The Morning Chronicle

The Morning Chronicle

The Morning Chronicle was first established by William Woodfall in 1769. It became a more successful newspaper after it was acquired by James Perry in 1789. Perry, a supporter of the Whigs, recruited well known radicals such as Richard Sheridan and Henry Brougham to write for the newspaper.

Perry's support for parliamentary reform brought him into conflict with the authorities and in 1793 was charged with seditious libel. Defended by Thomas Erskine, the jury decided that he was "guilty of publishing, but with no malicious intent". The judge refused to accept the verdict and after another day's discussion, decided he was "not guilty". Perry and Gray were less fortunate in 1798 when they were found guilty of libelling the House of Lords and sentenced to three months in Newgate Prison.

Sales of the Morning Chronicle gradually increased and by 1810 the newspaper had a circulation of 7,000. Perry was now able to recruit Britain's best radical journalists, including William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb. Perry continued to be hounded by the government and in February 1818 was charged with Leigh Hunt and The Examiner for criticizing King George III. Perry defended himself well in court and was found not guilty.

James Perry was succeeded by John Black who employed Henry Mayhew, James Grant and John Stuart Mill on the newspaper. In August 1834 Black gave a permanent job the young Charles Dickens, on a salary of five guineas a week. Claire Tomalin, the author of Dickens: A Life (2011) has argued: "Black was a Scot, a friend of James Mill and follower of Jeremy Bentham, and he ran the Morning Chronicle as a reforming paper, and set out to rival The Times, encouraged by a tough new owner, John Easthope, a Liberal politician who had made a fortune on the stock exchange. Dickens would be a key member of the team taking on The Times." A friend of Black claimed that "I have often heard Black speak of him (Dickens), and predict his future fame." Another recalled that Black had "the highest opinion of his original genuis."

John Stuart Mill, was another supporter of Black and wrote: "I have always considered Black as the first journalist who carried criticism and the spirit of reform into the details of English institutions. Those who are not old enough to remember those times can hardly believe what the state of public discussion then was. People now and then attacked the Constitution and the boroughmongers but none thought of censuring the law or the courts of justice and to say a word against the unpaid magistracy was a sort of blasphemy. Black was the writer who carried the warfare into these subjects… And by doing this he broke the spell."

Charles Dickens was one of twelve parliamentary reporters employed by Black. He later wrote about reporting on speeches made by politicians outside of London: "I have often transcribed for the printer from my shorthand reports, important public speeches in which the strictest accuracy was required... writing on the palm of my hand, by the light of a dark lantern, in a post chaise and four, galloping through a wild country, all through the dead of night."

R. Shelton MacKenzie, the author of Life of Charles Dickens (1870), argued that John Black was "of great learning and remarkable memory, with very liberal political opinions". He also pointed out that a "ten-line leader would have appalled him, by its brevity, for he resembled some of the old world soldiers, in his predilection for charging in long columns... His plan in writing a leading article, was to meditate upon it from morning until night, and then write two or three heavy sticksful, closing with a quotation, at least a column in length, from Bayle, Pascal, Thomas Aquinas, Dun Scotus, or some other light writer."

Charles Dickens wrote to John Forster about his experiences working on the Morning Chronicle: "There never was anybody connected with newspapers, who, in the same space of time, had so much express and post-chaise experience as I. And what gentlemen they were to serve, in such things, at the old Morning Chronicle! Great or small, it did not matter. I have had to charge for half-a-dozen break-downs in half-a-dozen times as many miles. I have had to charge for the damage of a great-coat from the drippings of a blazing wax-candle, in writing through the smallest hours of the night in a swift-flying carriage and pair. I have had to charge for all sorts of breakages fifty times in a journey without question, such being the ordinary results of the pace which we went at. I have charged for broken hats, broken luggage, broken chaises, broken harness - everything but a broken head, which is the only thing they would have grumbled to pay for."

Dickens enjoyed working for John Black: "Returning home from exciting political meetings in the country to the waiting press in London, I do verily believe I have been upset in almost every description of vehicle known in this country. I have been, in my time, belated on miry by-roads, towards the small hours, forty or fifty miles from London, in a wheelless carriage, with exhausted horses and drunken post-boys, and have got back in time for publication, to be received with never-forgotten compliments by the late Mr. Black, coming in the broadest of Scotch from the broadest of hearts I ever knew."

In 1834 John Easthope, a a Liberal politician who had made a fortune on the stock exchange, purchased the Morning Chronicle from William Innell Clement for for £16,500. According to Peter Ackroyd the daily newspaper had "under its previous owner had somehow lost its way." He was considered to be a difficult employer and in February 1836, Charles Dickens led a short, successful strike against Easthope in February 1836 over the terms of employment of his journalists.

Black had a terrible temper and when John Arthur Roebuck published a pamphlet, The Stamped Press and its Morality, criticised those newspaper owners and editors who accepted the 1815 Stamp Act that had placed a 4d tax on newspapers. John Black was so upset he challenged Roebuck to a duel. Roebuck accepted and although shots were fired at the meeting, no one was injured.

John Black also agreed to publish Dickens' short stories. Over the next few months five of Dickens' stories appeared in the newspaper. Dickens called Black "my first hearty out-and-out appreciator". A friend of Black claimed that "I have often heard Black speak of him (Dickens), and predict his future fame." Another recalled that Black had "the highest opinion of his original genuis." These stories were so popular that they were collected together and published as a book entitled Sketches by Boz (1836).

In 1849 Henry Mayhew suggested to the editor, John Douglas Cook, that the newspaper should carry out an investigation into the condition of the labouring classes in England and Wales. Cook agreed and recruited a team that included Mayhew, Angus Reach, Shirley Brooks and Charles Mackay.

It was the first time in history that a project like this was undertaken by a newspaper. The country was divided into six broad areas and writers were sent to investigate. This included Henry Mayhew (London), Charles Mackay (Birmingham and Liverpool), Angus Reach (Manufacturing Districts) and Shirley Brooks (Agricultural Districts). It is not known the names of the journalists who wrote about the other two areas: the Mining and Manufacturing Districts of South Wales and North Wales.

The Morning Chronicle ceased publication in 1862.

The primary cause of the pestilence is to be found in the filth and squalor of the poor. We, the richest nation on the face of the earth, have allowed our fellow-creatures to "fust" in styles, reeking with filth, such as farmers, now-a-days, know that swine would pine and dwindle in. We have allowed them to quench their thirst and cook their food with water poisoned with their own excretions.

The city of London, within the walls, occupies a space of only 370 acres, and is but the hundred and fortieth part of the extent covered by the whole metropolis. Nevertheless, it is the parent of a mass of united and far spreading tenements, stretching from Hammersmith to Blackwell, from Holloway to Camberwell.

By the last census return (1841) the metropolis covered an extent of nearly 45,000 acres, and contained upwards of two hundred and sixty thousand houses, occupied by one million eight hundred and twenty thousand souls, constituting not only the densest, but the busiest hive, the most wondrous workshop, and the richest bank in the world. A strange incongruous chaos of wealth and want - of ambition and despair - of the brightest charity and the darkest crime, where there is more feasting and more starvation, than on any other spot on earth - and all grouped round the one giant centre, the huge black dome, with its ball of gold looming through the smoke and marking out the capital, no matter from what quarter the traveller may come.

In the hope of obtaining a bird's-eye view of the port, I went up to the Golden Gallery that is immediately below the ball of St. Paul's. It was noon, and an exquisitely bright and clear spring day; but the view was smudgy and smeared with smoke. Clumps of building and snatches of parks looked through the clouds like dim islands rising out of the sea of smoke. It was impossible to tell where the sky ended and the city began; and as you peered into the thick haze you could, after a time, make out the dusky figures of tall factory chimneys plumed with black smoke; while spires and turrets seemed to hang midway between you and the earth, as if poised in the thick grey air.

Thomas Heath, a weaver of 8 Pedley Street, Spitalfields, gave me a detailed account of all his earnings for 430 weeks. The sum of the gross earnings for 430 weeks is £322 3s. 4d., being about 15s. a week. He estimates his weaving expenses at 4s., which would 11s. net wages. He states his wife's earnings at about 3s. He gives the following remarkable evidence:

"Have you any children?"

"No; I had two, but they are both dead, thanks to be God!"

"Do you express satisfaction at the death of your children?"

I do! I thank God for it. I am relieved from the burden of maintaining them, and they, poor dear creatures, are relieved from the troubles of the mortal life."

Do you read the Morning Chronicle? Do you devour those marvellous revelations of the inferno of misery, of wretchedness, that is smouldering under our feet? We live in a mockery of Christianity that, with the thought of its hypocrisy, makes me sick. We know nothing of this terrible life that is about us - us, in our smug respectability. To read of the sufferings of one class, and the avarice, the tyranny, the pocket cannibalism of the other, makes one almost wonder that the world should go on. And when we see the spires of pleasant churches pointing to Heaven, and are told - paying thousands to Bishops for the glad intelligence - that we are Christians!. The cant of this country is enough to poison the atmosphere.

I think you will agree to be one of the most beautiful records of the nobility of the poor; of those whom our jaunty legislators know nothing. I am very proud to say that these papers of Labour and the Poor were projected by Henry Mayhew, who married my girl. For comprehensiveness of purpose and minuteness of detail they have never been approached. He will cut his name deep.

A History of The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News is a daily newspaper reaching the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas state, with its headquarters in Downtown Dallas. The newspaper has been publishing since 1885, when it was created as a satellite newspaper of the Galveston Daily News. Currently, The Dallas Morning News is in the top 20 in terms of the largest paid circulations in the United States.

This post takes you through The Dallas Morning News history, from its founding to its circulation figures. You can find lots of back issues of the newspaper in our Dallas Morning News archive, letting you read a newspaper from your chosen date.

The Dallas Morning News, Saturday, November 22, 1963 – the date President John F. Kennedy was assassinated

The Early History of Newspaper Publishing in New York State

The 'New-York Gazette' was first issued November 8, 1725, marking the beginning of newspaper publishing in the state. Frank Luther Mott writes in his 'American Journalism, A History: 1690-1960' that it was a "small two-page paper, poorly printed, and containing chiefly foreign news from three to six months old, state papers, lists of ships entered and cleared, and a few advertisements."

New York's second paper was 'The New-York Weekly Journal' issued by John Peter Zenger beginning November 5, 1733. Four issues deemed seditious were confiscated and burned. Zenger spent nine months in jail before the famous 'libel' trial of 1735, during which time his wife, Anna, continued the publication, making her the first woman to write, edit, and publish a newspaper in New York State (and only the third in U.S. history).

During the period 1725-1800, Clarence Brigham lists 137 newspaper titles that appeared, many for only brief spans of time, in New York State. By 1828, about 120 newspapers were being published in New York State, 20 of these in New York City.

During the 19th century, several writers and poets who later gained fame and recognition worked or wrote for various newspapers in New York State.

  • Washington Irving wrote for the New York Morning Chronicle , a paper begun by Aaron Burr on October 1, 1802 and edited by Washington Irving's brother Peter.
  • Clement Clark Moore's 'Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas' (commonly known by its first line "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") was published anonymously in the December 23, 1823 issue of the Troy Sentinel .
  • In 1832, at the age of 13, poet Walt Whitman worked as an apprentice printer for the Long Island Patriot and then for Alden Spooner's weekly Long Island Star (Fall 1832-May 1835). He founded his own newspaper, the Long Islander , in 1838.
  • Herman Melville first appeared in print as the author of a letter signed "Philologian" appearing in the February 24, 1838 issue of the Albany Microscope .
  • Four of Emily Dickinson's poems are known to have been published in New York newspapers in 1864, all anonymously.
  • Mark Twain bought a partnership in the Buffalo Morning Express in August 1869. He edited and wrote for the paper through March 1871, when he sold his one-third interest in the paper at a loss.

One of this country's earliest Spanish-language newspapers was issued in New York City in the 1820s by Cuban-born priest Padre Felix Varela. The U.S. Postal Service in 1997 issued a commemorative 32 cent postage stamp in his honor.

The first African-American newspaper, Freedom's Journal , was published in New York City on March 16, 1827. American poet John Greenleaf Whittier worked as a contributing editor for The Emancipator , a weekly New York publication of the American Anti-Slavery Association, in 1837. He also helped edit The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter during the months September-October 1841. Frederick Douglass began publication of the Rochester-based North Star on December 3, 1847.

The earliest known printed reference to organized baseball in America appeared in the Delhi Gazette on July 13, 1825. According to the June 8, 1991 issue of The Daily Star from Oneonta, a notice from Hamden, dated July 12, 1825, contains the names of nine men challenging any group in Delaware County to a game of baseball at the home of Edward B. Chace for $1 each, per game.

The Associated Press traces its origin to a meeting of executives from six New York newspapers in May of 1848. David Hale, publisher of The New York Journal of Commerce , called together James Gordon Bennett of The New York Herald , Horace Greeley of the New-York Tribune , and representatives of the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer , the New York Morning Express , and The Sun , who together formed the Associated Press of New York. Agencies of the Association were first formed in Washington and Albany.

Size-wise, the largest newspaper published in New York State was an issue of The Constellation , issued in New York City on July 4, 1859. The press, designed to accommodate the single sheet opening to 100 x 70 inches, broke down during the first print run.

By 1865, according to the U.S. census, 373 newspapers were being published in 428 editions, 54 of these in New York City. The state's population grew from 959, 049 in 1810 to 4,382,759 in 1870.

Newspaper publishing in New York increased significantly during the first half of the modern wood pulp "brittle paper" era. The first New York newspaper made entirely of ground-wood pulp was the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung issued on January 7, 1868.

The first regular feature comic in an American newspaper was Richard Felton Outcalt's 'Yellow Kid,' who actually first appeared wearing a blue nightshirt in 'Hogan's Alley' in the May 5, 1895 Sunday World . Critics identified 'The Kid' as a symbol of the exploitative journalism promoted during the publishing war between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolf Hearst. Ervin Wardman of the Evening Press subsequently referred to these publications as New York's "yellow press." The first regular feature comic strip in an American newspaper was Rudolph Dirk's 'Katzenjammer Kids,' first appearing in the December 12, 1897 issue of the New York Journal .

The text of the editorial by F.P. Church titled 'Is there a Santas Claus?' appeared in the September 21, 1897 issue of The Sun in New York City. It was written in response to a letter from Virginia O'Hanlon, of 115 West Ninety-Fifth Street, inquiring as to the truth of the matter.

The first known crossword puzzle appeared in The World in New York City on Sunday December 21, 1913. The U.S. Postal Service in 1997 issued a postage stamp in 1998 in recognition of the event.

In 1870, Rowell & Sons listed 490 newspapers published in 577 editions throughout New York State, with 90 papers (in 118 editions) appearing In New York City alone. The state's population grew to 12,588,066 in 1930, by which time about 1,000 newspapers were being published.

The New York State Library
University of the State of New York - New York State Education Department

Morning Chronicle Archive Search in New York, New York

Local newspapers are a vast source of information of family historians. If you're interested in uncovering your family history, looking through the Morning Chronicle archive in New York, New York can yield incredible results.

With historical records often being incomplete or difficult to find, uncovering those elusive ancestors can be challenging. Morning Chronicle historic newspapers are a valuable font of information.

The GenealogyBank archives contain thousands of newspaper issues across the decades. With more than 330 years of history, you can fill in the gaps in your knowledge and find the newspaper entries related to your family within New York, New York.

Just some of the reasons to begin searching through Morning Chronicle historical data include:

  • Uncover your family history.
  • Find long-forgotten ancestors.
  • Discover the riveting stories of family members who came before you.

At GenealogyBank, 95% of our newspapers can only be found through our platform. It’s one of the most comprehensive archive of Morning Chronicle historic online newspapers anywhere in the U.S.

Using our search feature, you can access the entire Morning Chronicle database in a matter of seconds.

The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser was founded in 1769 by William Woodfall as publisher, editor, and reporter. [2] [6] [7] [8] [9] From 1769 to 1789 the editor was William Woodfall. (In 1789 he sold his interest in the Morning Chronicle and in the same year founded The Diary, or Woodfall's Register, which was the first to fully report on proceedings in Parliament as a regular feature. Since note-taking was prohibited, he worked from memory, at least to the extent of writing notes outside the chamber.) [10] [11] Woodfall's journalism slanted toward the Whig party in the House of Commons.

Newspapers of the time were subject to persecution by the government, and in typical fashion Woodfall was convicted of libel and spent a year in Newgate prison in 1779 a similar fate also befell some of his successors.

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1 For an introductory survey of these developments, and of Perry's career, see Ian Christie , R. , Myth and Reality in Late-Eighteenth-Century British Politics and other Papers ( 1970 ), pp. 311 –58. For a more detailed study, see Ivon Asquith, ‘James Perry and the Morning Chronicle 1790–1821’, University of London Ph.D. thesis (1973). I am indebted to Professor Christie for suggesting Perry's career as a subject for research.Google Scholar

2 Perry to William Adam, 8 June 1792, Blair-Adam MSS, Blair-Adam, Kinross-shirc.

3 Morning Chronicle, 22 Mar. 1794 Oracle and Public Advertiser, 21 Apr. 1794. For the breakdown of costs see Appendix A.

4 [ Morison , S. ], History of The Times ( 1935 ), 1 , 39 – 41 .Google Scholar

History of The Chronicle

Jan. 16,1865: Daily Dramatic Chronicle founded by Charles and M.H. de Young with $20 to rent equipment and desk space.

1868: Paper changes name to Daily Morning Chronicle.

1879: Chronicle editor Charles de Young shoots and seriously wounds mayoral candidate Isaac Kalloch after Kalloch tells an audience that the editor's mother ran a house of prostitution. Kalloch recovered and was later elected.

1880: Charles de Young is shot and killed by Milton Kalloch, a 28-year-old minister and son of Isaac, who was infuriated by the Chronicle's personal attacks on his father. M.H. de Young takes over management of the paper.

1884: Adolph Spreckels shoots M.H. de Young after Chronicle publishes articles defaming the Spreckels family and sugar business. De Young survives.

1890: Chronicle moves to new home at Kearny and Market streets.

1913: De Young purchases the morning Call newspaper from the Spreckels family, which had bought it in 1897. Fierce public outrage over plans to close the paper force de Young to sell it to Spreckels and William Randolph Hearst Jr., owner of the competing morning Examiner.

1913: Charles de Young, sole male heir to de Young name, dies at age 32.

1924: Chronicle moves to Fifth and Mission, its current home.

1925: M.H. de Young dies. Son-in-law George T. Cameron assumes control of the company.

1935 : Paul Smith becomes executive editor.

1936: Smith hires Herb Caen to write a radio column.

1949: KRON-TV starts broadcasting as Chronicle subsidiary.

1950: Caen, unhappy at Chronicle, moves to The Examiner.

1951: Paul Smith forced out as editor.

1952: Scott Newhall becomes executive editor.

1955: Cameron dies. Charles Thieriot becomes editor, publisher.

1956: Ferdinand M. (Peter) Thieriot and his wife Francis die when ocean liner Andrea Doria sinks. Their son Peter, then 13, survives.

1958: Herb Caen returns to Chronicle.

1965: Charles Thieriot, William Randolph Hearst Jr. agree to Joint Operating Agreement. Examiner moves from morning to afternoon publication. News-Call Bulletin closes.

1967: Thieriot testifies at Senate hearings to rebut charges that the Chronicle used profits from KRON to finance the circulation war that killed the News-Call Bulletin and moved The Examiner to evening publication.

1968: Newspaper workers strike Chronicle and Examiner for 52 days.

1968: Chronicle Books founded.

1969: Thieriot testifies before Senate panel that The Examiner or the Chronicle would have failed if not for JOA.

1975: NBC affiliate WOWT-TV of Omaha, Neb., acquired.

1977: Gordon Pates becomes executive editor.

1977: Charles Thieriot dies. Richard Thieriot, his son, named editor and publisher.

1979: ABC affiliate KAKE-TV of Wichita, Kan., acquired.

1980: Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph bought.

1982: William German replaces Pates.

Chronicle announces it will sell KRON to Gannett for $100 million, plus ownership of KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. The deal later falls apart.

1986: Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette bought.

1988: Motor Books purchased, renamed MBI.

1993: Then-Chronicle Publishing Chairwoman Nan Tucker McEvoy reportedly rejects an $800 million offer for the whole company from Hearst.

Thieriot and many other family members forced out of Chronicle Publishing management. John B. Sias is hired as president and CEO, the first non-family head of the company.

1994: McEvoy reportedly vetoes a $1.15 billion offer from Rupert Murdoch and television operator Tele-Communications Inc. for the company's cable system, three television stations and other electronic properties. Move angers family members and leads to her ouster from the board of directors.

Newspaper workers strike for 12 days at Chronicle and Examiner.

1995: Hearst renews Joint Operating Agreement for 10 years. Chronicle sells cable holdings to TCI for $580 million.

May 10, 1999: Chronicle board of directors hires investment firm to review strategic options.

1999-2000: Series of deals sells newspaper, book and broadcast properties. &lt

History of The Morning Call in downtown Allentown

The Morning Call's headquarters at Sixth and Linden streets in downtown Allentown has been sold to City Center Investment Corp.

The roughly 250,000-square-foot building, which was listed for sale in February, is one of the largest remaining properties in the city's Neighborhood Improvement Zone that has not been targeted for development or redevelopment.

The Morning Call's presence in Allentown dates back to 1883 when a Saturday evening newspaper called The Critic was founded.

Here's a snapshot of the paper's history, as it pertains to its locations:

1905: By this point, The Morning Call had been moved to 16 S. Sixth St. and had installed its first linotype machine. An eight-page steam-operated press was installed, and it was printing 5,000 newspapers a day.

1906: Growth necessitated more space and equipment, so The Morning Call moved to 27 S. Sixth St. There, a 16-page Hoe cylinder press was installed and later expanded to accommodate the printing of a 48-page newspaper.

1920: The weekly Allentown Democrat changed its name to The Morning Herald and consolidated its circulation with The Morning Call. All operations were moved to Sixth and Linden streets.

1935: A year after David A. Miller returned to The Morning Call , the paper acquired The Chronicle and News, and transferred its operations to the Sixth and Linden plant. The Chronicle and News was renamed The Evening Chronicle.

1981: On Aug. 31, 1981, The Call-Chronicle Newspapers' 270-car, three-level parking garage at Sixth and Turner streets was formally opened. Allentown Mayor Frank Fischl termed the new garage as "an indication of your dedication to the center-city."

1983: The Call-Chronicle Newspapers completed an 18-month expansion at its Sixth and Linden street headquarters. The multimillion-dollar project was termed "Into the 21st Century" and redesigned five major departments to use one of the most sophisticated computer systems in the nation. The main focus was on the creation of a new ultra-modern editorial office built over a the former second-floor parking deck. The extensive renovation also included the relocation and construction of a combined lobby and customer service area, in addition to a new façade and retaining wall along North Sixth Street. The project's general contractor was Alvin H. Butz Inc.

2016: The Morning Call's headquarters at Sixth and Linden streets goes up for sale.

The Death of George Washington

The first president of the United States died on December 14th, 1799.

The victorious general of the American War of Independence and first President of the United States retired from public life in 1797, at the end of his second term, and withdrew to his estate at Mount Vernon in Virginia on the Potomac.

He was only too happy to take up the life of a country squire in the company of his much-loved wife, Martha. He arranged for the freeing of his slaves and the payment of life pensions to the elderly among them – the last of which would be made in 1833, more than thirty years after his death – and devoted his time to running his estate and entertaining old friends. On the morning of December 12th, 1799, Washington set off to ride over his plantation and inspect his farms. The weather was treacherous and a cold north-easter brought snow, sleet, and rain. The veteran of the Valley Forge winter was not deterred and rode for more than five hours before returning home with snow in his hair. He awoke next day with a sore throat and stayed indoors until late afternoon, when he went out to mark some trees he wanted felled. His throat was worse, but he brushed all concern aside and went off to bed. In the early hours he was feverish and at sunrise a doctor was sent for, while Washington was bled. The doctor diagnosed ‘inflammatory quinsy’ – a throat infection.

A second doctor was summoned, and a third, and there were more bleedings, inhalations of hot water and vinegar, and doses of calomel and tartar, but the patient grew steadily weaker. Around 4.30 that afternoon he realised he was dying and told the doctors: ‘You had better not take any more trouble about me, but let me go off quietly. I cannot last long’.

The doctors took no notice and applied blisters and poultices of wheat bran and vinegar. It was no use. At about 10 o‘clock that night Washington whispered: ‘I am just going. Have me decently buried, and do not let my body be put into the vault less than two days after I am dead.’ Martha was at the foot of the bed as he slipped away.

Washington was sixty-eight. Argument about the precise cause of his death has continued, but it seems clear that the treatment he received was worse than useless. He was buried in his family vault at Mount Vernon on the afternoon of December 18th in a mahogany coffin lined with black cloth, with a swiftly organised escort of cavalry and foot, a delegation of Freemasons and local dignitaries in attendance, salvoes echoing from a yacht in the Potomac and a salute fired by eleven cannon. Martha was buried with him when she died two years later in 1802.

Washington’s death brought tributes even from the British who had fought him. Royal Navy battleships blockading Brest lowered their colours to half mast and The London Morning Chronicle opined that ‘The whole range of history does not present to our view a character upon which we can dwell with such entire and unmixed admiration’. The US army wore black armbands for six months and many ladies went into formal mourning, led by the First Lady, Abigail Adams. Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, adjourned on the day of the funeral.

December 26th was set aside for formal mourning and Congressman ‘Light Horse Harry’ Lee of Virginia (the father of Robert E. Lee), who had known Washington for years, took the pulpit of the Lutheran church to deliver to the assembled Congress a magnificent eulogy on his dead friend. ‘First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen…’

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