February 22nd George Washington’s Birthday

Today is the original President’s Day, it’s George Washington’s birthday. Washington was born in 1732. He spent most of his life before the Revolution as a soldier and planter, and in 1789 he became the first President of the United States. He had been offered to be made King but refused it realizing, among other things, the world did not need another King George! He would be President until 1797 when he retired, dying two years later on December 14th, 1799.

How to celebrate – Have a piece of cherry pie. Read about Washington’s life. Visit Mount Vernon.

December 29th Pepper Pot Day

“The soup that won the war!” During the American revolution, the Colonial Army was forced into suffering through the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge. The men were hungry and moral was low since they had suffered another of many defeats. The army was falling apart. George Washington asked his chef to come up with a meal that would feed the men as cheaply as possible and warm them up at the same time. He took as many different types of meat as he could lay his hands on and mixed them into a soup with peppercorns. It was served hot and spicy and did exactly what Washington had asked it to do. The first serving came on December 29th, 1777 and became a staple of the Continental Army from there on out.

How to celebrate – Have some pepper pot soup (warning, it is spicy). Read about the struggles at Valley Forge. Try making your own soup with whatever left over meats you have after Christmas.

April 13th Thomas Jefferson Day

Thomas Jefferson will always be remembered as the chief writer of the Committee of 5 that crafted the Declaration of Independence.  Though born of Welsh parents and a British citizen, he felt called to help form a new nation that he loved deeply but was well aware of all her faults as well.

Born on April 13th, 1743 he became master of his own destiny at 14 when his father died.  All the proper own was split between two brothers, Thomas recieving Monticello and 5,000 acres.  He graduated from William & Mary College and became involved in legal and governmental issues of his time.  He served in the House of Burgesses as a representative in Virginia.

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When it became clear a seperation from Britan was eminent he joined the Continental Congress as a representative from Virginia.  As one of the Founding Fathers, hecontinued to serve in Congress as the war broke out.  From 1779-81 he was the war Govenor of Virginia.  He was, and would remain, a proponent of democracy, republicanism and the rights of the individual.

In 1785, after the war, he served as the U.S. Minister to France, a very important position in the new government. From 1790-93 he served as the countries first Secretary of State from 1790-93.  It is very unlikely he was ever caught using his personal email to send or recieve emails.

Jefferson and Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose The Federalist.  He was very concerned with states having their rights above those of the Federal government.  In 1797 he became the 2nd Vice President of the United States.  He served in that position until becoming the 3rd President of the U.S. in 1801.

As President, serving two terms until 1809, he dealt with the 1st Barbary Pirates War, the Louisiana Purchase, The Embargo Act where Britan was interfering with America trade, and sent Lewis and Clark (1806) on their exploration of the west.

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Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, who had been married preivoiusly, in 1772.  They had six children but only two fo their daughters reached adulthood.  Martha died in 1782.  Thomas became a very lonely man who apparently found some solice in the arms of Sally Hemings.  Through DNA tested, historians believe the two had several children together.  Sally was a slave.  Though Jefferson deplored slavery he had many slaves used to operate his numerous plantations.  When he left the Presidency he founded the University of Virginia.

He played the violin, was a surveyor, inventor, horticulturist and teacher of mathematics.  In 1785 he wrote, “Notes on the State of Viginia”, considered one of the most important book written prior to the 1800’s.

He was fluent in English, Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish.  He considered himself a Christian as Jesus woud have required, though not terribly religious.

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When the British burned the Library of Congress in the War of 1812, Jefferson sold the government 6,000 books from his personal library to reopen the insitution.  Having given away most of his books he found himself being acollector once again as he could not stand to be without books.

Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of Americas claim to liberty.

How to celebrate:  Read a copy of the Declaration of Independence, Visit the state of Virginia, track Lewis & Clark’s expedition.