Book Reviews -- "Worthy Partner": The Papers of Martha Washington Edited by Joseph E. Fields and with an Introduction by Ellen McCallister Clark

By Brady, Patricia | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, January 1995 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- "Worthy Partner": The Papers of Martha Washington Edited by Joseph E. Fields and with an Introduction by Ellen McCallister Clark


Brady, Patricia, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


"Worthy Partner": The Papers of Martha Washington. Edited by JOSEPH E. FIELDS. Introduction by ELLEN McCALLISTER CLARK. Contributions in American History, 155. Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1994. xxxviii, 501 pp. $49.95.

A true labor of love, collecting the scanty and scattered papers of Martha Washington has clearly been Joseph E. Fields's longtime dedication. The difficulty of coaxing the elusive Mrs. Washington from her chosen role in the background is reflected in this collection with its gaping holes caused by the willful or accidental destruction of documents. Although she was retiring, Martha Washington was no weakling but a strong woman who defined her own life and refused to let the public redefine it for her. Her sphere was the private, and she stayed firmly planted there.

The introduction by Ellen McCallister Clark, formerly librarian at Mount Vernon, provides a very useful biographical overview, informed by her years of immersion in Washington family history. Although necessarily compressed, Clark's words are like densely stuffed portmanteaus--they open vistas, when unpacked, onto the life of the Washingtons and early America. Her finely honed characterizations bring to life the icons of the nation.

Fields set himself a difficult task, painstakingly collecting all of Martha Washington's incoming and outgoing correspondence, most of it clustered around certain key periods in her life: the first widowhood, the Revolutionary War, Washington's presidency, and the second widowhood.

The first section shows the bewildering financial complexities facing a relatively untutored young widow with minor children left to deal with a large estate. These documents clearly demonstrate the dependence of the Virginia planter class on its English agents, factors, and merchants. There is a hint of Bleak House, too, in the generation-old Custis lawsuit inherited by Martha Custis, seemingly endless and threatening to beggar the estate.

There are two sorts of letters written by Martha Washington: those she composed herself--direct, concerned with domestic and family matters, and uncertain as to grammar, diction, and spelling--and those much more technically correct and formal efforts composed by Washington or Tobias Lear for her to copy and send as her own. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Book Reviews -- "Worthy Partner": The Papers of Martha Washington Edited by Joseph E. Fields and with an Introduction by Ellen McCallister Clark
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.