Sixteen Belles for Sixteen States

"May beauty, virtue and good character be ever honoured among us and never cease." Lord Scott

































































































Join Washington's Army

George Washington's Army

Prepare for the Ball

Etiquette & Expectations

18th Century Fashion

2007 Washington's Birthday Ball

2006 Washington's Birthday Ball

2005 Washington's Birthday Ball

2004 Washington's Birthday Ball

Experience History

The American Heritage Festival

18th Century Reenacting in Arizona

Return to

We Make History

Send an

Email to Washington












Letters from George Washington's Friends

My fellow Americans; family, friends and esteemed guests,

With quill in hand I bask in the fond remembrances of a most enjoyable evening - one well spent indeed - and one made all the more pleasant by the brilliant company assembled, some of whom traveled from such exotic and distant locations as Tennessee, Arkansas and New Mexico.

The music was lively and well suited to the fine collection of dances. The smiles were bright and sincere. The young ladies, American Belles representing our sixteen states, were particularly charming.

Is there any more agreeable mode of enjoying fine society than the fine steps, amiable conversation and uplifting tone of a Ball?

Dancing is indeed one of my very favorite of pastimes and I thank each and all for having done me the honor of accompanying me in an evening devoted to such.

Your servant,

Genl. Geo. Washington


Dear Sir,

We certainly had a most agreeable time at this ball. We were greeted by so many friendly and familiar faces that it felt like coming home! It was discussed how we were fewer in number this time, but there is an advantage to that. I was able to talk and dance with the same people more often, which helps in getting know those persons better. The feeling of refinement and elegance that permeates every ball was certainly not lacking at this one. I think I enjoyed myself at this ball more then at almost any other. It probably has to do with the fact that I've begun to feel truly a part of things. We anticipate the next ball with great enthusiasm and hope to be in attendance.

Yours & C.

Mrs. Durda


Your Excellency and Mrs. Washington,

How proud am I to serve you, this nation, and the patriots who populate it -- especially the ladies!  I report your orders have been carried out and I have danced with as many of the ladies as possible.  No redcoats disrupted us.  I pray our victories may encourage more gallant men to step forward and join our Continental Line -- not that I mind escorting several of our American Belles but more should have such opportunity!

And how about another HUZZAH for those newcomers and old friends who traveled great distance for this evening of joy and fellowship with the family of We Make History!  When one seeks this higher love, no distance is too great.

I was asked not long ago, "Do these balls ever become old hat?"  No, not ever.  Not as long as I shall live.  Not as long as I feel so honored and blessed to be a part of these occasions and have the chance to draw others in.  My goal is to give as much happiness as I have received from all of you, as fitting for both a soldier and a gentleman.

God Bless The United States Of America!
God Bless We Make History!

In Christ,
Your Friend And Humble Servant,
Pvt. C. Francis
of the Continental Line


Genl.  Washington

My countrymen and I thank you for a magnificent experience.  The dancing and the company continue to bring joy to my heart through the harsh winter days.  All of the dances were marvelous and I always enjoy the Virginia Reel.  During that dance I had forgotten my hat so that I could not properly bow to my corner, so I just "borrowed" Private Drew's on the way over, and of course returned it back to him promptly.  Even though it was hard to leave at the end, my mind continues to drift back to the final waltz and the enchantment of that dance.  I take many fond memories from the evening and express my thanks to you for all the hard work that went into preparing it.

God Bless,

Private J. Zachary S.



Had a most wonderful time at General Washington's ball; once again the company was great, the music splendid and the ladies ever so charming.
Lt. Zachariah K, Officer Commanding, 28th New York


Your Excellency - I had a most inspiring and magnificent time at the ball with you and your splendid guests.  It had been too long since I attended a historic ball, and as Private Francis stated, I am beginning to measure time as the days between balls.  My favorite moment of the ball was the presentation of the belles representing the States during your presidency, and I only wished there were more than 16 states.  My only regret was my aching feet and legs that were my misfortune to have by the end of the evening, and which continued to remind me of the glorious time I experienced throughout the following day.  What a glorious way to celebrate your day of birth, and may there be many more to come.  May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family, and the larger We Make History family.

Attached are two sample photos, and I will send more in a few moments, as well as put a CD of my entire collection in the mail today.

I Remain,

Your Friend and Humble Servant

M. J. C.



Washington's Way

Etiquette and gentility by the Rules, as set forth by His Excellency George Washington and demonstrated at a birthday ball in his honor by the family of We Make History.

Recounted by Private Francis of the Continental Line.

As a boy, George Washington copied down 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation as both a penmanship exercise and a guide to living with honor. Several come to mind as I gather in celebration with my fellow patriots.

Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

Newcomers surround me. They have traveled from the far region of New Mexico, having heard of His Excellency's reputation for hospitality and joyous celebrations. Young ladies stand in satiny ball gowns of orange and blue and green. A wee lad bubbles with anticipation. I approach as soldier and gentleman to greet them, bowing to everyone as they introduce themselves.

I offer words of encouragement and reassurance. "If you can walk, you can dance."

But I confess my shortcomings. "I must admit I may not remember all of your names."

In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.

"Your Excellency," I proclaim with a bow as I greet General Washington.

"Your Servant," he returns in humble honor.

 Shew Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.

My musket and bayonet are secured in the armory. My troublesome hair is queued and affixed with a specialty treatment of the modern-day stylist, so that the removal of my tricorn shall raise no errant strands like horns from my head.

In your Apparel be Modest and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.

I ponder whether I should wear a ribbon in my hair or my clocked stockings. But other than the polish of a ruffled jabot, I decide against any other flourishments. My colorful regimental coat is honor enough, I gather, but I hope the buttons on my breeches hold. They seem to tighten in the knees every time I put them on. Either the linen is shrinking or my dancing calves are strengthening.

"I just noticed something," His Excellency observes, indicating the turnouts of my regimental coat are not fastened. I hastily correct this with some help from the General.

"I did not want them to get caught in the door," I explained, noting the long journey by carriage from Tucson, faithfully guarded by our Spanish allies.

In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

A challenge indeed, with such beautiful music emanating from our talented musicians at the piano and flute as we welcome each other.

Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

As the hour of the dancing approaches, it is hard for me to restrain the anticipation in my feet. Some of young ladies prance about in rehearsal and expectation.

Undertake not what you cannot perform but be carefull to keep your promise.

"It is expected that the gentlemen will dance with as many ladies as possible during the evening," our host reminds the assembly. A giddy grin slips across my face.

"I am sure Private Francis will have no trouble with that," His Excellency observes.

Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

Among friends, no pangs of nervousness violate my heart -- and white gloves dissuade any discourteous habits of hand.

Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.

The portrait of a patriot should be a portrait of nobility.

Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.

I labor to honor every lady I dance with, bowing low before them...

In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.

...and removing my tricorn as if I were honoring a queen, letting humility place a yolk upon my head. But oh my, I do need to pay diligence to keeping eye contact.

The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.

A cheer of "Huzzah!" lacks the proper intensity without the raising of the right hand in jubilation. A right-hand star lacks the proper merriment without the left hand raised in joy.

When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

I sense worry in some of my dancing companions about complicated steps. "Do not fret," I tell more than one lady, smiling and assuring all will be well regardless of her skill. Likewise, I find times where I forget a turn or two or anticipate the wrong figure. But we laugh and continue to dance.

"Jack's Maggot" (a fanciful idea, not a creature) literally throws some of the guests for a loop. Hey for Three? Hey, what was Jack thinking? But still we continue, looping as best we can around one another.

During a round of "Come, Let Us Be Merry," I notice anxiety in my partner, a newcomer, as I lead her in a waltzing minuet-like step among the others, and I worry I am forcing her into a step that is not to her level of comfort. The next time I lead her, I try a simpler hesitation waltz. Yet we dance on, and later I praise her again, admitting the step can be complex.

"Sometimes it is best not to get concerned with the steps of the dance. Rather focus on the Spirit of The Dance so that you may enjoy the music and each others' company," I say to her and others.

Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd Withal.

Shall we make one small exception? In the dance "Away To The Camp," both the ladies and gentleman are encouraged, dare I say expected to tousle each other's hair in playful jest as we circle about one another. I do so and encourage my fellow dancers to do the same. But one must take care of what is loosed upon others. A lady -- perhaps not satisfied with tickling my queue -- tweaks my tricorn instead, sending it plunging to the floor.


If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside.

During "The Spaniard," my feet spring from the floor as I prance towards the ladies, letting happiness pour from me while repressing the fatigue spreading through my legs. I skip as I slip, pirouette as I cast of, dip to the rhythm of three-quarter time and clap to the beat. I shall allow no display of weariness!

In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not Knowing therein.

"I am winded," I say at end of the first set of dances. "But I am happily winded."

At the conclusion of the next set, a French aristocratic friend notices my countenance has paled beyond a comfortable level.

"You are a dancing fiend!" he exclaims. He is no doctor, but he knows the signs of exhaustion even if I do not notice them myself. Or is it just a ruse to draft me into the army of Louis XVI? "You always wanted to be a Royal Écossais," he points out.

"Ja," I think out loud, so bereft of clear thought in the aftermath of the dance I cannot even remember what foreign language I should be speaking.

"Oui," my friend counters as he leads me to the refreshments. Two cups of cherry punch and the fatigue disperses. All hail the ale!

Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

I desire to sit not, especially in the presence of the ladies. Three-quarters of the evening elapses before a kind lady invites me to take a seat. I then realize I have danced exhaustively for three hours and not sat down once.

When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.

The assembled gentlemen do not hesitate to hold open doors for ladies or displace themselves so that the fair ones may pass in their ballroom finest unscathed.

At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

During a pause for refreshments, a gallant lad assists in the seating of his lady friend at my table, displacing the chair to make way for her and gently pushing it in.

"Now there is a gentleman," I commend.

Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

Wide grins are out of character for the portraits of the times. But a dour soldier I am not.

In walking the highest Place in most Countrys Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honour: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honourable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.

The gentleman is always dancing on the left, our host reminds us. I insist I place myself to the lady's left in portraits as well.

"Let me be proper!" I cry as I reorient myself to the mannered place.

No partner will leave my side before I ask them if they would like an escort following the conclusion of each dance. Many cheerfully allow me to lead them back to their friends and family. "A fine dancer," I praise so that all assembled may hear, adding another bow.

With the same dedication, I am blessed to escort several American Belles, a group of 16 young women whom we all have high hopes for, gracefully wheeling them around to face the portrait-taker.

I would escort even more patriotic ladies had we not drafted a couple of gallant young men into our
Continental Line for just this occasion.

Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honour them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affibility & Courtesie, without Arrogancy.

In my heart, an extra bow to a beautiful lady is never unecessarily ceremonious.

They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Preceedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualitys, though they have no Publick charge.

The wee patriots show themselves dignified beyond their age as they dance among their own and their betters, albeit with more laughter and smiles. When prizes are announced, an enthusiastic group of children cannot contain their enthusiasm.

"Huzzah!" I cry.

"Huzzah!" respond the young ladies to my side.

A Man ought not to value himself of his Atchievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

"You are a fine dancer," a lady compliments during the pause. "It would not be half as fun without you here."

"Thank you," I say, adding "I am still learning," not wanting to think of myself better than anyone among me. For it is they whom God has brought into my life.

Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

Many guests find themselves the winners of chocolates, candies, books and historic patterns. And to their relief, they need not offer a fact from the past nor a jig to claim their prizes.

Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.

Early in the evening, a mysterious, rude, high-pitched holler permeates the ballroom, to the anxiety some of the young ladies. They summon me to investigate.

We find the source in the world outside -- perhaps from some boorish Redcoats under cover of evening. I quickly resume my soldierly duties to protect those I hold dear, instituting proper countermeasures with the aid of General Washington. Thankfully, I see the matter resolved without the need for armed sentries at the doors.

"Maybe it was a ghost," a young one wonders.

"It wasn't a ghost!" another protests.

When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

What words could I possibly add that would possibly equal the beauty of the magnificant ladies' gowns? Besides, I must catch my breath.

Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after Drinking wipe your Lips breath not then or Ever with too Great a Noise, for its uncivil.

As we are summoned back to the ballroom from a pause in the festivities, I turn to a lady serving refreshments with quiet urgency.

"Do I have cherry punch around my lips?" I inquire.

Thankfully, she says I do not.

Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

"I assume we shall be keeping it Reel," I inquire of General Washington as the final set of dances approaches. He responds with a smile, and my expectation is fulfilled when we form sets for the Virginia Reel.

"It is almost a residency requirement," I tell a guest. "A Virginian should be able to dance a Virginia Reel!"

The reeling part falters me a little, but I think I can honestly proclaim myself to be a man of Virginia... or a reasonable facsimile of. But where is His Excellency? Surely he would not miss this dance in his honor!

To my relief, I find he is enjoying the moment, capturing images of our joyous turns and sashays about the ballroom floor.

Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

When the last waltz ends, nothing is finished. For some, it has just started.

"You are now a part of the We Make History family," proclaims His Excellency. "The door is open for you."

I have cavorted at many balls, with many ladies, in many places, but nothing ever grows dull or routine. My feet may tire but my spirit does not. It longs to bring past into present, loving others and serving them.

When the post-ball feast is finished, and when we disperse back to our other lives and times, the joy of the dance burns within me all through the long journey back home under the starry skies, like Paul Revere making his midnight ride.

More from the merry patriots here.

One night in Richmond...
One evening of merriment...
Federals await,
But the ladies come first...

...On The Eve Of Chancellorsville...


Please also see our “Etiquette & Expectations” page as well as our "All About Us" page.




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 (representing appreciative Americans of several centuries) 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.

Fine fellowship, lively dancing and cherry punch were enjoyed by all as Americans from a number of time periods gathered to celebrate. A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the "American Belles" representing the sixteen states of Washington's presidency.

A grand time was had by all and we look forward together in eager anticipation to next year's George Washington's Birthday Ball.