January 6, 2010
The year of their marriage was also the year of construction of what would become Washington's first official headquarters as Commander of the Continental Army. The house in Cambridge, Massachusetts was built in 1759 for John Vassall, a Loyalist and Tory, who left his home amidst the Seige of Boston. During the Seige, the Washingtons celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary in Vassall's former home with a Twelfth Night party in January 1776.
The 18th century saw Founding Fathers like Washington as epic heroes who were put on pedestals. Such was the case with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who later became the owner of the Vassall house which Washington used as his headquarters. His family later re-created the Washingtons' wedding anniversary party. Longfellow himself wrote a poem, "To a Child," which alludes to the first President and his occupancy of the home in the sixth stanza.
In 1855, Irving began publishing volumes of what he considered his master work: a full-length biography of George Washington. Its five volumes were published in four years; Irving died eight months after the final installment was published. In the book, Irving alludes to the Washington anniversary party held at what became the Longfellow House. After assuring the reader of Washington's modesty and religious piety, he notes that it was Mrs. Washington who insisted on a Twelfth Night party "in due style." The general, as Irving writes, attempted to refuse but "his objections were overcome and Twelfth-night and the wedding anniversary were duly celebrated."