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Portraits of a Few of His Excellency's Guests

George Washington

"First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen."

Serving unselfishly without pay and at great personal risk throughout the American Revolution, Washington triumphed against all odds overcoming the most powerful nation on earth. After victory was won there were those who wanted to make him king but Washington refused what would have been a betrayal of the great vision which so many had sacrificed for and opted instead to return home to Mt. Vernon. The only president to be elected unanimously, Washington served two terms and then voluntarily stepped down. His continued refusal to betray his convictions and grasp absolute power inspired even his former enemy King George III to be filled with admiration and refer to Washington as "the greatest man of the age."

In his private life he was known as a gentleman of lofty character who thoroughly enjoyed social occasions. Washington loved to dance. He was regarded as one of the best dancers in Virginia and would not miss a Ball if he could help it. There were balls held in his honor while he was a general, a ball for his inauguration as president and annual balls were held in honor of his birthday. Balls in honour of Washington's birthday were held in various parts of the United States during his lifetime. They were a tradition which continued far beyond Washington's time, even by both North and South during the War Between the States and indeed throughout the 19th century.

After the successful conclusion of the American Revolution a season of Balls were held each year in the City of Richmond, Virginia known as the Richmond Assemblies. Tickets were sold in advance and guests were expected to abide by a certain set of rules. For instance ladies needed to be at least 13 years of age to attend and gentlemen at least 18. No apprentices were admitted. The only alcohol allowed was for the punch and that in a "small quantity." Any lady who abandoned her place in a set committed a great social faux pas and was not allowed to dance again for the rest of the evening.

One of these "Richmond Assemblies" was held each year in honor of George Washington's Birthday. John Marshall, a future Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, attended the one held in 1783 and wrote to a friend the next day that he had "been setting up all night at an Assembly [Ball]. We have them in Richmond regularly once a fortnight [every two weeks]. The last was a brilliant one; 'twas on the General's birth night. Never did I see such a collection of handsome ladies. I do not believe that Versailles [the Royal French Court] or Saint James's [the British Court] ever displayed so much beauty. I wish you had been present. The Virginians would have retained their high place in your opinion."

George was regarded as one of the finest dancers in Virginia. That is saying something as journals, letters and other first person accounts inform us that 18th century Virginians had a reputation throughout American and England for their great love of dancing. Ladies were known to wait for hours in order to have a dance with George and he was glad to oblige even if it meant dancing all night. (One must be willing to make sacrifices for the ladies!)


The friendly family of We Make History have enjoyed renewing the historic tradition of honoring the birthday of this most beloved American through an annual Grand Ball, dancing (as we have learned) being one of Washington's very favourite pastimes.

Our 2007 Ball was particularly salient as a celebration of George Washington's 275th Birthday!

We honoured this milestone of our greatest American through a recreation of a Birthday Party and Ball which was thrown 225 years ago in February of 1782 on the occasion of General Washington's 50th birthday by his friend and ally Le Comte de Rochambeau. Washington and Rochambeau had been the American and French commanders in their victory over the British at the Siege of Yorktown only four months previously, a victory which in effect ended the American Revolution and sealed American Independence.

Our guests further honoured His Excellency by dressing as per Washington's time such as the Georgian fashions of the 1770s and 1780s or the newer Regency fashions of the late 1790s.

Our celebration included the presentation of thirteen young Americans Belles representing the thirteen original states. Each was escorted on a promenade by a gallant soldier of General Washington's Continental Line.

The dancing was very fine, the society superb, and a great quantity of Cherry Punch was enjoyed by all!
































































































Notes from His Excellency's Guests

Dear Lord Scott,

Thank you for the wonderful evening at George Washington's Birthday Ball!  I appreciate what you did to make the night a memorable part of my sixteenth birthday.  

My guests and I all agreed that this was the best ball we've been to so far... everyone was very friendly and personable, and the dancing was lovely!!!

Thank you very much for recognizing my 16th birthday and for making this a special evening for my guests and me!

Caris O.    Phoenix, Arizona


Your Excellency -

Words fail to describe my enjoyment of last evening.  I have completely run out of superlatives to describe the amazing signs and sounds from the ball and the pleasures of the senses I experienced.  My favorite memories included the introduction of the 13 belles representing the 13 colonies which initially formed the United States of America (or Columbia if you will), followed by the Sweet 16 Birthday celebration.  This was the social event of the season, and may we be celebrating your birthday as the ‘Father of our Country’ for the next 1000 years.

Your Most Obedient Servant,

Mike C.

Glendale, Arizona


To His Excellency and Mrs. Washington,

My deepest thanks for a night of many Miracle Moments at the ball in your honor.

I was overjoyed and honored my fellow recruits of the Continental Line would choose me to carry the flag of our beloved nation as we pledged our allegiance and sang in patriotic tribute.  This marked the first time I have ever participated in such a noble ceremony.  And if anyone ever questions my patriotism as a journalist, I have photographic evidence to dispel any doubt!

I had the privilege of escorting three of our outstanding American Belles -- and sharing a dance with a few of them as well!

I shared an impromptu jig with a warm and gracious lass.  Seeing the smile of a young one while dancing with them pierces my heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to help Miss Olander celebrate her 16th Birthday with an 18th Century circle dance.  Encore!  Encore!  May it become a new tradition!

And I am eternally grateful for the friends I have made in We Make History, the ones I have learned so much from and who have brightened my life in ways words fail to adequately convey.  I am especially grateful for their patience, assistance and pardon when my dancing abilities fell short of the mark.  Even after nine straight balls, and even though I no longer can realistically call myself a newcomer, I will never consider myself an expert in what has become my dearest diversion, just as it was for the colonial Virginians many generations before me.

When I awoke the next morning, I once again felt as if I had dreamed it all.  Life could not possibly be this wonderful.  People could not possibly be this graceful or kind.  Oh, but they can.  They are.

I repeat this fact once again to underscore its truth:  We Make History is a tremendous blessing in my life, one that has helped me find true
joy and inspiration that I take back with me to my other life and time... and reassured me life is worth living.

Thank you all so much and God Bless You All!


I Remain Your Friend And Humble Servant,
Pvt. Christopher
Tucson, Arizona


Lord Scott,
Thank you for putting on another magnificent ball.  The dancing and splendid company were most enjoyable.  I was particularly amused by the comment that I looked less like a commander and more like a saint, St. Nicholas to be precise, but with the red coat, black belt and boots, I was inclined to agree with him.  I don't mind being given the title of sainthood anyway.  I also enjoyed the presentation of the ladies representing the American Colonies. It reminded me of a historic beauty pageant (Miss Colonial America).  Thank you for all the hard work that you and your family put into for making this amazing night possible.
God Bless,
Josh S.    Prescott, Arizona


Thanks!  I had fun.  Hope to come to the next ball.



I thoroughly enjoyed dancing the Virginia Reel since it is one of my favorite dances and am looking forward to the next time. I must also say that the guests at this ball were extremely friendly and well mannered and I enjoyed myself much.

Thank you again for a lovely evening,

Miss Linnea G.    Southern Arizona


We Make History Family!!!
Thanks again for all you did to make a great night for everyone. Your musicians are always awesome!!!!

Diane B.    Prescott, Arizona


Lord Scott,

Thank you for a lovely evening. We particular enjoy visiting during the refreshment time with new friends and old acquaintances. This is one of our favorite periods, the beautiful clothing and the grace of all involved and the wonderful history of the era. Thank you again.

Charles and Roonie U.

Mesa, AZ and Fort Collins, CO


Dear Sir,
I wanted to let you know what a wonderful time I had at the ball Saturday. My family enjoyed themselves immensely, particularly my little brother, who can't wait until he can attend another one.
It was so different going to a smaller ball like this. I really liked it, though. It definitely felt more personal and family-like (and I didn't sit out a single dance!). Thanks so much for all the effort you put into it and all the other events, and for the blessing of giving us those five tickets.

God bless,
Hannah    Chandler, Arizona


Dear General Washington,
I wanted to convey my thanks for your graciousness toward my two friends who were first-time attendees. It was a unique experience for them and they had an extremely enjoyable time as did I as always. And of course it was an honor for them to meet a celebrity of your magnitude. My only regret was that they did not feel comfortable asking any of the other guests to dance.  Perhaps they will be more courageous at the next dance.  Thank you so much for continuing to make these momentous events happen.
Sincerely, Linda B.    Phoenix, AZ.


Dear Sir,

I just want to let you know what a wonderful time I had yesterday evening. As usual, it was great to see you and your family again, and
of course the many other friendly faces that we run into as well. Of course all that does was only the beginning... Needless to say,
Felicia and I thorougly enjoyed ourselves with the dances. :-)

I was just remarking to Felicia the other day that I have been participating in events put on by We Make History for nearly 5 years
now. (And my, how your children have GROWN in that time!! ... in more ways than one.) Though the newness of it all has worn away with time, and I don't always write you to say so, you should of course know that I still very much enjoy myself at each and every event. I think I can safely vouch the same for Felicia too. ;-)

Each event is looked forward to, not only for the event itself, but in fact for the people which will be there... We often see many of them
outside of We Make History in "normal" life. Some we know exclusively through We Make History, and there are quite a number I have known for years before We Make History even existed. But somehow it is often different; a time when we can enjoy ourselves outside our busy daily lives and schedule.

You and your family - and WMH - are in my prayers at least weekly and often more. (And have been so for a very long time) May God guide you in your journey and continue to bless you as He already has. :-)

Yours in Christ,

Mathew E.    Chandler, Arizona


 In His Excellency's Loyal Service

Hail To The Chief! We Make History honors the Father Of A Nation and A Fine Dancer on his 275th Birthday* with the enthusiastic assistance of The Continental Line.
(*but we stopped counting at 200)

From the journal of Private Christopher.

Shoulder to shoulder. Left before right. This hand above that. Everything has a procedure, and my aim is to follow it precisely.

“I’ve never been in a color guard before,” I admit as I clasp the flagpole in my hands. The Star-Spangled Banner drapes down to tips of my fingers. This part does not worry me.

The challenge lies in matching my cadence to three fellow soldiers of General Washington’s Continental Line. As my own mother is fond of pointing out, I tend to walk fast.

His Excellency welcomes the assembled guests at the front of the room as we wait at the ready, in our tricorns and uniforms. Up close, one can see the nuances of four different tailors. Yet from a distance, we flow together perfectly in our red, white and blue.

“Forward, march!”

We move as one, and I hold the line as I hold the flag, coming to a halt before the group of some fifty ladies and gentlemen in a heartfelt tribute to our liberated nation and its many liberties -- freedom of assembly, to name but one.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…”

In the unison recitation of the Pledge and the singing of our National Anthem with the American Flag in my hands, I doubt I have ever participated in a more patriotic moment.

Placing the flag in the stand before the crowd, my duty is complete and part of me exhales, only to lament later not adding more military finesse and precision to my solo part of the ceremony. Shouldn’t I have saluted somewhere in this? Should I have added a snap of my feet? Everything has a procedure. Yet General Washington is satisfied, and my cadence is about to evolve from marching to dancing.

The charming schoolteacher Miss Kay is looking out for me.

“Do you have a partner for the procession?” she asks. She has someone already lined up.

After a bit of confusion as to whether I am supposed to be escorting someone else, I introduce myself to a beautiful woman in blue with a low bow. She graciously accepts my invitation, and we’re soon promenading around the room, getting a better look at the colorful fashions and ubiquitous newcomers taking their first steps back in time.

Our first dance is entitled, “I Care Not For These Ladies,” the most whimsically misleading English Country Dance title I have ever heard as the ladies and gentlemen circulate in a round. I meet and greet at least half a dozen partners, sharing a few turns and some fancy steps before its time to move on.

This night, I must keep a promise to a beautiful young daughter of a fellow soldier.

“I owe you a dance,” I say to her before the evening commences. I have owed her that dance since December. “I intend to pay my debt or suffer the consequences.”

Yet when the line dances commence, others keep reaching her first. Other times, she disappears from my sight. Where is she?

But I can’t linger on the floor too long in waiting. The guest list measures many names shorter than in previous soirées, and the available partners disappear like the sunlight of a February day. Now is the time to use those fast feet, paired with a sharp eye for a partnerless lady. Do your duty, soldier. Seek out that one on the floor with a countenance exuding dismay or desperation, visible all the way from the other side of the room.

“The woman in blue,” a fellow Continental hints to me at one point. “She’s sat out the last two dances.” Why is it always the women in blue? She’s taken before I can rescue her.

“Girls keep running away,” one gentleman says during a break for refreshments. I cannot understand why. Even though he is dressed one hundred years forward in time, in the garb of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry, he is still very much a Virginia gentleman and the justification for any fear escapes my comprehension.

Let us hope it is not a playful tossle of the hair intimidating them. One such dance, “Away To The Camp,” all but requires it as the ladies and gentlemen parade around each other in one of the figures and daintily tickle and pinch each others’ locks. My hair is not yet at ponytail length, but my curls get a generous tweak.

I offer a couple of dances to some shy young folk. They dance as well as those triple their age, and they love every moment. Even during a pause in the festivities, many continue dancing about, as does one wee lass who cavorts straight up to me. I launch into an extemporaneous jig. We both share a Miracle Moment, capering together in the middle of an otherwise barren dance floor.

“Do you ever get a feeling of butterflies in you when you dance with someone?” she asks.

“I get that all the time.”

“Well, I only get that when I dance with that boy over there,” she explains, indicating a precocious and lively patriot lad.

No doubt it is more than butterflies.

“That’s a good feeling,” I say.

Other butterflies flutter within me. I still must repay my debt. If I don’t, I am bound to some sort of reprimand. The punishment remains undetermined, but I have no doubt it will involve some sort of a jig. However, I finally find the lady I owe, and we agree the next dance shall settle it.

Setting things right will have to wait a bit longer, however, for lined up on the ballroom floor are thirteen American Belles, fine ladies representing thirteen new states.

I am called to duty again, to help present these paradigms of beauty and character to the assembled guests in a courtly promenade for photographs and admiration. With only four of us on the Line, each of us enjoy three opportunities to escort a lady. One lucky patriot enjoys a fourth!

Now, let me settle that debt…

“You’re outranked,” a fellow Continental teases. He’s a Lieutenant. He’s also her father. “But I will defer to the private.”

I am thankful for his graciousness. It allows me to share a beautiful, waltz-like number with her -- one that involves changing places across the set several times white staring straight into her eyes. Here come those butterflies again. She is clearly an excellent dancer, much better than I will ever be on this evening. I try my best to be worthy of her grace, stepping in elegance, my arms extended outward as we round each other. I am a soldier, a gentleman, a Virginian, one who has danced all his life… or at least nine balls. And if fulfilling those high standards are not enough motivation, General Washington is dancing right next to us in the set. Compared to his impeccable skill, any mistake on my part will magnify fivefold. I pass the test, my debt repaid, my partner pleased.

But to my frustration, I still end up missing the mark on other dances I thought I would have mastered by this point. What should be a graceful pivot in "Come, Let's Be Merry" displays all the grace of a broken see-saw. Later, I am chosen to demonstrate an allemand left and right with our gracious caller and dancing master only to find my hands don’t link up with my partner’s the way they’re supposed to -- much to the amusement of the ballroom.

And then, in a time-shortened Virginia Reel, I execute the opening turns and passes without fault only to mysteriously find myself discombobulated when the moment of reeling arrives. I nearly start reeling with the wrong side until my fellow Continentals and His Excellency graciously set me back on the right path. And I call myself a Virginian! I should know this like my own face! I have danced for twenty and thirty minutes in these reels with nary an error. What is wrong with me?

I later thank my dancing companions for bearing with me through my deficiencies. “It happens to everyone,” the Lieutenant comforts.

That is true. And I must not forget, we are all laughing together, not at each other. I am not back in elementary school, reliving the nightmare of square dancing. But I shall not be satisfied until I dance a flawless reel
at the next ball!

I know His Excellency will not be satisfied until everyone does their homework. He draws several names for prizes, but only a couple of winners have a historical fact at the ready, as stated in the rules. The rest prefer to jig -- or sing -- taking an alternate way out. We hear no mention of the General taking command of the Continentals in 1775. Nobody speaks of his accepting Lord Cornwallis’ surrender in 1781… although a lone British regular in the hall likely prefers it that way.

Many things are worth dancing about, especially birthdays. A round of “Happy Birthday” simply will not suffice amongst 18th Century celebrants, especially one celebrating her 16th birthday. Thus she enjoys a moment as the center of attention while we sing and dance in a circle around her…

“For she’s a jolly good fellow! For she’s a jolly good fellow! For she’s a jolly good fellow -- whom nobody can deny!”

We invite others with February birthdays to join her in the center for a joyous encore. You could sing that song of everyone in the room -- everyone jolly, good fellows, enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

When the final waltz arrives, it is always with a bit of sadness. I share the last dance with a young lass, who is not intimidated by this Yankee Doodle Dandy and his basic waltzing ability. She twirls when she wants, if she wants. I merely follow and smile and bow to my partner with words of gratitude.

“You’re a much better waltzer than I am.”

Private Christopher, I think, you have so much to learn and so many willing to teach.

It is obvious the Revolution is not over. We are leading a new one, looking back to move forward. Most times, we will not carry muskets or wear uniforms. And sadly, for most people, the stories of our American Belles will escape attention as the rest of the world obsesses on the wreckage of other peoples’ lives. We’ve got a long fight ahead of us. But with a little inspiration, a lot of heart, a generous spirit, and a clear sense of purpose, victory shall be ours! Huzzah!

* * *

“I really like your outfit!” calls a teenage girl standing from a second floor balcony.

I am walking back through the motel room parking lot in my full Continental regalia, haversack over my shoulder, tricorn atop my head, uplifted and renewed from an after-ball feast and some time with friends in the late hours.

“Thank you!” I offer with a smile and an elegant bow.

I explain where I have been and what I have done. If I were not tired and she were not holding an empty bottle, I would offer to teach her a few steps from the past.

She thinks it is cool. Yea, victory shall be ours.

COMING IN MARCH: A Tribute To The Ladies Of Virginia... Even In The Darkest Hours Of A Nation


Regards from His Excellency, General George Washington

Dear friends,

I have the pleasure of conveying from General Washington his thanks and regards to all who participated in the Ball in honour of His Excellency's 275th Birthday.

As many have already commented, there was something very special about this Ball. It held the warmth, the peace and the familiarity of what one would have expected at a private Ball among Washington's circle of friends.

Uplifting thirteen young and worthy ladies as representing our thirteen states was an honour which held multiple levels of meaning regarding not only our hopes and best aspirations for the young ladies themselves but also a reflection on the providence of our past and a projection into the future.

To celebrate the 16th birthday of Miss Olander was such a joy as her many new friends of the We Make History Family warmly and creatively embraced her on the special occasion.

On a personal level I am very grateful for God's grace which was so evidently upon us all and for the many people whom we have been blessed to serve. I was reminded how much I love our WMH Family and what a joy it is to use what talents and knowledge I may have been granted in order to provide something special for you, something which I trust will have a lasting impact.

There was indeed something very, very special about this Ball. Thank you for sharing the evening with us.

I remain

your servant

in awe and appreciation

of what good things God has done for us

and in expectation

of greater things yet to come.

Lord Scott


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