Developments on both sides of the Atlantic keep the administration busy in 1794. Prominent envoys are sent to both Britain and France in order to avert the US being drawn into conflict with a foreign power. General Wayne and his troops march into action in the Northwest Territory. Even Washington is getting into the action as he heads into the field to face the rebels in western Pennsylvania. Though only five years old, the new government under the Constitution is tested like never before. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured image: John Jay, copy based on an original by Gilbert Stuart, courtesy of Wikipedia
In this special episode, we take a closer look at Martha Washington, the woman who would serve as the nation’s first First Lady before the term was even crafted for the role. To help us better understand her life and her role in American history, I am joined in this episode by Presidential and First Ladies historian Feather Schwartz Foster who shares her knowledge and insights about Martha’s strengths and shortcomings, the Washingtons’ marriage, how Martha approached her public and household duties after her husband took the oath of office in 1789, and what impact Martha had on crafting the role of the First Lady.
Audio editing by Andrew Pfannkuche, and special thanks to Toyin, Kato, Barbara, Mark, and Alex for providing the intro quotes.
This episode is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Betty Landry, and is being released on what would have been her 68th birthday.
The music between sections are selections from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto 1st Movement (Allegro), performed by Markus Krumpöck and the Merkur Orchester Wiener Neustadt conducted by Willibald Zwittkovits.
The lead up to Washington’s second inaugural ended up being much more dramatic than anyone could have imagined as personal conflicts threatened the construction of the Federal City, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds threatened to be made public knowledge, and Representative William Branch Giles filed resolutions against Hamilton accusing him of official misconduct and calling for his dismissal. In the middle of all this, a reluctant president turns to his family for support as he prepares himself for what already appears will be a more turbulent four years ahead than his first term had been. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Content Note: Though not going into graphic detail, I did want to let everyone know upfront that this episode, in discussing slavery, does touch upon the violence associated with slavery including that perpetrated against female enslaved people.
Year(s) Discussed: 1490s-1792
European settlers in the Western Hemisphere began practicing slavery in the lands that they found on the other side of the Atlantic in the late 15th century. In this episode, we examine the institution of slavery in what would become the United States as it developed up to the end of Washington’s first term in office. From its beginnings to its codification, we also look at some of the living conditions of enslaved peoples and early efforts to end the practice of slavery. The episode finishes off with bringing the focus back to Washington and how he approached slavery as he participated in the Constitutional Convention and then took office as president. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
The government is on the move! As the federal government transitions to its new temporary capitol while Washington selects a site for the permanent capitol along the Potomac, it is also forced to deal with the most controversial proposal put forward to date: the creation of a National Bank. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s proposal of an excise tax on whiskey sails through and a new state is added to the Union. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
The colonies along the Atlantic seaboard declare independence and go to war with Great Britain, and George Washington is in the middle of all of the action. The lead up and the prosecution of the revolution would lift Washington from being just another Virginia planter to become “the Father of His Country” as he had to develop his skills as a politician, a military commander, a spymaster, and an administrator in order to ensure success for him and the colonial cause. In the midst of the social and political turmoil, personal tragedy struck the Washingtons at the beginning and the end of the Revolution, and the conclusion of the war would find Washington handing back all of the power that had been entrusted to him. His retirement would be short-lived as the new nation would soon find itself at a crisis point that only Washington could save them from. Sources used in this episode as well as other sources for more information on the Revolutionary War can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Our examination of George Washington begins with his early life in Virginia. Washington has to cope with personal loss and self-improvement as he works to make his way in the world. The coming of the French and Indian War takes his life in a new direction and sets the stage for the Revolution to come. We also look at his marriage to Martha Dandridge Custis and his establishment of industries based on slavery at Mount Vernon. Source notes for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.