I am reading Mark Lender’s and Garry Stone’s outstanding book Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016). In 2017, the book was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.
In the authors’ discussion of Brigadier General Charles Scott’s march through Princeton on June 24, 1778, they write:
As it marched, Scott’s column found the public enthusiastic about the unfolding campaign; there was a perception that affairs were building toward a climax. As the troops passed through Princeton–a town that suffered its share of pillage in 1776 and 1777–residents gave the soldiery a warm welcome. As Private Joseph Plumb recalled, they dealt out ‘”toddy” to the men as they marched by, “which caused the detachment to move slowly at this place.” Cheerful young ladies watched “the noble exhibition of a thousand half-starved and three-quarters naked soldiers pass in review.” In this, the private’s memory lapsed a bit: the troops were actually in reasonably good condition. But he remembered the “ladies” well enough. “I declare that I never before or since saw more beauty,” he wrote. “They were all beautiful.” With sectional loyalty, the Connecticut soldier allowed that “Yankee ladies” were perhaps smarter, but he insisted that “New Jersey and Pennsylvania ladies” were “handsome, the most so of any in the United States.” We can never know if his comrades shared his infatuation, but his paean to the Princeton belles suggests that on that evening, they were as much concerned with Venus as with Mars.”
Lender and Stone source this paragraph with footnote 54. Here is what that footnote says:
J.P. Martin, Yankee Doodle, 123. Joseph Plumb Martin’s rhapsody on Jersey girls predates that of Tom Waits by two centures. And for those mystified by the reference, Tom Waits released the popular song “Jersey Girl” in 1980 on his Heartattack and Vine album; the Bruce Springsteen cover of 1981 made it even more popular. Waits was clearly of the same opinion as Private Martin.
To fellow Jersey boys Lender and Stone: Thanks for making my Saturday afternoon with that footnote!
“Down the shore everything’s all right.”
Teachers hard at work on lesson planning
Day 3 is in the books! (For posts on Day 1 and 2 click here).
We covered a lot of content today. I spent the morning lecturing on the seventeenth-century Chesapeake. After lunch, we started on the Puritans and Massachusetts Bay. Nate continues to spend the afternoons working with teachers on their colonial-era lesson plans.
Tonight we took an informal tour of Princeton’s Presbyterian Cemetery where we visited the graves of Aaron Burr Sr., Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, Samuel Finley, John Withersoon, Aaron Burr Jr., Grover Cleveland (and his daughter “Baby Ruth”), B.B. Warfield, and others. We also ran into the eminent early American religious historian Thomas Kidd. Tommy is in town leading a Witherspoon Institute seminar on religion and the founding era.
Telling the Princeton Seminar teachers about the work of Thomas Kidd
Participant Matt Lakemacher gets the award for the best tweet from the cemetery:
After the cemetery visit, several of us walked over to Morven, the eighteenth-century home of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. We also stopped at the Princeton Battle Monument.
It is these informal moments with the teachers that I enjoy most about the Princeton Seminar.
Here are some pics:
An impromptu lesson on the first six Princeton presidents
We are in Philadelphia today. Stay tuned for a report.
Here are my continued thoughts on the secondary reading I am doing for my current project on Presbyterians and the American Revolution. (For additional entries in this series click here).
In my attempts to better understand the place of the College of New Jersey in the American Revolutionary War I recently finished David Hackett Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing and William Stryker’s The Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Despite the fact that Stryker’s book is over 100 years old, I found it to be very useful. The narrative was compelling and his gathering of primary sources (mostly letters and lists of soldiers) at the end of the book saved me some time tracking them down individually.
Neither author extends his treatment of the college’s role in the battle beyond the classic institutional histories of Princeton (MacLean and Wertenbaker), but their work did provide me with some important background to the New Jersey military history of 1775-1776. I hope to have a chapter in the manuscript on Presbyterians–both ministers and laypersons–in the midst of the military conflict.