To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Philadelphia        24 February 1794

    On Saturday about half after twelve we went from the Hall1 to the House of the President2 to congratulate him on his birth day—He was standing in the middle of the room, & bowed politely to every one as we entered; & after we had all got into the room he familiarly thanked us for the honor we had done him, and expressed his wishes that we might each of us experience of our own aniversarys, & find much pleasure in them all—After walking socially among the company & enquiring about the health &c of the individuals, He oped a door leading into another apartment, & smiling asked us if we were disposed for a little cake & wine by way of refreshment—The cake was round & nearly three feet diamiter, & one in thickness his wine was excellent & punch high flavored We all joined in the conviviality, the President mingling and partaking with the company—We tarried about twenty minutes & took leave—Some of the company went up stairs & made a bow to Mrs. [Martha] Washington—who appeared pleased with this mark of attention—Every body seemed pleased & in good spirits—But as I came out of the door, some body in company asked if I would go & see Citizen [Edmond-Charles] Genet—& another replied, that he had concealed himself & did not see company—This gave a turn of melancholly reflections on the sudden changes & great reverses of fortune—Genet had that morning been superceeded in his Ministerial capacity by Mr. Faucet who, just before we waited upon the President, had had his Audience as Minister from France.3

    Citizen Genets reign of Glory has been short; he came to South Carolina last spring, & from thence to Philadelphia he recieved the congratulations & praises of the people—But now, by change of party in France, he is denounced & ordered home for a trial—And should he go, & the present party there continue to govern there are ten chances to one that he looses his head.4

    From hence I went to the Senate chamber where I saw the full pictures of the late King & Queen of France, in their royal Robes!5 This continued my reflections on the uncertainty of human felicity when founded on sources from without the mind—And I went home happy in thinking my sources of pleasure are such as are but little subjected to whim & caprice of Fortune Death & sickness are the certain fate of all, & therefore can hardly be called the effects of Fortune. Let us then be prepared for the former—and guard ourselves with patience to support the latter, & our happiness will be placed out of Fortunes reach.

    fig. 7. “Back of the State House,” by William Birch & Son (1799). Courtesy of Independence National Historical Park. This image—one of a popular series of twenty-seven scenes engraved by William Birch for his City of Philadelphia . . . in the Year 1800—shows the State House (now “Independence Hall”) without its iconic steeple, which was removed in 1781 and not replaced until 1828. Birch captures the lively recreational uses of the State House Yard, including a tour by a visiting delegation of Native Americans.

    Inclosed is a ten dollar Bill—What money you dont need for other purposes, you will purchase corn & grain with—if you can get it reasonably—

    I remain pretty well—& in good spirits. I continue yet to drink Cyder as heretofore—

    Kiss all the children, & believe me to be my dear, yours &c

    * * *

    ALS, TFP