Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ellen's Window

Chester Arthur was a widower when he became President.  He had this window installed in his wife, Ellen's, memory at St. Johns Church in Lafayette Square:
He paid for the installation of a memorial stained-glass window at St. John’s Church, her childhood parish, which stood directly across Lafayette Square from the White House. The window was installed in the south transept of the church. With the lights left on inside the church at night, the illuminated stained-glass could be glimpsed from the second floor private residence rooms of the White House. In fact, President Arthur moved his own bedroom from the traditional presidential suite on the west end of the house facing the South Lawn, to the suite on the west end facing the North Lawn (where the current private Dining Room is located) and the church across the square, enabling to see it from his room.
The window, as you can see, depicts, angels of the Resurrection

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fashionable First Ladies

Who do you think of as the "fashionable" First Ladies?  When anyone mentions Jackie to me, I always steer them right to Frances Cleveland!  Frances was hugely popular and known to control fashion!  I found this piece that discusses her wardrobe in detail.

You'll note that the first link has the "14 Most Fashionable First Ladies" - see what you think.  I am not sure I agree with all the choices! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lucretia Garfield and Queen Victoria

This post by the Garfield National Historic Site compares Queen Victoria and Lucretia Garfield:
In the 1880s two notable women shared a bond that resulted from personal tragedy. One was a Head of State, Queen Victoria of Great Britain; the other was the wife of the Head of State, the American First Lady, Lucretia Garfield. On the surface, their lives did not suggest that the two women had much in common, but a closer look at their early married lives and later actions as widows demonstrates that similar conditions produced similar responses to their roles as the spouses of notable men.

The Queen personally wrote a note to Mrs. Garfield upon the President's death:
The death of President Garfield in 1881 moved the Queen, who never ceased mourning the loss of her own husband. On September 25, 1881, the day before President Garfield’s massive funeral in Cleveland, Queen Victoria wrote a letter to Lucretia Garfield. “I have anxiously watched,” she wrote, “the long, and fear at times, painful sufferings of your valiant husband and shared in the fluctuations between hope and fear, the former of which decreased about two months ago, and greatly to preponderate over the latter- and above all I fell in deeply for you!” As a gesture of her deep sorrow for Mrs. Garfield and the people of the United States, the Queen sent a large wreath of white tuberose to the funeral. The wreath was placed on the President’s casket as his body lay in state in Washington, D.C. and during his funeral in Cleveland.

Lucretia Garfield was so touched by this gesture and the Queen’s handwritten note that she sought to preserve the wreath (along with many other funeral flowers and artifacts) after the funeral. She sent it to Chicago to be preserved using a wax treatment. Today, visitors to James A. Garfield National Historic Site can see the wreath displayed in the Memorial Library vault.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grant’s Horses

Ulysses Grant loved horses and had several favorites during and after the Civil War:
Ulysses S. Grant developed a love for horses early in his life. As a small child, he played near the horses at his father's tannery, even crawling among their hooves. "Horses seem to understand Ulysses," said his mother. As Grant grew, he became an accomplished rider. General Grant rode many horses during the war. One of these was a black pony named Jeff Davis. This pony was taken from a farm owned by Joe Davis, brother of the Confederate president. Grant liked this horse so much that he asked the quartermaster to appraise it. The general then bought Jeff Davis and kept him for the rest of the pony's life. Egypt was another horse of Grant's. This horse was a gift from a group of people in southern Illinois. This area of the state is known as Little Egypt, which is how the horse got his name. Grant kept Egypt with him long after the war was over. The most famous of General Grant's horse was probably Cincinnati. The general was visiting his ill son in St. Louis when he received this horse from a man named S.S. Grant. This man was very ill himself, and no longer able to ride the horse. He thought that the general would give his beloved horse a good home and wanted the general to accept the horse as a gift. There was one stipulation: General Grant must promise that neither he nor anyone else would ever mistreat the horse. General Grant accepted the offer and named the horse Cincinnati. The general thought that Cincinnati was "the finest horse that I have ever seen." The horse was eighteen hands high and was descended from Lexington, a record breaking thoroughbred. At one point, General Grant supposedly refused an offer of $10,000 in gold for the horse. Very few people were permitted to ride Cincinnati, but General Grant did make an exception for President Lincoln, who reportedly enjoyed riding the horse very much. Jeff Davis, Egypt, and Cincinnati went to the White House with Grant after he was elected president. There is no doubt that Ulysses S. Grant's love of horses lasted his whole life. No matter the task before him, he always had time for his horses. 

You can also check on this site on the White House stables!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eliza Johnson During the Civil War

Living in Tennessee during the Civil War was not an easy thing to do, especially as Tennessee ended up leaving the Union.  Eliza Johnson was pretty much turned into a wartime refuge at times:
Despite being under Confederate Army authority, the people of eastern Tennessee, where the Johnsons lived, were largely loyal to the Union. With Senator Johnson speaking vigorously against the Confederacy and seeking Union protection of his region, Eliza Johnson became a target. Without warning, her Greeneville home was confiscated for use as sleeping quarters for Confederate Army troops. Forced from there, Eliza Johnson and her young son Frank and adult son Charles, had to seek shelter at the nearby Carter County home of her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Daniel Stover, and three young children. The Stover home, however, was also located in the area controlled by the Confederate government.

In April of 1862, Eliza Johnson, along with other prominent Union families in that jurisdiction were given short notice to vacate by Confederate General Kirby Smith, who oversaw it. In one of her only remaining letters, Eliza Johnson responded formally but honestly that “in my present state of health, I know I can not undergo the fatigues of such a journey; my health is quite feeble, a greater portion of the time being unable to leave my bed.” Five months later, she wrote him again, this time declaring herself able to travel and requesting the necessary permits for movement within the Confederate-held regions and to cross into Union territory when necessary.

Starting in mid-September 1862, the privations endured by Eliza Johnson essentially made her a wartime refugee. For several nights, she and her daughter Mary Stover also prepared and smuggled food into nearby mountain caves where her son-in-law and his fellow Union military sought shelter and eluded detection by Confederates. In late September, she was detained for two days in Murfreesboro by Confederate General, Nathan B. Forrest which proved to be a degrading and harrowing episode. Having had no warning that the family would be detained in Murfreesboro, Eliza Johnson was literally forced to go door to door to seek to the homes of strangers and beg for shelter that night for herself and her family. Only begrudgingly was one home of Confederate sympathizers made available to them but denied the next night. On the second night, Eliza Johnson and her family were able to find shelter only in an abandoned restaurant, with no place to sleep, no food for sustenance, and no light. Eliza Johnson had apparently considered such a possibility, for she had brought candles from home and kept sandwich remnants from the previous day, which she gave her grandchildren to eat. Once permission from the Confederate capital in Richmond was wired to officials in Murfreesboro, Eliza Johnson and her family proceeded by train to Nashville, during which they were violently harassed and her sons threatened with death by fellow passengers who were Confederate sympathizers.

Although she and her family were given safe refuge in Nashville, arriving there on 13 October 1862, Eliza Johnson was soon notified that the alcoholism of her adult son Robert Johnson had deteriorated his condition and threatened his Union Army appointment as a Colonel. Stationed with his military unit in Cincinnati, Ohio, determination of his case was delayed, due to the status of his father as a U.S. Senator. With Andrew Johnson seeking to coordinate matter from Washington, Eliza Johnson and her family members left Nashville for Cincinnati in November of 1862, to personally intercede on Robert Johnson’s behalf. From there, with her son Frank, Mary Stover, and her three Stover grandchildren, Eliza Johnson sought a health treatment at a sulfuric spa in Vevay, Indiana. Joined there by her son-in-law Daniel Stover in early 1863, the party proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky. The anxious months and exposure to the elements had worsened Eliza Johnson’s breathing problems and she decided to then proceed to Nashville in May, rather than unite with her husband in Washington, where the weather would further deteriorate her condition.

Appointed by President Lincoln as Military Governor of Tennessee (1862-1865), Johnson made several dramatic references in public speeches to the treatment of his wife by the Confederate Army. This prompted deeper resentment of him and increased threats against his life. Andrew and Eliza Johnson had an emotional but brief reunion in Nashville when she arrived there with her family in May of 1863. He separated from them again weeks later, removing himself to Kentucky’s Union territory for his safety. Ongoing threats against him and their renewed separation nonetheless perpetuated anxiety for Eliza Johnson.

This was intensified in April of 1863 by the sudden death of their son Charles, killed instantly when his skull fractured after being thrown from a horse. Having moved successfully from publishing a small-Union newspaper to earning a medical degree and then being appointed a Union Army surgeon with the rank of Colonel, 33 year old Charles Johnson had become an especial point of pride for Eliza Johnson and his unexpected death was one from which she was said to have never emotionally recovered, forever sensitive even to the mention of his name. The one consolation during this period was that daughter Martha Patterson, her husband and two children rejoined Eliza Johnson and lived in the same home with her.
In early June 1864, Andrew Johnson was nominated as the National Union Party’s vice presidential candidate, on the ticket with President Lincoln who was seeking re-election. Eliza Johnson played no role in his campaign, a fact which stemmed not from disinterest but her role in handling a family crisis at the time. Robert Johnson’s alcoholism had so worsened that he was forced to resign as a Union Colonel. In August of 1864, Eliza Johnson brought him to the Lewis Sanitarium in Lexington, Massachusetts for recovery treatment, and simultaneous treatment for her tuberculosis and the first signs of it in her younger son Frank. After making the arduous wartime journey from Nashville to Boston, they first rested at a resort, “Pigeon Cove,” outside the city. Another tragedy soon hit the family when Mary Stover was widowed by the sudden death of her husband in December of 1864.
Eliza Johnson remained in Nashville, rather than attend the Washington, D.C. swearing-in ceremony of Andrew Johnson as Vice President in March 1865. A month later, upon learning that Lincoln had been killed and of the conspiracy to kill members of his Administration, her daughter wrote to her father that, “Poor mother, she is almost deranged fearing that you will be assassinated.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Grant in Othello

Grant was in Othello during the Mexican War as the troops worked to find ways to occupy themselves:
To counteract the long periods of boredom and monotony, soldiers made their own entertainment while on campaign in Mexico. Theatrical productions were particularly popular. Plays were produced by the soldiers themselves or professional troops were hired to perform. At Corpus Christi in early January 1846, the officers of the 8th Infantry completed a theater capable of seating 800. The officers originally intended to stage their own plays with themselves playing all the parts. However, when Ulysses Grant drew the role of Desdemona in Othello, there were second thoughts and a professional actress from New Orleans was hired to play the female roles.

This article has a lot of information on this performance:
According to historical accounts, Grant's dry run as Desdemona was so ludicrous and unconvincing that the director recruited a New Orleans actress as a last-minute replacement.
No playbills or newspaper advertisements of the production survive. But it was common for troops to put on productions for entertainment or host professional traveling troupes, Jones said. So Jones' account of the actual production is fictionalized.

Grant's cross-dressing stab at Shakespeare is mentioned in his memoirs and those of Longstreet, Jones learned.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Did you know Walt Whitman wrote a poem tribute to Nellie Grant on her wedding?  Pretty cool!


Sacred, blithesome, undenied,
With benisons from East and West,
And salutations North and South,
Through me indeed to-day a million hearts and
Wafting a million loves, a million soul-felt prayers;
—Tender and true remain the arm that shields thee
Fair winds always fill the ship's sails that sail thee!
Clear sun by day, and bright stars at night, beam on
Dear girl—through me the ancient privilege too,
For the New World, through me, the old, old wed-
      ding greeting:
O youth and health! O sweet Missouri rose! O
      bonny bride!
Yield thy red cheeks, thy lips, to-day,
Unto a Nation's loving kiss.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mark Twain on the Impeachment

Mark Twain actually was in DC during the trail of Andrew Johnson and he wrote this satire about it:

Final Defeat of the Impeachment Project in the House


In this city, Feb. 13, at his lodgings in the chamber of the House Reconstruction Committee, our beloved brother, IMPEACHMENT. The malady of deceased was general debility. A short time ago his health had improved so much that a bright hope cheered the land that he would soon walk forth healthful and strong; but alas! we know not what a day may bring forth. A great fear came upon his physicians in the crisis of his disease. The weariness of watching overpowered the nurses, so that they fell asleep and neglected him -- and lo! a relapse! . . .

And so, these six, that were with Mrs. Bingham, being stronger than they that were with Mrs. Stevens, called Thad, suffered not the medicine to pass the lips of him that lay sick.

And in the self-same hour he died.

So endeth the second farce. The ancient school-boy phrase best describes the position of the Congressional bodies in this matter: ''One's afraid and 't'other darsn't.''

On Feb. 21 President Johnson ignited the final impeachment crisis by dismissing Stanton. On March 1, ''Mark Twain's Letter'' treated the event as a resurrection:


Monday, Feb. 24

The past few days have been filled with startling interest. On Friday the nation was electrified by the President's last and boldest effort to dislodge Mr. Stanton. The wild excitement that pervaded the capital that night, has not had its parallel here since the murder of Mr. Lincoln. The air was thick with rumors of dreadful import. Every tranquil brain, thrown from its balance by the colossal surprise, magnified the creations of its crazed fancy into the phantoms of anarchy, rebellion, bloody revolution! . . .

And out of the midst of the political gloom, impeachment, that dead corpse, rose up and walked forth again! . . .


The next morning that one word, Impeachment, was upon every tongue. . . . Before 9 o'clock in the morning a multitude was assembled in the Capitol grounds, and from all points of the compass the clans were still gathering. . . .

The multitude of strangers were waiting for impeachment. They did not know what impeachment was, exactly, but they had a general idea that it would come in the form of an avalanche, or a thunder clap, or that maybe the roof would fall in. Bye and bye a member rose up solemnly, and every soul prepared to stand from under. But it was a vain delusion -- he only had a speech to make about a degraded cooking stove patent. The people were justly incensed. . . .

After an hour, Twain relates, Thaddeus Stevens rose to speak.

All the faces were full of interest again in a moment. The emaciated old man stood up and addressed the Speaker . . . and when he finished, the profoundest stillness reigned in the House. Then the one man upon whom all interest centered, read the resolutions the multitude so longed to hear; and when he came to where it was resolved that ''The President of the United States be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors,'' the prodigious words had something so solemn and so awe-inspiring about them that the people seemed inclined to think that the expcted thunder-clap was about to crash above the pictured ceiling! The strong lights and shadows, . . . the ghostly figure of the reader, the eager interest that marked the sea of faces, the impressive silence and the historic grandeur of the occasion, conspired to render the scene oe of the most striking and dramatic that has ever been witnessed in the Capitol.

Tuesday, Feb. 25.

All day yesterday, the place was densely thronged; the people wished to hear the all-important vote taken. . . . They heard strong speeches from the Republicans, and angry protests from the Democrats -- but these latter were not confident in tone. The Democrats had said, themselves, that the President had made an ill-advised move and they felt that they were fighting for a lost cause. The ''aye'' votes, in nearly all cases, came in a clear voice, but many of the ''nays'' were inaudible in the reporters' gallery.


Yesterday was reception night at the White House and several of us went there at 10 o'clock. I confess that I went out of a thoughtless curiosity to see how the Chief Magistrate bore himself under these untoward circumstances, but I did not enjoy the visit. . . . He looked so like a plain, simple, goodnatured old farmer, that it was hard to conceive that this was the imperious ''tyrant'' whose deeds had been stirring the sluggish blood of thirty millions of people. He was uneasy and restless; the smile that came and went upon his face had distress in it; when he shook hands with a guest he looked wistfully into the person's face, as if he sought a friendly interest there, and yet hardly hoped to find it; he seemed humbled -- the expression of his countenance could be made to signify nothing else; when he ceased to smile for a moment, the shadow of a secret anxiety fell upon his features, and then, if ever a man looked weary and worn, and needful of rest and forgetfulness, it was this envied President of the United States.

I never saw a man who seemed as friendless and forsaken, and I never felt for any man so much.

But any sympathy Twain had for President Johnson on the eve of impeachment did not last. A year later, after a Senate trial that ended in acquittal by one vote, the President left office in the accustomed way, upon the inauguration of his successor, Ulysses S. Grant. On this occasion Twain again parodied human mortality, offering The New York Tribune an account that cast the last meeting of the Johnson Cabinet as the funeral for an Administration riddled by all the vices Twain deplored in politicians. The article was set in type, but never ran.

Andrew Johnson, that grand old second Washington, that resurrected Moses, rose & said:

''My children, when I came before the American people four years ago to deliver my inaugural, I was too full for utterance. (Emphatic assenting sobs from the Cabinet.) My emotions at this moment are no less profound . . . In quitting my high office, I am able to look back upon my administration of its duties without regret. By diligently violating my oath; by stultifying myself upon every occasion; by being stubborn in the wrong, & feeble & faithless toward the right; by obstructing the laws; by nursing anarchy & rebellion, & by deliberate treachery to the party that made me & trusted me, I have wiped away the contempt in which, because my obscure origin & humble occupation, my own loved section of the country did formerly hold me . . . My great deeds speak for themselves. I vetoed the Reconstruction acts; I vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau; I vetoed civil liberty; I vetoed Stanton . . . I hugged traitors to my bosom; I pardoned them by regiments & brigades . . . I smiled upon the Ku-Klux . . . I have made the name of office-holder equivalent to that of rogue; born & reared 'poor white trash,' I have clung to my native instincts, & done every small mean thing my eager hands could find to do. . . . My work is done; I die content.''

There was not a dry eye in the house; neither was there a sore heart. These inspiring words had driven all grief away. It was now after 12 o'clock. No time must be lost. Gideon produced a deck of cards, & we played seven-up for the furniture.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Governor of Tennessee

Andrew Johnson was Governor of Tennessee from 1853 to 1857 and then again as a military governor during the Civil War from 1862 to 1865.  He helped to pave the way for Tennessee to rejoin the Union after the War and pushed for the first tax for public education.

You can find another president on this list, but a few more famous names!  Going to be honest - didn't really think about Sam Houston as a Tennessee Governor!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Lou Hoover and the Girl Scouts

Lou Hoover was an active Girl Scout leader and helped coordinate one of their first cookie drives in 1935. Juliette Gordon Low personally recruited Mrs. Hoover to their cause:
In 1917, Lou was personally recruited by Juliette Gordon Low and for the rest of her life; Mrs. Hoover served continuously as a Girl Scout National board member or officer. Through her involvement in the organization, she adopted more than a million girls in green and brown uniforms, eager to introduce them to the outdoor world she had encountered as a 10-year-old tomboy on the Cedar River.

In 1929, she raised over half a million dollars to help realize a five-year plan of organizational development. She is also credited with facilitating the first national sale of Girl Scout cookies during her second term as president.
Lou Henry Hoover was a highly effective spokesperson and role model for young women. Said one observer: “Mrs. Hoover is just the type of person one would expect young girls to adore. She has a charm of manner that immediately attracts one.” She certainly attracted many young women to Girl Scouting. In 1927, there were some 168,000 Girl Scouts in America. By the time of her death in 1944, their ranks had swelled to 1,035,000.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Mrs. DePriest

In the early summer of 1929, citizens in the nation's capital enjoyed reading about the White House activities of President Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Hoover, in their local newspaper. They learned that a "talking movie" was shown at the White House, that the president's pets had acquired silver-plated nametags, and that a policy had been implemented to reduce the number of handshakes the president had to endure during public receptions. By July, the Hoovers no doubt sorely missed such whimsical coverage, when it was replaced by reports criticizing Mrs. Hoover for inviting an African-American woman to attend a White House tea. Ordinarily, the First Lady's activities would have been covered in the society news; in this case, however, Lou Hoover made front page headlines in newspapers across the country. Early in her husband's administration, Mrs. Hoover planned to invite the wives of U.S. Congressmen to the White House, but she faced a dilemma. For the first time in decades, and for the first time ever outside the South, an African-American man had been elected to the U.S. Congress.

Should she invite his wife, Mrs. Oscar DePriest, to tea at the White House along with the wives of the other Congressmen? She decided to do so, and Mrs. DePriest accepted the invitation and did indeed visit the White House, igniting a firestorm that demonstrated the sensitive and symbolic nature of the White House, as well as the delicate state of race relations in America on the cusp of the Great Depression.

Oscar DePriest was the first African-American elected as a U.S. Congressman since Reconstruction, and he was the first African-American ever elected to serve in the U.S. Congress from outside the South. A Republican from Chicago, DePriest began his term in March 1929, at the same time President Hoover started his term as president. It quickly became clear that a decision had to be made about what to do about Mrs. DePriest. While President and Mrs. Hoover tried to minimize political fallout, there does not seem to be much doubt that they would include Mrs. DePriest. It would be difficult to ignore White House traditions, so canceling the event was not really an option. Nor would the Hoovers snub Mrs. DePriest by excluding her.

Not since President Theodore Roosevelt invited African-American Booker T. Washington to a private White House dinner in 1901 had race relations touched the first family in such a personal way. President Roosevelt was severely criticized, particularly by the Southern press, for extending a dinner invitation to a Black man and thereby "degrading the White House." While some people praised Roosevelt for breaking a barrier, the widespread negative publicity convinced him not to offer such an invitation again. Subsequent presidents followed suit. Seemingly, it was more politically expedient to avoid controversy than to court it, but tradition and chance collided during the first year of Herbert Hoover's administration. Considering how potentially volatile the situation was, however, much thought and planning went into how to make the event as successful as possible and to minimize negative reaction. Years later, Irvin "Ike" Hoover (no relation to President Herbert Hoover), White House "chief usher"—supervisor of the White House household staff—described the incident in his published memoirs. He consulted with the First Lady's social secretary, who insisted that Mrs. DePriest be invited as a matter of protocol. The only similar situation he could remember was the Booker T. Washington dinner, and "precedents were sought, but none could be found that definitely applied" for planning the details of the event. The president's staff in the West Wing then discussed the upcoming event.

Finally, it was decided that the Congressional wives should be invited in several groups. Before the invitations were sent, Lou Hoover's social secretary visited with a small number of the women to identify those who would not be offended to be at the same social function as Mrs. DePriest. They decided to invite Mrs. DePriest to the last of the teas, for fear that doing otherwise might lead wives of Southern Congressman to boycott subsequent gatherings. One last preparation was needed: the morning of Mrs. DePriest's expected visit, White House security and doormen were alerted "to be careful when a colored lady should present herself and say she had an appointment with Mrs. Hoover, lest they create a scene by refusing her admittance."

On June 12, 1929, Mrs. Hoover received Mrs. DePriest and others in the White House Green Room. They then assembled for tea in the Red Room. Ike Hoover noted in his memoirs that "Mrs. DePriest conducted herself with perfect propriety. She really seemed the most composed one in the group." When she departed, there was "an admiration at the way she conducted herself" in a difficult situation.

Public reaction was less complimentary, however. Some southern newspaper editors accused Mrs. Hoover of "defiling" the White House. The Texas legislature went so far as to formally admonish her. President Hoover, in his memoirs, said that "the speeches of southern Senators and Congressmen… wounded [Mrs. Hoover] deeply." Mrs. Hoover's secretary, Ruth Fesler, later recalled that the first lady "stood her ground; she had done the right thing and she knew it."

You can check out this site for information as well.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Lincoln's New Year

Presidents used to greet the New Year by shaking hands with anyone in the public who wanted to.  Lincoln shook thousands of hands before signing the Emancipation Proclamation:
A marathon of handshaking became a footnote to a momentous event on January 1, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln intended to sign the Emancipation Proclamation on that day, but first he had to shake thousands of hands.

When he finally sat down in his upstairs study to sign the historic document, he told Secretary of State William Seward that his right hand was swollen.

Lincoln suspected this particular signature might be examined closely in years to come, and he didn’t want it to appear weak. He was later quoted as saying, “The signature looks a little tremulous, as my hand was tired, but my resolution was firm.”

The following year, the New York Times printed the following dispatch, dated January 2, 1864, from the Associated Press:
Years ago had any colored man presented himself at the White House, at the President’s levee, seeking an introduction to the Chief Magistrate of the nation, he would, in all probability, have been roughly handled for his impudence. Yesterday four colored men, of genteel exterior and with the manners of gentlemen, joined in the throng that crowded the Executive mansion, and were presented to the President of the United States.
Lincoln’s final New Year’s Day reception was described in the New York Times of January 4, 1865:
The gala event of our New Year’s celebration was the annual reception of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. The White House was thrown open at 12 o’clock, and the Cabinet Ministers, the Diplomatic Corps, the Judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Claims, and the army and navy officers, paid, in the order of precedence, the compliments of the season to the President and his wife. At 1 o’clock the citizens at large were presented. The Marine Band during the hours of reception discoursed excellent music, and the whole affair passed off with brilliancy, no less than five thousand people having gained admittance to the reception. The President was in the best of spirits, and received the greetings of his friends in the most genial manner.
The New Year’s Day receptions continued for decades after Lincoln’s time. In the years before White House Christmas trees became the focus of holiday entertaining, the visit to the president's house on the first day of the year was the beginning of the social season in Washington.