Germantown White House
The Germantown White House is closed.
Twice this house sheltered George Washington. In 1793, he took refuge here from the deadly yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. The following summer, it was a welcome retreat from the heat of the capital city. Also known as the Deshler-Morris House, the home gets it name from its first and last owners. David Deshler built the home beginning in 1752. Elliston P. Morris donated it to the National Park Service in 1948. Today, the home has been restored to its 18th century appearance. Interactive exhibits in the nearby Bringhurst House provide a glimpse into the life of Washington and his household, including his enslaved servants.
Construction and Ownership
From November 16 - 30, 1793, President George Washington lived in this rented home while Philadelphia remained under quarantine for yellow fever. Washington met with his cabinet here, and together, they conducted the nation's business and addressed issues of foreign policy. The following summer, President Washington returned with his family to enjoy the expansive gardens and orchards in this "fine airy place".
During the summer of 1794 Washington returned to the home, this time with servants and his family, including wife Martha and step grandchildren, in order to escape the summer heat of the city. The enslaved servants included Oney Judge, Austin, Moll, and Hercules. Moll attended to the grandchildren, Nelly and Young Wash. Oney Judge served as seamstress and personal servant to Martha Washington. Martha raised flowers, the President posed for painter Gilbert Stuart, and the family attended the German Reformed Church across the square from their house.
Differences of opinion defined the four cabinet meetings here between November 16 and November 30, 1793. Attending were Thomas Jefferson (State), Alexander Hamilton (Treasury), Henry Knox (War) and Edmund Randolph (Attorney General). Much of the discussion centered on issues raised by the war between France and Britain. Hamilton maintained that the Constitution gave the President and the Senate the right to make treaties, including a treaty of neutrality, referring to Washington's "Neutrality Proclamation". Jefferson viewed the proclamation as an infringement on the Congress' power to declare war.
Did You Know?
Dolley Todd had to write a letter to the orphan court to keep her son when, her first husband John died of Yellow Fever in 1793. In 1794, she married Congressman James Madison.