The Gallery Full of Ladies
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.”
John Trumbull's painting, displayed in the rotunda of the United States Capitol, best illustrates the descriptions provided by Ridout and Tilton. Trumbull showed Martha Washington in the center of the gallery among the spectators. In fact, she was not in Annapolis, but was waiting at Mount Vernon for her husband’s return home.