United States and American History: 1797

About the history of the United States in 1797, Washington's dinner recipes, John Adams as second President, the XYZ affair, yellow fever and American politics.


-In retirement, General Washington dined well. One of his favorite dinner menus: cream of peanut soup; Smithfield ham with oyster sauce; mashed sweet potatoes with coconut; string beans with mushrooms; Southern spoon bread; Virginia whiskey cake. Wife Martha had the recipe for the Virginia whiskey cake:

To make a great cake

Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth then work 4 lbs. of butter to a cream and put the whites of eggs to it a spoon full at a time till it is well worked then put in the youlks [sic] of eggs and 5 lbs. of flower [sic] and 5 lbs. of fruit. 2 hours will bake it add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg half a pint of wine and some fresh brandy.

This was wrote [sic] by Martha Curtis for her Grandmama.

-At a meeting of the American Philosophical Society, Benjamin Rush argued that black skin color was a disease like leprosy. His main evidence was a Virginia slave, Henry Moss, whose skin lightened after he moved to the North.

Mar. 4 John Adams was inaugurated as 2nd President. He was the 1st Chief Executive to live in the White House. Vigorous in demanding American independence, he nevertheless managed to preserve neutrality. Adams lived longer than any other President-91 years.

May 31 The XYZ affair: President Adams sent Charles Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry to negotiate a treaty with France. The 3-man commission was met by 3 "go-betweens" of the French Government, who demanded a loan and bribes before their leaders would begin talks. Incensed and insulted, the Americans broke off negotiations and returned home. When Adams reported the matter to Congress, he did not name the agents (Hottinguer, Bellamy, and Hauteval) but referred to them as X, Y, and Z. The incident gave rise to the slogan, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute," which was 1st used by Robert Goodloe Harper as a toast at a banquet in Philadelphia on June 18, 1798.

Oct. A reoccurrence of yellow fever drove many wealthy Philadelphians out of the city and allowed tavern keeper Israel Israel, a champion of the poor, to be elected to the State legislature. Horrified, the State senate declared the election illegal on the grounds that a large number of Israel's supporters had not taken an oath of allegiance. The new election on February 22 found Israel the loser.

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