‘Annapolis’ Category

 

#1. Washington, George

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was red headed. Does that surprise you? The image in my mind when I hear the name “George Washington” is of a rather somber fellow with powdered-white hair. After all, that’s the picture hanging in almost every classroom in the United States. In truth, this red-headed fellow had sparkling grey-blue eyes, was more than six feet tall, and was known for his great strength. If George were alive today, you’d want him at your parties. He was a bit reserved, but had a strong presence and was well respected. He was rugged; he loved horses and collected thoroughbreds. He loved to hunt – foxes, deer, ducks and other game. But George was also an excellent dancer and loved the theater. He drank in moderation but opposed excessive drinking, smoking, gambling, and profanity.

George was a good husband; when he married widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759 – he was 26, she was 27 – he assumed the role of husband, father to Martha’s two children Patsy and Jacky, and manager of Martha’s considerable estate. When Patsy died suddenly, George canceled all business dealings to stay by Martha’s side for three months. When Jacky died at the age of 26, George and Martha took in their grandchildren Nelly and Washy (George Washington Custis) and raised them. They never had children together, to the regret of both.

“Second shift” parenting was common at this point in history – one parent died, the other remarried, and children often grew up with half-siblings and a step-parent. Fortunes were gained through inheritance; land was the most desirable of assets. When George was born as the first child of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington in 1732, he had three older half-siblings from Augustine’s marriage to Jane Butler. Lawrence was 14, Augustine Jr was 12, and Jane was 10. George was just a year old when sister Betty was born; then Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, and Mildred by the time George was 7 years old. Augustine Washington was a prominent public figure; his own father had made a fortune in land speculation. When Augustine died in 1743, George, at the age of 11, inherited 10 slaves and Ferry Farm, near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Lawrence, age 25, inherited the land that became Mount Vernon.

George’s mother Mary never remarried, but chose to manage her land and raise her children on her own. She was unable to send George to school in England, where the older boys were educated; but George did learn mathematics, trigonometry, and land surveying and became a talented draftsman and map maker. George often visited Mount Vernon, and Belvoir, a plantation that belonged to Lawrence’s father-in-law William Fairfax. Fairfax became George’s patron; after George received a surveyor’s license from William & Mary College, Fairfax appointed him Surveyor of Culpepper County. George became familiar with the frontier region and by 1752, at the age of 20, had bought 1,500 acres in the Valley.

That’s how a career begins and a fortune builds; when Lawrence died George leased Mount Vernon from his widow; when she died he inherited the property. When George and Martha married in 1759 she and her children moved to Mount Vernon; it is where George died in 1799, and Martha in 1802; both are buried there. By occupation, George was a planter; he grew tobacco, wheat, and corn. He was counted among the social and political elite of Virginia; inviting guests to Mount Vernon; enjoying leisure time; and eventually becoming politically active.

Lest George’s life sound too peaceful and laid back, there were a few other things going on. For instance, George had an unbelievable military career. He fought in a lot of battles! He had two horses shot out from under him in the same battle! He had bullet holes in his coat and hat! He was a fighter, and he never, ever gave up! George was a Colonel in the Colonial forces; General and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and a Lieutenant General in the US Army. We’re familiar with the famous Emanuel Leutze painting of Washington Crossing The Delaware; it would take a gallery to house portraits of all the battles he fought, in all the different campaigns. To name a few:

French and Indian War (1754-1763; George was 22-31): Battle of Jumonville Glen – Battle of Fort Necessity – Braddock Expedition – Battle of the Monongahela – Forbes Expedition

American Revolutionary War (1775-1783: George was 43-51): Boston campaign – New York and New Jersey campaign – Philadelphia campaign – Yorktown campaign

His military service took place before his marriage to Martha and during; when the Treaty of Paris was signed in Annapolis in 1783, and Great Britain officially recognized the independence of the United States, George resigned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army with plans to retire to Mount Vernon, and a peaceful life with Martha.

It didn’t turn out that way. Before he returned to private life, he called for a strong union, sending a letter to all states saying that the Articles of Confederation were no more than a “rope of sand” linking the states. He believed the nation was on the verge of anarchy and confusion, and that a national constitution unifying the states under a strong central government was essential. You know your history – a Constitutional Convention, delegates from all states convened in Philadelphia, a new constitution was called for; continued discussion and disagreement until finally, on February 4, 1789, the state electors voted for a president. There was no quorum present to count the votes until April 5; the next day the votes were tallied and Congressional Secretary Charles Thomson was sent to Mount Vernon to tell George he had won the majority of every state’s electoral votes. John Adams received the second highest vote count, so would be vice-president.

Just think – no campaigning, no national TV debating; and most interesting of all – no desire to BE president of this newly emerging entity called the “United States.” George admitted to “anxious and painful sensations” about leaving Mount Vernon, but departed for New York City on April 16 to be inaugurated. He took the oath of office at Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789 at the age of 57. A crowd of 10,000 gathered; there was a parade complete with marching band, foreign dignitaries, and statesmen; the militia fired a 13-gun salute. George read a speech in the Senate Chamber, asking that “the Almighty Being who rules over the universe…consecrate the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States.”

These essays are not about the presidency, but rather the road TO the presidency, and the type of person who won the attention of the electorate. George is unique in that he didn’t set out to “be” president; but he did establish many basic principles that are expected of a president today. For example, unlike the kingly rulers of European countries, George did not want to be called “His Excellency” or “His Highness.” “Mr President” was ample title for him. Other executive precedents included an inaugural address, messages to Congress, and the Cabinet form of management. He refused a salary for serving his country; Congress however insisted and provided him with $25,000 annually to help defray costs.

George was an able administrator and a good judge of talent and character. He talked regularly with department heads, tolerated opposing views, and conducted a smooth transition of power to his successor. He was apolitical and opposed the formation of parties. Although he owned slaves, and supported measures passed by Congress to protect slavery, he later became troubled with the institution of slavery and freed his slaves in a 1799 will, with the provision that the old and young freed people be taken care of indefinitely and the young taught to read and write and placed in suitable occupations. He endeavored to assimilate Native Americans into Anglo-American culture but combated indigenous resistance during instances of violent conflict. He urged broad religious freedom in his roles as general and president, emphasizing religious toleration in a nation with numerous denominations. He publicly attended services of different Christian denominations and prohibited anti-Catholic celebrations in the Army. He engaged workers at Mount Vernon without regard for religious belief or affiliation. He was rooted in the ideas, values, and modes of thinking of the Enlightenment, but harbored no contempt of organized Christianity and its clergy, “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition.” He proclaimed November 26 as a day of Thanksgiving, always spending the day fasting and taking food to those in prison.

The president’s office was in New York for sixteen months; then moved to Philadelphia, where George and Martha lived from November 1790 to March 1797, before returning to their beloved Mount Vernon at the end of George’s presidency. On December 12, 1799, George inspected his farms on horseback in snow and sleet. He had a sore throat the following day but again went out in freezing, snowy weather to mark trees for cutting. Chest congestion and sore throat followed; he died swiftly on December 14, with Martha seated by his bed. He was 67. As word of his death traveled, church bells rang, businesses closed, and memorial processions were held in major cities. Martha wore a black mourning cape for a year.

George Washington’s legacy endures as one of the most influential in American history. He was called the “Father of His Country” as early as 1778. Congress proclaimed his birthday as a federal holiday in 1885. Many places and monuments have been named in honor of George Washington, most notably the nation’s capital, and the state of Washington. Twentieth-century biographer Douglas Freeman has stated: “The great big thing stamped across that man is character.” Historian David Fischer goes on to define that character as “integrity, self discipline, courage, absolute honesty, resolve, and decision; but also forbearance, decency, and respect for others.”

The mark for the leader of the United States was set high at the start. Which of the next 44 presidents measured up to that?

Which of those characteristics are important to you, as you cast your vote on November 3?

 

 
 
 

Am I Blue?

00.0.Box.cLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – When is the best time to put a jigsaw puzzle together? A rainy day seemed right, when Brother was visiting during Thanksgiving week. I pulled out the State Flags and Capitols box I’d been saving for just such a day and dumped all one thousand pieces onto the card table. Brother raised an eyebrow and shook his head. I let tiny puzzle pieces filter through my fingers, trying to think of a working plan. 00.27.Puzzle Pieces“What strategy should I use?” I asked. “Colors,” was his reply. Now, generally speaking, that is good jigsaw strategy. But when the picture is 50 state flags, well that’s when you discover that most state flags are blue. In fact, only four state flags don’t have at least a touch of blue in them – Alabama, California, Maryland, and New Mexico.

The puzzle pieces sat in a pile for several days, as I half-heartedly tried to sort blue from blue from blue. After brother left, I raked everything back into the box and headed for my sewing basket. Being heavily dependent on Excel spreadsheets to help me organize almost everything in life, I grabbed a spool of thread and the scissors and with a little Scotch tape turned the 02.Puzzle. Stringscard table into Columns and Rows. Then I put Post-Its into each section marking which state fit where. Aha! I dug into those thousand pieces again looking for words. “Mon” went into the Montana section, “sas” into the Arkansas slot; I was on a roll! How many flags have outspread eagle wings? Just two – Iowa and North Dakota. Plop plop. The palm tree went to Hawaii; the horses to Pennsylvania, the bison belonged to Wyoming. The challenge began to be fun, and (with magnifying glass in hand) I began to notice the details within the flags. I didn’t expect to have a learning experience, but that is exactly what happened. In my two-year Journey to 50 states, I didn’t pay much attention to the state flags. But suddenly I realized that flags are the story-telling devices of the state. And I love a good story! » read more

 
 
 

Staying Alive And The Final Five

06 12 days of christmas treeLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – Psychologically we love countdowns. We count down the twelve days till Christmas. We countdown rocket launches, till we arrive at blastoff, or the mission is scrubbed. We countdown the Final Four in basketball every spring, when the world of college sports reaches fever pitch. I counted down the days in the month before my 16th birthday; I was on pins and needles to get my driver license; something everyone in my little town did back in the 50s when all the cars had fins and all the girls wore bobby socks. The year I went to Antarctica – that was 2005 – I counted off the weeks till my Seattle departure at Pagliacci Pizza. I happened to go for a Friday 06 pizza logonight pizza at the 17-week point and noticed they had 17 pizzas on their menu. “Aha,” I thought, “if I begin with the Original, when I get to the Verde Primo it will be time to fly to South America.” I called for grandson help on big-meat pizza nights; Matthew for Spicy Pepperoni; Andrew for Extra Pepperoni; both of them on Grand Salami Primo night. The AGOG was my favorite – mushrooms, roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, goat cheese, Fontina, Mozzarella and parsley over olive oil; fresh tomato slices added after the bake. The journey through the Pagliacci menu 06 Alex on suitcasewas an experience; I developed new tastes, and learned some things I didn’t know before. I dealt with whatever came next; I adapted as needed. You know where I’m going with that thought. Annapolis finishes the countdown through the Final Five; the Journey Across America is 100% complete. This mission wasn’t scrubbed; we made it all the way (adapting as needed) – the Scion, the cats, and me. We’re travelworn and frazzled, but completely AGOG with success. » read more

 
 
 

Her Name Is Joy

01 Linda Virgin MaryLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – “I’m definitely celebrating today,” I confided to the woman beside me on the bench. We were waiting for a table at Miss Shirley’s, where you couldn’t stir the brunch crowd with a stick and most of the conversations were celebrating football wins. She was from Savannah; her brother lived in Athens; she was beaming about Georgia’s victory over Tech; 41-34. Her husband, who was graciously standing so I could sit, was from Florida; he was equally pleased with FSU; Seminoles 37 – Gators 7. I’d watched Saturday’s football too; not the least concerned that the Crimson Tide would do its usual thing, and win the Iron Bowl. But, in the craziest ending in the history of football, a last-second 100-yard run by Auburn’s Chris Davis put a different result in the record books; Auburn 34 – Alabama 28. A shocker, yes; but even that couldn’t dampen my mood this week; I’d been overjoyed since Friday and that was that. I moved the conversation from football to the reason for my happiness. “Annapolis is my 50th! I made it! I actually frigging made it to all 50 capital cities!” This brought a puzzled look; I handed her a card showing my name and website address and went on to explain the 01 front folks miss shirleysJourney, the research, and the cats. “Well that is awesome,” she grinned, just as their table was called. “I didn’t get your names,” I said as they walked away. “My name is Joy and this is ….” was all I heard as they rounded the corner. My table was ready shortly; I settled in and ordered a Spicy Shirley like I’d seen up front; holiday red; unbelievably huge. A couple soon was seated to my right; another to my left; my Fried Green Tomato appetizer arrived; the party was on. » read more

 
 
 

By George

29 cupolaLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – Before you read this post, look at the column to the right. On the dark blue background is a list of capital cities. Count them. You will find 50 capital cities listed now, because at 2:26 PM today, the cats and I arrived in Annapolis, capital city #50 on the Journey Across America. By George, we made it! I parked in front of the Robert Johnson building on the tight little circle street that surrounds the Maryland State House, and jumped out to record the moment with pictures. When I got back Jack was sitting on top of his carrier, 29 car by capitolwatching people walk by on the sidewalks of Annapolis; Alex was perched like a king on his pillow, unimpressed. “Do you think you’re King George?” I laughed. “You don’t want to acknowledge the feisty colonists?” It felt as though King George could be lurking around the corner; if, that is, King George had ever left England, and, if there weren’t so many 21st-century automobiles crowding the narrow brick-paved streets. We were in what is officially named the “Colonial Annapolis Historic District,” where 18th-century buildings remain much as they were when built. To my left the Maryland State House occupies the city’s highest hill; from that point all streets radiate outward; dropping down towards the 29 capitol approachwaterfront; leading in the other direction towards the countryside. One thing is clear; when this city was laid out, it was intended that all roads lead to the focal point of government – the Maryland State House, the “oldest in the nation still in legislative use” as it so proudly claims. And here the presence of our most beloved “George” remains – George Washington, of course. “This is a living history book,” I said to the cats. “It comes together here.” » read more