NOTE: The Daily News Article resumes Tuesday, February 16.
Monday, Feb. 15th is President’s Day. Take some time to read the following and visit the websites.
At the age of 15 George Washington copied the “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.” These maxims were so fully lived out in George Washington’s life that historians have regarded them as important influences in forming his character. Listed below are several of the maxims followed by George Washington. How many do you follow?
- Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Drest.
- Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
- Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.
- Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Ask’d & when desired do it briefly.
- Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.
- 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.
- While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
- Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.
- Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.
- Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.
For the complete list of maxims, go to the Colonial Williamsburg website at
- When the armies marched away from Gettysburg they left behind a community in shambles and more than 51,000 killed, wounded, and missing. Wounded and dying were crowded into nearly every building. Most of the dead lay in hasty and inadequate graves; some had not been buried at all.
- This situation so distressed Pennsylvania’s Gov. Andrew Curtin that he commissioned a local attorney, David Wills, to purchase land for a proper burial ground for Union dead. Within four months of the battle, reinterment began on 17 acres that became Gettysburg National Cemetery.
- When the cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863, less than half the Union battle dead had been removed from their field graves. The principal speaker was the renowned orator, Edward Everett. As was common for the day, his detailed speech lasted for over two hours.
- Also on the program was a guest who had been invited to present “a few appropriate remarks” only as an afterthought. President Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of these remarks lasted only two minutes that day. The short length was in such contrast to the Everett allocution that the audience, stunned for a moment, barely reacted. Upon returning to his seat Lincoln remarked to a friend: “That speech won’t scour. It is a flat failure.” To the contrary, the Gettysburg Address has become known as one of the supreme masterpieces of eloquence in the English language. On November 20, Everett wrote Lincoln “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”
- The 272 words of the Gettysburg Address were formulated with great thought by Lincoln. He wrote the first draft in Washington shortly before November 18 and revised it at the home of David Wills in Gettysburg the night before the dedication.
- The speech transformed Gettysburg from a scene of carnage into a symbol, giving meaning to the sacrifice of the dead and inspiration to the living.
- Within a few years, however, the bodies of more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the battle had been reinterred in the cemetery. Following the war, the remains of 3,320 Confederate soldiers were removed from the battlefield to cemeteries in the South.
- Today the cemetery is the final resting place for over 6,000 honorably discharged servicemen and their dependents from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War.
–Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at gettysburg.com/bog/address.htm.
ON WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY: (from archives.gov/legislative/features/washington)
- Americans celebrated Washington’s Birthday long before Congress declared it a federal holiday. The centennial of his birth prompted festivities nationally and Congress established a Joint Committee to arrange for the occasion.
- At the recommendation of the Committee, chaired by Henry Clay of the Senate and Philemon Thomas of the House, Congress adjourned on February 22, 1832 out of respect for Washington’s memory and in commemoration of his birth.
- Prompted by a memorial from the mayor and other citizens of Philadelphia, the House and Senate commemorated the 130th Anniversary of Washington’s birth by reading aloud his Farewell Address.
- In a special joint session held in the House Chamber, the House and Senate, along with several cabinet officials, Justices of the Supreme Court and high-ranking officers of the Army and Navy, gathered to listen to the Secretary of State read the address aloud. Eventually, the reading of George Washington’s Farewell Address became an annual event for the Senate, a tradition that is still observed to this day.
- Washington’s Birthday, however, did not become a legal holiday until January 31, 1879 when Congress added February 22nd to the list of holidays to be observed by federal employees in the District of Columbia.
- Read Washington’s Farewell Address at gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/farewell/transcript.html.
ON GEORGE WASHINGTON’S LETTERS TO MARTHA:
- Martha Washington destroyed nearly all of George’s letters to her shortly before her death in 1802. Three letters, however, did survive. Two are printed in The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 1, 18 June 1775 and 23 June 1775. These letters were found by Martha Parke Custis Peter, one of Martha Washington’s granddaughters, in a drawer of a small desk that she inherited from Mrs. Washington. The 18 June 1775 letter is now held at Tudor Place, home of Martha Parke Custis Peter and her husband Thomas Peter.
- Read the letters at gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/revolution/martha.html.
For more information on George Washington, go to MountVernon.org.
Feb. 12, 2009 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. How much do you know about our 16th president?
- Read about Lincoln’s faith in God at at greatamericanhistory.net/lincolnsfaith.htm.
- Read Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation at nps.gov/ncro/anti/emancipation.html.
- Read Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address at avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/lincoln2.asp.
- Visit the Library of Congress page on Lincoln at myloc.gov/exhibitions/lincoln/Pages/default.aspx.
- Read “The President and War Powers: Lincoln and the Civil War” at the White House Historical Association website,
whitehousehistory.org/04/subs/04_a03_c01.html. Then, take a quiz at whitehousehistory.org/04/subs/activities_03/c07.html.
- For an interesting, well-researched book on Lincoln’s assassin, read “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” by James L. Swanson
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.