• Today's Daily Devotion
Home On the Road
“I now sit down to tell you that I arrived hear safe, and our party all well,” Martha Washington wrote from Cambridge to her friend Elizabeth Ramsey in ...

Home on the Road

“I now sit down to tell you that I arrived hear safe, and our party all well,” Martha Washington wrote from Cambridge to her friend Elizabeth Ramsey in Alexandria on December 30, 1775.

Martha was as out of place in a military camp as a cow in a castle, but she dared not be anywhere else. When George Washington accepted his command in June, he promised he would return home by autumn. But by the time the leaves abandoned Mount Vernon’s oak trees, Martha knew that their comfortable house was no longer her home. Her husband was her home, and he was in Cambridge.

A general once described Martha as “a modest and respectable person, who loves her husband madly.” That love translated into loyalty. Cambridge was the first stop on Martha’s road to her new life purpose as the commander-in-chief’s wife. She traveled nearly five hundred miles with her son and daughter-in-law over crude roads in a carriage pulled by four horses to get there.

It was her path through Philadelphia that shocked her more than any road rut. The greeting she received in the patriots’ capital surprised her more than had she suddenly become queen. In a way, she had. “I don’t doubt but you have seen the Figure our arrival made in the Philadelphia paper and I left it in as great pomp as if I had been a very great somebody,” Martha wrote to her friend.

The war forced many couples to make difficult decisions and undergo personal revolutions. While Abigail Adams endured the hardships of running a farm by herself to support her family, Martha endured the trials of travel. Change required Martha to take new risks, and in 1775, travel was sometimes risky. The destination was clear, but not always the outcome.

“What doesn’t really strike home is the impact of this travel and these events on her life,” Mount Vernon historian Mary Thompson related in a talk she gave on Martha and the Revolution at the 2002 Annual George Washington Symposium, held at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Threats to personal safety were a part of life on the road.

“Now, when a person can, in theory, given the traffic conditions, drive from Mount Vernon to Boston in eight hours or less or even fly there in an hour there is no way to understand the physical punishment of several weeks to a month of travel, one way, in order to go the same distance,” Thompson said.

Martha endured the journey by counting her blessings along the way: “We were fortunate in our time of setting out as the weather proved fine all the time we were on the road,” she assured Elizabeth. Safely arrived, Martha Washington undoubtedly wondered what else this new life on the road would bring as she joined her husband at their new headquarters.

Prayer

Thank you for the safe travels you have given me. You are my God and I will follow where you lead me today.

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”

(Ruth 1:16).


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