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tv   The Presidency George Washingtons Cambridge Headquarters  CSPAN  December 31, 2017 8:00pm-8:51pm EST

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washington's first month as continental army commander-in-chief. what shenton arrived in cambridge massachusetts -- cambridge, massachusetts and made the town his headquarters until april, 1776. it was there he learned to work with his generals and the continental congress while refining his strategy against the british, were encamped in nearby boston. this was part of a symposium held at george washington's mount vernon estate and is about 50 minutes. shuttleworth -- shellworth: i am the curator and i have enjoyed meeting many of you over the past few days and i hope you have been enjoying the wonderful presentations of this symposium, taking us from the backwoods of the virginia to the beautiful island of barbados. it is my pleasure now to introduce our last two speakers,
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will be illuminating us on places where george washington really did sleep. [laughter] >> in the colonial pains -- towns of cambridge and annapolis. resist a slight detour into our mount vernon archives, to share with you what i think is likely a less well-known connection between washington's headquarters in cambridge and his mansion here on the potomac. elaborate further, during the 19th century, the cambridge headquarters was home ,f henry wadsworth longfellow the poet. his daughter lived her entire life at the house. she also served from was 50 record, from 1879 until 1928, as a member of mount
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vernon's board, the mount vernon's ladies association. vice regent for massachusetts, she took charge her assigned room in the mansion, which was the general study. . toward this end, she was able to reacquire a number of george washington's original books and her crowning achievement, the 1799 secretary bookcase you see here in the lower slide. i think as these images suggest, her insulation, her vision of the study was also strongly shaped by her familiarity with study, which she preserved intact at the house in cambridge. here is longfellow's study with that the central table and tall bookcase behind, and here is how she arranged washington's study.
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memory that influence of that phil talked about yesterday. about the first lie. our next bigger will -- next speaker will talk more about this house. john bell is a prolific historian with a gift for spotting fascinating people, places and events that are often overlooked. one of these hidden in plain sight episodes is the subject of "the road took, concord." he also created and maintains a,te, bos dedicated to history analysis and as he says it, unabashed gossip. i am pleased to report that
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george washington ranks first among the named individuals on the site. to womenn references and children remembering the revolution. second place, john adams. a man of many talents, john has a particular interest in the history of children and history for children. fromas written a chapter " saucy boy's two sons of liberty. " also, the script for "maverick thend," a short comic about beginnings of slavery in massachusetts. he has been elected a fellow of the massachusetts historical society and is a member of the colonial society of massachusetts. i personally first encountered his work late one night as i was frantically preparing for an
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interview on what charge -- what george washington ate during the revolution. one of my internet searches led me to the research report he had compiled for the national park service, which promised and delivered a vast trove of carefully researched and considered information on general george washington's home and headquarters, cambridge, massachusetts. here to share with us some of his findings, please join me in welcoming john bell. [applause] mr. bell: thank you, susan. thank you to the washington library and all of you for coming out, and the massachusetts society of cincinnati, who has been very generous in funding my research and travels, and the longfellow house. this talk is based on a historic
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, i did it for the national park service as they were beefing up their interpretation of this site in cambridge. the study was over 600 pages, so let's get into it. [laughter] to bell: i'm going to try restrict myself to these main topics, how and why washington came to choose the house, how he used it, the major decisions made there and memory of washington's use of the house, which has a strong mount vernon connection, as susan talked about. general washington came to cambridge, massachusetts bearing a commission from the continental congress as commander-in-chief in july, 1775. you can actually see the march of general washington coming across massachusetts the cameras -- to cambridge on this map. a story developed of washington
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taking command of his entire army assembled on cambridge , andn under a tall elm the tree became celebrated. no sources mention such a large muster. washington met with artemis ward, commander of the new england army on july 2 on this house, the home of the hermon college steward, the headquarters of massachusetts forces. washington was inspecting the siege lines around boston. he first lived in the wadsworth house, the yellow house in this photo. it was reserved for harvard college's president, now incorporated into a ring of buildings that define harvard yard. there is a plaque inside one of those offices in wadsworth house committing -- commemorating how washington arrived there.
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in 1775, henry lee was a teenager in virginia, no connection to the general army. the was lee with revolutionary army. watch them brought his service -- washington abroad his servants and aids. andbrought his servants dogs. it was getting crowded in there. the washing -- the massachusetts government asked washington white house he would prefer. there was a big house about a mile away, a wealthy young man had commissioned the mansion for himself in 1759 and married there and raised a family there. in the 1750's, almost the entire
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neighborhood consisted of this man's relatives. brother-in-law and sister. bute estates were large, this man paid more property tax than any other householder in cambridge. his estate was the largest. wealthhe had all this and kindred, israel fortune came from sugar slave labor plantations in jamaica. early september 1774, massachusetts had a militia uprising that ended up the 4000 men surrounding house of thomas alber, who had become lieutenant governor of massachusetts a few weeks before. they forced him to find a resignation, they forced other officials in town to sign resignations or apologies. everyone realized from this
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event in september, the royal government no longer controlled any part of massachusetts outside of boston. within a few weeks, nearly every homeowner in this neighborhood left, because they were all supporters of the world they wanted to be in boston under the protection of the king's army. that left a big bunch of empty buildings. in this neighborhood. [laughter] mr. bell: cindy were new england army company's camping out in these houses. the massachusetts government formally moved to take over the may, 1775. this is a conjecture of what it looks like at the time, the earliest paint studies say it was great. one side was a hospital for a local regiment. therewas another regiment in june or early july from marblehead. the day after the massachusetts
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committee came and asked general washington what headquarters he wanted, they started to fix up his house for him. this is what he wanted. why did washington choose this house? we don't know for sure. one benefit was it was on the way from cambridge to watertown, where the massachusetts legislator was meeting. so washington could communicate easily to watertown or communicate easily to cambridge and the front lines. on this map,ion north is that way. some suggested that washington chose this house rather than down here where he'd been looking for because it was farther away from the front lines and mortar shells.
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there were no 18th century mortar shells that could reach cambridge anyway. i suspect that what he really wanted to get away from was here at harvard college. more specifically, the hundreds barrick -- men barracked there. distinctionike the between officers and men in the new england army. this sort of put him on a higher level, to have his discussions without being surrounded by the enlisted men. in the factor i think toys, this was not just a house, it was an estate. the mountain -- the mansion was surrounded by orchards, fields extending down to the charles river. the estate went all the way down
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to the river, the land was being farmed by enslaved servants. i think washington felt familiar. [laughter] mr. bell: he felt comfortable there. the new commander-in-chief moved into his new headquarters on a july 15, 1775. we know that because that is the day when his staff paid the bills are cleaning the house after it has been used by all of those soldiers. washington brought his enslaved servants, his body servant william lee, possibly shown in this painting, and his carriage driver and possibly others. he brought his first aid, his military secretary and eight at -- and aide de who managed the house and major they got there meals cooked and rooms cleaned? the massachusetts legislature
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was responsible for providing domestic staff for the house. papers, john c fitzpatrick named a number of people on the staff. many of those names are incorrect. startedir, the trouble when washington himself put the wrong name for the household steward in his account book, where he says mr. evan austin. s name was timothy, which is on all the other paperwork. washington must have misunderstood something. deacon from the neighboring town, he brought his wife and daughter to help run the house. why were they available? during the battle of bunker hill, trolls town had burned to the ground -- charlestown had burned to the ground. legislaturesetts
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provided the general with the help they knew he needed and gave a job to the austin family so they could support themselves. austin's own account provide a lot of detail about daily life at headquarters. austin handled all of the purchases for the mansion for the household except to areas, horses and wine. the general took charge of those two things. [laughter] mr. bell: everything else is in austin's accounts. a person named elizabeth chapman worked at headquarters for six months. she was a 16-year-old girl also out of charlestown. we can get into more details of ordinary life through austin's accounts.
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outhouses two men dug for the general and his staff. as winter approached, and again in general, austin bought chamber pelts -- chamber pots. martha washington arrived on the cymer 11th to spend the winter with her -- december 11 to spend the winter with her husband. first trip north of alexandria and she came all the way to new england and that fit the pattern how she would spend the war appeared every winter, she spent it with her husband and spent a lot of time in summer and spring and fall waiting to get to her husband. she brought her son jack and his wife nelly. this is jack. they did not know it at the time, but they also brought their first child, they had conceived on the way up. also tagging along, george's nephew, george lewis, who wanted to join the army.
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becames the house that more of a family home starting in december until april, when the washingtons left. this is another family story that started at the house and starts with the household account. isoman named margaret thomas paid here for making three , georgeor william lee washington's body servant. we know from other documents that margaret thomas was a free black woman who joined the domestic staff of general washington and traveled with him for the rest of the war doing things like laundry and sewing. she and william lee became a couple iv into the war -- couple by the end of the war, and this came as a surprise to washington after the war when lee said, can you bring my wife to mount vernon? this was probably the first time washington had heard of this, but also the first time he had
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been asked to do something like this. he did not want to yet he felt he needed -- that william deserved this, he had been so loyal, so washington agreed. that probably would not have happened before the war. another discovery about who was living at the house, general horatio gates, then an active general in the continental army, he also lived at the house. wife elizabeth traveled north with martha and probably also moved into the house to be with her husband. where they were in the house, in what rooms? our only you source -- resource on the use of the mansion was a letter a painter wrote late in his life. he had been general washington's camp in 1775 for 19 days.
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they were so important. those 19 days engraved on his tombstone. according to him, the kitchen was in the northwest corner of the house. in front of that, the parlor where the visitors waited, on the southeast corner was a room general washington used for meetings and dining. we saw a picture of that room as it exists today, that's where longfellow had his study. behind the dining and meeting room was the writing room, where the aids work, or the paperwork was. that in many ways was the brains of the house as washington tried to keep up with correspondence and issuing orders. trumbull said he and the other downstairs atept the back of house. he said he had no idea what was going on on the second floor.
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he did not know which chambers along to general washington, general gates, perhaps even military secretary reed. landlady was, the renting out rooms and told the border that the east side on the second floor was where general washington had his rooms. you, sir, are getting general washington's rooms, isn't that nice? it is the best rooms in the house it's where the sunlight is, but how did she know? did she tell every guest they were getting general washington's room? [laughter] mr. bell: we also have very little information about the furniture. there is one set of chairs that can be traced with reasonable providence to the house during washington's time, it was loaned by the family of william
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greenleaf. this chair, george washington sat here. [laughter] mr. bell: on the question of sleeping, where did he sleep? we know now that several of the beds from his house came from the estate of dr. joseph warren, a massachusetts hero killed at poker health -- battle of hill. it ended up in the property of his younger brother, when the call came out to furnish the house for the general, he sold his brothers bed to the colony for the mansion. when we say george washington have been, he may sleeping on joseph warns that. warren's bed.
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there are a couple of important things to remember about the lessons washington learned. first, he became commander-in-chief of the continental army at the age of 43. i suspect many of us in this room can look back at 43. he is not the elder statesman in these portraits. he was an untried man. second, the continental army had really already won the boston knewign even before they they had become the continental army, but it took many months for that campaign victory to become evident. here is a timeline. the continental congress adopted the new england army in a series of steps in mid june, 1775. appointing washington to command it. on june 17, there was the battle of bunker hill in charlestown. that battle killed and wounded more british soldiers than any other in the war.
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that battle convinced the british commanders, thomas gage and william howe, that it was useless to stay in boston. even if they broke out through the siege lines, they still had the new england countryside to deal with. yesterday, i was listening to people talk about this site is the crossroads, and i was thinking, i have no idea who this is. boston in 1775, was this peninsula attached to the rest of massachusetts only by this narrow neck, great for defense. in the battle of bunker hill, the british also took this peninsula of charlestown, which was also easily defended on a narrow neck. the british owned these
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peninsulas, and this heavily fortified island, castle island, and had control of the harbor through the world maybe. inged out ins were r fortifications all around the land. situation that washington faced, how could he attack the british army when it was in a very well situated geographical area, not to the world maybe, not to mention the royal artillery and well-trained troops? he did not know that the british commanders had already told london after the battle of bunker hill that they wanted to leave, that they saw no long-term benefit for staying in boston and trying to conquer new england. , after they sent those messages to london, it took six
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weeks to get across to london, they had to think about it, then six weeks to come back. howe heard general london agreed with him that it was ok to abandon boston and start again in new york, it was so late in the season he could not collect enough ships to sail away for the winter came on, so he decided to stay put until the spring of 1776. he did spend the winter in boston, he did stick around, to washington's great dismay, but general howe had no appetite for breaking through the american lines and charging through the countryside. the washington did not know that. he was constantly worried that the british would learn about his armies shortages of gunpowder in august, or shortage of fighting men at the end of the year. he was very worried that there would be some sort of attack.
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however, his army was pretty safe. in this headquarters, general washington had the time to learn about his army and his commando style and what worked best. he had the luxuries of making mistakes. cambridge over eight months from july 1770 five until april 1776, longer than he stayed at any single headquarters during the entire war until newberg, new york. he felt his job was to drive the british off by force, to sour london on continuing the war. he tried to a concept by bringing on a second bunker hill battle, inflicting lots of casualties on the british. not quite acknowledging that the first battle of bunker hill, the americans technically lost. he took a very aggressive approach. forrought land after plan attacking the british to his council of war, made up of all of the other generals in the army. the other generals kept voting
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against his plan. unanimously. [laughter] 1776,ll: in the summer of washington suggested launching an infantry attack on boston across the ice had formed on the charles river, no longer a narrow peninsula blocked them, there was ice, you could send your men charging across this flat, undefended plane. it was a bad idea. [laughter] mr. bell: he may have been very lucky that all of the generals said it was a bad idea. disastrous, failed attack could've been the worst thing for washington and the american cause in the winter of 1776. therefore, one thing washington did not learn during the siege of boston was strategy. it took losses at brooklyn and manhattan and brandywine to convince him the key to victory against the british army was not
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the big, glorious battle he was speaking about and -- he was thinking about and wishing for in 1775 and 1776. a council of war also forced him to work with generals. most of those men were already in the new england army or had been appointed to the continental congress, so they were not his own choices. he had not met most of them before. by the end of the siege, it was clear who washington liked and it did not like. he did not much like artemis heath andilliam joseph spencer, who was so scarce we don't even have a feature of him. but he did respect john thomas and nathaniel putnam. he particularly liked the enthusiastic, young and roles of nathanael greene and john sullivan. and he met several other men in
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cambridge during the first year of the war who became generals later, henry knox, benedict arnold, daniel morgan, john glover. these were men who impressed him from the first months of the war. an interesting note about washington and his generals but during the first year of the war, washington got along very well with the two former british officers among his generals, charles lee and her ratio gaetz. horatioatio gaetz -- gates. he belted their professional experience. lee was an all-around expert. you didn't have to ask, he would tell you he was. [laughter] mr. bell: gates was an experienced military administrator, and rack -- and washington recognized her talents.
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later in the war, both lee and gates became rivals for command. as a result, a lot of american historians have written these guys as villains and rivals in washington. but in 1775 and 1776, these three men were working very well together. of thethe first months war, general washington learned what he needed in his military staff. mifflin,ed with thomas talented and ambitious enough to become the quartermaster general. washington ended up with two young virginians as his aides. very quickly, he learned of these two men he really liked
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randolph, who was a young lawyer, someone who could write letters and write all the correspondence and orders that had to flow out of headquarters. baylor couldn't do that. baylor could ride. but washington realized she didn't need riders as much as he needed writers. in 1775, when read went back onto philadelphia, washington was shortstaffed and brought in the master general to plug in the hole. away togeorge baylor support martha of from connecticut because they were useless for correspondence. he gave baylor a job as a cavalry officer and that was a job he was really good at.
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that was one thing that washington learned during his tenure in cambridge. he don't give the aid to can't job to any nitrogen in the comes along. home,joseph read went robert hampton harrison came to ask as a secretary just came to camp as a secretary just temporarily. harrison remained his closest aide for the rest of the wa r. fed they werelose so close they didn't need to write letters to each other. during that first year, washington learned about dealing with the continental congress, about supplies, men come officers. work outa good time to those problems because the continental army were in the
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best consequences of the war. they weren't moving, which was a problem. they were in from a territory. all of new england was not only free from british royal control, but a gung ho about this war. men, that was not a problem. the general still had problems coming up with money for the -- from the continental congress, even before inflation to cold. that would remain a bigger and .igger problem through the war even though he could not attack the british directory, he found a way to attack them indirectly. navy, sixed a little arm schooners to attack or supply ships them that effort produced the first naval hero of the war with the wonderful name of captain john manley. move, he sentsive colonel benedict donald to attack quebec through maine.
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part of attacking canada was forging license -- alliances with native commands. meetingsn have -- held with large convoys from their communities. part of becoming commander in chief was diplomacy. he even tried to find cooperation with the french, using new england's anti-catholicism. it turned out to be crucial for the rest of the war. at his first headquarters, general washington learned a hard lesson about spy craft. in july, he paid a man to go into boston and send out intelligence, to establish a secret correspondence for the
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purpose of conveying intelligence of the enemy's movements and designs. however, because of a letter sent to headquarters to joseph read which said destroy this letter and the men who received it did not destroy this letter, , a shopkeeper john carnes former minister. so the american army still had a lot to learn about spy craft. the letter revealed intelligence ring they had set up to send correspondence into boston to john carnes had already been infiltrated by a british it -- british double agent, which they did not know until, at the end of september, washington was shown a cipher that are from a man trying to get it into boston. after having the letter decoded
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by two men, he discovered that the man who sent this letter in was dr. benjamin church, the doctor of the continental army and someone who sent him to send the letter into john carnes. so the double agent was already inside the american intelligence ring. washington and his staff became much more careful about handling intelligence. he didn't suffer worse consequences, but in his note big he says the names of each person's employee behind enemy's will be omitted from my records. he has learned the value of secrecy. another big lesson was the value of the new england soldiers. there was a wide if is between local society and virginia society, which was reflected in how they went to war. washington was my gala terry and militia chose her officers by
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election -- washington was a egalitarian. -- e gala chose their officers by election. general was very concerned with hierarchy and discipline and uniformity. he should orders for how the officers should distinguish themselves with their hats whereas the new englanders saw being in the army as a contract. so when their term was over a,
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they could go home. washington felt that if you are needed, you had a duty to stay. washington was worried the produce -- the british would take that opportunity to attack you that crisis was something that prompted washington to us they continental congress to allow longer enlistments, which took a couple of years before they finally did. in the summer of 1775, rifleman from pennsylvania, virginia and maryland joined the new england army. people thought they could be breakthrough for us. his death, they pose a lot of defection, mutiny. washington was flabbergasted to find some new england company soldiers included back nine -- black men. fray virginia planter, that situation was wrong. in october, washington hosted a
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council with three delegates from the continental congress and he led those men into approving to the bar desk to bar all black men from the continental army in the new year. but they told her black soldiers had falwell and the wanted to remain in army and several kernels signed an affidavit -- onels signed an affidavit. troopston knew he needed for the new year, every two -- every soldier he could get. decision oned his his own authority to allow black men to reenlist. practice, that meant all black men were welcome to join the continental army.
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start ofso the washington's own evolution in thinking about slavery. washington's thoughts evolved in cambridge politically. he started out fighting to inserve the colonies economy the british empire. but he had a new american flag .aised over the camp this was an implicit statement of nationhood and he also read "common sense" filing cambridge. he and -- while in cambridge. he changed his thinking from a ptolemy within the british empire to independence. .ost of us know the basic story once again, washington wanted to use those cannons for an aggressive frontal attack on the british. once again, the council on war
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said no. moving onto the dorchester peninsula, down here, and using the cannons from the high points there to attack shipping into boston harbor. washington accepted this plan. after careful preparation, the continental soldiers moved on to the peninsula on march 4. as i said, the general already wanted to leave. but when he saw a canon pointing down at him, he left earlier than he land. washington expressed in a letter home the disappointment he felt that there was no major fighting. but he accepted congratulations and this metal from the continental congress for pushing the british out. he realized the attack would have been very difficult.
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washington recognized the war was not over to them he quickly moved resources down to new york and he followed in april. he left this house in early april 1776. the massachusetts government confiscated the house. as far as we know, general washington never went back there. cambridge that he did not even stop you and the sold 1790's, the house was to the chief pharmaceutical supplier to the army. mansion, addede porches, and started painting at yellow. he hosted parties, invested in local development. he went bankrupt. after his death, his wife had to take in borders. one was jared sparks, who worked on the first publication of the "washington papers."
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he had washington's letter spread out all over his bedroom. another border arrived named henry longs was -- henry wadsworth longfellow. the longfellow's were very plowed -- proud of living in washington headquarters. longfellow wrote, once within these walls, ones whose memory -- the father of his country drawled. the longfellows brought prince of george and martha washington. they honored washington, such as re-creating the anniversary ball of 1776, which actually never happened. that's a myth. [laughter] bust and displayed in the front hall. so when you come in the front door, this is the first thing you see. on two see it rests
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slices of the washington elm. longfellow visited mount vernon and wrote "what a dilapidated, squalid condition we found here. nothing before but the spring and the situation of the house looking over the potomac." threedest of the poet's surviving daughters never married and lived her whole life in the cambridge house. alice longfellow became the massachusetts vice regent of the vernonversion -- mount ladies association. she loaned colonial furniture from her own home up in cambridge to mount vernon to fill up the anteroom. she also started to seek out
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objects that belonged to the house. she convinced the owner of this painting that he ought to donate it to the house. coming from a literary family, she valued the library. ultimately, miss longfellow served longer as vice regent than any other officer, 49 years , until she died in 1928. cement thelped to ties between her family house and the washington's. today, the mansion in cambridge is part of the national park as longfellow house, washington headquarters site. it is a lasting monument to his first year as an american general and where he slept. thank you. [applause]
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i understand we have time for two questions. ok. we've got somebody here. >> one of the important set of records are the wall records that every regimen would submit. those records go back to the time george washington came to cambridge. do you know the background of those records? the background of the personal? i imagine you mean the muster rolls. george washington came to cambridge in july 1775 and immediately asked the commanders, all the kernels of the colonels of the regimen to please send the
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in and -- send them again he asked, and asked again. [laughter] the forms were distributed. you can see in the general orders coming out of headquarters, they were still demanding these records. it took a couple of weeks for the records to be assembled. a system ofs set up keeping track of the number of men available at that time or in we don't really know before hand to we know washington was expecting more people, more fighting men that he found when he arrived. record-keeping by the new england army was a bit optimistic. any other questions? all right. thank you very much. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
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you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. tour continuesus its tour in january with stops in raleigh, columbia, atlanta, and montgomery. we will speak with state officials during the washington journal program. follow the tour and join us on generation to at 9:30 a.m. eastern for our stop in raleigh, north carolina, with our "washington journal" guest's attorney journal -- attorney general josh stein. american history tv is on c-span t -- c-span 3 every weekend. the civil war and more.
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here is a clip from a recent program. >> getting aid was a public process. what happened after you got aid was her name got in the paper. this was an era when local government published every month their bills. instead of just having one line where it said aid to the poor, it had a whole bunch of lines and it listed by name the people who are getting money. so everybody knew who in the community was getting aid, which meant you had to be willing to have the whole rest of everybody see your poverty in order to do this, which is another reason why a lot of people resisted asking for help. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where our video is archived. that's
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next, thomas reinhardt talks about the architectural trends that influenced the design of mount washington's mount vernon -- george washington's mount vernon estate. he has overseen the restoration of several prominent rooms. this program was part of a mount vernon symposium on places where washington lived and visited. it is 50 minutes. toit is now my pleasure introduce thomas a reinhardt who joined mount vernon staff in 2013, first as deputy director and now as director of architecture. he provides dynamic leadership for the ongoing preservation of the reconstructed buildings. since his arrival, i have had the great privilege of working


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