President George Washington’s birthday is actually February 11. Sort of. An entry written by George Washington’s father in the family Bible records the date of his birth as February 11, 1732. In 1752, the British government and American colonies changed from the Gregorian to the Julian Calendar, thus moving Washington’s birthday by 11 days to February 22. (Great information about other calendars at the link.) I’ve read accounts that he celebrated his birthday twice each February for a while.
Fast forward to 1968 when President Richard Nixon signed HR15951 into law, naming February 22 as Presidents’ Day, to honor both President Washington and President Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, but it made more sense to have one national holiday instead of two in the month of February. I understand why Nixon combined the dates, honoring both presidents into one national holiday.
In my home and on my blog, I honor them separately.
George Washington was more than our first president. He was an innovative farmer, surveyor, expert horseman, and lead us to victory in the Revolutionary War. By the way, he served this country without pay during the war.
I read an account of his inauguration as the first President of the United States that really touched me. It is said that, when he stepped out onto the balcony of Federal Hall, the throngs of people attending this historic event went wild. Washington was so obviously overcome with emotion that the crowd immediately fell into a hush. After he took the oath of office, they went wild again. Must have really been something. Go here for some more fun.
My favorite part from his first inaugural address: “…the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” How true that has proven to be.
A movement was afoot when his tenure as president was fulfilled. Many people wanted him to be president for life, but he refused. It smelled of the authoritarian government he had just helped colonists defeat.
A party was held for him weeks after the inauguration when Mrs. Washington arrived in New York. The Museum of the City of New York has an on-line exhibit of some of the clothes worn to the festivities.
His home, Mount Vernon, has been meticulously maintained. Visit the Mount Vernon website. It’s a wonderful website, full of history and fun. The Mount Vernon website also has a wonderful biography of Martha Washington.
Martha Washington’s crab soup is purportedly one of President Washington’s favorites. The recipe is said to be her authentic recipe. I don’t think so … because I’m pretty sure Martha didn’t have bottled worcestershire sauce. At any rate, it is good.
MARTHA WASHINGTON’S CRAB SOUP
1 Tablespoon butter
5 teaspoons flour
3 eggs, hard boiled, and mashed
Rind of one lemon, zested
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 Cups milk
1/2 Cup cream
1/2 Pound crabmeat, cooked
1/2 Cup sherry
Dash Worcestershire sauce
In a large saucepan, combine butter, flour, eggs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Place milk in another saucepan and bring it just up to a boil. Remove from heat, and slowly whisk milk into egg mixture. Add crabmeat and cook about 5 minutes (don’t let it boil). Add cream and remove from heat. Stir in sherry and Worcestershire sauce. Serve immediately.
Eat Your History!
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