One of the real pleasures of blogging is meeting like-minded people through cyberspace. Over the years I've meet a fair number of people who share my interests in cemetery and monument law and occasionally people who are related to some of my subjects -- most often Tulsa riot victims and at other times testators, judges, and orators from the old south. The furthest connection comes with a descendant of one of my favorite historical figures, Francis Daniel Pastorius (though these days I'm the one reaching out to Pastorius descendants!) One of my favorite interactions was with a descendant of two of my subjects from pre-War Alabama, who sent me portraits of them. It was really quite exciting and amazing to be able to see them and because the portraits are held by the family I'd never have been able to see them otherwise.
So ... I was very excited to get an email yesterday from Bob Tate, a collector of rare documents in New York, asking what I thought of one of his documents, which lists a series of toasts for what appear to be a July 4, 1815 celebration -- and maybe they were reused around the time of Andrew Jackson's triumphant journey through Virginia in December 1815 (less sure about this). As I've said before, toasts are a grossly under-utilized source of insight about the ideas of pre-Civil War Americans. Sort of twitter for the antebellum era. In a short compass you can learn a lot.
One of the toasts refers to Washington Academy (later Washington College, now Washington and lee university). I'm a huge fan of W&L's history -- especially the shifts in ideology that took place on that campus from the late eighteenth century to the Civil War. I'm guessing these were delivered by a Washington Academy alumnus in the presence of other alums, so perhaps in Lexington? That would make a lot of sense. And it would fit with some of the Enlightenment ideas and the broad horizons and the focus on Washington, Union, and Constitutionalism that appear in the toasts. Here they are: