised for sale in the 1761 Pennsylvania Gazette. The 2,200 acres contained a 100 acre deer park "well inclosed and stocked with English Deer."

In 1774, at the late John Smith estate in New Jersey, 5 miles from Burlington on the Anococus River, there was a deer park containg 375 acres in which there were 30-40 deer. The area was surrounded by 20,000 cedar rails in different fences according to the Pennsylvania Gazette.

Many gentry families did not worry about hunting meat for their tables. They simply raised their own supply. Edward Lloyd IV (1744–1796) was a planter from Talbot County, Maryland. He rebuilt the family home called Wye House in the 1780s. The house was then surrounded by 12,000 acres & tended by over 300 slaves.

English agricultural writer Richard Parkinson visited Wye House and wrote, "I then was introduced to Ed. Lloyd, Esq. at Why-House, a man of very extensive possessions...His house and gardens are what may be termed elegant: and the land appeared the best I ever saw in any one spot in America. He had a deer-park, which is a very rare thing there: I saw but two in the country; this, and another belonging to Colonel Mercer. These parks are but small—not above fifty acres each. I could scarcely tell what the deer lived on. There were only some of those small rushes growing in this park which bear the name of grass, and leaves of trees." When Lloyd died in 1796, his deer park contained 61 deer.

Parkinson was probably refering to Virginia-born John Francis Mercer (1759-1821) as the other gentleman who had a deer park. In 1785, he married Sophia Sprigg, the daughter of Richard & Margaret Sprigg of Maryland, following which he took up residence at "Cedar Park" on West River not far from Annapolis, the estate inherited by his wife from her father. He was elected Governor of Maryland in 1801, and was buried in the graveyard at the foot of the garden on his grounds. He left an estate valued at $16,978.75, including 73 slaves. Reportedly the English-style deer park was in a virgin stand of trees, including cedars, from which the estate took its name.

George Washington wrote in 1792, "I have about a dozen deer (some of which are the common sort) which are no longer confined in the Paddock which was made for them but range in all my woods and often pass my exterior fence" Washington received gifts of deer from friends & well wishers, as he did rare plants.

Early deer parks included those at the Waltham, Massachusettes estate of Theodore Lyman and at the Robinson Estate, built in 1750, opposite the present West Point Academy on the Hudson River. Deer in the landscape made the pleasure grounds surrounding these seats seem more "natural."
1745 Artist Frederick Tellschaw. Reproduction Thomas Lodge with deer.

Historian Gary S Dunbar surveyed South Carolina records for mentions of tame deer. Here are a few of his findings from newspaper advertisements from Charleston,
(1732) “Stray’d out of Mr. Saxby’s Pasture up the Path, two tame Deer about a Year old."

(1751) “Wanted, some Doe Fawns, or young Does, for breeders.”

(1760) “Jumped over from on board the Samuel & Robert, a young deer, with a piece of red cloth round his neck…three pounds reward.”

(1761) “The Owner of a strayed Deer may hear where there is one, applying to the Printer hereof, and paying for this Advertisement.”

(1767) “Two tame Deer, a Buck and a Doe, to be sold by Francis Nicholson, in King-street.”

(1768) “Josiah Smith, junior…is in immediate want of …a couple of Tame Deer.”

(1770) “Stolen or Strayed out of my Yard this Morning, a Young Deer, his Horns just coming out, and is stiff in his hind legs, by being crampt in the Waggen which brought him to Town…Charles Crouch.”

(1772) “Wanted to Purchase. Four Deer, each about Three Years old.”

(1772) “Wanted immediately…Two Tame Deer.”

(1781) A Tame Deer, Came to my garden about twelve days ago. The owner, on proving his property, and paying charges, shall have it again, by applying to Elizabeth Lamb, Near the Saluting Battery.”

By the late 18C, it seems that deer-keeping was in decline in Charleston. A visitor remarked in 1782, that “the deer formerly ran about the streets, with collars round their necks, like dogs, but at this latter visit, I do not remember to have seen one.”

Jedidiah Morse wrote in his 1789 Geography of the deer at Mount Vernon, Virginia, "A small park on the margin of the river, where the English fallow-deer, and American wild-deer are seen through the thickets."

Isaac Weld also commented in 1794, of the deer park at Mount Vernon, "The ground in the rear of the house is also laid out in a lawn, and the declivity of the Mount, towards the water, in a deer park."
Detail 1792 Artist Edward Savage (1761-1817). East Front of Mount Vernon (with Deer.)

George Mason's (1725-1792) son General John Mason (1766-1849) described the deer park at 18C Gunston Hall, Virginia, which sat on the Potomac River near Mount Vernon. "On this plain adjoining the margin of the hill, opposite to and in full view from the garden, was a deer park, studded with trees, kept well fenced and stocked with native deer domesticated."

In a description borrowing from Morse's 1789 depiction of George Washington's Mount Vernon in the Pennsylvania Gazette shortly after his death, his deer park was described. "A small park on the margin of the river, where the English fallow deer and the American wild deer are seen through the thickets alternately, with the vessels as they are sailing along, add a romantic and picturesque appearance to the whole scenery."
Anonymous, Hunting Scene, c 1800 at Winterthur

One noted deer owner of the period was Revolutionary War veteran Dr. Benjamin Jones. Born in Virginia in 1752, Jones eventually purchased a large tract of land in Henry County, where he built a park and “kept over a hundred deer to amuse his children and grandchildren. A little bell he used on a pet deer is owned by one of his descendants.”

The number of deer parks dwindled in the Early Republic. Many pleasure gardeners were not convinced of the romantic & picturesque aesthetic potential of deer in the new republic and became exasperated with the local destructive deer population.

Rosalie Steir Calvert (1778–1821) wrote from her home Riversdale just outside of Washington DC in Prince George's County, Maryland, "I haven’t been able to enjoy the tulips because the deer come and eat them every night. We have eleven of these beautiful animals, so tame that they come all around the house...However, they do a lot of damage to the young fruit trees, and I am afraid we shall have to kill all of them this fall."

I could find no portraits of people attending deer, until I saw this wonderful image.
1775 Agostino Brunias (1728 - 1796) (Italian, active in Britain (1758-1770; 1777-1780s) Servants Washing a Deer

It has been nearly impossible to find American paintings of deer with women.  I do have one mid-18C needlework depicting a women & 3 deer.
Mehitable Starkey (b 1739) Embroidered in Boston c 1758 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC. The top scene shows 3 people harvesting grain; a woman at the center holds a sickle aloft, while a man at her right cuts the wheat & a man at her left bundles it. The lower scene depicts a landscape with 2 reclining deer flanking a leaping deer. 

Early paintings in Europe & Britain do have portraits of women & families with accompanying deer.  Here are a few.
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561–1636) Woman with a Deer

Attributed to Claude Deruet (c 1588-1660) Marie de Rohan, Duchess of Chevreuse 1600-1679 as Diana the Huntress

Jan van Balen (1611–1654) Allegory of Hearing

John Michael Wright (British artist, 1617–1694) Unknown Lady in a Red Mantle with a Deer

Nicolaes Maes, (Dutch painter, 1634-1693) A Girl with a Deer

Circle of Joseph Highmore (English artist, 1692-1780) Daughters of Crisp Molineaux, Elizabeth.

1789 Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751-1829) Lady Charlotte Campbell

See
Dunbar, Gary S.. “Deer-Keeping in Early South Carolina,” Agricultural History, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr., 1962)