Thursday, April 28, 2011

A tribute to William and Kate...God Bless the Queen!

and God Bless America for the Revolution! Imagine needing to pay taxes...for the upkeep of a monarchy!

One of my favorite Stuart portraits of Washington, called the Gibbs-Channing-Avery portrait (refers to the past owners). Now residing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Painted 1795.

Stuart went to Philadelphia in 1794, expressly to paint George Washington's portrait; which he did, numerous times--- three from life, and many replicas (he painted at least one hundred versions). I doubt that he was thinking much about posterity, perhaps more about a lucrative means of settling his debts. These portraits brought him much visibility and fame. By the time Meeker had his portrait done in 1803, the President had been gone for four years, allowing this phase to slow and enabling the artist to turn to 'lesser lights'. The portraits done in these years, in Philadelphia, round-about the turn of the century, are generally acknowledged to be among his best....In the words of William Dunlap: "He left us the features of those who have achieved immortality for themselves, and made known others who would but for his art have slept in their merited obscurity." Dunlap 1834, vol 1, p.196

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Samuel Meeker, a financier in 1797 (age 34), how simple it was then...

A law passed in Congress July 1790 that established Philadelphia as the interim capital, and all government offices began to straggle over to Pennsylvania, from Manhattan. At this time Alexander Hamilton, as treasury secretary, was chieftain of the biggest government department.

William Simmons was an accountant in the War Department and clerk in the Treasury Department Auditors Office. As such, he would have been in intimate contact with Alexander Hamilton, discussing pay, finance, and accounting & performing duties such as payroll of the military, dispensing checks for which the government was obliged (ie for the construction of a military frigate), settling compensations, pensions, salaries, accounts etc. As a small example, in April of 1794, Henry Knox wrote Simmons requesting an estimate of monthly expenses so that officers could receive ‘subsistance on the first day of the month rather than the last day.’ Mr. Simmons was the chief accountant through the war of 1812.


Wilmington, Delaware, 20 Oct 1797

Wm Simmons, Esq.


Enclosed is X's draft on James McHenry Esq. at ten days eight (?) * Five hundred dollars in favor of X which I beg you to accept, and return to me by post ***

Your obed(ient) Ser(vant)

Sam(uel) Meeker

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