Germantown White House
The Germantown White House is a historic mansion in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is the oldest surviving presidential residence, having twice housed George Washington during his presidency; the house takes its former name from its first and last owners: David Deshler, who built it beginning in 1752. Deshler, a merchant, bought a 2-acre lot from George and Anna Bringhurst in 1751–52, constructed a four-room summer cottage. Twenty years he built a 3-story, 9-room addition to the front, creating one of the most elegant homes in the region. Isaac Franks, a former colonel in the Continental Army, bought the house following Deshler's 1792 death, it was he. The house was sold to Elliston and John Perot, in 1834 to Elliston's son-in-law, Samuel B. Morris; the Morris family lived in the house for over a hundred years, before its 1948 donation to the National Park Service. On October 4, 1777, it was a scene of fighting in the Battle of Germantown, after which British General Sir William Howe occupied the house.
When the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 struck Philadelphia, President Washington remained in the city until September, before making his regular autumn trip home to Mount Vernon. He and a small group of slaves returned in early November, but Philadelphia was under quarantine and they were rerouted to Germantown ten miles outside the city, he first occupied the headmaster's residence for Germantown Academy. He traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania, 60 miles northwest of the city, to see if it would make a suitable emergency capital. Returning to Germantown, from November 16 to 30, he occupied the Isaac Franks house, his wife Martha, two of her grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, more of their slaves and staff joined him late in the stay. The following September and October and his family returned to the Franks house for vacation, although he left early to deal with the Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania, he met there four times with his cabinet: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Attorney General Edmund Randolph, Secretary of War Henry Knox.
The President posed for painter Gilbert Stuart, who kept a studio nearby, the family attended the German Reformed Church across the square. Four slaves were held by the Washingtons at the Franks house: Oney Judge, Austin and Hercules; the house is administered by Independence National Historical Park. In 1972, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the house is a contributing property of the Colonial Germantown Historic District. In 2009, the National Park Service changed the official name of the house from the "Deshler-Morris House" to the "Germantown White House." The Bringhurst House, neighboring the Germantown White House on the northwest, was owned by John Bringhurst, a carriage builder and inventor of the "Germantown Wagon". His estate consisted of 19 acres in Germantown, was split up by his heirs. Today, near the current historic site, "Bringhurst Street" is a street named after him which lies on the edge of his former land. Lieutenant Colonel John Bird was "lying sick" in the Bringhurst House when the American army attacked on the morning of October 4, 1777.
Bird was mortally wounded in the battle. Although a surgeon tried to treat him in Melchoir Meng's house situated on what is now a part of Vernon Park, he was carried back to the Bringhurst House, where he died. In 1973, the Bringhurst house was donated to the National Park Service from the Germantown Savings Bank in order to "assure access and air for the historic structure"; the Bringhurst property is in the process of conversion into an exhibition space and welcome center for the Germantown White House landscape. President's House, Washington's executive mansion, 1790–1797 Oney Judge, enslaved maid of Martha Washington Hercules, enslaved cook for Washington's presidential household Tobias Lear V, Washington's secretary Wyck House Minardi, Joseph M. Historic Architecture in Northwest Philadelphia: 1690–1930s. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2011. Marion, John Francis, Bicentennial City: Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia. Princeton: The Pyne Press, 1974. Jenkins, Charles F; the Guide Book to Historic Germantown.
Germantown Historical Society, 1973. Jenkins, Charles F. Washington in Germantown. Philadelphia: Canterbury Press, 1905. "Deshler–Morris House." National Park Service brochure. Independence National Historic Park. Germantown White House at the National Park Service Article at UShistory.org Historic American Buildings Survey No. PA-1683, "Deshler-Morris House", 5 photos, 1 photo caption page
New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society is an American history museum and library located in New York City at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The society was founded in 1804 as New York's first museum, it presents exhibitions, public programs, research that explore the rich history of New York and the nation. The New-York Historical Society Museum & Library has been at its present location since 1908; the granite building was designed by Sawyer in a classic Roman Eclectic style. A renovation of the landmark building was completed in November 2011 that made it more open to the public, provided space for an interactive children's museum, accomplished other changes to enhance access to its collections. Louise Mirrer has been the president of the Historical Society since 2004, she was Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the City University of New York. Beginning in 2005, the museum presented a groundbreaking two-year exhibit on Slavery in New York, its largest theme exhibition in 200 years on a topic which it had never addressed before.
It included an art exhibit by artists invited to use museum collections in their works. The Society focuses on the developing city center in Manhattan. Another historical society, the Long Island Historical Society was founded in Brooklyn in 1863; the New-York Historical Society holds an extensive collection of historical artifacts, works of American art, other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York. It presents researched exhibitions on a variety of topics and periods in American history, such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Slavery in New York, The Hudson River School, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Tiffany designer Clara Driscol, the history of the Constitution; the Historical Society offers an extensive range of curriculum-based school programs and teacher resources, provides academic fellowships and organizes public programs for adults to foster lifelong learning and a deep appreciation of history. The New-York Historical Society's museum is the oldest in New York City and predates the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by nearly 70 years.
Its art holdings comprise more than 1.6 million works. Among them are a world-class collection of Hudson River School paintings, including major works by Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church; the Historical Society holds an important collection of paintings and drawings by marine artist James Bard. The museum holds much of sculptor Elie Nadelman's legendary American folk art collection, including furniture and household accessories such as lamps, textiles and ceramic objects, as well as paintings, weathervanes, sculptural woodcarvings, chalkware; the Historical Society's holdings in artifacts and decorative arts include George Washington's camp bed from Valley Forge, the desk at which Clement Clarke Moore wrote "A Visit from Saint Nicholas", one of the world's largest collections of Tiffany lamps and glasswork, a collection of more than 550 late nineteenth-century American board games. Its research library contains more than three million books, maps, newspapers, music sheets, prints and architectural drawings.
Among its collections are far-ranging materials relating to the founding and early history of the nation including the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America". The Society operates a website showing many images from its collection. In 2015 it announced the digitization and posting of over a thousand negatives by photographer Robert L. Bracklow from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the Historical Society was founded on November 20, 1804 through the efforts of John Pintard. He was for some years secretary of the American Academy of Fine Arts, as well as the founder of New York's first savings bank, he was among the first to agitate for a free school system. The first meeting comprised 11 of the city's most prominent citizens, including Mayor DeWitt Clinton. At the meeting, a committee was selected to draw up a constitution, by December 10, the Historical Society was organized. According to the Historical Society's first catalogue, printed in 1813, the museum held 4,265 books, as well as 234 volumes of United States documents, 119 almanacs, 130 titles of newspapers, 134 maps, 30 miscellaneous views.
It had collected the start of a manuscript collection, several oil portraits and 38 engraved portraits. The Historical Society suffered under heavy debt during its early decades. In 1809, it organized a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson in New York Harbor. Inspired by the event, the Historical Society petitioned and obtained an endowment fro
New York and New Jersey campaign
The New York and New Jersey campaign was a series of battles in 1776 and the winter months of 1777 for control of New York City and the state of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War between British forces under General Sir William Howe and the Continental Army under General George Washington. Howe was successful in driving Washington out of New York City, but overextended his reach into New Jersey, ended the active campaign season in January 1777 with only a few outposts near the city; the British held New York harbor for the rest of the war, using it as a base for expeditions against other targets. First landing unopposed on Staten Island on July 3, 1776, Howe assembled an army composed of elements, withdrawn from Boston in March following their failure to hold that city, combined with additional British troops, as well as Hessian troops hired from several German principalities. Washington had New England soldiers as well as regiments from states as far south as Virginia. Landing on Long Island in August, Howe defeated Washington in the largest battle of the war, but the Continental Army was able to make an orderly retreat to Manhattan under cover of darkness and fog.
Washington suffered a series of further defeats in Manhattan, with the exception of the skirmish at Harlem Heights, withdrew to White Plains, New York. At that point Howe returned to Manhattan to capture forces Washington had left in the north of the island. Washington and much of his army crossed the Hudson River into New Jersey, retreated all the way across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, shrinking due to ending enlistment periods and poor morale. Howe ordered his troops into winter quarters in December, establishing a chain of outposts from New York to Burlington, New Jersey. Washington, in a tremendous boost to American morale, launched a successful strike against the Trenton garrison after crossing the icy Delaware River, prompting Howe to withdraw his chain of outposts back to New Brunswick and the coast near New York, while Washington established his winter camp at Morristown. During the remaining winter months, both sides skirmished as the British sought forage and provisions.
Britain maintained control of New York City and some of the surrounding territory until the war ended in 1783, using it as a base for operations elsewhere in North America. In 1777, General Howe launched a campaign to capture Philadelphia, leaving General Sir Henry Clinton in command of the New York area, while General John Burgoyne led an attempt to gain control of the Hudson River valley, moving south from Quebec and failed at Saratoga. Northern New Jersey was the scene of skirmishing between the opposing forces for the rest of the war; when the American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, British troops were under siege in Boston. They defeated Patriot forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill, suffering high casualties; when news of this expensive British victory reached London, General William Howe and Lord George Germain, the British official responsible, determined that a "decisive action" should be taken against New York City using forces recruited from throughout the British Empire as well as troops hired from small German states.
General George Washington named by the Second Continental Congress as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, echoed the sentiments of others that New York was "a post of infinite importance", began the task of organizing military companies in the New York area when he stopped there on his way to take command of the siege of Boston. In January 1776, Washington ordered Charles Lee to raise troops and take command of New York's defenses. Lee had made some progress on the city's defenses when word arrived in late March 1776 that the British army had left Boston after Washington threatened them from heights south of the city. Concerned that General Howe was sailing directly to New York, Washington hurried regiments from Boston, including General Israel Putnam, who commanded the troops until Washington himself arrived in mid-April. At the end of April, Washington dispatched General John Sullivan with six regiments to the north to bolster the faltering Quebec campaign. General Howe, rather than moving against New York, withdrew his army to Halifax, Nova Scotia, regrouped while transports full of British troops, shipped from bases around Europe and intended for New York, began gathering at Halifax.
In June, he set sail for New York with the 9,000 men assembled there, before all of the transports arrived. German troops from Hesse-Kassel, as well as British troops from Henry Clinton's unsuccessful expedition to the Carolinas, were to meet with Howe's fleet when it reached New York. General Howe's brother, Admiral Lord Howe, arrived at Halifax with further transports after the general sailed, followed; when General Howe arrived in the outer harbor of New York, the ships began sailing up the undefended Narrows between Staten Island and Long Island on July 2, started landing troops on the undefended shores of Staten Island that day. Washington learned from prisoners taken that Howe had landed 10,000 men, but was awaiting the arrival of another 15,000. General Washington, with a smaller army of about 19,000 effective troops, lacked significant intelligence on the British force and plans, was uncertain where in the New York area the Howes intended to strike, he split the Continental Army between fortified positions on Long Island and mainland locations, established a "Flying Camp" in northern New Jersey.
This was intended as a reserve force that could support operations anywhere along the New Jersey side of the Hudson. The Howe brothers had been granted authority as peace commissioners by Parliament, with limite
Fraunces Tavern is a landmark museum and restaurant in New York City, situated at 54 Pearl Street at the corner of Broad Street. The location played a prominent role in history before and after the American Revolution, serving as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British, housing federal offices in the Early Republic, it has been owned since 1904 by Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Inc. which carried out a major conjectural reconstruction, claim it is Manhattan's oldest surviving building. The museum interprets the building and its history, along with varied exhibitions of art and artifacts; the tavern is a tourist site and a part of the American Whiskey Trail and the New York Freedom Trail. New York Mayor Stephanus van Cortlandt built his home in 1671 on the site, but retired to his manor on the Hudson River and gave the property in 1700 to his son-in-law, Etienne "Stephen" DeLancey, a French Huguenot who had married Van Cortlandt's daughter, Anne.
The DeLancey family contended with the Livingston family for leadership of the Province of New York. DeLancey built the current building as a house in 1719; the small yellow bricks used in its construction were imported from the Dutch Republic and the sizable mansion ranked in the province for its quality. His heirs sold the building in 1762 to Samuel Fraunces who converted the home into the popular tavern, first named the Queen's Head. Before the American Revolution, the building was one of the meeting places of the secret society, the Sons of Liberty. During the tea crisis caused by the British Parliament's passage of the Tea Act 1773, the patriots forced a British naval captain who tried to bring tea to New York to give a public apology at the building; the patriots, disguised as American Indians dumped the ship's tea cargo into New York Harbor. In 1768, the New York Chamber of Commerce was founded by a meeting in the building. In August 1775, principally the'Hearts of Oak' – a student militia of Kings College, of which Alexander Hamilton was a member – took possession of cannons from the artillery battery at the southern point of Manhattan and fired on HMS Asia.
The British Royal Navy ship retaliated by firing a 32-gun broadside on the city, sending a cannonball through the roof of the building. When the war was all but won, the building was the site of "British-American Board of Inquiry" meetings, which negotiated to ensure to American leaders that no "American property" be allowed to leave with British troops. Board members reviewed the evidence and testimonies that were given by freed slaves every Wednesday from April to November, 1783, British representatives were successful in ensuring that all of the loyalist blacks of New York maintained their liberty and could be evacuated with the "Redcoats" when they left if so desired. A week after British troops had evacuated New York on November 25, 1783, the tavern hosted an elaborate "turtle feast" dinner, on December 4, 1783, in the building's Long Room for U. S. Gen. George Washington where he bade farewell to his officers of the Continental Army by saying "ith a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you.
I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." As he asked to take each one of his officers by the hand for a personal word. In January 1785, New York City became the seat of the Confederation Congress, the nation's central government under the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union." The departments of Foreign Affairs and War had their offices at Fraunces Tavern. With the ratification of the United States Constitution in March 1789, the Confederation Congress's departments became federal departments, New York City became the first official national capital; the inauguration of George Washington as first President of the United States took place in April 1789. Under the July 1789 Residence Act, Congress moved the national capital to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a 10-year period, while the permanent national capital was under construction in what is now Washington, D. C; the federal departments vacated their offices in the building and moved to Philadelphia in 1790.
The building operated throughout much of the 19th century, but suffered several serious fires beginning in 1832. Having been rebuilt several times, the structure's appearance was changed to the extent that the original building design is not known; the building was owned by Malvina Keteltas in the early 1800s. Ernst Buermeyer and his family leased part of the property in 1845 and ran a hotel called the Broad Street House at this location until 1860. After a disastrous fire in 1852, two stories were added, making the Tavern a total of five stories high. In 1890, the taproom was lowered to street level and the first floor exterior was remodeled, its original timbers sold as souvenirs. In 1900, the tavern was slated for demolition by its owners, who wanted to use the land for a parking lot. A number of organizations, most notably the Daughters of the American Revolution, worked to preserve it, convinced New York state government leaders to use their power of eminent domain and designate the building as a park.
The temporary designation was rescinded when the property was acquired in 1904 by the Sons of the Revolution In the State of New York Inc. with funds willed by Frederick Samuel Tallmadge, the grandson of Benjamin Tallmadge, George Washin
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting in the spring of 1775 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia between September 5, 1774, October 26, 1774; the Second Congress moved incrementally towards independence. It adopted the Lee Resolution which established the new country on July 2, 1776, it agreed to the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776; the Congress acted as the de facto national government of the United States by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, making formal treaties such as the Olive Branch Petition. The Second Continental Congress came together on May 11, 1775 reconvening the First Continental Congress. Many of the 56 delegates who attended the first meeting were in attendance at the second, the delegates appointed the same president and secretary. Notable new arrivals included John Hancock of Massachusetts.
Within two weeks, Randolph was summoned back to Virginia to preside over the House of Burgesses. Henry Middleton was elected as president to replace Randolph. Hancock was elected president on May 24. Delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies were present when the Second Continental Congress convened. Georgia had not participated in the First Continental Congress and did not send delegates to the Second. On May 13, 1775, Lyman Hall was admitted as a delegate from the Parish of St. John's in the Colony of Georgia, not as a delegate from the colony itself. On July 4, 1775, revolutionary Georgians held a Provincial Congress to decide how to respond to the American Revolution, that congress decided on July 8 to send delegates to the Continental Congress, they arrived on September 13. The First Continental Congress had sent entreaties to King George III to stop the Coercive Acts; the Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775 to plan further responses if the British government had not repealed or modified the acts.
For the first few months of the war, the Patriots carried on their struggle in an ad-hoc and uncoordinated manner. They had seized arsenals, driven out royal officials, besieged the British army in the city of Boston. On June 14, 1775, the Congress voted to create the Continental Army out of the militia units around Boston and appointed George Washington of Virginia as commanding general. On July 6, 1775, Congress approved a Declaration of Causes outlining the rationale and necessity for taking up arms in the Thirteen Colonies. On July 8, they extended the Olive Branch Petition to the British Crown as a final attempt at reconciliation. Silas Deane was sent to France as a minister of the Congress, American ports were reopened in defiance of the British Navigation Acts; the Continental Congress had no explicit legal authority to govern, but it assumed all the functions of a national government, such as appointing ambassadors, signing treaties, raising armies, appointing generals, obtaining loans from Europe, issuing paper money, disbursing funds.
The Congress had no authority to levy taxes and was required to request money and troops from the states to support the war effort. Individual states ignored these requests. Congress was moving towards declaring independence from the British Empire in 1776, but many delegates lacked the authority from their home governments to take such a drastic action. Advocates of independence moved to have reluctant colonial governments revise instructions to their delegations, or replace those governments which would not authorize independence. On May 10, 1776, Congress passed a resolution recommending that any colony with a government, not inclined toward independence should form one that was. On May 15, they adopted a more radical preamble to this resolution, drafted by John Adams, which advised throwing off oaths of allegiance and suppressing the authority of the Crown in any colonial government that still derived its authority from the Crown; that same day, the Virginia Convention instructed its delegation in Philadelphia to propose a resolution that called for a declaration of independence, the formation of foreign alliances, a confederation of the states.
The resolution of independence was delayed for several weeks, as advocates of independence consolidated support in their home governments. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution before the Congress declaring the colonies independent, he urged Congress to resolve "to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances" and to prepare a plan of confederation for the newly independent states. Lee argued that independence was the only way to ensure a foreign alliance, since no European monarchs would deal with America if they remained Britain's colonies. American leaders had rejected the divine right of kings in the New World, but recognized the necessity of proving their credibility in the Old World. Congress formally adopted the resolution of independence, but only after creating three overlapping committees to draft the Declaration, a Model Treaty, the Articles of Confederation; the Declaration announced the states' entry into the international
Samuel Fraunces was an American restaurateur and the owner/operator of Fraunces Tavern in New York City. During the Revolutionary War, he provided for prisoners held during the seven-year British occupation of New York City, claimed to have been a spy for the American side. At the end of the war, it was at Fraunces Tavern that General George Washington said farewell to his officers. Fraunces served as steward of Washington's presidential household in New York City and Philadelphia. Since the mid-19th century, there has been a dispute over Fraunces's racial identity. According to his 1983 biographer, Kym S. Rice: "During the Revolutionary era, Fraunces was referred to as'Black Sam.' Some have taken references such as these as an indication that Fraunces was a black man....hat is known of his life indicates he was a white man." Some 19th- and 20th-century sources described Fraunces as "a negro man", "swarthy", "mulatto", "Negro", "coloured", "fastidious old Negro", "Haitian Negro", but most of these date from more than a century after his death.
As Rice noted in her Documentary History of Fraunces Tavern: "Other than the appearance of the nickname, there are no known references where Fraunces was described as a black man" during his lifetime. The familiar oil-on-canvas portrait, long identified as depicting Samuel Fraunces and exhibited at Fraunces Tavern since 1913, was discredited by new evidence. German historian Arthur Kuhle found a portrait of the same sitter in a Dresden museum in 2017, suspects that the sitter had been a member of Prussian king Frederick the Great's royal court. There is a tradition that Fraunces came from the West Indies. There are claims that he was born in Jamaica, Haiti and the possibility that he was related to a Fraunces family in Barbados. Although his surname implies that he was of French extraction, there is no evidence that he spoke with a French accent. There is no record of where he learned his skills as a cook and restaurateur; the first documentation of Fraunces's presence in New York City was in February 1755, when he registered as a British subject and "Innholder."
The following year he was issued a tavern license, but where he worked for the next two years is unidentified. From 1758 to 1762, he operated the Free Mason's Arms Tavern at Queen Street. In 1762 he mortgaged and rented out the Free Mason's Arms, purchased the Oliver Delancey mansion at Pearl and Dock Streets, he opened this as the Sign of Queen Charlotte Tavern, but within a year it was better known as the Queen's Head Tavern. In addition to the usual restaurant fare, Fraunces offered fixed-price dinners, catered meals delivered, sold preserved items such as bottled soups, nuts, pickled fruits and vegetables, oysters and marmalades. Although the tavern featured five lodging-rooms, it was better known as a place for private meetings and receptions, card-playing. Fraunces rented out the former Delancey mansion in 1765, moved his family to Philadelphia, opening a Queen's Head Tavern on Front Street in that city moving to Water Street in 1766, he returned to New York City in early 1768, sold the Free Mason's Arms.
He resumed operation of his tavern in the former Delancey mansion in 1770. Spring Hill – a villa along the Hudson River under lease to Major Thomas James – was vandalized in the November 1765 Stamp Act Riot. Fraunces leased the property; the villa featured large rooms, its extensive grounds were the setting for concerts and public entertainments. Fraunces exhibited ten life-sized wax statues of historical figures, debuting them in a garden setting in July 1768, he exhibited seventy miniature wax figures from the Bible, life-size wax statues of King George III and Queen Charlotte. He operated Vaux-Hall through Summer 1773. Fraunces continued to operate the Queen's Head Tavern through the early years of the Revolutionary War, but fled when the British captured New York City in September 1776. A month after the April 19, 1775, Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the British warship HMS Asia sailed into New York Harbor, its presence was a constant threat to the city. On August 23, revolutionaries stole the cannons from the fort on The Battery, which prompted The Asia to bombard the city with cannon fire that night.
There were no deaths, but damage to buildings, including Fraunces's tavern. Philip Freneau wrote a poem about the bombardment, "Hugh Gaines Life," that included the couplet: "At first we supposed it was only a sham. Till she drove a round ball through the roof of Black Sam."The tavern was used for more than entertainment during the Revolutionary War. Fraunces rented out office space, meetings of the New York Provincial Congress were held there. In April 1776, General Washington was present at a court-martial conducted at the tavern. Washington's headquarters, April 17 to August 27, 1776, was Richmond Hill, a villa two miles north of the tavern. Fraunces claimed to have foiled an assassination plot against Washington; the supposed plotter, Thomas Hickey, one of Washington's life-guards, was court-martialed, executed on June 28:Congress, I doubt not, will have heard of the plot, forming among many disaffected persons in this city and government for aiding the King’s troops upon their arrival. No regular plan seems to have been digested.
George Washington Parke Custis
George Washington Parke Custis was a Virginia plantation owner, antiquarian and playwright. The grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington, he and his sister Eleanor grew up at Mount Vernon and in the Washington presidential households. Upon reaching age 21, Custis inherited a large fortune from his late father, John Parke Custis, including a plantation in what is now Arlington, Virginia. High atop a hill overlooking the Potomac River and Washington, D. C. he built the Greek Revival mansion Arlington House, as a shrine to George Washington. There he displayed many of Washington's belongings. Custis wrote historical plays about Virginia, delivered a number of patriotic addresses, was the author of the posthumously-published Recollections and Private Memoirs of George Washington, his daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, married Robert E. Lee, they inherited Arlington House and the plantation surrounding it, but the property was confiscated by the federal government during the Civil War.
Arlington House is now a museum, interpreted by the National Park Service as the Robert E. Lee Memorial; the remainder of Arlington plantation is now Arlington National Cemetery. Custis was born on April 30, 1781, at his mother's family home, Mount Airy, which survives in Rosaryville State Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, he lived with his parents John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert Custis, his sisters Elizabeth Parke Custis, Martha Parke Custis and Nelly Custis, at Abingdon Plantation, which his father had purchased in 1778. However, six months after Custis's birth, his father died of "camp fever" at Yorktown, shortly after the British army surrendered there. Custis's grandmother, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, had been widowed in 1757, married George Washington in January 1759, his father had grown up at Mount Vernon. Following John Parke Custis's death, George Washington adopted Custis. Custis's two oldest sisters and Martha, remained at Abingdon with their widowed mother, who in 1783 married Dr. David Stuart, an Alexandria physician and associate of George Washington.
The Washingtons brought Custis and Nelly, 8 and 10 years old to New York City in 1789, to live in the first and second presidential mansions. Following the transfer of the national capital to Philadelphia, the original "First Family" occupied the President's House from 1790 to 1797. Custis attended -- but did not graduate from -- Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania. George Washington expressed frustration with young Custis, as well as his own inability to improve the youth's attitude. Upon young Custis's return to Mount Vernon after only one term at St. John's, George Washington sent him to his mother and stepfather at Hope Park, writing "He appears to me to be moped and Stupid, says nothing, is always in some hole or corner excluded from the Company."In January 1799, Custis was commissioned as a cornet in the United States Army and was promoted to second lieutenant in March. He served as aide-de-camp to General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and was honorably discharged on June 15, 1800; when Custis came of age, he inherited large amounts of money and property from the estates of his father, John Parke Custis, grandfather Daniel Parke Custis.
Upon Martha Washington's death in 1802, he received a bequest from her as well as his father's former plantations because of the termination of Martha's life estate. However, Martha's executor, Bushrod Washington, refused to sell to Custis the Mount Vernon estate on which Custis had been living and which Bushrod Washington had inherited. Custis thereupon moved into a four-room, 80-year-old house on land inherited from his father, who had called it "Mount Washington". Custis began constructing Arlington House on his land, which at the time was within Alexandria County in the District of Columbia. Hiring George Hadfield as architect, he constructed a mansion, the first example of Greek Revival architecture in America, he located the building on a prominent hill overlooking the Georgetown-Alexandria Turnpike, the Potomac River, the growing Washington City on the opposite side of the river. Using slave labor and materials on site, interrupted by the War of 1812, Custis completed the mansion's exterior in 1818.
Custis intended the mansion to serve as a living memorial to George Washington, included design elements similar to Mt. Vernon's, he gained a reputation for inviting many guests for various celebrations and social events at the mansion, where he displayed relics from Mt. Vernon, although the interior was not completed until occupancy by Robert E. Lee's family in the 1850s. In 1802, the Washington Jockey Club sought a site for a new race course, as its old site—which occupied land from the rear of what is now the site of Decatur House at H Street and Jackson Place, across Seventeenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, to Twentieth Street, where the Eisenhower Executive Office Building sits today—was suffering encroachment from the growth of the Federal City. Under the leadership of John Tayloe III and Charles Ca