Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

The Adams Papers


ix Descriptive List of Illustrations [Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]
Descriptive List of Illustrations
1. Mary Rutledge Smith, by George Romney, 1786 14[unavailable]
Mary Rutledge (1747–1832), the younger daughter of Dr. John Rutledge and Sarah Hext, married Charleston merchant Roger Moore Smith (1745–1805) in 1768. Mary's brothers John and Edward represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress and both later served as governor of that state. Roger, himself from a prominent mercantile family, made his early fortune in the slave trade. Their marriage produced thirteen children, only seven of whom survived infancy (South Carolina Genealogies: Articles from the South Carolina Historical (and Genealogical) Magazine, 5 vols., Spartanburg, S.C., 1983, 4:10–11, 132; DAB ; N. Louise Bailey and others, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 1776–1985, 3 vols., Columbia, S.C., 1986, 3:1507–1508).
Mary traveled to London in 1785 so her children could receive the benefits of an English education. In 1786, she posed for a full-length portrait with her infant son Edward Nutt Smith (1785–1786) at the London studio of George Romney (1734–1802), a renowned English portrait painter. Members of elite society sought after Romney's refined and elegant artistic style, and at twenty guineas for a three-quarter length portrait, he charged considerably less than other well-known portrait artists. Romney became known for his portraits of families and children, and the depiction of Mary and her son captures the maternal bond as well as Mary's noted beauty. The artist also exhibits his technical skill in the rendering of varied surface textures, including the satin of Mary's dress, her elegantly coiffed hair, and the fine detail of the lace. The baby is posed with a piece of fruit, typically a symbol of life and vitality; sadly, he died not long after the completion of the painting (Maurie D. McInnis, ed., In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740–1860, Columbia, S.C., 1999, p. 132; Grove Dicy. of Art ).
Courtesy of the Historic Charleston Foundation.
2. Peacefield, by E. Malcom, 1798 90 [page] [image]
“We have come into a house not half repaired, and I own myself most sadly disappointed,” Abigail Adams wrote to her daughter in July 1788. “In height and breadth, it feels like a wren's house. Ever since I came, we have had such a swarm of carpenters, masons, farmers, as have almost distracted me—every thing all at once, with miserable assistance” (to AA2, 7 July 1788, below).
The house that would become John and Abigail's permanent residence was built about 1731 by Maj. Leonard Vassall (1678–1737), a West Indies sugar planter, who willed the property to his daughter xAnna Vassall Borland and her husband John Borland (1728–1775). After her husband's death, the loyalist Anna Borland fled to England, but her family reclaimed the house following the war. Royall Tyler then bought the property, perhaps with plans to make it a home for himself and Abigail Adams 2d, but he defaulted when Nabby broke off their engagement and his relationship with the Adamses soured. In September 1787, Cotton Tufts negotiated the purchase of the house and 83 acres for John and Abigail (vol. 3:264–266; Charles E. Peterson, The Adams Mansion, Quincy, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, 1963, p. 9–20).
Despite Abigail's initial disappointment about the state of the property, she and John grew to love the house. John wrote in his Diary on 8 September 1796: “I think to christen my Place by the Name of Peace field, in commemoration of the Peace which I assisted in making in 1783, of the thirteen Years Peace and Neutrality which I have contributed to preserve, and of the constant Peace and Tranquility which I have enjoyed in this Residence.” The name would be supplanted later by “Montezillo,” or “Little Hill,” a self-deprecating allusion to Jefferson's Monticello. The most enduring name for the Adams family residence has simply been “the Old House” (JA, D&A, 1:74–75, 3:247–248).
The earliest known depiction of the house is this 1798 wash drawing by E. Malcom of New York. Nothing more is known of the artist. The building shown to the rear is an older farmhouse fitted out as a wood house with three arched doorways, a structure that no longer exists. The property is now owned by the U.S. National Park Service, which has operated the Adams National Historical Park as a museum since 1946 (Wilhelmina S. Harris, Furnishings Report of the Old House, The Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Massachusetts, 10 vols., Quincy, 1966–1974, 2:177, 9:822–823).
Courtesy of the Adams National Historical Park.
3. Quincy Coat of Arms, by Eliza Susan Quincy, 1822 154 [page] [image]
A visit to Winchester, England, in the summer of 1787 prompted Abigail Adams to contemplate her Quincy roots in a letter home to her sister. Abigail reported that a Saer de Quincy, 1st Earl of Winchester (d. 1219), was one of the Magna Carta barons and might be a forebear: “They bear the same Arms with those of our Ancesters except that ours Substituded an animal for the crest in lieu, of an Earls coronet. . . . You will Smile at my Zeal, perhaps on this occasion, but can it be wonderd at, that I should wish to Trace an Ancesstor amongst the Signers of Magna Carta” (to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 Sept. [1787], below; DNB ).
Abigail's hope proved unfounded; rather, the American Quincy family probably descends from William Quincy of Aldwynkle, Northampton (ca. 1485–1550). Nonetheless, Abigail's American ancestors did use the Earl of Winchester's coat of arms. In the eighteenth century, Judge Edmund Quincy (1681–1738) installed an engraved stone on the family plot in the Braintree burial ground that bore the coat of arms of Saer de Quincy's son. The memorial xiwas broken during the Revolution and removed entirely in 1812 (George Bellew, “English Ancestry of the Quincy Family,” NEHGR , 92:30–31 [Jan. 1938]).
In 1822, the stone was reassembled and sketched by descendant Eliza Susan Quincy (1798–1884), a fourth cousin of John Quincy Adams and his siblings. Quincy was an historian, artist, and ardent protector of the family name. An obituary lauded “her intense interest in the historical past of her native New England, and of the family of which she was a member, her wonderfully retentive memory, her thorough knowledge of facts and dates, her indomitable perseverance and self-renouncing devotion” ( NEHGR , 38:145–146 [April 1884]; MHi:Quincy Family Papers).
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
4. Advertisement for Sayer's Bathing Machine, 1791 157[unavailable]
The burgeoning eighteenth-century trend in therapeutic and recreational sea bathing required a bathing machine—a small, horse-drawn vehicle with two doors. The bather would enter at one end, change into bathing clothes, and be carried down to the sea to step out into the water through the other door. Benjamin Beale, a Quaker, was credited with inventing the bathing machine at Margate in 1750. By 1780, twenty bathing machines were registered at Margate with double that number by 1800. The use of bathing machines persisted at some English resorts into the early twentieth century with very little change to the original design.
The 1791 trade card for the Sayer bathing machines and seaside lodgings advertises, “For Bathing in the Sea at Margate, John & Mercy Sayer late Partners with Mr. Beale have good accommodations for Bathing, Where Favours confer'd on them will be gratefully acknowledg'd Mr. Sayer will attend ye Gentlemen & Mrs. Sayer ye Ladies as usual NB: By ye Favour of a Letter Lodgings & Stabling will be Provided.” Like John and Mercy Sayer, local families offered lodgings for rent and advertised their services as bathing “guides.”
The bathing machine depicted in Sayer's advertisement returning to the bathing house could transport five to six people and a guide. Decency required that the bathers be submerged in a proper depth of water and shielded from public view by a tent on the back of each machine. Strictly enforced rules for the use of bathing machines separated male and female swimmers from each other by at least 60 feet, and all were expected to dress in heavy cloaks.
Abigail “tried the experiment” of sea bathing while in Southampton, England, and reported to her sister, “the places are under cover, you have a woman for a Guide, a small dressing room to yourself an oil cloth cap, a flannel Gown and socks for the feet.” Quite taken with the experience, Abigail lamented that “such conveniencys” were not available in Massachusetts' coastal towns (to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 Sept. [1787], below). Many years later, John Quincy Adams also developed a fondness for the water, but foregoing such modesty, he sometimes swam in the nude (Martin xiiStanton, “Sea Bathing at Margate,” History Today, 33:21–23 [July 1983]; John K. Walton, The English Seaside Resort: A Social History 1750–1914, N.Y., 1983, p. 159, 182; Lynn Hudson Parsons, John Quincy Adams, Madison, Wis., 1998, p. 154, 177, 266).
Courtesy of the Balnea Museum, Rimini, Italy.
5. “A North View of Blenheim House And Park in the County of Oxford,” by John Boydell, 1752 181[unavailable]
When Abigail Adams visited Blenheim Castle in Oxford County, England, in the summer of 1787, she wrote six pages of superlatives about it to her niece Lucy Cranch: “This Castle is upon the Grandest scale of any thing I have ever yet seen. We enter the park through a spacious and elegant portal of the Corinthian order, from whence a Noble prospect is opend to the palace, the Bridge the Lake, with its valley, and other beautifull Scenes.” She could not say enough about its decorations and furnishings, paintings and sculpture, vistas and gardens—and its romantic history (3 Oct. 1787, below). Built over two decades beginning in 1705 on land gifted to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, by the British government, Blenheim was in the eighteenth century and is still today one of the most spectacular estates in England.
In the foreground of this illustration is the Doric “Column of Victory,” which Henry Herbert, 9th Earl of Pembroke, and Roger Morris designed and built between 1727 and 1730. Standing 130 feet tall, the column is crowned by a statue of the Duke of Marlborough done by Robert Pit. Henry St. John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, wrote the inscription on the base (after Alexander Pope refused the work), which tells of the duke's victory at the Battle of Blenheim.
John Boydell (1719–1804) began his career as an engraver of landscapes, of which this image is a typical example. He also worked as a printer and publisher, through which he amassed a considerable fortune. His most noteworthy undertaking was the publication of a series of prints illustrating Shakespeare's plays, based on original pieces by English artists, a project designed to promote British art abroad (Christopher Hibbert, The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill, 1650–1744, N.Y., 2001, p. 162, 170–171, 340–341; DNB ).
Courtesy of the British Library.
6. “A View of the Tryal of Warren Hastings Esqr.,” by Robert Pollard and Francis Jukes, 1789 237[unavailable]
The corruption trial of Warren Hastings, the first governor-general of India, began on 13 February 1788 and was the subject of intense interest in London. Multitudes attended the hearings in Westminster Hall, including Abigail Adams. “There is at present sitting here one of the most august Assemblies that this country can convene,” she wrote to Cotton Tufts on 20 February. “The House of commons the House of Lord's the Bishops the judges &C all convened in xiiiwestmister Hall for the Trial of Warren Hastings. about Two thousand persons half of whom are Ladies, attend this trial every day. it is opened with the utmost order & continued with the greatest regularity, & no person admitted to it, but with Tickets which are not very easily procured. as a Foreign ministers Lady I have had a Seat in the Box appropriated for them, and have had the pleasure of hearing mr Burk speak 3 hours” (below).
The London Times of the same day confirmed that tickets were highly prized. “Before eleven, not a seat was to be obtained,” the newspaper reported. “The box allotted for the Royal Family, and the Prince of Wales's Box, were both full at a very early hour,—each, from the first Peeress in the realm, to the lowest rank of individuals, equally anxious to hear the oratory of the Speaker, and the fate of the decision.”
Warren Hastings (1732–1818) went to India as a merchant in 1750. Working his way through the ranks of the colonial government, he was appointed its first governor-general. After twelve years of service, he left the post in 1785 and retired to England, but he soon faced corruption and bribery charges initiated by a bitter political rival, Philip Francis, whom Hastings had wounded in a duel in 1780. Francis' cause was championed by Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox and resulted in Hastings' impeachment. Although Abigail judged Hastings guilty, after a protracted trial of seven years' duration, he was acquitted of all charges on 23 April 1795 ( DNB ; Jeremy Bernstein, Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings, Chicago, 2000, p. 39, 82, 158–161, 165, 177, 263–264).
This engraving by Robert Pollard (ca. 1755–1838) depicts the trial in session on 13 February 1788 but was issued a year later. Pollard had been engraving since 1771 and often employed Francis Jukes (1745–1812) to aquatint his prints. The Hastings trial print is based on a drawing by Edward Dayes (1763–1804), a Royal Academy artist who favored classical and Biblical scenes but also created topographical and scenic work for the London market (Grove Dicy. of Art ).
Courtesy of the British Library.
7. Mrs. Henry Knox, ca. 1790 264 [page] [image]
Lucy Flucker (1756–1824), daughter of Thomas Flucker, royal secretary of Massachusetts, first encountered the future general Henry Knox when she frequented his Boston bookstore prior to the Revolution. “A young lady of high intellectual endowments, very fond of books, and especially the books sold by Knox,” Lucy fell in love. She and Henry married in 1774 against her family's wishes; Thomas Flucker, a tory, disapproved of his son-in-law's patriot leanings. By all accounts, the Knoxes had a happy marriage, despite hardships and lengthy separations during the Revolutionary War. Later, they were considered one of the leading couples in the new government and their home a social center. Together, they had twelve children, though only three survived to adulthood.
This amateur painted silhouette is attributed to one of the sons of Robert Morris, the financier, and was done in Philadelphia around 1790—at the same time Henry Knox was serving as secretary of war. While obviously a caricature, this illustration does demonstrate two of Lucy Knox's most commonly noted features: her girth and her hair. Abigail Adams Smith remarked to her mother in mid-1788 that “Mrs. Knox is much altered from the character she used to have. She is neat in her dress, attentive to her family, and very fond of her children. But her size is enormous; I am frightened when I look at her; I verily believe that her waist is as large as three of yours, at least” (15 June 1788, below). Likewise, Manasseh Cutler commented in his journal: “Mrs. Knox is very gross, but her manners are easy and agreeable. She is sociable, and would be agreeable, were it not for her affected singularity in dressing her hair. She seems to mimic the military style, which to me is very disgusting in a female. Her hair in front is craped at least a foot high, much in the form of a churn bottom upward, and topped off with a wire skeleton in the same form, covered with black gauze, which hangs in streamers down to her back.” Nonetheless, given her genial nature, Lucy Knox probably enjoyed this gently mocking representation (Francis S. Drake, Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox, Boston, 1873, p. 16–17, 63, 66, 101–102, 111, 118, 125–126).
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
8. The Needles, Isle of Wight, by William Westall, ca. 1835 268[unavailable]
The Needles, located on the far western tip of the Isle of Wight, are a geological formation of three 100-foot tall white pointed rocks. An awe-inspiring sight, the Needles mark a notoriously hazardous passage of choppy seas and jagged rocks. The American minister plenipotentiary Richard Rush marveled at the spectacle during his passage in 1817 and noted, “the most exact steering seemed necessary to save the ship from the sharp rocks that compress the waters into the narrow strait below” (Richard Rush, Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London, Phila., 1833, p. 27–28). A lighthouse, constructed high on a rocky bluff, guided the passage of John and Abigail Adams around the Needles in 1788 on their journey home to Massachusetts.
This watercolor by William Westall (1781–1850), dated around 1835, captures the sublime rocky coastline, with crashing waves in the foreground and a horizon dominated by the Needles' craggy chalk stacks. Westall's interest in topographical views inspired the subject matter of most of his works, and the Needles provided the artist with a unique opportunity to capture an evolving landscape. A solitary pillar of rock, known as Lot's Wife, once dominated the center of the formation but tumbled down in 1764; further erosion reduced a stratified archway to the small column and first rock on the left of the painting (William Henry Davenport Adams, The Isle of Wight: Its History, Topography, and Antiquities, London, 1882, p. 232–234).
Benjamin West recommended the eighteen-year-old Westall to serve as the landscape artist for an expedition to Australia commanded by Matthew Flinders, thus launching Westall's art career. His drawings from this voyage and subsequent trips to China and India were exhibited in England, and in 1812, Westall was inducted as an associate of the Royal Academy ( DNB ).
Courtesy of a private collection.
9. “Federal Hall, the Seat of Congress,” by Amos Doolittle, 1790 342[unavailable]
On 30 April 1789, “the Great and illustrious Washington, the favourite son of liberty, and deliverer of his country, entered upon the execution of the office of First Magistrate of the United States of America.” This first presidential inauguration marked the formal beginning of the U.S. government under the new Constitution. In a carefully staged ceremony, George Washington, accompanied by John Adams and numerous senators and representatives, stood on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City to take the oath of office as given by Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of the State of New York. The decision was made to have the ceremony on the balcony “to the end that the oath of office may be administered to the President in the most public manner, and that the greatest number of the people of the United States, and without distinction, may be witnesses to the solemnity.” After the ceremony and a speech by Washington, the entire party adjourned to St. Paul's Chapel for a service conducted by the chaplain of Congress (New York Daily Gazette, 1 May 1789).
This printed engraving by Amos Doolittle, issued in 1790 after a painting by Peter Lacour, is the only known contemporary rendering of this momentous occasion. Doolittle (1754–1832) was a self-taught engraver from New Haven, Connecticut, who produced portraits, maps, book illustrations, and, most notably, a collection of four pieces on the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Lacour was probably Pierre Lacour (1745–1814), a French painter and director of the Academy of Bordeaux who was best known for his historical and religious works. His original sketch or painting is apparently not extant ( DAB ; Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan , 3:537–539; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ).
Courtesy of the I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library.
10. Richmond Hill, by Cornelius Tiebout, 1790 352[unavailable]
In May 1789, John Adams rented the house known as Richmond Hill to serve as his residence in New York City while vice president. Located on the west side of New York facing the Hudson River in what is now Greenwich Village, it had previously been used as George Washington's headquarters early in the Revolutionary War. In later years, Aaron Burr and John Jacob Astor both owned the xvihome for a time. After being moved, then converted to a theater, it was demolished in 1849 (Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan, 1:416–417).
As soon as John moved in, he encouraged Abigail to come along with their son Charles, and also invited Abigail 2d, William Stephens Smith, and their two children—William Steuben and John Adams Smith—to join them. Niece Louisa Smith arrived with Abigail in late June.
Abigail was enamored of the home as soon as she saw it, particularly loving its rural setting. She wrote to her sister Mary Cranch, “The House is situated upon a high Hill which commands a most extensive prospect, on one side we have a view of the city & of Long Island, the River in Front, Jersy and the adjasant Country on the other side, you Turn a litle from the Road and enter a Gate a winding Road with trees in clumps leads you to the House, and all round the House, it looks wild and Rural as uncultivated Nature” (12 July 1789, below). A contemporary account agreed with her assessment: “It is beautifully situated, near the city of New-York, on the Banks of the Hudson. . . . The venerable oaks, and broken ground, covered with wild shrubs, give it a very romantic air” (New York Magazine, June 1790, p. 317).
This illustration by Cornelius Tiebout (1777–1832), a young New York engraver, was originally published in the New York Magazine in June 1790. Abigail was not entirely pleased with the rendering, believing that “the great Beauty could not be taken upon so small a scale. . . . How I regret the thoughts of quitting it” ( AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 4 July 1790, AA, New Letters, p. 54; DAB ).
Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.
11. “The Washington Family,” by Edward Savage, 1789–1796 381[unavailable]
In 1789, two of Martha Washington's grandchildren accompanied her to New York: Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis (1779–1852) and George Washington Parke Custis (1781–1857). Her two other grandchildren, Elizabeth and Martha Custis, remained in Virginia. All four were the children of Martha Washington's son by her first marriage, John Parke Custis, and his wife Eleanor Calvert Custis (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, 1:4–5).
The Washington Family, by Edward Savage, depicts a life-sized George and Martha Washington, along with their two grandchildren, Nelly and George Washington Parke, and a family slave, Billy Lee. Savage (1761–1817) was a respected engraver, painter, and museum proprietor. He initially composed individual portraits of the children in New York in 1789, then combined them with bust portraits of George and Martha Washington to create the family composition in Philadelphia in 1796. The face of each figure is carefully detailed, but the composite nature of the painting results in the family's lack of eye contact. Savage's technical skills as an engraver were superior to his brushwork as a painter; consequently, his figures appear slightly wooden.
Abigail Adams noted that “mrs Washington is a most frindly good Lady, always pleasent and easy doatingly fond of her Grandchildren to whom she is quite the Grandmamma” (to Mary Smith Cranch, 11 Oct. 1789, below). While the inclusion of the children in the portrait certainly suggests the closeness of the family that Abigail observed, only minimal interaction takes place between the figures. Martha Washington holds a corner of a plan for the new capital city while her granddaughter unrolls the opposite edge. George Washington sits across from her with his sword and hat close by; his grandson rests his hand atop a globe. In this way, the Washingtons play the dual role of devoted parents to their adopted children and their country.
Although Savage completed other portraits of George Washington, this family painting is his best-known work and was widely distributed as an engraving. A 17 March 1798 advertisement in the Gazette of the United States offered “an elegant Engraving” depicting “General Washington and his Lady (two capital likenesses) sitting at a table on which lies a plan of the Federal City” (Edward Savage, Exhibition of the Important Oil Painting, Washington and His Family, N.Y., 1892, p. 24–27; Grove Dicy. of Art ; MHS, Procs. , 19:9–11 [Jan. 1905]).
Courtesy of Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
12. “The Republican Court (Lady Washington's Reception day),” by Daniel Huntington, 1861–1865 398[unavailable]
Throughout her husband's presidency, Martha Washington opened her home to polite society for Friday evening levees. While primarily a gathering for ladies, the president frequently appeared at these events and conversed freely with the women in attendance. Abigail Adams characterized the nature of the receptions in a 1791 letter to Cotton Tufts: “On fryday Evenings mrs washington has a drawing Room which is usually very full of the well Born and well Bred. Some times it is as full as her Britanick majesties Room, & with quite as Handsome Ladies, and as polite courtiers” (6 Feb. [1791 ], Adams Papers). Abigail hosted levees of her own once a week, and while an invitation was not required to attend, it was understood that only members of the social elite were welcome ( AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 9 Aug. 1789, below).
Created during a four-year period between 1861 and 1865 in the midst of the Civil War, The Republican Court (Lady Washington's Reception Day) celebrated an earlier period of American unity. Daniel Huntington (1816–1906), an internationally known artist, had exhibited at major art institutions in the United States and at the Royal Academy in London and made a lasting contribution to the art world as a founder and vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For The Republican Court, he combined his interests in portraiture and history painting; the image includes 64 individual portraits of Revolutionary era political figures and their xviiiwives. As a tribute to early national high society, the belles of the republican court—including the alluring Anne Bingham and Sarah Livingston Jay, both friends of Abigail's—occupy the very center of the painting, while other politically influential figures from this era are relegated to the outer edges of the crowd. All are present to pay their regards to Martha Washington on her raised dais, including Abigail Adams on the far left and John Adams shown fourth from the left. Given Huntington's desire to pay tribute to an era, rather than a specific event, some of his guests at the reception are anachronistic, including Nathanael Greene and Arthur Middleton, both of whom died before Washington took office (Karal Ann Marling, George Washington Slept Here: Colonial Revivals and American Culture, 1876–1986, Cambridge, 1988, p. 47, 49; Grove Dicy. of Art ; Description of Mr. Huntington's Picture of Lady Washington's Reception Day, N.Y., n.d., p. 2).
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.
13. Park Row and St. Paul's Chapel, New York, by Charles Milbourne, 1798 415[unavailable]
“I have sometimes gone to St Pauls,” Abigail Adams wrote to Mary Cranch in October 1789, three months after moving to New York. “There I find much more liberal discourses, but bred a desenter and approveing that mode of worship, I feel a reluctance at changing.” She attended the Episcopal St. Paul's Chapel after tiring of the sermons of substitute preachers at the Presbyterian Church of New York. “They address their Audience with so much self importance, and Priestly despotisim, that I am really surprizd at their having any men of sense and abilities for their hearers” (4 Oct. 1789, below).
At St. Paul's, Abigail likely heard the sermons of Bishop Samuel Provoost (1742–1815). Provoost was appointed assistant minister of New York's Trinity Church in 1766, but he resigned in 1771 when his patriotic sermons raised the ire of loyalist members. After the evacuation of the British from New York, he returned to the city and his former parish. Trinity Church had burned in 1776, so Provoost was appointed to officiate at its ancillary St. Paul's and St. George's chapels. In 1786, he was elected the first Episcopal bishop of New York. On 30 April 1789, Provoost conducted services at St. Paul's in celebration of George Washington's inauguration ( DAB ).
Local stone was used to construct St. Paul's Chapel between 1764 and 1766. Manhattan's third Episcopal church building is traditionally attributed to Scottish architect Thomas McBean and resembles St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square, the masterpiece of McBean's mentor James Gibbs. St. Paul's tower was designed by James C. Lawrence and added in 1794, and so was not present when Abigail Adams attended. Today St. Paul's is Manhattan's oldest surviving church (having narrowly escaped destruction on 11 September 2001 when the neighboring World Trade Center collapsed around it) and is considered one of the nation's finest examples of Georgian architecture (Morgan Dix, Historical xixRecollections of S. Paul's Chapel, New York, N.Y., 1867, p. 25–26; Andrew S. Dolkart and Matthew A. Postal, Guide to New York City Landmarks, 3d rev. edn., Hoboken, N.J., 2004, p. 23–24).
Charles Milbourne painted this watercolor of St. Paul's in 1798. He emigrated from London in 1792 and worked as a theater-scene painter and landscape artist in Philadelphia and New York until 1816. In April 1794 New York Magazine lauded Milbourne's work: “The paintings and scenery are equal to the generality of the European, and do the greatest credit to the pencil and genius of Mr. Milbourne” (Martin P. Snyder, City of Independence: Views of Philadelphia before 1800, N.Y., 1975, p. 194–196; William Young, ed. and comp., A Dictionary of American Artists, Sculptors and Engravers, Cambridge, 1968).
Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.