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Elizabeth Willing Powel (February 21, 1743 – January 17, 1830) was an American socialite and a prominent member of the Philadelphia upper class of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. After the American Revolutionary War, she established a salon of the Republican Court of leading intellectuals and political figures. She corresponded widely, including with the political elite of the time. A close friend to George Washington, she was among those who convinced him to continue for a second term as president. She wrote extensively, but privately, on a wide range of subjects, including politics, the role of women, medicine, education, and philosophy. Powel is said to be the person who asked Benjamin Franklin "What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?", to which he replied "A republic ... if you can keep it"; over time the role played by Powel in this exchange has been all but removed. Hundreds of her letters and several of her portraits survive. (Full article...)
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