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MARY AND MARTHA



THE MOTHER AND THE WIFE

OF

GEORGE WASHINGTON



BY

BENSON J. LOSSING, LL.D.

AUTHOR OF

"FIELD-BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION" "FIELD-BOOK OF THE WAR OF l8l2"
"CYCLOPAEDIA OF UNITED STATES HISTORY" ETC.



ILLUSTRATED

BY FACSIMILES OF PEN-AND-INK DRAWINGS

By H. ROSA



NEW YORK
HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE

1886






996453A



Copyright, 1886, by Harper & Brothers.



All rights reserved.



TO



MY YOUNG COUNTRYWOMEN

THIS BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIVES OF TWO OF THE MOST
ILLUSTRIOUS EXEMPLARS OF TRUE WOMANHOOD



Js Debicatcb

BY THE AUTHOR



INTRODUCTION.



So quiet, so unostentatious, so eminently domestic were
the lives of the mother and the wife of George Washing-
ton that the biographer and the historian have rarely men-
tioned theirs as distinct from their relations as mother and
wife of that illustrious man. For a faithful portraiture of
the character and deeds of either of these notable women,
the sum of trustworthy materials to be found in memoirs,
annals, or records, is very meagre. And yet the lives of
these two women were indissolubly associated with the
earthly destiny of one of the grandest characters in the
world's history : one as his maternal guide in his childhood
and youth, and the other as his conjugal companion and
counsellor in his manhood and exalted career.

From 1848 until late in i860, I was a frequent visitor at
Arlington House, in Virginia, the pleasant seat of the late
George Washington Parke Custis. It is situated upon high
ground on the right bank of the Potomac River, overlook-
ing the cities of Washington and Georgetown. Mr. Custis
was a grandson of Martha Washington, and one of the two
foster-children of her husband. He died in 1857, leaving
his estate to his only child, Mrs. Mary Custis Lee, the wife
of Col. Robert E. Lee, U. S. Army, who became the com-



V1U INTRODUCTION.

mander-in-chief of the Confederate military forces late in
the Civil War of i86i-'65. I continued my visits at Ar-
lington House until a short time before the family aban-
doned it and joined General Lee at Richmond in the spring
of 1861.

Arlington House was filled with treasures — precious
mementos of the distinguished family at Mount Vernon.
Furniture, plate, porcelain, pictures, account -books, and
manuscripts of various kinds — relics of the Washington
and Custis families — were there in abundance, and were
placed at my disposal for inspection, research, and use.

Mr. Custis was eighteen years of age when Washington
died, and twenty years old when his grandmother left the
earth. His recollections of Washington and his wife, of
his own personal experiences at Mount Vernon, and of his
acquaintances- and associates there, were very vivid. Dur-
ing many long conversations with Mr. Custis, of which I
made brief notes to assist memory, I obtained a large
amount of information, especially concerning his grand-
mother and her family. He had no clear remembrance of
Washington's mother, for he was only five years of age
when she died.

When, in 1859, Mrs. Lee placed in my hands, to arrange
and annotate for the press, the communications of her fa-
ther to the National Intelligencer for more than twenty
years, under the title of " Recollections of Washington," a
large quantity of autograph letters and documents pertain-
ing to the Washington and Custis families were put into



INTRODUCTION. IX

my possession. From these papers, and from others at Ar-
lington House, from bits of trustworthy information picked
up here and there, sometimes by accident but more fre-
quently by research during the past thirty-five years, I gath-
ered much knowledge concerning the mother and the wife
of Washington, which has hitherto been unrevealed to the
public. The threads of knowledge thus gathered form the
fabric of this volume, literary and artistic.

In delineating the career of Martha Washington I have
mingled sketches of events in the private and public life of
her husband in which she was directly or indirectly a par-
ticipant — such as amusements, fetes, military reviews, recep-
tions, entertainments, hospitalities at Mount Vernon, and,
notably, the life at various head-quarters of the army during
the war for independence, at which they resided together.

So with the illustrations. Among these may be found
pictures of head-quarters at which Mrs. Washington tarried
with her husband after the close of each campaign ; also
of the two churches at which they worshipped together a
greater part of their lives during forty years, and the Presi-
dential mansions in New York and Philadelphia. In the
delineation of other objects and events, care has been exer-
cised for securing accuracy in form and costume, and for
conforming to historical truth.

The engravings which illustrate the contents of this vol-
ume are fac-similes of pen-and-ink sketches made expressly

for this work.

Benson J. Lossing.
The Ridge, 1686.



CONTENTS,



MARY.

CHAPTER I.

John Ball and his career, 3; the Ball family in Virginia; William Ball
of Kent, 6; Joseph Ball and daughter Mary, 7; Mary Ball, birth,
parentage, and early years of, 7, S ; defective school education of
Mary, 9; her home education, 10; description of her person; visits
England, 11.

CHAPTER II.

Portrait of Mary Ball, 13; history of the portrait, 13-16; Washington
and Ball families at Cookham, England, 16, 17; Washington family
in England, 18, 19; the family in Virginia, 18 ; first emigrants to Vir-
ginia, 19; John Washington, 20; His son Augustine marries Man-
Ball, who becomes the mother of George Washington, 21; place of
the marriage ; birth of George Washington, 22, 23 ; discussion of the
subject, 23, 24 ; description of the portrait of Mary Ball ; the painter
of the portrait, 25, 26.

CHAPTER III.

Augustine Washington's home in Virginia, 27; the blessings of children ;
house destroyed by fire, 28 ; George Washington's first school-master ;
home near Fredericksburg, 29 ; laying of a memorial stone, 30,
31; death of Augustine Washington, 31; character of Mary Wash-
ington, 32, 33 ; Lawrence Washington, 34 ; the Mount Vernon es-
tates, 35 ; young Washington and the untamed colt, 36-38 ; naval
aspirations of the lad, 39 ; his disappointment, 40.

CHAPTER IV.

Lord Fairfax, 42, 43 ; young Washington his favorite ; Washington a
public surveyor, 43; death of Lawrence Washington, 44; George



Xll CONTENTS.

Washington inherits Mount Vernon; Elizabeth Lewis, 45; French
and Indian War, 46 ; Washington on a perilous mission, 47; in the
military service, 48; on General Braddock's staff, 49; letters to his
mother, 50-53; returns to Mount Vernon, 51; dissatisfaction with
the service, 52; commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces; member
of the House of Burgesses, 53.

CHAPTER V.

Marriages of Mary Washington's children, 55; her removal to Freder-
icksburg, 56; home at Fredericksburg, 56; absurd fictions, 57; news
from her distinguished son, 58 ; her domestic habits, faith, and forti-
tude, 59 ; her firmness and piety, 60 ; her fear of lightning, 61 ; visited
by her illustrious son, 62 ; attends a brilliant ball with American and
French officers, 63 ; visited by Lafayette, 64, 65; Washington's last
visit to his mother, 66 ; her personal appearance, 67.

CHAPTER VI.

Death of the mother of Washington, 69 ; her funeral, 70 ; a tribute to
her character ; a proposed monument to her memory; corner-stone of
a monument laid, 72; attendance and address of President Jackson
on the occasion, 73-75 ; poem by Mrs. Sigourney, 76 ; a monument
erected and utterly neglected, 77, 78. ~



MARTHA,



CHAPTER I.



The colonial court of Virginia; John Dandridge, 83; Miss Martha Dan-
dridge ; John Custis, 84; Custis marries Frances Parke, 84; his love-
letter, 85 ; matrimonial infelicity, 86 ; Daniel Parke Custis, 86; wooes
and wins Martha Dandridge, 87; impediments in the way removed,
87, 88 ; rector of St. Peter's Church, 89 ; marriage of Daniel Parke
Custis and Martha Dandridge, 90 ; Mrs. Custis's watch, 90, 91; their
children, 92 ; death of Mr. Custis, 94 ; colonels Washington and
Chamberlayne, 95; first meeting of Washington and Mrs. Custis, 96;
Washington's earlier tender attachments, 96, 97; his betrothal, 99;
leaves the army and becomes a legislator, 100; marriage of Colonel
Washington and Mrs. Custis, 101-103.



CONTENTS. Xlll



CHAPTER II.

Residence at the White House ; Washington assumes the care of his
wife's children and estate, 104; his personal appearance at that time,
and his estate, 105 ; domestic supplies from London, [07; 1 1 tiling,
etc., for the children, 108, 109 ; orders a harpsichord, 109; Mount
Vernon embellished.no; life at Mount Vernon, n 1-115 ; the chase,
112-115; social enjoyments, 115; horses and dogs at Mount Ver-
non, 116; Washington equipped for the road, 116; attendance at
Pohich Church, 117; balls and parties; methodical habits at Mount
Vernon, 118 ; Mrs. Washington's abounding goodness, 1 19.

CHAPTER III.

A new class of visitors at Mount Vernon; political aspect, 120; Wash-
ington engaged in public affairs, 121 ; death of Mrs. Washington's
daughter, 122; Charles Willson Peale paints portraits at Mount Ver-
non, 123; John Parke Custis and his desire to travel, 124; his be-
trothal and marriage, 125, 126; Mrs. Washington and her daughter-
in-law, 126; children of John Parke Custis, 127; the 6rst Continental
Congress, 12S ; Mrs. Washington's patriotism, 128, 129; doings of the
Congress, 129, 130; Patrick Henry's estimate of Washington, 130;
Washington Commander-in-chief, 131; letter to his wife, 132.

CHAPTER IV.

Alienation of friends; British troops in Boston, 134; Washington at
Cambridge, 135 ; Governor Dunmore alarms the Mount Vernon re-
gion, 136; Mrs. Washington's courage; sets out for Cambridge, 137;
at Philadelphia, 138; proceedings concerning a ball there, 139, 14";
Mrs. Washington avoids New York, 141; her journey to and arrival
at Cambridge, 142, 143 ; gloomy aspect of affairs, 144; Mrs. Washing-
ton and social life at Cambridge, 144; Mrs. Lucy Knox, 145.

CHAPTER V.

Affairs at Cambridge, 146; Boston besieged; alarm of the Loyalists, 147;
the British evacuate Boston, 148; alarming rumors from the Potomac,
148, 149; Mrs. Washington tarries at Cambridge, 149; visited by
Mercy Warren, 150; Mr. and Mrs. Custis, 150,151; Mrs. Washington
dines with Mrs. Warren, 151; visited by Phillis Wheatly, a slave,



XIV CONTENTS.

152 ; Mrs. Washington goes to New York, 153 ; inoculated for the
small-pox, 154; Mr. and Mrs. Custis at Mount Vernon, 154, 155; Lord
Dunmore in Chesapeake Bay, 155; his raid up the Potomac and men-
ace of Mount Vernon, 156; a plot to murder Washington, 156, 157;
attempt to poison him, 158; letter of Mrs. Washington, 158; stirring
military events, 159 ; position of Mrs. Washington, 160.

CHAPTER VI.

The army at Whitemarsh, 161; Mrs. Washington's arrival at head-quar-
ters; an expedition foiled, 162; Mrs. Washington's journey to White-
marsh and to Valley Forge, 165; head-quarters at Valley Forge, 166;
condition of the army at Valley Forge, 167-171; Mrs. Washington's
incessant labors for the comfort of the soldiers, 168; Mrs. Washing-
ton's description of the head-quarters at Valley Forge, 171 : disposi-
tion of the troops at Valley Forge, 172 ; celebrating the alliance with
the French, 173, 174 ; Mrs. Washington at the celebration, 174 ; Brit-
ish evacuate Philadelphia, 175; battle of Monmouth Court-house,
176 ; military events and the finances, 177.

CHAPTER VII.

Head-quarters at Middlebrook; Mrs. Washington's arrival at, 178; room
fitted up for her, 179; celebration of the anniversary of the French
alliance, 180-182 ; the "temple " and its adornments, 181, 182 ; social
life at head-quarters; personal notices of Washington and his wife,
183; distinguished visitors and a review, 184; a picturesque review,
185 ; the army at the Hudson Highlands, 185 ; military events and
finances, 186; Lafayette and French troops, 187.

CHAPTER VIII.

Head-quarters at Morristown,i8S ; Mrs. Washington's arrival there, 189;
she visits Mrs. Wilson on the way, 189, 190; a severe winter, 191;
the suffering army; alarms at head-quarters, 192; Mrs. Washington
visited by ladies ; these assist her in efforts for the relief of the sol-
diers, 193; General Schuyler and his family; a night at head-quar-
ters, 194; Colonel Hamilton and Miss Schuyler, 195 ; distinguished
visitors at head-quarters ; death of one of them, 196 ; Mrs. Washing-
ton returns to Mount Vernon; military events, 197; cantonments of
the American Army, 198.



CONTENTS. XV



CHAPTER IX.

Mrs. Washington assists an association of ladies, in Philadelphia, in pro
viding clothing for the soldiers; De Chastellux and Grieve <>n Mr>.
Washington, 200, 201; Mrs. Washington at head -quarters at New
Windsor, 201; Uzal Knapp, a lifeguardsman, 201, 204: a Christmas
dinner at head-quarters, 202-204; nuts and eggs, 203; little Anna
Brewster, 204, 205 ; Mount Vernon again threatened ; a compromise,
206; Mrs. Washington's life at New Windsor, 207; Washington visits
his home, 208; departure for the camp at Ybrktown, 2u<) ■, surrender
of Cornwallis; an ancient nurse, 210; death of J. P. Custi>; Wash-
ington adopts two of his children, 211; goes to Philadelphia with
Mrs. Washington, 212.

CHAPTER X.

Effect of the surrender of Cornwallis in England, 213; head-quarters at
Newburgh, 214; Mrs. Washington's arrival there, 215; grand fete ai
West Point, 215-217; the French army on the Hudson; French offi-
cers at head-quarters, 218 ; suggestion of a mutiny at Newburgh, 219;
Mrs. Washington and pardoned prisoners; disbandment of the army
begun, 220; Society of the Cincinnati; a tour in New York State;
Mrs. Washington ill; Congress votes an equestrian statue of Wash-
ington ; at Rocky Hill, 221; Mrs. Washington's final farewell to camp
life, 222; her gardening at Newburgh; charming social intercourse
at Princeton, 223; Washington's letter on matrimonial affairs, 224;
marriage of Dr. Stuart and Mrs. Custis; evacuation of New York,
225; Washington parts with his officers and resigns his commission,
226; accompanies Mrs. Washington to Mount Vernon, a private citi-
zen, 227; a joyous Christmas there, 228, 229.

CHAPTER XI.

Washington's letters on his retirement, 231; letters to the Marchioness
de Lafayette, 232, 233; coveted repose denied; plan for enlarging
the "cottage," 234; the new mansion, 235, 236; out-buildings and
grounds, 236-238; visit from Lafayette, 239; Mrs. Washington and
a French hound, 240; a chimney-piece presented, 240-242; Pine, a
painter, at Mount Vernon, 245; Houdon, a sculptor, there, 240; Mrs.
Graham and Samuel Vaughan, of England, visit Mount Vernon, 247.
248.

A



XVI CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XII.

The French minister and the Marchioness de Brienne visit Mount Ver-
non, 249; the marchioness charmed by her visit; paints miniature
likeness of Washington, 250, 251; Brissot de Warville visits Mount
Vernon ; his account of Mrs. Washington, 251; Washington's playful
letter to de Chastellux, 252 ; costly presents from French officers, 253 ;
new plan of civil government needed, 254; the constitutional conven-
tion and its results, 255; Washington chosen President of the United
States, 256 ; the secretary of Congress received at Mount Vernon,
257; Washington goes to New York, 258 ; incidents of his journey;
his inauguration, 25-9; a grand ball, 260; costumes at the ball, 261;
a fiction, 262.

CHAPTER XIII.

First Presidential mansion in New York, 263; Mrs. Washington begins
her journey to New York, 264; between Baltimore and Philadelphia,
265 ; reception at Philadelphia ; departure for New York, 266 ; at
Liberty Hall ; arrival at New York, 267; a dinner party, 26S ; morn-
ing calls and public reception, 269; methods of receptions, 270, 271;
the President's title discussed, 273; Presidential etiquette, 274-276.

CHAPTER XIV.

Mrs. Washington's life in New York, 277; epistolary correspondence be-
tween herself and husband destroyed, 278 ; her letter to Mercy War-
ren on her life in New York, 279-281; society in New York, 281;
the theatre, 282, 283; the " President's March " composed and intro-
duced, 2S3, 284; the President's eastern tour, 284; his English coach,
287, 2S8 ; New Year calls ; domestic life at the President's home, 288 ;
second Presidential mansion in New York, 289 ; soldiers come to
"head-quarters;" how Sundays were spent there, 291; the place of
the permanent residence of the national government considered, 291,
292 ; its removal to Philadelphia, 292 ; the President visits Rhode
Island, 293 ; departure for Mount Vernon and the journey thither,
294. 295-

CHAPTER XV.

Seat of government at Philadelphia, 296 ; first receptions there by the
President and Mrs. Washington, 297; breakfast at the President's
house; Mrs. Washington's social habits, 298; Washington's Southern



CONTENTS. XVII

tour, 299; social life in Philadelphia, 300; Mrs. Washington takes no
part in public affairs; ever a helpmate for her husband, 301 ; her
letter to Mrs. Hamilton, 302; her devotion to her husband, 303;
scurrilous attacks upon Washington's character, 304; Lafayette and
his family, 305; celebrations of Washington's birthday, 306; its cele-
bration in Philadelphia, 307; last levees and farewell dinner, 307, 308;
inauguration of the second President, 309; a grand banquet, 309, 310.

CHAPTER XVI.

Final retirement to Mount Vernon; young Lafayette, 311; the family
at Mount Vernon; repose disturbed, 312; Mrs. Washington's letter
to Mrs. Knox, 313; Mrs. Washington's household, 314; Home Rule
at Mount Vernon, 315, 316; Nelly Custis's account of domestic life
at Mount Vernon, 317, 318; her first ball, 318; Washington on love,
319, 320; Lawrence Lewis at Mount Vernon; Nelly Custis's suitors,
321, 322; marriage of Lawrence Lewis and Nelly Custis, 322, 323;
their residence at Mount Vernon, 323.

CHAPTER XVII.

A presentiment, 324; Washington's dream, 324, 325; Mrs. Washington'^
illness; Church and dancing assemblies at Alexandria, 326; death of
Washington, 327, 328 ; Monuments to his memory, 329, 330 ; sick-
ness and death of Martha Washington, 330, 331 ; the entombment at
Mount Vernon, 331; testimonials to the character of Washington,
332-334; portraits of Martha Washington, 334, 335; conclusion, 336.

APPENDIX.

Will of Martha Washington, 337-340.

INDEX, 341-348.



ILLUSTRATIONS.



PACE

Mary Ball Frontispiece

John Ball Preaching 3

Arms of the Ball Family 6

William Ball's Signature , 7

Mary Ball's Signature g

Mary Washington's Signature 10

Combined Arms of the Washington Family [8

Washington's Arms 19

Cave Castle 20

Fac-simile of the Entry of the Birth of Washington ... 22

The Washington Residence near Fredericksburg . 29

Memorial Stone. . . 30

The First Mansion at Mount Vernon 35

Young Washington and the Colt 37

Lawrence Washington 44

ROBT. DlNWIDDIE , 47

Mary Washington's House at Fredericksburg 57

Monument in Memory of Mary Washington 77



Martha Washington .Frontispiece

Martha Custis's Watch 91

Daniel Parke Custis 92

Martha Custis 93

Colonel Washington and Mrs. Custis 98

Arms of the Custis Family 108

Mrs. Washington's Children no



XX ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE

Washington equipped for the Chase 113

Pohich Church 117

John Parke Custis 125

Washington's Head-quarters at Cambridge 135

Washington's Head-quarters at New York 153

Washington's Head-quarters at Whitemarsh 163

Mrs. Washington's Journey to Valley Forge 166

Washington's Head-quarters at Valley Forge 169

Washington's Head-quarters at Morristown 191

Uzal Knapp 204

Washington's Head-quarters at Newburgh 215

Washington's Head-quarters at Rocky Hill 222

Mansion at Mount Vernon 235

Diagram of Grounds and Buildings 238

Italian Chimney-piece 241

Tablet on the Left 242

Centre Tablet. 242

Tablet on the Right 242

Elizabeth Parke Custis 246

Geo. Washington Parke Custis 246

Mrs. Washington's Sevres China , 254

President's House near Franklin Square, N. Y 264

Washington's English Coach 285

Panel on Washington's Coach 288

President's House on Broadway, N. Y 290

President's House in Philadelphia 297

E. P. Lewis (Nelly Custis) 315

Nelly Custis's Harpsichord 316

Summer-house at Mount Vernon 325

Christ Church, Alexandria 326

Shadow Portrait 334

Nelly Custis's Book-mark 336



MARY



MARY,

THE MOTHER OF WASHINGTON.



CHAPTER I.



" A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, forethought, strength and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel light. — Wordsworth.

The courtly knight, Sir John Froissart, the famous chron-
icler of the time of the Plantagenets, drew with a brilliant
pen a bold sketch of a "crazy preacher of Kent," as he
called him, who was an irrepressible reformer, and a leader
in Wat Tyler's rebellion against the nobility of England in
the 14th century.

John Ball was the mad preacher. He was of the class
of married priests so hated and harried by St. Dunstan
centuries before. A sturdy democrat — a prototype of the
socialists and nihilists of our time — John Ball, for fully twen-
ty years before he was silenced by the sharp and conclusive

1



2 MARY, THE MOTHER OF WASHINGTON.

argument of the executioner's axe, had harangued the yeo-
men in Kentish church-yards, in market-places, and at fairs,
always taking for his text his favorite couplet —

" When Adam delv'd and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?"

In spite of stocks, and the prison of the Archbishop of
Canterbury in which he had thrice languished ; in spite of
beatings in by-places and frequent insults, John Ball con-
tinually inveighed bitterly against the tyranny of rank and
wealth and privilege which oppressed the people. His in-
vectives were aimed at the nobles and prelates of the realm.
He preached the seminal doctrine of our Declaration of In-
dependence, pure and simple ; and the people listened to
him with eager ears and loving hearts, as a prophet and
evangelist.

There was cause for such preaching then. The candid
old chronicler says the "commonalty" were sorely op-
pressed, and were absolute bondmen to the privileged
class. " They are compelled by law and custom," he said,
" to plough the lands of gentlemen, to harvest the grain, to
carry it home to the barn, to thresh and winnow it ; they are
also bound to harvest the hay and carry it home, and to
hew the wood and carry it home."

Every Sunday, after mass, as the people came out of the
church, they gathered about John Ball. On one of these
occasions he exclaimed, says the chronicler, " My good
friends, things cannot go on well in England, nor ever will,
until everything shall be in common; when there shall
neither be vassal nor lord, and all distinctions levelled ;
when the lords shall be no more masters than ourselves.



JOHN BALL AS A PREACHER. j

How ill they have used us ! and for what reason do they
thus hold us in bondage ? Are we not all descended from
the same parents, Adam and Eve ? and what can they show,
or what reasons give, why they should be more the masters
than ourselves ? — except, perhaps, in making us labor and
work for them to spend in their pride. They are clothed
in velvets and rich stuffs, ornamented with ermine and
other furs, while we are forced to wear poor clothes. They
have wines, spices, and fine bread, when we have only rye




JOHN BALL PREACHING. (FROM A MS. OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURV.)



and the refuse of the straw ; and, if we drink, it must be
water. They have handsome seats and manors, when we
must brave the wind and rain in our labors in the field ;
but it is from our labor they have wherewith to support their
pomp. We are called slaves ; and if we do not perform
our services, we are beaten, and we have not any sovereign
to whom we can complain, or who wishes to hear us and do
justice."

The people murmured, "John Ball speaks the truth."
But for these utterances he was imprisoned by the Arch-



4 MARY, THE MOTHER OF WASHINGTON.

bishop of Canterbury. This act, and an unjust tax levied
at about that time, set England ablaze, from sea to sea,
with popular indignation. A hundred thousand Kentish
men and others, led by Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, entered
Canterbury (138 1), plundered the archbishop's palace, took
John Ball from prison, and set him on a horse as their
leader, and pressed on towards London, killing every lawyer



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