Toasts to George Washington in the 18-19th Century

Researched by James R. Heintze. All rights reserved.

Editor's note: Drinking patriotic toasts on the Fourth was an important celebratory activity during the nineteenth century. This ritual was practiced by men only and typically observed at dinners following the official ceremonies of the day. Toasts were carefully prepared beforehand by a designated group, set to paper, and copies were submitted both to the celebration committee for its approval and a representative of the local newspaper for public dissemination. The readings were usually brief and some were set in verse. The range of topics for toasts was extensive and included symbolic metaphors, such as the Goddess of Liberty and eagle, dignitaries, both national and local, patriots, the nation’s charters, other countries, the military, agriculture and commerce, and partisan political perspectives. Each reading was followed by an outburst of cheering, often in multiples of three, as well as the firing of muskets and artillery, and the singing of a patriotic air associated in some way with the text of the toast. Toasts to George Washington were most popular and very rarely did a dinner pass without a sentiment offered to the patriot. Toasts to Washington following his death in 1799 were given standing, in silence, and usually a dirge was played in the background by the town’s band. “Roslin Castle” was one of the favorite tunes. Below are samples of toasts in chronological order offered in different towns. The wording is exactly as appeared in the local newspapers. For additional information on the practice of giving toasts on the Fourth, see The Fourth of July Encyclopedia (McFarland Publishers 2007).
George Washington. President of the United States of America:-May the Supreme Executive of every nation, be, like him, the friend, as well as the Magistrate of the People. Song, “God save Columbia’s son,” &c. By N. Fosdick, Esq. Eastern Herald, 6 July 1793, 3. Portland, ME

The President of the United States-May he comply with the unanimous wishes of every true friend of his country, by preventing Grenville’s late treaty from becoming the supreme law of the land. 3 cheers. Greenleaf’s New York Journal and Patriotic Register, 8 July 1795, 1. New York City.

George Washington-May his happiness in private life be proportionate to his public fame, and supereminent services rendered his country. Connecticut Journal 19 July 1797, 3. Guilford, CT

George Washington the Saviour of his country. Nine cheers. Daily Advertiser, 9 July 1798, 2. Philadelphia.

General Washington, “whose martial name fills all the trumpets and the drums of fame.” Maryland Herald and Elizabeth-Town Advertiser, 25 July 1799, 2. Walpole, NH

General Washington, and the Federal Army; May they be like the sun when it goth [sic] forth in its might. The Spectator, 17 July 1799, 3. Northampton, NY

The Spirit of Washington-May it frown indignantly on those men whose artifices tend to excite the jealousies of one portion of our country against another. The Sun [Pittsfield, Mass], 11 July 1803, 3.

Washington, Hancock and Franklin. Who ascended to heaven with the principles they had uniformly advocated on earth. American Mercury, 11 August 1803, 2. Hartford, CN.

The memory of George Washington-The Father of his country, dear to every American; let his Valedictory Address sink deep into our hearts. Dirge. American Mercury, 16 August 1804, 3. Saybrook, CT

The memory of Washington, Franklin, and other departed sages and heroes. Tune, Roslin Castle. Suffolk Gazette, 16 July 1804, 2. New London, CT

Washington-May his farewell address, with his name live forever; and may those who use his name to promote principles opposite to those he taught, be considered as political hypocrites and treated accordingly. Washington’s March. (Republican Spy, 10 July 1804, 3. West Springfield, MA

The immortal memory of Washington.-In the field he taught us to acquire liberty; in the cabinet how to preserve it; and in private life how to enjoy it. 6 guns, Music, Washington’s March. The Enquirer, 21 July 1804, 4. Halifax Court-House, VA

The memory of George Washington, Greater than Caesar-he would wear no crown, but that of the people’s love. New Hampshire Gazette, 9 July 1805, 3. Portsmouth, NH

The Memory of Washington-May our country never have to blush for his honours, by its degeneracy from his counsels. New York Gazette & General Advertiser, 11 July 1806, 2. Boston

The immortal Washington-his worth will be revered while justice remains a virtue, or patriotism an honour; but may the sanctity of his name no longer be a cloak for political hypocrisy. Political Observatory, 18 July 1806, 3. Woodstock, VT

The memory of Washington, and the remembrance of the scenes which have rendered his glory immortal-Dirge. The Democrat, 8 July 1807, 1. Boston.

The Memory of Washington-May it stimulate us to defend the Independence, he so eminently aided to obtain. Reed’s March. Newburyport Herald, 7 July 1807, 3. Newburyport.

The memory of Washington-Father of thy country! Thy children will remember thee forever. Portland Gazette and Maine Advertiser, 6 July 1807, 2. Portland, ME

The illustrious Washington-His memory commensurate with republicanism. Funeral Thought. True Republican, 8 July 1807, 3. New London, CT

The memory of the illustrious Washington-We believe in his sentiment-“United we stand, divided we fall.” American Mercury, 14 July 1808, 2. New London, CT The memories of Washington & Franklin-once associates in glory, now participants of bliss. Music. Roslin Castle. Pennsylvania Herald, and Easton Intelligencer, 12 July 1809, 2. Easton, PA

The memory of the late general George Washington the soldier, the statesman and the patriot. Pennsylvania Herald, and Easton Intelligencer, 18 July 1810, 2. Easton, PA

The memory of Washington, the great practical republican. Republicans have the best claim to the character of his disciples. They regard as traitors, those who intimate that the union is in any possible case to be abandoned; they discard geographical distinctions, despise state jealousies, execrate foreign influence, plead far the empire of the laws, and are ready, at all times, to support the government with their fortunes and with their lives. Pleyel’s Hymn Boston Patriot, 14 July 1810, 1. Yorke, ME

The memory of Washington: May his wise & magnanimous policy be as a “cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night,” to guide our rulers in the paths of prosperity and glory. Portland Gazette, and Maine Advertizer, 16 July 1810, 2. Wiscasset, ME

The memory of Washington, the great and good- ‘He was a man take him for all in all, We ne’er shall look upon his like again.’ Public Advertiser, 6 July 1811, 2. New York City

The memory of our beloved Washington-The great, the good, may his name be ever venerated as an exalted pattern of political virtue and excellence.-Drank silent and standing-Music, Roslin Castle. Public Advertiser, 9 July 1812, 2. New York City.

Our departed Washington-the pride of Columbia-his memory will be held dear while liberty holds a place on the globe-drank standing. Roslin Castle. The Columbian, 20 July 1813, 2. Pine Plains.

The memory of Washington; as a man, general and statesman, he was supereminent; such a character we delight to honor. The Reporter, 10 July 1813, 3. Brattleboro, VT

The memory of Washington. May his name no more be profaned by Hyprocrites, as that of Jesus has been by the Jesuits. (5) Essex Register, 9 July 1814, 1. Lexington, MA

The memory of the Father of our country, Gen. George Washington, great and good-1 gun, silent wave-Roslin Castle. The Centinel of Freedom, 12 July 1814, 3. Newark, NJ

The memory of Washington, whose exalted spirit “indignantly frowns on the first dawnings of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together its various parts.” American Advocate, 6 July 1814, 2. Waterville, ME

The Memory of Washington-While others have his precepts in their mouths, be it our pride as it is our duty, to emulate his example. Columbian Patriot, 6 July 1814, 3. Middlebury, VT

The departed Washington. We honor his memory, and practice his precepts, but we despise the hypocrisy of those, who, under the guise of “Washington Benevolence,” have organized a systematic opposition to his principles. Boston Patriot, 9 July 1814, 2. Scituate, MA

The memory of Washington.-His valor and skill greatly contributed to the emancipation of his country, and laid the corner stone of its happy constitution. 1 gun. Pleyel’s hymn. National Intelligencer, 6 July 1814, 3. Washington, D.C.

Washington, and his immortal host-Endless honors to all his true ‘disciples,’ whether living or dead. Solemn dirge. The Shamrock, 13 July 1816, 333. New York City.

The memory of George Washington.-His evil does not live after him-his good is not interred with his bones. Solemn Dirge and Washington’s March. National Messenger, 20 July 1818, 2. Charleston, SC

The memory of George Washington. Dead March Village Record, or Chester and Delaware Federalist, 14 July 1819, 3. Westchester, PA

The memory of Geo. Washington: the old world had produced brave generals, incorruptible patriots, profound politicians, and honest men; it remained for the new world, to give an example of all these excellencies combined, in the man whose name we venerate, and of whose services we reap the fruit. The Centinel of Freedom, 13 July 1819, 3. South Orange, NJ

Washington-The Polar Star of his country, altho’ has set, may its partial rays yet visible in the political horizon, shed a parting beam to guide us down the path of equal justice and equal liberty.-Washington’s March. The Metropolitan, 6 July 1820, 2. Georgetown, D.C.

Washington-It is the delight of gratitude to dwell on his memory, although it cannot increase his fame. Pleyel’s Hymn. Independent Chronicle and Boston Patriot, 7 July 1821, 1. Boston, MA

The Memory of Washington-“First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.”-May the mantle of Elijah ever fall upon worthy successors. Drank standing-Music-Dirge. Essex Register, 7 July 1821, 2. Salem, MA

The memory of Washington-Gratitude and fame have consecrated his example, and his precepts. Independent Chronicle & Boston Patriot, 12 July 1823, 1. Stoneham, MA.

The memory of Washington- “His deathless name shall sound, till time shall cease to be, Who broke a tyrant’s chain-who set a nation free.” -Washington’s March. Baltimore Patriot, 9 July 1824, 2. Baltimore

By Theoderick Pryor. The Father of our Country- “Sweet is the breath of vernal shower, The bees’ collected treasure sweet, Sweet music’s melting fall-but sweeter yet The still small voice of gratitude.” Richmond Enquirer, 18 July 1826, 2. Hampden, VA

The memory of Washington- “What title shall he have? Fame paused and said, not one, his name alone strikes every title dead.” Portsmouth Journal of Literature & Politics, 8 July 1826, 2. Portsmouth, NH

The Memory of Washington- “Time cannot teach forgetfulness, While grief’s full heart is fed by fame.” No gun-Washington’s March. Richmond Enquirer, 10 July 1829, 2. Petersburg, VA

By Tyler Parsons, Orator of the day. Geo. Washington. With his army he defeated the insidious designs of our open and secret enemies, he exposed the wicked and specious pretensions of those that would have opened the flood-gates to civil war, and deluged this grand republic with blood. Essex Register, 10 July 1826, 3. Manchester, MA

Gen. George Washington-the noblest champion of liberty in modern times; seldom equaled, never surpassed in magnanimity of soul. 3 cheers. Washington’s March. Baltimore Patriot, 16 July 1828, 2. Baltimore

Washington: “The Father of his Country”-the heart speaks what the tongue cannot utter. Washington’s March-2 guns. Richmond Enquirer, 10 July 1835, 2. Petersburg, VA.

This page last updated July 2009.

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