Happy President’s Day! — Washington on Civility

Posted in books by Editor on February 20, 2012

The text isn’t a new release, but I only recently learned of it, thanks to Courtney Barnes of Style Court, who pointed me to this version. Washington’s rules themselves, from a manuscript in the Library of Congress, are widely available for free at a variety of websites, including NPR (which featured a story on Brookhiser’s book in 2003) and Colonial Williamsburg.

On a more personal note, I recall that my mother, a school teacher for much of her life, would observe the holiday by taking chocolate-covered cherries in for her third-graders. Given that a large number (if not most) of the students were none too fond of these treats, it seemed like the perfect way to underscore the bittersweet component of national myth-making. -CH

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From the University of Virginia Press:

Richard Brookhiser, ed., Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts that Guided Our First President in War and Peace (Charlotttesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003), 96 pages, ISBN: 9780813922188, $18.

As a young man, George Washington admired and copied into a little notebook 110 rules for civil behavior that originated from a Jesuit textbook. Washington took these rules very much to heart, and that handwritten list remained with him throughout his life, serving as inspiring guidance from his military days at Valley Forge and Yorktown to his two terms as president. Guidance that at first sounds archaic, it is in fact just as relevant as — indeed, possibly more necessary than — it was nearly three hundred years ago. Richard Brookhiser makes clear the pertinence of these rules for modern readers and proposes that now more than ever we will be wise to follow the modest example of such a great man. Witty and insightful, Brookhiser’s commentary offers real-world instruction in the lost art of self-discipline, and his new preface provides a compelling and timely context in which to employ these guidelines today.

Richard Brookhiser, senior editor of the National Review and a columnist for the New York Observer, is the author of Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington; Alexander Hamilton, American; and America’s First Dynasty: The Adamses, 1735-1918.

Washington’s Wine Cooler

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 20, 2012

A silver wine cooler owned by Washington sold at Christie’s on 19 January 2012. Here’s the report from ArtDaily.com:

A Sheffield-plated silver wine cooler, ordered by George Washington in 1789, and given to Alexander Hamilton in 1797, sold at Christie’s during Americana Week for $782,500, exceeding its estimate of $400,000-600,000. This four-bottle wine cooler is an exceptionally well documented historical object, symbolizing the famous partnership between Washington and Hamilton in the early days of the republic. It was sold by direct descendants of Alexander Hamilton and bought by Americana expert, Gary Hendershott.

Jeanne Sloane, Deputy Chairman, Head of Silver, comments, “We are thrilled with the result of this unique piece of American history—the only three-dimensional object known to connect Washington with Hamilton, his most important collaborator.”

The four-bottle wine cooler is one of four commissioned by George Washington in 1789 to be used for entertaining after dinner. Detailed correspondence between Washington and his emissary, Gouvernor Morris, who was tasked with procuring objects to outfit the President’s House, describes the great level of forethought Washington devoted to creating an appropriate style for the new country.

In response to Washington’s admonition to “avoid extravagance,” Morris wrote to Washington in 1790, “I think it of very great importance to fix the Taste of our Country properly, and I think Your Example will go very far in that respect. It is therefore my Wish that every Thing about you should be substantially good and majestically plain; made to endure.”. . . .

The full article is available here»


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