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See the best traditional artists in America
For those who read or want to write for the magazine
As Southern novelist William Faulkner
wrote in Absalom, Absalom! in 1936, “The
past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
His words still ring true.
While researching Tudor Place in
the nation’s capital for this issue, I discovered
that owner Martha Custis Peter (a granddaughter of
Martha Washington) witnessed the burning of the Capitol
by the British Army during the War of 1812.
How ironic (and frightening!) that while reading
about that 200-year-old event, we were watching in real
time as a mob of our own citizens, convinced that the
2020 presidential election had been stolen, breached “the
people’s house” and sought to hunt down members of
Congress and “stop the steal.”
In both instances, our democracy held, but barely.
Such events should remind us that the survival of our
fragile freedoms cannot be assured if civic participation
and civil discourse based on a shared truth elude us.
Since its completion in 1816, Tudor Place has paid
homage to the nation’s ideals by preserving artifacts that
belonged to George and Martha Washington—even as
its owners relied on the labor of enslaved Africans to grow
and preserve their own wealth. The museum continues to
expand its interpretation of that complex history by discussing
the lives of all those who lived and worked there.
Also in these pages, we explore how furniture maker
Herman Veenendaal interprets the 18th Century in the
Cape he built mostly with his own hands in Ontario.
His attraction to Georgian architecture stems from
childhood, strongly reinforced by
visits to Colonial Williamsburg.
After a long career as a scientist,
Veenendaal concentrated full time
on woodworking, filling his home
with museum-quality chairs, chests,
clocks, desks, and tables that reflect
the fine details of the Queen Anne
and Chippendale styles. He added
period-appropriate accents by learning
some rudimentary blacksmithing
and how to paint floorcloths.
Foxie Morgan preserves her own corner of history in
the Blue Ridge Mountains as the fifth-generation owner
of her family’s 1814 Virginia farm. She and husband
Richard have restored the property’s manor house and
outbuildings (including the overseer’s house in which they
live) and transformed the property’s landscape.
Today the acreage that once grew staple crops yields
myriad flowers that fill bouquets and serve as a backdrop
for weddings. By creating a profitable business, the Morgans
have ensured the survival of their home for future
For those who want to beautify their home’s landscape
and/or supplement their diet, we provide sources for
heirloom and organic seeds to get you started. In doing so,
you can help preserve the diversity of our food supply.
The challenges we face in this era of climate change, a
pandemic, political turmoil, and social injustice continue
to reinforce the necessity of diversity, inclusion, and a
fundamental truth. Although history is usually written by
the victors, scholars still strive to find the untold stories
and unheard voices that help broaden our understanding
of the past.
In our own small way, we seek to do the same in these
pages, in the hope that we can share history’s lessons and
help protect our fragile experiment in democracy.
The deadline for submitting entries for the 2021 Directory of Traditional American Crafts has past. All entries we have recevied are being processed and will be submitted to the jurors for anonymous judging. The 2021 Directory will appear in the August 2021 edition of Early American Life. Please do not call us. We cannot report on the status of any particular entry until the Directory is published..
1,944 days until America's Sestercentennial
Coming Up This Weekend
Many events listed on our calendar have been postponed or cancelled as a precaution to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, now a pandemic. If you must (or choose) to attend an event, we suggest you call and verify that it will be taking place as planned.
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