But what about in the time of our first President? When George WASHINGTON was first inaugurated in 1789, the power of the written word via letters carried back and forth ruled the day. While WASHINGTON was known to request in writing the discussion of the cabinet, he also listened and understood the ground upon which he walked was untested.
Looking at history books and Washington's correspondence can reveal much about my own early American roots and ties to the early government.
As previously discussed, my grandpa and his brother-in-law both owned taverns in New York where it was documented at the time the presence of George and his cronies to dine often. You have probably heard of one of the taverns, FRAUNCES Tavern, but the other one located at 63 Wall St is only mentioned in history books.
Looking around online, I found a letter collection from the revolutionary war period through the National Archives. While I would love to see the originals, I am thrilled to see the transcriptions of several that pertain to my family.
|Founders online- Search for Correspondence in early America|
There are a couple to share which will hopefully prompt you to read more about our early country using the letters of their time.
First, on 7 September 1785, President WASHINGTON writes to his friend, Samuel FRAUNCES, and asks if Samuel knows of someone who could be induced to come work for WASHINGTON as a steward. As history tells us, FRAUNCES himself accepted the position and was a member of the household for a number of years.
Another example is one that involves the nephew of FRAUNCES, William SIMMONS (my uncle). On July 4, 1791, SIMMONS writes to WASHINGTON asking for the appointment as auditor of the United States. SIMMONS, who lived in Philadelphia at the time was a clerk in the auditor's office, was first turned down for the position by WASHINGTON, but was given the position of accountant in the War Department upon a reference by Alexander HAMILTON.
Ahh, genealogy. I wonder-- did old George ask Samuel if he should appoint his nephew for the job? Hmmmm....
©2017 AS Eldredge
- “To George Washington from William Simmons, 4 July 1791,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 28, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-08-02-0216. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 8, 22 March 1791 – 22 September 1791, ed. Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999, pp. 318–319.]