George Washington and Henry Clay Marker, Wilmington
The marker is a simple stone slab, approximately two feet tall with an angled front face. It features an inscription commemorating the location of lodging during during the visits to Wilmington of President George Washington in 1791 and Henry Clay in 1844. It is very similar to the other markers placed by the New Hanover Historical Commission at a number of historical sites in Wilmington. The names are given emphasis by their engraving in a significantly larger font than the rest of the text. The inscription also includes the sponsoring members of the New Hanover County Historical Commission.
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IN THIS BUILDING / GEORGE WASHINGTON / WAS ENTERTAINED / APRIL 25, 1791. / HERE ALSO HENRY CLAY / WAS A GUEST APRIL 9, 1844. / NEW HANOVER HISTORICAL COMMISSION / A.J. HOWELL, E.S. MARTIN, / JAMES SPRUNT, W.A. McGIRT.
City of Wilmington
June 9, 1919
34.234080 , -77.948500 View in Geobrowse
“All Markers Now in Place in County,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), January 28, 1921
"George Washington Historical Marker - Front Street, south 0 and 100 blocks," in Louis T. Moore Collection 761, New Hanover County Public Library Digital Archives, (accessed August 28, 2013) Link
Cape Fear Historical Institute. "Distinguished Wilmington Visitors Cape Fear Historical Institute Papers," (accessed July 23, 2013) Link
Clotworthy, W. (2002). In the Footsteps of George Washington . McDonald & Woodward.
George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: The Diaries of George Washington. In The Diaries of George Washington. Vol. VI. January 1790-December 1799, Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979. (accessed December 14, 2013). Link
Henderson, Archibald. 1923. Washington’s Southern Tour 1791. Boston and New York: Houghton Miffin company, 1923, (accessed May 28, 2014) Link
North Carolina State Department of Archives and History. The North Carolina Historical Review Volume XXXVI, No. 1 (January 1960). Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Historical Commission, 5, (accessed July 27, 2013) Link
Sprunt, James. 1916. Chronicles of the Cape Fear River. Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Publishing Co., (accessed July 27, 2013) Link
Washington, George. The Diary of George Washington, From 1780 to 1791 : Embracing The Opening of the First Congress, and His Tours Through New England, Long Island, and the Southern States Together With His Journal of a Tour to the Ohio in 1753, ed. Benson J. Lossing, (Richmond, VA: Press of the Historical Society, 1861), (accessed July 27, 2013) Link
“Exercises Held at Historic Markers,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), June 10, 1919
“Historic Spots Will Be Marked,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), January 15, 1920
“Site of Tryon’s House Is Marked,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), May 9, 1919
New Hanover Historical Commission (A.J. Howell, E.S. Martin, James Sprunt, and W.A. McGirt)
In the spring of 1791, President George Washington began his tour of the southern states. Washington decided even before his inauguration to visit every state in the nation in order to gain a better understanding of the condition of the country and the needs of the people. His cross-country journey began in 1789 but, because North Carolina did not ratify the United States Constitution until 1790, his trip to the south was delayed.
Between March and June of 1791, Washington traveled along the eastern seaboard from Maryland to Georgia, and then took a western return route from Georgia to Virginia. During his 1,700-mile tour he sought to emphasize national unity, understand the region's political sentiments, and learn about the southern economy. North Carolina was of particular importance to the tour because of its late ratification and Washington used his stops in the state as an opportunity to reinforce its admittance into the union.
Washington was revered as the father of the nation and, because of his status; his visits to communities across the country were of important historical significance. In Wilmington, President Washington was received by a welcome party and a 45-gun salute. He stayed at the home of Mrs. John Quince, which was located very near the location of the marker. The original residence planned for the President's lodging became unavailable, and apparently Mrs. Quince graciously offered her home to the President at the last minute. During the evening, Washington was treated to a military parade throughout a town illuminated in his honor. And a ball was given in his honor at the Assembly Hall.
Henry Clay made a presidential campaign stop in Wilmington in April 1844. James Sprunt reported that he arrived on a steamer to be greeted by a large crowd and was then escorted to his lodging at the home of Mrs. Joseph A. Hill on the southeast corner of Front and Dock Streets. He was then escorted to the Potter Mansion on Market street where he gave a speech from the balcony. That evening a ball was given in his honor at the Carolina Hotel and Masonic Hall, and the next morning he left by train for Raleigh.
There are numerous markers across North Carolina commemorating President Washington's tour of the southern states in 1791 to include nine identical bronze plaques placed by the DAR in 1925. Notable among them are George Washington Plaque, Hampstead outside Wilmington, George Washington Plaque, Greenville, George Washington Plaque, Tarboro, George Washington Plaque, Salisbury, and George Washington Plaque, Guilford Courthouse. Other markers made of stone include George Washington Boulder in Lexington and "George Washington Stopped Here" Marker in Arcadia.
The marker is located on the east side of South Front Street, at the intersection of Dock and South Front Streets.
It sits on the sidewalk a few feet from the curb, flanked on one side by a fire hydrant and on the other by a municipal waste receptacle. Shops and restaurants are located on either side of the street nearby.