A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at the house of the American Academy of Arts and. Sciences, No. 28 Newbury Street, Boston, on Thursday, 25 February, 1915, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Frederick Jackson Turner, LL.D., in the chair.

    The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported that a letter had been received from Mr. Samuel Henshaw accepting Resident Membership.

    Mr. Augustus George Bullock of Worcester, and the Hon. Winslow Warren of Dedham, were elected Resident Members; and Mr. Charles McLean Andrews of New Haven, Connecticut, was elected a Corresponding Member.

    Mr. John Trowbridge read a letter written by Washington dated 22 March, 1781, accepting fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.31

    Mr. William R. Thayer read a paper on John Hay’s connection with the McKinley Presidential campaign, the English Mission, and the Spanish War.

    Mr. Fred N. Robinson spoke of a Gaelic poem by Thomas O’Meehan, written apparently about 1779, in which Washington and John Paul Jones are referred to.

    Mr. Worthington C. Ford communicated a Diary kept by Washington at Mount Vernon from 1 August to 18 October, 1786.32


    August 1 — October 18, 1786

    AUGUST — 1786


    Mercury at 67 in the Morning 69 at noon and 66 at Night. Morning heavy and sometimes mizzling but clear afterwards till night when the clouds assembled and rained the whole night, sometimes very fast. Wind at East.

    Mrs Fendall, Harriot Washington,33 and Lucy Lee (a child) — Colo Fitz-Gerald,34 Colo Simms,35 Captn Conway,36 Messrs Saml and, Thos Hanson37 & Mr Charles Lee came here to dinner, all of whom, except the 3 first named, went away after it.


    Mercury at 65 in the Morning 70 at noon and 70 at N. Much rain had fallen in the night. The day was variable, but generally cloudy with fine rain about 10 or 11 o’clock which lasted more than an hour after which the sun came out but for a short duration.

    Rid to Mudy hole, but proceeded no further as, at the time I was there the appearances of a wet day were greater.


    Mercury at 72 in the Morning 75 at noon, and 76 at night. A good deal of rain fell last night — the day for the most part was cloudy and warm, altho’ the wind blew pretty fresh from the East. In the afternoon there was again the appearance of much rain but none fell here.

    Rid to the plantations at the Ferry, Dogue run, and Muddy hole at the first fd the drilled com had been wed with the Hoes and the People were cleansing the Meadow ditches. & that the plows had done with the corn till seeding with wheat I set them to plowing that part of the New Ground which had been gone over with the Colter plow with a view of sowing Turnips therein.

    Turned the two old draft oxen at Home house, one of the old cows from ditto, and Steer, & cows from Dogue run into the Meadows at that place, at the same time put my rams into the same place, & 25 ewe Lambs on the clover at Muddy hole, where I ordered the work horses to be put.

    My Overseer returned from a Mr Reynolds in Calvert Cty Maryland with one ram & 15 ewe lambs of the English breed of sheep wch I ordered to be turned into the same place.

    In the evening Richd Sprig38 Esqr of Annapolis & another Mr Sprig came in and stayed all night.


    Mercury at 72 in the Morning, 77 at noon, and 74 at night.

    The appearances of rain yesterday afternoon fell very heavily about Ravensworth & that part of the county occasioning greater freshes in Accatinck, Pohick & Hunting ck. than had been known for many years, & it is thought a good deal of damage to the crops of corn & other grain on the grd

    Rid to the Plantations in the Neck, Muddy hole and Dogue run and dined afterwards at Mr Lund Washington’s with Mrs Washington Colo Humphreys,39 & Mrs. Fendall, and Major Washington (who had first been to Alexa on business) and his wife.40 Some showers this afternoon. At the Neck plantation the Plows had, on Monday last finished plowing the drilled corn East cut, and would this day have compleated all the other corn except the cut on the River in wch Wheat will be first sowed.


    Mercury at 71 in the Morning — at noon 79 and 79 at night. Clear & very warm all day.

    Went to Alexandria to a meeting, of the Directors of the Potomac Compy in order to prepare the acct, and a report for the genl Meeting of the Co on Monday next. — Neither of the Maryland Gents attended. Dined at Wises Tavn

    Finished weeding the drilled corn at Muddy hole this day.


    Mercury at 75 in the Morng 84 at noon and 79 at Night. Clear and tolerably pleasant.

    At home all day without Company.


    Mercury at 72 in the Morning 78 at noon and 77 at Night.

    Went to Alexandria to the General meeting of the Potomack Co Colo Humphreys accompanied me, a sufficient number of sharers being present to constitute the Meeting, the Accts of the Directors were exhibited and a general report made, but for want of the Secretary’s Books which were locked up and he absent the orders and other proceedings referred to in that report could not be exhibited.41


    Mercury at 78 in the Morning 79 at noon and 75 at night. Wind Southerly and day warm, especially the fore part of it. In the evening there were appearances of settled rain, enough of which fell to make the eves of the House run but it was of short continuance.

    Rid by Muddy hole plantation to my meadow in the Mill swamp; and leveled from the old dam, just below Wades Houses, to the head of the Old race by the stooping red oak; stepping 27½ yds or as near as I could judge five rods between each stake, which are drove in as follows. — 1 at the water edge where I begun, and levl with the surface thereof; two in the old race (appearances of which still remain) and a fourth by a parcel of small Persimon bushes after having just passed the Bars leading into the Meadows, the others at the distance above mentioned from each other to the stooping red oak.


    Stake in, & levl with ye water






















    by Bars.






























































































    ditto into Ditch


    Total rise


















    By this it appears that the ground from the level of the water at the old dam by Wades Houses to the race by the stooping red oak, is higher by two feet (wanting half an inch) than the bottom of the race in its present filled up state, is, and that the ditch, on old race must be considerably sunk. — The old dam considerably raised and strengthened in order to throw the water into the new ditch, or a dam made higher up the run, so as to gain a greater fall which of the three may be most eligable as it will, without any great additional expence drain a good deal more of the swamp, — but if it should be thought more eligable deepening the race, and raising the dam will carry of the water from the meadow below but then it may drain the land above.

    At Muddy hole — the hands finished hoeing the drilled corn — on Saturday, last and on Monday & this day were employed in getting out wheat.

    In the evening Mr. Fitzhugh of Chatham and Mr. Robt Randolph came here from Ravensworth.42

    Wednesday — 7th

    Mercury at 74 in the Morning 81 at noon and 77 at night. Wind Southerly — Morning a little lowering but clear afterwards till about 3 o’clock when a cloud in the west produced a pretty heavy shower of rain attended with a good deal of wind in a short space. — In the night it again rained.

    Began to sow wheat at the Ferry and in the neck, yesterday. — at the first in the cut on the flat adjoining the drilled corn, and at the other in the cut on the river.

    Finished clearing two stacks of wheat which had been tread out at Muddy hole each measured 24 bushels of light wheat weighing only — ℔s pr Bushel.

    Thursday 10th

    Mercury at 73 in the Morn’g. 74 at noon and 70 at night.

    Wind at No Et with mists and very light showers till towards noon when the sun came out — warm till towards the afternoon when it grew cooler & pleasanter.

    Rid to Muddy hole, Dogue run and ferry Plantations, at the first of which wheat seeding will commence to morrow — at the second things are not in order for it, and at the third the sowing has been stopped by the heavy rain which fell yesterday.

    Mr Fitzhugh and Mr Randolph went away after Breakfast.


    Mercury at 68 in the Morning 76 at noon, and 74 at night. Clear & pleasant with the wind at So West.

    Rid to Muddy hole and Dogue run Plantations at the first, sowing wheat began this morning. — at the latter I agreed with one James Lawson who was to provide another hand to ditch for me in my mill swamp upon the following terms. — viz. — to allow them every day they work, each 1 ℔ of Salt or 1½ of fresh meat pr day 1¼ ℔ of brown bread, 1 pint of spirits and a bottle of Milk, the bread to be baked at the House, & their meat to be cooked by Morris’s wife, and to allow them 16d pr rod for ditches of 4 feet wide at top 1 foot wide at bottom, and 2 feet deep; with 12 or 15 inches footing and 2/ for ditches of 6 feet wide at top 2 feet at bottom, and two ft deep with equal footing.

    On My return home found Mr John Barns and Doctr Craik43 here the last of whom returned to Alexandria — the other stayed all night.


    Mercury at 72 in the Morning, 79 at noon and 74 at night. Warm, with a tolerably brisk Southerly wind all day.

    Mr. Barnes went away before Breakfast. After which I rid to my meadow in order to mark out a middle ditch, and to try how much the water within the meadow is above the water in the run below where the two courses of it unite, below the old mill Seat and which is found to be realy 3 feet; estimating between the surfaces of the two. It also appears that the meadow, just by where a breach is made in the dam, is as low as any part of it reckoning from the surface of the water (from the bottom of the bed of the run would undoubtedly be deeper) — and that from this place to the surface of the run at a turn of it by a spreading Spanish bush the rise is about fourteen Inches.

    Thomas McCarty left this yesterday, it being found that he was unfit for a House hold Steward. Richard Burnet took his place on the wages of Thirty pounds pr ann.


    Mercury at 69 in the Morning 70 at noon and 69 at night.

    Day lowering with the wind at East, now and then a little sprinkle of rain but not enough to wet the roots of anything.

    Mr Shaw44 quitted this family today. Colo Humphreys, Geo. Washington & Wife went to Church at Alexandria today & dined with Mr. Fendall,45 the first remained there all night.


    Mercury at 72 in the Morn’g. 73 at noon — and 70 at night. Day clear, and the wind fresh from the No West, from morn till eve.

    Went by way of Muddy hole & Dogue run plantations to the meadow, in my mill Swamp to set the Ditchers to work, only one of whom appeared. About noon he began on the side ditch, East of the meadow. After doing this, and levelling part of the ground (with a Rafter level) along which the ditch was to be cut I intended to have run a course or two of Fencing at Muddy hole but meeting with Genl Duplessis46 in the road who intended47 to Mt Vernon but had lost his way I returned home with him, where Colo Humphreys had just arrived before us.


    Mercury at 64 in the Morning 70 at noon and 65 at night. Cool & for the most part of the day lowering with but little wind.

    At home all day — Doctr Stuart48 & Mr Keith, deputed by the Potomack Co to present its thanks to the President & directors thereof came for that purpose, dined here, & returned in the Afternoon.


    Mercury at 66 in the Morning 71 at noon — and 70 at night. Cloudy and lowering for the greater part of the day and in the night a good deal of rain fell. — Wind at So. West.

    Colonels Fitzgerald and Lyles,49 Mr Brailsford (an English Gentleman) and Mr Perrin came here to dinner & returned afterwards, in the afternoon a Major Freeman who looks after my concerns West of the Alligany mountains came in and stayed all night.


    Mercury at 68 in the morning 74 at noon — and 70 at night. Drizling morning with the wind at So. West, Cloudy and misting at times all day.

    About breakfast time my Baggage which had been left at Gilbert Simpson’s arrived here.

    Settled acct with Major Freeman and engaged him to continue his agency till he should remove from his present residence to Kentucke. and then to put all my bonds into the hands of Lawyer Smith to bring suits on.

    At home all day, understood that the river cut at the neck had been sowed with wht


    Mercury at 70 in the Morning, 74 at noon and 72 at night. Misty morning with light showers of rain through the day. — Wind at No East.

    Rid to the plantations at the Ferry, Dogue run, Muddy hole, and to the Mill, the hands at each place working on the Public roads — at Dogue run the Plows and Hoes began to put in wheat on Wednesday last.

    The ditcher at the meadows wd by noon have compleated about 6 rod of the 6 feet ditch which would be about 1 rod and half pr day.

    A Mr Jno Dance recommended by Genl Mifflin,50 & Willing Morris & Swanwick came here to offer his services to me as a manager but not Wanting such a person he returned after dinner.


    Mercury at 69 in the Morning 72 at noon and 70 at night. Wind Easterly misting, and lowering in the forenoon but clear afterwards.

    General Duplessis left this by 5 o’clock in the morning.

    After Breakfast I accompanied Colo Humphreys by water to Alexandria and dined with him at Captn Conways to whom he had been previously engaged. The Tools & Baggage of Mr Rawlin’s workmen were carried to Alexandria in my Boat today.

    Sunday — 20th

    Mercury at 69 today morn’g. at 74 at noon and 70 at night. Very little wind at any period of the day — lowering for the most part and in the morning a little misty.


    Mercury at 69 in the morning, 79 at noon — and 76 at night, clear and warm with but little.

    Rid to the Plantations at Dogue run, Muddy hole & Ferry. — at the second the Hoes & Plows had just finished putting in wheat in the middle cut, which took —— bushels to sow it, after which they were ordered to thin the drilled turnips & to weed the carrots.

    Tuesday — 22nd

    Mercury at 72 in the Morning, 85 at noon — and 82 at night, very warm with little or no wind, & that southerly. — In the evening clouds with appearances of much rain but not a great deal fell at any of my plantations, more at Dogue run than elsewhere.

    Finished sowing the middle cut in the large field in the neck to do which took —— bushls of grain, as it did —— bushels to seed the river side cut.

    Mr Jenifer came here to dinner yesterday — and Mr Wm Craik and his Sister (Miss Craik) came in the afternoon.51 Doctr Craik came in before breakfast, after which he, his son & Daughter went away.

    Wednesday — 23d

    Mercury at 72 in the morning, 86 at noon and 84 at night. Quite Calm and exceedingly sultry, very clear.

    Rid to my Plantations at Muddy hole, Dogue run and Ferry, also to the mill.

    Colo Humphreys went away today to take the stage at Alexandria for the No Ward.

    Mr. & Mrs Fendall — Mr. Charles Lee, Miss Flora & Miss Nancy Lee, Miss Compton & Harriot Washington came here to dinner, all of whom went away after it, except the 4 last named.

    Having wed the Carrots and thinned the Turnips at Muddy hole I directed the people to sow some wheat in the cut adjoining the middle one which had been put into brine.

    Thursday — 24th

    Mercury at 76 in the Morning — 77 at noon and 70 at night. Wind pretty fresh from the Northward all day with appearances of rain in the forenoon. In the afternoon there were slight showers, but scarcely more than would make the eves of the House run.

    Mr. Shaw came down before dinner and stayed all night. At home all day myself.


    Mercury at 68 in the morning, 70 at noon — and 69 at night. Lowering all day with slight showers about 1 o’clock; with distant thunder in the evening there were still greater appearances of a settled rain.

    Mr. Shaw went to Alexandria after breakfast in order to proceed to the Northward to embark at Philadelphia for the West. Inds

    I rid to Muddy hole and Dogue run Plantations, at the first I marked out lines for a new partition of My fields and directed the best plowman at it to break up about 10 acres of Pasture land which had produced wheat the year of 1785; to try how it would yield (upon a single plowing) wheat next, sowed this fall.

    At Dogue run meadow (mill swamp) I marked the middle ditch for the hired men to work on, while the season was proper.

    Mr Rawlins from Baltimo; and Mr Sharp came here before dinner to measure the work which had been done for me and to receive payment.

    Saturday — 26th

    Mercury at 68 in the Morning 77 at noon — and 73 at night. A great deal of rain in many hard showers fell in the course of last night. Morning cloudy, but clear afterwards and warm.

    Rid to the neck, Muddy hole, and Ferry plantations. At the two first (as also at Dogue run Plantation) the Plows and Hoes were stopped by the earth being surcharged with water. At the Ferry, the cut of corn on the Hill having discharged the water more freely the People were putting in Wheat there.

    On my return home found Mr. Geo. Fitzhugh (son of Colo Wm Fitzhugh of Maryland) here. They dined & returned to Alexandria afterwards as did the Miss Lees & Miss Countee this Morn’g.

    Sunday — 27th

    Mercury at 67 in the Morning, 70 at noon and 69 at night.

    Weather clear and very pleasant the wind being pretty fresh from the No West point. At home all day alone.


    Mercury at 64 in the Morning 72 at noon and 70 at night. The forenoon clear, but lowering afterwards, with a slight sprinkling of rain about dusk. Wind at No Et all day.

    Just after we had breakfasted, and my horse was at the door for me to ride, Colonel & Mrs Rogers came in, when they sat down to breakfast which was prepared for them, I commenced my ride for Muddy hole, Dogue run & Ferry Plantations also to my meadow on Dogue run and the Mill. At Muddy hole and the Ferry a plow at each begun this day to break ground, for the purpose of sowing wheat, or rye, or both as shall be thought best.

    The Ditchers (for one was added to James Lawson today) began the middle ditch in the meadow at the mill this morning, and my carpenters began to take up the forebay52 at my Mill this morning also.

    Began to level the unfinished part of the lawn in front of my House.

    Tuesday — 29th

    Mercury at 69 in the morning, 81 at noon — and 80 at night.

    Lowering morning with drops of Rain — clear afterwards till the afternoon when a cloud arose in the No West quarter and extending very wide emitted after dark a great deal of rain with much thunder and lightning. Wind very brisk from the so West all day — In the evening it shifted more to the Westward.

    Plowed up the Cowpens on the left of the road in order to sow Turnips but was prevented by the rain. Spreading stable dung on the poorest parts of my clover at home.

    Thatching the Hay stacks at the same place.

    Taken with an ague about 7 o’clock this Morning which being succeeded by a smart fever confined me to the House till evening. Had a slight fit of both on Sunday last but was not confined by them.

    Colonel and Mrs Rogers left this about 10 o’clock for George Town, on their way to Baltimore.

    Lund Washington called in to inform me that Mr William Triplet would be here tomorrow to converse with me on the subject of renting Mrs. French’s53 Lands in this Neck now in the occupation of one Robinson.


    Mercury at 69 in the Morning, 68 at noon, and 62 at night. More rain fell last night and this forenoon Wind at East.

    Prevented riding in the Morning by the weather. About noon Mr Willm Triplet & Mr. L. Washington came in and after a great deal of conversation respecting the Renting of Mrs French’s Land, and the purchase of Manley’s it ended in postponement till Friday for further consideration.

    Thursday — 31st

    Mercury at 60 in the Morning 63 at noon and 62 at night. More rain last night & this forenoon. With heavy weather all day. — Wind Easterly.

    Seized with an ague before six o’clock this morning after having laboured under a fever all night.

    Sent for Doctr Craik who arrived just as we were setting down to dinner; who when he thought my fever sufficiently abated, gave me a cathartick and directed the Bark to be applied in the Morning.

    SEPTEMBER — 1786


    Mercury at 62 in the morning 68 at noon, and 65 at night. A heavy dull Morning with little wind, close and warm all day, at least till abt 2 o’clock when the wind sprung up from the Eastward.

    Doctr Craik went away after Breakfast. About 10 O’clock I set out for Mr Triplets called upon Lund Washington. Mrs French required more time for consideration before she could determine to give a lease for her life, but he agreed to sell me Manleys Land, on the following terms: viz. —

    I to pay three pounds pr acre, and to pass my bond therefor, payable on demand with an interest of 5 pr Ct pr ann. till discharged. The money not to be called for only as the children come of age, or may require it. When the interest becomes due my Bond to be given for the same in order that the sum may be accumulating for their benefit instead of paying the cash.

    In returning home I passed by my meadow at the mill — Dogue run & Muddy hole plantations found that the rains had been so constant & heavy that that an entire stop had put to the sowing of wheat among the corn, and to my ditching in the middle of the meadow at the mill, but that the grds which I had ordered to be broke up at the Ferry and Muddy hole and on the neck was advancing very well. Took 8 dozes of the red bark today.

    Saturday — 2d

    Mercury at 66 in the morning 72 at noon and 70 at night. Foggy morning but clear and warm afterwards with the wind at So West.

    Kept close to the House today being my fit day in course, least any exposure might bring it on. happily missed it.

    Sowed Turnip Seed on the Cowpen ground which had been just plowed, harrowed them in, at the home house adjoining the clover.

    Doctr Craik came here in the afternoon & stayed all night.


    Mercury at 70 in the morning 82 at noon, and 80 at night. Very thick fog in the morning but clear afterwards and warm with the wind at South.

    Majr Washington & Mr Lear54 went to Pohick Church, dined at Colo McCarty’s, and returned afterwards, I rid by the Ferry to the Mill and back by way of exercise Doctr Craik returned after he had breakfasted to Alexandria.


    Mercury at 74 in the morning 86 at noon, and 82 at night.

    Clear and very warm with scarcely a breath of wind all day & that from the Southward.

    Majr Washington went up to Alexandria on my business & did not return till night.

    I rid to Muddy hole & Dogue run Plantations, and to the Mill and meadow, at Muddy hole the Overseer began this morning to sow wheat again among Corn, but the ground was full wet and heavy for it — at Dogue run the People were repairing my outer Fences. Too much wet in the meadow to work on the middle ditch the ditchers proposed doing it tomorrow if the water contind to subside.


    Mercury at 76 in the Morning 86 at noon and 80 at night.

    Very warm with but little wind and that Southerly.

    Rid to the neck and Muddy hole Plantations — at the first though unnoticed at the time the cut adjoining the drilled corn had been sowed with wheat ever since Tuesday last. — and this day (having taken the seed from it 14½ Bushls) the Flax was spread but not well the weeds not being sufficiently cut & taken off to let it lye well on the Earth. — At Muddy hole finished all the wheat sowing in Corn Ground I intended, viz 19 Bushels in the cut adjoining the drilled corn & 14 in the other East of it. The remainder of this latter cut being designed for Rye.

    Mr. Wm Peake dined here.


    Mercury at 76 in the morning 76 at noon and 72 at night.

    Variable day, wind, what there was of it, Southerly in the forenoon & warm, tho’ cloudy — No Westerly afterwards and cool, with, sprinkling of Rain & great appearances of more but none fell.

    Rid to my Plantations at the Ferry, Dogue run & Muddy hole also to the Mill & the meadow where the Ditchers were at work, at the two first the People were sowing wheat again in corn ground, at Dogue run two acres of turf had been plowed up agreeably to my former orders to sow wheat on, this was done yesterday & the day before. The Lands plowed in the same way, tho’ not so well turfed, some of it being wheat stubble of the last year and the remainder in what the year before I directed to be immediately sowed; the latter with wheat, and the former with Rye and thereafter the plowing of every day to [be] sowed & harrowed in before night, that no rain might intervene between the plowing and sowing. Timothy seeds were ordered to be sowed therewith and after the grain was harrowed in to be brushed in with a bush harrow, — these directions applied to the Ferry Muddy hole, & Neck ye first & last by having rye to sew & the other both Wheat & rye. Note. the Rye at the ferry to be sowed in this way, is on wht land of the last year and not on stubble of the last year as mentioned above.

    Mr Rozer — a Mr Hall, & a Mr Mathews from the Eastern shore dined here and returned in the Afternoon, after which Mr & Mrs Fendall, came in on their [way to] Esquire Lees of Maryland (who is very ill) & stayed all night.

    Thursday — 7th

    Mercury at 64 in the morning. 71 at noon. — and 67 at night. Cool Morning with the wind pretty fresh from the Westward in the morning and from the eastward in the evening.

    Mr & Mrs Fendall crossed the [river] early.

    I rid to the Plantations at Muddy hole, Dogue run and Ferry at the first wheat had, this day been sowed up to the Land in whch the Plow was at work & harrowed in. — the part next the hedge row (being the first plowed) had received a heavy rain since it was plowed which occasioned it not to harrow well, but as the greater part of it was a slipe of Cowpens it is more than probable, nevertheless that the best wheat will grow there. The People making a fence round that field.

    At Dogue run the hands had been employed in putting in abt 1½ bushls of — the cape wheat raised below my stables. — This was put into a well cowpened piece of ground (now in corn) adjoining the meadow, the grass & weeds of which I had cut up & carried off the ground before the seed was sowed.

    Getting out Rye at the Ferry to sow the newly broken up grd

    Began to Paper the yellow room this day — Majr Washington & Thos Green the undertakers — by the directions I received with the paper from England.

    Friday — 8th

    Mercury at 60 in the morning 69 at noon — and 64 at night Wind Easterly all day and cool with a rawness in the air.

    Rid into the neck, and called at Muddy hole, found at the former that the last years cut of wheat surrounding the meadow would be nearly broke up for rye by the evening, and that that part of it South of the meadow adjoining the gate had been sowed with 2½ bushels of Rye — which was nearly harrowed in, and that the rest of the hands were employed in hoeing the drilled Turnips & in weeding & hilling the Cabbages between the Corn rows.


    Mercury at 62 in the morning, 72 at noon — and 68 at Nt A brisk North easterly wind all day, with great appearances of rain but none fell.

    Rid to the Plantations at Muddy hole, Dogue run, and Ferry & went also to the Mill. At the latter, rye & Grass seed (Timothy) would be sowed on all the land that is plowed. Sowing rye on the plowed wheat stubble in the same manner at Muddy hole.55

    On my return home from riding found Mr. William Triplett here, who delivered me the papers respecting Manley’s land for which I had agreed with him, and who informed me that Mrs French had consented to rent me her Dower Land & Slaves in this Neck during her life and to assign Robinson’s Lease to me on the same terms Robinson holds — viz. — £136 pr Ann. to be paid to her clear of all expenses. I am not to move the Negroes out of the County, and a clause is to be inserted in the lease, that in case of my death and they should by my successor be maltreated in any respect that a forfeiture of the lease shall be incurred.

    About 5 o’clock the Widow Randolph of Wilton, with her three sons & a daughter, a Miss Harrison (daughter to Colo Charles Harrison) and Capt. Singleton came in, and about an hour afterwards Mr. Fendall & Mrs Fendall arrived.


    Mercury at 62 in the morning 67 at noon — and 63 at night. Wind variable sometimes at No West & then at East, weather lowering all day and at times especially after noon dripping.

    Mr & Mrs Fendall went away after breakfast & Colo Gilpin56 came in, dined & returned in the afternoon.


    Mercury at 62 in the morning 66 at noon and 64 at night. Rain fell in the night, Morning drizzling with the wind at North tho’ little of it.

    Rid to Muddy hole, Dogue run & Ferry Plantations, and to my Ditchers at the meadow. At the last mentioned Plantation my people would have about finished this afternoon sowing the cut of corn on the Hill with wheat.

    Colo Simms came here and dined on his way to Port Tobacco Court, & crossed the river afterwards.

    Tuesday — 12th

    Mercury at 61 in the morning, 70 at noon, and 68 at night. A good deal of rain fell in the course of the night and early this morning. About 8 o’clock the clouds began to dispel, and the wind blowing fresh from the No Wt the weather cleared, the sun came out and the day was pleasant & drying — and towards evening cool.

    Mrs Randolph, Miss Harrison Mr G. Washington, Capt. Singleton, & Mr. Lear went to Alexandria after breakfast & returned before dinner.

    I rid to the Plantations at Muddy hole and in the neck, began at the former to gather the tops and blades of the early corn in drills.


    Mercury at 53 in the morning, 64 at noon and 60 at night. Wind at No West, raw and cold all day, but especially in the morning.

    Mrs Randolph and her children Miss Harrison & Captn Singleton left this after breakfast.

    I rid to the Plantations, at the Ferry, Dogue run & Muddy hole, also to the Mill.

    At the first the people having finished sowing the cut on the hill with wheat, were chopping this grain in in the drilled corn by the fish house among the Potatoes, which they did by shifting the tops of the vines from side to side as they head. — at the other, or second place the hands continued hoeing & plowing in wheat in the corn ground tho’ it was wet and heavy, — At the last Will, (plowman) finished in the afternoon the 10 acre piece of wheat he began the 28th ulto by which it appears he was 15 days accomplishing it; and had not plowed quite ¾ of an acre a day altho’ the ground, except in one or two small spots, which had been made wet & heavy by the Rains, was in as good order for plowing as were to be wished, better & much easier than if the weather had proved dry & the ground consequently hard.

    My corn being out, or nearly so, I was obliged to have Middling’s & ship stuff mixed for bread for my white servants and the latter & rye for my negroes till the new corn is ripe enough to pull.

    Thursday — 14th

    Mercury at 49 in the Morning 60 at noon — and 56 at night. Wind pretty fresh again today and cool.

    At home all day repeating dozes of Bark of which I took 4 with an interval of two hours between — After dinner Messrs Thos and Elliot Lee came in, as did Doctr Craik by desire on a visit to Betty57 — who had been struck with the palsey — the whole stayed all night.

    Finished sowing wheat and Timothy seed on the 10 acre piece of wheat at Muddy hole this day, and also finished that cut with rye adjoining the meadow in the neck, it taking including the 2½ bushels sowed in the piece between the gate and the meadow. —— Bushels.

    — On the small piece (sowed with 2½ Bushels) by mistake a bushel of Timothy seed nearly if quite clean was sowed which was at least 6 times as much as ought to have been sown.


    Mercury at 54 in the Morning, 66 at noon — and 64 at night. Clear, calm, and very plasant.

    After breakfast the two Mr. Lees and Doctr Craik went away

    I rid to Muddy hole & Neck Plantations Treading out wheat & rye at both retarded fodder getting at the first, & wheat sowing at the other.

    Sent my Boat to Alexandria for Molasses & Coffee which had been sent to me from Surinam by a Mr Branden of that place.


    Mercury at 58 in the morning, 69 at noon. — and 66 at Night. Morning a little lowering but clear & pleasant afterwards, with but little wind.

    Rid to Mr Willm Tripletts in expectation of Meeting Mrs French, in order to get the lease from her — & Deed from Mr Triplett executed but his indisposition & confinement in bed prevented the latter and the non attendance of Mrs French & a misunderstanding with respect to the rent, she conceiving it was to be £150 pr ann. & I £136 only, put an end to the negotiation of the former.

    I visited my mill, Ditchers and the Plantations at the Ferry, Dogue run, and Muddy hole. At the last, the fodder (top & blade) of the drilled corn was gathered & the sowing of the Rye kept up with the plow — at the first, the same was done with the rye in the newly plowed field and the people had begun (on Thursday) to sow wht in the drilled corn by the meadow.

    On my return home found the Attorney General (Randolph)58 his Lady & two Children; and Mr Charles Lee here, the last returned to Alexandria after dinner under promise to come down to dinner tomorrow and that he would ask Mr. Herbert Colo Fitzgerald & others to dine here also.

    Sunday — 17th

    Mercury at 59 in the Morning 68 at noon and 65 at night. Wind fresh at East all day — & very lowering about 5 o’clock it began to rain and continued to do so incessantly the whole night.

    Colo Fitzgerald Mr. Herbert, Colo Simms & Mr Chs Lee, & a Mr Trow (living with Mr Porter.) came down to dinner and were detained all night.


    Mercury at 62 in the morning 70 at noon and 71 at night. Morning very rainy till about 9 o’clock altho’ the wind had got to No Wt.

    Mr Randolph, Lady & family and all the Gentlemen from Alexandria left this as soon as the weather cleared, the first on his return to Richmond.

    Rid to my Plantations at Muddy hole, Dogue run & Ferry. Plows, & sowing wheat & other grain stopped at all the places.

    In the neck one of the womn & 2 girls began to gather Pease on Friday last, nearly half on the vines appearing to be ripe. Getting in the Fodder or rather spreading it at Muddy hole being wet that it might dry.


    Mercury at 64 in the morning. 71 at noon, and 70 at night.

    Wind at No West. Clear and pleasant.

    Rid to Muddy hole and into the neck, no plowing in corn ground but renewed it at Muddy hole and in the neck for rye on the wheat stubble. began to get fodder in the neck and at Morris’s from the drilled corn.


    Mercury 65 in the morning 73 at noon and 70 at night, clear warm and pleasant all day, wind Southerly.

    Rid to the ferry, Muddy hole, & Dogue run, at the first the People had begun yesterday, & were at it today, sowing wheat in the drilled Corn by the meadow. The ground especially in places too wet. At the next cutting down tops & securing the first cut fodder, at the latter all except 3 plows which were breaking up more of the lay land were getting fodder, it being too wet to sow wheat in corn ground.

    My farmer sowed this day the lay land59 which had been broken up at this place by his own directions — part of which at the East end adjoining the corn had been plowed days — the other part at the west end also adjoining the corn had been plowed days — The first contns about —— acres; the 2nd about ——.

    This wheat was put in in the following manner — viz — sowed on the first plowing, which tho’ the ground was well enough broke the sod was not properly turned. In the roughest and heaviest part the seed man was followed by a heavy harrow ye same way as the ground was plowed, in the lighter part by two light harrows, side by side (fastened together) and the whole cross harrowed with the light double harrow to smooth & fill the hollows. — Alongside this I set two plows as above to to break up about acres more of the lay and directed it to be sowed as fast as the lands were finished, & to receive the same harrowings to try (the Land being nearly of the same quality wch method will succeed best.

    Thursday — 21st

    Mercury at 65 in the Morning 76 at noon — and 74 at night.

    But little wind Southerly and warm.

    Rid to the plantations in the Neck, Muddy hole, Dogue run, and Ferry — Also to the Ditches. At the first, the flax which was put to Dew rot was turned yesterday, and the fodder which the people began to get yesterday was discontinued today in order to get out oats. At the second finished sowing rye on the wheat stubble, put in 15 Bushels on abt 13 acres. — Securing the fodder which had been cut and pulled at this place, at the 3d gathering fodder & plowing the lay land — and at the last threshing out Rye, & putting in rye in the lay land.

    Friday — 22d

    Mercury at 69 in the Morning 78 at noon and 76 at night.

    Calm and very warm in the forenoon, with appearances of rain in the Afternoon, a little of which only fell.

    Went to Mr. Tripletts in my way to Alexandria, and got his conveyance before evidences of Manley’s land — after which in the same manner in Town obtained the signatures to the Deeds of Mr and Mrs Sanford who were necessarily made parties thereto. Did business with Colo Simm & others and returned home in the evening.


    Mercury at 64 in the morning 70 at noon — and 68 at night.

    A very heavy fog in the morning, which was dispersed by a Northerly wind which cooled the air a good deal.

    Rid to all the plantations between breakfast and dinner, getting fodder at all, and securing it, except at the Ferry where the people had just finished sowing the drilled corn by the meadow which compleated all the corn ground, and all the wheat sowing at this place, Interrupted at the River Plantation in getting Fodder in order to clean Rye & Oats for the House.

    In the afternoon Mr. Josh Jones,60 Mr. Tucker & Lady, Doctr Stuart, Mrs Stuart, Betsey & Patsey Custis61 came in & stayed all night. My Nephews George & Lawrence (whom I had sent horses for) came down before dinner.62

    Finished sowing wheat upon the Lay land at Dogue run in the manner proposed, On this —— Bushels was sowed and on the west side —— Bushels.


    Mercury at 55 in the morning 59 at noon and 57 at night. Wind at No West & weather clear & cool, Lund & Laue Washn dined here.

    The Company mentioned above remained here all day & night, in the afternoon Colo Bassett,63 & his Son Burwell arrived — with servants and horses.


    Mercury at 50 in the morning 66 at noon — and 64 at night. The Morning & day through was very pleasant, turning warm, the wind getting to the Southward.

    Sent Mr Tucker & his Lady to Colchester. — Doctr Stuart Mrs Stuart & family together with Nelly Custis64 went up to Alexandria. — In the afternoon the Rev. Mr Bryn Fairfax came in and stayed all night.

    Began today with my waggon Horses at their leizure moments to plow alternate Lands, at Dogue run, in the Lay Land adjoining the wheat sowed in it to try the difference in Barley (if to be had) or oats next spring between fall & spring plowing.


    Mercury at 58 in the morning, 72 at noon — and 68 at night.

    Day clear & very pleasant with the wind at South, towards evening however it began to lower.

    Mr & Mrs Lund Washington dined here & returned in the afternoon. At home all this day as I was yesterday.

    Mr. Bryan Fairfax went away after breakfast.

    Wednesday — 27th

    Mercury at 66 in the Morning, 80 at noon and 78 at night. Clear, calm and warm all day.

    Colo Bassett his son & George Washington took a ride to Alexandria, I rid into the neck by Muddy hole, to measure a piece of ground intended for corn another year & to new model my fields.

    Took up the flax that had been spread to rot at the latter place. Engaged at every plantation in gathering fodder no plow going but at the Ferry for rye.

    Put my Rams to the Ewes this day.


    Mercury at 69 in the Morning, 81 at noon and 79 at night. Calm, clear, and warm, all day accompanied by Colo Bassett, I rid to the Plantations at Muddy hole, Dogue run and Ferry. Employed in getting & securing Fodder at all of them.

    Only, one Ditcher at work at my Mill swamp, the other left it (at least discontinued work) on Tuesday last.

    Friday — 29th

    Mercury at 67 in the morning, 82 at noon — and 80 at night. Clear, calm, and warm, from morn to evening.

    Colo Bassett and Mrs Washington made a mornings visit at Mr Lund Washington’s.

    I rid by Muddy hole Plantation into the neck — employed at both in gathering & securing Fodder.

    The Flax which I thought had been taken up on Wednesday last was still on the ground directed it to be critically examined and taken up this afternoon if it should be found sufficiently rotted.

    After dinner Majr Washington and his wife set off for Fredericksburgh — intending as far as Belmont on Occoquan this afternoon.

    Saturday — 30th

    Mercury at 67 in the morning 78, at noon — and 75 at night. Calm, clear and pleasant all the forenoon, In the Afternoon a light breeze from the eastward.

    Rid to the Mill, Meadow and Plantations at the Ferry, Dogue run and Muddy hole. Gathering and securing fodder at all of them, at the last the whole would be gathered, but not secured this evening.

    Mr Burwell Bassett Junr left this after Breakfast.

    Mr McQuin came here to Dinner & to invite me to the accademical Commencement in Alexandria on Thursday next.

    OCTOBER — 1786


    Mercury at 68 in the Morning 78 at noon — and 76 at night. The day clear and warm.

    Took an early Dinner and set out for Abingdon on my way to the Great Falls to meet the Directors of the Potomack Co Left Doctr Craik at Mt Vernon who came in a few minutes before I set off.


    Mercury at 67 in the morning 78 at noon and 75 at night Morning lowering, but clear warm, & pleasant afterds.

    Set out before six o’clock & arrived at the Great Falls abt half after nine, found Colo Gilpin there & soon after Govrs Johnson & Lee, and Colo Fitzgerald & Mr Potts arrived when the board proceeded to enquire in to the charges exhibited by Mr. James Rumsey the late against Mr Richardson Stuart the present Manager of the Companeys business — the examination of the Witnesses employed the board until dark when the members dispersed for lodgings I went to Mr Fairfaxs.


    Mercury at 67 in the Morn’g 79 at noon. 74 at night. Morning somewhat lower’g with Thunder, lightning & rain in the evening.

    Returned to the Falls by appointment at 7 o’clock to Breakfast, we proceeded immediately afterwards to a consideration of the evidence and to decide upon each article of charge, a record of which was made & upon the whole appeared (the charges) malignant, envious, & trifling. After this the board settled many accts and adjourned till 8 o’clock next Morning.


    Mercury at 68 in the morning 78 at noon and 72 at night. Morning clear, and it continued so till near 3 o’clock when it began to rain & continued with but little or no intermission untill past 6. O’clock.

    The Board having agreed to a petition to be offered to the Assemblies of Virga and Maryland for prolonging the time allowed by law for improving the navigation of the river above the Great Falls. Directed the Manager respecting the winter Work for the hands, and having settled and regulated every other matter which came before them, broke up about 3 o’clock. When in Company with Colo Fitzgerald & Gilpin, & Mr Potts I set off home. With much difficulty on acct of the rising of the Water by the rain of last night we crossed Difficult Run and through a constant rain till I had reached Cameron, I got home a little before 8 o’clock where I found my Brother Jno Auge Washington.

    Thursday — 5th

    Mercury at 70 in the morn’g 72 at noon, and 68 at night. A good deal of rain fell in the night & a great deal in the course of this day (with the wind from the So East & some times very high) which occasioned very high tides, and high freshets. At home all day.


    Mercury at 62 in the morning, 60 at noon, and 57 at night. Morning clear except scattering clouds, winds high from the westward.

    In the Afternoon (having first dined) rid with my Brother to Mr Lund Washington’s and returned, found the waters had been exceedingly high.

    Saturday — 7th

    Mercury at 52 in the Morning — 58 at night and 56 at night. Morning clear and tolerably pleasant, wind still westerly and pretty fresh. No frost though one was expected from appearances.

    Immediately after breakfast my Brother left this, when I rid to all my Plantations, found my People securing fodder in the neck, Dogue run and Ferry. At the last of which the drilled corn by the meadow was untouched. — At Muddy hole the fodder had all been secured on Monday last, and some of the wild Pea vine (such as came from the Eastn Shore) had been pulled — the hands on Tuesday went to assist the Dogue run people to get in their fodder, a suspension of all wch business was had on Wednesday, after noon & all day thursday.

    In the neck, the first gathering of 6 rows of drilled pease measured 4¾ bushels, and the first gathering of the next 6 rows planted in rows also but 18 Inches apart in the rows yielded 6½ bushels.


    Mercury at 56 in the Morning 60 at night and 57 at night. A brisk southerly wind all day & pleasant.

    Mr Rumsey, Mr. Powell and a Mr Patterson an English Gentn dined here & returned in the afternoon.


    Mercury at 56 in the morning 66 at noon and 60 at night. Clear warm & pleasant, with but little wind.

    Rid to all the Plantations & to the Ditchers in my mill swamp. Finished securing Fodder at River quarter — & would nearly do so at Dogue run. — at the Ferry, gathering the Fodder of the drilled corn by the meadow. Pulling pease in the neck with the small hands, allowed all My People to go to the races in Alexandria on one of three days as best comported with their respective business, leaving careful persons on the plantations.


    Mercury at 59 in the morning, 74 at noon and 72 at night.

    In company with Major Washington (who with his wife returned yesterday evening from Fredericksburg) and Mr Lear went up to Alexandria to see the Jockey Club purse, run for (which was won by Mr Snickers) dined by invitation with the Members of it and returned home in the evening.


    Mercury at 60 in the morning 74 at noon, and 73 at night. This day as yesterday, was clear calm, and warm.

    Majr Washington, his wife and Nelly & Washington Custis went up to the race at Alexa All but the Major returned to Dinner with Betsy & Patsy Custis along with them.

    I rid to all the Plantations, found most of My People had gone to the races, those remaining in the neck were cleaning rye which had been tread out the day before & preparing to continue their wheat sowing tomorrow.

    Thursday — 12th

    Mercury at 60 in the morning 74 at noon — and 72 at night. Clear, calm, and warm all day, or rather till noon when a breeze from the southward came up.

    Rid to all the Plantations, began in the Neck to sow wheat in the Middle cut of drilled corn.

    Ferry People all gone to the race and those at home at Dogue run all idle — Overseer being gone to the race.

    In the Afternoon Doctr Stuart and his wife, Mr Fitzhugh of Chatham, Mr Presley Thornton,65 Mr Townshend Dade, and Mr Stith came here, and stayed all night.

    Friday — 13th

    Mercury at 64 in the Morning 76 at Noon. and 74 at night. Clear, Calm, and very warm, all day. — At night it began to thunder & lighten, accompanied in the course of it with frequent & hard showers.

    All the Company except Mrs Stuart went away directly after breakfast. She with Betsy & Patsy Custis did not leave this till after dinner.

    Rid to the Ferry, Dogue run, & Muddy hole plantations, and to the Mill and Ditchers. Finished securing the fodder at the Ferry — Tread out a stack of wheat at Dogue run in order to renew my sowing of this grain at that place, — tried here & in the neck to plow before sowing, then sow and harrow in, but it would not answer on the corn ground, the grass occasioned the earth to be drawn in heaps. Began to pull the early corn at Muddy hole.


    Mercury at 62 in the morning 70 at noon and 68 at night. Morning cloudy but clear afterwards, with the wind at So West & warm.

    Rid to all the Plantations. In the neck found the rain of last night had wet the corn ground so much that there was no plowing in wheat, ordered them to shift to the wheat stubble (where they had formerly been) and plow for Rye. — Finding at the same place that part of the first sowed rye had either not come up, or had been destroyed by some insect, I directed that part of the first cut North of the Meadow, to be sowed over again; and to be harrowed in by the double harrow, if sufficient to cover the grain, at Muddy hole gathering the early corn & husking it. At Dogue run sowing wheat, the ground, in places rather too wet. At the Ferry just finished plowing, sowing & harrowing the ground allotted for Rye at the Ferry, and securing the fodder. Directed, as the fly appeared to be getting into the wheat more or less at all the plantations, that that at the Ferry should be immediately tread out & sent to the mill.


    Mercury 65 at Morning — 76 at noon and 74 at night. Clear, warm, & pleasant all day.

    Accompanied by Majr Washington his wife Mr Lear & the two Childn Nelly & Washington Custis, went to Pohick Church and returned to Dinner — fell in with on the road. Colo Jno Mercer, his Lady & Child coming here and their nurse.


    Mercury at 64 in the morning 72 at noon — and 72 at night. A watery sun in the morning and Clouds in the afternoon but no rain fell till towards day in the night.

    Colo Mercer &c. crossed the River after breakfast on their way to Annapolis

    Majr Washington & myself went up to Alexandria & dined at Lomax’s — Got the deed from Manley’s Exrs acknowledged to me in open Court, and for the 2d time agreed with Mr Wm Triplett for the use of Mrs. French’s Plantation for wch during Robinsons term and Interest in it, I am, for the the Land & Negroes, to pay £136 & 150£ afterwards, during her life.66

    Returned home in the evening.

    Tuesday — 17th

    Mercury at 68 in the morning, 64 at noon — and 59 at night.

    Wind Southerly and raining till about 9 O’clock when it. chopped round to the So. Wt blew hard & cleared.

    At home all day. Began to set a brick kiln.


    Mercury at 48 in the morning 56 at noon, and 55 at night. Clear & cool wind pretty fresh from the No West.

    Rid by Muddy hole and Dogue run Plantations to Mr. Tripletts. — 3 plows and most of the hands from the first had gone to the latter to assist in sowing wheat in Corn ground.

    Having met Mrs French at Mr Tripletts, I concluded the bargain with her for her Plantation & Negroes in my neck and had a Lease executed for the same, and sent word to a Mr. Robertson the present tenant to come to me to see it rcd not engage him to quit it, and coming accordingly some propositions were made to him of which he was to consider till Saturday night or Monday Morning & then give an answer.

    Monsr Ouster,67 French Consul at Williamsburgh, & Mr Lacaze two French Gentlemen dined here & returned to Alexa in the evening.

    Mr. Samuel E. Morison made the following communication:


    The following poem is found in one of two ms commonplace books of Ephraim Eliot, that were presented in 1879 by his son, John Fleet Eliot, to his cousin Samuel Eliot (1821–1898). These commonplace books contain a miscellaneous assortment of personal accounts, anecdotes, gossip, satirical poems, memoirs, and other matter that seemed worth recording to a man of an inquiring mind and antiquarian tastes.

    Ephraim Eliot (1761–1827) was the fifth son and tenth child of the Rev. Dr. Andrew Eliot (1718–1778, H. C. 1737, pastor of the New North Church in Boston) and brother of the Rev. John Eliot, author of the Biographical Dictionary. He graduated from Harvard College in 1780 and studied medicine for a time, but decided to become an apothecary. An advertisement in the Independent Chronicle of November 20, 1783, informs the public that Ephraim Eliot “has just opened at his Shop, in Union Street, next to Mr. Condy’s — A general Assortment of Drugs and Medicines, Chymical and Galenical,” etc.68 Dr. Eliot, as he was called by courtesy, was a well-known figure in Federalist Boston; a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, author of “Historical Notices of the New North Religious Society,” and a frequent office holder under the town and city governments. He was noted for the whimsical humor of his advertisements, in which he not only satirized the pedantry and pretension of the medical profession, but humorously warned the public against the very wares he was advertising. For instance, one announcement states that Ephraim Eliot “supplies the sick and those who think themselves so, with such articles as their physicians direct, or their fancy dictates; . . . He has always on hand a large assortment of Patent Medicines, whose virtues and uses are daily expatiated upon in the newspapers, and need no repetition — comprising almost the whole circle of quackery, and calculated for the cure of the itch, the destruction of worms, and the extirpation of doctors.” In an advertisement of a certain “Spice Bitters” which he kept on hand, this honest apothecary remarked that they were equally serviceable for lack of appetite and indigestion, for chills and heat prostration, and concludes with the statement that they are “a capital apology for taking a dram at any time!” When a new Pharmacopœia was published in 1809, with an English translation of the Latin names, Dr. Eliot publicly expressed his approval, but added “Should it however happen that orders be presented under a full display of ‘the mysticism of the medical profession’ . . . even though conveyed in Greek or Latin, Mr. Eliot will endeavor to decipher them; and he will certainly engage not to ‘screen his ignorance . . . under the wilful misinterpretation of a language which is truly dead to him.’”69

    “Election Day” or “General Election Day,” described in the following poem, took place annually on the last Wednesday in May from 1693, the first regular election under the Province Charter, to the adoption of the constitutional amendment of 1831. Officially, it corresponded to what we should to-day call the Governor’s Inauguration. Both the name and the season, carry us back to the earliest days of the Colon, and are a link with the corporate origin of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The so-called Colony Charter of 1628–9 provided that the Governor and other officers of the Company be chosen in the Great and General Court of the Company to be holden on the last Wednesday in “Easter term.”70 This was in accordance with the general practice for electing officers in English joint-stock corporations.

    After the Charter was transferred to the soil of Massachusetts Bay, in 1630, and a representative system was evolved, the annual meeting of freemen to choose officers became differentiated from the meeting of the General Court on the same day. The freemen’s meeting became known as the Court of Elections,71 and its day of meeting as Election Day.72 An examination of the dates of Election Day under the Colony Charter shows that, with only one exception, it fell on the prescribed date, which varied between April 29 and June 2, according to the date of Easter.73 In view of our forefathers’ distaste for “popish” anniversaries, this fact is somewhat surprising. Possibly, since they were exceeding or violating many of the more important provisions of their charter, they thought it best to be circumspect regarding minor details. One can imagine Thomas Dudley or John Endecott with a wry face searching an English almanac for the date of Easter Sunday, in order to compute the proper date for his annual summons to a Court of Elections.

    From 1632, when the freemen of the Company asserted their right to choose the Governor as well as the Assistants, to the last election under the Colony Charter in 1686, the day of the Court of Elections was, in fact, the Election Day of Massachusetts for all elective officers but the Deputies. Voting by proxy was permitted as early as 1636, when the spread of settlement made it unsafe and inconvenient for all freemen to attend the Court of Elections at Boston or Newtowne. But the normal method of exercising the franchize was to attend the Court of Elections on Election Day. Moreover, the proxies of those freemen who did not attend were not counted beforehand, but delivered, sealed, to the magistrates, and opened and counted by them before the Court of Elections.74 The freemen were tenacious of their right of voting in person at Boston, for they resisted every attempt of the General Court to simplify elections by making voting by proxy compulsory.75 As soon as the votes were counted, the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants then elected took their oaths of office and began the exercise of their functions. The annual election sermons were established at an early date.76 Naturally Election Day, with its concourse of freemen and important ceremonies, became, as it were, the national holiday of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. It filled the very human need, felt by the Puritans in spite of themselves, for a spring festival like May Day.

    The Province Charter of 1691, which went into force the following year, designated the last Wednesday in May as the “general day of election,”77 or Election Day. It is a Provincial Election Day that our poem describes. “Upon every last Wednesday in the month of May,” during the Provincial period, the legislative year commenced, the members of the General Court took their seats and elected the Council, and the House of Representatives chose its Speaker and its Clerk. No function was left for the freemen to perform on Election Day, since the choice of Representatives or Deputies — the only elective power retained in their hands, under the Province Charter — was made at an earlier date. But the inaugural ceremonies, the pomp and circumstance attending a royal governor, and the popular interest in the choice of Councillors and Speaker, continued to attract large numbers of people to the provincial metropolis; and Election Day increased in importance as a popular festival. Election Week was chosen for the annual conventions and meetings of churches and other societies,78 and on the Monday following Election Day came “Artillery Election,” the annual choice of a commander of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.

    The Constitution of 1780 preserved the Provincial date — the last Wednesday in May — for the formal beginning of the legislative year, and even restored to the General Court which assembled at that time one of the former functions of the Colonial Court of Elections. Chapter II, Section I, Article III, requires that on the last Wednesday in May the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall lay the selectmen’s returns of votes for Governor before Senate and House, “to be by them examined; and in case of an election by a majority of all the votes returned, the choice shall be by them declared and published; but if no person shall have a majority of votes, the house of representatives shall, by ballot, elect two out of four persons who had the highest number of votes . . . ; and make return to the senate of the two persons so elected; on which the senate shall proceed, by ballot, to elect one, who shall be declared governor.”79

    Since, under the State and Federal Constitutions, there were separate election days for governor and state senators, for state representatives, and for members of Congress and presidential electors, the popular title for the last Wednesday in May was changed from Election Day to General Election Day, and the prescribed ceremonies of inauguration, vote counting, etc., became known as General Election.80 The following poem explains another popular synonym — “Nigger ’Lection.”

    The day retained its unique place as an annual State festival until 1831. The adoption that year of the tenth article of amendment to the State Constitution altered the commencement of the legislative year to its present date, the first Wednesday in January. The glories of Election Day then departed. January was an unpropitious month for outdoor festivities, and organizations which were accustomed to hold their annual meetings in Election Week, refused to shift the date.81 An Election Sermon was annually delivered, on the first Wednesday in January, until 1885. But in the present inaugural ceremonies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, only the fact that they recur annually on a Wednesday remains to remind us that King Charles I “did establish and ordain,” in the cumbrous phraseology of the Colony Charter, “that yearley, once in the yeare, for ever hereafter, namely, the last Wednesday in Easter tearme, yearley, the Governor, Deputy Governor, and Assistants of the said Company and all other officers of the saide Company shalbe, in the Generall court or assembly to be held for that day or tyme, newly chosen for the yeare ensueing by such greater parte of the said Company, for the tyme being, then and there present, as is aforesaide.”



    When Nature smiles in vernal bloom

    Emerg’d from winters horrid gloom,

    And Maia decks the ground,

    When Sol just quits the bull, & shines

    Progressive in the heavenly twins,

    Walking th’ Ecliptic round.


    When Virgins quit their winter Hue

    And living blood begins to flow,

    Along their azure veins;

    When pliant as the vine, they bend,

    And joyfully do condescend

    To put on Cupids chains.


    A certain time we then behold,

    Long by the Almanac foretold

    And call’d Election day;

    A day of frolicking and mirth,

    In that small portion of the earth

    The Massachusetts bay.


    The city swarms with every sort

    Of black and white, and every sort

    Of high, low, rich and poor;

    Squaws, negroes, deputies in scores

    And ministers & Counsellors

    Are seen at every door.


    Long before phoebus looks upon

    The outskirts of the horison,

    The blacks their forces summon.

    Tables & benches, chairs, & stools

    Rum-bottles, Gingerbread & bowls

    Are lug’d into the common.


    Thither resorts a motley crew,

    Of Whites & Blacks & Indians too

    And Trulls of every sort.

    There all day long they sit & drink,

    Swear, sing, play paupaw,83 dance and stink

    There Bacchus holds his court.


    But yonder comes a scarlet throng,

    Marching in solemn state along

    His Excellencys guard —84

    Who after friendly mutual greeting

    Conduct him to the old Brick meeting,85

    To sit & hear the word.


    This discipline they soon dispatch,

    Unless Tom Frink86 should chance to speak,

    Then down they hurry all

    With Quicken’d pace & hungry guts

    Like flies, unto the Honey pots

    To dine at Fanueil Hall.


    There through the wide-extended doors

    Pass deputies & Councillors,

    And parsons with their bands on,

    There, quick they seize upon their seats,

    And every one sits down & eats

    What first he lays his hands on.


    And after they have clear’d the Dishes

    They keep their seats & drink like fishes

    Till four o’clock and after.

    Then to the Town house trot away

    To do the business of the day,

    According to the charter.


    Meanwhile throughout the joyful town,

    King Georges health is toasted round,

    And every face looks gay.

    With jocund mirth each house abounds

    The echoing air repeats the sounds

    Time sweetly flows away.


    But night at length invests the skies,

    And Sol, to lend us light denies.

    Then some go staggering home.

    While sleep begins our eyes to lock,

    The watchman cries, “past twelve o’clock”

    And silence reigns alone.

    Mr. Albert Matthews made the following remarks:

    On September 15, 1786, Washington sent his boat to Alexandria for “Molasses & Coffee which had been sent to me from Surinam by a Mr Branden of that place.”87 I find among my notes references to two celebrations at Surinam of Washington’s birthday. One was on February 11, 1792;88 the other in February, 1799, on which occasion a song written “by a gentleman of Baltimore” was sung.89

    Professor Robinson’s communication makes pertinent the following extract from the Massachusetts Magazine for January, 1789:

    Curious Irish Advertisement, from the Londonderry Journal, Feb. 30, 1783.

    WHEREAS on February the 14th, 1783, it pleased kind Providence to confer on Matthew Neely, of Burnally, parish of Tamlaghtfinlagan, and county of Londonderry, a man child, whose appearance is promising and amiable, and hopes the being who first caused him to exist, will grant him grace: Also, in consideration and in remembrance of the many heroick deeds done by that universally renowned patriot, General Washington, the said Matthew Neely hath done himself the honour of calling the said man child by the name of George Washington Neely, he being the first child known or so called in this kingdom by the name of Washington, that brilliant western star (i. 62).

    Three years ago I spoke of the celebration of Washington’s birthday in 1796 by the students of Harvard College.90 To the suggestion then made that the students had little enthusiasm and that the patriotism was pumped up for the occasion, I replied that the stilted language of that day might give a wrong impression and that the early hour at which the boys went to their chambers was due not to inclination but to necessity. However, the spontaneity of the celebration on the part of the students is placed beyond doubt by the following entry in the Faculty Records under date of February 22, 1796:

    The request of the Students to illuminate the windows of their Chambers, this evening, in commemoration of the birth of the illustrious President of the United States was communicated: Whereupon,

    1. Voted that in consideration of particular circumstances existing at the present time, permission be given; but that this permission shall not be construed into a precedent, in any future time.

    2. Voted, that the candles be lighted at seven, and be extinguished at nine o’clock; and that during the illumination, one, at least, of the occupants be in each chamber.

    3. Voted, that no violence be offered to open the chamber of an absent Student (vi. 304).

    In 1797 there was apparently no attempt to celebrate the day at Cambridge, either privately or publicly. But in 1798 the day was privately observed, as shown by the following newspaper account:


    The sons of our University never let slip any opportunity to do honor to the character they so much admire. In one of the circles met to celebrate the birth day of the Hero of Mount-Vernon, among other toasts were the following.

    1. GEORGE WASHINGTON, a man brave without temerity, laborious without ambition, generous without prodigality, noble without pride, and virtuous without severity. 3 cheers in pantomime, for fear of disturbing the Tutor.

    2. JOHN ADAMS, President of the United States, the American Terminus.* 3 cheers in pantomime, &c.

    3. Thomas Jefferson, May he exercise his elegant literary talents for the benefit of the world, in some retreat, secure from the troubles and dangers of political life.

    4. The Senate, the Speaker of the House, and 53 of its members.91

    5. The constituted authorities of this University; may the government of our own choice, never be assailed by Jacobinism.

    * Terminus was the God of boundaries, among the Romans, who swore he would not stir an inch for Jupiter.92

    In 1799 the students again applied for permission to celebrate publicly, with the result recorded in the Faculty Records under date of February 18, 1799:

    A request of the Students for permission to illuminate the windows of their chambers the next Friday evening, in commemoration of the birth of the illustrious General Washington, who has again, at the call of his country, undertaken the command of its Forces in its defence, was communicated: And after mature deliberation,

    Voted, that in consideration of particular circumstances, existing at the present time, permission be given; but that permission shall not be construed into a precedent in any future time.

    Voted, that the candles be lighted at seven, and be extinguished at nine o’clock; and that during the illumination, one at least of the occupants be in each chamber.

    Voted that the chambers of absent Students may be illuminated, provided that the keys are obtained, and that certain Students, who have no chambers of their own to illuminate, will engage to take the charge of them severally, in the same manner, as each occupant takes care of his own chamber, and that the names of such Students, with the numbers of the chambers committed to them respectively, be returned to the Officers of the respective entries, previous to the time of illumination, by the Committee who made application for leave to illuminate.

    Voted, that no Student be allowed to put into a window more candles than half the number of panes in it.

    Voted, that the Tutors and Librarian be desired to see that the windows be prepared for illumination in such a manner, that no damage may be likely to ensue (vii. 55–56).

    The Massachusetts Mercury of February 22d remarked:

    At Harvard University, the Children of Science, who, with few exceptions are united in the defence of our Government, will honor the blessed day, by Associating at a convivial Entertainment, and illuminating the Colleges (p. 2/4).

    In the Columbian Centinel of February 23d appeared this notice:

    At Cambridge the Students of Harvard College, grateful for the favours conferred on their country by one of its most illustrious Guardians, evinced their feelings by every suitable demonstration of genuine hilarity; the ardency of which may be estimated by the following notice, which was yesterday morning posted at the Chapel doors: — “The Natal Day. The Students of Harvard College are cautioned against purchasing Candles of John Brown and Stacey Read, to be used in their intended illumination this evening, in honor of the patriot Washington; as the candle of a Jacobin is fit only to be put under a bushel. God save the United States” (p. 2/3).

    The Massachusetts Mercury of February 26th said:


    THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, Is famous for its federal sentiments, . . . In the day time flags were displayed on the buildings and the colleges were beautifully illuminated in the evening, accompanied with devices expressive of their veneration for Adams and Washington. The illuminations commenced at 7 o’clock, and by a quarter past 9, there was not a light to be seen in any of the colleges. Every thing was conducted with an order and tranquility highly honorable to all the young gentlemen (p. 2/3).

    The Mercury then gave the “classical and pithy toasts” which were “drank by a select company of the sons of science.” From the Columbian Centinel of February 27th is obtained the following account:



    We mentioned in our last, that the natal day of WASHINGTON would be worthily noticed at this Seat of Science and Patriotism. All the Colleges were brilliantly illuminated — suitable devices exhibited; and the following sentiments toasted: —

    1st. GENERAL WASHINGTON, “clarum, et venerabile nomen.”

    2d. PRESIDENT ADAMS, the pride of this University.

    3d. —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —, —.

    Hiatus valde deflendus.93

    4th. That distinguished son of Cambridge, TIMOTHY PICKERING. May he still continue to fix his watchful eye on “the crouching Tyger.”

    5th. The English Language, may it be understood thro’-out every part of the terraqueous globe.

    6th. The Roman Father, who prevented the servitude and dishonor of Virginia.

    7th. The constituted authorities of our Alma Mater.

    8th. Fines, rustications, expulsion and suspension to every seditious citizen, or intriguing Alien.94

    9th. May Jacobinism still remain degraded to the very bottom of the class of American society (p. 2/4).

    Two of these toasts deserve comment. The fourth is an allusion to a report dated January 18, 1799, in which Pickering, speaking of the French government, said:

    Warmly professing its desire of reconciliation, it gives no evidence of its sincerity; but proofs in abundance demonstrate that it is not sincere. For standing erect, and in that commanding attitude requiring implicit obedience, — cowering, it renounces some of its unfounded demands. But I hope we shall remember “that the tyger crouches before he leaps upon his prey.”95

    In connection with this toast, it may be of interest to mention an episode that occurred on Commencement Day, July 18, 1798. Five days before that Washington had accepted his appointment by President Adams as Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-Chief, and our relations with France were strained almost to the breaking point. President Willard was “confined by a painful disorder,” and the Rev. Dr. Simeon Howard presided over the exercises. These were duly carried out, with two exceptions, as stated by President Willard himself:

    N. B. Two of the Exercises, which had been assigned by the Government to the Candidates for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts, were not performed on Commencement day,

    The one — A conference upon Water, Air, Heat and Light, . . .

    The other — “A French dialogue upon Natural History.” — Between Perez Lincoln and Robert Thaxter.

    The public mind at the time of Commencement was so much exasperated against the French Government on account of their conduct towards the United States, that there was danger that any, who should speak in the French language, would be insulted. The College Government therefore thought it best that this part should be omitted.96

    The eighth toast mentions the College punishments of fines, rustication, expulsion, and suspension; while the ninth toast is that Jacobinism may “still remain degraded to the bottom of the class of American society.” Under the old system of “placing,” the highest punishment next to expulsion was “degradation” — or degrading a student below the place in his class to which he had been originally assigned. This system came to an end with the Class that entered in 1768, that was “placed” in June, 1769, and that was graduated in 1772, though the members of that Class retained their places until graduation. With the abolition of this system after 1769 and its total disappearance in 1772, one might naturally conclude that the punishment of degradation fell with the system. But, curiously enough, such was not the case; for, like the wily Ulysses, the College authorities were fertile in resources. The punishment of degradation was no doubt too valuable an asset to be discarded without a struggle, and the authorities showed some ingenuity in retaining it by degrading a student below his alphabetical place. The fact that after 1772 degradation still remained among the punishments does not appear to be generally known.97 On December 22, 1788, a student was degraded to the bottom of his class, and not restored until December 20, 1790. On October 17, 1789, a student was degraded ten places, but was restored on July 8, 1790. These happen to be the latest cases I have noted in the Faculty Records, but the above toast shows that the punishment was still in vogue as late as 1799.