The Mischianza or Mischianza extravaganza was a party. It happened in Philadelphia during the American Revolutionary War. John Andre threw the party on May 18, 1778 for General William Howe. About 400 people came to the party
Motivation[change | change source]
The party was for General William Howe and Admiral Richard Howe. They were leaders in the British military. William Howe was being sent back to England because the government blamed him for the loss of the Battle of Saratoga. But the men in the army thought he was a very good general and decided to throw him a large party.
Event[change | change source]
To start the party, the Howe brothers and other leaders floated down the Delaware river on decorated boats. People in the buildings on the sides of the river waved to them. Military musicians played music. The HMS Roebuck fired a seventeen-gun salute.
Most of the party was at Walnut Grove. Walnut grove had belonged to a man named Joseph Wharton, but he supported the American Revolution, so the British had taken it. Major John Andre was the master of ceremonies, meaning he organized the party and told everyone what would happen next.
Andre planned a medieval-style joust, where men on horseback would practice-fight with lances. He named the two teams the Knights of the Blended Rose and the Knights of the Burning Mountain and designed costumes, flags, and slogans for them. Each knight had a lady, like in the tradition of courtly love from the middle ages. Andre picked women from loyalist American families. He gave them costumes to wear that would remind people of the Crusades. The women's costumes were what 18th-century English people thought of as Turkish.
After the joust, the party guests walked under two triumphal arches that Andre had built for the party. The first arch was decorated with things about the ocean, like the Roman god Neptune with his trident. This was to honor Admiral Howe. The second was decorated with military trophies. This was to honor General Howe. Then there was dancing and fireworks.
The guests ate dinner in a beautifully decorated tent. Twenty-four enslaved men in costumes served dinner.
Costs[change | change source]
Twenty-two British officers got the money for the party: £3,312. This did not count the costumes people wore, which cost about £12,000.
Response[change | change source]
Most of the people who went to and wrote about the Meschianza said how beautiful and elegant everything was. However, other people did not like that the officers had celebrated a triumph, or victory, before the war was won.
Richard Howe's secretary, Ambrose Serle wrote, "Every man of Sense, among ourselves, tho’ not unwilling to pay a due Respect, was ashamed of this mode of doing it."
A Quaker named Elizabeth Drinker wrote that she did not like the idea of throwing a big party when so many people were being hurt by the war: "How insensible these people appear, while our land is so greatly desolated, and death and sore destruction has overtaken and impends over so many."