I’m addicted to Facebook. Usually, I know it’s a waste of time. I admit it. But I want to know about family news and local events, and the bibliophile in me wants to read about all the newly released books and reading recommendations.
Every once in a while I discover a useful nugget that finds its way into a story I’m writing. On those days, I am glad I spent the time mining FB pages.
Last week, as I was polishing my Annapolis 1783 story, a FB group, The Founding Mother’s Club, shared a post from Colonial Williamsburg recalling the wedding anniversary of George and Martha Washington on January 6.
I did the math and realized that General Washington might have been in a hurry to leave Annapolis after resigning his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army not only for Christmas but to be home in time for his 25th wedding anniversary. He’d been away for so much of his marriage to Martha and now he was, rushing off on his horse Nelson, to be at Mount Vernon with his wife.
I don’t know if he really thought about his anniversary but the romantic in me thinks maybe he did. In his WASHINGTON, A LIFE, the estimable biographer Ron Chernow mentions the heavy snow, the letters Mr. Washington wrote and the house full of children that greeted him when he finally returned to his peacetime home—but never the First Couple’s wedding anniversary.
Perhaps it was a private affair that didn’t make its way into the records and letters of the time. Chernow does quote a letter from Martha looking forward to growing old together in solitude and tranquility. “This, my dear madam,” she wrote in a letter to Mercy Warren, “was the first and fondest wish of my heart.” (Washington, page 464.)
I write fiction, not history, so when it came time for my fictional character to meet up with the great General in Philadelphia as he raced to Annapolis, I had Mr. Washington mention getting home to mark the silver anniversary with the wife he had been separated from for so long.
“I want to get home to Martha in time for Christmas—and our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I’ve missed so many already,” the General tells his young aide, Alexander.
I like to think he was looking forward to going home, casting off the uniform that had served him so well to take up the mantle of husband and farmer. And celebrating that important anniversary with his wife and family around him. A civilian once again.
Thanks, Founding Mothers Club and Colonial Williamsburg, for that little inspiration.
BTW–historical fiction lovers, you might want to join the Founding Mother’s Club to learn about lots of great books.
Also, Colonial Williamsburg accompanied the post with Martha Washington’s Great Cake recipe. This was my mother’s favorite Christmas cake recipe. The season may be over but there’s always a need for a great cake.