Monday, January 21, 2019

Massachusetts Slave "Mumbet" 1742-1829

Elizabeth Freeman ("Mumbet") 1742-1829

Elizabeth Freeman ("Mumbet") was born a slave around 1742. She was raised, along with her younger sister Lizzie, in Claverack, Columbia County, New York (about 20 miles south of Albany). Her owner, a Dutchman named Pieter Hogeboom, gave the two girls to Sheffield, Massachusetts, resident John Ashley when he married Hogeboom's daughter Annetje.

Family lore suggests that after 40 years of bondage in the Ashley household, Mumbet was prompted to seek her freedom when Annetje attempted to strike Mumbet's younger sister with a shovel. Mumbet blocked the blow, but was seriously injured, never regaining the full use of her arm. In a contrasting account, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, who would later record Mumbet's life story, reported that Freeman decided to seek freedom after hearing a public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Whatever the reason, Mumbet turned in 1781 to Theodore Sedgwick, a prominent Stockbridge attorney, to help secure her freedom. Legal action began in the spring of 1781, when Mumbet (and another slave man known as Brom) brought a suit for freedom against John Ashley. Brom & Bett v. John Ashley, Esq. would turn into one of the most important legal cases in Massachusetts history. When John Ashley refused a writ of replevin (a court order to return or release unlawfully obtained property), he was ordered to appear before the Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington on 21 August 1781. Sedgwick's principal argument stated that slavery was inherently illegal under the newly ratified Massachusetts Constitution, which stated that:  "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."

This section of the state constitution has since been altered to explicitly forbid discrimination on the basis of "sex, race, color, creed or national origin." The jury found Sedgwick's arguments convincing, and both Mumbet and Brom were set free. John Ashley was also instructed to pay thirty shillings in damages plus trial costs. Ashley initially appealed this decision to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the highest court in the Commonwealth; however, he dropped his appeal before it came before the court, presumably because of the intervening decisions in the Quock Walker trials, which made it clear that no court in Massachusetts would ever find slavery legal under the new Constitution.

Almost nothing is known about Brom's life as a free man, but the remaining 48 years of Mumbet's life are very well documented. She became a paid servant in the household of Theodore Sedgwick, and Sedgwick's youngest daughter, Catharine Maria, wrote a draft account of Mumbet's life, that was published under the title "Slavery in New England," in Bentley's Miscellany in 1853.

Mumbet remained a beloved servant of the Sedgwick family for the rest of her life. In one famous incident, she single-handedly defended the Sedgwick house from a small mob of rebels during Shays' Rebellion in 1787 (Sedgwick himself was away from home working to end the rebellion). Mumbet was eventually able to achieve a small level of financial independence, even buying her own house before her death in 1829. She is the only non-Sedgwick buried in the "inner circle" of the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Her epitaph reads: 

"Elizabeth Freeman, known by the name of Mumbet died Dec. 28 1829. Her supposed age was 85 years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years. She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior nor equal. She neither wasted time, nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper, and the tenderest friend. Good mother fare well."

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1708 Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729 Mary DuBose Mrs Samuel Wragg Gibbes Mus Art

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tea Time in 18C Massachusetts

Creamware Tea Pot from Leeds c 1780

In America during the 18th century, young & the old from all levels of society occasionally spent their leisure time taking tea together.

Elizabeth Fuller (1775-1856) was 14 years-old, when she started keeping a diary. She made regular entries from October 1790 through December 1792, while living with her family on a farm in Princeton, Massachusetts.

Unmarried young women in rural New England, often spent their days at home engaged primarily in textile production for both their own family's use & to trade for other items. In her diary, Elizabeth Fuller writes of washing, carding, & spinning wool, while assisting with everyday chores such as making cheese & cooking.

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

May 8, 1791 — Sabbath. I went to church A.M. Mr. Thurston preached. Mr. John Rolph & his Lady & Mr. Osburn her Brother & a Miss Anna Strong (a Lady courted by said Osbourn) came here after Meeting and drank Tea.
Chelsea Fable Tea Pot, C.1752-3. Painted by Jeffreys Hamett O'Neal. Aesop's Fable of "The Goat In The Well."

Friday, January 18, 2019

Portrait of 18C American Woman

1708-09 Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729 Unknown Lady SC Governor's Mansion

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mothers & Sons; 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 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 referring 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. 

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1800 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Martha Selden Jones (Mrs. Churchill Jones) of Chatham, near Fredericksburg holding a book

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Excessive Heat & Gay Women - Charleston, South Carolina - Before the Revolution

A View of CHARLES-TOWN, in the Capital of SOUTH CAROLINA engraved in London by Samuel Smith after a painting by Thomas Leitch, depicts recognizable Charleston landmarks during its peak of prosperity prior to the outbreak of the Revolution.In 1773, just months before Leitch painted his view, Britain passed the Tea Act, and Charleston’s outraged citizens left the British-imported tea on the docks to rot. The following year, townspeople elected delegates to the Continental Congress.  Although the print was engraved in 1774, it was not issued until 1776.  This print was engraved in 1774, after Leitch painted his scene within a year of his arrival in Charleston in 1773, and arranged for his painting to be shipped back to England to be engraved for printing. Although little is known about Leitch, an advertisement that he placed in the South Carolina Gazette soliciting subscribers to assist with the cost of producing the print, and noting that he was sending the painting “home” to have it engraved, confirms he came from London.  Leitch lived primarily in New York City.  After completing the painting, View of Charles-Town, he advertised engravings from it and described the copies of his 'Portrait of the Town' as being so exact that "every House in View will be distinctly shown.The artist rendered his painting in the Dutch panoramic style that enhanced the expanse of the coastline by increasing its width in relation to its height, forcing the viewer’s eye to move back and forth across the canvas.  The print clearly shows St. Michael's Church and the Exchange Building, both of which survive today. It also shows the earlier St. Philip's Church on Church Street, which burned and was rebuilt in the 19C, as well as the steeple of the French Huguenot Church next door.(Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund, 2017-287) 

Charles-town 1769.

Black and white all mix’d together,
Inconstant, strange, unhealthful weather
Burning heat and chilling cold
Dangerous both to young and old
Boisterous winds and heavy rains
Fevers and rheumatic pains
Agues plenty without doubt
Sores, boils, the prickling heat and gout
Musquitos on the skin make blotches
Centipedes and large cock-roaches
Frightful creatures in the waters
Porpoises, sharks and alligators
Houses built on barren land
No lamps or lights, but streets of sand
Pleasant walks, if you can find ’em
Scandalous tongues, if any mind ’em
The markets dear and little money
Large potatoes, sweet as honey
Water bad, past all drinking
Men and women without thinking
Every thing at a high price
But rum, hominy and rice
Many a widow not unwilling
Many a beau not worth a shilling
Many a bargain, if you strike it,
This is Charles-town, how do you like it.

This poem was written by a Captain Martin, captain of a British warship, a Man of War.

It is certainly true that several other pre-Revolution chroniclers wrote of Charleston's trendy and affluent high society and of her pesky crawling critters.

English plant hunter and naturalist John Lawson (1674-1711) wrote in 1709, "The Town has very regular and fair Streets, in which are good Buildings of Brick and Wood...This Colony was at first planted by a genteel Sort of People that were well acquainted with Trade, and had either Money or Parts to make good Use of the Advantages that offer’d, as most of them have done by raising themselves to great Estates...and...considerable Fortunes...They have a considerable Trade both to Europe and the West Indies, whereby they become rich and are supply’d with all Things necessary for Trade and genteel Living."  John Lawson was an explorer, plant collector, surveyor, and author of A New Voyage to Carolina (London, 1709). A London botanist and apothecary, James Petiver (1658-1718), was seeking someone to collect American specimens for him, and Lawson volunteered to do this without charge. Thirty of the South Carolina plant specimens that he sent still survive in the Sloane collection at the British Museum. Hans Sloane (1660-1753) was a friend of Petiver. Sloane amassed a huge collection of plants, animals, and objects which became the founding core of the British Museum and Natural History Museum in London.

Agriculturalist & gardener Eliza Lucus Pinckney (1722-1793) wrote to her brother Thomas in England in 1742, "The people in general hospitable and honest, and the better sort add to these a polite gentile behaviour...4 months in the year is extremely disagreeable, excessive hot, much thunder and lightning, and muskatoes and sand flies in abundance. Charles Town, the Metropolis, is a neat pretty place. The inhabitants polite and live in a very gentile manner; the streets and houses regularly built; the ladies and gentlemen gay in their dress."

Rev. Johann Martin Bolzius (1703-1765),
leader of the German Lutheran settlement of Ebenezer, Georgia, wrote of Charleston in 1750, "It is expensive and costly to live in Charlestown...The splendor, lust, and opulence there has grown almost to the limit...Its European clothes it would have to change according to the often changing Charlestown fashion. Otherwise there would be much humiliation and mockery."  In Georgia, Bolzius was also intensely interested in gardening & agriculture. He urged the adoption of new agricultural technology and helped the struggling community to construct a gristmill, a rice mill, and a sawmill to supplement their funds. He encouraged his wife to experiment with the cultivation of black and white mulberry trees to help the women of Ebenezer develop a small-scale silk production.

Philadelphia merchant, Pelatiah Webster (1725-1795), wrote of his business trip to the city in 1765, "The laborious business is here chiefly done by black slaves of which there are great multitudes...Dined with Mr. Liston, passed the afternoon agreeably at his summer house till 5 o’clock P. M. then went up into the steeple of St. Michael’s, the highest in town & which commands a fine prospect of the town, harbour, river, forts, sea, &c...The heats are much too severe, the water bad, the soil sandy, the timber too much evergreen; but with all these disadvantages, ’tis a flourishing place, capable of vast improvement."  Pelatiah Webster was the author of a number of thoughtful and accurate pamphlets on the potential finances and government of the United States, most of which he reprinted in his “Political Essays” in Philadelphia in 1791. He was such an ardent supporter of the patriot cause, that the British imprisoned him for 4 months in Philadelphia; before they were dispatched back to the beautiful emerald isle.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sunday, January 13, 2019

18C Delicate Women in the Almshouse

1748 Jersey Nanny by John Greenwood 1748

A 1751 petition to Philadelphia's Overseers of the Poor conveyed the request of Mary Marrot and her daughter for more refined fare in the almshouse. Although they appreciated the plentiful food, they "were both brought up in a delicate way" and therefore required something more dainty and "pretty." The petitioners hoped that the overseers would resolve this "Important Affair" in the Marrots' favor and grant the pair "Tea, Coffee, Chocolate or any thing else . . .more agreeable to their palates." Petition signed by William Plumsted and Edward Shippen, March 29, 1751, Overseers of the Poor, 1750-1767, Soc. Misc. Coll., HSP
The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, (July 1995), 181-202.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1795 Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822) Pamela Sedgwick 1753-1807 with her daughter who holds a small book

Friday, January 11, 2019

1734 A Divine & Supernatural Light, Imparted to the Soul by God-Spiritual & Rational by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)nbsp; by Joseph Badger (1708–65).  Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was an American preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist theologian. Edwards is widely regarded as "one of America's most important and original philosophical theologians." His theological work was rooted in Reformed theology, determinism, and the Puritan heritage. Edwards grounded his life's work on conceptions of beauty, harmony, and ethical fittingness, and The Enlightenment . Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, overseeing some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.

A Divine and Supernatural Light, Immediately Imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God, Shown to be Both Spiritual and Rational Doctrine by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) 

And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” — Matthew 16:17

CHRIST says these words to Peter upon occasion of his professing his faith in him as the Son of God. Our Lord was inquiring of his disciples, who men said he was.…Simon Peter, whom we find always zealous and forward, was the first to answer: he readily replied to the question, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

Upon this occasion, Christ says as he does to him, and of him in the text: in which we may observe,

That Peter is pronounced blessed on this account. Blessed art thou—“Thou art a happy man, that thou art not ignorant of this, that I am Christ, the Son of the living God.…Happy art thou, that art so distinguished as to know the truth in this matter.”

The evidence of this his happiness declared; viz., that God, and he only, had revealed it to him. This is an evidence of his being blessed.…

What had passed in the preceding discourse naturally occasioned Christ to observe this; because the disciples had been telling how others did not know him, but were generally mistaken about him, and divided and confounded in their opinions of him: but Peter had declared his assured faith, that he was the Son of God. Now it was natural to observe, how it was not flesh and blood that had revealed it to him, but God: for if this knowledge were dependent on natural causes or means, how came it to pass that they, a company of poor fishermen, illiterate men, and persons of low education, attained to the knowledge of the truth; while the Scribes and Pharisees, men of vastly higher advantages, and greater knowledge and sagacity in other matters, remained in ignorance? This could be owing only to the gracious distinguishing influence and revelation of the Spirit of God. Hence, what I would make the subject of my present discourse from these words, is this:


That there is such a thing as a spiritual and divine light immediately imparted to the soul by God, of a different nature from any that is obtained by natural means.

And on this subject I would

I. Show what this divine light is.

II. How it is given immediately by God, and not obtained by natural means.

III. Show the truth of the doctrine.

And then conclude with a brief improvement.

I would show what this spiritual and divine light is. And in order to it, would show, First, In a few things what it is not. And here,

Those convictions that natural men may have of their sin and misery, is not this spiritual and divine light. Men in a natural condition may have convictions of the guilt that lies upon them, and of the anger of God, and their danger of divine vengeance.…Conscience is a principle natural to men; and the work that it doth naturally, or of itself, is to give an apprehension of right and wrong, and to suggest to the mind the relation that there is between right and wrong, and a retribution.…

This spiritual and divine light does not consist in any impression made upon the imagination. It is no impression upon the mind, as though one saw any thing with the bodily eyes: it is no imagination or idea of an outward light or glory, or any beauty of form or countenance, or a visible luster or brightness of any object.…

This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new truths or propositions not contained in the word of God.…It reveals no new doctrine, it suggests no new proposition to the mind, it teaches no new thing of God, or Christ, or another world, not taught in the Bible, but only gives a due apprehension of those things that are taught in the word of God.

’Tis not every affecting view that men have of the things of religion that is this spiritual and divine light. Men by mere principles of nature are capable of being affected with things that have a special relation to religion as well as other things.…

But I proceed to show, Secondly, Positively what this spiritual and divine light is. And it may be thus described: a true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising.… A spiritual and saving conviction of the truth and reality of these things, arises from such a sight of their divine excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is an effect and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory.

There is therefore in this spiritual light

A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things of religion; a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel.… He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God’s holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a sense how amiable God is upon that account, or a sense of the beauty of this divine attribute.…Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind.…The former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the latter. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.

There arises from this sense of divine excellency of things contained in the word of God, a conviction of the truth and reality of them; and that either directly or indirectly.

First, Indirectly, and that two ways.

…The mind of man is naturally full of prejudices against the truth of divine things: it is full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel; which is a disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose their force upon the mind. But when a person has discovered to him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this destroys the enmity, removes those prejudices, and sanctifies the reason, and causes it to lie open to the force of arguments for their truth….
It not only removes the hinderances of reason, but positively helps reason.…It engages the attention of the mind, with the fixedness and intenseness to that kind of objects; which causes it to have a clearer view of them, and enables it more clearly to see their mutual relations, and occasions it to take more notice of them.

Secondly, A true sense of the divine excellency of the things of God’s word doth more directly and immediately convince of the truth of them; and that because the excellency of these things is so superlative. There is a beauty in them that is so divine and godlike, that is greatly and evidently distinguishing of them from things merely human, or that men are the inventors and authors of; a glory that is so high and great, that when clearly seen, commands assent to their divinity and reality.…

Such a conviction of the truth of religion as this, arising, these ways, from a sense of the divine excellency of them, is that true spiritual conviction that there is in saving faith. And this original of it, is that by which it is most essentially distinguished from that common assent, which unregenerate men are capable of.

II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed, viz., to show how this light is immediately given by God, and not obtained by natural means. And here,

It is not intended that the natural faculties are not made use of in it. The natural faculties are the subject of this light: and they are the subject in such a manner, that they are not merely passive, but active in it; the acts and exercises of man’s understanding are concerned and made use of in it. God, in letting in this light into the soul, deals with man according to his nature, or as a rational creature; and makes use of his human faculties. But yet this light is not the less immediately from God for that; though the faculties are made use of, it is as the subject and not as the cause; and that acting of the faculties in it, is not the cause, but is either implied in the thing itself (in the light that is imparted) or is the consequence of it. As the use that we make of our eyes in beholding various objects, when the sun arises, is not the cause of the light that discovers those objects to us.
. . .
When it is said that this light is given immediately by God, and not obtained by natural means, hereby is intended, that it is given by God without making use of any means that operate by their own power. . . but it is not as mediate causes to produce this effect. There are not truly any second causes of it; but it is produced by God immediately. The word of God is no proper cause of this effect: it does not operate by any natural force in it. The word of God is only made use of to convey to the mind the subject matter of this saving instruction: and this indeed it doth convey to us by natural force or influence. It conveys to our minds these and those doctrines; it is the cause of the notion of them in our heads, but not of the sense of the divine excellency of them in our hearts.

I come now, III. To show the truth of the doctrine; that is, to show that there is such a thing as that spiritual light that has been described, thus immediately let into the mind by God. And here I would show briefly, that this doctrine is both scriptural and rational.

First, It is scriptural.…We are there abundantly taught, that the saints differ from the ungodly in this, that they have the knowledge of God, and a sight of God, and of Jesus Christ.…This knowledge, or sight of God and Christ, cannot be a mere speculative knowledge; because it is spoken of as a seeing and knowing, wherein they differ from the ungodly.…And this light and knowledge is always spoken of as immediately given of God… the arbitrary operation, and gift of God, bestowing this knowledge on whom he will, and distinguishing those with it, that have the least natural advantage or means for knowledge, even babes, when it is denied to the wise and prudent.

Secondly, This doctrine is rational.

It is rational to suppose, that there is really such an excellency in divine things, that is so transcendent and exceedingly different from what is in other things, that, if it were seen, would most evidently distinguish them. We cannot rationally doubt but that things that are divine, that appertain to the Supreme Being, are vastly different from things that are human.…Unless we would argue, that God is not remarkably distinguished in glory from men.…

If there be such a distinguishing excellency in divine things; it is rational to suppose that there may be such a thing as seeing it. What should hinder but that it may be seen? It is no argument, that there is no such thing as such a distinguishing excellency, or that, if there be, that it cannot be seen, that some do not see it, though they may be discerning men in temporal matters.…It is not rational to suppose, that those whose minds are full of spiritual pollution, and under the power of filthy lusts, should have any relish or sense of divine beauty or excellency; or that their minds should be susceptive of that light that is in its own nature so pure and heavenly.…

It is rational to suppose, that this knowledge should be given immediately by God, and not be obtained by natural means.…It is rational to suppose that God would reserve that knowledge and wisdom, that is of such a divine and excellent nature, to be bestowed immediately by himself, and that it should not be left in the power of second causes. Spiritual wisdom and grace is that highest and most excellent gift that ever God bestows on any creature: in this the highest excellency and perfection of a rational creature consists. It is also immensely the most important of all divine gifts: it is that wherein man’s happiness consists, and on which his everlasting welfare depends. How rational is it to suppose that God, however he has left meaner goods and lower gifts to second causes, and in some sort in their power, yet should reserve this most excellent, divine, and important of all divine communications, in his own hands, to be bestowed immediately by himself, as a thing too great for second causes to be concerned in!…

I will conclude with a very brief improvement of what has been said.

First, This doctrine may lead us to reflect on the goodness of God, that has so ordered it, that a saving evidence of the truth of the gospel is such, as is attainable by persons of mean capacities and advantages, as well as those that are of the greatest parts and learning.…Persons with but an ordinary degree of knowledge, are capable, without a long and subtle train of reasoning, to see the divine excellency of the things of religion: they are capable of being taught by the Spirit of God, as well as learned men.…

Secondly, This doctrine may well put us upon examining ourselves, whether we have ever had this divine light… let into our souls. If there be such a thing indeed, and it be not only a notion or whimsy of persons of weak and distempered brains, then doubtless it is a thing of great importance, whether we have thus been taught by the Spirit of God.…

Thirdly, All may hence be exhorted earnestly to seek this spiritual light. To influence and move to it, the following things may be considered.

This is the most excellent and divine wisdom that any creature is capable of. It is more excellent than any human learning; it is far more excellent than all the knowledge of the greatest philosophers or statesmen.…

This knowledge is that which is above all others sweet and joyful. Men have a great deal of pleasure in human knowledge, in studies of natural things; but this is nothing to that joy which arises from this divine light shining into the soul.…There is nothing so powerful as this to support persons in affliction, and to give the mind peace and brightness in this stormy and dark world.

This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and changes the nature of the soul.…This light, and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Savior: it causes the whole soul to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and respect, cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ.

This light, and this only, has its fruit in a universal holiness of life. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines of religion will ever bring to this. But this light, as it reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes the nature, so it will effectually dispose to a universal obedience. It shows God’s worthiness to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious, and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1796 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Mrs Sherman Boardman (Sarah Bostwick) holding a book

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Martha Washington - Not thrilled to be First Lady

1796 James Sharples (1751-1811). Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802)  (m Daniel Parke Custis) (m George Washington)

The White House Historical Association tells us that Martha Washington said, "I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else, there is certain bounds set for me which I must not depart from..." So did Martha Washington confide that she did not entirely enjoy her role as first of first ladies. She said that though "many younger and gayer women would be extremely pleased," she would "much rather be at home."

But when George Washington assumed the new duties of president of the United States on April 30, 1789, his wife brought to their position a tact and discretion developed over 58 years of life in Tidewater Virginia society. Martha Dandridge was born June 2, 1731, on a plantation near Williamsburg. Typical for a girl in an 18th-century family, her education was negligible except in domestic and social skills, but she learned the arts of a well-ordered household. At age 18, she married the wealthy Daniel Parke Custis. Two babies died, and two others were barely past infancy when Daniel Custis died in 1757.

From the day Martha married George Washington in 1759, her great concern was the comfort and happiness of her new husband and her surviving children. She and George had no children of their own. Her love of private life equaled her husband's, but when his career led him to the battlegrounds of the Revolutionary War and finally to the presidency, she followed him bravely.

At the President's House in the temporary capitals of first New York then Philadelphia, Martha's warm hospitality made her guests feel at ease. She took little satisfaction in "formal compliments and empty ceremonies," and declared that "I am fond only of what comes from the heart." Abigail Adams, who sat at her right during parties and receptions, praised her as "one of those unassuming characters which create Love & Esteem."

In 1797, the Washingtons said farewell to public life and returned to their beloved Mount Vernon to live surrounded by kinfolk, friends, and a constant stream of guests eager to pay their respects to the celebrated couple. Her husband died the following year.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1799 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Eleanor Conway Hite & James Madison Hite who is looking at a book

Monday, January 7, 2019

1716 Boston Lighthouse's 1st Keeper, his Wife, & Daughter met a Tragic End

Engraving of original Boston Lighthose situate at the Entrance of Boston Harbour

As early at 1675, settlers lit bonfires on a hill overlooking Boston Harbor as an aid to navigation, but it wasn’t until 1715 that the Colony of Massachusetts Bay spent almost 2,400 pounds to construct a light tower, the first in the New World. When on September 14, 1716, the beacon from Little Brewster Island pierced the night sky overlooking Boston Harbor for the first time, there were only 70 lighthouses in existence in the whole world.

However, both the tower & its first 2 keepers met violent ends. The first keeper, George Worthylake, lived on Little Brewster Island with his wife & two daughters, Ruth & Ann, & their slave Shadwell. On Nov. 3, 1718, Worthylake & his wife & daughter Ruth were returning from an excursion to Boston. Accompanied by a friend, John Edge, they anchored their sloop near Little Brewster, & Shadwell paddled out in a canoe to bring the party to shore.

Worthylake’s younger daughter, Ana, & her friend were watching their progress from the island, when suddenly the overloaded canoe capsized & the members of the party were left struggling in the water. The 2 girls watched, horrified, as one by one each person sank beneath the water & drowned. The tragedy shook the people of Boston. A young Benjamin Franklin wrote a poem about it entitled “The Lighthouse Tragedy” & sold copies of it on the streets. Soon a new keeper, Robert Sanders, took over, but he also drowned only a few days after accepting the position.

Fortunately the next keeper, John Hayes, survived long enough to make significant improvements: he requested a gallery be built around the tower’s lantern room so he could keep the glass free of ice & snow, & he requested some sort of a gun “to answer Ships in a Fogg”.  In 1719, America’s first fog signal— a cannon—was installed.

By the 1770’s, Boston Light had successfully guided thousands of ships into the Boston wharves. The prosperity that resulted from the trade was part of the prosperity the British felt should be funneled to the Mother Country via taxation. The penny-a-pound tax on tea was the final straw for the colonial businessmen, who responded by hosting an invitation-only costume party at the harbor.

On December 16, 1773, members of the Sons of Liberty, dressed rather unconvincingly as Mohawk Indians, boarded the vessels of the East Indian Company & dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The British responded by blockading the harbor. Boston Light, which had previously been maintained by taxes levied on British ships, now was being maintained by British troops.

Not about to take the blockade lying down, early in July 1775 the Minutemen dispatched a small group to Little Brewster Island, where they removed the lantern & oil & set fire to the wooden parts of the tower. An observer on the mainland described “flames of the lighthouse ascending up to Heaven, like grateful incense.” Confused & distracted by the flames, the British gunners tried to blast the Minuteman out of the water but ended up wasting their powder.

The damage to the lighthouse, though a grand gesture, was not a permanent or even very severe one, & the British soon sent repairmen. General Washington knew that the colonials could not allow the British to relight the tower, so he sent a 2nd raiding party, this time 300 soldiers under the command of Major Benjamin Tupper. Arriving in the middle of the night on July 31, the Americans had the element of surprise & the aid of darkness. They quickly defeated the unprepared redcoats, destroyed all the work that had been completed by British carpenters, & set fire to everything that would burn.

The raid would have been an unqualified success except that by then the tide had gone out, leaving the whaleboats they had used for transportation stranded on the beach. Major Tupper knew they had no time to waste before British reinforcements arrived, & ordered his men to push the boats with all their might back into the water. By the time they were again afloat, the British fleet had descended & would have defeated them had not an American artillery piece on nearby Nantasket Head opened fire. The Minutemen lost only one member of their company, while the British suffered heavy casualties. General Washington praised the men as “gallant & soldier-like.”
Although the colonials had removed the light from the harbor, they had not removed the British. Enraged by the continued British occupation of the harbor, Samuel Adams devised a scheme to drive away the blockaders. On June 13, 1776, American troops armed with cannons headed for Nantasket Head & other strategic islands in the harbor. The next morning the British fleet awoke to a fiery assault that soon drove them back to the high seas.

However, before abandoning Boston Harbor, one of the ships put a small party ashore on Little Brewster Island, where they attached a slow-burning fuse to a keg of gunpowder. The blast destroyed the remains of the lighthouse.

In 1780, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock asked the legislature to fund a new tower. By 1783 the new 75-foot tower, designed “to be nearly of the same dimensions of the former lighthouse” was lit, & Little Brewster Island once again served as an aid to the many ships entering & leaving the harbor.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ceded the lighthouse to the newly formed federal government in 1789. The tower remains virtually unchanged in appearance, but the changes in illumination mirror the development of lighting devices over the years. Initially the tower housed oil lamps; sixteen lamps were in place in 1789 when the Federal Government took possession. In 1811, the more effective Argand lamps, mounted on a rotating case, replaced the old oil lamps.

See Lighthouse Friends here for more intriguing lighthouse tales.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1801 Jacob Frymire (American artist, c 1770-1822) Amelia Heiskell Lauck (1760-1842) of Winchester, KY keeping her place in a book

Saturday, January 5, 2019

January 5th & 6th Celebrations in Colonial British America

When the British settled in colonial America, many brought their Twelfth Night celebrations with them. In the 18C colonies, Twelfth Night parties frequently took place in regions where large numbers of English colonists had settled, such as Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, & Pennsylvania. These celebrations were especially popular with members of the Church of England (later the Episcopal Church) but not among the New England Puritans, who found them too frivolous & not at all religious. 
Twelfth Night by Isaac Cruikshank 1756-1811, London  Pub 1794 by Laurie & Whittle, No. 53 Fleet Street, London

Among the wealthy in the middle & southern colonies, many celebrated Twelfth Night with formal balls. These balls usually featured a bountiful buffet table of such delicacies as Twelfth Night Cake, roasted meats, root vegetables, candied fruit, cookies, fritters, & New Year's pie. This last item was an elaborate dish prepared by placing a beef tongue into a boned chicken, wedging the chicken into a boned duck, stuffing the duck into a boned turkey, cramming the turkey into a boned goose; & then roasting the stuffed goose in an oven. 

Just as in Europe, colonial & early American cooks often placed a bean & a pea inside their Twelfth Night cakes as a means of selecting a Twelfth Night king & queen. If there was only a bean in the cake & a woman found it in her piece, she got to chose the king of the evening.

In colonial & early America, the Christmas season, capped by the celebration of Twelfth Night, served as a favorite time of year for weddings. Twelfth Nightballs offered young, single people the chance to meet & to interact freely, & hopefully, to find a mate. This goal was facilitated by the fact that the parties usually featured dancing & some form of masking, as well as card & dice games. Indeed, some balls were designed exclusively as affairs for the young. One very famous colonial romance led to a marriage scheduled for Epiphany. George Washington (1732-1799) and his bride, Martha Dandridge Custis (17321802), married on January 6, 1759.

The importance of Twelfth Night celebrations in the American colonies is illustrated in the papers of George Washington. On Christmas Day, Washington usually attended a church service, after which he would spend the day sorting through other year-end business matters of his plantation.  But, George & Martha Washington were married on Twelfth Night in 1759 in Williamsburg. Washington's records indicate that he & his wife Martha often entertained groups of relatives and friends throughout that day.  Martha Washington's papers, preserved at Mt. Vernon, include her recipe for a huge Twelfth Night cake that included 40 eggs, four pounds of sugar, & five pounds of dried fruits.

Nicholas Cresswell,  who was an Englishman who spent years in Virginia and kept a journal, wrote while in Alexandria on December 25, 1774: “Christmas Day but little regarded here.”   Cresswell did, however, attend a ball on Twelfth Night: "There was about 37 Ladys Dressed and Powdered to the like, some of them very handsom, and as much Vanity as is necessary. All of them fond of Dancing. But I do not think they perform it with the greatest elleganse. Betwixt the Country Dances they have What I call everlasting Jiggs. A Couple gets up, and begins to dance a Jig (to some Negro tune) others comes and cuts them out, these dances allways last as long as the Fiddler can play. This is social but I think it looks more like a Bacchanalian dance then one in a polite Assembly. Old Women, Young Wifes with young Children on the Laps, Widows, Maids, and Girls come promsciously to these Assemblys which generally continue til morning. A Cold supper, Punch, Wine, Coffee, and Chocolate, But no Tea. This is a forbidden herb. The men chiefly Scotch and Irish. I went home about Two Oclock, but part of the Company stayd got Drunk and had a fight."

Famously weathy Robert Carter of Nomini Hall had hired New England tutor Philp Fithian to teach his children.  Fithian's journal entry of December 29 of that same year he wrote “we had a large Pye cut today to signify the conclusion of the Holidays.”

Those who did not celebrate Christmas deplored the idea of a Twelfth Night ball.  Mordecai Noah, who published a book on home economics in the year 1820, decried the wasteful custom of Twelfth Night feasting:  "What a sum to be destroyed in one short hour! The substan-tials on this table, consisting of a few turkeys, tongues, hams, fowls, rounds of beef and game, all cold, could have been purchased for fifty dollars; the residue of this immense sum was expended for whips, creams, floating islands, pyramids of kisses, temples of sugarplumbs, ices, blanc manges, macaroons and plumb cake; and ladies of delicacy, of refined habits, of soft and amiable manners, were at midnight, cloying their stomachs, after exercise in dancing, with this trash." 

For further Twelfth Night & Epiphany information see:

Bellenir, Karen. Religious Holidays and Calendars. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2004. 

Chambers, Robert. The Book of Days. 2 vols. 1862-64. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. 

Christianson, Stephen G., and Jane M. Hatch. The American Book of Days. 4th ed. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2000. 

Christmas in Colonial and Early America. Chicago: World Book, 1996. 

Cohen, Hennig, and Tristram Potter Coffin. The Folklore of American Holidays. 3rd ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999. 

Crippen, T.G. Christmas and Christmas Lore. 1923. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. 

Gulevich, Tanya. Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations. 2nd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2003.

Hadfield, Miles, and John Hadfield. The Twelve Days of Christmas. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, 1961. 

Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. 

Henisch, Bridget Ann. Cakes and Characters: An English Christmas Tradition. London, England: Prospect Books, 1984. 

Hole, Christina. British Folk Customs. London, England: Hutchinson and Company, 1976. 

MacDonald, Margaret Read, ed. The Folklore of World Holidays. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1992. 

Miles, Clement A. Christmas in Ritual and Tradition. 1912. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1990. 

Muir, Frank. Christmas Customs and Traditions. New York: Taplinger, 1977. 

Pimlott, J. A. R. The Englishman's Christmas. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1978. 

Spicer, Dorothy Gladys. The Book of Festivals. 1937. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. 

Urlin, Ethel L. Festivals, Holy Days, and Saints' Days. 1915. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1992. 

Weaver, William Woys. The Christmas Cook. New York: HarperPerennial, 1990.

Friday, January 4, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1799 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Margaret Baker Briscoe (Mrs. Gerard Briscoe) with glasses & a book

Thursday, January 3, 2019

1798 No Women in Congress...Some Things Change, Some Things Don't...Congressmen behaving badly...

"Congressional Pugilists" 1798 published in Philadelphia

This cartoon of "Congressional Pugilists" depicts a heated partisan debate in the interior of Congress Hall in 1798. A fight on the floor of Congress between Vermont Representative Matthew Lyon (1749-1822), a Jeffersonian Republican, and Roger Griswold (1762-1812) of Connecticut, a Federalist.

Griswold had accused Lyon of cowardice during the American Revolution and Lyon responded by spitting tobacco juice in Griswold's face.  Griswold, armed with a cane, kicks Lyon, who grasps his arm and raises a pair of fireplace tongs to strike him. 

Of course, there were no women in Congress in 1798.  Women did not even get to vote until 1920. The 1st woman elected to the United States was Jeannette Pickering Rankin (1880-1973) from Montana in 1916, and again in 1940. After being elected in 1916, she said, "I may be the first woman member of Congress but I won’t be the last."

Below are the verses printed under the cartoon:
"He in a trice struck Lyon thrice
Upon his head, enrag'd sir,
Who seiz'd the tongs to ease his wrongs,
And Griswold thus engag'd, sir."

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

18C American Woman Reading

1797 Gilbert Stuart (American painter, 1755-1828) Mary Willing Clymer holding a book

University of Delaware’s F. W. Grubb wrote in 1990: Of all European countries perhaps only Scotland surpassed America in literacy by 1800. Not only had the European literacy revolution been transplanted to the American periphery during the colonial period, but colonial literacy had somehow leaped past that of northwestern Europe.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Turtles, Turkeys, & Punch - Food & Drink at 18C US New Year's gatherings

In 1774 John Adams recorded in his diary on several special occasions enjoying the turtle on the dinner table, while visiting Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress. 1774 Septr. 11. "Dined at Mr. Willings, who is a Judge of the Supream Court here, with the Gentlemen from Virginia, Maryland and New York. A most splendid Feast again—Turtle and every Thing else."
Sea Turtles were available in both the Atlantic & Pacific

In 1768, John Hancock was buying sea turtles to serve at his table.

Recipes for preparing sea turtle.  1774 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. The recipe 1st appeared in the 1751 edition of this book.

Colonial & Early American cookbooks do not contain suggested complete menus or "bills of fare" for New Year's celebrations. What we know about these gatherings is gleaned from primary sources such as journals, letters, household accounts, & newspaper articles.
1797 Newspaper Advertisement of Mr Julien of Boston

"The custom of paying New Year's calls originated in New York, where the Dutch held open house on New Year's Day & served cherry bounce, olykoeks [doughnuts] steeped in rum, cookies, & honey cakes. From New York the custom spread throughout the country. On the first New Year's after his inauguration, George Washington opened his house to the public, & he continued to receive visitors on New Year's Day throughout the seven years he lived in Phildadelphia. On January 1, 1791, a senator from Pennsylvania hoted in his diary: "Made the President the compliments of the season; had a hearty shake of the hand. I was asked to partake of punch & cakes, but declined...Eventually, it became de rigeur [common social practice] for those who intended to receive company to list in newspapers the hours they would be "at home." It was a disastrous practice: parties of young men took to dashing from house to house for a glass of punch, dropping in at as many of the homes listed in the papers as they could. Strangers wandered in off the streets, newspapers under their arms, for a free drink & a bit of a meal. The custom of having an open house on the first day of the year survived the assaults of the newspaper readers. The traditional cookies & cakes continued to be served, along with hot toddies, punches, eggnogs, tea, coffee, & chocolate. But public announcements of at-home hours were dropped at the end of the nineteenth century, & houses were open only to invited friends."
---American Heritage Cookbook & Illustrated History of American Eating & Drinking, American Heritage:New York] 1964 (p. 392)

"New Year's Day Collation at Mount Clare: Crab Imperial, Oyster loaves, Boned Turkey Breast with Forcemeat & Oyster Sauce, Fried Chicken, Maryland Ham, Fruits in White Wine Jelly, Beaten Biscuits, Sally Lunn, Apricot Fool, Minced Pies, Pound Cake, Light Fruit Cake, Maryland Rocks, Little Sugar Cakes, Coconut Jumbles, Peach Cordial, Syllabub, Egg Nog, Sangaree."
---The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook, Mary Donovan et al [Montclair Historical Society:Montclair NJ] 1976 (p. 176)

[New York]
"New Year's Eve was especially noisy, with the firing of guns to bring in the New Year. Ordinances in both the Netherlands & New Netherland eventually prohibited such behavior. The special treat for New Year's Day in the Netherlands was nieuwjaarskoeken (thick crisp waters), which originated in the eastern part of the country & adjoining parts of Germany. These wafers were made in a special wafer iron. The oblong or round long-handleed irons, made by blacksmiths, created imprints of a religious or secular nature on the wafers. Wafer irons were often given as a wedding gift, even in this country. Enormous quantities of wafers were prepared on New Year's Day. The were consumed by family, servants, & guests distributed to children, who went from house to house singing New Year songs, while collecting their share of treats along the way. There is ample evidence in diaries & letters that Dutch Americans continued the custom of visiting each other on New Year's Day. In New Netherland...the nieuwjaarskoeken were molded in wooden cake-boards, instead of wafer irons...The American New Year's cake is a combination of two Dutch pastries brought here by the early settlers, the nieuwjaarskoeken described above & spiced, chewy, honey cakes formed in a wooden mold or cake-board. It was in the late eighteenth century that this homemade pastry prepared in heirloom wafer irons by the Dutch, changed to a mostly store-bought product purchased by the population at large."
---Matters of Taste: Food & Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art & Life, Donna R. Barnes & Peter G. Rose [Syracuse University Press:Syracuse NY] 2002 (p. 24-5)

Menus for 18C American New Year's gatherings from Foodtimeline here