Celebrating George Washington’s 65th Birthday on a Tidewater Plantation

On that celebratory day in 1795 Martha Dangerfield Bland Blodget of Cawson’s planned a meal most of us in the 21st century have never been served! What a multi-course dinner it must have been; rich with savory roasted meats, buttery vegetables, and fancy sweets, accompanied by ciders, wines and liqueurs. The invited guests that day, probably traveling from nearby Petersburg, would have dined like royalty as was the custom in the plantation south.

Blodget’s enslaved but unnamed cook created a masterpiece of a dining experience.  

From the pages of Mrs. Blodget’s housekeeping book “Feb 22. Awoke this morning by the firing of guns in celebration of George Washington’s birth-day. He is 65 years old this day, he having told me 12 years ago that he was 53 years old: for dinner boil’d a ham, goose, turkey, tongue, turtled head, pigeon pye, saucege & eggs, vegetables, mince pye, jelly, custards, plumbs, almonds, nuts, apples, &c [sic- etcetera].” 

It was not until 1879 that our First President had a special Federal Holiday in his name but during his lifetime those living who had fought in the Revolution alongside him, who had visited Mount Vernon to eat at his table, would, every year, congratulate Washington with military salutes and dinners of amazing elegance.

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