“Mrs. Washington ate a whole heap of it.”

I thought I would continue in a lighter vein with some insights into the lives of George and Martha Washington. William Maclay represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate from 1789 to 1791. The diary he kept during that time is one of the few records of what went on in that body—sessions would not become public until 1795. He was a staunch critic of the Federalist party as is clear from his journal entries. He also commented on his other activities, reporting that on June 11, 1789 he had dinner with Robert Morris and his family—Morris was the other senator from Pennsylvania. He recounted an amusing anecdote related by MARY WHITE MORRIS about an experience she had while dining with the Washingtons.

Dined this day with Mr. Morris. Mr. Fitzsimons and Mr. Clymer, all the company, except Mrs. Morris and three children. Mrs. Morris talked a great deal after dinner. She did it gracefully enough, this being a gayer place, and she being here considered as at least the second female character at court. As to taste, etiquette, etc., she is certainly first. I thought she discovered a predilection for New York, but perhaps she was only doing it justice, while my extreme aversion, like a jealous sentinel, is for giving no quarter. I, however, happened to mention that they were ill supplied with the article of cream. Mrs. Morris had much to say on this subject; declared they had done all they could, and even sent to the country all about, but that they could not be supplied. She told many anecdotes on this subject; particularly how two days ago she dined at the President’s. A large, fine-looking trifle was brought to table, and appeared exceedingly well indeed. She was helped by the President, but on taking some of it she had to pass her handkerchief to her mouth and rid herself of the morsel; on which she whispered the President. The cream of which it is made had been unusually stale and rancid; on which the General changed his plate immediately. “But,” she added with a titter, “Mrs. Washington ate a whole heap of it.”

Maclay’s Journal can be found HERE, pages 73-74. The portrait of Mary White Morris was painted by John Trumbull in 1790 and is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


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