in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen."
Serving unselfishly without pay and at great
personal risk throughout the American Revolution, George Washington
triumphed against all odds overcoming the most powerful nation on earth.
After victory was won there were those who wanted to make him king but
Washington refused what would have been a betrayal of the great vision which
so many had sacrificed for and opted instead to return home to Mt. Vernon.
The only president to be elected unanimously, Washington served two terms
and then voluntarily stepped down. His continued refusal to betray his
convictions and grasp absolute power inspired even his former enemy King
George III to be filled with admiration and refer to Washington as "the
greatest man of the age."
In his private life he was
known as a gentleman of lofty character who thoroughly enjoyed social
occasions. Washington loved to dance. He was regarded as one of the best
dancers in Virginia and would not miss a Ball if he could help it. There
were balls held in his honor while he was a general, a ball for his
inauguration as president and annual balls were held in honor of his
birthday. Balls in honour of Washington's birthday were held in various
parts of the United States during his lifetime. They were a tradition which
continued far beyond Washington's time, even by both North and South during
the War Between the States and indeed throughout the 19th century.
After the successful conclusion of the American
Revolution a season of Balls were held each year in the City of Richmond,
Virginia known as the Richmond Assemblies. Tickets were sold in advance and
guests were expected to abide by a certain set of rules. For instance ladies
needed to be at least 13 years of age to attend and gentlemen at least 18.
No apprentices were admitted. The only alcohol allowed was for the punch and
that in a "small quantity." Any lady who abandoned her place in a set
committed a great social faux pas and was not allowed to dance again for the
rest of the evening.
One of these "Richmond Assemblies" was held
each year in honor of George Washington's Birthday. John Marshall, a future
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, attended the one held in
1783 and wrote to a friend the next day that he had "been setting up all
night at an Assembly [Ball]. We have them in Richmond regularly once
a fortnight [every two weeks]. The last was a brilliant one; 'twas on
the General's birth night. Never did I see such a collection of handsome
ladies. I do not believe that Versailles [the Royal French Court] or
Saint James's [the British Court] ever displayed so much beauty. I
wish you had been present. The Virginians would have retained their high
place in your opinion."
George Washington was
regarded as one of the finest dancers in
Virginia. That is saying
something as journals, letters and other first-person accounts inform us
that 18th century Virginians had a reputation throughout America and England
for their great love of dancing. Ladies were known to wait for hours in
order to have a dance with George and he was glad to oblige even if it meant
dancing all night. (One must be willing to make sacrifices for the ladies!)
The friendly family of
We Make History (representing
appreciative Americans of several centuries) have enjoyed renewing the
historic tradition of honoring the birthday of this most beloved American
through an annual Grand Ball, dancing (as we have learned) being one of
Washington's very favourite pastimes. In the generous spirit of this great
American, persons of all levels of dancing ability and all levels of
historic attire from throughout America's history from Washington's time to
the 21st century are all welcome.
Something Special for Special Events...
George Washington Portrayal