Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Martha Patterson

In my continuing quest, I'm spotlighting another White House hostess. Martha Johnson Patterson served as her father's hostess as her mother was ill (probably tuberculosis). Eliza Johnson only made two public appearances while Andrew Johnson was in office. While Martha's sister, Mary Johnson Stover, also came to DC with the family, it was Martha who did most of the official duties.
Martha had visited the White House during the Polk administration (remember both the Polks and Johnsons were from Tennessee) and was a "competent, unpretentious, and gracious hostess even during the impeachment crisis." Martha Patterson took an interest in the White House and its history and was responsible for putting the portraits of Van Buren, Adams, Tyler, Fillmore, Polk and Pierce on display. She worked on the restoration of the White House from the vandalism that had occurred during Mrs. Lincoln's seclusion after the assassination of President Lincoln. With an appropriation of $30,000 from Congress, the Johnsons helped to restore the White House to its splendor by 1867.

Martha Patterson died in 1901, the last surviving child of Andrew and Eliza Johnson.

I wanted to add a great quote of hers:
We are a plain people, sir, from the mountains of Tennessee, and we do not propose to put on airs because we have the fortune to occupy this place for a little while.

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