George Washington Papers
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[Diary entry: 12 February 1798]

12. Clear—Mer. at 35 and Wind at No. Wt. in the Morning—little or none afterwards—& at Night lowering. Went with the family to a Ball in Alexa. given by the Citzen[s] of it & its vicinity in commemoration of the Anniversary of my birth day.

Feb. 11 was GW’s birthday according to the Julian (Old Style) calendar, but in 1752 the corrections of the Gregorian (New Style) calendar were adopted by England, Ireland, and the colonies, and GW’s birthday became 22 Feb. The citizens of Alexandria chose to celebrate GW’s birthday on the Old Style date, but it fell on a Sunday in 1798, and consequently the ball was held on Monday, 12 Feb. (see entry for 11 Mar. 1747/48 for a discussion of the transition from the Julian to Gregorian calendar). Nelly Custis accompanied GW’s party to the ball, where she found her old music “master for singing” from Philadelphia who “performed with the band . . . and his clarinet sounds as sweetly as ever.” She also found “the room . . . crouded, there were twenty five or thirty couples in the first two setts . . . we danced until two o’clock” (Eleanor Parke Custis to Elizabeth Bordley, 20 Mar. 1798, ViMtvL).

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