Saturday, February 22, 2003

washington's diaries

George Washington, first president of the United States, has possibly become more part of America's mythology than history. With today being his birthday, I decided to look around and see if I could find out more about the man, and pierce though his public persona. A good place to get that glimpse into what he was like appears to be his diaries. Most of the entries are very simple, being a recitation of "Where, how, or with whom, my time is Spent." A number of them are also annotated. So, for instance, the entry for September 4, 1774 reads:
4. Breakfasted at Christeen Ferry. Dined at Chester & lodged at Doctr. Shippens's in Phila. after Supping at the New Tavern.
The annotation for that entry:
Christina (Christiana) ferry crossed Christina (Christiana) River at Wilmington on the main road from New Castle to Philadelphia (LINCOLN, 83--84).

William Shippen, Jr. (1736--1808), son of Dr. William Shippen (1712--1801) and Susannah Harrison Shippen, was a Philadelphia physician and surgeon, educated at Edinburgh. In 1765 he was appointed professor of surgery and anatomy at the new medical school connected with the College of Philadelphia, and during the Revolution he was chief physician and director general of the military hospital of the Continental Army. Shippen was married to Alice Lee Shippen, sister of GW's fellow delegate, Richard Henry Lee. Lee had undoubtedly invited GW to stay at his brother-in-law's house until suitable lodgings were obtained.

The New Tavern, or City Tavern, was on the west side of Second Street, above Walnut. Designed in the style of the best London taverns, it contained several large club rooms. Daniel Smith was the proprietor at this time (SCHARF [1],1:291).
With the annotations, the diaries take on quite a bit of meaning.

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