Martha Washington, a Lady of Culture and Domestic Skill

An 1878 portrait by Eliphalet Frazer Andrews.

Image via Wikipedia

On this Presidents Day week-end, we take a look back at history. . .

When George Washington took his oath of office in New York City on April 30, 1789, and assumed his new duties as President of the United States, his wife, Martha Washington, remained at home and wouldn’t join him until mid-May.  She watched her husband of 30 years depart with a mixture of bittersweet feelings, wondering “when or whether he will ever come home again.”  He was obeying his call to duty but had little hope of reaching the expectations of this high office. It was a difficult time in our country’s history.

In one of her later letters to a niece, she confided that she did not entirely enjoy her role as First Lady. She wrote that “many younger and gayer women would be extremely pleased” to be in her place; she would “much rather be at home.”

We wonder how many other First Ladies have said the same. . .

From the day she married President Washington in 1759, it is written that Mrs. Washington’s greatest concern was the comfort and happiness of her husband and her children. Coming from a cultivated Virginia society, she had much experience in making her guests feel welcome and put strangers at ease. However, she described herself as an “old-fashioned Virginia house-keeper”, a modest reference to her domestic skill.

In 1797, they said good-bye to public life and returned to their beloved Mount Vernon. George Washington died in 1799 and Martha died on May 22, 1802 at the age of 71.

Remembering our past, looking toward our future,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
http://www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com

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