George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 5 February 1788]

Tuesday 5th. Mercury in the Ball of the Thermometer in the Morning, from whence it never rose the whole day, being intensely cold. In the preceeding Night the wind having got to No. Wt. blew at times, exceeding hard. It continued to blow hard all day, and was very piercing from Morng. to evening.

The River, which had opened very much yesterday and promised a free Navigation was entirely closed again to day, in all the malignancy of the frost.

I remained within all day. Mr. Lear went up to Mr. Porters Wedding—in Alexandria.

At Alexandria on this date, according to reports heard by the British traveler John Enys when he reached the town a few days later, “farenhights Thermomether was so low as ten Degrees, others say so low as seven or Eight within doors.” When Enys visited Mount Vernon on 13 Feb., David Humphreys told him that the mercury in GW’s Fahrenheit thermometer “which is . . . placed in an exposed Situation was in the Ball for some hours” on 5 Feb. (ENYS description begins Elizabeth Cometti, ed. The American Journals of Lt. John Enys. Syracuse, N.Y., 1976. description ends , 349, n.21).

“The Navigation of this river,” GW today wrote Henry Knox, “has been stopped for near five weeks. At this moment we are locked fast by Ice, and the air of this day is amongst the keenest I ever recollect to have felt” (MHi).

Thomas Porter married Sarah (Sally) Ramsay, daughter of William and Ann McCarty Ramsay of Alexandria.

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