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Of the first New-Year's reception at the White House (January 1, 1802), we have this pleasant account:
“Although the President has no levees, a number of Federalists agreed to go from the Capitol in coaches to the President's house, and wait upon him with the compliments of the season. We were received with politeness, [and] entertained with cake and wine. The mammoth cheese having been presented this morning, the President invited us to go, as he expressed it, ' To the mammoth room, and see the mammoth cheese. There we viewed this monument of human weakness and folly as long as we pleased, then returned."*
On this same New-Year's day, Dr. Cutler, with “seven fellow Congressmen," set out for Mount
* This mammoth cheese had caused more comment, favorable and unfavorable, than any local incident of the campaign. On hearing of Jefferson's election, Elder John Leland, pastor of the Baptist church in Cheshire, Mass., called the members of his flock together, and proposed to celebrate the event by making and presenting to the new President the largest cheese ever known in the history of cheesemongery. Every man and woman who owned a cow was invited to give for the cheese all the milk produced in a single day—but no Federal cow was allowed to contribute. A great cider press was secured for its manufacture, and on the appointed day a multitude of men, women, and girls, clad in their best, came to the appointed place, each laden with pails, pots, and tubs of curd. The cheese was put to press with prayer and the singing of hymns. When dried and eatable it weighed 1,600 pounds; and was then loaded on to a sleigh which, bedecked with ribbons and flags, was driven by Elder Leland all the way from Cheshire to Washington, his pathway being lined with the multitudes who came out to see and hail the mammoth cheese. Driving down Pennsylvania Avenue this New Year's morning he had met with a perfect ovation, while the President had received the gift with a fitting tribute to the honest, sturdy, and patriotic class which had produced it.
Vernon to pay his respects to Mrs. Washington. They went in the ferry-boat to Alexandria, and lodged at Gadsby's,“ said to be the first publichouse in America, and equal to most in Europe." That night they supped on canvas-back ducks. Next morning they rose and dressed at four, and at seven set out for Mount Vernon in coaches, travelling through dense forest with the exception of a few openings formed by cultivated fields, and reached the mansion at ten.
“When our coaches entered the yard," he continues, a number of servants immediately attended, and when we had all stepped out of our carriages, a servant conducted us to Madam Washington's room, where we were introduced by Mr. Hillhouse, and received in a very cordial and obliging manner. Mrs. Washington was sitting in rather a small room with three ladies, granddaughters, one of whom is married to a Mr. Lewis, and has two fine children. The other two are single. Mrs. Washington appears much older than when I saw her last at Philadelphia, but her countenance is very little wrinkled, and remarkably fair for a person of her years. She conversed with great ease and familiarity, and appeared as much rejoiced at receiving our visit as if we had been of her nearest connections. She regretted that we had not arrived sooner, for she always breakfasted at seven, but our breakfast would be ready in a few minutes. In a short time she rose, and desired us to walk into another room, where a table was elegantly spread with ham, cold corn-beef, cold fowl, red herring, and cold mutton ; the dishes ornamented with sprigs of parsley and other vegetables from the garden. At the head of the table was the tea and coffee equipage, where she seated herself, and sent the tea and coffee to the company. We were all Federalists, which gave her particular pleasure. Her remarks were frequently pointed, and sometimes very sarcastic on the new order of things and the present administration. She spoke of the election of Mr. Jefferson, whom she considered one of the most detestable of mankind, as the greatest misfortune our country had ever experienced. Her unfriendly feelings towards him were naturally to be expected from the abuse he has offered to General Washington while living, and to his memory since his decease.”
After breakfast the party rambled about the house and gardens," which were not in so high a style " as they expected to find them, and took boughs from the trees as precious relics of their own and their country's best friend. Mrs. Washington urged them to stay and dine, but they were obliged to return to Washington.
She was likewise pressing in her invitation to make her another visit before the close of the session, and was so complaisant as to assure me, after offering any of the shrubbery and young trees, if I would come again toward the spring I should find a very different appearance, and be furnished with whatever I wished to send home.
“We tarried till about half after two, and then took our leave.”
Another of these Congressional outings was to the Great Falls of the Potomac.
A state dinner is thus described,-February 6, 1802: “Dined at the President's. Messrs. Foster, Hillhouse, and Ross, of the Senate, General Bond, Wadsworth, Woods, Hastings, Tenney, Read, and myself. Dinner not as elegant as when we dined before. Rice soup, round of beef, turkey, mutton, ham, loin of veal, cutlets of mutton or veal, fried eggs, fried beef, a pie called maccaroni, which appeared to be a rich crust filled with strillions of onions or shallots, which I took it to be, tasted very strong, and not agreeable. Mr. Lewis told me there was none in it ; that it was an Italian dish, and what appeared like onions was made of flour and butter with a particularly strong liquor mixed with them. Ice-cream very good, crust wholly dried, crumbled into thin flakes; a dish somewhat like a pudding, inside white as milk or curd, very porous and light, covered with cream sauce very fine ; many other jimcracks; a great variety of fruit; plenty of wines, and good. President social. We drank tea and viewed again the great cheese."
Several times during the winter the members of Congress were called upon to attend the obsequies of their fellow-members. Writing on March 14th, Dr. Cutler thus describes one of these occasions :
“ Yesterday we attended the funeral of one of our House, Mr. Hunter of the Southwestern or Mississippi Territory. The members of the House were put in mourning by wearing black crape on the left arm. The two Houses of Congress and their officers and the heads of departments walked in procession from the house where he died in the city to Georgetown, where he was buried. General Shepard of Massachusetts is very low.
Hunter died of bilious fever, and General Shepard is a bilious case. Many members were so unwell yesterday as not to attend the funeral.”
The one fascinating amusement of the capital, however, was horse-racing. Dr. Mitchell of New York makes frequent mention of the races in his letters. Dr. Cutler, on returning for his third session, October 14, 1803, found himself in time to attend them. They were under the patronage of an association of wealthy gentlemen known as “The Jockey Club,” and began Tuesday, November 8th. Both Houses of Congress adjourned in order to attend. On Wednesday Dr. Cutler was present, and records that Colonel Holmes' horse (of Virginia) gained the purse, said to be about goo dollars. He was present again on Saturday, and thus described the affair :
The race ground is on an old field with somewhat of a rising in the centre. The race path is made about fifty feet wide, measuring just one mile from the bench of the judges round to the stage again. In the centre of this circle a prodigious number of booths are erected, which stand upon the highest part of the ground. Under them are tables spread much like the booths at commencement (at Cambridge), but on the top, for they are all built of boards on platforms to accommodate spectators. At the time of the racing these are filled with people of all descriptions. On the western side and without the circus is rising ground, where the carriages of the most respectable people take their stand. These, if they were not all Democrats, I should call the noblesse. Their carriages are elegant, and their attendants and servants numerous. They are from different parts of the Southern and Middle States, and filled principally with ladies, and about one hundred