George Washington

"First 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, 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 often balls were held in honor of his birthday such as the one thrown for him in 1782 by his ally the French general Le Comte de Rochambeau, just a few months subsequent to their joint victory at Yorktown. 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) enjoyed the historic tradition of honoring the birthday of this most beloved American through a Grand Ball, dancing (as we have learned) being one of Washington's very favorite pastimes.

Please enjoy the photographs and commentary from our celebration of George Washington's 274th Birthday Party!

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Historical Notes of Interest:

In the late 18th century 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 was not allowed to dance again the rest of the evening.

One of these Balls was held each year in honor of George Washington's Birthday. John Marshall, a future Chief Justice of the United States, attended the one 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."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the

2008 Washington's Birthday Ball

2007 Washington's Birthday Ball

2006 Washington's Birthday Ball

2005 Washington's Birthday Ball

2004 Washington's Birthday Ball

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Kind Comments from Friends of the General

 

My Dearest Lord and Lady Scott,

Another amazing night of dancing, fellowship, love and laughter. Thank you for all of the work you both put into making it a glorious night. THE BEST night of my life!

I thank you and wait in eager anticipation for the 1861 Remembrance Ball. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Love to We Make History,

In Christ,

Miss Valerie B. of Prescott, Arizona

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Your Excellency,

The celebration in your honor was once again a most wonderful and rewarding experience, filled with many charming moments.

But if I had to pick one moment, one snapshot of the evening's charm and grace....

In one part of one three-couple set dance, the lead couple waltzes up the line.  We had several options of doing this, but I chose the first
and simplest one.  So now I stepped to the three-quarter time with my partner, a beautiful lady in a floral gown, our inside hands joined.  As
I would turn to face her on alternating beats, our eyes met again and again.  My smile widened.  Her eyes twinkled.

Ahhhhhh......

Suffice it to say, those Valentine's Day heart balloons weren't the only hearts floating.

My hat is off, literally, to all the wonderful ladies who shared a dance with me this evening.  Attending a dance as a single gentleman can often
be a nervous and intimidating experience, but in the finest of company, my fears are quashed.

And yes, I had afterglow and restlessness.  Again.  But 'tis a most desirable affliction following an evening such as this.

Thank you and God Bless You All!

Mr. Christopher F.
Tucson, Arizona

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Dear Mr. Washington,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful ball you hosted yesterday.  I had a wonderful time dancing with you, especially for the Virginia Real.  The amusing accidents with your hat and my shoe made the evening even more enjoyable and I will long remember the wonderful time I had. 

    I'm looking forward to seeing you again at the next ball.  I hope you come up here to Prescott soon.  God bless you and your family,

                                    Miss Alia F.    Prescott, Arizona

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Dear Lord Scott,
Congratulations on another successful ball.  I definitely enjoyed dancing with all the pretty young ladies present.  Whether it was the serpentine "Black Nag" or the rip-roaring "Virginia Reel" I had a ball (pun intended).

Sincerely,
Mr. Nate M.

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Dear Lord Scott,

      WOW! Thank you for the compliment regarding dance partners. You will never know how honored I feel. I think though, that your partner is only as fun as you are and you are also one of my favorites. Thank you for the laughs ;-P

        Thank you  again for a wonderful night. Between the Duke of Kentís and the Virginia Reel with some of the 1st Virginians, I don't think I can name a favorite moment. As long as our jovial Captain and my father are always at the balls I think they will continue to be splendid. (Along with a few other key friends.;-})

          Thank you again and again for the good fun and many laughs.

God Bless You Now and Always,

              Miss Tiyrah P.

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Your Excellency -

After 274 years you remain light on your feet and the life of the party.  What a grand way to celebrate your birth.  How fitting that so many people from so many different time periods came to do you honor and to celebrate the nation that you helped to establish.  After all this time you continue to remain first in the hearts of your countrymen.  My compliments also to your guests, the musicians, and your family for making it such a grand evening.  It was another night to remember.

My Thanks for the wonderful balls and other events that you host to being history to life.

I Remain,

Your Friend and Humble Servant

Mr. Michael J. C.

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Come. Let's Be Merry!

We Make History Presents An Evening In Honor Of The Original "George W."

The appointed hour approached and I switched back to my original plan: that lace jabot did indeed look better with the rented coat. I marveled at the comfort of my waistcoat and breeches, the finest handiwork of My Dearest Aunt Susan. She donated her services upon learning of my previous step back in the past. Those gold buttons at the knees -- how fitting and proper!

One hundred and fifty were expected for The George Washington Birthday Ball. His Excellency, hero to a nation, stood at the door greeting the crowds as they entered, including a few members of the Continental Army -- myself among them. Fortunately, my carriage was not delayed by any weather nor Phoen-- uh, Virginia-- traffic.
 

As generations would pay tribute, the timeline stretched to include them: a Union officer, a Confederate officer, a couple of World War II enlisted men, a 16th Century Englishman... but curiously, no redcoats. Were they plotting a sneak attack? In a setting where the Blue and the Grey danced together, surely a British Regular might fancy a turn or two. Even King George III came to respect His Excellency.

We posed for many pictures. I stood alone for a pair, but Mr. Washington was kind enough to escort a charming young lady over to pose with me. The shutter snapped, and then I bowed to her deeply, my three-cornered hat removed in the utmost respect.

"Wait, wait, that's the pose!" the general cried, and he summoned us back over to resume our honors as flashbulbs went off like rifle shots.

The ladies stood out in their finest ball gowns, accompanied by many young men in modern-day formal attire. They could have all resembled future presidents, a thought not lost on President Washington, who entertained them with many historical facts as they took on the roles of presidents past.

"Let's get this party started."

The Pledge Of Allegiance, The National Anthem, and now, the promenade. As "Hail To The Chief" and "Yankee Doodle" played, I thought I knew this dance. But new steps are always the rule. Picture the long line of couples linking and weaving out of the crowds, the line of partners splitting up and rejoining and joining again in configurations that would challenge the expert at the loom.

I still consider myself a novice to English country dancing, but I know what I like.

"Christ Church's Bells..."

Oh joy! The first set dance of the evening was my favorite of the previous ball. No complicated steps, no serpentine movements.

Then came "Come, Let's Be Merry" -- a three-couple set dance. This could be trouble. I sense some complicated figures ahead. But behold, this dance produced "the moment."

One part of the dance calls for the lead couple to waltz up the line. You can do it one of three ways, each more or less like ballroom dancing, but it's the man who decides. I chose the simplest means. So now I stepped to the three-quarter time with my partner, a beautiful lady in a floral gown, our inside hands joined as if we were performing a minuet. I would turn to face her on alternating beats, my eyes catching hers back and forth. My smile grew wide. Her eyes twinkled.

Ahhhhhh......

Many times it's not nice to tease, but in "Away To The Camp," another three-couple dance, the women and men take turns parading around each other. And it's quite all right, as Mr. Washington demonstrated, to tweak or tickle a lock of a fine lady's hair as you pass behind her. And likewise, they returned the favor!

Several breaks allowed us to cool down and seek refreshment. My costume breathed better this time and I needed little fanning. My feet were stronger. After the throbbing of the last night of dance and revelry, I had sought out the sole comforts of a doctor named Scholl. Already my calves were thanking me.

Eighteenth-century men, as the general pointed out at one point, would sometimes augment their stockinged calves with cork to provide a more attractive form to interest the opposite sex. I wonder though, if it did anything to ease pain.

You can't have a birthday party without cake. And First Lady Martha presented a fine one to her husband with the number 274 atop the white and blue frosting.

"I stopped counting at 200," President Washington quipped.

We also celebrated two other birthdays this night, singing and shouting a hearty "HUZZAH" to some young people. And two women were honored for their service to the community and the greater good: a woman with the staff of the Fitch Center, and an outstanding teacher. Their delight: cherry pies and an outpouring of appreciation.

"This is called 'All Haste To The Wedding.'"

Oh yes, that one I'd learned in Williamsburg and another close to my heart. At such times I skip about in the finest of cheer, my feet aching to do more than walk through the figures. Could I be loving this too much?

"Why is your right hand raised?" one lady asked, jesting at my joyfulness as we performed a "left-hand star."

I am all in the moment, I replied. I think.

Even soldiers were gentlemen, men who had learned to dance respectfully in their youth. Washington himself earned a reputation as a fine dancer. And I could think of no better way to honor that tradition than to add an extra touch of glee... for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, always capped off at the end with a deep bow to my lady partners and a heartfelt sentiment: "Thank you for a most enjoyable dance!"

You know the cliche: careful what you wish for. I wondered if we might try a quadrille or the Virginia Reel. We did.

My little group of four couples agonized through the first few steps of the quadrille. Were we doing this right? Is that partner supposed to end up over there? Are we supposed to switch off or something? Turns out we were doing right all along, and relief washed over us.

Then came the reel, and my set ran into trouble. The reel sent myself and others, well, reeling as the head couple worked the way down the set, left hand turning our partner, right hand down the line, left turn... wait, that was supposed to be a right turn. Fall behind, even for a moment, and you fall out of synch.

"Reels are a lot of fun," I recall a Colonial Williamsburg interpreter saying, "but they can be absolutely painful."

No pain here. We messed up, we continued on and laughed it off. My nightmare scenario did not come to pass, one where a lady or gentleman would turn away in a huff, silently grumbling at the lack of a partner's grace if the other should trip all over the floor.

A slow waltz with "your favorite partner" closed the evening once again. Without a partner, I once again sought out another lady I had not danced with that evening, keeping true to my tradition of trying to dance with as many different women as possible. We stuck to simple steps, her not being that much of a waltzer, but I had to throw in a couple of twirls.

"Your friend dances much better than she knows," I said as I escorted her back to her friends.

Goodbye. Good night. God Bless You All.

* * *

Several people in the motel room parking lot spotted me making the walk back to my room, fully costumed, haversack over my shoulder.

"The British are coming! The British are coming!" shouted one, leaning outside his second-floor room with a buddy. I saluted them, and I gave another one to a woman talking on a cell phone who waved.

The stroke of midnight found me back in my car and re-clothed in my 21st Century attire. My mission was not to roust the militia to arms but find a late-night snack. Still, my three-cornered hat laid in the empty seat beside me.

Perhaps it was hunger, or a touch of fatigue, but a nattering question loosed itself from the back of my mind.

Francis, why do you do this?

Look at yourself. What compels you to dress in a style 200 years prior to your birth and perform dances seven times older than you? You're in your thirties and you're prancing around out there like an overgrown kid.

Maybe. But I'm not a juvenile delinquent, either.

But why?

Because it uplifts me.

Lord Scott, at one point in the evening, talked about "raising the bar" for our culture using the talents and gifts that we have. I am not sure how being a TV news producer in 2006 fits with stepping into the role and accoutrements of an 18th Century gentleman.

But this much I know: If I put on a tricorn and breeches in this day, it's with the intention of being a better person for it. If my joy on the dance floor rubs off on others, if it improves my disposition to life and my family, friends, co-workers and even a stranger or two, that counts as a victory.

So come, let us be merry.