Sunday, September 30, 2018

Can't eat all that tobacco - Problems Growing Food Crops in 18C Maryland

In the half-century century leading up to the American Revolution, tobacco exports from the Chesapeake tripled, marking an important evolution in Maryland's agriculture...Maryland's population during this same half-century also tripled, & many newly arrived families entered the staple-crop business. More importantly, the slave population tripled, & virtually all of those hands went to tending this labor-intensive commodity...As the 18C progressed, slave-owning expanded & became entrenched, particularly among planters of modest means in southern Maryland & on the Eastern Shore, who borrowed money from tobacco agents to buy a slave or two, who then represented the most valuable assets of the owners' estates. By the first U.S. Census in 1790, slaves numbered over one hundred thousand, making up about a third of Maryland's population, & most of the labor force in the tobacco economy.

Most Maryland farmers, however, did not own slaves...the Quakers who moved from Pennsylvania to the Eastern Shore, rejected slavery on moral grounds. But for the German & Scots-Irish farmers who came to the Monocacy Valley in the 1740s, slave labor simply did not meet the most pressing need. Plowing & harrowing fields for small grains, growing & hackling flax, pruning orchard trees, making brandy, & keeping livestock fat & healthy enough to sell required more specialized skills than the menial labor slaves typically performed. And, as the countryside became more settled, problems with growing food grew more challenging.

Increasing settlements meant that more land was occupied, reducing the amount of new land available for tobacco. Increased populations also meant that people, farms, crops, & livestock were closer together, making it easier for diseases to spread among animals & crops...
Sometime shortly before or during the American Revolution, wheat growers in Maryland began to experience the same fungal disease that had wiped out that crop in New England earlier-stem rust...

In the 18C, crop epidemics & livestock epizootics, or widespread diseases, emerged for the first time in Maryland, not just from the responsible pathogens appearing for the first time but because farmers had created an agricultural landscape significant enough to be vulnerable to the spread of contagious diseases. At the same time, there were more Marylanders to feed, as the state's population increased from over 300,000 in 1790, to more than 400,000 in 1820.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

18C American Woman Reading

1758 Joseph Blackburn (American colonial era artist, fl 1753-1763) Mrs. Jonathan Simpson (Margaret Lechmere) posed with a book

Friday, September 28, 2018

Fugitive Slaves in Maryland

From The Library Company of Philadelphia

African American men & women used the act of running away as part of a broader system of resisting the physical and psychological manipulation of slavery. In most instances, slaves left plantations or work sites without permission but with the intention of returning in order to visit relatives or friends on nearby plantations, or to protest a harsh punishment. At other times, though, runaways attempted to escape slavery permanently. Those who ran hoping never to return understood that they risked their lives. Fugitive slaves plagued slaveholders from the first years of slavery in Maryland until its last days.

Although laws requiring slavery for black women and their descendents did not appear until the Assembly's 1664 session enacted "An act concerning Negroes and other slaves," Maryland's first lawmakers did recognize that some people were made to work against their will and that such people frequently ran away. Along with the earliest legal references to slavery in Maryland, therefore, were attempts to control runaway servants and slaves through legislation.

If the American Revolution (1776-83) had an immediate impact on slave escapes it could only be found in the greater opportunities to escape created by the chaos of war. Revolutionary-era newspapers contained many notices for runaways. Although they spoke of "liberty," few slaveholding Maryland patriots saw any contradiction in denying it to their slaves. Indeed, John Hanson, the Marylander who served as president of the Continental Congress, spent much of the last years of the war pursuing Ned Barnes, an enslaved man who had fled Hanson's plantation.

A variety of factors moved fugitive slaves to attempt a permanent break: persistent brutality by an owner or overseer, relocation away from immediate family or relatives, a reduction in privileges such the ability of hired slaves to keep small portions of fees, a worsening of work conditions, and numerous other individual concerns. After 1800 the most common motivation was probably the threat of sale to the Deep South. Many blacks risked flight rather undergo the perils of the domestic slave trade.

Most runaways were young men fleeing alone. Young women without children ran more often than those with children. The months of April through October saw the most escape attempts, but no single week of the year emboldened more runaways than the days between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day because owners were distracted and supervision was relaxed. Though some made clandestine use of railway and water vessels, most runaways fled on foot. While at large and on the move, runaways stayed close to roads, rivers, and other normal routes, and traveled mainly at night. Many made use of family and friends on nearby plantations, or in towns and cities. Fugitives also generally helped themselves to provisions (food, clothing, sometimes money) before leaving, but when these ran out, they foraged in the woods, relied on the kindness of people encountered along the way, and even pilfered barns and storehouses to survive. Many fugitives even found short-term employment from whomever might be willing to hire a person of undetermined status with no questions asked.

Maryland fugitives generally tried to reach urban environments (Washington, DC, Frederick, Baltimore, Philadelphia) where they might disappear into free black populations. As northern states abolished slavery during the early 1800s, however, Maryland runaways and others sought to reach free territory.

The National Park Service's Underground Railroad Theme Study (1998) estimated the number of successful escapes for the nation for the years 1790-1860 at 100,000, or about 1,500 per year.

From David Taft Terry .

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Reading Outdoors - My Favorite Woman American Reading Portrait

1798 1793 William Clarke, (American artist, fl 1785-1806)  Mrs William Frazer  (Mary Reah) (1783-1816) of Delaware

Portrait & miniature painter, William Clarke was active in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania circa 1785. In the 1790's he was active in Delaware & Baltimore, Maryland. He then worked in Philadelphia at the 2 firms: Pratt, Rutter & Co.; and Paul, Rutter & Clarke from 1796 to 1806. Working there, Clarke was associated with a sign-painting business in partnership with Jeremiah Paul, Matthew Pratt, & George Rutter. Unfortunately few of his portraits survive. One that does is a portrait of Maryland Governor Levin Winder, who is also painted outside by his Eastern Shore gardens reading a book. Clarke also painted the Governor's wife with their gardens in the background, but, alas, no book in hand.
1793 William Clarke, (American artist, fl 1785-1806) Portrait of Levin Winder (1757-1819) who became Governor of Maryland, 1812-1816 


1793 William Clarke, (American artist, fl 1785-1806)  Mrs. Levin Winder (Mary Stoughton Sloss)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Slaves in in Maryland - Men & Women

Tobacco - Stringing the Primings. 19C Newspaper image

Soon after the settlement of Maryland in the 17C, British ships with Africans for sale as slaves began to appear in the Chesapeake. The Atlantic Ocean route between Africa & the Americas was called the Middle Passage. Planters looking for a cheap labor force were interested in using Africans as forced laborers on their tobacco plantations. For example, Governor Leonard Calvert negotiated with a ship captain as early as 1642 for the purchase of thirteen Africans to work on his St. Mary's property. Africans were in rising demand by the colonists & British merchants continued to bring them in large numbers. Between 1675 & 1695 about 3,000 Africans entered the Chesapeake region to be put to work mostly on the tobacco plantations of Maryland & Virginia.

In the seventeenth century, British ships with Africans for sale as slaves began to appear in the Chesapeake. The Atlantic Ocean route between Africa & the Americas was called the Middle Passage. Planters looking for a cheap labor force were interested in using Africans as forced laborers on their tobacco plantations. For example, Governor Leonard Calvert negotiated with a ship captain as early as 1642 for the purchase of 13 Africans to work on his St. Mary's property. Africans were in rising demand by the colonists & British merchants continued to bring them in large numbers. Between 1675 & 1695 about 3,000 Africans entered the Chesapeake region to be put to work mostly on the tobacco plantations of Maryland & Virginia.

By the 18C, Maryland was beginning to get a new generation of Africans, born in America, who did not know their parents' African homeland first hand. In Tobacco & Slaves (1998) Allan Kulikoff uses records of several Maryland plantations to show the gradual changes in the fertility of the enslaved population. On the Edmond Jennings plantation in 1712 almost all the workers were Africans. By 1730, nine out of ten black men & almost all of the black women working on the Robert Carter Virginia estates were born in Africa, but beginning in the 1730s the enslaved population began to grow naturally & was composed of both Africans & African Americans. In a few generations Africa became simply a distant land to most of the Chesapeake's African Americans.

During the Revolutionary war around 1780, Maryland was in serious need of soldiers causing them to allow “any able-bodied slave between 16 & 40 years of age, who voluntarily enters into service… with the consent & agreement of his master, may be accepted as a recruit.” Maryland Legislature passed a law that required slaveholders with six or more slaves between the ages of 15 & 45 to enlist a slave in the slave regiment.

In 1780, slaves also began to participate in the expansion of the major port city of Baltimore. They took on the roles of craftspeople, sailors, carters, day laborers, domestics, & washerwomen. The majority of Maryland’s urbanslave population practiced Methodism.  By 1783 enslaved people made up one third of the state of Maryland’s population. The only state that had a higher percentage of enslaved people was Virginia.

The distribution of slaves was uneven within the state. The shore of the Chesapeake Bay had the black majorities due to the tobacco growing counties that were there. On the Eastern shore, slaves accounted for a quarter to a third of the population. In the counties bordering on Pennsylvania, slaves made up only 10 to 15% of the overall population. As tobacco profits decreased statewide, Maryland disallowed slaves from other areas into the state in 1783.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) Disagrees with George Washington's Ownership of Slaves

Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), Mrs. John Adams, by Gilbert Stuart, ca. 1800-1815. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

By Elizabeth Bissell Miller, “Abigail Adams,”
The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington

George Washington owned slaves from an early age, & held conflicting views about the institution of slavery throughout his life. Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), Mrs. John Adams, was impressed with Washington in general, but spoke of her disagreement with his position as a slaveholder.

Throughout her life, Abigail Adams held steadfast to core principles: she was a humanitarian, activist, & leader with an acute sense of both America's successes & failures. Adams advocated for gender equality in public education & the need to pay attention to the social, political, & educational needs of women. She also firmly believed in the necessity for the emancipation of African Americans from slavery &, like her husband, firmly believed in dissolving the political union with Great Britain. In one final act of rebellion, Adams, a married woman whose property was controlled by her living husband, wrote a will & left the majority of her possessions to her female kin.

Frequently forsaking private joy for the greater public good, Adams voiced her views not only in quasi-political situations—such as during her appointment to the Massachusetts Colony General Court in 1775—but also to her husband during his numerous domestic & overseas diplomatic missions. It was in her role as unofficial advisor that she made her greatest contributions to the early American nation. It is believed that Abigail & John Adams exchanged more than 1,100 letters on topics ranging from government & politics to women's rights. Her firm views on American independence were succinctly expressed in a 1775 letter, explaining: "Let us separate, they are unworthy to be our Brethren. Let us renounce them..."
1792 George Washington before the Battle of Trenton by John Trumbull (1756-1843)

Abigail Adams first met George Washington shortly after he took command of the Continental Army. Adams had initial hesitations regarding Washington as a slaveholder & member of the Virginia planter elite. However, after meeting, Adams wrote her husband that she was "struck with General Washington," & that his appointment was received with "universal satisfaction." Adams further explained that Washington was marked by "Dignity with ease. . .the Gentleman & Soldier look agreeably blended in him."

An ardent advocate for the cause of American liberty, Adams was uniquely able to express herself with eloquence at a time when women received little formal instruction. In a series of letters written beginning in 1776, Adams boldly argued for women’s rights. After learning that her husband would serve on the committee that would draft the Declaration of Independence, Adams admonished him to: "Remember the Ladies..." Although John Adams did not follow his wife's advice, ultimately his political agenda was shaped as much by his own opinions as by his valuable discourse with Abigail.

Abigail was John's all-encompassing aide-de-camp, chief of staff, & brain trust. However, her influence was not appreciated by all, particularly those who scathingly called her "Mrs. President." Abigail accompanied John to his diplomatic post in Paris in 1784. In 1785, she carefully handled the complex role of wife of the first United States Minister to Great Britain. And later she was wife of the first U.S. Vice President, & wife of the second U.S. President, serving as First Lady from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801.

A granddaughter of pre-revolutionary era politician John Quincy, & the daughter of a Congregationalist minister, Abigail married John Adams in October 1764 at the age of nineteen. Abigail's lifelong enjoyment of philosophy, theology, ancient history, government, & law, which was championed by her grandmother & other relatives, helped both Abigail & the young American nation chart a new course. Abigail played a vital role in America until her passing in 1818. She advocated for women's education, women's social & political needs, & the abolition of slavery.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Notes of President John Adams on the Slavery of Men & Women

President John Adams

John Adams did not own slaves.

1776: John Adams discussed trade resolutions before the continental congress: "There is one Resolution I will not omit. Resolved that no Slaves be imported into any of the thirteen colonies." (Peabody, p 197)

1776: John Adams was delighted with Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence and its “flights of oratory... especially that concerning Negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly would never oppose.” (Peabody, p 201)

1819: “Negro Slavery is an evil of colossal magnitude.” (Ellis, p 140)

1820: “I shudder when I think of the calamities which slavery is likely to produce in this country. You would think me mad if I were to describe my anticipations…If the gangrene is not stopped I can see nothing but insurrection of the blacks against the whites.”(Smith, p 138)

1821: “Slavery in this Country I have seen hanging over it like a black cloud for half a century…”(Ellis, p 138)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Baltimore Postmistress & Publisher Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) & Her Dismissal by Geo Washington

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) was the only daughter of Sarah Updike (1700-1770) & Dr. Giles Goddard (1703-1757), postmaster & physician in Groton & New London, Connecticut. Sarah taught her daughter & her younger son William (1740-1817) to write and read Shakespeare, Pope, & Swift among others.


After serving as a printer’s apprentice in Connecticut, William Goddard decided to try his hand at publishing a newspaper with the help of his sister & mother. Their father had died in 1757, leaving an estate of 780 pounds sterling. In 1762, William began his publishing career in Rhode Island, creating the Providence Gazette and Country Journal by using 300 pounds given him by his mother to set up a printing press in Providence. Expecting to print lots of newspapers, in 1764, Goddard entered a partnership with 3 other gentlemen and used more of his father's estate to help establish & operate the 1st paper mill in Rhode Island on the Woonasquatucket River.

A year later, William Goddard became frustrated at his lack of financial success & gave up editorship of the Rhode Island newspaper. He claimed that 2 New York gentlemen "who wished to see me employed on a more extensive theatre" enticed him to leave Rhode Island. His practical mother & sister Mary Katherine kept publishing the Providence newspaper from 1765 through 1768; after all, they owned the printing press.

Before the Revolution, Goddard, who now had moved from New York to Philadelphia "to find a more adventageous situation," had to use private carriers to get news past the prying eyes of the English Crown post. After joining others to publish the Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertiser —a paper sympathetic to the revolutionary cause, the local Crown postmaster kept out-of-town newspapers from the press, depriving the publisher of critical news & information.

His mother, who had stayed in Providence operating the business she had paid for; finally sold the Providence press & followed him to Philadelphia with Mary Katherine. In Philadelphia, Sarah Goddard ran a bookstore until 1768, she died in 1770.

Mary Katherine published the Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertiser alone under her brother's name for the last year of its existence. Her erratic brother was too busy with politics to help in the everyday production. William was frequently jailed for public outbursts and rabble-rousing articles in the paper.

The Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertiser was driven out of business, when the Crown post refused to accept it for distribution in the mails. William Goddard retaliated politically by designing an American postal system founded upon the principles of open communication, no governmental interference, and free exchange of ideas.

Goddard presented his plan to the Continental Congress on October 5, 1774. The representatives were intrigued but tabled Goddard's plan; until the startling battles of Lexington & Concord in 1775. Soon after, on July 16, 1775, the new "Constitutional Post" was implemented by the Congress, ensuring communication between patriots & keeping the readers informed of events during the American Revolution. The new revolutionary post system forced the Crown post out of business in America on Christmas day, 1775, becoming the foundation of the United States' postal system. Once again pulling up roots, Willliam Goddard decided to attempt a new printing venture in Baltimore. By early 1774, Mary Katherine, who had been helping her brother & mother with their bookstore, newspaper, almanac, and printing ventures, moved south to help her brother; as he began to publish a newspaper in Baltimore.

The Maryland Journal was established by William Goddard August 20, 1773, the first newspaper to be printed in Baltimore. Goddard published the paper with the help of his sister until May 10, 1775, when Mary Katherine Goddard, became the editor & publisher. Until 1784, the newspaper appeared solely under her name.

Because of the new postal system, newpapers could now flow between the colonies without censorship; but new problems arose, as the Revolutionary War created a paper shortage for publishers. The war also sparked inflation leaving subscribers with little cash. To keep her newspaper publishing regularly, Mary Katherine accepted barter in beef, pork, animal food, butter, hog’s lard, tallow, beeswax, flour, wheat, rye, Indian corn, beans and other goods she could either use or sell in her shop.

In 1775, Mary Katherine took an additional job at the Baltimore Post Office. She became the first woman postmistress in the colonies.
The First Post Office in Baltimore. Photo from the Maryland Historical Society, also located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Under Mary Katherine Goddard, the Maryland Journal openly expressed the colonials' thirst for freedom from the crown, although she was willing to take a risk and publish a variety of political perspectives. Mary Katherine published reports of Massachusetts of April 19, 1775, triggering the Battles of Concord and Lexington. Her editorial of June 14, 1775, proclaimed, "The ever memorable 19th of April gave a conclusive answer to the questions of American freedom. What think ye of Congress now? That day. . . evidenced that Americans would rather die than live slaves!"
During the lean years of the Revolution, Postmistress Mary Katherine Goddard opened a book & stationary store in Baltimore, and kept her printing press busy publishing books & almanacs as well as her newspaper.

In January 1777, she printed the first copy of the Declaration of Independence to include the signers' names, before any other newspaper in the United States. In the summer of 1776, the signers were aware that they were committing treason and submitting to an overabundance of caution, omitted their names from the original publication of the document. Six months later, finally garnering the courage to publicly stand by their professed ideals, the Continental Congress authorized Goddard’s Maryland Journal to publish the Declaration with its signers’ names.

Mary Katherine Goddard's almanacs were also popular in the Chesapeake. In her 1782 Maryland and Virginia Almanack, Mary Katherine wrote, "From the extensive sale of this Almanack last year, the publisher would presume to think that her endeavors, in some measure, met with the approbation of the Public. Nothing can be more flattering than this idea, which cannot fail to excite in her the highest sense of gratitude, attended with future diligence and perseverance."

After he married, her mercurial brother decided that he wanted to return to the Baltimore publishing business and to run the newspaper and the press himself in 1784. He had never been successful at any occupation and was jealous of his sister's success. Wrenching control of the press was not without turmoil. Mary Katherine Goddard filed 5 lawsuits against her brother before severing her interest in the printing enterprise, which she had successfully managed for 10 years. After all, she still had her position as Baltimore's postmistress to rely on for income.

However, in September 1789, Samuel Osgood, the newly appointed national Postmaster General, decided that inexperienced political appointee John White of Baltimore should replace Goddard. The Assistant Postmaster General Jonathan Burrall was dispatched to Baltimore to give Mary Katherine Goddard the news; but unable to face her in person, he sent a note to her office. She was ordered to turn over her office to White, and told, "a younger person able to ride a horse" was needed.

Over 200 merchants & residents in Baltimore sent a petition and letters objecting to her removal to the Postmaster General. They received no reply. Believing she was still capable at age 51; just before Christmas, she wrote to President George Washington to have the order reversed. She wrote the letter in the 3rd person.

Baltimore, Decemr 23d 1789.
Dear Sir,


The Representation of Mary Katherine Goddard, Humbly sheweth--That She hath kept the Post Office at Baltimore for upwards of fourteen years; but with what degree of Satisfaction to all those concerned, She begs leave to refer to the number & respectability of the Persons who have publickly addressed the Post Master General & his Assistant, on the Subject of her late removal from Office; And as Mr Osgood has not yet favoured between two and three hundred of the principal Merchants & Inhabitants of Baltimore with an answer to their last application, transmitted to him by Post on the last Day of November ultimo,
nor with any Answer to sundry private Letters, accompanying the transcript of a like application, made to Mr Burrell when at Baltimore: She therefore, at the instance of the Gentlemen thus pleased to interest themselves on her behalf, lays before your Excellency, Superintendant of that department, as briefly as possible, the nature & circumstances, of what is conceived to be an extraordinary Act of oppression towards her.


That upon the dissolution of the old Government, when from the non importation Agreement and other causes incident to the Revolution, the Revenue of the Post-Office was inadequate to its disbursements, She accepted of the same, and at her own risque, advanced hard money to defray the Charges of Post Riders for many years, when they were not to be procured on any other terms; and that during this period, the whole of her Labour & Industry in establishing the Office was necessarily unrewarded; the Emoluments of which being by no means equal to the then high Rent of an Office, or to the Attention required both to receive & forward the Mails, as will evidently appear by the Schedule, here unto annexed,
and therefore, whoever thus established & continued the Office, at the gloomy period when it was worth no Person's Acceptance, ought surely to be thought worthy of it, when it became more valuable. And as it had been universally understood, that no Person would be removed from Office, under the present Government, unless manifest misconduct appeared, and as no such Charge could possibly be made against her, with the least colour of Justice, She was happy in the Idea of being secured both in her Office, and the Protection of all those who wished well to the prosperity of the Post Office, & the new Government in general.

That She has sustained many heavy losses, well known to the Gentlemen of Baltimore, which swallowed up the Fruits of her Industry, without even extricating her from embarrassment to this day, although her Accounts with the Post Office were always considered, as amongst the most punctual & regular of any upon the Continent; notwithstanding which She has been discharged from her Office, without any imputation of the least fault, and without any previous official notice: The first intimation on that head being an Order from Mr Burrell,
whilst at Baltimore, to deliver up the Office to the Bearer of his Note; and altho' he had been there several days, yet he did not think proper to indulge her with a personal Interview, thus far treating her in the Stile of an unfriendly delinquent, unworthy of common Civility, as well as common Justice. And although Mr White, who succeeded her, might doubtless have been meritorious in the different Offices he sustained, yet, She humbly conceives, he was not more deserving of public notice & protection in his Station, than She has uniformly been in hers: It must therefore become a matter of serious Importance & of peculiar distress to her, if Government can find no means of rewarding this Gentleman's Services, but at the Expence of all that She had to rely on, for her future dependence & subsistence.


That it has been alledged as a Plea for her removal, that the Deputy Post Master of Baltimore will hereafter be obliged to ride & regulate the Offices to the Southward but that She conceives, with great deference to the Post Master General, this is impracticable, & morally impossible; because the business of the Baltimore Office will require his constant Attendance, & he alone could give satisfaction to the people, if therefore the duties of the Assistant, Mr Burrells' Office are to be performed by any other than himself, surely it cannot well be attempted by those who are fully occupied with their own; and as two Persons must be employed, according to this new Plan, She apprehends, that She is more adequate to give Instructions to the Riding Post Master, how to act than any other Person possibly could, heretofore unexperienced in such business.She, therefore, most humbly hopes from your Excellency's Philanthropy and wonted Humanity, You will take her Situation into Consideration; and as the Grievance complained of, has happened whilst the Post Office Department was put under your auspicious Protection, by a Resolve of Congress, that Your Excellency will be graciously pleased to order, that She may be restored to her former Office, and as in duty bound, She will ever pray &c.
Mary K: Goddard


George Washington promply responded.

New York January 6th.1790
Madam,

In reply to your memorial of the 10th of December, which has been received, I can only observe, that I have uniformly avoided interfering with any appointments which do not require my official agency: and the Resolutions and Ordinances establishing the Post Office under the former Congress, and which have been recognized by the present Government, giving power to the Post-Master General to appoint his own Deputies, and making him accountable for their conduct, is an insuperable objection to my taking any part in this matter.

I have directed your Memorial to be laid before the Post-Master General who will take such measures thereon as his Judgment may direct.

I am, Madam. Your Most Obedt. Servt. Go: Washington


Puffing himself up, Postmaster Samuel Osgood responded the next day giving no reason for the appointment of White except the following: "From mature Consideration, I am fully convinced that I shall be more benefitted from the Services of Mr White than I could be from those of Mrs Goddard."

After receiving Washington's dismissive letter, she pressed her appeal for reinstatement & for payment of a claim against the United States in both the Senate and House of Representatives. She was unsuccessful in obtaining either compensation or reinstatment.

The 1790 Maryland Census reported she owned four slaves and had one other free person living in her household. From 1790 to 1802, she operated a bookstore in Baltimore.

By the canvass of the 1810 Maryland Census, Mary Katherine Goddard was living with just one female slave in her household. Mary Katherine died in Baltimore in August of 1816, at the age of 78, leaving all her personal possessions & real property to her African American servant Belinda Starling & releasing her from slavery.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

18C American Woman by a Garden Fountain

;1763 John Singleton Copley (Colonial American artist, 1738-1815). Mary Turner (Mrs. Daniel Sargent).

By the 18C in colonial America, artists sometimes portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain. In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nurish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain.  Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls.  He could not only interpret nature, he could control it.  And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned to suggest that his young lady might be sexually available for the right marriage partner.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

What were the Founding Fathers' Wives (& Slaves) Fixing for Supper?

Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam(Wikimedia Commons)

What Did the Founding Fathers Eat and Drink as They Started a Revolution?
By Amanda Cargill at Smithsonian.com, July 3, 2018

"...Walter Staib, executive chef at Philadelphia’s City Tavern and host of PBS’ “A Taste of History,” contends that among those who signed the Declaration in 1776 were America’s earliest foodies. “While [farm-to-table and foodie movements] are trendy today,” he says, “the founders were doing it out of necessity.”

"He points out that colonial America lacked the transportation infrastructure to deliver foods from faraway lands: “If it was around, you ate it.” What was around were legumes, produce and anything that could be foraged or hunted. In the mid-Atlantic, seafood was especially popular, reflecting the abundance of the Delaware River, which was then, says Staib, “pristine and teeming with fish.” Today, following two centuries of pollution that decreased water quality and diminished fish populations, it is in the early stages of a rebound.

"George Washington was exceedingly fond of dining on seafood. For nearly 40 years, the three fisheries he operated along the ten-mile Potomac shoreline that bordered Mount Vernon processed more than a million fish annually. Among the items on the plantation’s menu were crabmeat casseroles, oyster gumbos and salmon mousse.

"Thomas Jefferson admired French fare above all, and he is credited, according to Staib, with popularizing frites, ice cream and champagne. He is also often credited—although incorrectly—with the introduction of macaroni and cheese to the American palate. It was, in fact, his enslaved chef James Hemings who, via Jefferson’s kitchen, brought the creamy southern staple to Monticello. Trained at the elite Château de Chantilly while accompanying Jefferson on a trip to France, Hemings would later become one of only two laborers enslaved by Jefferson to negotiate his freedom.

"As for dessert, none of the Founding Fathers was without a sweet tooth. John Adams’ wife, Abigail, regularly baked Apple Pan Dowdy, a pie-meets-cobbler hybrid that was popular in New England in the early 1800s; James Madison loved ice cream and was spoiled by his wife Dolley’s creative cakes, for which she gained such renown that, to this day, supermarkets across America carry a brand of prepared pastries bearing her—albeit incorrectly spelled—name; and John Jay, in a letter sent to his father in 1790, reported that he carried chocolate with him on long journeys, likely “shaving or grating it into pots of milk,” says Kevin Paschall, chocolate maker at Philadelphia’s historic Shane Confectionery, and consuming it as a drink.

"The Founders, like most colonists, were fans of adult beverages. Colonial Americans drank roughly three times as much as modern Americans, primarily in the form of beer, cider, and whiskey. In Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, author Steven Grasse connects this seemingly outsized consumption to the Revolutionary spirit of the time when he writes, “In the drink, a dream; and in the dream, a spark.” Reverend Michael Alan, who illustrated and helped research the book says simply: “From morning until night, people in the 18th century drank.”

"Benjamin Franklin was especially unabashed about his love of “the cups.” Though Grasse writes that he was careful to advise temperance, he regularly enjoyed wine and what some might argue were early iterations of craft cocktails. His favorite, according to Alan, was milk punch, a three-ingredient brandy-based sip whose two non-alcoholic components–milk and lemon juice–washed and refined its third. Another Franklin foodie badge is his “Drinkers’ Dictionary,” a compendium of Colonial slang describing the state of drunkenness. Initially printed in 1737 in the Pennsylvania Gazette, its publication made Franklin one of America’s first food and drink writers.

"Washington was known for racking up sizable tabs after buying drinks for friends. Recounting one particularly generous–and raucous–night wherein Washington ordered 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of Claret, and 7 full bowls of punch, Alan says “He knew how to throw down.”

Despite this, it was Jefferson, notes Grasse, who was the true oenophile of the bunch. As a young man, he drank Portuguese Madeira by the truckload, and in his post-Presidential years, he repeatedly tried and failed to cultivate grapes for winemaking at his vineyard in Monticello.

"While tales of alcoholic escapades could understandably lead one to believe that the Founders were a group of party animals–save the relatively sober Alexander Hamilton, referred to by John Adams as an “insolent coxcomb” who, on the rare occasion that he drank something other than coffee, became “silly and vaporing”–it’s important to note the reasons why alcohol consumption was so high.

"First and foremost, drinking alcohol was a means of survival. Potable water was scarce in colonial times, writes Grasse, so almost all of what was available carried harmful diseases. Among these were smallpox, lockjaw, and the delightfully named black vomit. For colonists, drinking water meant risking one’s life, and no one who could afford otherwise dared do it. Alan confirms that even children drank beer–a hard cider and molasses combination aptly named “ciderkin.” Put simply, consuming alcohol was, in the absence of clean drinking water, a means of staying hydrated.

The taverns where alcohol was consumed also played a vital role in colonial life. “Systems like the post office, libraries, even courthouses, were just being put into place,” explains Alan. “Taverns offered all of these services plus a good beer buzz.”

"For political figures like the Founding Fathers, taverns were also where one went to get the inside scoop on political adversaries and posit agendas for which one hoped to gain favor. “Ben Franklin,” reports Staib, “used taverns as a tool of diplomacy.” For him, “eating, drinking, and gossiping” were negotiation tactics. It was in taverns that the Founding Fathers, “emboldened by liquid courage,” to quote Staib, and likely, after tying a few on, unfettered by the rarefied rules of governance to which all of history had subscribed, honed the concepts contained in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."

Thursday, September 13, 2018

18C American Woman Reading

1758 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Mary Alleyne Mrs James Otis with a book in her hand

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

18C American Woman by a Garden Fountain

1763 John Singleton Copley (Colonial American artist, 1738-1815).  Alice Hooper

By the 18C in colonial America, artists sometimes portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain. In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nurish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain.  Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls.  He could not only interpret nature, he could control it.  And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually available for the right marriage partner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

18C American Woman Reading


1757 John Singleton Copley (American colonial era artist, 1738-1815) Elizabeth Allen (Mrs William Stevens) Reading at Sunset in an over-the-top dress.

Monday, September 10, 2018

First Lady Abigail Adams had the wash hung in the unfinished East Room of The White House

Abigail Adams Supervises the Hanging of the Laundry in the Unfinished East Room of the White House, painting by Gordon Phillips sometime around 1950.

When the 2nd US President John Adams family moved into the White House, First Lady Abigail Adams hung the wash in the unfinished East Room, as imagined in this painting.

See: The White House Historical Association 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

18C American Woman Reading

1753 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763 Mary Lea (Mrs. John Harvey) with a tooled leather book

Historian Gloria L. Main has written, “Historians have tended to treat female literacy as a minor postscript to the larger tale of literacy’s spread, but the story for women has important dimensions of its own.” Jefferson’s plan for a public school system included girls, but that was not typical of eighteenth-century education; women’s literacy lagged behind men’s.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Martha Washington's Supervision of the Philly President's House & 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."

Friday, September 7, 2018

18C American Woman Reading

1752 John Wollaston (American colonial era artist, 1733-1767) Mrs Philip Livingston with a Book on her Skirt

Some women had to learn to read for their livelihood.  Some women did run their own business establishments. Known as “Feme Sole Traders,” these women had no other means of supporting themselves. Often town councils granted them the right to own a business to keep them off public relief.

Thursday, September 6, 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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

18C American Woman Reading

1750 Joseph Badger (American colonial era artist, 1708-1765) Faith Savage Waldo with a Book in her Lap

Roger Mellen wrote in his 2006 Expanding Public Sphere: Women in Colonial Virginia Print; 1736-1776 Reading literacy was perhaps much higher than writing literacy, especially for women. Probate records for the 17C rarely mention anyone who could not read, and huge numbers of property transaction records lead one researcher to the conclusion that most women and men, in the century prior to the one being examined here, were capable of reading. As David D. Hall suggests, even in  17C Virginia, women participated in the world of reading, but literacy in the Chesapeake was relative to a specific situation: “Literacy was thus a two-sided situation, involving a hierarchy of skills but also open-ended in ways that sharply reduced the significance of gender and class.” It is thought that Americans were highly literate, particularly the men, especially in New England. British-American colonists were more literate at the beginning of the 18C than any European population, with the possible exception of the Scots.

Tuesday, September 4, 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