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 21, 2013

Washington’s Birthday at Washington’s Headquarters

Tomorrow, 22 February, is the date America finally settled on as the anniversary of George Washington’s birth. And shortly before the Bicentennial the federal government established its Washington’s Birthday (Presidents’ Day) holiday as the third Monday in February, which can never be the 22nd.

At least one part of the government still celebrates Washington on the 22nd, however. The National Park Service rangers at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge are offering free tours of that mansion each half-hour from 1:00 to 4:00 on Friday afternoon. These tours focus on how the commander-in-chief used the house as his headquarters in 1775-76. Each tour takes about half an hour, well suited for kids on school vacation.

On Thursday, 14 March, the site will offer longer tours on the hour from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. These, too, will focus on Gen. Washington’s life and work in the house as Evacuation Day approaches.

That evening, I’ll speak at the site on:
George Washington, Crisis Manager: The Shaky Startup of the Continental Army Headquarters

When George Washington became commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he had to assemble an effective headquarters staff. Over his first several months the new general struggled to identify the talents he needed, to recruit the right men, and then to replace them when they left. This talk looks at Washington’s learning curve as a manager and the workings of the military “family” he brought together in Cambridge.
At this talk I’ll gossip about which men Washington insisted that the Continental Congress commission as generals. And what quartermaster Thomas Mifflin and military secretary Joseph Reed didn’t tell their wives. And why, after Reed and aide Edmund Randolph left the Cambridge headquarters short-handed in the fall of 1775, Washington nevertheless sent his other aide George Baylor off to Connecticut.

To reserve a seat for that 14 March talk or any of the house tours about Gen. Washington, email the site.


John L Smith Jr said...

For Revolutionary Boston fans stuck in the swamps of Florida, are you taping & posting your talk, J.L.?

Kate said...

You've piqued my curiosity. Any chance you'll share here what Mifflin and Reed didn't share with their wives?

J. L. Bell said...

I wrote about the Mifflins starting here.

J. L. Bell said...

As for the Reeds, I don't think I've written about this yet, but Joseph set out from Philadelphia with Gen. Washington in June, assuring his wife and other relatives that he would be back soon. And then he accepted the post of Washington's military secretary and didn't return until the fall.