Archive for the ‘Readings and Exhibitions’ Category

“The Many Faces of a Wily Founder”

Excuse the absence of a post on the Fourth of July and the promised post on ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH.
I want to bring to your attention an article in The New York Times titled “The Many Faces of a Wily Founder” by Jennifer Schuessler. Of course, “the wily founder” is Hamilton. Illustrations by Peter and Maria Hoey accompany the piece, depicting Hamilton as Composter, Master, Love, Insulter, Prankster, Conniver, Student, Prognosticator, Victim, and Victor.

Four exhibitions in New York City provide examples for each of the above. I mean to see all of them and hope you will manage to do so too. At the New-York Historical Society is “Summer of Hamilton;” the New York Public Library has mounted “Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel;” Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library has on view items from its collection; and finally the Museum of the City of New York is featuring “New York at Its Core Sneak Peak: Alexander Hamilton.”

In the Times article, an example of Hamilton as Lover is the tale of Maria Reynolds featured in previous posts here and here. I thought Hamilton’s ruminations in 1804, recollected by James Kent in the depiction of Hamilton as Prognosticator, have particular resonance for our times: “The pending election exceedingly disturbed him & he viewed the temper, disposition & passions of the times as portentous of evil, & favorable to the sway of artful & ambitious demagogues.”

Don’t miss these exhibits.

posted July 7th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Hamilton, Alexander,Readings and Exhibitions,Reynolds, Maria

Morristown, New Jersey, 1777

My colleagues and I gave a presentation at the National Historic Site in Morristown, New Jersey earlier this month. I’m on the left (the blogger Janet Wedge); Landa Freeman is in the center; and Louise North is on the right, We three are the compilers/editors of In the Words of Women. The museum and the auditorium were lovely. Unfortunately the lure of the Jersey shore on that hot Sunday resulted in a rather small audience, nevertheless our presentation was well received. Louise North was able to include quite a lot of material from her new book The Travel Journals of Henrietta Marchant Liston. And I got to read this wonderful letter to her sister-in-law by MARTHA DANGERFIELD BLAND who joined her husband, a member of George Washington’s staff, in Morristown in 1777 during a lull in the fighting. Considering this was after a severe winter and in the middle of a war with Britain, everyone seemed to be having a rather nice time.

May 12, 1777. . . . I left Philadelphia last month (the first day) & came to Morristown where Genl Washington keeps Headquarters. Mrs. Washington had arrived three weeks before me, so that I could with a good face make a visit to Camp. . . . I had many Qualms of consiance about visiting a camp. . . . I found Morris a very clever little village, situated in a most beautiful valley at the foot of 5 mountains. It has three houses with steeples which give it a consequential look . . . it has two familys—refugees from New York in it otherwise it is inhabited by the errentest rusticks you ever beheld—you cannot travil three miles without passing through one of these villages all of them having meeting houses and court houses &c &c, decorated with steeples which gives them a pretty Airy look & the farmes between the mountains are the most rural sweet spots in nature, their medows of a fine luxuriant grass which looks like a bed of velvet interspersed with yellow blue and white flowers. They represent us with just such scenes as the poets paint Arcadia: purling rills, mossy beds &c but not crying swains & lovely nymphs tho there are some exceeding pretty girls. . . . realy I never met with such pleasant looking creatures, & the most inhospitable mortals breathing; you can get nothing from them but “dreadful good water” as they term everything that is good. Desperate and dreadfull are their favorite words, you’d laugh to hear them talk. . . .
Assending from small to great things—now let me speak of our Noble and Agreable Commander (for he commands both Sexes) one by his Excellent Skill in Military Matters, the other by his ability politeness and attention. We visit them twice or three times a week by particular invitation—Ev’ry day frequently from Inclination—he is generally busy in the forenoon—but from dinner till night he is free for all company. His Worthy Lady seems to be in perfect felicity while she is by the side of her Old Man as she calls him, we often make partys on Horse Back the Genl his lady Miss [Susan] Livingstone & his Aid de Camps who are Colo Fitz Gerald . . . Colo Johnson . . . Colo Hamilton a sensible Genteel polite young fellow a West Indian—Colo Meade—Colo Tillman . . . Colo Harrison . . . Capt Gibbs. . . . These are the Genls family all polite sociable gentlemen who make the day pass with a great deal of satisfaction to the Visitors—but I had forgot my subject almost, this is our riding party Generly—at which time General Washington throws off the Hero—and takes on the chatty agreeable companion—he can be down right impudent sometimes—such impudence, Fanny, as you and I like. . . .
God Bless you, adieu
M. Bland
The letter can be found on page 109 of In the Words of Women.

posted August 24th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Bland, Martha Dangerfield,Morristown, New Jersey,Readings and Exhibitions,Washington, George,Washington, Martha

A nice outing on a summer day

This is a reminder that my colleagues Louise North, Landa Freeman, and I will be giving a PowerPoint presentation at the National Historic Park in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 16 at 1 pm. It will focus on the lives of women during the Revolution and afterwards, using material from our book In the Words of Women. This site commemorates the encampment of George Washington and his troops during the winter of 1779-80, the coldest on record. Excerpts from Louise North’s latest book The Travel Journals of Henrietta Marchant Liston, the wife of the British ambassador to the United States from 1796 to 1800, will be included. The talk will be followed by Q & A and our book will be available for sale and signing. Do consider attending.

posted August 13th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Liston, Henrietta Marchant,Readings and Exhibitions

A Fashion Exhibit in July and a Presentation in August

Again interrupting the letters between SARAH LIVINGSTON JAY in Paris and MARY WHITE MORRIS in Philadelphia with news of an exhibition concerning fashion, which has been the subject of exchanges between the two women. Fashioning the Body: An Interesting History of the Silhouette is at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery 18 West 86th Street, New York, New York 10024; 212.501.3023. (See the review here.) The exhibit is less about actual clothing for men and women (and children!) than what lay underneath. Nine black velvet tailor’s dummies show changes that occurred in the female silhouette from 1700 to the present. Of course, my interest is in the 18th century silhouette and what men and women (the socially elite) wore under their garments to create the currently fashionable look. Men padded their torsos and enhanced their calves with lambs’ wool. Women encased themselves in whalebone stays, hoops, panniers, and stomachers. There is even an articulated pannier (large side hoops named for the wicker baskets on the sides of pack animals) with hinges that collapsed, allowing women to navigate narrow doorways. The conclusion one comes to is that women voluntarily submitted themselves to what amounted to torture to achieve the desired look of the time. Keep this in mind when admiring the gorgeous dresses of the period. The exhibit is on until July 26.

ADVANCE NOTICE OF A READING to be given by the compilers/editors of In the Words of Women at the National Historic Park in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 16 at 1 pm. This site commemorates the encampment of George Washington and his troops during the winter of 1779-80, the coldest on record. Louise North, Landa Freeman, and I will give a PowerPoint presentation focusing on the lives of women during the Revolution and afterwards. Louise North will include material from her latest book The Travel Journals of Henrietta Marchant Liston, the wife of the British ambassador to the United States from 1796 to 1800. The talk will be followed by Q & A and the book by the trio will be available for sale and signing.

posted July 9th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Clothes,Fashion,Readings and Exhibitions

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