The American sycamore that once sheltered George Washington and his generals is at the end of its life at the Hale Byrnes House.
Lying politicians, disinformation, foreign threats, riots in the street, deadly epidemics, sex scandals in high places, open debates about the president’s competence, war threats, government censorship, fights on the floor of Congress, and a society split in half by partisan politics.
That was politics in the United States in the 1790s, says John Sweeney, editor of “Delaware’s John Dickinson” and former editorial page editor at the News Journal.
He will talk about “Infamous Scribblers: George Washington and the Press,” Saturday, Oct. 28, at the American Revolution Round Table of Northern Delaware .
It was the decade America almost failed.
And it was just as crazy — maybe more so than today.
“There was even a constant refrain that Washington was too old for the job,” Sweeney said.
Thomas Jefferson first whispered that Washington was getting too old to be president, he said.
“Then Jefferson’s allies in Congress and in press openly claimed the president was frequently forgetful and lost,” Sweeney said. “Later Jefferson’s enemy, Alexander Hamilton, tried to overturn the results of the 1800 election.
“In all, it was one of the most partisan, bitter, dirty and crazy political times in our history.”
The program starts at 7 p.m. at the Hale Byrnes House. Admission is $5 at the door and includes coffee, tea and dessert. Well-behaved childred are welcome.
The House is known as the meeting place of George Washington and his generals held a council of war on Sept. 6, 1777, before the Battle of the Brandywine.
It’s also the location of the 300-year-old American Sycamore Witness Tree
of Delaware, so called because it was alive during a historic event.
On Oct. 29, the Roundtable will go birding in a “Season of Change: Foliage and Feathers” walk from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with Joe Sebastiani, director of Adult Engagement for Ashland Nature Center. Come prepared to walk.
Admission is $5 at the door and includes coffee, tea and dessert.
The Hale Byrnes House is at 606 Stanton-Christiana Road, Newark, Delaware 19713, immediately left of the White Clay Medical Center at the intersection of Route 7 North and Route 4.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.