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Victorian-Era 'Vinegar' Valentines Could Be Mean and Hostile

February 10, 2020 in History

By Crystal Ponti

Rather than expressing love and affection, these mean-spirited cards were designed to offend.

In the Victorian era, and into the 20th century, lovers exchanged elaborate lace-trimmed cards on Valentine’s Day, expressing their undying love and devotion with sentiments and poems. For those not on good terms, or who wanted to fend off an enemy or unwanted suitor, “vinegar valentines” offered a stinging alternative.

“To My Valentine / ‘Tis a lemon that I hand you and bid you now ‘skidoo,’ Because I love another—there is no chance for you,” reads one card. Another depicts a woman dousing an unsuspecting man with a bucket of water. “Here’s a cool reception,” it warns, telling the “old fellow” that he “best stop away.”

Although Valentine’s Day can be traced to ancient Rome, it’s the Victorians who originally put a romantic spin on the holiday. Valentine’s Day became so popular that postal carriers received special meal allowances to keep themselves running during the frenzy leading up February 14th. Of the millions of cards sent, some estimate that nearly half were of the vinegar variety.

“What are now known as ‘vinegar’ valentines by 21st century dealers and collectors seem to have their origin in the 1830s and 1840s,” says Annebella Pollen, an art and design historian who authored a paper on vinegar valentines. “This coincides with the growth of valentines as a popular form of communication, assisted by the development of a range of wider phenomena, such as cheap printing and fancy paper production, technologies for the mass circulation of pictorial imagery and the development of advanced postal systems.”

Vinegar Valentines Ranged From Sassy to Cruel

“Pshaw! All womankind now want their rights,
The female world have suffered long enough.
I for one am ready for to strike,
To make a man my slave is what I like.”

View the 12 images of this gallery on the original article

Before they were dubbed vinegar valentines, these sassy cards were known as mocking or comic valentines. Their tone ranged from a gentle jab to downright aggressiveness. There was an insulting card for just about every person someone might dislike—from annoying salespeople and landlords to overbearing employers and adversaries of all kinds. Cards could be sent to liars and cheats and flirts and alcoholics, while some cards mocked specific professions. Their grotesque drawings caricatured common stereotypes and insulted a recipient’s physical attributes, lack of a marriage partner or character …read more

Source: HISTORY

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George Washington Warned Against Political Infighting in His Farewell Address

February 10, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Upon announcing his decision to step down, Washington urged Americans not to place the interests of the nation above their political and regional affiliations.

In 1796, as he neared the end of his second term, President

Washington, a three-night miniseries event, premieres Feb 16 at 8/7c on HISTORY. Watch a preview now.

Legacy of Washington’s Farewell Address

Washington’s farewell address was rooted in the specific challenges he saw facing the United States at the time, including increasing internal divisions and the ongoing external threat of invasion by stronger nations. But his eloquent message of unity and his warnings against regionalism, partisanship and foreign influence ensured the address would become one of the most widely reprinted documents in American history, with powerful implications that continue to resonate today.

George Washington’s momentous decision to step aside after two terms set a precedent that would be followed by every succeeding president except Franklin D. Roosevelt, and would be formalized in the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1951. In a tradition dating back to the years following the Civil War, a member of the U.S. Senate reads Washington’s farewell address aloud each year to observe Washington’s birthday; the reading assignment alternates between members of each political party.

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See images of the original document of Washington’s Farewell Address above, and the full text below.

Full Text of George Washington’s Farewell Address

Friends and Fellow Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced …read more

Source: HISTORY