HISTORICAL FACTS AND QUOTES

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Drawing of George Washington

GEORGE AND MARTHA WASHINGTON

"His integrity," wrote Thomas Jefferson, "was the most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man."

George and Martha had to apply for a loan to pay for the move to New York, the temporary capital,- when he was elected President. George arrived first and his inaugural ball was held before Martha could be with him.
Grolier Encyclopedia Web Site

Martha wrote to her friend Mercy Otis Warren, "I cannot blame him for having acted according to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of his country." As for herself, "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."
White House First Ladies Web Site


George Washington had excellent handwriting. As a boy he practiced copying these Rules which were a model for good behavior and manners when he was growing up.

quill and book clipart George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation


BETSY ROSS

Our American flag flies on the moon, sits atop Mount Everest, and is hurtling out in space.

In 1776 Betsy was a widow struggling to run her own upholstery business. Sometime late in May 1776, three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress, George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross, met in Betsy's home and asked her to sew the first flag. According to Betsy, General Washington showed her a rough design of the flag that included a six-pointed star. She finished the flag either in late May or early June 1776. In July the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the first time at Independence Hall. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the national flag.

graphic depicting Betsy Ross sewing

"Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson
"For the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred honor."
The Papers of Thomas Jefferson

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Va. He inherited from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow, and took her to live in his partly constructed mountaintop home, Monticello.

As a member of the Continental Congress (1775-1776), Jefferson was chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence. However, due to his absence in Europe, he had no direct part in the framing or ratification of the Constitution of the United States.

Jefferson was supported by the Republicans for President in 1796, and, running second to John Adams by three electoral votes, he became Vice President. Elected President in 1801 and serving two terms he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.

He died at Monticello on July 4, 1826, just hours before John Adams, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.



ABIGAIL ADAMS

After 1785 she filled the difficult role of wife of the first United States Minister to Great Britain. As wife of the first Vice President, Abigail became a good friend to Martha Washington and a valued help in official entertaining.

When John Adams was elected President, she continued a formal pattern of entertaining--even in the primitive conditions she found at the new capital in November 1800. The city was wilderness, and the President's house far from completion.
Abigail Smith Adams from the White House First Ladies Web Site
portrait of Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams recognized the limited role women were allowed to play in the 1700s.  She insisted that a woman's role carried an equal amount of importance and responsibility as a man's.  She believed that women deserved the opportunities and rights -- including education and legal and political rights -- that would enable them to live to their fullest capacity.



Drawing of John Hancock

JOHN HANCOCK


American Revolutionary leader, who, as President of the Continental Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. He did so with such a flourish that his name became a synonym for the word "signature."



NATHAN HALE

Nathan was born in Coventry, Conn. June 6, 1755.  He was a sickly child and was not expected to survive infancy; but as he grew up, he became fond of outdoor sports and was famous for his athletic feats. In 1773 he graduated college and became a successful teacher in Connecticut.

Nathan was very concerned about American rights so joined the Continental Army. Because of his good leadership and by capturing a supply-loaded vessel under the fire of a British warship, he  became a member in a select fighting group called the Rangers.  The Rangers were usually known for their daring leadership and fighting qualities in dangerous missions.
Drawing Nathan Hale

He volunteered to slip behind enemy lines to get information on British plans even though he knew if he were caught the penalty would be death.  On September 21, 1776, when Nathan was crossing back onto American lines, the British captured him.  He told the British he was willing to die without regret and the next day was marched to be hung.
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."



Drawing of Patrick Henry

PATRICK HENRY

"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.  I know no way of judging of the future but by the past."
Patrick Henry
March 1775
Speech in the Virginia Convention



JOHN ADAMS

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.  It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore."
Letter to Mrs. Adams, July 3, 1776
Drawing of John Adams



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