tv Washingtons Descendants at Tudor Place CSPAN July 4, 2016 3:50pm-4:36pm EDT
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monday july 18th. coming up next on american history tv, we talk about tudor place and the descendants of george and martha washington. he discusses the collection of artifacts at tutor place. the daughters of the american revolution museum host this 45 minute event. >> our current exhibit is remembering the american revolution. is looking at the ways that people say things. what people saved to remember the american revolution, why they save them. what things grew out of that tradition. i'm delighted to welcome our
guest here today who will talk a lot about some things that are very similar to what is in our exhibit. he comes from another museum that has a significant collection of george washington's items. it ties in very well to our collection so i'm delighted to introduce the curator at tudor place to store cass and garden. prior to coming to tutor place, he was the assistant curator of collections at the james madison mike kelly or and worked for nearly nine years on the mansion interiors initiative team to research and furnish the market -- montpelier mansion. prior to his arrival, he was the staff archaeologist at james monroe ash lawn highland. he has a master of arts in anthropology with a concentration in historical
archaeology from the university of south carolina. please welcome him. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. thank you. i want to thank heidi for their invitation to speak today. my talk directly relates to this exhibition as i'm focusing on how members of the peter family of tudor place commemorated the revolution and their familial connections to george and martha washington. at the end of my talk, i will briefly discuss longtime tudor place resident memberships in the dar.
britainia was accepted into membership when the organization was in its infancy. i want to do highlight some of the documents from our archives. tudor place is located in the georgetown neighborhood is the home of the peter family from 1805 until 1983. the house designed by william thorton and featuring its iconic temple was completed in 1816. so, yes, this year we're celebrating our bicentennial, of the completion of the house. before we start discussing the objects found, i want to highlight the families connection to george and martha washington. it's through martha custus peter. martha and thomas were the original owners of tutor place. martha was martha washington's granddaughter, one of the four
children of john park custus. ten years before martha married her first husband. four children were born to the marriage with two dying at a young age and two surviving. daniel himself died in 1757 leaving martha a young widow. her two surviving children are son jackie and a daughter martha known as patsy to the family were adopted by george washington and raised as his own. in the spring of 1773, 19-year-old jackie announced his engagement to 15-year-old eleanor calvert. two were married the following year linking the custus family of virginia to the calverts of maryland. jackie and eleanor had seven children, four of whom survived.
martha, who i will focus on, being the matriarch. nelly born in 1779 and finally a brother george washington park cust urc trc custus known as washy. martha was born in the blue room upon hearing news of her birth, george washington wrote to his stepson congratulating him on the birth of another daughter. less than three years later jackie kustus died of camp fever and the children were split. the two eldest children remained with their mother at abington while the two younger children went two mount vernon. less than two years after jackie
cu src custus' death, eleanor remarried. they had an additional 13 children from their marriage. although martha remained at abington plantation she was a frequent visitor to mount vernon. in 1785, robert edge behind arrived at mount vernon, intending to paint a portrait of washington. the artist produced portraits of washington grandchildren, including this portrait of martha at about 7 or 8 years old. martha was 16, she accompanied her step grandfather to the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone of the capital building. on september 18, 1793. in a january 6, 1795, martha became first of martha washington's grandchildren to marry when she wed thomas peter of georgetown.
the wedding took place at oak park. the fairfax county plantation where her mother and stepfather resided. thomas peter was the eldest son of a prominent maryland merchant landowner and former mayor of george town, robert peter. robert peter had immigrated to america from scotland in 1746, eventually ending up in georgetown and working as an agent. after working to iv years, robert peter purchased a share in the local tobacco trade and began buying large quantity of land, both lots in georgetown and property in the surrounding county he later sold for substantial profits. thomas peter was a successful businessman and large landowner. at the time of martha's 1795 marriage, george washington
asked her what she might like as a wedding present and replied she wanted a likeness of him. george presented her with this portrait by walter robertson. it was a cherished momento depicting washington in his military uniform. i should note martha peter frequently wore this miniature even after washington's death. for example, in february of 1812, phoe. be morris wrote in a letter to her sister describing a ball she attended. there, she observed martha peter wearing two portrait miniatures. the portrait miniature of mrs. washington was probably the 1772 portrait by charles wilson peal.
so was the wearing of these portrait miniatures merely a display of devotion or was martha making a brazen statements a proud federalist during president adams administration. as i will discuss momentarily both thomas and martha were outspoken federalist and remained so even after the party fell out of favor. the robertson miniature of washington still retains its original red leather case and forms the foundation of the washington collection at tudor place. another significant object in the washington collection is this trunk that martha peter received around the time of her marriage. sent from her grandmother in philadelphia containing parts of her wedding trousseau.
it was made from jesse sharples of frifl. after their marriage, thomas and martha made their home on k street. thomas's father had given the couple one of the town houses he constructed. it was near rock creek. martha's younger sister wrote a friend in october 1795, stating martha expects a little one in a few months. she is now settled in the federal city very charmingly. her husband very affectionate. she's perfectly happy. it was at the k street house the thomas and martha posted george washington as a frequent overnight guest. the now retired president took an active interest in the planning and construction of the new federal city frequently crossing the potomac to gauge the process of the many building projects and staying with martha and petthomas.
martha peter last saw george washington late november in 1799 when he lodged at their k street home a month before his death. martha was pregnant at the time about to give birth to her son. later in life, her daughter noted that martha sat on the steps and watched the general right away that morning. it was the last time she saw him as he died less than a month later. still recovering from the birth of her son martha was not able to attend washington's funeral. so thomas attended to represent the family. upon the terms of george washington's will, martha received 1/23 of his residual estate. following george washington's death, the entire country went
into a national mourning. there were parades, eulogies, tributes delivered in towns and cities from massachusetts down to georgia. also, engravings like this one pictured here were popular. people sought to memorialize the late president. the widow washington burned all the correspondence between she and her husband. wishing not part of their life, a life that had been lived so publicly to remain private. martha washington only survived her husband by two years. can dying in may of 1802. among bequests to family members was a gift of two objects to granddaughter martha peter. first was an engraving of washington that hung in the passage of mound vernon and second her writing table. the engraving of washington was sent to mount vernon in 1797 and
based on a portrait of washington. and as i noted upon its arrival george and martha hung it in the passage at mount vernon. upon the completion of tudor place in 1816, the peter family placed the print on the west side of the drawing room. the writing table was of particular significance. it was one piece of french furniture that george washington had obtained 1790. the table was taken to philadelphia where martha used it in the president's house and upon washington's retirement in 1797 it came back to mount vernon where it was used by martha until her death. here it is in the tudor place parlor about 1900.
it too was at tudor place until 1911. it remained in the peter family and in that in 39, returned to mount vernon. this would have been a piece of furniture in which martha washington spent a great deal of time and the writing table is important for another reason. found within it behind it were two letters from george to martha washington. this is significant because as i noted, martha burned all their correspond following george's 1799 death or at least everyone thought she did. did she save these two letters because of their content or omitted from the flames and tucked behind the drawer of her writing table. unfortunately, we do not know. one of those letters remains in our collection at tudor place while the second is now back at mount vernon.
these are the only two letters that survive from george to martha washington with the exception of a short note discovered since they were found. the tudor place letter is especially significant dating to june of 1775 because it is the one in which washington writes to martha from phil informing her he's been given command of the continental army. it is unknown when the peter family discovered the letters and the writing table but it occurred because martha recounted the story of its discovery to jared sparks, the historian visiting tudor place to compile material. aside from these specific requests, like the engraving, the balance of martha washington's estate according to her will, it was to be sold for
money to be used to benefit the education of her nephews. thomas peter, along with martha nephews and grandson or named executors of the estate. as an executor, thomas peter made a record which survives today in the tudor place archives. thomas and martha attended that july 1802 sale at mount vernon, purchasing $800 worth of goods ranging from furniture and table wares to artwork and livestock. note the 12 cows and seven cavaliers they purchased as well. among the items, a half-dozen stools. also, a pair of wall brackets. still in the tudor place collection presumed to be those that washington purchased in 1791 from james reynolds in philadelphia. also in our collection, a hagan -- hanging griddle which was
used to make hot cakes that george washington enjoyed. the list as a historical document is fascinating. some items can easily be identified while others have such generalized descriptions that it's impossible to establish exact identity. especially intriguing are several lots of sundries including one here that cost $29. this a price comparable to what thomas and martha paid for the chest. the items purchased at the sale were used at the home until 1805 when thomas and martha purchased tudor place. at the time they purchased the property, the house looked much different than it does now.
the house was completed in 1816 and would serve the home for subsequent generations of the peter family until 1983. the mount vernon objects thomas and martha acquired at the sale can be found wintu dore place. the prince decorated the walls. the china used at the table was found throughout the house. for almost 200 years the family lived at tudor place they literally lived among these washington objects. when a politician from massachusetts visited in 1813 martha peter presented him with george washington's gorgette. it is visible in the portrait depicting washington in his uniform as a colonel in the virginia regiment. martha noted she received it upon washington's death in 1799
and mr. quincy honored to receive such a gift asked martha's approval to present it to the benevolent society in her honor which de. after the society ceased to exist it came back into his ownership and can be found in the collection of the massachusetts historical society representing one of the few washington objects that left the peter family in the 19th century. remember that i mentioned thomas and martha peter were ardent federalists. they named their three daughters, columbia, and britainia. when harvard professor visited tudor place he noted in his diary the peters were of the boston stamp in politics, an illusion to their political affiliation as federalists. thomas peter died in the spring of 1834 and for the next 20 years martha peter was the owner of tudor place though the house was typically the home multiple
generations of the family. in 1842 when martha's daughter died in buffalo, new york, her widower husband sent to tudor place to be raised by their grandmother. similarly martha's daughter britainia which dodd after less than two years of marriage returned to tudor place with her 6-month-old daughter in 1844. britainia is one of the most fascinating characters. born in the winter of 1815 just months after the british burned washington britaina peter was a young girl of 9 years old when lafayette visited in 1824 and she recounted that visit for the rest of her life. in 1841 britainia met beverly kennan at a party. kennan was a decorated naval officer and like britainia had an impressive family lineage. they were married the following year.
on february 28th, 1844, commodore kennan, president tyler and other dignitaries were aboard the uss princeton to see a demonstration of the ship's long gun peacemaker. the gun exploded killing six, commodore kennan, secretary of state usher and secretary of the navy thomas gilmore were among the victims. britaina was aboard the ship that day in february of 1844 when her husband was killed. she with a number of other ladies and dig any tears happened to be below deck when the gun exploded so they were disappeared when the gun exploded. so at 29 years old britaina about yo buried her husband. for the next 67 years britaina reside at tudor place hoped the raise additional generations of the peter family. this is in the collection it
shows britainia's mother about 70 years old with her daughter. you can see that martha is holding that portrait miniature of george washington in her hand. that's the same one she received as a gift upon her 1795 marriage. and that's what i love about this photo. martha peter is the link that ties together five generations of the family. i should also note that this is the only other image of martha peter aside from that portrait painted when she was 7 years old. martha would live until 1854 and in her will she bequiets tudor place to britaina. her son owned a large estate in montgomery county and received a substantial inheritance from his father. as a widow with young daughter britaina's future would be uncertain without property of her own. she received instructions to
sell the northern most portion of the 8 1/2 acre property, present day r street and use funds generated from the sale to provide dowdowries. her ownership of tudor place continued well into the first decade of the 20th century and i like to call her the first curator of tudor place but more on that in just a moment. after the civil war the house returned as a private home. britainia's daughter has grown into a young woman. the following year she married a distant cousin and the couple lived at tudor place soon add agnew generation to the family, five grandchildren for britainia. just five years later markey died suddenly leaving behind
five children. agnes was loin 6 years old. britainia served as a maternal presence in her grandchildren's lives. the family began writing down britainia remembrances. even memories of george and martha washington than her mother had shared with her. britainia also began labelling objects in the family's collection noting history on the back of framed works of art especially the pieces her parents acquired at the 1802 sale. you can see why i call her the first curator of tudor place. in may of 1890 britainia and the washington objects gained national attention as they were the subject of a story in the century illustrated monthly magazine. some new washington relic from the collection of mrs. b.w. kennan was the story. it described the miniature, furniture and other objects
found at tudor place. here's an illustration showing a pair of end irons that appeared in the story and the actual end irons themselves. as well as one of the camp stools from that revolutionary war set by general washington. the magazine also included this image showing britainia between of her grandsons in the tudor place saloon seated among the washington objects. the tea table and louis xvi stool. behind pry tanya, it's hard to see, that is samuel vaughn's landscape plan of mount vernon. pretty significant document in itself that was at the house that since returned to mount vernon collection. britainia was a living descendant and linked to the founding generation and to the founding fathers. the great granddaughter of
martha and george washington after that time after america's centennial. britainia died in her room on january 26, 1911, on the eve of her 96th birthday. her funeral was held in the drawing room following a peter tradition after which the casket was taken to oak hill cemetery a few blocks from tudor place where she was buried next to her husband who died 67 years earlier. the's state aside from some specific requests was to be divided evenly of her five grandchildren the children of her daughter markey. her grandsons and granddaughter inventoried the contents of tudor place recording and labeling everything in the house to ensure it was divided evenly.
the process was described in a letter in 1911. agnes writes the things down. we stick numbers on. the numbers he's referring to were paper labels aff ix towardry object at tudor place at the time of britainia's death, the number corresponding to a written inventory. objects purchased in mount vernon were inherited. you can see both of those on this french porcelain cup. still possible to see these labels today on many objects in the tudor place collection as well a many of the other washington family objects in other institutional collects as well. in all, they identified 529 items that came from mount vernon ranging from the pieces i discussed to a piece of soap of general and mrs. washington and i like to note this piece of soap because it shows even the most mundane every day objects with washington family history were significant to the peter family.
the 1911 inventory is an equally important historic document describing each object and noting which of the five grandchildren inherited it during the division of britainia's estate. agnes and her two brothers worked tirelessly to ensure everything was split evenly and fairly amongst the three them and their two other brothers, everything from soup spoons to those fragment was soap. now the other issue at hand during the 191 division was the actual house, tudor place. how could an 11,300 square foot house be evenly divided amongst five siblings. it didn't have to be as amistice purchased his other siblings share allowing him to own tudor place outright. he moved his family in 1912 and in 1913 he worked with his brother walter peter and architect and principal of the firm here in washington to modernize the house adding a steam radiator, heating system n-door plumbing and electricity.
he also continued the work his grandmother had started writing down bits of family history, labeling object, and continuing to live among these washington objects that he inherited from his grandmother britainia. upon his death in 1960 the house was inheart by his only son, his only child, armistice peter. for the next 23 years armistice peter iii entered the 20th century. armistice peter iii stewarded the house well into the 20th century living until 1983. it was his wish tudor place be left as a my sim. they set things in 1960 to create the tudor house foundation and open the house to the public after i had death and in 1988 the house opened as a my
sim allowing the public to see these objects that i discussed today. as a further tie to george washington and the american revolution i want to mention our upcoming event at the end of the month. the reproductions of george washington's office and dining marquee tent as project of the museum of the american revolution in philadelphia will be coming to tudor place on april 29th and 30th. we have a number of planned activities during that weekend to highlight the tent and its connection to objects in the tudor place collection such as the camp stool that i mentioned. now that i've looked at how the washington collection came to tudor place i want to briefly highlight some additional objects in the washington collection that i haven't yet discussed. among the items purchased at the 1802 sale was this large chinese porcelain punch bowl that george and martha washington acquired in the third quarter of the 18th century. dating to around 1765 the bowl shows an interesting mix of eastern and western decorative
motives. you see chinese rice cultivation while the interior has a fox hunt. according to peters daughter britainia it was used to serve apple toddies at parties. also a large collection of french porcelain with washington history. part of 309 pieces that washington purchase in 1790. many pieces were acquired from the royal manufacturer in 1798 and supplemented those with additional pieces over the next decade. various piece kansas be seen on the tudor place dining table, table salt, wine glasses, dec
decanteurs. they also acquired a tea table made in england during the third quarter of the 18th centurier and you'll notice in that 1890 photograph it's pictured very centrally here in the center of the sloan and today found in the tudor place parlor. next to it, in fact, you can see the corner of the tea table right there is this louis xvi style stool that was made in philadelphia and used by the washingtons at the president's house in philadelphia with a set of french chairs. the camp stool that i briefly mentioned earlier is one of the most significant objects in the collection. only one of two that survived by 1911. remember that thomas and martha peter purchased six of the stools at the 18020 sale. in may of 1776 george washington purchased a large set of 18 camp stools to outfit his camp tent.
our stool was inherited by armistice peter jr. and second inherited by one of his brothers is now in the smithsonian national museum of american history, the only two of the 18 that survived. and i can forget another significant piece of furniture now at tudor place the washington chest on chest. the english chest on chest had two notable owners by the time it was purchased by thomas and martha peter in 1802. made in london, the chest was originally purchased by george william fairfax sometime between 1760 and 1763. george washington actually purchased the piece second hand at the 1774 belvoir sale, the fairfax home near mount vernon. george and martha used the chest on chest in their bed chamber. you can actually see it right there. it's hard to see. you can see some of the brasses
and it appears in the 1834 painting of that room. today the chest on chest can be found in the upper hall at tudor place, its historical location for the past century. in addition to the furniture and objects that i discussed are collections 15 complete or fragmentary textiles associated with the washington family. including one of the 12 shell shaped needle point cushions that martha washington cross stitched over a period of 36 years intending to use the cushions on a set of windsor chairs. martha completed the final cushion a few months before her 1802 death. also in the collection still from mount vernon in these two late 18th century rose blankets. and these texas tiles are called rose blankets because the embroidered rose or rosy motif found on them. we have other texas tiles
including martha washington's gowns and lace and upholstery fabric. and every day objects like the soap i mentioned earlier, shoe buckles and even buttons. the final group of objects related to washington can be found in the tudor place archive. key among those is that 1775 letter that i mentioned but also including 17 letters of condolence received by martha washington after george washington's 1799 death including letters from president john adams and timothy pickering former secretary of state and secretary of war. 12 reprice are also present to those letters in the tanned of tobiasl tobias lear who was washington's secretary.
time has allowed me to highlight a very small portion of the significant objects in the tudor place collection. i hope you will consider this a preview and come visit the house and see more of these objects and learn about the history of the family who lived amongst them for almost 200 years. i should also note as part of our 2016 bicentennial a book about tudor place will be available fill a of 2016. the collection comprises over 15,000 objects. i barely scratched the surface in describing the select group of them today. at the beginning of my heck you're the -- lecture i said i would highlight the correspond. correspond related to britainia's dar membership can be found in the are a kifs. britainia became a member of the
dar in 1891 when the organization was only a few months old. in case you're curious her memb membership number was 215. i asked a more recent member how many digits compromise and she said i believe they are up to six digits. britainia number 215. in 1892 britainia was afointd first state regent of the local district of columbia chapter and served as national vice president though that seems to be more of an honorary position. as the great granddaughter of martha washington britainia was a significant figure head for the membership of dar and a living link to the revolution generation. also found is the certificate about her role as regent in the district of columbia and two ribbons from the continental congress she attended including the first one held in 1892,
ribbon seen her and the second from 1893. these ribbons are in pristine condition. they look like they were made yesterday. amazing to see them. each january in celebration of britainia's birthday as she reached the eighth ninth decades of her life the damp r would send a bouquet of flowers to tudor place. britainia died on the eve of her are 96 birthday in january of 1911. in keeping with theual practice the dar sent an arrangement to tudor place this time not to celebrate her birth date but in memory of her recent passion. a northeast thanks was cents and it was later reproduced. her tribute to her grand smear fitting condlougs my lecture i want to share a brief excerpt of it with you. my dear friends, my brothers and i thank you for your sincere sympathy and for the beautiful spray of white incarnatation
twied your colors your sent grandmother. i thank you in her name. each year your kind wishes for her birthday have been appreciated and this year she was happy and waking among those so long loved but gone before. she was always so thoughtful of others one never heard her kplain, her own weariness being put aside. as i said earlier britainia kennan was a link to the generation who fought in the american revolution. as a great-granddaughter of martha washington she grew up hearing memories her mother recounted of mount vernon, laying of the capital corner stone and the last time she saw george washington. britainia saw lafayette during that 1824 tour and loved sharing stories about her meeting with him and events from her own lifetime with her family. memory was famous politicians who were entertained at tudor place or how the civil war impacted the family. but at the center of all of
britainia's stories was tudor place. the house where she lived for all but a few of her 96 years. surrounded by these objects and the family history they embodied, objects and memories which she passed on to the next generations of the family. objects that her great-grandson are a miss the espeter iii wanted to keep intact as a collection. so he set up a foundation to operate tudor place as a museum and share these objects and others thoi others in the house with public. thank you. [ applause ] >> yes. >> if the k street perters hous
still stands or school district conditionally, it would legitimately have a plaque george washington slept here. >> it stood until the 1960s, i believe. i know it was one of the properties that was demolished in preparation for the expansion of the freeway. but the site was exokay elevated about ten years ago and found some very interesting objects there. the early material culture through those excavations. yes. >> did the heirs sell or give so many of those washington objects to mount vernon? >> a number of them later in life did and some of their descendants did as well. anyone else? >> the tudor place has one of
martha washington's quilquilts. >> yes. there are so many fascinating objects, and it always just amazes me and it's a dream for me as a curator to have such a substantial collection not loin of objects but also documents, the ones i highlighted about britainia's membership in the dar is a perfect example of a family that kept everything. again thank you very much. [ applause ] >> grant thank you so much for coming. we're did he liked to have you here, and i know it certainly makes me want to go visit tudor place but i hope for all of you who are here, your will come and take a look at our collection.
our gallery is on the first floor and we have a lot of objects that have a washington connection as well. or that somebody slapped his face on to because who is the biggest hero of the american revolution, obviously george washington. and so here's a challenge too because i went through and counted see how many times you can find washington's face appears throughout the gallery. it's a lot. so, again, thank you so much for coming and i hope you enjoy the rest of this delightful day. [ applause ] . >> you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation like us on facebook at c-span history. >> tonight on the communicators kathy grillo senior vice
president at severe stone and new head of public policy and government affairs operations in washington on the key issues in telecom like net neutrality, 5g and need for more spectrum. she's joined by john mckennan. >> there's some characteristics of the spectrum that make it complicated in that environment. there's a very narrow line of sight. >> doesn't go through walls very well. >> exactly. there's some issues with that. but there's actually a lot of kind of complex engineering developments that have developed these new antennas. so there's actually way to kind of adjust for that kind of wish spectrum and make it more usable in that kind of environment. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2. >> next on american history tv, judy wu an asian-american studies professor talks about thee