Talk:Elizabeth Willing Powel

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Did you knowDYK comment symbol nomination

This review is transcluded from Template:Did you know nominations/Elizabeth Willing Powel. You may review or comment on the nomination by clicking here.

Mrs. Samuel Powel by Matthew Pratt
Mrs. Samuel Powel by Matthew Pratt
  • ... that it may have been Elizabeth Willing Powel (pictured) who asked Benjamin Franklin whether the United States was to be "a republic or a monarchy", to which he responded, "a republic, if you can keep it"?

Created by Coffeeandcrumbs (talk) and GreenMeansGo (talk). Nominated by Coffeeandcrumbs (talk) at 21:21, 3 February 2020 (UTC).

  • I'm cautious about a definite DYK hook until the article is more complete. But this seems to be a clearly notable subject with plenty of easily available references. GMGtalk 23:46, 3 February 2020 (UTC)

Policy compliance:

Hook eligiblity:

  • Cited: Green tickY
  • Interesting: Green tickY
  • Other problems: Red XN - Let me know if either of you have another alternate hook.
QPQ: Done.

Overall: Symbol confirmed.svg epicgenius (talk) 17:43, 4 February 2020 (UTC)

GreenMeansGo, while I like the hook, I am not married to it. Feel free to suggest something else. I will do QPQ in the next few days. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 17:50, 4 February 2020 (UTC)
I'm content to polish a bit more. At least probably another day before I make up my mind. GMGtalk 17:55, 4 February 2020 (UTC)
@Coffeeandcrumbs and GreenMeansGo: Great, let me know when you come up with another hook so I can review it. epicgenius (talk) 18:10, 4 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Source 1: From George Washington to Elizabeth Powel...on her Birth Day of Fifty the handwriting of the poet Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson[1]
  • Source 2: There are also several poems written to Elizabeth Powel, another female friend of George Washington's. One of these was commissioned by Washington as a birthday gift for Powel, and thus it was a gift from two of Powel's friends. It also conveyed Washington's respect for Fergusson's poetic talents, making the gift also a tribute to Fergusson.[2]
But I don't know that it's quite as exciting as the Franklin quote. GMGtalk 14:11, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

GreenMeansGo, I think we are ready to move forward. QPQ is done. Epicgenius, please review both hooks and lets see what happens. Her birthday is coming up on February 21. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 01:58, 10 February 2020 (UTC)

  • Thanks for the ping. I'll check this tomorrow. epicgenius (talk) 01:58, 10 February 2020 (UTC)
    • @Coffeeandcrumbs and GreenMeansGo: Symbol confirmed.svg I suppose either ALT0 (original hook) or ALT2 is OK. ALT0 has a weird wording but is still interesting. ALT2 is more straightforward. epicgenius (talk) 17:14, 10 February 2020 (UTC)

Sources holding[edit]

  • @Coffeeandcrumbs: Doesn't looks like I can get access to any of the muse sources. So you might have to take the lead on that front. GMGtalk 18:01, 4 February 2020 (UTC)
    GreenMeansGo, you definitely deserve a subscription. You should check out The Wikipedia Library Card Platform. They give free access to Muse and JSTOR.
    Don't worry to much about the ones I linked. They give minor details about her sisters. The two sources you linked are much more detailed. Can you email me the pages from Notable Women of Pennsylvania? If you email me using the Wikipedia system I will reply. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 18:08, 4 February 2020 (UTC)

Thomas House[edit]

GreenMeansGo, I do not understand which house "Thomas House" is. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:13, 5 February 2020 (UTC)

Presumably the result of caring for a toddler and editing Wikipedia at the same time. Fixed. GMGtalk 16:15, 5 February 2020 (UTC)
GreenMeansGo, I should warn you we have a policy against shared accounts. Face-smile.svg --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:22, 5 February 2020 (UTC)
Well, I do recall once on IRC where my account was certainly compromised having gotten up to go to the kitchen, and I inexplicably began leaving comments like "111111111111111112222222222222222222222". Seems the only thing she could reach was the numpad. GMGtalk 16:25, 5 February 2020 (UTC)


Hey Slsnyder2. Thanks for your interest in helping out with the article. I'd be especially interested in whether you have access to any additional sources. It looks like the piece by David Maxey is pretty much the most authoritative thing we've found, so much so that it's a little difficult to find other sources that are independent of his own work. As I'm sure you're probably aware, early sources tend to be less than helpful in taking Powel seriously as a subject in her own right. GMGtalk 11:51, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

Hi GreenMeansGo. You're welcome! There are a few other secondary sources worth citing, that I can add in at work today. It's definitely the kind of first authoritative text of the 2000s. However, there are a few books that discuss her prominence as a hostess , one is called "These Fiery Frenchified Dames" (great title), and "When the United States Spoke French". I am at home at the moment but I can add those in when I go to work today. I've also made some edits with citing primary sources, and changing dates. The Earl of Carlisle occupied their house in June of 1778, not 1877-1878 :), just a few years off! Also, Anishanslin wrote a book about Anne Shippen Willing (Powel's mother), which I can have a look in to see if there's things worth adding. J. L. Bell would be a good person to contact if you're looking for more info on the "republic madam" quote, he's done extensive research that I know Anishanslin used for her op-ed. Slsnyder2 (talk) 12:43, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
GreenMeansGo -- I also have access to JSTOR at work, and most of my own notes, I'll check that today too. Slsnyder2 (talk) 12:45, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
That's awesome Slsnyder2. Very thankful for your help. GMGtalk 13:30, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
GreanMeansGo So glad you reached out! I can flesh out the early life and legacy/death parts with the newer sources I'm thinking of. I've also tried to shift some of the paragraphs around to make it a little more of a coherent narrative, I welcome edits to make it more Wikipedia friendly! Slsnyder2 (talk) 15:39, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

I am sorry but Slsnyder2 changes are unacceptable. The seriously compromised the sourcing and seem to include original research that are not cited. I understand that you have subject-matter expertise but we cannot just change things without citing the new sources. For example, Maxey clearly says that she was born on February 21 (NS). I also do not understand your preference for listing old style first. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:18, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

Coffeeandcrumbs -- Thank you for adding back in the O.S. birth date, it's listed enough in places that I think it's best to cite both the O.S. and N.S., and it is accurate to the period. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 04:20, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
Coffeeandcrumbs -- I'm so sorry, did not mean to make anything seem like uncited original research! I was going off of what was on her tombstone, which lists an old style. What else is it that is not cited properly? I was going in and trying to trace back to primary sources, rather than secondary sources. Please let me know the specifics. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 16:21, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Umm, @Coffeeandcrumbs: Can we try that again and be a bit more surgical? By my count, you yourself just removed four sources. Why don't we start with identifying what issues need discussed and fixed rather than going with blanket reversion as our first option? GMGtalk 16:22, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
    • It is hard when so many changes are made without sourcing. For example, the source I cited clearly says that her sons died before their first birthdays. In Slsnyder2 version, the source was not changed but the content was changed to say "died before or just after their first birthdays". --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:27, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

@GreenMeansGo: thank you! ::Coffeeandcrumbs That's what I'm asking as well, please don't completely erase the work. As a librarian, the thing I want to do most is primary source citations, not fill it with no or false citations. I'm confused by what you think is "compromising the sourcing" beyond just the OS vs NS birth date... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 16:25, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

The Revolutionary War dates were incorrectly put in. The Revolutionary War was fought in the 18th century, not 1877-1878? Slsnyder2 (talk) 16:36, 6 February 2020 (UTC) lso, the quote from John Adams comes from his 1774 diary, which is during the First Continental Congress, not the constitutional convention. I sourced that from the authoritative Papers of John Adams ( I looked in your source (Anishanslin's article) and it does not mention the quote being from the Constitutional Convention.Slsnyder2 (talk) 16:39, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

Slsnyder2, please make changes but make them in small groups and explain the change in more detail in your edit summaries so we can review them. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:43, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Coffeeandcrumbs, will do. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 16:47, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Slsnyder2, I may not seem it but I am really glad you are here. But please cite your sources as you go. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:53, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Coffeeandcrumbs, well thanks, happy to be here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 16:59, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Coffeeandcrumbs, GreenMeansGo I'd like to make a suggestion for the George Washington/Elizabeth Powel/Martha Washington mention. There is a more authoritative biography than a NYT article from 1994, published by Flora Fraser in 2016 that discusses their relationship in more modern terms. I'd like to figure out a way to reword the sentence about their friendship. Slsnyder2 (talk) 19:50, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Slsnyder2, please go right ahead. I assume you are referring to The Washingtons: George and Martha, "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love". As long as you cite your sources for everything, I have no complaints. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 20:00, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Coffeeandcrumbs, the very same! :) I'll work on getting it added in. Slsnyder2 (talk) 20:13, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
GreenMeansGo I saw your suggestion about the poem GW commissioned, the original poem is digitized and located at the Mount Vernon library, could be a cool thing to add to the WikiCommons page! here is the link: She also sent him a poem on his birthday:
 Done Thanks for the recommendation. GMGtalk 14:56, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
Face-smile.svg Thank you! Slsnyder2 (talk) 15:01, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

Just wanted to say Face-smile.svg Thank you to you two GreenMeansGo and Coffeeandcrumbs for letting me help out with this article, I'm getting so many lessons in the art of Wikipedia editing, and really appreciate your help and valuing my inputs! I'll give you both acknowledgements in the biography I'm working on of Elizabeth. Slsnyder2 (talk) 18:22, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

No problem at all Slsnyder2! Glad to have an expert around. If I'm being honest, I shoot out emails to experts fairly often, and they rarely reply, and only once before have I had someone get this involved in helping us build the article. GMGtalk 18:29, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
GreenMeansGo (talk · contribs) Very glad to have been asked, and glad to break the stereotype. :) Slsnyder2 (talk) 01:57, 9 February 2020 (UTC)
Slsnyder2, wow! There is so much source material for your book. I just found this thesis about John Hare that has a lot of good research. I would love to read this biography you are writing. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 07:26, 14 February 2020 (UTC)
Coffeeandcrumbs Absolutely, there's some really awesome stuff out there. I can't wait to share, it's in the early stages still but well on its way! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 19:57, 15 February 2020 (UTC)

The Powel Coach[edit]

This book is an interesting bit of a read, though I'm not sure where it might fit in here. Seems that Washington and Powel together ordered two identical coaches made. Washington's was destroyed somehow, and Powel's was then publicly and wrongly displayed as "Washington's Coach" for some period of time. GMGtalk 18:21, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

I work at Mount Vernon, and this is quite a story to unpack. It's worth eventually adding, but the research is very spotty/undetermined. We've had someone working on it here, would be best to wait to add until the actual information is published in modern form. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:00, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Definitely true that this is a period source, which we have to be kindof leery on. At the very least, we can house this link here and maybe use it eventually in combination with more modern scholarship once it's published. GMGtalk 19:07, 6 February 2020 (UTC)
Also, just as a note since we have some folks from Mount Vernon around, I've started a repository for media related to Powel on our sister project Wikimedia Commons, which can be found at c:Category:Elizabeth Willing Powel. If you all have access to additional media, I can help out in uploading and sorting it correctly. Pretty much anything from the period is guaranteed to be free and public domain. GMGtalk 19:16, 6 February 2020 (UTC)


There is a video on Powel here that might (?) be okay as an external link. I'm not in a position right now to watch a video with sound, and I can't really tell if this guys a kook or not. His website does look a touch...odd. So it may or may not be of any actual educational value. GMGtalk 18:28, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

That one is somewhat of a kooky video, I think there are better sources that would talk about Elizabeth's social standing. As far as videos go, there aren't really many/any that I can think of.


Welp, if I'm being totally honest, I think we're in pretty good territory for the article being mainpage ready. Honestly, I think we're in pretty good territory for WP:GA if anyone is interested. GMGtalk 15:33, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

I am interested in nominating it. Can we wait until the DYK review is done? --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 20:15, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

Ann Shippen Willing[edit]

There is a chance we can start an article on her mother as well. @GreenMeansGo: do you think we can establish her notability? --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 16:13, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

Hard to tell. We can start gathering sources. There is this book, but it looks like the write ups on it are pretty keen to say that there is limited information available. Unfortunately, writing about women tends to get increasingly difficult the farther back you go, at least for most anyone who isn't royalty or nobility. GMGtalk 16:20, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
Just musings really, since this is the first article in a while I've written in the 1700s. I mostly hang out in the latter half of the 1800s. It's kindof funnysad some of the sources we don't use, because they spend like 300 words talking about Powel and don't actually ever say anything. Like it's important to talk about how she fancied her nieces and nephews, as if the corresponding write up on Samuel would say "he didn't much care for his family, especially that little brat Sally and her stupid brother".
It's impressive how much the sources talk about her in relation or by proxy, she is important as a satellite of her husband and people like Washington and Franklin, in the same way you would talk about he moon, missing an essential part of its importance if not considered in it's relationship to the Earth. I suspect this is part of the reason we have so little information about her later life. You still get that some of that post-bellum, but comparing people like Aurelia Henry Reinhardt or Eagle Woman, you can still find period newspapers talking about them and not only them in relation to others. GMGtalk 13:23, 8 February 2020 (UTC)

Mysterious mansion[edit]

@Slsnyder2: Any clue what this bit may be referencing?[3]

Elizabeth Powel lived out as a widow the thirty-seven years of life remaining to her. She is said to have rarely appeared in public and to have spent more and more time at her country seat across the Schuylkil. There about 1800 she began the fine mansion pictured in the well-known water color by David J. Kennedy.

I presume not the Powel House, otherwise what would be the point of specifying "across the Schuylkil", presumably a reference with a vantage point of Philadelphia itself. GMGtalk 17:04, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

@GreenMeansGo: No, it's not referring to the Powel HOuse That's a mansion called Powelton that she built in the early 19th century. Her husband died at a "farm house" that was on their land. She owned a bunch of land in the Western part of PA. Powelton is actually now a neighborhood in Philly, where the Penn campus is. :),_PhiladelphiaSlsnyder2 (talk) 17:07, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
Ah. @Coffeeandcrumbs: I believe this may speak to a question you raised earlier re Powelton. GMGtalk 17:09, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
@GreenMeansGo: I will say it's a misconception she spent her time at Powelton. She built and lived in a mansion on Chestnut Street between 6th and 7th. Letters are sent to and from there addressed to her. Her nephew spent the most time at Powelton, and she rented it out to family prior to him coming of age and moving there. Her Chestnut Street house eventually became a hotel (called Marshall House, then Columbia HOuse) before it was torn down in the 1850s. Slsnyder2 (talk) 17:11, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
We should find a way to include all of this. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 17:16, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
@Coffeeandcrumbs:Agreed. Perhaps in the later life and death section?Slsnyder2 (talk) 17:18, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
@Coffeeandcrumbs: David Maxey mentions the hotel in his book. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 17:29, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

Here is one version of the David J. Kennedy watercolor Slsnyder2 (talk) 17:14, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

☑Y GMGtalk 18:01, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

@Coffeeandcrumbs: and ::@GreenMeansGo: I've added in sentences about Powelton in the later life/death part, right after she sells the family home in 1798. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Slsnyder2 (talkcontribs) 17:37, 7 February 2020 (UTC)


@Slsnyder2: Can you identify any other houses besides the Powel House on this map? Can we also identify the Willing Mansion? I can create an image circling both. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 20:14, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

@Coffeeandcrumbs: See File:Location of the Willing Mansion.png, comparing the sources we have and the modern map of the area. It's the the oddly shaped house currently at 39°56′47″N 75°08′48″W / 39.946261°N 75.146642°W / 39.946261; -75.146642 which matches [4], but I don't really have any fancy image editing skills/software to preserve the full resolution of the original map. GMGtalk 20:25, 7 February 2020 (UTC)
Sending email to GreenMeansGo and Slsnyder2. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 20:30, 7 February 2020 (UTC)

@Coffeeandcrumbs: and Template:GreenMeansGo I sent an email back, I've identified 5 and 2 but the others still not totally sure. #1 may be a carriage house...

In Philadelphia Library's sepia tone version of this map, they provided notes on some of the buildings, though not the ones you sent in the circled image: Notes:

city almshouse: between 3rd & 4th Streets below Spring Street
city courthouse & Market: High Street between 2nd & 3rd Streets
city goal: sw corner of 3rd & Hight Streets
city workhouse: west side of 3rd Street below High Street
Loganian Library: west side of 6th above Walnut Street
Quaker almshouse: south side of Walnut Street below 4th Street


@Coffeeandcrumbs: Not sure how tech savvy you are (I'm not), but it might be interesting to make a Template:Women in the American Revolution navbox. Something like Template:Women in society, except that seems overly broad for this article. It's not clear that someone reading about Powel would necessarily be interested in Women in speculative fiction or Women in Portugal, but it seems reasonable that they would be interested in Daughters of Liberty or Abigail Adams. GMGtalk 12:05, 8 February 2020 (UTC)

GreenMeansGo,  Done. But feel free to edit it. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 21:36, 8 February 2020 (UTC)
Hah! That's awesome. Great job! GMGtalk 22:49, 8 February 2020 (UTC)