What the heck is floorcloth?

THOMAS JEFFERSON LEADERSHIP

1805 May 26. (Jefferson to Thomas Claxton). …I have desired Mr. Smilie (the person whom I was told you employed) to provide floorcloth for the hall and passage below only.”
1805 June 8. (Jefferson to James Dinsmore). “…I wish to have the hall floor painted … The painters here talk of putting a japan varnish over the painted floor and floor-cloth after the paint is dry, which they say will prevent its being sticky and will bear washing …”
1805 June 9. (Jefferson to Thomas Claxton). “The floor cloth for the hall is prepared and will be painted immediately in the Capitol.”
Source:

Source: http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/floor-coverings

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Today’s post has nothing to do with leadership!
After nearly 24 years as Thomas Jefferson, I know all the main aspects of his life, most of the not-so-well known aspects, and quite a bit of trivia. Every so often, though, I come across something new from his everyday life. Such is the subject of today’s post.

Floorcloth is fabric that has been painted and sealed and then used like we might use an area or throw rug, a runner or an accent piece. They were popular in the 1700s and 1800s but rendered obsolete by linoleum. The first excerpt above pertains to floorcloth in the President’s House, which we now call the White House. The second excerpt is for  Monticello, the third for the Capitol Building in Washington City.

According to this article, http://www.wickedlocal.com/marblehead/fun/gardening/x1266953998/Bringing-back-floorcloths, both Washington and Jefferson imported floorcloth from England. This account even gives instructions for making your own, painting your design on the papery back side of a piece of vinyl flooring.

You can learn more about floorcloth at http://www.gracewooddesign.com/, the company cited in the article.

After nearly a quarter century of studying this man, it is fun to learn and add tidbits like this to my store of knowledge!


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Self-Educated American Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

His business address is ThomasJeffersonLeadership.com.