George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 25 March 1791]

Friday 25th. Having lain all night in my Great Coat & Boots, in a birth not long enough for me by the head, & much cramped; we found ourselves in the morning with in about one mile of Annapolis & still fast aground. Whilst we were preparing our small Boat in order to land in it, a sailing Boat came of to our assistance in wch. with the Baggage I had on board I landed, & requested Mr. Man at whose Inn I intended lodging, to send off a Boat to take off two of my Horses & Chariot which I had left on board and with it my Coachman to see that it was properly done—but by mistake the latter not having notice of this order & attempting to get on board afterwards in a small Sailing Boat was overset and narrowly escaped drowning.

Was informed upon my arrival (when 15 Guns were fired) that all my other horses arrived safe, that embarked at the same time I did, about 8 Oclock last night.

Was waited upon by the Governor (who came off in a Boat as soon as he heard I was on my passage from Rock hall to meet us, but turned back when it grew dark and squally) as soon as I arrived at Mans tavern, & was engaged by him to dine with the Citizens of Annapolis this day at Manns tavern and at his House tomorrow—the first I accordingly did.

Before dinner I walked with him, and several other Gentlemen to the State house, (which seems to be much out of repair)—the College of St. John at which there are about 80 Students of every description—and then by the way of the Governors (to see Mrs. Howell) home.

GW was taken to a hostelry operated by George Mann (1753–1795), called Mann’s Tavern or the City Hotel. A 1787 travel journal kept by an English visitor to Annapolis described these lodgings: “Mr. Mann keeps an excellent publick house 4 rooms on a floor, & one for company 66 by 21 feet—the second story Lodging Rooms, all wainscoted to the ceiling, might vie with any tavern in England” (VAUGHAN description begins Samuel Vaughan. “Minutes Made by S. V. from Stage to Stage on a Tour to Fort Pitt or Pittsburgh in Company with Mr. Michl. Morgan Obrian, from Thence by S. V. Only through Virginia, Maryland, & Pensylvania (18 June to 4 Sept. 1787).” Manuscript diary in the collection of the descendants of Samuel Vaughan. description ends , 60–61). The large room was probably used for GW’s dinner with some of the citizens of Annapolis.

The dinner at Mann’s began at 3:00 P.M. “with a numerous company of inhabitants” in attendance and continued until 15 patriotic toasts had circulated around the table, each “announced by the discharge of cannon” (Md. Gaz. [Annapolis], 31 Mar. 1791). Like the presentation of laudatory addresses, the rituals of the public dinner would occur often in the coming weeks.

The governor of Maryland was John Eager Howard, and “Mrs. Howell,” whom GW stopped to see at the governor’s house before dinner, must have been the governor’s wife Peggy Chew Howard (see entry for 23 May 1787).

St. John’s College, where GW arrived about 10:00 A.M., was chartered by the Maryland General Assembly in 1784 but did not open its doors until Nov. 1789. From the school’s faculty on the following day, GW received the first of the many formal congratulatory addresses that were to be pressed on him during his tour. “We the faculty of St John’s College beg leave to express the sincere joy; which the honour of your presence in our infant seminary afforded us,” wrote Principal John McDowell in this typical address. “In common with all those who superintend the education of youth, we must feel a lively gratitude to the defender of liberty, the guardian of his country’s peace and consequently the great patron of literature. . . . Our earnest prayer is, that a kind providence may continually watch over you and preserve a life, long indeed already, if measured by deeds of worth and fulness of honour, but too short as yet for your Country” (26 Mar. 1791, DLC:GW). In reply GW expressed satisfaction with his visit to the college and hopes for its future progress. “You will do justice to the sentiments, which your kind regard towards myself inspires,” he concluded, “by believing that I reciprocate the good wishes contained in your address, and I sincerely hope the excellence of your seminary will be manifested in the morals and science of the youth who are favored with your care” ([26 Mar. 1791], DLC:GW). Seven years later GW sent George Washington Parke Custis to St. John’s to be one of those youths.

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