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 annual balls were held in honor of his birthday. Balls in honour
of Washington's birthday were held in various parts of the United States
during his lifetime. They were a tradition which continued far beyond
Washington's time, even by both North and South during the War Between the
States and indeed throughout the 19th century.
After the successful conclusion of the American
Revolution 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 committed a
great social faux pas and was not allowed to dance again for the rest of the
One of these "Richmond Assemblies" was held each year in honor of
George Washington's Birthday. John Marshall, a future Chief Justice of the
United States Supreme Court, attended the one held 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."
George was regarded as one of the finest
dancers in Virginia. That is saying something as journals, letters and other
first person accounts inform us that 18th century Virginians had a reputation
throughout American and England for their great love of dancing. 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
historic tradition of honoring the birthday of this most beloved American
through an annual Grand Ball, dancing (as we have learned) being one of Washington's
very favourite pastimes.
Our 2007 Ball was particularly
salient as a celebration of George Washington's 275th Birthday!
We honoured this milestone of our
greatest American through a recreation of a Birthday Party and Ball which was thrown 225
years ago in February of 1782 on the occasion of General Washington's 50th birthday by his friend and
ally Le Comte de Rochambeau. Washington and Rochambeau had been the American
and French commanders in their victory over the British at the Siege of
Yorktown only four months previously, a victory which in effect ended the
American Revolution and sealed American Independence.
Our guests further honoured His Excellency
by dressing as per Washington's time such as the Georgian fashions of the
1770s and 1780s or the newer Regency fashions of the late 1790s.
Our celebration included the presentation of
thirteen young Americans Belles representing the thirteen original states.
Each was escorted on a promenade by a gallant soldier of
The dancing was very fine, the society
superb, and a great quantity of Cherry Punch was enjoyed by all!
Notes from His Excellency's Guests
Thank you for the wonderful evening at George
Washington's Birthday Ball! I appreciate what you did to make the night a
memorable part of my sixteenth birthday.
My guests and
I all agreed that this was the best ball we've been to so far... everyone was
very friendly and personable, and the dancing was lovely!!!
very much for recognizing my 16th birthday and for making this a special
evening for my guests and me!
Caris O. Phoenix, Arizona
Your Excellency -
Words fail to describe my enjoyment of last evening. I have completely run
out of superlatives to describe the amazing signs and sounds from the ball and
the pleasures of the senses I experienced. My favorite memories included the
introduction of the 13 belles representing the 13 colonies which initially
formed the United States of America (or Columbia if you will), followed by the
Sweet 16 Birthday celebration. This was the social event of the season, and
may we be celebrating your birthday as the ‘Father of our Country’ for the
next 1000 years.
Your Most Obedient Servant,
His Excellency and Mrs. Washington,
My deepest thanks for a night of many Miracle Moments at the ball in your
I was overjoyed and honored my fellow recruits of the Continental Line would
choose me to carry the flag of our beloved nation as we pledged our allegiance
and sang in patriotic tribute. This marked the first time I have ever
participated in such a noble ceremony. And if anyone ever questions my
patriotism as a journalist, I have photographic evidence to dispel any doubt!
I had the privilege of escorting three of our outstanding American Belles --
and sharing a dance with a few of them as well!
I shared an impromptu jig with a warm and gracious lass. Seeing the smile of
a young one while dancing with them pierces my heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to help Miss Olander celebrate her 16th
Birthday with an 18th Century circle dance. Encore! Encore! May it become a
And I am eternally grateful for the friends I have made in We Make History,
the ones I have learned so much from and who have brightened my life in ways
words fail to adequately convey. I am especially grateful for their patience,
assistance and pardon when my dancing abilities fell short of the mark. Even
after nine straight balls, and even though I no longer can realistically call
myself a newcomer, I will never consider myself an expert in what has become
my dearest diversion, just as it was for the colonial Virginians many
generations before me.
When I awoke the next morning, I once again felt as if I had dreamed it all.
Life could not possibly be this wonderful. People could not possibly be this
graceful or kind. Oh, but they can. They are.
I repeat this fact once again to underscore its truth: We Make History is a
tremendous blessing in my life, one that has helped me find true
joy and inspiration that I take back with me to my other life and time... and
reassured me life is worth living.
Thank you all so much and God Bless You All!
I Remain Your Friend And Humble Servant,
Thank you for putting on another
magnificent ball. The dancing and splendid company were most enjoyable. I
was particularly amused by the comment that I looked less like a commander and
more like a saint, St. Nicholas to be precise, but with the red coat, black
belt and boots, I was inclined to agree with him. I don't mind being given
the title of sainthood anyway. I also enjoyed the presentation of the ladies
representing the American Colonies. It reminded me of a historic beauty
pageant (Miss Colonial America). Thank you for all the hard work that you and
your family put into for making this amazing night possible.
Josh S. Prescott, Arizona
Thanks! I had fun. Hope to come to the next ball.
enjoyed dancing the Virginia Reel since it is one of my favorite dances and am
looking forward to the next time. I must also say that the guests at this ball
friendly and well mannered and I enjoyed myself much.
Thank you again for a lovely evening,
G. Southern Arizona
Make History Family!!!
Thanks again for all you did to make a great night for everyone. Your
musicians are always awesome!!!!
Diane B. Prescott, Arizona
Thank you for a lovely evening. We particular enjoy visiting during the
refreshment time with new friends and old acquaintances. This is one of our
favorite periods, the beautiful clothing and the grace of all involved and the
wonderful history of the era. Thank you again.
Charles and Roonie U.
Mesa, AZ and Fort Collins, CO
I wanted to let you know what a wonderful time I had at the ball Saturday. My
family enjoyed themselves immensely, particularly my little brother, who can't
wait until he can attend another one.
It was so different going to a smaller ball like this. I really liked it,
though. It definitely felt more personal and family-like (and I didn't sit out
a single dance!). Thanks so much for all the effort you put into it and all
the other events, and for the blessing of giving us those five tickets.
Hannah Chandler, Arizona
Dear General Washington,
I wanted to convey my thanks for your graciousness toward my two friends who
were first-time attendees. It was a unique experience for them and they had an
extremely enjoyable time as did I as always. And of course it was an honor for
them to meet a celebrity of your magnitude. My only regret was that they did
not feel comfortable asking any of the other guests to dance. Perhaps they
will be more courageous at the next dance. Thank you so much for continuing
to make these momentous events happen.
Sincerely, Linda B. Phoenix, AZ.
I just want to let you know what a wonderful time I had yesterday evening. As
usual, it was great to see you and your family again, and
of course the many other friendly faces that we run into as well. Of course
all that does was only the beginning... Needless to say,
Felicia and I thorougly enjoyed ourselves with the dances. :-)
I was just remarking to Felicia the other day that I have been participating
in events put on by We Make History for nearly 5 years
now. (And my, how your children have GROWN in that time!! ... in more ways
than one.) Though the newness of it all has worn away with time, and I don't
always write you to say so, you should of course know that I still very much
enjoy myself at each and every event. I think I can safely vouch the same for
Felicia too. ;-)
Each event is looked forward to, not only for the event itself, but in fact
for the people which will be there... We often see many of them
outside of We Make History in "normal" life. Some we know exclusively through
We Make History, and there are quite a number I have known for years before We
Make History even existed. But somehow it is often different; a time when we
can enjoy ourselves outside our busy daily lives and schedule.
You and your family - and WMH - are in my prayers at least weekly and often
more. (And have been so for a very long time) May God guide you in your
journey and continue to bless you as He already has. :-)
Yours in Christ,
Mathew E. Chandler, Arizona
His Excellency's Loyal Service
Hail To The Chief!
We Make History
honors the Father Of A Nation
and A Fine Dancer on his 275th Birthday* with the enthusiastic assistance of
The Continental Line.
(*but we stopped
counting at 200)
From the journal of Private Christopher.
Shoulder to shoulder. Left before right. This hand above that. Everything
has a procedure, and my aim is to follow it precisely.
“I’ve never been in a color guard before,” I admit as I clasp the flagpole in
my hands. The Star-Spangled Banner drapes down to tips of my fingers. This
part does not worry me.
The challenge lies in matching my cadence to three fellow soldiers of General
Washington’s Continental Line. As my own mother is fond of pointing out, I
tend to walk fast.
His Excellency welcomes the assembled guests at the front of the room as we
wait at the ready, in our tricorns and uniforms. Up close, one can see the
nuances of four different tailors. Yet from a distance, we flow together
perfectly in our red, white and blue.
We move as one, and I hold the line as I hold the flag, coming to a halt
before the group of some fifty ladies and gentlemen in a heartfelt tribute to
our liberated nation and its many liberties -- freedom of assembly, to name
“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to
the republic for which it stands, one nation, Under God, indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all…”
In the unison recitation of the Pledge and the singing of our National Anthem
with the American Flag in my hands, I doubt I have ever participated in a more
Placing the flag in the stand before the crowd, my duty is complete and part
of me exhales, only to lament later not adding more military finesse and
precision to my solo part of the ceremony. Shouldn’t I have saluted somewhere
in this? Should I have added a snap of my feet? Everything has a procedure.
Yet General Washington is satisfied, and my cadence is about to evolve from
marching to dancing.
The charming schoolteacher Miss Kay is looking out for me.
“Do you have a partner for the procession?” she asks. She has someone already
After a bit of confusion as to whether I am supposed to be escorting someone
else, I introduce myself to a beautiful woman in blue with a low bow. She
graciously accepts my invitation, and we’re soon promenading around the room,
getting a better look at the colorful fashions and ubiquitous newcomers taking
their first steps back in time.
Our first dance is entitled, “I Care Not For These Ladies,” the most
whimsically misleading English Country Dance title I have ever heard as the
ladies and gentlemen circulate in a round. I meet and greet at least half a
dozen partners, sharing a few turns and some fancy steps before its time to
This night, I must keep a promise to a beautiful young daughter of a fellow
“I owe you a dance,” I say to her before the evening commences. I have owed
her that dance since December. “I intend to pay my debt or suffer the
Yet when the line dances commence, others keep reaching her first. Other
times, she disappears from my sight. Where is she?
But I can’t linger on the floor too long in waiting. The guest list measures
many names shorter than in previous soirées, and the available partners
disappear like the sunlight of a February day. Now is the time to use those
fast feet, paired with a sharp eye for a partnerless lady. Do your duty,
soldier. Seek out that one on the floor with a countenance exuding dismay or
desperation, visible all the way from the other side of the room.
“The woman in blue,” a fellow Continental hints to me at one point. “She’s sat
out the last two dances.” Why is it always the women in blue? She’s taken
before I can rescue her.
“Girls keep running away,” one gentleman says during a break for refreshments.
I cannot understand why. Even though he is dressed one hundred years forward
in time, in the garb of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry, he is still very
much a Virginia gentleman and the justification for any fear escapes my
Let us hope it is not a playful tossle of the hair intimidating them. One such
dance, “Away To The Camp,” all but requires it as the ladies and gentlemen
parade around each other in one of the figures and daintily tickle and pinch
each others’ locks. My hair is not yet at ponytail length, but my curls get a
I offer a couple of dances to some shy young folk. They dance as well as those
triple their age, and they love every moment. Even during a pause in the
festivities, many continue dancing about, as does one wee lass who cavorts
straight up to me. I launch into an extemporaneous jig. We both share a
Miracle Moment, capering together in the middle of an otherwise barren dance
“Do you ever get a feeling of butterflies in you when you dance with someone?”
“I get that all the time.”
“Well, I only get that when I dance with that boy over there,” she explains,
indicating a precocious and lively patriot lad.
No doubt it is more than butterflies.
“That’s a good feeling,” I say.
Other butterflies flutter within me. I still must repay my debt. If I don’t, I
am bound to some sort of reprimand. The punishment remains undetermined, but I
have no doubt it will involve some sort of a jig. However, I finally find the
lady I owe, and we agree the next dance shall settle it.
Setting things right will have to wait a bit longer, however, for lined up on
the ballroom floor are thirteen American Belles, fine ladies representing
thirteen new states.
I am called to duty again, to help present these paradigms of beauty and
character to the assembled guests in a courtly promenade for photographs and
admiration. With only four of us on the Line, each of us enjoy three
opportunities to escort a lady. One lucky patriot enjoys a fourth!
Now, let me settle that debt…
“You’re outranked,” a fellow Continental teases. He’s a Lieutenant. He’s also
her father. “But I will defer to the private.”
I am thankful for his graciousness. It allows me to share a beautiful,
waltz-like number with her -- one that involves changing places across the set
several times white staring straight into her eyes. Here come those
butterflies again. She is clearly an excellent dancer, much better than I will
ever be on this evening. I try my best to be worthy of her grace, stepping in
elegance, my arms extended outward as we round each other. I am a soldier, a
gentleman, a Virginian, one who has danced all his life… or at least nine
balls. And if fulfilling those high standards are not enough motivation,
General Washington is dancing right next to us in the set. Compared to his
impeccable skill, any mistake on my part will magnify fivefold. I pass the
test, my debt repaid, my partner pleased.
But to my frustration, I still end up missing the mark on other dances I
thought I would have mastered by this point. What should be a graceful pivot
in "Come, Let's Be Merry" displays all the grace of a broken see-saw. Later, I
am chosen to demonstrate an allemand left and right with our gracious caller
and dancing master only to find my hands don’t link up with my partner’s the
way they’re supposed to -- much to the amusement of the ballroom.
And then, in a time-shortened Virginia Reel, I execute the opening turns and
passes without fault only to mysteriously find myself discombobulated when the
moment of reeling arrives. I nearly start reeling with the wrong side until my
fellow Continentals and His Excellency graciously set me back on the right
path. And I call myself a Virginian! I should know this like my own face! I
have danced for twenty and thirty minutes in these reels with nary an error.
What is wrong with me?
I later thank my dancing companions for bearing with me through my
deficiencies. “It happens to everyone,” the Lieutenant comforts.
That is true. And I must not forget, we are all laughing together, not at each
other. I am not back in elementary school, reliving the nightmare of square
dancing. But I shall not be satisfied until I dance a flawless reel
at the next ball!
I know His
Excellency will not be satisfied until everyone does their homework. He draws
several names for prizes, but only a couple of winners have a historical fact
at the ready, as stated in the rules. The rest prefer to jig -- or sing --
taking an alternate way out. We hear no mention of the General taking command
of the Continentals in 1775. Nobody speaks of his accepting Lord Cornwallis’
surrender in 1781… although a lone British regular in the hall likely prefers
it that way.
Many things are worth dancing about, especially birthdays. A round of “Happy
Birthday” simply will not suffice amongst 18th Century celebrants, especially
one celebrating her 16th birthday. Thus she enjoys a moment as the center of
attention while we sing and dance in a circle around her…
“For she’s a jolly good fellow! For she’s a jolly good fellow! For she’s a
jolly good fellow -- whom nobody can deny!”
We invite others with February birthdays to join her in the center for a
joyous encore. You could sing that song of everyone in the room -- everyone
jolly, good fellows, enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
When the final waltz arrives, it is always with a bit of sadness. I share the
last dance with a young lass, who is not intimidated by this Yankee Doodle
Dandy and his basic waltzing ability. She twirls when she wants, if she wants.
I merely follow and smile and bow to my partner with words of gratitude.
“You’re a much better waltzer than I am.”
Private Christopher, I think, you have so much to learn and so many
willing to teach.
It is obvious the Revolution is not over. We are leading a new one, looking
back to move forward. Most times, we will not carry muskets or wear uniforms.
And sadly, for most people, the stories of our American Belles will escape
attention as the rest of the world obsesses on the wreckage of other peoples’
lives. We’ve got a long fight ahead of us. But with a little inspiration, a
lot of heart, a generous spirit, and a clear sense of purpose, victory shall
be ours! Huzzah!
* * *
“I really like your outfit!” calls a teenage girl standing from a second floor
I am walking back through the motel room parking lot in my full Continental
regalia, haversack over my shoulder, tricorn atop my head, uplifted and
renewed from an after-ball feast and some time with friends in the late hours.
“Thank you!” I offer with a smile and an elegant bow.
I explain where I have been and what I have done. If I were not tired and she
were not holding an empty bottle, I would offer to teach her a few steps from
She thinks it is cool. Yea, victory shall be ours.
COMING IN MARCH:
A Tribute To The Ladies Of Virginia... Even In The Darkest Hours Of A Nation
Regards from His
Excellency, General George Washington
have the pleasure of conveying from General Washington his thanks and regards
to all who participated in the Ball in honour of His Excellency's 275th
many have already commented, there was something very special about this Ball.
It held the warmth, the peace and the familiarity of what one would have
expected at a private Ball among Washington's circle of friends.
Uplifting thirteen young and worthy ladies as representing our thirteen states
was an honour which held multiple levels of meaning regarding not only our
hopes and best aspirations for the young ladies themselves but also a
reflection on the providence of our past and a projection into the future.
celebrate the 16th birthday of Miss Olander was such a joy as her many new
friends of the We Make History Family warmly and creatively embraced her on
the special occasion.
a personal level I am very grateful for God's grace which was so evidently
upon us all and for the many people whom we have been blessed to serve. I was
reminded how much I love our WMH Family and what a joy it is to use what
talents and knowledge I may have been granted in order to provide something
special for you, something which I trust will have a lasting impact.
There was indeed something very, very special about this Ball. Thank you for
sharing the evening with us.
awe and appreciation
what good things God has done for us
greater things yet to come.
Please also see our “Etiquette
& Expectations” page as well as our "All
About Us" page.