To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Philadelphia        23 February 1797

    Yesterday the President entered into his sixty sixth year, & the day was spent as a general holiday by the various classes of people in this City—The servants had their Liberty—the School-boys played—the various divisions of the Militia put on their Uniforms & struted about with Guns & swords in their hands—The Idlers, dressed like Gentlemen, walked about & made polite bows to every body they met—The Cincinnati addressed the President.1 The Legislature of the State, Congress, and foreign ministers waited upon him, eat cake & drank wine—Other appearances of Joy were manifested—Cannon were fired—Flags & Colours hoisted, & boys hallowed [hollered] & threw their hats into the air—

    I must not omit to add, the Bells continued to ring & chime at short intervals through the whole afternoon—The day, however, was not long enough to admit a performance of all the actions expressive of the joyous sensations—The Ladies too had their feelings upon the occasion—Do they not sometimes appear most splendid by twilight?

    The Amphitheatre had been many days fiting up to recieve the joyous Group who were disposed to celebrate the birth day of the great Washington—At six oClock the doors were opened—Having no other object in view but to see—& to feel from seeing, I was among the first who entered the Spacious Menage.2 The Flags pendent to each State, the painted cielings, emblematical figures and profusion of Lights exhibeted a grand & variagated Scene of magnificence. From this time to a quarter after seven the wide extended Dome was crouding with Ladies & Gentlemen; when at the sound of a Trumpet a curtain, on the south part of the room was drawn up, exposing to view a group of historic & prophetic paintings, & in a moment, through a door directly oposite, entered the President-elect [John Adams] leading Mrs. [Martha] Washington followed by the Hero of the day—His expected entrance had produced an attentive silence, which is now broke by a Band of music—All eyes are turned upon the great Man, & his presence is welcomed by three successive claps of every hand—

    The Area is now cleared for the Dance, & one hundred couple present themselves in ten rows from the centre to the circumference of the floor! The dress of the Ladies is far more rich & gorgeous than was exhibeted on the like occasion the last year—And the Spectators more numerous—

    I tarried till nine oClock, & left them.

    The company suped between ten & eleven, & broke up about one or two this morning—

    Tomorrow at 11 oClock the Senators & Representatives from Massachusetts will wate upon the President of the United States to present an address from the Legislature of that State3

    Two or three Letters more, I hope, will close my correspondence for this Session; & with joy shall I hasten to my dear family4

    your most affectionate

    * * *

    ALS, TFP