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The traveler today may see the house where Washington dined in Ipswich, at the foot of the green, it being the last house on the right.
It is no longer an inn, and has been altered out of all resemblance to its former self, and is so deeply embowered in trees as to defy the casual photographer.
Washington halted three hours in Ipswich, then took the road for Newburyport, twelve miles away. At Rowley, four miles from Ipswich the curving highway gave him, as it gives the traveler today, his first glimpse of the salt marshes, that here lie back of the sandy coastline. In the deep brown of Autumn, they must have pleased the eye of the first President, with their smooth stretches and their many hay cocks, and doubtless their pungent breath was as grateful to his nostrils as to those of the twentieth century traveler.
THROUGH OLD NEWBURY
Thence on, through woods, the road winds away from the marshes only to meet them again a mile beyond, and travel by a dike across their level surface.
Then it tops a hill, and presently dips to the Parker River, whose swift tides are crossed by a bridge, and were in Washington's day. On the far side the road is in old Newbury, the parent town of those parts. Its high, rough Common and numerous square old houses give it an ancient Colonial aspect, while a marker by the edge of the road serves to fix in the mind of the stranger the significance of the town's history in New England's development.
A bronze ship, of Pilgrim and Puritan times, surmounts the granite shaft, and beneath it is a tablet, lettered thus:
LANDING PLACE AT PARKER RIVER
To the Men and Women
From 1635 to 1650
Its municipal social and religious life
This monument is dedicated
A little beyond this spot Washington met an escort of militia, citizens and singers who had come out from Newburyport to greet him, and was halted while an address was made to him and an ode was sung. He had left his carriage at the "upper green"—that of Newbury—and was mounted on the white horse taken on the journey for such purposes.
The scene of this reception was at the corner of South (now Bromfield) street and High street by which latter thoroughfare Washington entered the town of Newburyport) about 4 p. m. being received he wrote in his diary, "with much respect and parade."
GREETINGS OF NEWBURYPORT
Newburyport indeed put its best foot forward in its welcome to Washington. Its people were proud of their town, of its prosperity and it s connection with the sea trade, and wished to impress the President with its importance.
People flocked to the town, from the country round, and were received with a generous hospitality, for we read in an account of the day that "all who came into town, man and beast, were provided gratis.”
Among the residents privileged to meet Washington personally was a youth destined to be numbered among his successors in the Presidential office. This was John Quincy Adams, who was then a law student in the office of Theophilus Parsons. In his capacity as clerk to the famous lawyer, John Quincy Adams had part in drafting the town's address of welcome to Washington. Mr. Parsons was selected to draft the address, but, according to a letter written by Mr. Adams a few days after the event, "his indolence was accommodated by shifting part of the burden upon his clerk."
How much part the clerk had in shaping the address is not known today. Many writers have credited him with being its author. The address was written in the most approved style of the day, concluding with these words: "Long, Sir, may you continue the ornament and support of these States, and may the period be late when you shall be called to receive a reward adequate to your virtues, which it is not in the power of your country to bestow."
Washington evidently was not ill-pleased with his reception at Newburyport, for he made full notes of its features-which included "rockets and some other fireworks" that evening. He also noted that
"this place is pleasantly situated on the Merrimack River and appears to have carried on (here and above) the shipbuilding business to a great extent. The number of souls is estimated at 5000.'
WHERE WASHINGTON LODGED
Washington's lodgings at Newburyport were in the largest mansion in town, the former home of Nathaniel Tracy, a ship owner and merchant who had suffered much loss in the Revolution, and shortly before Washington's visit had retired to his farm near Newburyport. In the course of the Revolution he owned, wholly or in part, one hundred and ten vessels, losing by the fortune of war all but thirteen.
Mr. Tracy counted among his friends some of the best-known Amercans of the day, and it was said of him that at the height of his prosperity he could travel from Newburyport to Virginia and sleep in a house owned by himself each night on the journey.
The Newburyport home of this interesting man had been built on a grand scale. It was owned at the time of Washington's visit by Jonathan Jackson, the United States Marshal for the district, who was Tracy's brother-in-law. Marshal Jackson was officially in charge of Washington's tour in that part of the country, and owning this fine house, had fitted up its chief rooms for the President's occupancy.
The house stands today, and is used as the Public Library of Newburyport, but it has been enlarged and so much changed that it bears little resemblance to a mansion of the revolutionary period. The room in which Washington held a reception is preserved, however, in its original condition and is shown to visitors on request to the librarian.
HE KNEW "MAJ WASHINGTON"
Diagonally across the street from the public library is a house that also sheltered Washington. It is today a fine example of the mansions of the period. This was the home of Tristram Dalton, United States Senator, who, on the morning following the President's arrival at Newburyport, entertained the distinguished traveler at breakfast, with a numerous company, including young John Quincy Adams. The house is now the home of a club.
An interesting anecdote is preserved of Washington's presence in this house. While at breakfast his attention was attracted by a dis
turbance in the hall. A servant explained to Washington's host that it was caused by a man who insisted on seeing Washington.
Washington said he would see the man, and stepped into the hall, accompanied by Rev. John Murray, a local clergyman.
The President's visitor was a shabby old man known locally as "Col. Cotton". "God bless you, Maj. Washington!" was his greeting to the President.
Washington recognized the man as one of his military servants in the French war, whom he had not seen in thirty years. He rewarded his humble follower with a gold coin. It is told in Newburyport that the old man bored the coin and wore it about his neck until poverty compelled him to part with it.
ACROSS THE SALISBURY FERRY
Breakfast over, Washington resumed his journey. The Merrimac was not bridged in its lower reaches in those times, and, in Washington's words, "to avoid a wider ferry, more inconvenient boats and a piece of heavy sand, we crossed the river at Salisbury, two miles above."
The traveler following in Washington's path will find the site of the old ferry above the Chain Bridge, the landing on the farther shore being in the old Salisbury Point neighborhood of Amesbury.
We read that he was ferried across in state, for the Marine Society of Newburyport had prepared for his use "an elegant barge, covered with rich carpets and having a canopy over the stern, rowed by four young men in uniform, a member of the Society acting as Coxswain."
It is a pleasant glimpse of the onetime importance of this neighborhood in shipbuilding that we get from a note on Washington's crossing of the river here, that Autumn morning one hundred and twenty-six years ago.
We learn that "as the President crossed the ferry he was saluted from a ship on the stocks, just ready for launching, which was gayly dressed for the occasion."
In another account we find that the ship was being built for "Capt. Joseph A. de Murrietta of Teneriffe," who fired for Washington "the salute of the Nations, 21 guns.
This attention evidently pleased Washington, since the reporter comments on the President's "well-known politeness to foreigners, which he repeated on this occasion."
Motoring across the Chain Bridge and through the fine old riverside street to the ancient ferry landing, one gets today a hint of the persistence with which even a declining industry clings to its early habitat, for a pleasant sound of hammering comes from boat shops along the river bank, and beside one shop is to be seen a number of new motor boats, ready for launching. It is a far cry from ships for Teneriffe to motor boats; yet the old "art and mystery" of shipbuilding is in both, and the boat builders of these parts today are justly celebrated for their good work.
Turning at right angles from the river near the ferry, Washington took the highway that was to lead him through the Hamptons to Portsmouth. Though no longer as important a road as in the days of the old ferry, it yet is a good highway.
Three miles from the river is the State line, where New Hampshire's State officials were on hand to greet Washington. It is in a quiet and pleasant rural neighborhood in the town of Seabrook. Here, the President wrote, "I took leave of Mr. Dalton and many other private gentlemen who accompanied me, also of Gen. (Jonathan) Titcomb, who had met me on the line between Middlesex and Essex Counties; Corps of light Horse and many officers of Militia, and was rec'd by the President of the State of New Hampshire, the vice President, some of the Council Messrs Langdon and Wingate of the Senate, Col. Parker, (U. S.) Marshall of the State, and many other respectable characters; besides several Troops of well cloathed Horse in handsome Uniforms, and many officers of the Militia in handsome Uniforms (white and red); uniforms of the Manufacture of the State."
The "President" of the State of New Hampshire—the title "Governor" was not adopted until some years later-was no stranger to Washington, being none other than General John Sullivan, of Revolutionary fame.
We may be sure there was nothing lacking in cordiality in New Hampshire's official welcome to Washington. The State was proud of its membership in the Union, which its neighbor, Vermont, and Rhode Island, also, had not yet entered.