Celebrations Today – May 22
Holidays and observances
- Abolition Day (Martinique)
- Christian feast day:
- Harvey Milk Day (California)
- International Day for Biological Diversity (International)
- United States National Maritime Day
- National Sovereignty Day (Haiti)
- Republic Day (Sri Lanka)
- Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra to Bari (Ukraine)
- Unity Day (Yemen), celebrates the unification of North and South Yemen into the Republic of Yemen in 1990.
- World Goth Day
Celebrations Today – USA: May 22
National Buy a Musical Instrument Day
National Maritime Day
National Vanilla Pudding Day
Harvey Milk Day
International Day for Biological Diversity
World Goth Day
Today in US History: May 22
Death of Martha Washington
Martha Washington (detail),
Dominique C. Fabronius, lithographer,
published by L. Prang, copyright 1864.
By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present
On May 22, 1802, the first of first ladies, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington died of a severe fever. When she married George Washington in January 1759, she was twenty-seven years old and a widowed mother of two. She was also one of the wealthiest women in Virginia, having inherited some 15,000 acres of farmland from her deceased husband, Daniel Parke Custis.
A prosperous farmer himself, George Washington ably took over the Custis estate, but moved Martha and his newly-adopted stepchildren Martha (“Patsy”) and John Parke (“Jacky”) to his own home, Mount Vernon, outside Alexandria, Virginia. There, the couple delighted in raising their children (though Patsy died of an epileptic seizure in 1773 at the age of seventeen, while Jacky died of camp fever during the Revolution in 1781) and entertaining Virginia society. It is estimated that between 1768 and 1775 over 2,000 guests visited the Washingtons, some staying for extended periods.
Martha Washington Portrait in the White House, [Photograph of Painting]
Theodor Horydczak, photographer,
Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959
After George was elected president in 1789, entertaining became even more prominent in Martha Washington’s life. In the temporary U.S. capitals of New York and Philadelphia, she hosted lavish parties and receptions to match those given by the established governments of Europe. Although the first lady was noted for the generosity and warmth she displayed as the nation’s premier hostess, she longed for her private life in Virginia. In a letter to a niece she confided: “I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else, there is certain bounds set for me which I must not depart from.”
- To preserve their privacy, Martha Washington burned all but two of the letters she and George exchanged during their forty years together. Still available, however, are the approximately 65,000 documents that comprise the George Washington Papers, 1741-1799. Search this collection on Martha Washington to explore a sample of letters from, and including references to, the first first lady.
- A search on Martha Washington in Music for the Nation, 1870-1885, will retrieve waltzes named in her honor, as well as a minuet composed for a “Martha Washington Tea Party.” A description of this popular form of masquerade can be found in the American Memory collection An American Ballroom Companion, ca. 1490-1920.
- To learn more about the Washingtons, see the three-part Time Line in the George Washington Papers, 1741-1799, or search the Today in History Archive on George Washington.
- For more images of the First Couple, visit the National Portrait Gallery’s online exhibition George and Martha Washington: Portraits from the Presidential Years.
Today in History – May 22-External Links
Today’s Weather in History
Today in Earthquake History
This Day in Naval History
Today’s Document from the National Archives
Today’s Events, Births & Deaths –Wikipedia
Today in History by AP
On this Day -1950 to 2005 – Today’s Story–BBC
On This Day: The New York Times
This Day in History –History.com
Today in Canadian History – Canada Channel
History of Britain that took place On This Day
Russia in History –Russiapedia