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tv   The Presidency Elizabeth Powel - George Washingtons Political Confidante  CSPAN  September 6, 2022 3:13pm-4:08pm EDT

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religious language, both in the gettysburg address and ultimately in the second inaugural. he was freed up to do so by emancipation, which ended the immoral qualities of the constitution of compromise, and open a possibility of a moral accounting. that was very appropriate at a funeral. it was, after all, in a way, a commemorative funeral for people who had died. in the second inaugural, lincoln would give specific meaning to the deaths of people who died fighting a civil war. >> you can watch the full program and other programs of that u.s. presidents on our website, slash history. >> our weekly series the presidency highlights of the politics, policies, and legacies of u.s. presidents and first ladies. up next, we hear about george washington's friendship with elizabeth powell, a philadelphia hostess whose political salons attracted, among others, constitutional convention delegates, a
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surviving eight-page letter provides a glimpse into her role as confident. she implored washington to stand for a second term as president, though he had expressed his own doubts. hi everyone my name is samantha snyder. i am the reference librarian at george washington's mount vernon. i am so excited to be with you here today with a colleague of mine, kayla anthony. we will be discussing elizabeth william powel and her husband, samuel powel, two of george washington's very closest friends. we figure with this being the year of the woman why not talk about a super powerful woman that helped shape the founding of the republic? i myself am a powel scholar. i have been working on the project that i've been doing for about three years. i will have a chapter coming out in an edited volume that will be published by the university of virginia press in january of 2022. i very much look forward to sharing that with you all in the future. i'm going to go ahead and pass it over to my
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colleague and dear friend, kayla anthony. i will pass it over to you. >> thank you so much sam. thank you to mount vernon for asking me to speak today. i'm excited to also share elizabeth's story. i think you will all enjoy it very much. i am executive director for the philadelphia society for the preservation of landmarks. we are an 89 year old nonprofit which has saved -- the powell house, where i am tonight. i am involved with the powel house. it is the ancestral home of samuel and elizabeth powel. we have the -- house which is just around the corner from here in society hill at philadelphia. we have germantown, in historic queensboro. our mission is to not only preserve our historic sites but also to provide related cultural educational historical programming. i thought it would be interesting to talk a little bit about how we came about. our organization, as i mentioned, is 89 year old.
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90 next year. we were founded in 1931 by a woman called francis anne worcester. much like mount vernon, we were founded by a very strong matriarch. the organization was born, essentially to save the powel house from demolition. it was slated to be knocked down for a taxi cab parking lot. francis and and her colleagues and friends rally together in managed to raise about $30,000 in the height of the great depression to save not only the powel house but the house that was next door, originally. a lot of advocacy became long term stewardship. they were able to acquire more properties. that is who we are. we are excited [inaudible] feel like this is going to be really helpful for elizabeth story in particular [inaudible] so [inaudible] -- >> this is samuel powel, born in 1738 into a wealthy philadelphia family.
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his grandfather was a carpenter and amassed quite a bit of wealth which he >> this is samuel powel, born in 1738 into a wealthy philadelphia family. his grandfather was a carpenter and amassed quite a bit of wealth which he inherited is in the early twenties. he also, while, his biggest claim to fame as opposed was the fact that he was the last mayor of philadelphia under the british crown. and the first mayor of philadelphia under the new republic. he also had his hand in a number of organizations in
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philadelphia. he was a member of the lab or a company in philadelphia, the american philosophical society, the hand in hand choir company -- [inaudible] if you are familiar with george washington you can imagine that that was an interesting topic between the two of them. powel as served as pennsylvania state senate as well as the speaker. he was really well politically connected individual in philadelphia i will turn it back over to sam to talk a little bit about elizabeth. >> sure, so i am happy to talk about elizabeth. this is actually, i want to briefly mention this, this is a new portrait that we recently acquired thanks to an anonymous donor, of elizabeth powell from 1793. this is the height of her social scene, which kayla will
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talk more about. how the powel's had their home being the social epicenter. this is a portrait we think was down by joseph wright. who actually died from the yellow fever epidemic. just like samuel powell did. this portrait was never finished, but i think it has an amazing -- it really shows her presence and who she was as a person. let me tell you a little bit about who she was, prior to knowing george washington. elizabeth was born in 1742, in philadelphia, to two very wealthy families. her father was a merchant. her mother was a member of a shippen family. some of you may recognize the name ship in, if you have ever watched turn, peggy shippen arnold was actually elizabeth's second cousin. there was actually a connection there. she grew up very wealthy. likely educated
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by her mother. she and her sisters have a lot of fun and philadelphia during the french and indian war when soldiers were quartered in philadelphia. she they would go to assemblies. she would go fishing. she and her sisters, the three of them were called the three goddesses. i would like to think they were very much the skylar sisters of philadelphia just a few years earlier. elizabeth of course married samuel on august 7th, 1769. they purchased a house on third street, which i know kayla will tell us more about. >> that is where i am today actually. this is the powel on 422 south third street in philadelphia. please come visit us, we are open for terrorist currently thursday to thundering. 11 to 3 pm. starts on the hour. we would love to see you there. sam if you can get away or if you around the philadelphia area it is great to have the tours. they are happening right now during the
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current circumstances with covid. this is the powel house this is where sam and elizabeth moved into. it was originally bill in 1768 by charles steadman. he was also a merchant. unfortunately he went bankrupt and shortly thereafter samuel purchase a house. this place really became the epicenter of social life in philadelphia. the socially elite gathered here frequently as well as the political elite. while it is an important place to not only host family members and various friends of the powels it was also a place where they hosted various intellectual salons of the time period. the room that i am in, the ballroom, we like to say this is where the magic happened. this is where elizabeth would've been hosting her salons. the marquis de châtellux noted in his travels
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that she was one of the most european styled salons, the ones that elizabeth was hosting here. this was a way to engage in different conversations, intellectual conversations on different topics as far as novels, politics, and elizabeth later in her life commented on how she hosted many of the constitutional convention delegates here. that was a frequent topic at her house. it is interesting to think about how a woman in the 18 century could use what was afforded to her, this salon, in order to influence politics that were going on not only in philadelphia but nationally. that is one of her claim to fame's here in philadelphia. she was well sought after. sam can talk more about this if you like. people are coming to philadelphia to see her! maybe
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more so her than even samuel. [laughs] so, one thing like i mentioned the continental convention delegates were coming to visit here for her salons. they were friends and business associatea with the powel's. maybe perhaps of the most import once you may have heard of, number of founding fathers you may have heard of. benjamin franklin with a guest here, john adams and abigail adams. the marquee to lafayette. the marquis de châtellux, of course. and our beloved george and marsha washington. who became very close friends with the powels. they lived -- they might have known each other earlier but they properly developed a friendship around the 70s and
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80s when the washington's live next door to the powel house. sam would you like to talk a little bit more about the washington's relationship with the powels? >> absolutely, kayla, thank you! the washington's live next door to the powel's in 1781 till 1782. this is actually from 1800's. it is an engraving of the third street. done by an artist called william birch. the powell house itself is just in the background. the house that the washington's rented was right next door to that. they were there for just a few months but during the few months i think is really when they started to develop a close friendship. kayla is right. everyone was going through the powel house. of course if you are a washington fan and you know who do the marquis de chatellux was at that point
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washington is about finished with the war he is going back into the social scene he didn't really get to spend a lot of time in the city centers. he was a bit behind in the cultural trends. i think that the powel's, from what i read, they were very much at first leading washington and martha into society. during the 1780, even after the washington's left philadelphia, the two of them washington and samuel really started to develop their friendship elizabeth and washington would trade publications back and forth. it highlights how well read and educated she was. washington sent her a copy of visions of
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columbus and one of chantellux's publications and a whole host of others. samuel and washington had their agricultural collection. samuel sent washington some seeds. washington actually notes that in his diary. the seeds are growing while, they are from mr. powel in philadelphia. they very much had a fun friendship. it definitely was advantageous for both of them they really did connect on a very personal level. and that is definitely -- what i do want to talk about sight when the howls came to mount vernon to see the washington's just after the constitutional convention in 1787. the washington's went
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back to mount vernon and the powel's made the decision to visit elizabeth sister, mary welling bernard, down -- those familiar with revolutionary history might recognize the name william break the surge. he committed suicide in 1787. mary burke was left to run this large monte shun. elizabeth and her sister were close. they were making their trip down to visit her. they ended up stopping at mount vernon for four days. samuel, on the trip down, kept a really amazing travel journal that is very cool to trace how a couple would've traveled through maryland, delaware, virginia. they stay at gatsby's tavern, which is pretty cool. they arrive at mount vernon. samuel goes through great detail of seeing the house itself. it is actually one of the best documentation that we have of the house. 1787 a new room is being completed. -- things have been installed. samuel comments
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on the new mantle in the room. he says he thought it would be prettier without the columns. [laughs] i think that is kind of funny. the other thing that he says is that when they are standing out on the piazza he says it is probably the most charming seat he has ever seen in america. that is a very cool quote that we often use. i think very fitting for samuel who has traveled so much to be so intrigued by the house itself. this image, actually, is one of our very special things that we have in our collection it is what we call the powel coach. there is a whole story behind it so i won't go into great detail but it is one of the only surviving coaches from this period it is a wonderful shape it is a really neat image they did not
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own this coach yet when they came to mount vernon but i thought it was cool to imagine it pulling up to the mansion. them coming out and seeing the house for the first time. with that, after they left and went on to the west over the came back once more. of course washington had his two years before he was elected president of the united states. when the temporary seat of the government was moved to philadelphia the howls and the washington's they got to be in the same place again. in that time the powel's and the washington's hung out. they did things like go to the circus. they also went two plays they were very much kind of a respite of entertainment for the washington's but they also discussed politics, of course. samuel was speaker of the state senate at that point.
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washington and him were very much interacting. elizabeth was very much a political adviser to him as well. i do want to start talking about a very important letter that we have in our collection. i know the images a little small. you cannot see this on our website if you go to our digital collections you -- can see awe. washington was hesitant to run a second term. he had been in politics for 40 plus years at that point. he very much wanted to go back to mount vernon and retire under his own vine in his own fig tree. he spoke with elizabeth about that, and his cabinet, that he wanted to step down. however, he had multiple conversations with elizabeth about it. in this letter she actually wrote this in response to their final conversation which was the night before the
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monthlong election process began this letter is incredibly powerful! it is eight pages long. it is full of reasons why washington should continue on and service second term. she is upset that he would still have this desire to step down, even though it was the night before the election was beginning. it would be detrimental to society. it is just a great letter! i actually have found some really neat things in my research that i'm going to debut today on this video to things that i found is that this letter has edits from her husband samuel. that is unique to this letter, at least from what i have found in her many, many, letters that are located here or in the historical society of pennsylvania. that to me shows how important
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elizabeth opinion was to george. even though samuel read over the letter, they still decided to keep it in her hand. her hand, her ideas, would carry the most weight as far as convincing him to run. the other thing that i found is that she used a political treatise and borrowed some quotes from this book. she crafted her own arguments within that book, or with those sentiments from the book and she uses that from her letter. she was very much taking separation from the book. john adams did something similar with the, remember the ladies, letter from 1776. this letter is awesome. while we have it in our collection, it is not written in mount vernon. it was very much written at the powel house. kayla, i will start
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talking and that you talk more about how you interpret elizabeth lettering. >> this letter is really important to the narrative. i think that santa a great job of rehabbing it. it is really an amazing example of a woman making these comments to the president of the united states. the only example of a non cabinet maker -- it is kind of incredible -- also, the way that she crafts this letter it is extremely eloquent. it is a well thought out argument. it is really indicative of her intellect and, obviously, the mutual respect that washington had for her. she points out, sam you can probably quote this better than i can, but she points out that is it not a selfish decision to go back to mount vernon? for the fate of saving the country, this new country, it may not survive without you. this is
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really interesting. she wasn't a woman -- she didn't have a formal education, of course. this was the 18th century. she was extremely well read. she did not travel, as the marquis de chastellux points out in his journal. she was extremely intellectual. she immersed herself in civic education. she read periodicals, newspapers, novels and books. it is really, i feel like, this is the epicenter of all of her intellect. it is really seen in this letter. how things were done, obviously, we cannot say that she was the only reason that washington made his decision but i certainly think it would've influenced him. without a doubt. >> i agree. >> i don't know if you mentioned it, sam, again i cannot quote the manuscripts quite like you can -- >> write! that's okay.
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[laughs] >> elizabeth writes, of course, he is elected unanimously. he accepts the position, even though he maybe did not want to. much later in a letter to a colleague, he writes that his confidential friends well know that, and you can finish it if you like, this position is not to be taken lightly. it is a difficult decision to make. and saying that he is morally saying that elizabeth is one of his confidential friends this example of the proof of that which i think is quite amazing for an 18th century woman, we don't think that he would've had the same sort of status, and intellectual status and we would've expected him to have with a male so this, i think, it's a really good example of how she was able to use her political influence and what was afforded to her as a woman as a way to influence the nation. >> absolutely. i agree with you. you explained that
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very well. and the quote is -- it was only after a long and painful conflict in my own breast, i think that's the dramatic quote. [laughs] >> a little bit of dramatic -- >> [laughs] >> but it's an inch stream the important letter to us as well, we don't obviously have the original version at the library of congress, that's at mount vernon. -- and i think that's also really awesome commentary on their relationship because this means that she, -- he clearly valued each other's opinion, for whatever reason, they felt that this would be more effective if it was in their hand and not sam's. it was clear then, the
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-- he also commented on how equal the relationship was, and i think that this is a good example of that as well, that they were very respectful of one another, they had a loving relationship, two friends equally matched in taste, intellect, and i can't remember the last adjective there. but it's true. this letter is a good example of that is well. >> i agree. thank you! that was a wonderful explanation. did we want -- did you want me to go ahead and explain what happened next, after this letter and after washington -- >> yes -- it was 1792. shortly thereafter, we are looking at 1793, so
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that's called the wave of the colorado democrat came through. and obviously, it devastated philadelphia. they fled back to mount vernon, george and martha washington, and heated -- you told me, there is an account -- >> yes, correct. >> if you want to elaborate a little bit more. that would be great. >> yes. so as kayla said, the yellow fever exploded in philadelphia. not dissimilar to what we are going to deal with today. but the powell's, they were affected, as many families were, samuel powell died of the yellow fever. and the washington's did
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invite them with them to flee back to mount vernon, there is a very sad, sad letter from elizabeth to martha -- it's sad when you think about what happens two weeks later. it's their turning down to come down to mount vernon. she says that samuel thought that it would be better to stay, although for her own happiness, he wanted her to make her own decision, and for his happiness, he wanted her to make her own decision. because if she died, he would be very sad. if -- she says the same thing, she says she wasn't there with samuel, it would break her heart. and sadly, two weeks later, samuel passes away. she wasn't with him. she actually went to her brother's house in western -- just outside of philadelphia. so it's very heartbreaking. there is not a letter from the
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washington's to elizabeth, there is no condolence letter. but i'm sure that they visited her when they went back to philadelphia nearly mediately and he was -- his controller of the treasury, on the 1st of october, and when the comptroller wrote, he said he mentioned mr. powell's death with the most sincere regret, so clearly, that was -- that was more than he would say for other people, as he lifted out the desk. that shows how close the washingtons were to the powells, and how sad that must of been to george washington, to lose another good friend of his. so they really had just a special, special relationship. and so after samuel dies, elizabeth goes into mourning. however, as you mentioned, she is incredibly politically
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connected. she doesn't just stop living with -- it was partially because she does have the washingtons in philadelphia, and she very much keeps her friendship up with them. they continue to get together for tea and dinners. but then, when washington decides to step down and not serve a third term, elizabeth loses one of her best friends, and he goes back to mount vernon. before he leaves, they have an auction where they sell off excess furniture and sundry's that the adams administration didn't want, so elizabeth went to that auction and found a piece of furniture that she very much wanted for herself. it was the presidential desk. so that is a picture of the desk. and this was the desk washington used for eight years. she writes a letter to him, even though they're scratches on, and washington wanted to sell it for her for a discount. she
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said she couldn't imagine anything more valuable then desk that was the repository for basically creating the government that held all these documents. and so, i think it's actually very cool, about the desk, washington had it, but elizabeth used it to write all these letters, to live her life as a widow, and run this business and all of these things she had. she had the desk for the rest of her life. but the reason why i want to talk about it is not necessarily because she used it as a powerful woman, she used her power in a different way when she acquired the desk. so as many of you know, if you are george and martha washington fans, you know that martha washington burned what she thought was all of the correspondence between her and george and there's two surviving letters. but elizabeth happened to find a bundle of letters in this desk.
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so she finds this bundle of letters that is from martha to george. and it's all wrapped up in washington's handwriting and she writes to washington, and this is very much there funniest exchange. she says that she's found a bundle of love letters from a woman written in the most solemn sanction, and she teases him, and she doesn't open them, but she wants him to know that she has them. she very quickly goes, i'm just kidding, there from martha. so it's a very cute little exchange. that's the same letter where she was very poignant about using the desk. but then, washington writes back. so after he got to mount vernon is when he got the letter from her. so he ends up writing her back, and he writes to her, as he promised, he writes her a detailed description of his trip back to mount vernon. he very much wanted to know how he was doing,
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how the roads were, et cetera, et cetera. but at the beginning of the letter, he very much acknowledges her funny little quip about finding a bundle of love letters, and he says something about how that would make him nervous if he had any love letters at all. and he says that the letters were filled with sentiments of friendship rather than have a enamored love, and the warmth that she was inferring, the letters would be of that warmth if they were committed to the flames. so i don't think that's him saying that he and martha didnt have a loving relationship, i do think that it's sweet, actually, that it gives another glimpse into martha and georgia's marriage. but also into elizabeth and george's friendship. they do continue to correspond up until the last year of george's life. he goes back to philadelphia once more, and they have tea together, they have dinner
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together, she helps him give them things to martha -- and they unfortunately don't get to see each other again after the end of 1798. george washington passes away, and a chapter of her life closes, but she led quite a life with washington as a friend. so i do have a final little anecdote. did you want to add anything to that? >> i was going to comment that i think it's endearing that she's almost teasing him about his love letters. it's interesting. she can write this very serious letter about how the fate of the new nation relies on his decision, and she can also, on the other side of the coin, say -- poke at him and tease him a little bit -- the kind of relationship that they had, and
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it's not just the political or advantageous relationship. clearly, they were very intimate and friendly with one another. i think it's very sweet. >> absolutely. i completely agree. the little turned that she can take with him. >> and the thing is, she did not just stop her life. >> oh no, exactly. >> -- they had four children that died very early on in their infancy, the oldest made it to two years, so they didn't have any children. they didn't have any heirs. but that didn't keep her from having a lasting impact in philadelphia. she adopts the later generation, and i think it's fascinating that she
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becomes so close to some of washington's relatives. maybe you can tell us a little bit more about that. >> absolutely. so this picture of washington, and this little excerpt of a letter, does give a good way to talk about -- she did have a very close relationship with not only george and martha washington, but also bushrod washington, some of you might recognize the name of -- his nephew who became an associate supreme court justice. he was actually the first owner of mount vernon after martha washington died. elizabeth knew him first when he was a little young upstart 21-year-old law student, and the washington's introduced him to the powell's. i think, in a similar way that the washington's were very much lead into a lead society, they
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definitely introduce bushrod into the elite society of philadelphia, and elizabeth did not have children of her home, so she very much took a liking to bushrod. and of course, nieces and nephews, and i will talk about one of the nephews. and they didn't -- one of my favorite anecdotes, where he writes letters back to his mother, several letters, describing how much he loves elizabeth and how his friendship increases for her every day and he doesn't know when it will end -- she very much teases him a lot, the way of teaching him is through teasing him. he comes with a watch chain that he's wearing that he's very proud of, but then she promptly tells him that it's not good enough, and he comes back the next day and she has a new watch chain for him and it's just very cute. and there is a portrait that
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they bushrod had done in philadelphia -- the powels helped pick out the portrait. there's another anecdote where bushrod says that benbridge would be lucky to paint him, and he says that he doesn't mean that he would be lucky to paint him as a person, but he said that to elizabeth. she latched onto that, and tells him that he would think himself a perfect adonis, and bushrod says he blushed and the reproof. they had a good laugh about it, and it's a very sweet little anecdote. and then the other person that she was very close with nellie. throughout nearly five writes about elizabeth, right back to philadelphia to her best friend. i was asking about elizabeth. tells elizabeth gibson to update elizabeth powel on nellie's life. one letter she says tell my dear friend mrs. powel that her little nellie has become a
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grandmother. elizabeth was very much connected with these descendants long after george washington had died. the last thing i want to talk about before we take some questions, i am so excited to hear that we have questions, is this portrait and this little excerpt. this portrait is done by an artist named joseph wright, who actually painted the portrait that i talked about earlier above elizabeth powel. this was done in about 1784, i believe. the powel's actually owned a copy of this portrait. this image is the exact portrait that the powel's owned formerly at the philadelphia history museum --
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now with drexel university, the powel's acquired it sometime in the 1780's. it is a wonderful portrait of washington. this is actually one of the best portraits, but elizabeth powell's nephew did not think so. [laughs] so, this is a very cool little glimpse into elizabeth friendship with bushrod washington, but also very close relationship with her nephew. we are so grateful to her nephew's descendants because they have been connected with mount vernon for many, many, years. i meant to mention that earlier -- oh, go ahead. >> and landmarks! >> correct, correct. so however many great grandfathers, john powel, this is written by samuel powell, this little note written by 1876. samuel powell juniors, elizabeth great nephew, born in 1818. she very much knew him. he was her little, like, she calls him her little pet in multiple letters. i think it is very sweet. this describes, in the 19th century sometime after 1818, bushrod washington when he was riding the circuit as a supreme court justice, probably much prior to this, was eating dinner with elizabeth powell every sunday
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he was in philadelphia. this describes dinners that bushrod would attend with elizabeth. and her nephew, who elizabeth formally adopted, would come as well. little samuel powell would also be there. at this point elizabeth was not living in the house, however, she was living in her own mansion that she had built. she clearly had this portrait hanging in a very prominent place because when john hair powel would be there, he would delight in teasing elizabeth that the portrait of washington, that it was not an admirable likeness. she would get very flustered and upset, she would always appeal to bushrod washington who would
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satisfy her and say it was a very accurate likeness. it was a wonderful portrait. i think it is a very cute glimpse into her life, her relationship with her nephew and also that bushrod would honor her in her opinion so many years later. as a final thing i think it is amazing that she hung a portrait of george washington in her house. that hung in her house for the rest of her life. she carried on his legacy, she carried on the legacy of all of the other founders. it is just a really cool way to think of this woman being her own independent woman. carrying forth the stories. she lived to be 87, a very long and rich life. that is all i have. i am really excited to take questions. kayla, do you have
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anything else that you want to add before we take questions? >> no, thank you. >> okay, wonderful. so cynthia miller, i recognize this name, one of our greatest fans, cynthia says i am interested in the balls held at the powel house. could you possibly discuss a bit more about those? what was served, what people wore, who attended, was discussed, etc.? i do want to say the five plume hat, that is one of my favorites -- >> yeah, tell them about that and then i can chime in. >> yep. one thing i have found in my research that people wore at the powel house, there is a young woman named and ship in livingston, a young relative of
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elizabeth. a young woman, same age as bushrod, in the early 1780's. she talked a lot about bushrod actually. she describes one ball in detail, her getting ready for the ball. it took all day! she showed up wearing a five plumed hat. five giant feathers in the french style. i love to imagine that outfit at the powel house, and what kind of performance she was putting on. how she was portraying this genteel woman as a young woman too. that was my little bit about what people were wearing. >> to speak a little bit about what was being served, elizabeth was well-known for her dinners. they were typically three course dinners. they were very, very, decadent. i think the most famous example of this is john adams's diary where he writes about a most sinful feast again at the powel's. all the things that could delight the eye. he goes on to describe a lot of different suites and all kinds of alcohol. it was a very decadent affair. i think the best part about that quote the, to be honest, is when they
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drink all the madeira in the place and then they head to christ church -- gives you an idea of what kind of parties they might have been. john adams also wrote about giving a toast to elizabeth here. it was very embarrassing but we don't know what he said but he didn't say it very well. >> whatever it was -- [laughs] >> it's funny, he comments that, oh, she never did like me very much. it is kind of funny. another really important letter that we know of was from sara franklin page. the daughter of benjamin franklin to her. on her father's birthday, evidently, she dance with the general on his 20th wedding anniversary at the powel's. i
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imagine it would have been in the very room where i am sitting right now. as we've discussed, it could've been anything from entertainment of the day, it could've been, absolutely was some political affairs. they were often coming over after they had these deliberations. it was really the epicenter of social life. and the powel's were right at the center of it. this was the place to be. >> absolutely, absolutely. all right, susan mcgill says, how do we know that samuel edited elizabeth's letter to george washington urging him to run for another term? the reason why we know that is this is just kind of basic in all of my research i have learned the powel's handwriting very well. it's kind of a funny thing, i was actually going to put a screen cap of the letter on our instagram. we have it scanned,
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i accidentally zoomed into close on the letter when trying to take a screenshot. all of a sudden i had looked at that letter so many times, i saw on the inside page there was a word written above one which wasn't an edit. i realized, that is not elizabeth's handwriting, that is samuels handwriting. i noticed throughout the rest of the letter that there are multiple edits in his hand. that is how we know. yeah, yeah. it's funny when you can discover after doing so much research. things always pop up for me. that is but is very fun. i have so enjoyed the very multiple layers to the powell story. all the documents and all that. >> we are very fortunate that elizabeth liked to write. >> yes, indeed! and that she like to make copies of her letters. i don't know how she did all that, especially with all the financial records he left behind to. she was a busy woman, with that desk! >> tammy, hi
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tammy! does samuel powel's descriptions sound great. did he also described the other washington family members that were present during their visit? yes! he does. i meant to bring that up earlier. bushrod washington comes to mount vernon to dine with them and his wife at that point. he briefly mentions that the grandchildren are there. actually, they go to the ruins of bells are plantation. washington brings them to see the ruins. if you are a virginian, you might recognize the name bellevue are. baylor is now for about four. that is where some of george washington's best friends lived. samuel brings up visiting the ruins it doesn't talk about george and sally's house it is a cool thing for
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washington to do. its very personal the other relatives that he brings up or not at mount vernon but when they are going down west over they stop in fredericksburg may have dinner with mary ball washington and betty washington louis so i believe that is some of the only friends of the washington's that ever met mary ball washington. i think that is really cool when i was looking through the travel journal. we have an excerpt of it a mount vernon but i found the full travel journal and i thought, wow! yet another connection that they have so yes, yes he does described friends and family. >> tammy again, did elizabeth ever right to fanny basset and major george augustan washington? no, she does not write to them directly. she talks about george agustin washington actually when they are at mount vernon samuel does but then
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elizabeth writes to martha, after they have come back to mount vernon to philadelphia and she asked how fanny is doing. i believe we said something briefly about george augusta washington. he actually passed away when elizabeth was having her 50th birthday party. so the washington's could not attend that birthday. so yeah, she did know who they were. all right, cynthia miller again. all right! could you also talk about the written house clock in the house and its significance to the house. as well as how the house -- kayla, i will let you answer that. >> i may not be able to answer all of that. so we do have to rittenhouse clocks, a david rittenhouse clock on by the
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philadelphia museum. and then we have benjamin rittenhouse clock. but the david rittenhouse clock is actually downstairs in samuel's office, what we portray as samuel's office. it is interesting, because in philadelphia at the time the mineral very influenced by the indictment period. they are interested in ways to control their environment. o'clock, that one is has a metal face. you might be talking about the benjamin run. it also has the astrological face. or the astronomical face. it is actually just behind me in the hallway. it is believed to be the first one that benjamin rittenhouse did of that kind not sure if that was the question but the david rittenhouse clock i do not know the maker of that case i'm not sure that i know the maker of this one either. but we do know the benjamin rittenhouse gone.
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i'm not sure how it came to reside here. that is a great question. i will have to look into that. >> susan. [laughs] where is the washington desk now? he it was also at the philadelphia history museum. i believe it is now with the collection currently stewarded by drexel. i don't want to get this wrong. i don't go into detail but i do know it is safe and sound. >> it is with drexel's collection. i believe i'm sure that it is in storage >> yeah, yeah. >> we would love to come back! >> yes, exactly. susan mcgill, what happened to the love letters that elizabeth found in the desk. >> so, in
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that letter, she does say to washington that she will give them to tobias lear, but at first, he doesn't want them. he is too nervous that it's personal correspondence between martha and george, which i think is very interesting, because he was his longtime secretary. you would think there would have been some overlap. but maybe not. maybe he did respect george and martha's privacy. but she does eventually give the bundle to tobias, and he brings them back to washington -- just a glimpse into how people wrote letters and how -- specifically notes that she has funded them up with her own paper, and then three seals of her blessed friends arms that she herself uses. so she makes sure washington knows that she has seen the bundle but has not looked at the bundle. so sadly, i think, they were probably burned as well. although i do
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really love the parallel of the fact that the two letters that survive, that we know of, were found in a desk. then these were found in the desk. so clearly, they weren't very good at taking their letters out of desks. [laughs] so with this, i'm very happy that you were all able to join us today, and kayla, did you have any final things that you wanted to say? >> this was great! just wanted to thank mount vernon and thank you, sam, for all of the things you do. >> thank you! >> we are looking forward to seeing more of what your research teaches us. >> i also want to say thank you to the powell descendants who are watching. we are grateful for you, and all the stewardship and love of your
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family's history. it's made my life so fun. and yes. that's all for me, and if anyone has more questions, i'm happy to answer them. you can find my email on our website, and i'm sure kayla would love to answer more questions too. definitely go visit powel house. it is a beautiful house, i have loved it every time i visit. kayla has so much knowledge, andknow h knowledge. -- so with that. [inaudible] >> thank you again for joining us.i hope to talk about elizabeth again soon. >> if you are enjoying american history tv, and sign up for newsletter with the qr code on the screen. lectures in history, the
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