James Madison Papers

Notes on an American Dinner, [ca. 4 July?] 1798

Notes on an American Dinner

[ca. 4 July 1798?]

Among the celebrations of the last anniversary of the birthday of our National independance, which have found their way to the press, it wd. be surprizing that the following shd. have so long been kept back, if true patriotism, were not often as much distinguished by its modesty as by its merit. Havg. lately recd from a person present an exact acct. of the festive transaction I hope it will be recd even at this late day into your paper, as a testimony of the American character which deserves to be made public.

The Company met on the occasion consisted of the following respectable Citizens—Jonas Harpoon, Warren Shipyard, Jonathan Bullock Saml Stubble, Sylvanus Penn Peter Miller Christopher Kitefoot1 Thos Topstem Walter Maiz Georgia Rice George Liveoak Nimrod West  2 Shoemaker  3 Weaver  4 Ironsides & General Con⟨solida⟩tio⟨n⟩ was placed at the head of the5 Table.

It was remarkable that every person present was a Natural born Citizen of the U. S. & was dressed entirely in homemade stuffs. There was not on the table a single dish that had a foreign ingredient in it. Even the liquors were the produce of our own happy ⟨soil?⟩ climate ingenuity & industry.

After a temperate but cheerful repast the following toasts were drunk in the best American ⟨Cyder⟩.6

Ms in two parts (first part owned by Mrs. Henry M. Sage, Albany, N.Y., 1954 [photocopy, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Princeton, N.J.]; second part, DLC, vol. 91). Both parts are undated fragments, in JM’s hand, and crossed through with two vertical lines. On the verso of the first part is a list of toasts numbered 1 through 14 (see Toasts for an American Dinner, 4 July 1798). Second part headed in pencil “American dinner.” On the verso is a list of toasts numbered 15 through 18.

1Kitefoot: a variety of tobacco, from its color (OED description begins Oxford English Dictionary. description ends ).

2Left blank in Ms.

3Left blank in Ms.

4Left blank in Ms.

5First part ends here. The editors are grateful to Eugene R. Sheridan of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson for his help in transcribing faded parts of this fragment.

6JM’s notes, as well as the following toasts, may have been written for publication, although no report or any other evidence of such a dinner has been found. The guest list suggests, however, that JM probably intended these notes to be a parody of similar accounts of dinners sponsored by Federalists at this time.

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