ALTHOUGH constantly urged to take precautions for his own safety, Lincoln never did. He used to walk about the streets as freely as any ordinary citizen ; and night after night, during the darkest period of the war, he would stroll across to Secretary Stanton’s office to talk over the latest news from the front. Stanton’s remonstrances he would dismiss with a weary smile, protesting that, as far as he was aware, he had not an enemy in the world, but if he had, any-body who wished to kill him had a hundred chances every day so, why be uneasy ? His second inaugural address was shorter than the first ; he wrote it about midnight of the third of March, seated in an armchair where he was resting after a hard day’s work, and holding the cardboard sheets in his lap. Its concluding words were as memorable as those of four years before : “With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us go forward with the work we have to do: to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who has borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, and to do all things which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Early on the fourth, he went to the Capitol quietly and devoted the remaining hours of the morning to reading and signing bills. The procession which had been arranged to escort him was formed at the White House, with the President’s carriage at its head, occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and Senators Harlan and Anthony. A platoon of marshals pioneered it, and a detachment of the Union Light Guard surrounded it. The crowd, recognizing the White House coachman on its box,. but not seeing distinctly who sat behind, cheered it all along the line under the supposition that it held the President. Two companies of colored troops and a lodge of colored Odd Fellows were among the marchers, this being the first time that negroes ever took part in an inaugural pageant except in some servile capacity.
We have already seen how Washington received the news of the final triumph of the Federal arms, and how Lincoln fell in the midst of the general rejoicing. Many readers of his inaugural address of that year have since professed to discern between its written lines a veiled foreboding of the end. Certain it is that he was an habitual dreamer, and that one dream, which came to him on the night before Fort Sumter was bombarded, was repeated on the eve of the first battle of Bull Run, and just before other important engagements. As he described it, he seemed to be on the water in an unfamiliar boat, “moving rapidly toward a dark, indefinite shore.” The last recurrence of the dream was in the early morning hours of April 14, 1865. We shall never know, now, whether it was this or some other portent that caused him to say to a trusted companion, not long before his death : “I don’t think I shall live to see the end of my term. I try to shake off the vision, but it still keeps haunting me.” He had received several threatening letters, which he kept in a separate file labeled : “Letters on Assassination.” After his death there was found among these a note about the very plot in which Booth was the chief actor.
Fate plays strange tricks. For a few hours that spring, one friend in Washington unconsciously held Lincoln’s life in his hand. Harriet Riddle, since better known as Mrs. Davis, the novelist, was a pupil at a local convent school. Shortly before the tragedy at Ford’s Theater, a teacher who had been on a brief visit to a Southern town returned, apparently laboring under some terrible excitement which she was trying to suppress. At the session of her class immediately preceding their separation for Good Friday, she suddenly fell upon her knees, bade them all join her in prayer, and poured forth, in a voice and manner so agonizing that the children were thrilled with a nameless horror, an hysterical appeal for divine mercy on the souls who were soon to be called before their Maker without warning.
Harriet, who was an impressionable child, could hardly contain herself till she reached home and sought her father, to whom she attempted to relate the afternoon’s occurrence. He was the District-attorney, and an intimate of the President’s, and was so immersed in the cares of office that he put her off till he should have more leisure. When she was awakened on Good Friday night by the noise of citizens and soldiers hurrying through the streets and calling out the news of the assassination, she uttered an exclamation which caught her father’s attention, and then he listened to the tale which he had once waved aside. “Why did you not tell me this before ?” he demanded. It was then too late to do more than collect such evidence as he might from the pupils to aid the detectives ; but the teacher who had uttered that awful prayer had fled and could never be traced. No one could longer doubt her guilty knowledge of the plot, probably acquired during her visit in the South.
The oath with which Vice-president Johnson took upon himself the obligations of the Presidency was administered to him at his rooms in the Kirkwood House, a hostelry on the Pennsylvania Avenue corner now occupied by the Hotel Raleigh. Of his administration, the most broadly interesting incident was the impeachment trial described in an earlier chapter; and in our reflections on how history is shaped, another personal anecdote seems worthy of a place. Its heroine was Miss Vinnie Ream, the sculptor, who later became Mrs. Hoxie.
As his trial drew near its close, and Johnson’s friends and enemies were able to figure out pretty accurately how the Senate was going to divide, it became plain that the issue would hang on a single vote. If all the Senators counted against the President stood firm, he would be convicted, thirty-six to eighteen ; but Secretary Stanton insisted that Ross of Kansas was preparing to go over from the majority to the minority. Ross was occupying a room in the same house with Miss Ream on Capitol Hill, and General Daniel E. Sickles, who was acquainted with him, was deputed to see him on the night before the roll-call and try to hold him fast against the President. Miss Ream happened to meet the General at the door, ushered him into the parlor but refused to let him see the Senator, and held him at bay till dawn the following morning, when he gave up the effort as fruitless and went home. If she had weakened for a moment, there is no telling what might have happened, for Sickles was in a position to have brought very heavy pressure to bear upon Ross. The roll-call showed thirty-five for conviction to nineteen against less than the two-thirds required to convict ; and it was Ross’s vote that saved Johnson.
At the inauguration of Grant, the relations between him and the retiring President were so strained, owing to the recent struggle at the War Department, that Johnson refused to attend the ceremonies unless it could be arranged that he and Grant should ride in separate carriages. General Rawlins therefore acted as escort to Grant and Vice-president Colfax. Grant was not much of a speaker, but the delivery of his inaugural address is remembered for a pretty incident. His little daughter Nellie, confused by the continuous bustle all about her, obeyed on the platform the same childish impulse which moved her in any exigency at home, and, running to his side, nestled against him, clasping one of his hands in both of hers and holding it all the time he was speaking. At the ball that evening, access to the supper-room and to the cloakroom was by the same door, which caused a blockade in the passage. The servants in charge of the wraps became hopelessly demoralized, with the result that Horace Greeley had to wait two hours to recover his white overcoat and lost his hat entirely. The torrent of lurid expletives he let loose during his ordeal shared space and importance, in the next day’s newspapers, with the thirty-five thousand dollars’ worth of diamonds worn by Mrs. John Morrissey, wife of the prize-fighter.
Grant’s second inauguration began inauspiciously, his aged father falling down a flight of stairs at the Capitol and suffering injuries which finally caused his death. The day was stormy, and the evening the coldest known in Washington for years. Unfortunately, the only place where the ball could be held was an improvised wooden building, through the crevices of which the icy wind blew a gale; and, to complete everybody’s misery, the heating apparatus broke down, so that many of the ladies who had come in conventional toilets had to protect their shoulders with fur mantillas, while their escorts put on overcoats. The President was so cold that he forgot the figures in the state quadrille which he was to lead, and was obliged to depend on General Sherman to push him through them. The supper was ruined, the meats and salads competing in temperature with the ices; all that could be saved was the coffee, which was kept hot over alcohol lamps. The breath of the members of the band congealed in their instruments, and several hundred canaries which were to sing in the intervals between band pieces shriveled into little downy balls on the bottoms of their cages and uttered not a trill.
The key-note of Grant’s administration on its political side was his steadfast faith that any friend of his was capable of filling any office in his gift. He named Alexander T. Stewart, the New York dry-goods merchant, for Secretary of the Treasury, but had to let him resign on account of technical objections raised in the Senate. Wendell Phillips having come to his defense at a hostile mass-meeting in Boston, Grant wished to make him Minister to England, but the offer was declined because Mrs. Phillips would not be able to go abroad at that time. Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts, though a stanch Democrat before the war, had become an “administration man” as soon as the Union was threatened, and thereby aroused the admiration of Grant, who named him for Chief Justice after Chase’s death ; but the same political independence which so won Grant had incensed a number of Senators, who caused the rejection of the nomination.
Later, however, Grant succeeded in sending Cushing as Minister to Spain. Cushing was a man full of peculiarities, which strengthened with his years. At an early age he discarded the umbrella as a nuisance and braved storms unprotected. Naturally his hats suffered. At the time he received his billet for Spain, he was wearing one of the chimney-pot variety, which, from its appearance, he must have bought many years before. The nap was a good deal worn, there was a slight bulge in the top, and, thanks to the squareness of his head, he could wear it with either side in front. When some one suggested that he had better buy a new hat before presenting himself at the Spanish court, he considered the question solemnly, turning the old hat around and examining it with care before answering : “No, I think I shall wait and see what the fashions are in Madrid.” Though ready to spend his money freely for any public purpose, in private indulgences the frugal notions inherited from his New England ancestry came to the front. Hardly anybody ever saw him light a fresh cigar, but he used to carry about in his pocket a case packed with partly consumed stumps, to one of which he would help himself when he wished a smoke, only to let it die again as soon as he had become interested in talking.
It was because of his liking for both Blaine and Conkling that Grant strove, as his last act in the White House, to reconcile the two men, who were intensely hostile to each other. Their quarrel had grown out of a passage in debate when Conkling had made some very sarcastic comments on Blaine. The latter retorted in kind. “The contempt of that large-minded gentleman,” said he, glancing toward Conk-ling, “is so wilting, his haughty disdain, his grandiloquent swell, his majestic, supereminent, overpowering, turkey-gobbler strut have been so crushing to myself and all the members of this House, that I know it was an act of temerity for me to venture upon a controversy with him.” Referring to a recent newspaper article in which Conkling had been likened to the late Henry Winter Davis, Blaine went on: “The gentleman took it seriously, and it has given his strut additional pomposity. The resemblance is great. It is striking. Hyperion to a satyr, Thersites to Hercules, mud to marble, a dunghill to a diamond, a singed cat to a Bengal tiger, a whining puppy to a roaring lion !”
Conkling never forgave this attack. It seems like a small thing to change the whole current of a nation’s history, but it probably cost Blaine the Presidency ; for in 1884 the disaffection of the Republicans in Conkling’s old home in central New York gave the State to Cleveland. President Grant’s effort to bring the foes together failed because Blaine, though ready to make any ordinary concessions, balked when Conk-ling demanded that he should confess his “mud to marble” speech to have been “unqualifiedly and maliciously false.”
In 1874, Miss Nellie Grant was married to Algernon Sartoris, a British subject. She was her father’s pet. At her wedding, he stood beside his wife to receive the guests, his face wearing a sphinx-like calm, though every one knew how he would feel the parting soon to follow. His forced composure continued till Nellie had left the house with her husband, and then he disappeared. An old friend, seeking him upstairs, tapped at his chamber door, and, as there was no response, pushed it slightly ajar and looked in. There, on the bed, face downward, his eyes buried in his hands and his whole frame shaken with grief, lay the great soldier, sobbing like a child.
Throughout the Grant administration, the social arbiter for Washington was Mrs. Hamilton Fish, wife of the Secretary of State. She was a woman of the world, broad-minded and efficient, but the White House was not a very ceremonious place in that era. When the new Danish Minister called, for instance, in full regalia, to present his credentials, he found no one prepared to receive him, even the negro boy who met him at the door having to hurry into a coat before ushering him in. Persons who attended the state dinners say that Grant often turned down his wine-glasses. It was, as far as I have ever heard, the first instance of a President’s doing this ; and it paved the way for the reign of cold water which came in with the next President, Rutherford B. Hayes.
Hayes entered office under cloudy auspices. His competitor for the Presidency was Samuel J. Tilden, a powerful Democratic leader. In some of the Southern States which were still in the throes of reconstruction, United States troops were doing police duty, the Governors were appointees of a Republican President, and the election machinery was in the hands of Republican office-holders, though the bulk of the white voting population was Democratic. In these States the official canvassers had reported the Republican electors chosen, the electors had cast their ballots for Hayes, and the Governors had signed and forwarded their certificates accordingly, in defiance of Democratic protests that the returns were fictitious. Without these States, the Democratic candidate had one hundred and eighty-four of the one hundred and eighty-five electoral votes necessary to a choice, while the Republican candidate could win only with their aid ; so a single electoral vote would tip the scale either way. The duty of opening the certificates and ananouncing the results devolved upon the President of the Senate, a strong Republican.
The Democrats made so serious charges of falsification of the records that the whole country became much excited, and fears were entertained in Congress that another civil war might be impending. In the midst of the turmoil, a joint committee of both chambers worked out a plan for a bi-partisan Electoral Commission, to consist of five Senators, five Representatives, and five Justices of the Supreme Court, before whom all the questions at issue should be argued by counsel, and whose decisions should place the result beyond immediate appeal. The Commission, as made up, contained eight Republicans and seven Democrats, and its decisions were always given by a vote of eight to seven. It held its sessions in the room now occupied by the Supreme Court, where it began its work on February 1, 1877, and at the end of a month rendered its last ruling, which gave the Presidency to Mr. Hayes.
As the fourth of March was to fall on Sunday, President Grant had Hayes meet Chief Justice Waite in the red parlor of the White House on the evening of the third and take the oath privately. The inaugural ball was omitted because the Electoral Commission had finished its work too late to enable preparations to be made. President Hayes was not nearly so conspicuous a figure during the following four years as his wife, who was a woman of very positive convictions, especially on the subject of alcoholic stimulants. At her instance, wines were banished from the White House table, the only exception occurring when the Grand Dukes Alexis and Constantin of Russia visited Washington. It is said to have been some incident at the entertainment given in their honor which fixed Mr. and Mrs. Hayes definitely in the determination not to depart again from the rule of teetotalism.
The newspapers poked a good deal of innocent fun at the Hayes parties on the score that, though the ban was never lifted from the ordinary intoxicants drunk from glasses, there was always plenty of strong Roman punch served in orange-skins. The nickname which presently fastened itself to this deceptive course was the “life-saving station.” In his diary, however, Mr. Hayes has left us the statement : “The joke of the Roman punch oranges was not on us, but on the drinking people. My orders were to flavor them rather strongly with the same flavor that is found in Jamaica rum. This took ! It was refreshing to hear the drinkers say, with a smack of their lips, `Would they were hot ! ” I am bound to add that, in spite of the good man’s enjoyment of his ruse, the suspicion still survives that his steward used to put a private and particular interpretation on his orders.
Although Mr. Hayes was not a member of any church, his wife was an ardent Methodist, and one marked feature of their life in Washington was the Sunday evening sociables at the White House, when Cabinet officers and other dignitaries would come in and pass a couple of hours singing hymns, with light conversation between. Among the most interested attendants at these gatherings was General Sherman, who used to join vigorously in the singing or try to. Another, who was destined to play an independent part in history a few years afterward, was a clever young Congressman from Ohio named William McKinley, Junior. He had been a volunteer soldier in Hayes’s regiment early in the war, and they had grown to be fast friends. At one of the first of the secular receptions during the Hayes regime, the guest of honor was a budding celebrity, Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. She labored under the handicap of knowing no English, and had to carry on most of her conversation through an interpreter.
President Hayes provoked a good deal of criticism among the Southerners in Washington by appointing Frederick Douglass, the negro ex-slave and orator, United States Marshal of the District, for the office had up to that time carried with it the duties of a sort of majordomo at the President’s receptions, including the presentation of the guests. A visitor to Washington about these days who did not attend the state receptions, but held some of his own in the open air, was a man of small and unimpressive stature, with black hair and mustache and a rather good-natured face, whose portrait appeared repeatedly in the illustrated papers, and whose name carried with it a certain terror to timid souls who expected to see him launch a social revolution. This was Dennis Kearney, who had made himself notorious by his speeches in the sand-lots of San Francisco, declaring that “the Chinese must go,” and denouncing every one, regardless of race, who had been thrifty enough to accumulate any of this world’s goods. His remarkable coinage of words and generally unique English gave currency to a multitude of epigrammatic phrases, which for several years were known as “Kearneyisms.”
All through the campaign of 1880 a great deal was made of the sayings and doings of “Grandma Garfield,” the mother of the Republican candidate : an old lady of a type rarely seen now, who was not ashamed of her years, wore her cap and spectacles as badges of distinction, and never forgot that, however great he might have grown, her son was still her son. Nor did he forget it ; and on the east portico of the Capitol, with his assent to the constitutional oath barely off his lips, his first act as President was to bend down and kiss her. The inauguration was notable, too, for the important part taken in the parade by the defeated competitor for the Presidency, General Winfield S. Hancock. He was a splendid-looking man and a superb horseman, and in his uniform as a Major-general was the most imposing object in the procession. The spectators, delighted with his sportsmanlike spirit, paid him as hearty a tribute as they paid the President.
A few weeks after the inauguration, a fierce quarrel broke out over the distribution of federal patronage, splitting the Republican party into two factions. The angry irruptions of the newspapers on both sides, which would have passed with any normal mind for what they were worth, made a more serious impression on that of Charles J. Guiteau, a degenerate with a craving for self-advertisement ; and, failing in his attempt to obtain an office for himself, he saw in the controversy an opportunity to pose as a hero by removing its cause. Garfield, as a graduate of Williams College, had arranged to attend the next commencement, and was in the railway station on the second of July, 1881, on the way to his train, when he was approached by Guiteau from behind and shot.
He lingered, first in the White House and later at Elberon, New jersey, whither he was taken after the weather became too sultry in Washington, till the nineteenth of September. The assassin was brought to trial at the winter term of the Supreme Court of the District, convicted of murder, and hanged.
On the evening of the day of Garfield’s death, the Vice-president, Chester A. Arthur, was sworn in at his home in New York City, in the presence of his son and a few personal friends, including Elihu Root. A more formal administration of the oath took place in the Vice-president’s room at the Capitol in Washington three days later, Chief Justice Waite officiating, with Associate Justices Harlan and Matthews, General Grant, and several Senators and Representatives as witnesses. After signing the oath, Arthur read a brief address and returned at once to his office.
Arthur was a widower, and his only daughter was still too young to take full charge of his household affairs, so his sister, Mrs. McElroy, presided at all his social functions. He was very fond of music, and the great operatic and concert stars were always sure of a warm welcome from him when they passed through Washington. The finest of his dinners was that which he gave for Christine Nilsson. As the company rose from the table and he offered his arm to escort her back to the east room, the Marine Band in the corridor, responding to a secret signal, began playing one of her favorite airs, and, with the spontaneous delight of a child, she fell to singing it, her voice soaring bird-like above the instruments as she walked. This surprise for Miss Nilsson was typical of the graceful things Arthur was fond of doing, and in which he set the pace for the members of his official family. Ex-president Grant and his wife, on their return from their tour of the world, dropped in upon Washington, as it chanced, just when a reception was about to be held at the White House. Arthur sent his carriage for them. Mrs. Frelinghuysen, wife of the Secretary of State, was on that occasion filling Mrs. McElroy’s accustomed station next to the President in the receiving line ; but on the entrance of the distinguished guests she withdrew, gently pressing Mrs. Grant into her place as hostess of the evening.
As the first Democratic President since the war, Grover Cleveland of New York found a hard task laid out for him. He realized that he owed his election chiefly to the reform element in both the great parties, yet it was his own party that claimed him, and, having been out of power for a quarter-century, it was not over-modest in its demands. His efforts at tariff reduction stirred the protectionists to such activity in the next campaign that Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, a Republican and a grandson of “Old Tippecanoe,” was elected in November, 1888. When he entered office, Cleveland was a bachelor forty-eight years old. In June, 1886, he married Miss Frances Folsom, the daughter of a former law partner to whom he had been warmly attached. The wedding ceremony was per-formed in the White House, only a small party of friends attending. Mrs. Cleveland, who was young and of attractive presence, made friends for herself on every side and did much to soften the antagonisms which her husband’s course in office necessarily aroused.
The clerk of the weather seemed to have been storing his rain for weeks in order to let it all out upon Harrison’s inauguration, and the street pageant was a drenched and draggled affair. The civilities of the outgoing to the incoming President gave the day its one touch of cheerfulness. Cleveland sat on the rear seat of the open landau which bore them to the Capitol, the front seat being occupied by Senators Hoar and Cockrell, acting as a committee of escort. In order to enable Harrison to lift his hat to the people who cheered him from the sidewalk, Cleveland raised his own umbrella and held it over his companion. When Cockrell undertook to do the same for Hoar, his umbrella broke. Cleveland at once borrowed an umbrella of his Secretary of the Treasury in the next carriage, and, when Mr. Hoar demurred, reassured him with a laugh : “Don’t be alarmed, Senator; we’re honest, and I’ll see that it gets back !” As they drove down the Avenue, most of the applause, naturally, was for the President-elect ; but once in a while a spectator would shout, “Good-by, Grover!” or something of the sort, and Cleveland would return the greeting with a smile and a nod. So much kindly feeling was manifested throughout the morning that Harrison, who was temperamentally the least effusive of men, was deeply touched ; and he could not forbear referring in his inaugural address to the courtesy he had received at Cleveland’s hands, adding that he should endeavor to show like consideration to his successor four years later.
And four years later Providence gave him the chance, which he improved as far as in him lay. In the meantime he had passed through many sad experiences. Factional divisions, almost as serious as those that culminated in the assassination of Garfield, had broken up his party. His Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine, had parted company with him on the eve of the meeting of the Republican National Convention of 1892, become his rival for the Presidential nomination, and died the following winter. Two of Blaine’s sons and one of his daughters had already died. Mr. Windom, Secretary of the Treasury, had fallen dead at a public banquet, just after finishing a memorable speech in defense of the administration. General Tracy, Secretary of the Navy, had lost his wife and daughter in a fire which destroyed their Washington home. The wife of the President’s secretary, Mr. Halford, had died ; and to crown his load of sorrows, Mr. Harrison lost his own wife and her father almost at the time of his defeat for reelection.
On the other hand, he had enjoyed the presence in the White House of his daughter, Mrs. McKee, with her two children, one of whom, a bright little boy named in his honor, was his special favorite and playfellow out of office hours. The south garden was the scene of many of their frolics, which recalled the legends about John Adams and his juvenile tyrant. One incident will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. “Baby McKee,” as Benjamin junior was commonly called, used to drive a goat before his little wagon. This amusement was confined, as a rule, to occasions when the President could be near at hand to watch proceedings, for the goat was an erratic brute. One day it caught the President napping and started at full gallop for an open gate. Mr. Harrison, suddenly awakened to the situation, dashed after. The goat succeeded in pulling the wagon through the narrow aperture without a collision, but, once in the street, bolted straight for a trench in which workmen were laying a pipe. By a succession of mighty leaps, such as probably no dignitary of his rank had ever made before, Mr. Harrison contrived to get in front of the animal, seize it by the bit, and swing it around in the nick of time to prevent its jumping the excavation and tumbling wagon and boy into the mud at the bottom. The President was puffing hard as he returned triumphantly to the White House, dragging the reluctant goat by the headstall, under a running fire of complaints from his grandson for spoiling the morning ride.
When Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland came back in 1893, they brought with them their infant daughter Ruth, and open gates in the south garden of the White House became at once a thing of the past; for the garden was the child’s only playground, and an epidemic of kidnapping had recently broken out. For further security, and in order to have one place where his domestic hours would be free from business interruptions, the President rented the small estate known as Woodley, in one of the northwestern suburbs. Here he lived during the greater part of the year, driving in daily to his work and spending a night in Washington now and then if necessary. By that time the official encroachments on the family space of the White House had reached a point where either the building must be enlarged or a separate dwelling provided for the President. A scheme of enlargement had been broached in Harrison’s term, but the plans drawn under Mrs. Harrison’s direction changed the shape of the old mansion in too many essential features to win the approval of the architects consulted, and the matter was dropped. The Clevelands, by living at Woodley, escaped some of the cramping the Harrisons had suffered, and the McKinleys, who came in next, got along pretty well because they had no children.
As Senator La Follette once said, McKinley never had a fair chance as President to show what was in him : his first term was broken into by the Spanish War, and his second was cut off almost at its beginning by assassination. He was sweet-natured and a born manager of men, and no one who ever filled the Presidential chair left behind him a more fragrant memory. As his murder occurred in Buffalo, and Czolgosz, who killed him, was tried and put to death there, the episode serves our present purpose only in leading up to the accession of Theodore Roosevelt of New York, the Vice-president, who was recalled from a summer vacation in the mountains to take the head of the state. His inauguration was of the simplest sort, at the house of a friend in Buffalo, where some members of the McKinley Cabinet and a few other gentlemen met to witness the administration of the oath.
His first few months in the White House convinced the new President that something must be done with-out delay to relieve the building, which had become not only inconvenient but dangerous. For several years, when repairs had been found necessary, they had been made by temporary patchwork, with little reference to their effect on anything else ; not a few of the floor timbers subject to most strain were badly rotted, and others stood in so perilous relations to the lighting apparatus that only by a miracle had the house escaped destruction by fire. Fortunately Congress had begun to show some interest in a long-mooted project for bringing the city back to the plan laid out by L’Enfant ; and a, generous appropriation was procured for making over the White House to resemble as nearly as practicable the President’s Palace built by Hoban. All the latter half of 1902 was given to this work. The office was moved out of the main building and planted in a little house of its own on the same spot where Jefferson used to have his workroom, at the extremity of the western terrace. The eastern terrace, of which nothing but the buried foundations remained, was rebuilt, and so arranged as to afford an entrance for guests at the larger receptions.
Inside of the main house, the old lines were kept intact as far as the comfort of its occupants would permit, though the restoration did work some changes. The noble east room, which for many years was decorated in the style of the saloon of a river steamboat, wears now the air of simple elegance designed for it before steamboats were invented ; and the state dining-room has been so enlarged that future Presidents will not be forced, on especially great occasions, to spread their tables in the east room in order to spare the diners the annoyance of bumping elbows. Up-stairs the changes have been rather of function than of form. The room which, from Grant’s day to McKinley’s, was used for Cabinet meetings, and where our peace protocol with Spain was signed, is now a library ; that in which Lincoln read to his official family the first draft of his Emancipation Proclamation is now a bedroom, and a like fate has befallen the former library, where Cleveland penned his Venezuela message. The old lines of partition, however, are all there. Logs still blaze and crackle in the fireplace beside which Jackson puffed his corncob pipe. The windows through which Lincoln looked over at the Virginia hills have not changed even the shape or size of their old-fashioned panes. The places where our first royal guest slept, and where Garfield passed his long ordeal of suffering, remain bedchambers.
Mrs. Roosevelt, who loved the White House and had made a study of its architectural history, personally supervised every stage of its restoration. When the alterations were finished, she took the same interest in the process of refurnishing, so that the final product was, as nearly as modern conditions would permit, the White House of a century ago. The removal of need-less obstructions was one of the most successful elements in the renovation, as it made possible the handling of a crowd of fifteen hundred or two thousand people without confusion. Socially, the Roosevelt administration was in every way the most brilliant Washington has ever known. Mrs. Roosevelt was a perfect hostess, and the many-sided President drew about him the leaders in every line of thought and action. In his democracy of companionship and his forceful way of doing whatever he laid his hand to, he was another Jackson ; in his attraction for men of letters, students of statecraft, artists, and scientific workers, he revived the best traditions of Jefferson.
The four years of Taft are too fresh in the public memory to call for extended mention. Taft was forced to have his inauguration in the Senate Chamber on account of the execrable weather, for the worst blizzard prevailed on the fourth of March, 1909, that had visited Washington for ten years. The railroads leading into the city were blockaded, so that many passengers who had come from a distance to attend the ceremony were compelled to forsake their trains a mile or more from their destination and plow their own way in, as the sole alternative of camping in the cars for an indefinite number of hours. Only by the utmost diligence on the part of the municipal laborers were the streets kept in condition for the parade to pass, and most of the spectators’ stands erected on the sidewalks were utterly deserted. Mr. Roosevelt having announced, some time before, his intention to leave for New York as soon as he had seen his successor sworn in, Mrs. Taft made the drive between the Capitol and the White House by her husband’s side.
Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, the next President, signalized his advent by notifying the citizens of Washington that he did not wish any inaugural ball, and the preparations already under way were abandoned. His administration is still writing its own history.