A Lady’s View of the Resignation
This excerpt is taken from a four-page letter from Mary “Molly” Ridout to her mother, Anne Tasker Ogle, written in January 1784. In addition to describing George Washington’s resignation, which she witnessed from the gallery of the Old Senate Chamber, the letter contains news about family members and local gossip.
Molly Ridout was the daughter of former Provincial Governor Samuel Ogle. She married John Ridout, who came to Maryland in 1753 as secretary to Governor Horatio Sharpe. The Ridouts built an elegant house in Annapolis, and were important members of Annapolis society, often entertaining prominent visitors such as George Washington in their home.
In the 18th century, women were not permitted on the floor of the Old Senate Chamber and had to watch events from the balcony, or gallery. Molly Ridout and Delaware Congressman James Tilton both described the presence of women in the gallery on the day of George Washington’s resignation. As Ridout wrote, the gallery was “full of ladies.”