Charles Willson Peale
Charles Willson Peale was an American painter, scientist, inventor and naturalist. He is best remembered for his portrait paintings of leading figures of the American Revolution, for establishing one of the first museums in the United States. Peale was born in 1741 between modern-day Queenstown and Centreville, Queen Anne's County, the son of Charles Peale and his wife Margaret, he had James Peale. Charles became an apprentice to a saddle maker. Upon reaching maturity, he joined the Sons of Liberty. However, he was unsuccessful in saddle making, he tried fixing clocks and working with metals, but both of these endeavors failed as well. He took up painting. Finding that he had a talent for painting portraiture, Peale studied for a time under John Hesselius and John Singleton Copley. John Beale Bordley and friends raised enough money for him to travel to England to take instruction from Benjamin West. Peale studied with West for three years beginning in 1767, afterward returning to America and settling in Annapolis, Maryland.
There, he taught painting to his younger brother, James Peale, who in time became a noted artist. Peale's enthusiasm for the nascent national government brought him to the capital, Philadelphia, in 1776, where he painted portraits of American notables and visitors from overseas, his estate, on the campus of La Salle University in Philadelphia, can still be visited. He raised troops for the War of Independence and gained the rank of captain in the Pennsylvania militia by 1776, having participated in several battles. While in the field, he continued to paint, doing miniature portraits of various officers in the Continental Army, he produced enlarged versions of these in years. He served in the Pennsylvania state assembly in 1779–1780, after which he returned to painting full-time. Peale was quite prolific as an artist. While he did portraits of scores of historic figures, he is best known for his portraits of George Washington; the first time Washington sat for a portrait was with Peale in 1772, they had six other sittings.
In January 2005, a full-length portrait of Washington at Princeton from 1779 sold for $21.3 million, setting a record for the highest price paid for an American portrait. One of his most celebrated paintings is The Staircase Group, a double portrait of his sons Raphaelle and Titian, painted in the trompe l'oeil style, it is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Peale had a great interest in natural history, organized the first U. S. scientific expedition in 1801. These two major interests combined in his founding of what became the Philadelphia Museum known as Peale's American Museum, it housed a diverse collection of botanical and archaeological specimens. The museum contained a large variety of birds which Peale himself acquired, in many instances mounted, having taught himself taxidermy. In 1792, Peale initiated a correspondence with Thomas Hall, of the Finsbury Museum, City Road, London proposing to purchase British stuffed items for his museum. An exchange system was established between the two, whereby Peale sent American birds to Hall in exchange for an equal number of British birds.
This arrangement continued until the end of the century. The Peale Museum was the first to display a mastodon skeleton. Peale worked with his son to mount the skeleton for display; the display of the "mammoth" bones entered Peale into a long-standing debate between Thomas Jefferson and Comte de Buffon. Buffon argued that Europe was superior to the Americas biologically, illustrated through the size of animals found there. Jefferson referenced the existence of these "mammoths" as evidence for a greater biodiversity in America. Peale's display of these bones drew attention from Europe, as did his method of re-assembling large skeletal specimens in three dimensions; the museum was among the first to adopt Linnaean taxonomy. This system drew a stark contrast between Peale's museum and his competitors who presented their artifacts as mysterious oddities of the natural world; the museum underwent several moves during its existence. At various times it was located in several prominent buildings including Independence Hall and the original home of the American Philosophical Society.
The museum would fail, in large part because Peale was unsuccessful at obtaining government funding. After his death, the museum was sold to, split up by, showmen P. T. Barnum and Moses Kimball. In 1762, Peale married Rachel Brewer, who bore him ten children, most named for Peale's favorite artists and female; the sons included Raphaelle Peale, Rembrandt Peale, another famous portrait painter and museum owner/operator in Baltimore, scientific inventor and businessman, Titian Peale I, Rubens Peale. Among the daughters: Angelica Kauffman Peale married Alexander Robinson, her daughter Priscilla Peale wed Dr. Henry Boteler, Sophonisba Angusciola Peale married Coleman Sellers. After Rachel's death in 1790, Peale married Elizabeth de Pey
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County the County of Fairfax is a county of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. Part of Northern Virginia, Fairfax County borders both the City of Alexandria and Arlington County and forms part of the inner suburban ring of Washington, DC; the county is thus predominantly suburban with some urban and rural pockets. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,081,726, in 2015, it was estimated at 1,142,234, making it the Commonwealth's most populous jurisdiction, with 13.6% of Virginia's population. The county is the most populous jurisdiction in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area, with 19.8% of the MSA population, as well as the larger Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area, with 13.1% of the CSA population. The county seat is the City of Fairfax, though because it is an independent city under Virginia law, the city of Fairfax is not part of Fairfax County. Fairfax was the first U. S. county to reach a six-figure median household income and has the second-highest median household income of any county-level local jurisdiction in the United States after neighbor Loudoun County.
The county is home to the headquarters of intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, as well as the National Counterterrorism Center and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The county is home to seven Fortune 500 companies, including three with Falls Church addresses. At the time of European encounter, the inhabitants of what would become Fairfax County were an Algonquian-speaking sub-group called the Taux known as the Doeg or Dogue, their villages, as recorded by Captain John Smith in 1608, included Namassingakent and Nemaroughquand on the south bank of the Potomac River in what is now Fairfax County. Virginian colonists from the Northern Neck region drove the Doeg out of this area and into Maryland by 1670. Fairfax County was formed in 1742 from the northern part of Prince William County, it was named for 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, proprietor of the Northern Neck. The Fairfax family name is derived from the Old English phrase for "blond hair" – Fæger-feax.
The oldest settlements in Fairfax County were along the Potomac River. George Washington built his home, Mount Vernon, facing the river. Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason is nearby. Modern Fort Belvoir is on the estate of Belvoir Manor, built along the Potomac by William Fairfax in 1741. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, the only member of the British nobility to reside in the colonies, lived at Belvoir before he moved to the Shenandoah Valley; the Belvoir mansion and several of its outbuildings were destroyed by fire after the Revolutionary War in 1783, George Washington noted the plantation complex deteriorated into ruins. In 1757, the northwestern two-thirds of Fairfax County became Loudoun County. In 1789, part of Fairfax County was ceded to the federal government to form Alexandria County of the District of Columbia. Alexandria County was returned to Virginia in 1846, reduced in size by the secession of the independent city of Alexandria in 1870, renamed Arlington County in 1920.
The Fairfax County town of Falls Church became an independent city in 1948. The Fairfax County town of Fairfax became an independent city in 1961. Located near Washington, D. C. Fairfax County was an important region in the Civil War; the Battle of Chantilly or Ox Hill, during the same campaign as the second Battle of Bull Run, was fought within the county. Other areas of activity included Minor's Hill, Munson's Hill, Upton's Hill, on the county's eastern border, overlooking Washington, D. C; the federal government's growth during and after World War II spurred rapid growth in the county and made the county suburban. Other large businesses continued to settle in Fairfax County and the opening of Tysons Corner Center spurred the rise of Tysons Corner; the technology boom and a steady government-driven economy created rapid growth and an growing and diverse population. The economy has made Fairfax County one of the nation's wealthiest counties. A general aviation airport located along U. S. Route 50, west of Seven Corners called the Falls Church Airpark operated in the county from 1948 to 1960.
The facility's 2,650 foot unpaved runway was used extensively by private pilots and civil defense officials. Residential development, multiple accidents, the demand for retail space led to its closure in 1960. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 406 square miles, of which 391 square miles is land and 15 square miles is water. Fairfax County is bounded on the southeast by the Potomac River. Across the river to the northeast is Washington, D. C. across the river to the north is Montgomery County and across the river to the southeast are Prince George's County and Charles County, Maryland. The county is bounded on the north and east by Arlington County and the independent cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, it is bounded on the west by Loudoun County, on the south by Prince William County. Most of the county lies in the Piedmont region, with rolling hills and deep stream valleys such as Difficult Run and its tributaries. West of Route 28, the hills give way to a flat, gentle valley which stretches west to the Bull Run Mountains in Loudoun County.
Elevations in the county range from near sea level along the tidal sections of the Potomac River in the southeast port
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 139,966, in 2016, the population was estimated to be 155,810. Located along the western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is 7 miles south of downtown Washington, D. C. Like the rest of Northern Virginia, as well as Central Maryland, modern Alexandria has been influenced by its proximity to the U. S. capital. It is populated by professionals working in the federal civil service, in the U. S. military, or for one of the many private companies which contract to provide services to the federal government. One of Alexandria's largest employers is the U. S. Department of Defense. Another is the Institute for Defense Analyses. In 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office moved to Alexandria, in 2017, so did the headquarters of the National Science Foundation; the historic center of Alexandria is known as Old Town. With its concentration of boutiques, antique shops and theaters, it is a major draw for all who live in Alexandria as well for visitors.
Like Old Town, many Alexandria neighborhoods are walkable. It is the 7th largest and highest-income independent city in Virginia. A large portion of adjacent Fairfax County south but west of the city, is named "Alexandria," but it is under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and separate from the city. In 1920, Virginia's General Assembly voted to incorporate what had been Alexandria County as Arlington County to minimize confusion. On October 21, 1669 a patent granted 6,000 acres to Robert Howsing for transporting 120 people to the Colony of Virginia; that tract would become the City of Alexandria. Virginia's comprehensive Tobacco Inspection Law of 1730 mandated that all tobacco grown in the colony must be brought to locally designated public warehouses for inspection before sale. One of the sites designated for a warehouse on the upper Potomac River was at the mouth of Hunting Creek. However, the ground proved to be unsuitable, the warehouse was built half a mile up-river, where the water was deep near the shore.
Following the 1745 settlement of the Virginia's 10 year dispute with Lord Fairfax over the western boundary of the Northern Neck Proprietary, when the Privy Council in London found in favor of Lord Fairfax's expanded claim, some of the Fairfax County gentry formed the Ohio Company of Virginia. They intended to conduct trade into the interior of America, they required a trading center near the head of navigation on the Potomac; the best location was Hunting Creek tobacco warehouse, since the deep water could accommodate sailing ships. Many local tobacco planters, wanted a new town further up Hunting Creek, away from nonproductive fields along the river. Around 1746, Captain Philip Alexander II moved to what is south of present Duke Street in Alexandria, his estate, which consisted of 500 acres, was bounded by Hunting Creek, Hooff's Run, the Potomac River, the line which would become Cameron Street. At the opening of Virginia's 1748–49 legislative session, there was a petition submitted in the House of Burgesses on November 1, 1748, that the "inhabitants of Fairfax praying that a town may be established at Hunting Creek Warehouse on Potowmack River," as Hugh West was the owner of the warehouse.
The petition was introduced by Lawrence Washington, the representative for Fairfax County and, more the son-in-law of William Fairfax and a founding member of the Ohio Company. To support the company's push for a town on the river, Lawrence's younger brother George Washington, an aspiring surveyor, made a sketch of the shoreline touting the advantages of the tobacco warehouse site. Since the river site was amidst his estate, Philip opposed the idea and favored a site at the head of Hunting Creek, it has been said that in order to avoid a predicament the petitioners offered to name the new town Alexandria, in honor of Philip's family. As a result and his cousin Captain John Alexander gave land to assist in the development of Alexandria, are thus listed as the founders; this John was the son of Robert Alexander II. On May 2, 1749, the House of Burgesses approved the river location and ordered "Mr. Washington do go up with a Message to the Council and acquaint them that this House have agreed to the Amendments titled An Act for erecting a Town at Hunting Creek Warehouse, in the County of Fairfax."
A "Public Vendue" was advertised for July, the county surveyor laid out street lanes and town lots. The auction was conducted on July 13–14, 1749. Upon establishment, the town founders called the new town "Belhaven", believed to be in honor of a Scottish patriot, John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton, the Northern Neck tobacco trade being dominated by Scots; the name Belhaven was used in official lotteries to raise money for a Church and Market House, but it was never approved by the legislature and fell out of favor in the mid-1750s. The town of Alexandria did not become incorporated until 1779. In 1755, General Edward Braddock organized his fatal expedition against Fort Duquesne at Carlyle House in Alexandria. In April 1755, the governors of Virginia, the provinces of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York met to determine upon concerted action against the French in America. In March 1785, commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met in Alexandria to discuss the commercial relations of the two states, finishing their business at Mount Vernon.
The Mount Vernon Conference concluded o
Martha Parke Custis Peter
Martha Parke Custis Peter was a granddaughter of Martha Dandridge Washington and the step-granddaughter of George Washington. Martha Parke Custis was born on December 1777 in the Blue Room at Mount Vernon, she was the second-eldest surviving daughter of John Parke Custis, son of Martha Washington and her first husband Daniel Parke Custis, his wife Eleanor Calvert, daughter of Benedict Swingate Calvert and his wife Elizabeth Calvert. Martha was named for Martha "Patsy" Parke Custis, her siblings included Elizabeth Parke Custis Law, Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, George Washington Parke Custis. She was known to her family as "Patsy."At first the family alternated between living at the Washingtons' plantation, Mount Vernon in Virginia, the Calverts' plantation, Mount Airy in Maryland. In 1778, John Parke Custis purchased Abingdon, a 900-acre plantation on the west bank of the Potomac River. Abingdon was conveniently located equidistant between Mount Airy. Martha married Thomas Peter in 1795 at Hope Park in Virginia.
The young bride requested from her step-grandfather George Washington a miniature of himself as a wedding gift. Painted in Philadelphia between 1794 and 1795 by Walter Robertson, the miniature was a watercolor on ivory and is set in gold, depicted Washington in his Continental Army uniform. Martha and Thomas had eight children: Martha Eliza Angela Peter Columbia Lafayette Peter John Parke Custis Peter, married Elizabeth Jane Henderson George Washington Parke Custis Peter (November 18, 1801 – December 10, 1877, married Jane Boyce America Pinckney Peter Williams, married William George Williams Robert Thomas Peter Martha Custis Castania Peter Brittania Wellington Peter Kennon, married Beverley Kennon Upon her marriage, Martha inherited 61 slaves from her late father's estate. Thomas immediately auctioned them off to raise cash, an action that may have inspired the stern rebuke against the breaking up of slave families that George Washington delivered in his will, her step-grandfather bequeathed 1/32 of his estate.
Martha Washington died in 1802, Thomas Peter served as executor of her estate. The Peters purchased at a private sale many objects from Mount Vernon to preserve her grandparents' legacy. Martha Peter inherited 35 dower slaves from Mount Vernon following her grandmother's death, she inherited about 40 additional slaves following the 1811 death of her mother. Her $8,000 inheritance from George Washington was used to purchase property in Washington, D. C. in 1805. The property, comprising one city block on the crest of Georgetown Heights, had an excellent view of the Potomac River; the couple commissioned Dr. William Thornton, architect of the United States Capitol, to design their mansion which they named Tudor Place. Martha Parke Custis Peter died on July 13, 1854
Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis
Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, known as Nelly, was the granddaughter of Martha Washington and the step-granddaughter / adopted daughter of George Washington. Nelly was the daughter of Eleanor Calvert Custis, her father was the only surviving child of Daniel Parke Custis and his widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, who married George Washington in 1759. She was the granddaughter of Benedict Swingate Calvert, illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, whose mother may have been a granddaughter of George I, he was descended from Charles II through the King's daughter by Barbara Villiers, Charlotte FitzRoy. Nelly was most born at Mount Airy, her maternal grandfather's estate in Prince George's County, although local tradition holds that she was born at Abingdon, her father's estate in Arlington, Virginia. Following the premature death of John Parke Custis in 1781, Nelly and her brother, George Washington Parke Custis, were informally adopted by the Washingtons, grew up at Mount Vernon. During George Washington's presidency, Nelly helped entertain guests at the first presidential mansion on Cherry Street in New York City, the second presidential mansion on Broadway in New York City, the third presidential mansion in Philadelphia.
On February 22, 1799, Nelly Custis married George Washington's nephew, the widower Lawrence Lewis, of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Washingtons' wedding gift was 2,000 acres adjacent to Mount Vernon, on which the Lewises built Woodlawn Plantation; the Lewises had eight children. The three who did survive were: Frances Parke Lewis Butler Lorenzo Lewis Mary Eliza Lewis Conrad Upon her marriage, Nelly Lewis inherited about 80 slaves from her father's estate, her grandfather, Daniel Parke Custis's estate was liquidated following Martha Washington's death in 1802, Nelly Lewis inherited about 35 "dower" slaves from Mount Vernon. Following the death of her mother in 1811, the John Parke Custis estate was liquidated, she inherited 40 additional slaves. About 1830 the Lewises moved to Audley plantation in Virginia. Beginning in the mid-1830s they began dividing their time between Virginia and their daughters' homes in Louisiana. Nelly Custis Lewis continued to live at Audley after her husband's death in 1839.
Throughout her life, she regarded herself as a preserver of George Washington's legacy. She shared memories and mementos and corresponded with those seeking information on the first president, verified or debunked stories. A shaft to the east of the Washingtons' tomb at Mount Vernon marks her burial site. Brady, Patricia. Martha Washington: An American Life. New York: Viking/Penguin Group, 2005. ISBN 0-670-03430-4. Kneebone, John T. et al. eds. Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998-. Volume 3, pages 627-628. ISBN 0-88490-206-4. Ribblett, David L. Nelly Custis: Child of Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon, Va. 1993. Woodlawn Plantation Portraits of Eleanor Custis Lewis and Lawrence Lewis at Kenmore
Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis
Mary Lee "Molly" Fitzhugh Custis was an Episcopal lay leader in Alexandria County. She was the mother of Mary Anna Randolph Custis, the wife of Robert E. Lee. Early in the 1820s, Molly Custis helped form a coalition of women; the daughter of William Fitzhugh a member of the Continental Congress, Ann Bolling Randolph Fitzhugh, Molly Custis was most born at Chatham Manor, in Stafford County, Virginia. On July 7, 1804, Molly married George Washington Parke Custis, an orator, playwright and the grandson of Martha Custis Washington through her first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis. Molly Custis thus became George Washington's step-granddaughter-in-law. Molly's father William Fitzhugh and George Washington were long-time friends, with Washington mentioning in his diaries the hospitality of Molly's mother Ann Bolling Randolph Fitzhugh; the Custises lived at an 1,100-acre plantation in Alexandria County, Virginia. Of their four daughters, only Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who married Robert E. Lee, survived childhood.
Molly's brother, William Henry Fitzhugh, supported his niece Anne Lee and her six children by allowing them to stay at his home in Fairfax County, Ravensworth where she died in 1829. In 1824, when Robert E. Lee was 17, William Henry Fitzhugh wrote to the Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, urging that Robert be given an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Molly Custis was a member of a family network in northern Virginia that helped revive the state's Episcopal Church in the first part of the nineteenth century, she influenced her cousin Bishop William Meade. Molly Custis supported the work of the American Colonization Society. Molly followed the teachings of the Second Great Awakening, with its emotional surrender to a just but inscrutable and rejection of transient worldly pleasures, she died at Arlington on April 23, 1853, was buried on the estate. Her husband survived her by four years, at which point Arlington House and the grounds were inherited by their daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, Mrs. Robert E. Lee.
^ Death notice and tribute in Alexandria Gazette, May 16, 27, 1853. Custis and Lee family biographies by the National Park Service
Mount Vernon was the plantation of George Washington, the first President of the United States, his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. The estate is situated on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, near Alexandria, across from Prince George's County, Maryland; the Washington family had owned land in the area since the time of Washington's great-grandfather in 1674. Around 1734 they embarked on an expansion of the estate that continued under George Washington, who began leasing the estate in 1754, but did not become its sole owner until 1761; the mansion was built of wood in a loose Palladian style. George Washington expanded once in the late 1750s and again in the 1770s, it remained Washington's home for the rest of his life. Following his death in 1799, under the ownership of several successive generations of the family, the estate progressively declined as revenues were insufficient to maintain it adequately. In 1858, the house's historical importance was recognized and it was saved from ruin by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
Escaping the damage suffered by many plantation houses during the American Civil War, Mount Vernon was restored. Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is still owned and maintained in trust by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, is open every day of the year, including Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Allowing the public to see the estate is not an innovation, but part of a 200-year-old tradition started by George Washington himself. In 1794 he wrote: "I have no objection to any sober or orderly person's gratifying their curiosity in viewing the buildings, Gardens, &ca. about Mount Vernon." When George Washington's ancestors acquired the estate, it was known as Little Hunting Creek Plantation, after the nearby Little Hunting Creek. However, when Washington's older half-brother, Lawrence Washington, inherited it, he changed its name to Mount Vernon in honor of Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, famed for the War of Jenkins' Ear and capture of the Portobelo, Colón.
Vernon had been Lawrence's commanding officer in the British Royal Navy. When George Washington inherited the property, he retained the name; the current property consists of 500 acres. The property was 8,000 acres; the present mansion was built in phases from 1734, by an unknown architect, under the supervision of Augustine Washington. This staggered and unplanned evolution is indicated by the off-center main door; as completed and seen today, the house is in a loose Palladian style. The principal block, dating from about 1734, was a one story house with a garret. In the 1750s, the roof was raised to a third floor garret. There were one-story extension added to the north and south ends of the house, these would be torn down during the next building phase; the present day mansion is 11,028 sq ft. A two-storied wing was added to the south side. Two years a large two-story room was added to the north side. Two single-story secondary wings were built in 1775; these secondary wings, which house the servants hall on the northern side and the kitchen on the southern side, are connected to the corps de logis by symmetrical, quadrant colonnades, built in 1778.
The completion of the colonnades cemented the classical Palladian arrangement of the complex and formed a distinct cour d'honneur, known at Mount Vernon as Mansion Circle, giving the house its imposing perspective. The corps de logis and secondary wings have hipped roofs with dormers. In addition to its second story, the importance of the corps de logis is further emphasized by two large chimneys piercing the roof, by a cupola surmounting the center of the house; this placement of the cupola is more in the earlier Carolean style than Palladian, was incorporated to improve ventilation of the enlarged attic and enhance the overall symmetry of the structure and the two wings. The rooms at Mount Vernon have been restored to their appearance at the time of George and Martha Washington's occupancy; these rooms include Washington's study, two dining rooms, the West Parlour, the Front Parlour, the kitchen and some bedrooms. The interior design follows the classical concept of the exterior, but owing to the mansion's piecemeal evolution, the internal architectural features – the doorcases and plasterwork – are not faithful to one specific period of the 18th-century revival of classical architecture.
Instead they range from severe Palladianism to a finer and neoclassicism in the style of Robert Adam. This varying of the classical style is best exemplified in the doorcases and surrounds of the principal rooms. In the West Parlour and Small Dining rooms there are doorcases complete with ionic columns and full pediments, whereas in the hall and passageways the doors are given broken pediments supported only by an architrave. Many of the rooms are lined with painted panelling and have ceilings ornamented by plasterwork in a Neoclassical style.