- When chevalier de Chastellux visited the Powels in 1780, he wrote of Samuel Powel’s wife, Elizabeth: Contrary to American custom, she plays the leading role in the family — la prima figura, as the Italians say ... but what chiefly distinguishes her is her taste for conversation and the truly European manner in which she uses her wit and knowledge.
For all their talk of reason and enlightenment, Washington and the other leading Founders were more religious than they sometimes seem. Most of them had no quarrel with religion as long as it was reasonable and orderly. Washington was a member of his Anglican, later Episcopal, church vestry, and he remained a frequent churchgoer — though unlike his wife, Martha, he never became a member of his church, meaning that he did not partake of the Eucharist on communion Sundays. Washington, the perfect Freemason, considered himself enlightened in religious matters (
being no bigot myself to any mode of worship), and he almost never knelt in prayer and seems never to have purchased a bible.