George Washington – Master of the Dance

The following post originally appeared on an English Country Dance blog that I used to write for.  Please enjoy this “different” view of George Washington as you celebrate President’s Day .


George Washington Looking out of a window


Barely a month before his death, George Washington penned the following letter.

Mount Vernon

12th November, 1799.

 Gentlemen—Mrs. Washington and myself have been honored with your polite invitation to the assemblies in Alexandria this winter, and thank you for this mark of your attention. But, alas! our  dancing days are no more. We wish, however, all those who have a relish for so agreeable and innocent an amusement all the pleasure the season will afford them; and I am, gentlemen,

Your most obedient and obliged humble servant,

Geo. Washington (Custis, p. 366)

Our first President, known today mostly for his military and political accomplishments, was known throughout his lifetime for his accomplishments on the dance floor. The private assembly, the public ball, and the afternoon dancing party served the same role for Washington and his generation that cocktail parties, golf outings  and country clubs serve today—venues to bring the political leaders, financiers, military leaders and power brokers together under favorable and visible conditions. Continue reading