Friday, January 31, 2020

1790s Portrait of an American Family

1790s Josè Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican-born Louisiana artist, 1750–1802) Family of Don Antonio Mendez (1750-1829)

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Art of Cookery by Hanna Glassie

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The first American edition of The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse was published in Alexandria, Virginia in 1805. The English edition of the cookbook had been available in the colonies for decades.

The Art of Cookery, written by Hannah Glasse, was published in 1747. It was a best seller for over a hundred years, and made Glasse one of the best-known cookery writers of the eighteenth century.


As Glasse explains in the preface, the book was intended to be an instruction manual for servants - 'the lower sort' as she called them. During the 1700s there was a fashion for books of this kind, which were designed to save the lady of the house from the tedious duty of instructing her kitchen maids. As Hannah Glasse puts it, the book should 'improve the servants and save the ladies a great deal of trouble'. She is dismissive of the fanciful language used by other cookery book writers, which she feels simply confuses the servants: 'the poor girls are at a loss to know what they mean,' she writes. In contrast, her style is precise and direct.

Glasse was a housewife, rather than a professional cook, and according to her biographers her primary aim as a writer was to make money. She wrote the book quickly and methodically - in fact 342 of the 972 recipes are taken directly from other books. However, she does show a great deal of skill and originality. Firstly, her writing style is lively, intelligent and amusing. Also, the book contains one of the earliest references to Indian curry in an English cookbook. Asian food first became popular in Britain during the eighteenth century, reflecting the tastes developed by the employees of the East India Company.

Glasse is scornful of the elaborate and extravagant French recipes of the period - 'If gentlemen will have French cooks', she writes, 'they must pay for French tricks'. However, many of her recipes will have been influenced by French cuisine which was becoming increasingly fashionable at the time. Her deliberate hostility towards the French was probably intended to please English readers of a lower social status, who would have disapproved of the excessiveness and conspicuous consumption of French culture.

For the decades following its publication, there were widespread rumours that The Art of Cookery had been written by a man. For a woman to have written such an eloquent and well-organised work seemed implausible to many. James Boswell's diary records a party at the house of the publisher Charles Dilly, at which the issue was discussed. He quotes Samuel Johnson as saying, 'Women can spin very well; but they cannot make a good book of cookery.'

Information from The British Library.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

1795 Portrait of an American Family

1795 James Peale (American artist, 1749-1831). The Artist & His Family.

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Cookbooks & Food in 18th-Century England Spread to the Colonies Reflecting Changes in Society

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Burgeoning cities in England

During the 18th century, English life started to breed the money-fuelled materialism that we are familiar with today. As landowners forced peasants off their land, freeing up the opportunity for commercial farming, the industrial revolution was taking hold. Consequently there were huge population shifts, as vast numbers of people moved from the countryside to the towns. Cities swelled, stretching out to incorporate both dilapidated slums and elegant new vistas. Britain was developing a consumer culture, and city life throbbed with activity. Glinting shops, market stalls, cattle traffic, puppet shows, dog fights, fops, prostitutes, and pickpockets, all packed out the streets. Street vendors sold everything from scissor grinding and matches to oranges, hot gingerbread, and love songs. It was an age of gambling on both a large scale (on the stock market) and a small scale (in domino games or cockfighting). As a result, fortunes were frequently made and lost overnight.

Technology

It was also a century of great technological innovation, and the activities of the kitchen were affected just as much as society at large. Rolled sheet iron produced improved kitchen utensils, superior fire grates, and modern novelties like the clockwork spit. In earlier times cattle were killed at the beginning of winter when fodder ran out. Therefore meat had to be salted so that it was preserved during the winter months. In the 18th century, however, the English adopted new winter feeding methods, which enabled fresh meat to be available all year round. Improved seeds from Holland brought new varieties of fruit and vegetables to England, while better transport allowed fish to be brought inland fresh from the sea, and regional foods - such as cheddar cheese - to be enjoyed all over the country.

English favourites and flavours from abroad

Although the Whig aristocracy employed French chefs, the swelling ranks of middle England liked their simple, plain fare, enjoying roast and boiled meats, pies, and puddings. Roast beef became part of the construction of a British national identity, in opposition to the fancy sauces of France. The invention in the late 17th century of a muslin cloth for steaming, fed England's obsession with puddings - previously, a cook would have had to obtain fresh animal guts in which to steam her pudding. And the English had an enormous appetite for puddings, whether stuffed with meat or game, or oozing with butter or custard.

Whilst the poor depended increasingly on bread and cake, the wealthy were enjoying such delicacies as vermicelli and macaroni from Italy, curry, pilau rice and mango pickle from India, and even turtle soup containing freshly imported turtles from the West Indies. They grew exotic fruits in their hothouses, and kept ice-cream in their ice houses.

Spirits such as gin and brandy were extremely popular.

Indulgence

The government had given enormous financial backing to the distilling industry at the beginning of the century, having realised that the production of spirits offered a solution to the problem of the corn surplus. Spirits were hugely profitable and were produced in abundance. Consequently they were dirt cheap, and as gin and brandy shops spread like rashes over the cities' poor districts, the incidence of alcoholism among men, women and even children became appallingly high.

This age of indulgence led to widespread health problems, with a high incidence of gout, diabetes, heart and liver disease. And many foods were secretly or unwittingly made with poisonous ingredients. Pickles were made green, sweets multi-coloured, and cheese rind red, all with the use of copper and lead. Pepper was mixed with floor sweepings to bulk it out, and alum (a toxic mineral salt) made bread whiter. Even copper and brass pans were dangerous - when mixed with acidic food, they produced a poisonous layer of verdigris.

Cookery Books

Throughout this period booksellers churned out popular recipe books, fully aware of the commercial viability of recipes linked to prestigious chefs. Unfortunately many of the books were thrown together by money-making charlatans who had simply filched their material from existing publications.

With the growth of the middle classes during the course of the 18th century, there was an increasing demand for books designed to save the lady of the house from the tedious duty of instructing her kitchen maids. So recipe books such as The Art of Cookery by Hanna Glassie were directed at the servants rather than the mistress, and were written in plain and accessible language.

From the British Library.
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Monday, January 27, 2020

1795 Portrait of an American Family

c 1795 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Deacon Eliphaz Thayer and His Wife, Deliverance

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

1795 Portrait of an American Family

1795 Unknown Artist. The Cheney Family.

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

1796 Portrait of an American Family

1796 Jonathan Budington (American artist, 1766-1854). Portrait of George Eliot and Family.

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Female Slaves & Rice Cultivation in Georgetown County, South Carolina

Female Slaves and Rice Cultivation in Georgetown County, South Carolina

The intricate steps involved in planting, cultivating, harvesting, and preparing rice required an immense labor force. Planters stated that African slaves were particularly suited to provide that labor force for two reasons: 1) rice was grown in some areas of Africa and there was evidence that some slaves were familiar with the methods of cultivation practiced there, and 2) it was thought that the slaves, by virtue of their racial characteristics, were better able than white laborers to withstand the extreme heat and humidity of the tidal swamps and therefore would be more productive workers. Rice cultivation resulted in a dramatic increase in the numbers of slaves owned by South Carolinians before the American Revolution.
In 1680, four-fifths of South Carolina's population was white. However, black slaves outnumbered white residents two to one in 1720, and by 1740, slaves constituted nearly 90% of the population. Much of the growing slave population came from the West Coast of Africa, a region that had gained notoriety by exporting its large rice surpluses.
While there is no consensus on how rice first reached the American coast, there is much debate over the contribution of African-born slaves to its successful cultivation. New research demonstrates that the European planters lacked prior knowledge of rice farming, while uncovering the long history of skilled rice cultivation in West Africa. Furthermore, Islamic, Portuguese, and Dutch traders all encountered and documented extensive rice cultivation in Africa before South Carolina was even settled.
At first rice was treated like other crops, it was planted in fields and watered by rains. By the mid-18th century, planters used inland swamps to grow rice by accumulating water in a reservoir, then releasing the stored water as needed during the growing season for weeding and watering. Similarly, prior records detail Africans controlling springs and run off with earthen embankments for the same purposes of weeding and watering.

Soon after this method emerged, a second evolution occurred, this time to tidewater production, a technique that had already been perfected by West African farmers. Instead of depending upon a reservoir of water, this technique required skilled manipulation of tidal flows and saline-freshwater interactions to attain high levels of productivity in the floodplains of rivers and streams. Changing from inland swamp cultivation to tidal production created higher expectations from plantation owners. Slaves became responsible for five acres of rice, three more than had been possible previously. Because of this new evidence coming to light, some historians contend that African-born slaves provided critical expertise in the cultivation of rice in South Carolina. The detailed and extensive rice cultivating systems increased demand for slave imports in South Carolina, doubling the slave population between 1750 and 1770. These slaves faced long days of backbreaking work and difficult tasks.

A slave's daily work on an antebellum rice plantation was divided into tasks. Each field hand was given a task--usually nine or ten hours' hard work--or a fraction of a task to complete each day according to his or her ability. The tasks were assigned by the driver, a slave appointed to supervise the daily work of the field hands. The driver held the most important position in the slave hierarchy on the rice plantation. His job was second only to the overseer in terms of responsibility.

The driver's job was particularly important because each step of the planting, growing, and harvesting process was crucial to the success or failure of the year's crop. In the spring, the land was harrowed and plowed in preparation for planting. Around the first of April rice seed was sown by hand using a small hoe. The first flooding of the field, the sprout flow, barely covered the seed and lasted only until the grain sprouted. The water was then drained to keep the delicate sprout from floating away, and the rice was allowed to grow for approximately three weeks. Around the first of May any grass growing among the sprouts was weeded by hoe and the field was flooded by the point flow to cover just the tops of the plants. After a few days the water was gradually drained until it half covered the plants. It remained at this level--the long flow--until the rice was strong enough to stand. More weeding followed and then the water was slowly drained completely off the field. The ground around the plants was hoed to encourage the growth and extension of the roots. After about three weeks, the field was hoed and weeded again, at which time--around mid-June or the first of July--the lay-by flow was added and gradually increased until the plants were completely submerged. This flow was kept on the field for about two months with fresh water periodically introduced and stagnant water run off by the tidal flow through small floodgates called trunks.
Rice planted in the first week of April was usually ready for harvesting by the first week of September. After the lay-by flow was withdrawn, just before the grain was fully ripe, the rice was cut with large sickles known as rice hooks and laid on the ground on the stubble. After it had dried overnight, the cut rice was tied into sheaves and taken by flatboat to the threshing yard. In the colonial period, threshing was most often done by beating the stalks with flails. This process was simple but time consuming. If the rice was to be sold rough, it was then shipped to the agent; otherwise, it was husked and cleaned--again, usually by hand. By the mid-19th century most of the larger plantations operated pounding and/or threshing mills which were driven by steam engines. After the rice had been prepared, it was packed in barrels, or tierces, and shipped to the market at Georgetown or Charleston. In 1850 a rice plantation in the Georgetown County area produced an average yield of 300,000 pounds of rice. The yield had increased to 500,000 pounds by 1860.

See National Park Service

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

1791 Portrait of an American Family

1791 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) The Angus Nickelson Family

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Cooking Cakes in the 18th Century

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During the 18th-century, cooking special cakes to celebrate royal commemorations, weddings, anniversaries, religious holidays, revolutionary victories, and birthdays called for a Rich Cake which was sometimes called a Great Cake in early America.

[1747]
"To Make a Rich Cake
Take four Pound of Flower well dried and sifted, seven Pound of Currants washed and rubb'd, six Pound of the best fresh Butter, two Pound of Jordan Almonds blanched, and beaten with Orange Flower Water and Sack till they are fine, then take four Pound of Eggs, put half the Whites away, three Pound of double refin'd Sugar beaten and sifted, a quarter of an Ounce of Mace, the same of Cloves and Cinnamon, three large Nutmegs, all beaten fine, a little Ginger, half a Pint of Sack, half a Pint of right French Brandy, Sweetmeats to your liking, they must be Orange, Lemon, and Citron. Work your Butter to a Cream with your Hands before any of your Ingredients are in, then put in your Sugar, mix it well together; let your Eggs be well beat, and strain'd thro' a Sieve, work in your Almonds first, then put in your Eggs, beat them all together till they look white and thick, then put in your Sack and Brandy and Spices, and shake your Flour in by Degrees, and when your Oven is ready, put in your Currants and Sweetmeats as you put it in your hoop; it will take four Hours baking in a quick Oven, you must keep it beaten with your Hand all the while you are mixing of it, and when your Currants are well wash'd and clean'd, let them be kept before the Fire, so that they may go warm into your Cake. This Quantity will bake best in two Hoops."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, London [1747]

"To Ice a great Cake another Way
Take two Pound double refin'd Sugar, beat and sift it very fine, and likewise beat and sift a little Starch and mix with it, then beat six Whites of Eggs to Froth, and put to it some Gum-Water, the Gum must be steep'd in Orange-flower-water, then mix and beat all these together two Hours, and put it on your Cake; when it is baked, set it in the Oven again to harden a quarter of an Hour, take great Care it is not discolour'd. When it is drawn, ice it over the Top and Sides, take two Pound of double refin'd Sugar beat and sifted, and the Whites of three Eggs beat to a Froth, with three or four Spoonfuls of Orange-flower-water, and three Grains of Musk and Ambergrease together; put all these in a Stone Mortar, and beat these till it is a white as Snow, and with a Brush or Bundle of Feathers, spread it all over the Cake, and put it in the Oven to dry; but take Care the Oven does not discolour it. When it is cold paper it, and it will keep good five or six Weeks."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, London [1747]

Churning the Butter

[1772]
"A Rich Cake
Take six pounds of the best fresh butter, work it to a cream with your hands; then throw in by degrees three pounds of double refined sugar well beat and sifted; Mix them well together; then work in three pounds of blanched almonds, and having them altogether till they are thick and look white. The add half a pint of French brandy, half a pint of sack, a small quantity of ginger, about two ounces of mace, cloves, and cinnamon each, and three large nutmegs all beaten in a mortar as fine as possible. Then shake in gradually four pounds of well dried and sifted flour; and when the oven is well prepared, and a thin hoop to bake it in, stir into this mixture (as you put it into the hoop) seven pounds of currants clean washed and rubbed, and such a quantity of candied orange, lemon, and citron in equal proportions, as shall be thought convenient. The oven must be quick, and the cake at least will take four hours to bake; Or you may make two or more cakes out of these ingredients, you must beat it with your hands, and the currants must be dried before the fire, and put into the cake warm."
---The Frugal Colonial Housewife, Susannah Carter [1772]

Gathering the Eggs

[1792]
"Bride Cake
Take four pounds of fine flour well dried, four pounds of fresh butter, two pounds of loaf sugar, a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of nutmegs well beat and sifted, and to every pound of flour put eight eggs, four pounds of currants well washed and picked, and dry them before the fire till they are plump, blanch a pound of Jordan almonds, and cut them lengthways very thin, a pound of candied citron, the same of candied orange, and the same of candied lemon peel, cut in thin slips, and half a pint of brandy; first work your butter to a fine cream with your hand, then beat in your sugar a quarter of an hour, and beat the whites of your eggs to a strong froth, and mix them with your sugar and butter; beat your yolks for half an hour with one hand, and mix them well with the rest; then by degrees put in your flour, mace, and nutmeg, and keep beating it till your oven is ready; put in the brandy, currants, and almonds lightly: tie three sheets of paper round the bottom of your hoop to keep it from running out, and rub it well with butter, then put in your cake, and lay your sweetmeats in three layers, with some cake between every layer; as soon as it is risen and coloured, cover it with paper before your oven in closed up, and bake it three hours. You may ice it or not, as you choose, directions being given for icing in the beginning of this chapter."
---The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Campbell & B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792

"Icing for Cakes.--Take the whites of twelve eggs, and a cound of couble-refined sugar pounded and sifted through a fine sieve, mix them together in a deep earthen pan and beat it well for three hours with a strong wooden spoon till it looks white and thick, and with a thin paste knife spread it all over the top and sides of your cake, and ornament it with sweet nonpareils, or fruit paste, or sugar images, and put it in a cool oven to harden for one hour, or set it at the distance from the fire, and keep turning it till it is hard. You may perfume the icing with any sort of perfume you please."
---The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Campbell & B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792

A Little Coffee with Your Cake...

Information from  Foodtimeline.org
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Sunday, January 19, 2020

1798 Portrait of an American Family

1798 John Ritto Penniman (American painter, 1782–1841) Family Group

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Runaway House Slaves



Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser (Goddard), Baltimore, June 27, 1780.
NEGROES, who ran away...Lucy, Hannah, and Nan...They are most of them very artful, and expect to pass as free people...Lucy's business has been to wash and iron. Young Hannah and Nan are exceeding good flax spinners. They are all mostly cloathed in Virginia cloth...They have stole some guns, and many different sorts of clothes, and I expect they will change their names.

Virginia Gazette (Clarkson & Davis), Richmond, August 19, 1780.
RUN away...a young mulatto wench named Sukey. Her dress when she went away was white Virginia cloth, a linen bonnet made in the fashion; she has a large bushy head of hair, her upper fore teeth much decayed, and some of them out, which causes her to lisp, shows her teeth when laughing, and is very brazen and impertinent. She can wash, iron, and cook.

Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser (Davis), Richmond, January 26, 1791.
RAN-AWAY...a large fat likely negro woman, known by the name of SARAH, but looks young to her age, which is between 40 or 50, of a bold insinuating countenance, artful and cunning to the highest degree...She is an excellent house servant, as to spinning cotton of flax, sewing, knitting, cooking, washing, or any thing else a wench can do, and can work very well in the crop--She is fond of making and selling ginger bread, &c. ...Her clothing when she went away was a large scarlet frize cloak, a hat dress with white ribbon and buckle, one callico jackcoat, one suit of green durants, sundry suits of strip'd and white Virginia cloth, and wore two silver rings on her fingers.

Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser (Green), Fredericksburg, November 14, 1793.
RAN AWAY...in Orange county, the last of September, NEGRO MOLLY, a lusty likely woman, about 41 or 42 years of age, rather dark complexion; she is a healthy, neat, industrious wench, a good cook, washer and ironer, and is well acquainted with house business

American Gazette and Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Advertiser
(Davis), Norfolk, September 15, 1795.
RUN AWAY this morning, a negro Woman named MOLLY, But has of late gone by the name of BETTY...She is very black, has a bushy head, and remarkable white teeth, is about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, and supposed to be about 36 years of age; is a very good washer and ironer, and am informed a good cook, and is well acquainted with all kind of house business.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, August 2, 1800.
Negro Woman named PATTY...about 28 years of age, thick, well set, and about 5 feet 5 inches high. She has short curled hair, and prominent features, particularly eyes, noes, and mouth. Her teeth are bad and yellow, and the whites of her eyes are much affected by smoke. On her shoulders are two scars visible when she does not wear a handkerchief; and her right arm shews the marks of very frequent bleeding. Her voice is rather shrill; she is very talkative and disposed to be impertinent; but when it suits her purpose can assume every appearance of perfect humility. I expect she is in Norfolk, in company with a sister who bears a very striking resemblance...Patty is a good cook and washer, and probably will practice one or the other for a livelihood.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, March 12, 1801.
Run-a-way...Negro SAREY...well known in Norfolk as a negro hiring herself out to day's work at washing

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, July 6, 1802
Ran Away...a tall, spare black woman named POLLY, about 20 years old, formerly the property of Major Roger West: she has been brought up to house-work, is a good cook, washer and nurse.

Friday, January 17, 2020

1798 Portrait of an American Family

1798 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801). Mrs. Noah Smith and Her Children.

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Newspaper - Runaway Female Slaves Who Could Read & Write



Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser (Richards), Alexandria, September 29, 1785.
RAN AWAY...a MULATTO WOMAN, named MOLLY; of a middle size. She took with her two Virginia cloth jackets and petticoats, one brown and one green baize ditto, with sundry other things.---As she can read, and is handy at her needle, it is probable she will endeavour to pass for a free woman.

Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser (Davis), Richmond, August 24, 1791.
The following NEGROES...A MULATTO WOMAN went off with the above, who has since been been taken up at Norfolk, and as she can write, she probably has furnished the others with passes, changing thier name.

The Herald and Norfolk and Portsmouth Advertiser (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, November 9, 1795.
RUN AWAY...A likely mulatto woman named SILLAR, about the common stature, 25 years of age, and walks generally very brisk; she has been brought up a House Servant and can read a Letter...it is expected as she carried off her bed, bedding, and a number of good clothes, that she as been coaxed away by some free Negro or other, who has conveyed her off by water and intends to pass her as a free woman

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, September 14, 1797.
Run away Negroes...JACK, a Carpenter by trade, about 40 years of age, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, of a dark complexion. PHEBE, his wife, and his daughter BETSEY, about 16 years of age, a very likely wench; also Two of the said Phebe's Children, one of which is 5 or 6 years and the other 6 months old. It is suspected Jack's wife will forge passes as she is very artful and can write...A Negro Fellow named Joe, son to the above Jack, about 20 years of age, plays on the Violin.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor), Norfolk, October 2, 1800.
Negro Girl named NANCY, about 19 years of age, about 4 feet 4 inches, good stout looking girl; her complexion paler than general; had on when she went away a black new fashioned paste-board bonnet, trimmed with black ribbon, a blue handkerchief on her neck, dark callico short gown, purple worsted petticoat, she had a sifter in which she had cakes to sell about town...She has changed her name to BETSEY. Speaks very good Dutch, can read and write, and may forge herself a passport.

Norfolk Herald (Willett and O'Connor),Norfolk, October 29, 1801.
Forty Dollars Reward. RAN-AWAY from the subscriber, living in Petersburg, Virginia, in the afternoon of Thursday, the 22d inst. a likely spare made Negro Woman, named LUCINDA, (but sometimes she is called Lucinda Walker, and at other times Lucinda Brown) about 24 years of age, she is of the common height, and rather black: she has a remarkable pleasant countenance, smooth insinuating manners, and speaks very correct and distinct--she had previously sent off the most of her clothes in a trunk, (supposed marked at the bottom W.D. or W.I.D.) of which she has a variety of good materials and well made. I am informed she had made up just before her elopemont, a habit and coat of dark blue cloth in the fashion; and it is likely she will travel in that dress--she can both read and write a little: I am pretty certain that she has been enticed off by some bad designing man, probably white, and that she has through them procured free papers, or a pass of some kind which she will make use of. She was born and brought up in the family indulgently...expressing a desire to go to Europe.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Newspaper - 1777 Deserter from the Revolution Runs Away with his Pregnant Wife


DESERTED from the 2d Virginia Regiment in New Jersey, the following ...Serjeant, 30 Years of Age...his Wife, who was heavy with Child, went off with him...the Serjeant...enlisted into Captain Alexander's Company, and may be taken in Frederick County, Virginia. ALEXANDER SPOTSWOOD, Col. 2d Virg. Reg.

Virginia Gazette(Dixon & Hunter), Williamsburg , September 5, 1777

Monday, January 13, 2020

1773 Portrait of an American Family


1773 John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Miffin (Sarah Morris).

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Newspaper - 1751 Runaway Love Triangle in Virginia

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Stafford County, October 13th, 1751. RAN away from the Subscriber, this Day, a Servant Man, anmed William Frye...had on when he went away a bluish grey Kersey Coat, with yellow Buttons...The said Runaway went off with the Wife of the Subscriber, named Mary, a short, thick Woman of a dark Complexion, with black hair, black Eyes, aged about 30 Years, and has lost one of her front Teeth: She is a neat Woman in Sewing, Spinning, and knitting Stockngs, and can do almost any Manner of Taylors Work, but is oblig'd to use Spectacles when at Work. She took with her a striped Silk Stuff Gown...And, as the above-mentioned Mary has eloped from her said Husband, I hereby foreward all Persons from trusting her on my Account, for I will not pay any Debts she shall contract after the Publication hereof.

Virginia Gazette (Hunter), Williamsburg, October 31, 1751..

Saturday, January 11, 2020

1773 Portrait of an American Family

1773 John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Winslow (Jemima Debuke)

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Newspaper - 1736 Runaway Woman - Maryland Indentured Servant



RAN away, on the 30th of September last, from the City of Annapolis, ...a Servant Woman, named Sarah Miers, a Dutch Woman, and talks broken English, pretty Tall, Round Shoulder'd. Likely in the Face, and had a Flat Nose: They took with them some Wearing Apparel, viz. a dark Grey Coat trimm'd with Black, a Woman's Blue Cloak, fac'd with White Silk; a Seesucker Gown, one White Linen Ditto; one strip'd Calimanco Ditto, a brown Camblet Petticoat, a Woman's Bermuda hat, lin'd with Blue Silk, and several other Things, viz. Bedding, Linnen, and in particular a Red Rugg. They went in an old carvil Work Long-Boat, with one Mast, and a Square Sail.

Virginia Gazette (Parks), Williamsburg, From Friday, October 8, to Friday, October 15, 1736.
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Thursday, January 9, 2020

1775 Portrait of an American Family


1775 John Singleton Copley (1728-1815). Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Izard (Alice Delancey).

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Biography - 1708 Husband Rules Children & Wife - Virginia - Ann Walker


Ann Walker's Fight To Attend Church

In 1708, Ann Keith Walker (1637- a 1708) appeared before the all male Royal Governor and Council in Williamsburg, Virginia, in a continuing dispute between her and George Walker (c1640-1732), her husband, over their religious beliefs and practices.

Ann, a member of the Church of England who tried to attend services regularly, faced opposition from her husband. He tried to prevent her from attending the church of her choice, and he was also adamant in his determination to direct the religious education of their children.

Ann Keith & George Walker, both born in Virginia, had married in 1691. George was a boat pilot on the James River, a gunner, and a shopkeeper at Fort Point Comfort. Ann had produced twins Elizabeth & Margaret in 1692; Jacob in 1694; Helen in 1696; George in 1698; Sarah in 1700; and Frances in 1702.

Unable to resove their differences, husband and wife both complained to the governor and Council. She asked for full liberty to attend church, to pursue her religious beliefs, and to raise her children as members of the Church of England. He asked for confirmation of his authority as a father to direct the religious education of their children.

The governor and Council granted both requests in part. Ann Walker was allowed freedom to attend church as she wished; and George Walker, "as Long as he proffesses to Be a Christian and Continues in the Exercise of it," was allowed to direct the religious education of their children, retaining "that authority over his Children that properly Belongs to Every Christian man."

The Church of England was the established church in colonial Virginia; but by 1708, many Virginians were Presbyterians or Quakers, as some earlier Virginians had been Puritans and later many Virginians became Baptists or Methodists.

The case of Ann Walker demonstrates the importance of religious beliefs among early Virginians; how differences of religious opinion could divide members of a family; how such important differences affected the religious education of children; how family members might call on the government to settle such controversies; and how men ruled in 18th-century Virginia.

In this instance, the authority of the husband prevailed over the wishes of the mother, even though the mother was a confirmed & committed member of the Church of England, the official church of the British American colonies, and the father was not.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

1790s Portrait of an American Family


1790s John Brewster Jr (1766-1854). Dr. John Brewster & His Second Wife (Ruth Avery)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Thomas Jefferson's Wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson 1748-1782 & Her Half-Sister Sally Hemings 1773-1835

It gets a little complicated...

Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (1748-1782), was Thomas Jefferson's (1743-1826) wife. She was born in Virginia at The Forest, the Charles City County plantation of her father John Wayles (1715-1773) & his 1st wife, Martha Eppes (1721-1748), who died just a week after giving her birth. John Wayles was an attorney, slave trader, business agent for the Bristol-based tobacco exporting firm of Tarell & Jones, & wealthy plantation owner. In 1734, her father John Wayles, born in Lancaster, England, had sailed for the colonies alone at the age of 19, leaving his family in England. Her mother Martha Eppes was a daughter of Francis Eppes of Bermuda Hundred. She had already been widowed once, when John Wayles married her. As part of her dowry when she married John Wayles, Martha Jefferson’s mother Martha Eppes brought with her a personal slave, Susanna, an African woman who had an 11-year-old mixed-race daughter, Elizabeth Betty Hemings. John Wayles & Martha Eppes' marriage contract provided that Susanna & Betty were to remain the property of Martha Eppes & her heirs forever. The slave Betty Hemings & her children would eventually be inherited by Martha's daughter, Martha Wayles, by then married to Thomas Jefferson.

Martha Jefferson’s father John Wayles married a 2nd time, to Mary Cocke, who had 4 children. After Mary Cocke died, John Wayles married a 3rd time to Elizabeth Lomax Skelton, who died within 11 months & had no children from their union. 

After his 3rd wife died in 1761, he took the mulatto slave Elizabeth Betty Hemings (1735-1807) as his concubine & had 6 children with her. Born into slavery, these children were 3/4 European in ancestry, & they were half-siblings to Martha Wayles Jefferson. And those surviving eventually came to live at Monticello as slaves.
Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson had siblings:
From her father & stepmother Mary or Tabitha Cocke Wayles d 1759 - ,
Sarah Wayles (d. infancy), 
Elizabeth Wayles-Mrs Richard Eppes (1752-1810),
Tabitha Wayles-Mrs Robert Skipworth (1754-1851),
Anne Wayles-Mrs Henry Skipworth (1756-1852). 

From her father & his slave Elizabeth Betty Hemings - 
Nance or Nancy Hemings sold from T Jefferson's estate 1827 to Thomas Jefferson Randloph (slave, 1/2-brother 1761-a 1827),
Robert Hemings freed by T Jefferson in 1794 (slave, 1/2-brother 1760-1819 in Richmond, VA),
James Hemings freed by T Jefferson 1776 (slave, 1/2-brother 1765-1801 in Philadelphia, PA),
Thenia Hemings sold to James Monroe 1794 (slave, 1/2-sister 1767-a 1794),
Critta Hemings - Mrs Zachariah Bowles (slave, 1/2-sister 1769-a 1827 perhaps 1850),
Peter Hemings freed in T Jefferson's will (slave, 1/2-brother 1770-1834 in Albemarle, VA),
Sally Hemings (slave, 1/2-sister 1773-1835).
Betty Hemings also had several children born before those from her union with John Wayles. At Wayles death, the Jeffersons inherited her father’s slaves which had come into John Wayles' household with his marriage with her mother Martha Epps, including the Hemings family. The Hemings family members who came to Monticello had privileged positions, They were trained & worked as domestic servants, gardeners, chefs, & highly skilled artisans.

Just like her mother, Martha Wayley Jefferson had been widowed once, when Thomas Jefferson married her. She was married 1st to Bathurst Skelton on 20 November 1766. Their son, John, was born the following year, on 7 November 1767. Bathurst died on 30 September 1768. Although Thomas Jefferson may have begun courting the young widow in December 1770, while she was living again at The Forest with her young son, they did not marry until 1 January 1772, six months after the death of her young son John Skelton on 10 June 1771. Following their January 1, 1772 wedding, the Jeffersons honeymooned for about 2 weeks at her father's plantation The Forest, before setting out in a two-horse carriage for Monticello. They made the 100-mile trip in a horrible snowstorm. Just 8 miles from their destination, their carriage bogged down in 2–3 feet of snow. The newlyweds had to continue their journey on horseback. The 2 horses which had been pulling the carriage, now carried them. Arriving at Monticello late at night to find no fire, no food, & the slaves asleep, they toasted their new home with a leftover half-bottle of wine & "song & merriment & laughter." The couple settled into a freezing one-room, 20-foot-square brick building, they nicknamed "Honeymoon Cottage." Later known as the South Pavilion, it was to be their home, until Jefferson had completed the main house at Monticello.  

In his Memoirs of a Monticello Slave, Isaac described Mrs. Jefferson as small & said the younger daughter, Mary, was pretty "like her mother." Unfortunately, no contemporary portrait of Mary Jefferson Epps exists either. Slave Isaac Jefferson wrote that Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson was small & pretty. As to her disposition, the Marquis de Chastellux described her as, "A gentle & amiable wife. . ." & her sister's husband, Robert Skipwith, assured Jefferson that she possessed, ". . .the greatest fund of good nature. . .that sprightliness & sensibility which promises to ensure you the greatest happiness mortals are capable of enjoying." As a young girl Martha probably was educated at home by tutors. As a young woman, she was considered accomplished in music, painting & other refined arts. Hessian officer Jacob Rubsamen who visited Jefferson at Monticello in 1780, noted, "You will find in his house an elegant harpsichord piano forte & some violins. The latter he performs well upon himself, the former his lady touches very skillfully & who, is in all respects a very agreeable sensible & accomplished lady." During their courtship Jefferson had ordered a German clavichord for Martha, then changed his order to a pianoforte, "worthy the acceptance of a lady for whom I intend it." During her lifetime Martha Jefferson bore 7 children. Her son John, born during her first marriage, died at the age of 3, in the summer before she married Jefferson. Of the 6 children born during her 10 year marriage with Jefferson, only 2 daughters, Martha & Mary, would live to adulthood. Two daughters (Jane Randolph & Lucy Elizabeth) & an unnamed son died as infants. Her last child, also named Lucy Elizabeth, would die at the age of 2 of whooping cough. Martha herself lived only 4 months after the birth of this last child.
Martha "Patsy" Washington Jefferson Randolph (1772–1836)
Jane Randolph Jefferson (1774–1775)
Unnamed Son Jefferson (b./d. 1777)
Mary "Polly" Jefferson Eppes (1778–1804)
Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson (1780–1781)
Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson (1782–1785)

Before her death in September of 1782, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson copied the following lines from Laurence Sterne's Tristam Shandy: "Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity life follows my pen. The days & hours of it are flying over our heads like clouds of windy day never to return--more. Every thing presses on..." The exact cause of Martha's death is not known; however, a letter from Jefferson to the Marquis de Chastellux would indicate that she never recovered from the birth of her last child. Lucy Elizabeth was born May 8, & Martha died the following September. Jefferson noted in his account book for September 6, 1782, "My dear wife died this day at 11:45 A.M." In his letter to the Marquis de Chastellux, Jefferson refered to "...the state of dreadful suspense in which I had been kept all the summer & the catastrophe which closed it." He goes on to say, "A single event wiped away all my plans & left me a blank which I had not the spirits to fill up." Edmund Randolph reported to James Madison in September 1782, that "Mrs Jefferson has at last shaken off her tormenting pains by yielding to them, & has left our friend inconsolable. I ever thought him to rank domestic happiness in the first class of the chief good; but I scarcely supposed, that his grief would be so violent, as to justify the circulating report, of his swooning away, whenever he sees his children." Jefferson buried his wife in the graveyard at Monticello, & as a part of her epitaph added lines in Greek from Homer's The Iliad. "Εί δέ φανόντων περ καταλήφοντ ειν Αίδαο, Αύτάρ έγω κάκείθι φίλσ μεμνήσομ' έταίρσ." A modern translation reads: Even if I am in Hell, where the dead forget their dead, yet will I even there be mindful of my dear companion.  Below the Greek inscription, the tombstone reads: "To the memory of Martha Jefferson, Daughter of John Wayles; Born October 19th, 1748, O.S. Intermarried with Thomas Jefferson January 1st, 1772; Torn from him by death September 6th, 1782: This monument of his love is inscribed."

His wife's death left Jefferson distraught. After the funeral, he withdrew to his room for 3 weeks. Afterward he spent hours riding horseback through the woods on the hill surrounding Monticello. His daughter Martha wrote, "In those melancholy rambles I was his constant companion, a solitary witness to many a violent burst of grief." Half a century later his daughter Martha remembered his sorrow: "the violence of his emotion...to this day I not describe to myself." Not until mid-October, did Jefferson begin to resume a normal life, when he wrote, "emerging from that stupor of mind which had rendered me as dead to the world as was she whose loss occasioned it." In November of 1783, he agreed to serve as commissioner to France, eventually taking his older daughter Martha "Patsy" with him in 1784, & sending for Mary "Polly" later. Accompanying them in France was the family slave Sally Hemings.

Sally Hemings was lady’s maid to Jefferson’s daughters, & also worked as a chambermaid & seamstress. She spent 2 years in Paris, after accompanying 9-year-old Mary "Polly" Jefferson across the ocean. According to her son Madison, Sally Hemings began a relationship with Jefferson in Paris, & bore him a number of children. Although she was not freed by the terms of Jefferson's will, she was not among the slaves sold at the 1827 estate auction at Monticello. Jefferson's daughter Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph presumably gave Sally "her time," that is, freed her unofficially, so that she would not be subject to the 1806 Virginia law requiring freed slaves to leave the state within 1 year. Madison Hemings recalled that after Jefferson's death in 1826, he & his brother Eston took their mother to live with them in a rented house down in Charlottesville. Sally Heming would have been about 54 at that time, & she would live nearly a decade more.

The claim that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings burst into the public arena during Jefferson's 1st term as president, & it is still the subject of discussion & debate. In September 1802, political journalist James T. Callender, a failed office-seeker & former ally of Jefferson, wrote in a Richmond newspaper that Jefferson had for many years "kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves." "Her name is Sally," Callender claimed that Jefferson had "several children" by her.  Public knowledge of even the rumors that Jefferson had parented several slave children became a scandal during his Administration.

In 1873, the Pike County (Ohio) Republican, ran a series entitled, "Life Among the Lowly," Which included a memoir by Madison Hemings, a resident of Ross County, Ohio. Hemings stated that his mother Sally, who was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson & a slave of Thomas Jefferson, gave birth to 5 children "& Jefferson was the father of them all."  Madison Hemings said in 1873, that his mother had been pregnant with Jefferson's child (who, he said, lived "but a short time"), when she returned from France in 1789. 

Sally Hemings' children listed in Monticello records are -
Harriet (1795-1797),  
Beverly (born 1798), 
an unnamed daughter (born 1799; died in infancy), 
Harriet (born 1801), 
Madison (1805-1877), 
Eston (1808-1856). 

All 4 of Sally Hemings’s surviving known children became free close to their 21st birthdays. The oldest surviving son Beverly Hemings & his sister Harriet Hemings were allowed to leave Monticello without pursuit & apparently passed into white society. Their descendants have not been located. Their brothers Madison Hemings & Eston Hemings remained at Monticello until after Jefferson's 1826 death; both were freed in his will. As one DNA study indicates, the widower Jefferson & Martha Wayley Jefferson's half sister Sally Hemings parented at least one, possibly several illegitimate children, after the death of Martha Jefferson.  The Thomas Jefferson Foundation states on the Monticello webiste, "TJF & most historians now believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson's records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison, & Eston Hemings."

This article is based on information from the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia produced by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, based on Gaye Wilson, Monticello Research Report, October 10, 1998. 

Also see John Kukla, Mr. Jefferson's Women, (New York: Knopf Books, 2007)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Friday, January 3, 2020

1729 Portrait of an American Family

1729 John Smibert (American colonial era artist, 1688-1751). The Bermuda Group

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.

Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

NB For this posting I have excluded portraits of children only. Smibert's Bermuda Group was executed immediately before or after the artist entered or exited the American colonial experience.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

1792 Portrait of an American Family


1792 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Oliver Ellsworth (1745-1807) & Abigail Wolcott Ellsworth (1756-1818).

Family portraits are rare in the early 18C British American colonies, perhaps because they were expensive & usually so large, that they required a sizable public parlor for display. Most 18C colonial American houses were not spacious. Family portraits are also much more complicated for the artist, and there were few artists available in colonial America early in the 18C. But the incidence of family portraits grew, as the number of painters & spaces in homes also grew.

Some gentlemen had family portraits painted as a sign of wealth & as a factor in gaining respect & power in the new world. The painting announced that they were important, entitled to be the natural leader in the new society. Other family paintings commemorated a specific event. Most were not painted to be tucked away for private family contemplation, but to act as a public icon or an emblematic memory for an audience larger than the immediate family. The composition of family paintings was changing throughout the 18C as well.

The concept of family was evolving as emerging Enlightenment ideas began to impact everyday domestic life & family values in colonial America. Slowly throughout the century, the strict patriarchal family concept was beginning to change. English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) implied that women should have greater authority in the family & the home. In portraits, artists began to display the woman on nearly the same level as the husband.


Artists began to feel that they could portray married couples as congenial companions. Painters began to portray men participating more in the rearing of their children, they were no longer just expected to be distant strict disciplinarians. Americans were beginning to believe that children needed to be loved & to play. The individual was also becoming more important in 18th-century America. Artists often used props to signify something about the talents, skills, & identities of individuals within these families. In one way or another, each of the following portraits reflects changing patriarchal values, gender relations, attitudes towards women & children, and the growing democratization of American society. But women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.