Letters from George
My fellow Americans; family,
friends and esteemed guests,
With quill in hand I bask in
the fond remembrances of a most enjoyable evening - one well spent indeed -
and one made all the more pleasant by the brilliant company assembled, some of
whom traveled from such exotic and distant locations as Tennessee, Arkansas
and New Mexico.
The music was lively and
well suited to the fine collection of dances. The smiles were bright and
sincere. The young ladies, American Belles representing our sixteen states,
were particularly charming.
Is there any more agreeable
mode of enjoying fine society than the fine steps, amiable conversation and
uplifting tone of a Ball?
Dancing is indeed one of my
very favorite of pastimes and I thank each and all for having done me the
honor of accompanying me in an evening devoted to such.
Genl. Geo. Washington
We certainly had a most agreeable
time at this ball. We were greeted by so many friendly and familiar faces that
it felt like coming home! It was discussed how we were fewer in number this
time, but there is an advantage to that. I was able to talk and dance with the
same people more often, which helps in getting know those persons better. The
feeling of refinement and elegance that permeates every ball was certainly not
lacking at this one. I think I enjoyed myself at this ball more then at almost
any other. It probably has to do with the fact that I've begun to feel truly a
part of things. We anticipate the next ball with great enthusiasm and hope to
be in attendance.
Yours & C.
Your Excellency and Mrs.
How proud am I to serve you, this nation, and the patriots who populate it --
especially the ladies! I report your orders have been carried out and I have
danced with as many of the ladies as possible. No redcoats disrupted us. I
pray our victories may encourage more gallant men to step forward and join our
Continental Line -- not that I mind escorting several of our American Belles
but more should have such opportunity!
And how about another HUZZAH for those newcomers and old friends who traveled
great distance for this evening of joy and fellowship with the family of We
Make History! When one seeks this higher love, no distance is too great.
I was asked not long ago, "Do these balls ever become old hat?" No, not
ever. Not as long as I shall live. Not as long as I feel so honored and
blessed to be a part of these occasions and have the chance to draw others
in. My goal is to give as much happiness as I have received from all of you,
as fitting for both a soldier and a gentleman.
God Bless The United States Of America!
God Bless We Make History!
Your Friend And Humble Servant,
Pvt. C. Francis
of the Continental Line
My countrymen and I thank you for a
magnificent experience. The dancing and the company continue to bring joy to
my heart through the harsh winter days. All of the dances were marvelous and
I always enjoy the Virginia Reel. During that dance I had forgotten my hat so
that I could not properly bow to my corner, so I just "borrowed" Private
Drew's on the way over, and of course returned it back to him promptly. Even
though it was hard to leave at the end, my mind continues to drift back to the
final waltz and the enchantment of that dance. I take many fond memories from
the evening and express my thanks to you for all the hard work that went into
Private J. Zachary S.
Had a most wonderful time at
General Washington's ball; once again the company was great, the music
splendid and the ladies ever so charming.
Lt. Zachariah K, Officer Commanding, 28th New York
Your Excellency - I had a most
inspiring and magnificent time at the ball with you and your splendid guests.
It had been too long since I attended a historic ball, and as Private Francis
stated, I am beginning to measure time as the days between balls. My favorite
moment of the ball was the presentation of the belles representing the States
during your presidency, and I only wished there were more than 16 states. My
only regret was my aching feet and legs that were my misfortune to have by the
end of the evening, and which continued to remind me of the glorious time I
experienced throughout the following day. What a glorious way to celebrate
your day of birth, and may there be many more to come. May God continue to
bless you and your beautiful family, and the larger
Attached are two sample photos, and
I will send more in a few moments, as well as put a CD of my entire collection
in the mail today.
Your Friend and Humble Servant
M. J. C.
Etiquette and gentility
by the Rules, as set forth by His Excellency George
Washington and demonstrated
at a birthday ball in his honor by the family
We Make History.
Recounted by Private Francis of the
As a boy, George Washington copied
down 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
as both a penmanship exercise and a guide to living with honor. Several come
to mind as I gather in celebration with my fellow patriots.
Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to
those that are Present.
Newcomers surround me. They have traveled from the far region of New Mexico,
having heard of His Excellency's reputation for hospitality and joyous
celebrations. Young ladies stand in satiny ball gowns of orange and blue and
green. A wee lad bubbles with anticipation. I approach as soldier and
gentleman to greet them, bowing to everyone as they introduce themselves.
I offer words of encouragement and reassurance. "If you can walk, you can
But I confess my shortcomings. "I must admit I may not remember all of your
In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his
Degree & the Custom of the Place.
"Your Excellency," I proclaim with a bow as I greet General Washington.
"Your Servant," he returns in humble honor.
Shew Nothing to your Friend
that may affright him.
My musket and bayonet are secured
in the armory. My troublesome hair is queued and affixed with a specialty
treatment of the modern-day stylist, so that the removal of my tricorn shall
raise no errant strands like horns from my head.
In your Apparel be Modest and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather than
to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and
orderly with respect to Times and Places.
I ponder whether I should wear a ribbon in my hair or my clocked stockings.
But other than the polish of a ruffled jabot, I decide against any other
flourishments. My colorful regimental coat is honor enough, I gather, but I
hope the buttons on my breeches hold. They seem to tighten in the knees every
time I put them on. Either the linen is shrinking or my dancing calves are
"I just noticed something," His Excellency observes, indicating the turnouts
of my regimental coat are not fastened. I hastily correct this with some help
from the General.
"I did not want them to get caught in the door," I explained, noting the long
journey by carriage from Tucson, faithfully guarded by our Spanish allies.
In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor
Drum with your Fingers or Feet.
A challenge indeed, with such beautiful music emanating from our talented
musicians at the piano and flute as we welcome each other.
Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not
Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in
a Dancing fashion.
As the hour of the dancing approaches, it is hard for me to restrain the
anticipation in my feet. Some of young ladies prance about in rehearsal and
Undertake not what you cannot perform but be carefull to keep your promise.
"It is expected that the gentlemen will dance with as many ladies as possible
during the evening," our host reminds the assembly. A giddy grin slips across
"I am sure Private Francis will have no trouble with that," His Excellency
Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
Among friends, no pangs of nervousness violate my heart -- and white gloves
dissuade any discourteous habits of hand.
Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard,
thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.
The portrait of a patriot should be a portrait of nobility.
Superfluous Complements and all
Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be
I labor to honor every lady I dance with, bowing low before them...
In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices,
Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of
the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not
always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when
there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in
words keep to the most usual Custom.
...and removing my tricorn as if I were honoring a queen, letting humility
place a yolk upon my head. But oh my, I do need to pay diligence to keeping
The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.
A cheer of "Huzzah!" lacks the proper intensity without the raising of the
right hand in jubilation. A right-hand star lacks the proper merriment without
the left hand raised in joy.
When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that
I sense worry in some of my dancing companions about complicated steps. "Do
not fret," I tell more than one lady, smiling and assuring all will be well
regardless of her skill. Likewise, I find times where I forget a turn or two
or anticipate the wrong figure. But we laugh and continue to dance.
"Jack's Maggot" (a fanciful idea, not a creature) literally throws some of the
guests for a loop. Hey for Three? Hey, what was Jack thinking? But still we
continue, looping as best we can around one another.
During a round of "Come, Let Us Be Merry," I notice anxiety in my partner, a
newcomer, as I lead her in a waltzing minuet-like step among the others, and I
worry I am forcing her into a step that is not to her level of comfort. The
next time I lead her, I try a simpler hesitation waltz. Yet we dance on, and
later I praise her again, admitting the step can be complex.
"Sometimes it is best not to get concerned with the steps of the dance. Rather
focus on the Spirit of The Dance so that you may enjoy the music and each
others' company," I say to her and others.
Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd
Shall we make one small exception? In the dance "Away To The Camp," both the
ladies and gentleman are encouraged, dare I say expected to tousle each
other's hair in playful jest as we circle about one another. I do so and
encourage my fellow dancers to do the same. But one must take care of what is
loosed upon others. A lady -- perhaps not satisfied with tickling my queue --
tweaks my tricorn instead, sending it plunging to the floor.
If You Cough,
Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your
Yawning, but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside.
During "The Spaniard," my feet spring from the floor as I prance towards the
ladies, letting happiness pour from me while repressing the fatigue spreading
through my legs. I skip as I slip, pirouette as I cast of, dip to the rhythm
of three-quarter time and clap to the beat. I shall allow no display of
In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not
"I am winded," I say at end of the first set of dances. "But I am happily
At the conclusion of the next set, a French aristocratic friend notices my
countenance has paled beyond a comfortable level.
"You are a dancing fiend!" he exclaims. He is no doctor, but he knows the
signs of exhaustion even if I do not notice them myself. Or is it just a ruse
to draft me into the army of Louis XVI? "You always wanted to be a Royal
Écossais," he points out.
"Ja," I think out loud, so bereft of clear thought in the aftermath of
the dance I cannot even remember what foreign language I should be speaking.
"Oui," my friend counters as he leads me to the refreshments. Two cups
of cherry punch and the fatigue disperses. All hail the ale!
Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you
Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
I desire to sit not, especially in the presence of the ladies. Three-quarters
of the evening elapses before a kind lady invites me to take a seat. I then
realize I have danced exhaustively for three hours and not sat down once.
When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire
especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to
The assembled gentlemen do not hesitate to hold open doors for ladies or
displace themselves so that the fair ones may pass in their ballroom finest
At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and
affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.
During a pause for refreshments, a gallant lad assists in the seating of his
lady friend at my table, displacing the chair to make way for her and gently
pushing it in.
"Now there is a gentleman," I commend.
Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
Wide grins are out of character for the portraits of the times. But a dour
soldier I am not.
In walking the highest Place in most Countrys Seems to be on the right hand
therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honour: but if
three walk together the middest Place is the most Honourable the wall is
usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.
The gentleman is always dancing on the left, our host reminds us. I insist I
place myself to the lady's left in portraits as well.
"Let me be proper!" I cry as I reorient myself to the mannered place.
No partner will leave my side before I ask them if they would like an escort
following the conclusion of each dance. Many cheerfully allow me to lead them
back to their friends and family. "A fine dancer," I praise so that all
assembled may hear, adding another bow.
With the same dedication, I am blessed to escort several American Belles, a
group of 16 young women whom we all have high hopes for, gracefully wheeling
them around to face the portrait-taker.
I would escort even more patriotic ladies had we not drafted a couple of
gallant young men into our
Continental Line for just this occasion.
Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to
Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honour them, and those
of high Degree ought to treat them with affibility & Courtesie, without
In my heart, an extra bow to a beautiful lady is never unecessarily
They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Preceedency but
whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in
Birth or other Qualitys, though they have no Publick charge.
The wee patriots show themselves dignified beyond their age as they dance
among their own and their betters, albeit with more laughter and smiles. When
prizes are announced, an enthusiastic group of children cannot contain their
"Huzzah!" I cry.
"Huzzah!" respond the young ladies to my side.
A Man ought not to value himself of his Atchievements, or rare Qualities of
wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.
"You are a fine dancer," a lady compliments during the pause. "It would not be
half as fun without you here."
"Thank you," I say, adding "I am still learning," not wanting to think of
myself better than anyone among me. For it is they whom God has brought into
Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.
Many guests find themselves the winners of chocolates, candies, books and
historic patterns. And to their relief, they need not offer a fact from the
past nor a jig to claim their prizes.
Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
Early in the evening, a mysterious, rude, high-pitched holler permeates the
ballroom, to the anxiety some of the young ladies. They summon me to
We find the source in the world outside -- perhaps from some boorish Redcoats
under cover of evening. I quickly resume my soldierly duties to protect those
I hold dear, instituting proper countermeasures with the aid of General
Washington. Thankfully, I see the matter resolved without the need for armed
sentries at the doors.
"Maybe it was a ghost," a young one wonders.
"It wasn't a ghost!" another protests.
When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if
any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired,
Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.
What words could I possibly add that would possibly equal the beauty of the
magnificant ladies' gowns? Besides, I must catch my breath.
Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after Drinking wipe
your Lips breath not then or Ever with too Great a Noise, for its uncivil.
As we are summoned back to the ballroom from a pause in the festivities, I
turn to a lady serving refreshments with quiet urgency.
"Do I have cherry punch around my lips?" I inquire.
Thankfully, she says I do not.
Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
"I assume we shall be keeping it Reel," I inquire of General Washington as the
final set of dances approaches. He responds with a smile, and my expectation
is fulfilled when we form sets for the Virginia Reel.
"It is almost a residency requirement," I tell a guest. "A Virginian should be
able to dance a Virginia Reel!"
The reeling part falters me a little, but I think I can honestly proclaim
myself to be a man of Virginia... or a reasonable facsimile of. But where is
His Excellency? Surely he would not miss this dance in his honor!
To my relief, I find he is enjoying the moment, capturing images of our joyous
turns and sashays about the ballroom floor.
Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire
When the last waltz ends, nothing is finished. For some, it has just started.
"You are now a part of the We Make History family," proclaims His Excellency.
"The door is open for you."
I have cavorted at many balls, with many ladies, in many places, but nothing
ever grows dull or routine. My feet may tire but my spirit does not. It longs
to bring past into present, loving others and serving them.
When the post-ball feast is finished, and when we disperse back to our other
lives and times, the joy of the dance burns within me all through the long
journey back home under the starry skies, like Paul Revere making his midnight
More from the merry patriots
One night in Richmond...
One evening of merriment...
But the ladies come first...
...On The Eve Of Chancellorsville...
Please also see our “Etiquette
& Expectations” page as well as our "All
About Us" page.
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
(representing appreciative Americans of several centuries) have enjoyed
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.
Fine fellowship, lively dancing and cherry
punch were enjoyed by all as Americans from a number of time periods gathered
to celebrate. A highlight of the evening was the presentation of
the "American Belles" representing the sixteen states of Washington's
A grand time was had by all and we look
forward together in eager anticipation to next year's
George Washington's Birthday