George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 5 July 1790]

Monday 5th. The Members of Senate, House of Representatives, Public Officers, Foreign Characters &ca. The Members of the Cincinnati, Officers of the Militia, &ca., came with the compliments of the day to me. About One Oclk. a sensible Oration was delivered in St. Pauls Chapel by Mr. Brockholst Levingston on the occasion of the day—the tendency of which was, to shew the different situation we are now in, under an excellent government of our own choice, to what it would have been if we had not succeeded in our opposition to the attempts of Great Britain to enslave us; and how much we ought to cherish the blessings which are within our reach, & to cultivate the seeds of harmony & unanimity in all our public Councils. There were several other points touched upon in a sensible manner.

In the afternoon many Gentlemen & ladies visited Mrs. Washington.

I was informed this day by General Irvine (who recd. the acct. from Pittsburgh) that the Traitor Arnold was at Detroit & had viewed the Militia in the Neighbourhood of it twice. This had occasioned much Speculation in those parts—and with many other circumstances—though trifling in themselves led strongly to a conjecture that the British had some design on the Spanish settlements on the Mississipi and of course to surround these United States.

This oration was part of New York’s Independence Day celebration. As part of the festivities in the early afternoon, local military units “escorted the Society of the Cincinnati to St. Pauls—where an elegant oration was delivered by Brockholst Livingston, Esq., to a very numerous audience [including] The President and Vice-President of the United States Members of both Houses of Congress—a brilliant assembly of Ladies and of the most respectable citizens” (Gaz. of the U.S. [Philadelphia], 7 July 1790). GW may have dined this evening with the Society of the Cincinnati at Bardin’s. Henry Brockholst Livingston (1757–1823) was the son of William Livingston, governor of New Jersey. A graduate of Princeton in 1774, he had accompanied his brother-in-law John Jay on the latter’s mission to Spain in 1779 and served at various times during the Revolution in the Continental Army. In 1783 he was admitted to the New York bar and became prominent in New York legal circles. Under the new government he became an active Antifederalist.

After the Revolution, Benedict Arnold lived in England with his family until 1785. In that year, finding his inflated claims for compensation for his services to the British government during the Revolution were not successful, he sailed for the Loyalist settlement of St. John, New Brunswick, where he established a mercantile and shipping business (WALLACE [2] description begins Willard M. Wallace. Traitorous Hero: The Life and Fortunes of Benedict Arnold. New York, 1954. description ends , 288–92).

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