July 11, 2017, Architectural Digest — Reporter Nick Mafi explains, “Liberty Hall Museum — which is located on the campus of Kean University, one of New Jersey’s largest state schools — has been going through an extensive renovation,” with the goal of recreating each era of history. Recently, the museum “discovered several cases of Madeira wine from 1796 that had been shipped from Portugal for the celebration of John Adams’ presidency.
“The renovation project, which began in late 2015, included revamping the museum’s wine cellar. That meant replacing the old wine racks and cataloging each bottle. The museum always knew they had bottles of antiquated wine in their possession, they simply never felt compelled to learn how old they were or why they had been purchased.”
“In fact, at one point the wine racks were sealed off due to the Prohibition era of the 1920s. According to an interview with NJ.com, Bill Schroh Jr., director of operations at Liberty Hall, the museum decided to fill a decanter with a sampling from one of the original casks.
“They described the taste to be similar to a sweet sherry wine. Researchers believe the wine was originally purchased in the late 18th century to celebrate the second president of the United States. The researchers came to this conclusion because of the date of the wine, coupled with the fact that Madeira was almost exclusively consumed by the elites of the day, primarily because the liquid traveled so well across the Atlantic Ocean, losing little to no flavor.”
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Image of John Adams by Mather Brown (1761–1831) – The Boston Athenaeum
More History Matters
In The News
July 3, 2017, NBC News — Reporter Michael Cottman announces: “Archaeologists have excavated an area of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello mansion that has astounded even the most experienced social scientists: The living quarters of Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman who, historians believe, gave birth to six of Jefferson’s children.”
From inside the red-dirt floored, dusty, rubble-stone room built in 1809, Gardiner Hallock, director of restoration for Jefferson’s mountaintop plantation, says: “This discovery gives us a sense of how enslaved people were living. Some of Sally’s children may have been born in this room. It’s important because it shows Sally as a human being — a mother, daughter, and sister — and brings out the relationships in her life.”
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“Washington: A History of Our National City”
By Tom Lewis
560 pp., Basic Books
Reviewed by Dr. Márcia Balisciano
Founding Director, Benjamin Franklin House, London
In Tom Lewis’ immaculately researched history, “Washington: A History of Our National City,” we get a chronology of the people, political wrangling, and racial injustice marking the creation and evolution of Washington, DC.
Lewis relates that the idea that a national capital should arise at the junction of the Colonial North and South was not a fait accompli. It was the fruit of bargaining between those like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson — who wanted a southerly seat of national government — and Alexander Hamilton, who desired a U.S. Treasury and congressional assumption of Revolutionary War debt as a way of ensuring the political and economic survival of the new nation.