J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Restoring Gen. Washington, His Tent, and His Speech

George Washington was born on 11 February 1732, according to the calendar. But that was the Julian calendar, which the British Empire was still using because the more accurate Gregorian calendar had the misfortune to be favored by the Roman Catholic church. By the time Britain and its colonies adjusted their calendars to match the rest of western Europe in 1752, there was an eleven-day difference. Washington therefore recalculated his birthday as 22 February, and that’s the date we still treat as Washington’s “real” birthday.

To observe that occasion, here are links to three news stories about remembrances of the man.
It turns out the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t the only institution restoring its painting of Gen. George Washington crossing the Delaware. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has people working on Thomas Sully’s “Passage of the Delaware” (1819), shown above. Because of its size, the Boston Globe says, the painting will be conserved in its gallery, and museum visitors can watch the work progress.

The New York Times reported that a strip of linen cloth owned by Yale and on loan at Mount Vernon, said to be from one of the general’s campaign tents, perfectly matched a hole in the campaign tent once on display at Valley Forge. While that tent now appears to be white linen, as shown in a 1909 photograph, close examination of the cloth suggests it originally had blue stripes. The tent will be displayed again when the American Revolution Center in Valley Forge opens.

Finally, the Washington Post reported on how the Maryland state archives is celebrating its acquisition of Washington’s draft of his speech resigning his commission as commander-in-chief in Annapolis on 23 Dec 1783.

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