A saint amidst New York’s high society during the Washington presidency

November 8, 2012

A presidential reception in 1789, by Currier & Ives, c. 1876

The New York of these years was ablaze with pleasure and merriment. His Excellency, the President of the United States and his Lady were in residence, and this added great excitement to the life of the city. Although Mr. Washington was a man of simple tastes, the people, used to monarchy, even though it lay across the water, did not quite know how to act in a Republic. There was a definite New York aristocracy, without titles, and its members gave the city a glitter of its own. Beside official functions, a galaxy of assemblies, cotillions and parties of every kind filled the social calendar….

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Betty Bayley [St. Elizabeth Ann Seton] was a part of all this. She loved dancing, and was probably very good at it, for she was a girl of grace, tiny of frame—she was scarcely five feet tall—and fleet of foot…

She was frankly gay and happy. She was worldly, perhaps, but worldly in an innocent way.

Joseph I. Dirvin, C.M. Mrs. Seton: Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1962), pp. 39-40.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 228


Also of interest:

Life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


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