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Maine Memory Network

George Washington's Hair

This Exhibit Contains 13 Items
1
George Washington, 1732-1799

George Washington, 1732-1799

Item 7281 info
Maine Historical Society

George Washington, general and president of the American republic, died on December 18, 1799, plunging his countrymen into grief.


2
Elizabeth Wadsworth, Portland, 1801

Elizabeth Wadsworth, Portland, 1801

Item 7276 info
Maine Historical Society

One month later on January 19, 1800 Elizabeth "Eliza" Wadsworth of Portland, wrote to her father, Peleg Wadsworh, a Congressman in Philadelphia, "Papa I will tell you what I want-more than anything I think of at present - it is a scrap of General Washington's hand writing...perhaps his name...I should value it very highly."


3
Letter from Elizabeth Wadsworth to her father, Peleg Wadsworth

Letter from Elizabeth Wadsworth to her father, Peleg Wadsworth

Item 8951 info
Maine Historical Society

She also asked, "Papa, had he hair? A lock of that I should value more highly still."


4
Silhouette of Peleg Wadsworth

Silhouette of Peleg Wadsworth

Item 136 info
Maine Historical Society

A silhouette of Peleg Wadsworth, 1748-1829, father of Eliza Wadsworth and congressman in Philadelphia during this correspondence with his daughter.


5
Copy of Peleg Wadsworth letter to Martha Washington, 1800

Copy of Peleg Wadsworth letter to Martha Washington, 1800

Item 8952 info
Maine Historical Society

Peleg Wadsworth conveyed his daughter's wish to Mrs. Washington, "...will you admit the partiality of a father for his daughter in an apology for this intrusion?"


6
Letter from Peleg Wadsworth to his daughter, Elizabeth

Letter from Peleg Wadsworth to his daughter, Elizabeth

Item 8954 info
Maine Historical Society

Peleg Wadsworth wrote the following to his daughter, "...ever holding the laudible wishes of my children sacred, I cast about in my mind for some time how I should gratify your earnestness to the full - I dare not let you know my plan till its accomplished."


7
Letter to Peleg Wadsworth with Washington hair, 1800

Letter to Peleg Wadsworth with Washington hair, 1800

Item 8946 info
Maine Historical Society

Martha Washington's secretary wrote the following on behalf of Mrs. Washington, "...the ardent wish expressed by your daughter - and the earnest desire for its gratification which the feelings of a parent naturally suggest, have induced Mrs. Washington to comply with the request by sending the lock of hair ..."


8
Copy of thank you letter, Peleg Wadsworth to Tobias Lear

Copy of thank you letter, Peleg Wadsworth to Tobias Lear

Item 8948 info
Maine Historical Society

Peleg Wadsworth sent the following to Tobias Lear, Mrs. Washington's secretary to express his thanks, "When I beheld the inestimable relic, a lock from the head of the venerable Sage, a thril of Awe & reverance ran thro my whole frame ... but - it shall be preservd for posterity."


9
Letter from Elizabeth Wadsworth to her father, Peleg Wadsworth

Letter from Elizabeth Wadsworth to her father, Peleg Wadsworth

Item 8950 info
Maine Historical Society

Eliza Wadsworth, having received the lock of hair, wrote to her father, " O Papa...My heart was so filled with thankfulness to you, and when I opened the Sacred paper with veneration and awe, that for a moment I could not even shed a tear and my first thought was to acknowledge to Mrs. Washington herself the deep sense I had of my obligation to her for so invaluable a gift, but your delicacy in not troubling her again by writing your acknowledge occurred to me, and silenced the thought ... How shall I duly honor the relic? ... I am singularly happy."


10
Letter from Peleg Wadsworth to Elizabeth Wadsworth

Letter from Peleg Wadsworth to Elizabeth Wadsworth

Item 8947 info
Maine Historical Society

Peleg Wadsworth wrote to his daughter, Eliza Wadsworth how he felt requesting such a gift from Mrs. Washington, and admonishing her not to "give it all away -- hair by hair -- Isabella must not have more than One--"


11
Note by Elizabeth Wadsworth about the lock of George Washington's hair

Note by Elizabeth Wadsworth about the lock of George Washington's hair

Item 8953 info
Maine Historical Society

Eliza Wadsworth died in 1802. She willed the precious relic to her sister Zilpah, requesting that it eventually be placed among the treasures of the people of Maine.


12
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1870

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1870

Item 4140 info
Maine Historical Society

Zilpah gave the lock of hair to her son, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


13
Locket of George Washington's hair

Locket of George Washington's hair

Item 7280 info
Maine Historical Society

In 1850 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had George Washington's lock of hair enclosed in a gold locket, which is inscribed on the back with its history.

In 1899, through his daughter Alice, the locket and the letters that brought it to the Wadsworth-Longfellow family were given into "the safekeeping of the Maine Historical Society in accordance with Eliza Wadsworth's desire and bequest."


This Exhibit Contains 13 Items