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Tag Archives: George Washington

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

Person Holding Vanilla Ice Cream on Cone

We can actually thank President Ronald Reagan for designating the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.

In July of 1984, President Reagan declared the third week of July to be National Ice Cream Month by signing proclamation 5219. In this proclamation, the president called ice cream the perfect dessert and snack food and stated that over 90 percent of Americans enjoy it on a regular basis. He also stated in the proclamation that Americans should observe this day with appropriate activities and celebrations.

It is estimated that over 90% of Americans enjoy this treat. Really can’t believe this isn’t 100%, can you?

Mug of Flavored Ice Creams in Cones

Ice cream has a long history. Alexander the Great reportedly enjoyed snow and ice flavored with nectar and honey, while the Roman emperor Nero Claudius Caesar sent runners into the mountains for  snow, which was flavored with juice.

In the 1300s, Marco Polo brought a taste for ice cream— resembling a modern-day sherbet — back to Europe after his global travels.

Records show that as president, Washington bought an ice cream serving spoon and two “dble tin Ice Cream moulds.” This was followed by “2 Iceries Compleat,” twelve “ice plates,” and thirty-six “ice pots.” (An “ice pot” was a small cup used for holding the ice cream since it was more liquid in colonial times, similar to the runniness of an ice cream cone on a hot day.) Thompson speculates, “the large number of ice cream pots suggests that this was a favorite dessert at Mount Vernon, as well as in the capital.

George Washington is said to have spent $200 on ice cream ($4500 in current money) in the summer of 1790. It appears he was liked his ice cream.
Ice Cream on Ceramic Plate

 

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Happy Birthday, America!

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In 1783, President George Washington remarked, “The citizens of this country are, from this period, as the actors on a most conspicuous theater, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.”

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And with his background of leadership in the founding of our country, he knew the men that he had worked and fought with.

We have the privilege of celebrating the anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence this week. Twelve colonies had representatives who signed this document, and New York followed suit in August. It was after the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, in fact 442 days after these events in Massachusetts.

The signers were men of conviction who, by signing their names, put themselves, their families, and their land at major risk. Here are some facts that inspire me to remember them.

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Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures. Twenty-two were lawyers—although William Hooper of North Carolina was “disbarred” when he spoke out against the Crown–and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been Governor of Rhode Island. Although two others had been clergy previously, John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend–he wore his robes to the sessions. Almost all were Protestant Christians; Charles Carroll of Maryland was the only Roman Catholic signer.

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Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four each at Yale and William & Mary, and three at Princeton. John Witherspoon was the president of Princeton and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary, where his students included the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

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Seventeen of the signers served in the military during the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was one of the commanding officers in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a Major General in the Delaware militia  and John Hancock was the same in the Massachusetts militia.

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Five of the signers were captured by the British during the war. Captains Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton (South Carolina) were all captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780; Colonel George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists and died in 1781.

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Colonel Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy–compelled to remove my family five times in a few months, and at last fixed them in a little log house on the banks of the Susquehanna . . . and they were soon obliged to move again on account of the incursions of the Indians.”

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Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. The son of John Witherspoon, a major in the New Jersey Brigade, was killed at the Battle of Germantown.

Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was destroyed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson (both of Virginia) lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, but were never repaid.

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It sounds like it is time for a standing ovation of several minutes to honor these men, doesn’t it?

Dr. Peter Marshall once said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” I believe those signers took the opportunity to do what was right.

With leaders like this that we call the Founding Fathers, we have the privilege to sing “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and many others.

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And it is a day to party, to celebrate the birthday of the country we call home, the United States of America!

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My family had a regular menu for July 4th, and mine is always similar. It was always cold watermelon, barbeque, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, and peach cobbler. Sometimes a churn of homemade ice cream was added, just because.

You probably have your favorite day all planned by now, too, by spending time with family and friends.

Happy birthday, America! Happy Fourth of July to all of you!

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Thank You for Your Sacrifices

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On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as our first President of the United States.

He wrote in his journal, “About 10 o’clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York in company with Mr. Thompson, and Colonel Humphries, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.”

I am fascinated by quotes and wonder why they are both thought and then said. It is obvious that our first President was reluctant to leave his private life again to take up public life. His humbleness in taking over the leadership of America is apparent, as is his knowledge that this was a calling on his life.

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President Washington saw his new position as one of service and responsibility.

The British hung Nathan Hale when he was captured as a spy. The twenty-one-year-old Hale challenges us from from 1776 with “My only regret is that I have only one life to give for my country.” He counted his death a privilege.

MacMonnies, Frederick William: Nathan Hale

In the diary entry of one of the British officers made on the day of Hale’s execution, it was said: “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”

“The highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country,” said General George S. Patton, Jr.

As we look at celebrating Memorial Day on Monday, how grateful we are for those who chose to serve our country by fighting for it. From the Revolutionary War forward, men and women have stepped up to the task of defending it. Knowing that their deaths were and are a possibility, they still sign their names on the dotted line.

I’ll never forget the challenge of President John F. Kennedy’s words, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Those who choose to join the armed forces lead the way for us.

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Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May in the United States. It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half staff from dawn until noon. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. It is set aside to remember those who fought and died for our country.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.“ said G. K. Chesterton.

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Yummy Hot Chocolate Day

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This sweet treat dates back almost 2,000 years to the Mayan people.

The Mayans of Central America are believed to be the first to discover cocoa as early as 900 AD. They learned that the beans inside the cocoa pods could be harvested and made into a liquid that would become a treasured Mayan treat. They traded three pods for one pumpkin.

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Mayan chocolate was very different than the chocolate we know today. It was a liquid made from crushed cocoa beans, chili peppers, and water. (There was no sugar in Central America.) They poured the liquid from one cup to another until a frothy foam appeared on top. In fact, the word ‘chocolate’ is said to come from the Mayan word ‘xocolatl’ which means ‘bitter water.’

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It may have been bitter water, but it was held in such high esteem that Mayans called it the “food of the gods.” Cocoa was so revered that images of cocoa pods were painted on the walls of stone temples and Mayan artifacts have been found that show kings and Mayan gods drinking chocolate. Cocoa was often consumed during religious ceremonies and marriage celebrations. All Mayans could enjoy cocoa, regardless of their social status.

Cocoa beans were very valuable. The Aztecs used them as money, and were very protective of their beans. They paid for food, clothes, taxes, gifts, and offerings to their gods using cocoa beans. Having a pocket full of beans was like having a wallet full of cash. As far as the Aztecs were concerned, money really did grow on trees.

Chocolate arrived in Florida on a Spanish ship in 1641. It’s thought the first American chocolate house opened in Boston in 1682. By 1773, cocoa beans were a major American colony import and chocolate was enjoyed by people of all classes. Chocolate pots became a rage.

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Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Franklin himself was in on the early American chocolate craze, and even sold chocolate out of his printing shop in Philadelphia.

During the Revolutionary War, chocolate was provided to the military as rations and sometimes given to soldiers as payment instead of money. This chocolate came from the West Indies. Because of its caffeine and high calorie content, it was a reliable source of energy for soldiers on the front. Chocolate consumption among Americans dates back to colonial times—George Washington and the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War would have consumed chocolate as a hot beverage, for example.

Chocolate cups, like this one owned by George and Martha Washington, were typical of the colonial era. Most chocolate cups had two handles, on opposing sides, while tea cups of the period had no handles at all. Image credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, and Gardens’ 2012 annual Colonial Chocolate Society meeting presentation.Chocolate cups, like this one owned by George and Martha Washington, were typical of the colonial era. Most chocolate cups had two handles, on opposing sides, while tea cups of the period had no handles at all. Image credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Chocolate was also provided as K rations to soldiers during World War II.

K-ration; original outer green color cardboard box contains: waxed cardboard box shell with “CHESTERFIELD” cigarette pack, toilet paper packet, one stick of gum, and eight biscuits, confectionery chocolate D bar, bouillon powder packet, can of pork loaf; manufactured by the Kellogg Company; World War II era.

In fact, the U.S. War Department collaborated with chocolate manufacturers to produce Ration D bars, especially suitable for extreme temperatures sometimes encountered on the front. A mixture of chocolate, sugar, powdered milk, oat flour, and vitamins provided 600 calories per serving and made a very effective survival food.

Box for U.S. Army Field Ration D (

The Ration D chocolate bar was designed to withstand extreme temperatures and provide substantial energy for troops.

Brown, yellow, and blue wrapped “Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate” bar. Small print on the top reads, “REG. U.S. PAT. OFF”. Small print on the side of bar reads, “MANUFACTURED BY HERSHEY CHOCOLATE CORPORATION, HERSHEY, PA.” The top left corner of the wrapper is torn, revealing the inner foil wrapping. Another variant of the Ration D bar was Hershey’s Tropical Bar, used commonly in the Pacific Theater.

Studies have shown chocolate contains antioxidants that can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Chocolate contains many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and biochemical compounds—all of which help give our body a satisfying health boost. Hot chocolate even increases the microcirculation in your skin. Who knew a hot chocolate obsession could be so good for our health?

Also, it’s a mood booster. When we drink hot chocolate, its chemical compounds signal the brain to release endorphins and serotonin, which elicit our feelings of calmness. These neurotransmitters work to reduce pain and stress, keeping us worry-free and happy! Hot chocolate is clearly happiness in a cup.

So the decision for today is how many cups of chocolate are needed to celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day. Enjoy!
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Ahh, Chocolate!

Ahhh Chocolate!

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February is the time of year when we consume even more than usual, often from heart-shaped boxes gifted by an admirer.

Daddy gave Mother a box for her birthday in November and for Valentine’s Day.  She didn’t share these boxes, but hid them. Whenever her craving prompted her, she would have her choice from those in the Whitman Sampler box.

Probably one of the most universally loved foods, the average American consumes roughly 11 pounds of the stuff a year!  It is hard to imagine a world without chocolate and this love of the heavenly substance stretches all the way back to our country’s colonial roots. Before the mid-1800s, if you had a craving for the world’s favorite sweet, you drank it!

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Chocolate has its origins in South America where archaeological evidence indicates it was being cultivated and consumed over 3,000 years ago.  The Spanish were the first Europeans to try the spicy chili and chocolate beverage of the Aztecs.  They introduced it to Europe in the 1600s where, with the addition of sugar, it became the height of fashion.

The first printed evidence we have of Chocolate being used in London is in the notice in the Public Advertiser in 1657: “In Bishopsgate St is an excellent West India drink called chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.”

By the end of the Commonwealth in 1659, Thomas Rugge, a London diarist, was writing in his Journal about coffee, chocolate and tea as new drinks in London, and referring to chocolate as ‘a harty drink in every street’.

Drinking chocolate of the 18th century was different from our ubiquitous modern day cup of cocoa.  It was made with either cacao nibs or blocks of compressed chocolate that were then grated or ground to a paste and dissolved in a warm liquid inside a dedicated ‘chocolate pot’.

Cocoa NibsThe chocolate was added to any combination of water, milk, cream, wine, or even brandy for an extra kick.  This mixture was combined with sugar, though less than we use because it was an expensive import in colonial America.  Other common ingredients included chili pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, or allspice.  This resulted in a rich, sweet, spicy, and bitter drink that the colonists couldn’t get enough of.

We know that many early Americans were fans of chocolate, but it wasn’t available to everyone.  In the 1700s, chocolate was still a fairly expensive drink, similar to tea or coffee, making it a beverage of the upper and middle classes.  It was seen as a nutritious and filling health food, commonly had with breakfast.

In1757 George Washington ordered 20 pounds of chocolate from British merchant Thomas Knox.  While living at Kenmore Plantation, George’s sister Betty Washington Lewis ordered a gallon of chocolate.

The chocolate would have been delivered in chocolate bars.

Alan Ramsey holds a pressed cake of chocolate wrapped in paper, a common form it was sold in the eighteenth century.

It may seem strange to us that there were special cups just for drinking chocolate.  However, since it was a luxury good enjoyed by the upper classes, it had a specific set of objects associated with its preparation and consumption.  A teapot or teacup could have easily functioned for drinking chocolate but the purpose of this specialized material culture was to show off wealth and sophistication.  For this reason, a well-to-do colonial household would have separate sets of vessels for the making and consumption of tea, coffee, and chocolate.  Using the right one in the right way let your peers know you were a well-educated gentry woman or man.

Chocolate cups and pots were often made of fancy material like silver or porcelain to show off the wealth of the owner and reflect the nature of the luxury ingredient. Chocolate cups can be identified by their straight sides, unlike the gently sloping sides of a teacup.

JPL Jean Pouyat LIMOGES CHOCOLATE POT 4 CUPS SAUCERS HandPainted 1900-1906 GOLD

Similarly, 18th century chocolate pots generally are taller and have straighter sides compared to contemporary teapots. They also have a shorter spout with no strainer and often have a straight handle that juts out from the body.

The most recognizable feature of a chocolate pot however is a hole in the lid where the chocolate mill, or molinillo, would be inserted and rubbed between the hands to briskly stir the chocolate, creating a delicious froth on the top

Kind of makes you want to try eighteenth century chocolate drink, doesn’t it?  The next time you’re enjoying a bite of a candy bar or sipping your instant cocoa, think of the lofty origins of that treat and be grateful to the sweet-toothed colonials who so prized delicious chocolate!

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I grew up with hot chocolate being a treat on cold nights, and marshmellows were added for a topping. Even now, I will make us a cup during the winter months as a treat. Whether with that white addition or not, hot chocolate seems to be a comfort food to be enjoyed.

“Some days you get up and you already know that things aren’t going to go well. They’re the type of days when you should just give in, put your pajamas back on, make some hot chocolate and read comic books in bed with the covers up until the world looks more encouraging. Of course, they never let you do that.”
Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection

First Presidential Election in United States

In 1789, the first presidential election, George Washington was unanimously elected president of the United States. With 69 electoral votes, Washington won the support of each participating elector. No other president since has come into office with a universal mandate to lead.

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Between December 15, 1788 and January 10, 1789, the presidential electors were chosen in each of the states. On February 4, 1789, the Electoral College convened. Ten states cast electoral votes: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. New York, however, failed to field a slate of electors. North Carolina and Rhode Island were unable to participate because they had not yet ratified the Constitution. After a quorum was finally established, the Congress counted and certified the electoral vote count on April 6.

Washington was both an obvious first choice for president and possibly the only truly viable choice. He was both a national hero and the favorite son of Virginia, the largest state at the time. Washington ascended to the presidency with practical experience, having served as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

According to Article II of the Constitution, each elector in the Electoral College possessed two votes. The candidate who received a majority of the votes was elected president. The candidate with the second most votes in the Electoral College, whether a majority or a plurality, was elected vice president. Behind Washington, John Adams, who most recently had served as the first U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, finished with 34 electoral votes and became the first vice president of the United States. Being from Massachusetts, Adams’ election provided the administration a regional balance between the northern and southern states.

Hearing the news of his decisive election, Washington set out from Mount Vernon to take his place in presidential history. Though filled with great anxiety, Washington reported for duty “in obedience to the public summons” and explained that “the voice of my Country called.”

On April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City, the first capital of the United States, Washington took the presidential oath of office. Washington, dressed in an American-made dark brown suit with white silk stockings and silver shoe buckles, also wore a steel-hilted sword and dark red overcoat.

With a hand on the Bible, a “sacred volume” borrowed from a local Masonic lodge and subsequently known as the “George Washington Inaugural Bible,” he said, “I, George Washington, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

At that moment, the Chancellor of the State of New York, Robert Livingston, the person who administered the oath to the first chief executive, exclaimed, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States!”

The father of our nation was quiet about his Christian faith. But there can be no doubt his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ was deep and heartfelt.

Below is a prayer attributed to our first President that says much about the man he was. It was found in his personal prayer book, written in his own hand.

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul.

Direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the everlasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life.

Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the Gospel. Give me repentance from dead works. Pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation. Teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments. Make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber. But daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life. Bless my family, friends and kindred unite us all in praising and glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father.

As I read about these first veterans of our country, I continue to be startled by their dedication to God, family, and country. Sir, thank you for your service.

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Festifall at Walnut Grove

“The benefits of education and of useful knowledge, generally diffused through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government.” Sam Houston

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This Revolutionary War Festival has been introducing visitors to life during these early times for 23 years. Reenactors make butter, baskets, and corn husk dolls. They craft wooden buckets and brooms, farm implements from molten iron, pottery vases, and cooking implements. It is fascinating to watch these creations from their beginnings to the finished products.

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Men, women, and children camp out in tents for two nights, and they wear the clothes of the late 18th century. The militia recreate the battle for the house against a group of Tories led by Bloody Bill Cunningham.

Image may contain: one or more peopleThis gentleman was sharing the skills of surveying during the 18th Century. President George Washington was a surveyor.
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These past two days I enjoyed meeting new friends, talking about the women during the Revolutionary War, and signing books. Two visitors shared stories with me that touched this author’s heart.

A former third grade teacher and her grandson stopped by my table, and she said she read “Courageous Kate” in her classroom every year until retirement. Then she passed the book on to her daughter for her to read to her third graders. Another family stopped by, who I have met at different historical events through the years; they home school their children. One of their daughters told me she had read “Courageous Kate” times! I bet she has it memorized by now.

Thank you, readers, for continuing to support my writing. It is so much fun to talk to you about our nation’s history and how we must continue to share the stories with the next generation, as well as each other.

October Events:

October 1-2 – Festifall at Walnut Grove

October 13 – DAR chapter at Myrtle Beach

October 15 – Patriots in Petticoats at Musgrove Mill