Skip to main content

Full text of "The ladies of the White House : or, in the home of the presidents; being a complete history of the social and domestic lives of the presidents from Washington to the present time"

See other formats

University of California Berkeley 


' (76- 

T H E 




Being a Complete History of the Social and Domestic Lives of the 
Presidents from Washington to the Present Time 1789-1881. 






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year iSKi , by 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



THE Ladies of the White House have had no biographers. The 
custom of the Republic, which relegates back to private life those 
who have served it, has made it difficult to gather much of stirring 
interest concerning the women who have made the social history of 
the different administrations. From privacy they came, to privacy 
they were returned, and the world took little cognizance of them 
beyond noting the entertainments they gave, and the success that at- 
tended their dinners and receptions. 

In the historical works of the age even in the biographies of the 
Presidents themselves not much has been said of women, who, for 
the most part, were powerful adjuncts to their popularity, and exerted 
great influence over their lives. The most that has been written of 
them heretofore were descriptions in the daily papers of the appear- 
ance of the lady of the White House on some public occasion, and 
with this the world has been content until now. We have had a 
hundred years of domestic honor in the White House a hundred 
years which has added much to the glory of the country abroad, and 
it is but fitting that women, who have held the highest social and 
semi-official position in the nation, should be made historic subjects. 
No better time than the present could be found for filling this serious 
gap in general American history. The moral influence that has been 
exerted by the untarnished reputations and high social qualities of the 
women who have successively filled the position of Hostess of the 
Presidents' House, cannot be estimated. Without the effective and 
intelligent aid they rendered, no administration would have been 
satisfactory ; and though the political historian may ignore such ser- 
vice, the right-thinking, honorable men or women of this country 
have a higher appreciation of the services rendered by these ladies, 
who were the power behind the throne, equal in social influence to 
the throne itself, and a historical work bearing upon their lives is a 
valuable contribution to the nation's official history. 


Fuch a one is now offered to the people of this country. It is a 
complete work, comprising a biographical sketch of every President's 
wife and hostess of the Executive Mansion from Mrs. Washington 
down to Mrs. Garfield. 

The information contained in the volume has never been compiled 
in any other form, and there are many historical facts of a most in- 
teresting nature for the first time presented to the public. The book 
contains the portraits of the wives of the Presidents, and of the 
ladies who presided over the Mansion during the administrations of 
unmarried Presidents. At a time when the women of this country 
are commanding the attention of the civilized world by reason of 
their higher education, superior mental attributes, and exalted social 
status, such a book is of exceptional value. 

The mechanical execution of the work will commend itself to all 
lovers of excellence in book-making. Nothing has been left undone 
that would make it worthy of the ladies whose records it contains. 
The unusual attractions of the theme, the style in which it is pub- 
lished, and the place in the country's history which such a book fills, 
conspire to render it a work which the public and private libraries of 
this country cannot afford to be without ; they cannot be called com- 
plete without a copy of the " Ladies of the White House." 


THE WHITE HOUSE face title page. 

MARTHA WASHINGTON ( Vignette] face page 39 










MRS. JAMES K. POLK " " 400 










MOUNT VERNON (wood Ctlf) " " 55 

MONTICELLO.. " " " 147 



HERMITAGE " " " 287 

WHEATLAND " " $o6 




Personal appearance of Mrs. Custis Introduced to Colonel Washington Tra- 
ditions relating to their first interview The body-servant's long wait for 
his master's appearance His orders to put up the horses for the night 
The wooing of the soldier lover Returns from the seat of government to 
offer himself Engagement Marriage The wedding at the " White House " 
The Virginia home of the bride A most joyous and happy event The 
girlhood of Martha Dandridge The belle of Williamsburg Her first 
marriage Death of her eldest son Colonel Custis His fine character 
and romantic nature Happy married life with him Left with two children 
She manages her estate after her husband's death Residence near her 
father's home Twenty-six years old when she becomes Mrs. Washington 
Had never known care or poverty Her high social position Removal to 
Mount Vernon Again the mistress of a wealthy planter's home Often 
with Washington in Williamsburg while he was a member of the Legisla- 
ture Her life a happy one Washington's great consideration for her 
Only letter preserved that was written by him to her Mrs. Washington before 
her death destroyed all her letters This one overlooked His assurance that 
he is unwilling to part with her and their children, at the time that he is 
made Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army His only unhappiness 
due to her loneliness Urges her to be content, and not complain of what 
he could not avoid Makes his will in her favor, and hopes that his " dear 
Patsy" is pleased with its provisions Her visits to him Travels in her 
private carriage to his head-quarters each year The servants wish his re- 
turn home Washington anxious about her, and after her arrival sent letters 
of thanks to all who had been attentive to her The officers glad to see her 
Once insulted in Philadelphia through party bitterness Sensitive to, her hus- 
band's fair fame Mrs. Washington not fond of dress The spinning-wheels 
and looms in her house Washington's inaugural suit the handiwork of his 
household She wears " a simple russet gown and white handkerchief about 
her neck " to a ball given in her honor Two of her dresses woven from the 
ravelings of brown silk stockings and old crimson chair-covers Washington's 
return to Mount Vernon called again from his retirement Mrs. Washington's 
crowning glory Some other attributes Her life an interesting one, veiwed 
historically Mrs. Washington not much of a reader A good daughter and 
mother, but not a notable housekeeper Her husband the manager of the estab- 
lishment The children governed by him A source of regret that he had no 



sons and daughters His countrymen glad that there was no parental tie to di- 
vert him from his public service Death of Miss Custis John Parke Custis with 
General Washington His young wife and children at Mount Vernon Mrs. 
Washington at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78 Death of her son 
General Washington adopts her two grandchildren, and returns to Mount 
Vernon with the mourners Mrs. Washington's first reception as wife of the 
Chief Magistrate Pleased with her lofty position The levees held at the 
Republican Court The residence of the President in New York The 
etiquette of the mansion Mrs. Washington's views on the subject of her 
elevation A letter to a friend, in which her philosophy is shown Removal 
of seat of government to Philadelphia Letter of the Rev. Ashbel Green Mrs. 
Washington again at Mount Vernon The President rents a house in Market 
street between Fifth and Sixth, and furnishes it handsomely Return of the 
President and Mrs. Washington from Mount Vernon Congress assembles 
Mrs. Washington's drawing-rooms held on Friday evenings Early hours for 
retiring She tells her company that her husband retired at " ten" and she 
followed very soon afterward Stiffness and formality of the drawing-rooms 
How Mrs. Washington received No handshaking in those days The 
grandchildren of Mrs. Washington Mrs. Robert Morris receives with 
Mrs. Washington The Marchioness d'Yuro The first levee in Philadel- 
phia the most brilliant occasion of the kind ever known in this country 
Recollections of Mrs. Binney Mrs. Washington's punctuality in return- 
ing calls Her manners easy and pleasant Makes tea and coffee for an 
English guest Her plain cap and gray hairs, as described by this visitor 
Return to Mount Vernon The old life resumed Washington lays out the 
future capital The " White House" named in honor of the former home of 
his wife The building afterward partly burned by the British Anecdote of 
"obstinate" David Burns "What would Washington have been if he 
hadn't married the Widow Custis? " Mount Vernon thronged with visitors 
Closing years of Washington's life His death in 1799 Grief of Mrs. 
Washington Refuses to be comforted Never re-enters the chamber in 
which he died Congress passes resolutions of respect and condolence En- 
treats Mrs. Washington's consent to the interment of the remains in Wash- 
ington She gives reluctant consent to the request Remains interred at 
Mount Vernon, where they are now Mrs. Washington's resemblance to her 
husband Her dependence upon his guidance and love Her appearance at 
this time Serene of countenance A devoted Christian His death a fatal 
blow Her death two and a-half years later Their bodies side by side 
Visit of Lafayette to Mount Vernon in 1826 Visit of Albert Prince of Wales, 
in 1860, in company with President Buchanan Description of the place as 
it appeared before its restoration 39 


The daughter of a New England minister Instructed by her grandmother 
Durable impressions received from her Never at school Always sick 
Austere religious habits and customs of her kindred Imaginative faculties 


suppressed A great letter- writer A reader of standard works Not a 
learned woman Her fondness for religious topics and discussions The 
daughters taught home duties The sons sent to college No career for 
woman outside the domestic circle where she toiled Marriage of Abigail 
Smith to John Adams Her parents rather opposed to the match She was 
the daughter and granddaughter of a minister, and hence superior to him in 
social position Incident connected wilh her marriage Her Father's ser- 
mon A happy marriage The mother of three sons and a daughter Mr. 
Adams a delegate to the Colonial Convention Made the trip from Bos- 
ton to Philadelphia on horseback Elected to Congress His wife alone 
at Braintree Hears news of the battle of Lexington Manages her farm and 
does her own housework Studies French at night Long evenings alone 
with her four little children Three deaths in her household Cheers her 
husband at his far-off post of duty The proclamation of the King arouses 
her patriotism In sight of the cannonading at Boston, and in the midst of 
pestilence Mr. Adams returns to his suffering family Leaves, after a 
month's visit, for Philadelphia The roar of British cannon before Boston 
Mrs. Adams climbs a hill to watch the shells falling about the city Writes 
her husband from her post of observation His long absence No joy in his 
return to his wife when she learns his news Appointed Minister to France 
Sails in company with his eldest son Mrs. Adams again alone Manages 
her farm and teaches her children Does not hear from her husband for six 
months Her business ability enables her to support herself and make her 
home a happy asylum for family Writes sadly to her husband He returns 
after eighteen months Ordered to Great Britain to negotiate peace Two of 
his sons accompany him " The cruel torture of separation " Letter to her 
eldest son Lofty sentiments and sound views of the self-sacrificing woman 
Rather her boy were dead than immoral A Spartan mother Mr. Adams 
elected Vice-President Mrs. Adams with him in New York Is the object 
of much social attention Dines with the President, " the ministers and ladies 
of the court" Washington gives her sugar-plums to take to her grandson 
Mrs. Adams congratulates her husband on his election to the Presidency 
Her feelings not those of pride but solemnity She joins the President in 
Philadelphia Seat of government removed to Washington Letter to her 
daughter Graphic description of Washington The city only so in name 
None of the public buildings finished The White House cheerless and 
damp Fires in every room to secure its inmates against chills Thirty 
servants required to keep the house in order Surrounded with forests, yet 
wood is scarce and expensive Mrs. Adams returns the visits of George- 
town ladies Inconveniences of a new country No fence or yard about the 
White House, and not an apartment finished The East Room used to dry 
clothes in Only six chambers habitable Mrs. Washington sends a haunch 
of venison from Mount Vernon Invites Mrs. Adams to visit her Mrs. 
Adams has no looking-glasses and not a twentieth part lamps enough to light 
the house The roads intolerable The work of a day to make a visit Loca- 
tion of city .beautiful Hon. Cotton Smith describes Washington The huts 


of the residents contrast painfully with the public buildings First New 
Year's reception in 1801 The etiquette of Washington's time adopted 
Guests received in the Library Mrs. Adams ill Returns to Quincy, Massa- 
chusetts In the White House four months Attends to her husband's pri- 
vate affairs Cheerful and bright under all circumstances Retirement of Mr. 
Adams from public life Mrs. Adams the " Portia " of the rebellious prov- 
inces Her marked characteristics, truthfulness and earnestness Her place 
in history Indifference to fashionable life Seventeen years of home life 
Writes her granddaughter on her fiftieth marriage anniversary Thankfulness 
for so much happiness Eldest son appointed Minister to Great Britain by 
President Madison Appointed Secretary of State by President Monroe 
Death of her daughter, Mrs. Abigail Smith Friendship with President 
Jefferson broken Political differences the cause Silence of many years 
broken by the death of Jefferson's daughter Her second letter criticising his 
course in the appointments to office The correspondence unknown to her 
husband His later endorsement Jefferson writes to Adams They never 
meet again Mrs. Adams' imposing appearance Her face strongly intellec- 
tual, but never beautiful Her old age possessed of the sweetness of youth 
Death of Mrs. Adams in 1818 A nation's private tribute to her worth 
Jefferson expresses his sympathy to Mr. Adams Buried in the Congregation- 
alist Church at Quincy Her husband buried beside her 87 


Jefferson's wife died before his elevation to office No formal receptions during 
his administration Married to Mrs. Martha Shelton, of Charles City county 
Marriage bond drawn in his own handwriting found His bride a beautiful 
and clever woman Exquisite form and fine complexion A fine conversa- 
tionalist and musician How Jefferson defeated his rival suitors They listen 
outside while the two sing Marriage at " The Forest " Trip to Monticello 
Travel in a snow storm Arrived late at night A bottle of wine serves for 
fire and supper Happy married life Mother of five children Governor 
Jefferson declines a mission to Europe Her health failing Flies from her 
home with her babe in her arms Arnold's march to Richmond Efforts to 
capture Jefferson Wife and children sent into the interior Monticello cap- 
tured Many negro slaves taken away Caesar secretes the plate Is fastened 
under ground eighteen hours Family return home Mrs. Jefferson very ill 
Clings to life Intense affection for husband and children Jefferson by 
her side until she dies Beautiful and strong character The eldest daughter 
sent to school Her youngest sister dies Jefferson sends for Martha and 
Marie Placed at a French convent Mrs. Adams' description of Marie A 
girl of superior beauty Martha asks permission to remain in a convent 
Taken from school Jefferson returns to America with his daughters Mar- 
riage of Martha to Thomas Macon Randolph, Jr., her father's ward and her 
cous-in Marie is married to Mr. Eppes, of Eppington Jefferson a member 
of Washington's cabinet Afterward Vice- President Inaugurated President 
in 1801 Letter of Sir Augustus Foster Martha the mother of several chil- 


dren Her home near Monticello Washington City society Some novel 
aspects Incidents of a call Letter from father to daughter Death of Mrs. 
Eppes Personalities concerning her Letter from Mrs. Adams Her at- 
tachment to Marie Jefferson Jefferson's second inauguration Martha Ran- 
dolph and her children at the White House Washington unhealthy in 
summer Mrs. Randolph a busy Virginia matron "The sweetest woman iu 
Virginia " Jefferson's retirement to Monticello His daughter his house- 
keeper Hundreds of guests People watch for a sight of the ex-President 
A window-pane broken by a curious woman Men and women gaze at 
him as he passes through his hall No privacy in his home Jefferson's letter 
concerning his daughter The education of girls "The apple of his eye" 
Were life to end Loss of property Martha the companion and nurse of 
her father Her children his idols Mr. Randolph's ill-health and failure 
Death of Jefferson Mrs. Randolph at his bed-side A little casket His last 
pang of life is parting from her A touching tribute to his daughter Jeffer- 
son's estate insolvent Monticello sold Exhibition of public feeling Death 
of Mr. Randolph The family separated Letter from her daughter Inter- 
esting facts of her family Death of Martha Jefferson Randolph in 1836 
Buried beside her father at Monticello 126 


Washington Irving's letter Mrs. Madison's drawing-room Her two sisters 
The daughter of Virginians Granddaughter of William Coles, Esq., of 
Coles' Hill Her parents join the Friends' Society Reside in Philadelphia 
Daughter reared in strict seclusion Her sunny nature Married at nine- 
teen to a young lawyer Her sisters Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Cults 
Mrs. Paine's fascination of manner and beauty of person Left a widow 
with an infant son A general favorite in society Object of much attention 
Courted by many suitors Marriage to Mr. Madison, then a member of 
Congress The match a brilliant one The bride of twenty-three years of 
age The wedding at the residence of her sister, in Virginia Resides in 
summer at Montpelier Winters spent in Washington Generous and hospi- 
table A happy domestic life Mr. Madison appointed Secretary of State 
Removal to Washington Gay social life Her house a radiating point for 
friends A noble, high-minded woman Her power of adaptiveness Loved 
by all parties A strong support to her husband Dispensed his abundant 
wealth with open hand Received President Jefferson's guests with him 
Election of Mr. Madison to succeed Jefferson Mrs. Madison hostess of the 
White House Stiffness and formality laid aside Mrs. Madison never for- 
getful of a name or face Her field of action her parlor Makes her hus- 
band's administration popular and brilliant The first four years in the 
White House No children by Mr. Madison Her table ridiculed by a for- 
eign minister "Abundance preferable to elegance " War with Great 
Britain Mr. Madison's declaration Second appeal of the United States to 
arms The British advance on Washington All the public records removed 
The people in a panic "The enemy coming" The people flee from 


their homes Entrance of British The Capitol burned The American 
army retreats to Georgetown The glare of light seen for miles The Presi- 
dent across the Potomac Mrs. Madison remains to gather up valuables- 
Notes to her sister Houses fired all over the city Mrs. Madison urged to 
fly Waits to secure the safety of General Washington's portrait Colonel 
Custis comes from Mount Vernon to remove it Mrs. Madison orders its 
frame broken Carried to Georgetown The White House left in the care 
of- servants Mrs. Madison joins her husband The enemy ransack the 
White House, and then fire it Thieves pillage the burning building Furni- 
ture and family stores belonging to the President lost A coarse pun The 
War Department spared because of the storm The British commanders re- 
gretting the escape of the President and his wife Wanted to be exhibited in 
England A week of terror No sleep or rest for the frightened people 
Terrible storm The British amazed at the force of the tornado Appalling 
disasters Two cannons lifted from the ground The enemy anxious to leave 
Washington Mrs. Madison in Virginia Fleeing troops and panic-stricken 
families Rumors of the approach of the British The elemental war Mrs. 
Madison awaits the coming of her husband Insulted by women Refused 
shelter from the storm Madison charged with the responsibility of the war 
The tavern closed to herself and escort The latter forces an entrance The 
lady who did not forget her station People who had been her guests de- 
nounce her Mrs. Madison's anxiety for her husband The hours drag 
slowly by Reaches her at night-fal! Careworn and hungry A courier at 
midnight The President seeks safety in the distant woods No enemy com- 
ing The evacuation of Washington unknown to the President Bids his 
wife disguise herself and fly Hears next day of the retreat Returns to the 
Long Bridge Is refused a boat No one recognizes the disguised woman 
Gives her name and is ferried over the river Finds her home in ruins 
Desolation everywhere Seeks the residence of her sister Sends word to the 
President His return to Washington Rents the "Octagon" and lives there 
Treaty of peace signed Various residences of Mr. Madison in Washington 
Last reception held by the President The most brilliant ever held up to 
that date Peace commissioners to Ghent present Heroes of the war of 1812 
Mrs. Madison " every inch a queen '' She offers Mr. Clay a pinch of snuff 
Her bandana handkerchief Fond of elegant apparel Two visitors from 
the West " P'rhaps you wouldn't mind if I jest kissed you " A graceful 
salutation Mr. Madison not attractive to the ladies His charming wife 
atones for his gravity His admiration for her social characteristics A 
curious coincidence Three of the first four Presidents marry young widows 
Two of the Presidents childless, and all without sons All Virginians 
Anecdote of Mrs. Madison Recollections of Mr. Trist Led to dinner by 
President Jefferson Rage of the British minister A stir made about the 
"insult" Mr. Monroe, Minister to England, informed of the facts An ex- 
pected call for official explanations Mr. Monroe delighted with the prospect 
Precedence over his own wife under analogous circumstances Excellent 
materials in his possession Expresses his satisfaction over an opportunity to 


retaliate, which was not granted Mrs. Madison always presided at the 
dinners given by President Jefferson His disregard of official etiquette 
The British minister and his wife never his guests again Thomas Moore 
lampooned the President Disliked everything American Mrs. Madison's 
regret over the occurrence Expiration of the President's second term He 
prepares to leave Washington Mrs. Madison's Washington friends Sorrow 
over her departure from the city Residence at Montpelier Quiet country 
life The mansion of the ex-President His mother an inmate of his home 
Devotion of Mrs. Madison to her The object of the venerable lady's grate- 
ful affection A devoted wife to an appreciative husband Admirable in all 
the relations of life " Cordial, genial and sunny atmosphere surrounding 
her" Her son Paine Todd an undutiful son The sorrow of her life 
Mr. Madison's kindness to him His conduct heartless and unprincipled 
Death of Mr. Madison The end of a noble career Offers Congress her 
husband's manuscripts President Jackson sends a special message to Con- 
gress regarding the subject Thirty thousand dollars paid her for the work 
"Debates in the Congress of the Convention during the years 1782-87" 
Congress also confers the franking privilege upon Mrs. Madison Votes her 
a seat upon the floor of the Senate The last years of Mrs. Madison's life 
Her residence in Washington Beautiful old age Her public receptions on 
national holidays The throng'of visitors equal to that assembled at the Presi- 
dent's house Her death in 1849 Funeral in Washington Aged eighty-two 
years Buried beside her husband at Montpelier 171 


The era in which Mrs. Monroe lived Her father an ex-officer of the British 
Army Miss Kortright a belle of New York Her sister Mr. Monroe a 
Senator from Virginia Falls in love with the pretty girl Married during 
the session in 1789 Reside in Philadelphia, the second seat of the General 
Government Pleasant home life in that city Mr. Monroe appointed Minis- 
ter to France in 1794 The first five years of Mrs. Monroe's married life A 
polished and elegant lady Proud of her husband and of her country Fit 
representative of her countrywomen at the Court of St. Cloud Her daughter 
at school in Paris Mr. Monroe an ardent advocate of free government Not 
careful to recognize the opposite feeling in Imperial France Unpopular with 
the Court His recall asked Intense sympathy for Lafayette, then in prison 
Agents of the United States employed in his behalf Mrs. Monroe warmly 
interested in the fate of Madame Lafayette The private feelings of President 
Washington not expressed in his official communications Lafayette's son his 
guest while in the United States Recognizes treaty obligations with France 
Mr. Monroe sends his wife to visit Madame Lafayette The carriage of 
the American Minister at the prison Mrs. Monroe asks admittance 
Is permitted to see the Marchioness Emaciated and prostrated from 
fright Anticipating the summons of the executioner Her last hope depart- 
ing when the sentinel stops at her cell Her visitor is announced Thoughts 


of her husband and America overcome her Sinks at the feet of Mrs. Mon- 
roe Presence of sentinels preclude conversation Mrs. Monroe assures her 
friend she would return the following morning Speaks so as to be heard by 
those about her The visit saves Madame Lafayette's life Was to have 
been executed that afternoon The officials change their mind Is liberated 
next day Attentions paid her by the American Minister and his wife The 
prestige of the young Republic appreciated Madame Lafayette's eldest son, 
George Washington, sent to Mount Vernon for safety She leaves Paris ac- 
companied by her two daughters Disguised and under the protection of 
American passports Seeks the prison of her husband Signs her consent to 
share his captivity Stays by his side until released Mr. Monroe recalled 
His course defended in America Mrs. Monroe proud of his conduct A 
greater honor to have saved Madame Lafayette than to have remained Am- 
bassador Friendship between Monroe and Lafayette Offer of pecuniary 
help Generous conduct on both sides Returns to New York With her 
family and friends Mr. Monroe elected Governor of Virginia Husband and 
wife gladdened by this evidence of affection The old commonwealth proud 
of her son Mrs. Monroe the mistress of the Governor's mansion at Wil- 
liamsburg Governor Monroe appointed Envoy Extraordinary to France to 
negotiate the purchase of Louisiana Robert R. Livingston the other Envoy 
The purchase effected Mrs. Monroe accompanies her husband While in 
Paris is appointed Minister to England Sent to Spain on a mission Mr. 
Monroe returned home at the breaking out of the War of 1812 Ten years' 
absence in Europe Return to Oak Hill, their Virginia estate Home life 
not destined to last Mr. Monroe elected to the Legislature Chosen Gov- 
ernor a second time Secretary of State under Madison Mrs. Monroe and 
her daughters retire to Oak Hill before the fall of Washington Remains 
until peace is declared Anxious about her husband Mr. Monroe succeeds 
President Madison in office Removal to the White House in 1817 Per- 
sonal description of her Mrs. Monroe not like Mrs. Madison Is not fond 
of general society Her health delicate She received visits but returned 
none Her " drawing-rooms " were largely attended An English writer's 
comments Held once a fortnight on Wednesday evenings The condition 
of the White House The grounds unimproved Congress orders a silver 
service The furniture of the East Room purchased The crown of Louis 
XVIII. supplanted by the American Engle Mrs. Monroe an invalid during 
the second term Marriage of her daughter at the age of seventeen Wed- 
ding reception A State Dinner at the White House The East Room unfin- 
ished Mr. Cooper's letter Mrs. Monroe weary of public life Close of 
President Monroe's second term Retires to Virginia Assists in establish- 
ing the University of Virginia Chosen President of the State Convention to 
amend the Constitution Mrs. Monroe heavily taxed with company The 
three ex-Presidents neighbors People from all the world their guests 
Alone with her husband Both daughters married Anxious for her husband 
to give up work His last public position Magistrate of Loudon County 
Death of Mrs. Monroe Oak Hill closed The ex-President resides in Nevr 


York His youngest daughter his comfort in old age His death in 1831 
Survived his wife one year, dying on the Fourth of July Funeral procession 
the largest ever seen in New York Samuel Gouveneur, Postmaster of New 
York City, his son-in-law Remains interred in New York Afterwards 
removed to Richmond Few descendants living 213 


Mrs. Adams the last of the ladies of the Revolutionary period Born in Lon- 
don n er father, Mr. Johnson, a Maryland patriot United States Commis- 
sioner in France until 1782 Consul to London Mr. Adams a guest of Mr. 
Johnson Meets his future wife Marriage in 1797 Mr. Adams takes his 
bride to Berlin Four years' residence there Returns to America Settles 
in Boston Mr. Adams elected Senator Residence in Washington Pleasant 
era of Mrs. Adams' life With her own family Summers spent in Boston 
Washington a congenial residence for Mrs. Adams Eight years spent there 
Her husband appointed Minister to Russia Mrs. Adams accompanies him 
Two children -left behind Takes the youngest, an infant Long voyage 
Arrives in St. Petersburg Prefers exile in Russia to separation from her hus- 
band In the midst of stirring scenes Europe a battle-field Napoleon 
spreading terror everywhere Shut up in St. Petersburg Six years in Russia 
Death of an infant Mr. Adams' mode of life Respected for learning 
and talent War between England and America Mrs. Adams weary of Rus- 
sia Anxious to return home Mr. Adams a Commissioner to Ghent The 
step-son of President Madison His position greatly exaggerated abroad 
News from home Mrs. Adams alone in St. Petersburg with her son Travels 
to Paris to meet her husband Dangers encountered Traces everywhere of 
war Passports of little protection Fastened in a snow-drift Dug out by 
the peasantry of the neighborhood Robbed by her own servants The sym- 
bol of a Polish cap Hears of Napoleon's return from Elba Every cross- 
road guarded Surrounded by soldiers The presence of mind exhibited by 
Mrs. Adams Meets her husband in Paris Witnesses the arrival of Nap-j- 
leon Flight of the Bourbons The reception at the Tuileries Ladies of the 
Imperial Court Napoleon preparing for Waterloo Advantages enjoyed by 
Mrs. Adams Events of the hundred days Martial music heard on every 
side Arrival of her children from England after six years of separation^- 
Departure for England Mr. Adams Minister to the Court of St. James 
Charles King's eulogy of Mr. Adams Pleasant life in London The centre 
of a cultivated circle Return to America Mr. Adams appointed Secretary 
of State Mr. Adams the recipient of public attentions Grand banquet in 
his honor Residence in Washington A charming home Multitudes of 
visitors entertained there Letter from Mrs. Adams to John Adams Her 
appreciation of her mother-in-law Her studies Does not think highly of 
the mental capacity of her sex Course of reading How she estimates the 
philosophers Likes nothing so well as the doctrines of Christianity Her 
reading too diffuse to be beneficial The wicked theories of French authors 
How their venom was destroyed in her case Her early ideas of life Views 


changed with age Discusses the nature of democratic institutions Her faith 
in the people Pride in her name " Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" 
Complaints of hard times The morals of the day portrayed Mrs. Adams' 
habits as a hostess No exclusions in her invitations Keenly alive to the 
reputation of her husband Her success in her semi-official position Mr. 
Adams a candidate for the Presidency Violence of partisan warfare Mrs. 
Adams lives more secluded Her husband elected Chief Magistrate De- 
scription of the inaugural of Adams Failure of her health Presided at 
public receptions Not seen on other occasions Is tired of public life En- 
tertains Lafayette His affecting farewell The President and Mrs. Adams 
start to Qumcy Mrs. Adams ill in Philadelphia Mr. Adams proceeds 
without her Administration of Mr. Adams Quietness throughout the 
world Much done to consolidate the Union Mr. Adams a learned man 
The man who had read one more book than John Quincy Adams Mrs. 
Adams glad to leave the White House Retires to private life Enjoys it but 
a short time Letter describing her husband and home Mr. Adams elected 
a member of Congress Removes again to Washington Occasional visits to 
Quincy Illness of Mr. Adams He is struck with paralysis Dies in the 
Speaker's room in the Capitol Mrs. Adams by his side Funeral at the 
Capitol Remains deposited in the Congressional burying-ground Letter 
from Mrs. Adams to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Her 
thanks to the House for the regard manifested for Mr. Adams Mrs. Adams 
retires to Quincy Surrounded by her children and relations A great 
writer and translator Varied accomplishments which gave her pleasure 
in her old age Died in 1852 Her grave beside her husband's at Quincy, 
Mass ' 238 


Party strife and bitterness of Jackson's day Mrs. Jackson a victim of cruel 
misrepresentation Her early life Daughter of Colonel John Donelson 
Emigrants from Virginia Travelling in the wilderness A two thousand 
mile journey Thrilling incidents and dangerous accidents Indians dogged 
their footsteps Rachel Donelson at the age of twelve Colonel Donelson a 
wealthy settler A person of consequence Removal to Kentucky Marriage 
of his daughter Home in Kentucky Mr. and Mrs. Robards very unhappy 
His disposition extremely unfortunate Requests Mrs. Donelson to send 
for her daughter Her brother takes her to Tennessee A good daughter-in- 
law Mrs. Robards not censured Her husband solely to blame A recon- 
ciliation effected Andrew Jackson a boarder at Mrs. Donelson's Mrs. 
Robards returns to her husband Unmanly conduct Second separation 
Jackson and his friend seek another home Mrs. Robards seeks an asylum in 
Mississippi Her husband's threats Jackson's sympathy for her Jackson 
accompanies the party to Natchez Dangers from the Indians Jackson re- 
turns to Nashville Judge Overtoil's letters Robards divorced from his 
wife Decree supposed to be final Marriage of Jackson and Mrs. Robards 


two years later Return to Nashville A second divorce Jackson's surprise 
and sorrow Marriage ceremony twice performed Information slow in trav- 
elling No mails in those days A perfect union Jackson's love for his wife 
Mrs. Jackson a noble woman Hospitable home Jackson buys the Her- 
mitage His small log-house Lafayette his guest A ball given in his honor 
Mrs. Jackson adopts a child Jackson's love for the baby A lamb and a 
child Andrew Jackson, Jr. After the battle of New Orleans Mrs. Jackson 
in that city The recipient of marked attentions A valuable present Her 
dress of white satin Portrait at the Hermitage General Jackson builds a 
church A new house erected A present to his wife The stately Hermitage 
Description of the house Spacious and handsome An extensive garden 
General Jackson appointed Governor of Florida Mrs. Jackson and the " two 
Andrews " accompany him Homesick Mrs. Jackson's dislike of the State 
No minister there Does not like the theatre Her health not good Pen- 
sacola not a pleasant place Mrs. Jackson's request regarding the Sabbath 
Her wishes obeyed Horses neglected Inhabitants Spanish and French 
Governor Jackson resigns Return to the Hermitage A journey of twenty- 
eight days Mrs. Jackson receives much attention Fifty callers a day Her 
health feeble Four years of home-life With her husband in New Orleans 
His splendid reception Four days of festivity Jackson a Presidential can- 
didate Mrs. Jackson's disease asserts itself Undue excitement its cause 
Painful publications regarding her The facts of her marriage misunderstood, 
Jackson's political enemies Cruel falsehoods circulated Her heart broken 
by slander " He to whom she had devoted her affections " General Jack- 
son elected President His wife's gratitude Glad for his sake Regretted the 
necessity of leaving home " That palace in Washington " Frequent visits 
to Nashville Preparing for the winter A fatal shopping occasion Over- 
hears a conversation The calumnies her husband has kept from her His 
effort to prevent her suffering On her death-bed she tells him the cause of 
her illness A noble life crucified by scandal A ball that did not occur A 
grand dinner that was not eaten Proposed anniversary festivities Mrs. 
Jackson very ill Dies of spasms of the heart Grief of Jackson Nashville 
in mourning Action of the city authorities Forty years of married life 
"Never an unkind word between them" The loss of such a wife Jack- 
son's convulsive grief The parting scene His farewell to the beloved re- 
mains A sad scene at the funeral A great throng of mourners Dust to 
dust Jackson's intense feelings The grave cannot conquer it The unpar- 
donable crime A bruised and lonely heart Great sympathy for the old hero 
The grief of the servants and neighbors Testimonials of sympathy from 
many sources General Jackson a changed man The pleasant home-life 
gone Her picture worn about his neck By his bedside at night His eyes 
fixed on it in death Bequeaths it to his grand-daughter The monument 
over the grave of husband and wife The inscription on the tablets Jack- 
son's tribute to his dead They sleep side by side 272 



Mistress of the White House Daughter of Captain John Donelson A rarely 
beautiful woman Wealth and high standing ol" her father Known as the 
" lovely Emily "Married at sixteen The groom her cousin, and protege 
of General Jackson Major Donelson the private secretary of the President 
A question of precedence Mrs. Jackson "mistress of the Hermitage " 
Tact and brilliancy of Mrs. Donelson Personal description A face of singu- 
lar fascination Her " inauguration " dress General Jackson's love for her 
Arbiter in matters of etiquette Her attitude during the Eaton controversy 
Refuses to visit her The mother of four children All born in the White 
House Their christenings occasions of great ceremony General Jackson 
very fond of them A lovely family group Mrs. Donelson's ill health 
Compelled to leave Washington A victim of consumption Medical skill 
unavailing A speedy decline "Don't forget, mamma " Death 323 


The wife of Andrew Jackson, Jr. Miss Yorke of Philadelphia Well educated 
and accomplished Her marriage Goes to the White House a bride Affec- 
tion for General Jackson He compliments her to a Pennsylvania delegation 
Shares the honors of hostess A devoted daughter to General Jackson 
His declining years soothed by her The hospitality required of her A heavy 
tax Her dependents her special care A happy mother Death of her father 
and her husband Alone with her children The Hermitage a place of mem- 
ories Death of a son Still at the Hermitage The estate owned by the 
State of Tennessee A peaceful old age 329 


Of Dutch descent Born at Kinderhook on the Hudson Ancestry for many 
generations New Yorkers Married to Mr. Van Buren A love affair begun 
in childhood The young couple cousins Reside in Hudson City Charm- 
ing home life Four sons born to them Loss of the youngest Mr. Van Buren 
removes his family to Albany A political leader Wealth, fame and honor 
acquired The reward of twenty years of labor One of New York's famous 
lawyers Mrs. Van Buren's life a pleasant one High social position De- 
clining health Long months an invalid A modest and good woman Her 
dying counsel The death-scene a remarkable one Dead at the early age of 
thirty-five years Burial custom omitted for the sake of the poor " Sweet 
was the savor of her name " Died in February, 1819 Seventeen years later 
her husband was President 333 


Lady of the White House in 1838 Daughter of Richard Singleton, of South 
Carolina Her grandfathers Revolutionary heroes Her kinsmen notable 
people Early advantages Superior education High social rank In Wash- 
ington with relatives Mrs. Madison a cousin Presents her to the President 


Reception very flattering A great favorite of the President's Marriage to 
Major Van Buren The eldest son and private secretary Major Van Buren 
a graduate of West Point His wife's first appearance as hostess A New . 
Year's Day Reception A universally admired bride The only South Caro- 
lina lady who has held the position A tour in Europe Presented at the 
Court of St. James Her uncle American Minister In London during the 
season The Emperor of Russia and other foreign notables Exceptionally 
pleasant visit A three months' tour In Paris Attentions from General 
Cass, the American Minister Presented to the King and Queen The guest 
of Louis Philippe The King's unceremonious attentions Shows his visitors 
over the palace Knocks at the room of the Comte de Paris The Queen's 
amusement Her grandchildren asleep The return to America In Wash- 
ington when Congress met Closing year of the administration Mrs. Van 
Buren mistress of Lindenwald Her winters spent in South Carolina Re- 
moves to New York in 1848 Residence in that city Three years' sojourn 
in Europe Home life in New York A long and happy career Death of 
her husband and son Her own death 339 


The wife of the ninth President Born in the year of Independence A native 
of Morristovvn, N. J. A motherless girl A dangerous journey through Brit- 
ish lines Her father a Colonel in the Continental Army Assumes the dis- 
guise of a British officer Takes his ch*ld to her grandparents on Long Is- 
land Separated from her for many years Little Anna's early training Her 
grandmother an excellent woman A careful teacher and Christian guide 
Her grandchild grows to womanhood Sent to New York to school With 
her grandparents until nineteen years old Goes to Ohio with her father 
Colonel Symmes A step-mother Settles at North Bend His second wife 
Daughter of Governor Livingston, of New York Judge Symmes a Judge 
of the Supreme Court Often absent from home Anna Symmes with her 
sister in Kentucky Meets her future husband Captain Harrison, of the 
United States Army In command of Fort Washington, the present site of 
Cincinnati Marriage A bride at twenty Captain Harrison resigns 
Elected to Congress Mrs. Harrison accompanied him to Philadelphia 
Visits Virginia relations A healthy, handsome woman Medium height and 
slight in person An intellectual face General Harrison appointed Gov- 
ernor of Indiana Territory Removes to Vincennes, the seat of government 
Many happy years spent there Mrs. Harrison popular and admired A 
household of love Twenty years of pleasant home-life Governor Harri- 
son continues in power until 1812 Appointed to the command of the North- 
western Army The Battle of Tippecanoe Defeat of Tecumseh General 
Harrison removes his family to Cincinnati Major-General Marches to the 
frontier Mrs. Harrison and her children Long separated from her husband 
General Hairison resigns Removes to North Bend, on the Ohio Mrs. Har- 
rison a pleasant neighbor The mother of ten children Her husband much 
from home Responsibility and care of the wife and mother Generous hos- 


pitality The children of the neighborhood study with her sons and daugh- 
ters Honored and loved in all relations Loses several of her children and 
grandchildren Thirty years of home life at North Bend Her children 
devoted to her An incident of the Presidential canvass Delegation of pol- 
iticians not welcome General Harrison declines to violate the Sabbath 
His respect for his wife's feelings Nominated for the Presidency Mrs. 
Harrison greatly annoyed Three candidates in the field Van Buren 
elected A happy woman at North Bend Harrison the Whig candidate in 
1840 Idol of his party An exciting canvass The financial condition of 
the country " Tippecanoe and Tyler too" Stirring campaign songs In- 
tense interest manifested Log-cabins and military parades The Whigs tri- 
umphant General Harrison elected Mrs. Hairison grateful for her hus- 
band's success Sorry for herself Not fond of worldly gayeties A domestic 
and retiring nature General Harrison leaves home Welcome at Washing- 
ton Visits his old home in Virginia The inauguration in 1841 A gala 
day General Harrison rides a white charger Canoes and cabins in the pro- 
cession Throngs of people from distant places Mrs. Harrison remains at 
North Bend to seitle her husband's aff.irs Preparing for her long stay in 
Washington Her husband accompanied by their daughter-in-law, Mrs. Jane 
F. Harrison Several relatives of President Harrison in the White House 
The first month of Presidential life General Harrison killed by office-seek- 
ers The Whigs clamorous for place Weak and aged he sinks under the 
pressure Dies the 4th of April One month in the White House Funeral 
in the East Room Temporarily buried in Washington The Capital in 
mourning Mr. Willis's poem Mrs. Harrison apprised of her loss Antici- 
pating a speedy reunion when the messenger arrives Preparations stopped 
A grief-stricken woman Return of her daughter-in-law and sons A change 
of residence Children and grandchildren pay her reverence Resides with 
her son An interested observer of events Her views regarding slavery 
The civil war Her grandsons in the army A cheerful, contented spirit to 
the end Death at eighty-nine Survived her husband nearly a quarter of a 
century Buried beside her husband Their graves at North Bend 346 


A Virginian Her father a friend of Washington's A gentleman of fortune 
and position A member of the Legislature for many years Letitia Christian 
a most refined and modest girl One of the belles of West Virginia Her 
suitors John Tyler her lover A rising young lawyer and son of Governor 
John Tyler Marriage in 1813 The union approved by both families The 
wedding festivities at Cedar Grove The young couple in their home in 
Charles City county A happy marriage A husband whose affections are 
satisfied and his pride gratified A love-letter of the olden time Mr. Ty'er 
for several years a member of the Legislature His wife in Richmond but 
rarely Kept at home by her young children Two died in infancy Mr. 
Tyler elected Governor Mrs. Tyler mistress of the Executive mansion 
Dispensing its honors with ease and grace Her young children about her 


Her husband elected to Congress She returns to her country home One win- 
ter in Washington A notable house-wife Hejphome the abode of comfort 
and beauty Maintained the pecuniary independence of her husband A ma- 
tron of the old school A letter from her daughter-in-law Description of Mrs. 
Tyler and her home Mrs. Tyler's health fails Her husband becomes 
President Removal to Washington Her regrets at leaving her home Be- 
comes the mistress of the White House Her great fondness for flowers 
Mrs. Robert Tyler her representative in society Her letter to her sister 
Rarely seen at the receptions or state dinners Her daughter Elizabeth mar- 
ried in the East Room Mr. Webster and Mrs. Madison at the wedding 
Mrs. Tyler present Mrs. Semple's letter The bride returns to Virginia to 
live The youngest daughter still a child The President gives private balls 
with dancing Washington Irving appointed Minister to Spain Letters from 
Major Tyler A levee at the White House Mrs. Tyler's health fails Her 
death Her funeral in the White House The remains conveyed to Virginia 
A committee of the citizens of Washington escort the body The President 
and all his family attend it to its resting-place Her loss mourned by her old 
friends The President retires to his home Remains in seclusion until Con- 
gress meets A sad return to Washington 366 


The second marriage of John Tyler His bride Miss Julia Gardiner The first 
and only marriage of a President The event much discussed Miss Gardi- 
ner a beautiful young lady Educated in New York A resident of Gardiner's 
Island, New York Bay Travels in Europe Her father her escort Visits 
Washington with him, and meets the President Invited to take an excursion 
Captain Stockton in charge of the party The trip to Alexandria Guests 
invited on deck to witness the firing of cannon The President and ladies in 
the cabin Gentlemen on deck A terrible catastrophe Piercing cries of the 
wounded Mr. Gardiner among the victims The bodies conveyed to the 
White House Funeral services in the East Room Miss Gardiner prostrated 
with grief An only child The President's interest in her Six months later 
they were married The ceremony performed in New York Grand reception 
at the White House A beautiful bride Mistress of the White House eight 
months Close of the administration Ex-President a Virginia farmer Re- 
sides at his estate on the James river Mrs. Tyler the mother of many chil- 
dren Death of the ex-President in 1862 Mrs. Tyler returns to New York 
Resides at Carleton Hill, Staten Island Losses of property Asks Congress 
for a pension Subsequent residence in Georgetown, Maryland 397 


The daughter of a Tennessee farmer Reared in easy comfort Educated at a 
Moravian school A happy girlhood Clouds and sunshine Married at nine- 
teen The wedding of James Knox Polk and Sarah Childress Mr. Polk a 
member of the Legislature Elected to Congress Represents his district for 
fourteen sessions Speaker of the House of Representatives Mrs. Polk 


popular in Washington Is conspicuous in society An interested spectator 
of passing events Studies polices Her Tennessee home Summers spent in 
it A member of the Presbyterian Church Mr. Polk elected Governor of 
Tennessee Removes to Nashville Mrs. Polk among old friends Devotes 
her time to social duties The Presidential campaign of 1840 Political ran- 
cor and animosity The bearing of the Governor's wife Governor Polk the 
Presidential candidate of 1844 Henry Clay his opponent Election of Gov- 
ernor Polk Inaugurated in 1845 A disagreeable day Mrs. Polk mistress 
of the White House Has no children to occupy her time Her weekly re- 
ceptions Received her company sitting Great dignity of Mrs. Polk A 
daughter of the old school A woman of strict decorum No dancing 
allowed in the White House Mis. Polk's admirers Her personal appear- 
ance Excellent taste in dress Poetical tribute from Mrs. Ann S. Stephens 
The receptions largely attended Mrs. Polk's costume Distinguished people 
present A neat compliment The war with Mexico inaugurated Its con- 
tinuance until 1848 President Polk's affable manners Newspaper compli- 
ments to Mrs. Polk Dangerous illness in the White House Taylor elected 
President Ex-President Polk gives a dinner party to him The closing levee 
at the White House The farewells to the ex-President and Mrs. Polk De- 
parture from Washington Demonstrations of respect Arrival at Nashville 
A fitting welcome Purchase of Polk Place A contemplated tour to Eu- 
xope 111 health of Mr. Polk His death Buried in the grounds of his late 
residence A marble temple Mrs. Polk resides alone Every courtesy and 
sympathetic attention paid her The ex-President's study kept as he left it 
Public marks of respect paid Mrs. Polk The members of the Legislature 
pay her New Year's calls During Confederate days Mrs. Polk a type of a 
class passing away A descriptive letter An old age of comfort and peace 
Reticent concerning herself Surrounded by relatives and friends 400 


The wife of an army officer Little known to the public Opposed to public 
notice General Taylor a frontier officer The hero of the Black Hawk and 
the Seminole wars Mrs. Taylor's army experience Never willingly sepa- 
rated from her husband An example of wifely devotion With her husband 
at Tampa Bay A quarter of a century of tent life Always at the side of 
her husband A happy and contented wife A very domestic woman Her 
housekeeping accomplishments Mrs. Taylor a Maryland lady Received a 
practical education Her one ambition Married in early life Her husband 
a young officer Removal to the West Her attentions to her husband Her 
children Sent to her relatives to be reared and educated Rapid promotion 
of her husband His wife the presiding genius of the hospital The com- 
forts of a home always his Established at Baton Rouge The pretty cottage 
on the river bank Once a Spanish commandant's house A delightful home 
at last Mrs. Taylor and her two daughters Busy with household cares 
Domestic life complete War with Mexico General Taylor ordered to the 
front Miss Betty in the perfection of her womanhood Her happy home 


life The "Army of Occupation " General Taylor made Commander-in- 
Chief Mrs. Taylor and other daughters remain in their home Honors to 
General Taylor Mrs. Taylor's success with her garden and dairy An ex- 
ample to the young officers' wives Has a chapel prepared and the Episcopal 
services read A rector's occasional presence secured A handsome church 
erected later The garrison chapel a popular resort Many officers' wives at 
the post Their anxiety over the war Baltics fought and officers killed 
Mrs. Taylor's strength and courage A runaway match Miss Sarah Tay- 
lor's marriage to Lieutenant Jefferson Davis General Taylor's opposition to 
his daughters marrying officers His displeasure over the elopement Away 
from home at the time His rage at Lieutenant Davis's conduct No honor- 
able man would so act Death of Mrs. Davis No reconciliation with her 
father The loss a great trial to him Mrs. Taylor deeply affected General 
Taylor's sense of sorrow Meets Jefferson Davis at Buena Vista Reconcilia- 
tion on the battle-field An embrace on the battle-field The end of the cam- 
paign General Taylor a hero Miss Betty the object of much interest The 
Presidential candidacy Taylor elected The cottage on the river a Mecca 
A year of great excitement Mrs. Taylor's hospitality Her indifference to 
public honors Her desire for retirement "A plot to deprive her of her hus- 
band's society" The army life ended Miss Betty Taylor's marriage A 
bride at twenty-two Her husband, Major Bliss, her father's Adjutant-Gen- 
eral Mistress of the White House Mrs. Taylor declining responsibility 
" Miss Betty" the hostess An attractive woman The inauguration Wild- 
est enthusiasm Washington's welcome to the nation's idol A grand ball 
Scenes at the ball General Taylor's appearance Madame Bodisco's dress 
Zachary Taylor's favorite child Her appearance as she entered the ball-room 
Timid and faltering in step The vast crowd pleased Overwhelming en- 
thusiasm The home life at the White House Mrs. Taylor absent from offi- 
cial entertainments Her simple habits ridiculed The summer passed in 
quietness A reception to Father Matthew The public not satisfied A de- 
sire for greater ostentation at the White House The following winter Offi- 
cial life begun Distinguished men in the Cabinet The admission of 
California Fiery eloquence of Clay Webster and Calhoun members of the 
Senate Political excitement The change in the President's manner Be- 
gins to realize the opposition Is equal to the emergency Mrs. Taylor 
abandons domestic affairs Devotes herself to social duties Appreciates the 
importance of her elevation More ostentation displayed A social revolu- 
tion The new era inaugurated by the ladies Reception on the first anniver- 
sary of the inauguration The President's family appear to advantage Gen- 
eral Taylor a surprise to his friends A new role played with success Miss 
Betty the leader of society The press expresses admiration Cabinet changes 
The general character of the administration The spring passes away 
Seventy-fourth anniversary of National Independence Laying the corner- 
stone of the Washington Monument General Taylor presides The day in- 
tensely hot Exposed to the sun A notable event The complaints of Gen- 
eral Taylor regarding the heat Never experienced such heat in Florida o,r 


Mexico His return to the White House Drank freely of cold water and 
ate fruit Violent illness General Taylor has the cholera His premonitions 
regarding the end The remarks concerning his performance of duty " His 
motives misconstrued; his feelings grossly betrayed " Mrs. Taylor admits 
the possibility of his death Bitterly regrets their coming to Washington 
Prostrate at her husband's bedside Her children about her The death-bed 
scene The last good-bye The grief of the family Heart-rending cries of 
agony The end The removal of the President's remains Mrs. Taylor's 
retirement from the White House Her dream of happiness ended Never 
alluded to her life in Washington With her friends in Kentucky Finds per- 
sonal utterances of sympathy oppressive Retires to her son's residence 
Her home near Pascagoula, Louisiana Leads a quiet life Death of Major 
Bliss A second marriage The historical name laid aside The end of a 
public career 425 


A daughter of Rev. Lemuel Powers Born in 1798 A descendant of Henry 
Leland, of Sherbourne Loses her father in infancy Her mother her 
teacher and guide Removal to Cayuga county, New York A frontier set- 
tlementStern lessons of poverty A studious and ambitions girl Teaches 
school during the summer months A well-educated woman The omnip- 
otence of energy Miss Power's blessing of physical health Personal ap- 
pearance Flowing curls of flaxen hair Her face a mirror of her soul 
Much strength of character Marriage of her mother The daughter a 
teacher Her home with a relative Meets Mr. Fillmore A teacher of the 
village school in winter The father's unwise selection of work The son 
ambitious and studious Studying law while a clothier's apprentice A 
friendly hand extended The youth assisted The foundation of usefulness 
laid Removes to Erie county Miss Powers his inspiration and hope Their 
engagement Separated for three years Too poor to make a journey of 150 
miles Married in 1826 Life in the wilderness Poor and content Their 
first home The wife teaches school, keeps house, and helps her husband 
Relieves him of care His progress rapid Practises law Elected to the 
Legislature Mrs. Fillmore a true help-meet Intellectually her husband's 
equal A sunny nature Two children in her home Letters to an old 
friend Removal to Buffalo Mr. Fillmore prospering Domestic happiness 
Social pleasures Mr. Fillmore's tribute to his wife Greeted his entire 
married life with smiles Her supreme devotion to her husband Mr. Fill- 
more in Congress Elected Vice- President Death of President Taylor Mr. 
Fillmore's accession to the Presidency Mrs. Fillmore in the White House 
Her daughter assumes the first position Mrs. Fillmore in feeble health 
Fond of the society of friends Her love of music Mrs. Fillmore a great 
reader No library in the White House President Fil'more asks an appro- 
priation Mrs. Fillmore arranges the library A happy gathering place 
The weekly receptions at the White House Dinner parties A large circle 
of cultured people in Washington Their welcome to the White House 


Flowers, music, and literary entertainments Mrs. Fillmcre's pride in her 
position Deeply regrets her ill-health Her son and daughter assist her in 
all ways Visit of the President's father " Cradle him in a sap-trough, sir" 
Attentions paid the venerable man A gradual failure of health Mrs. Fill* 
more's last illness Death Buried in Buffalo The affection of her family ' 
Mr. Fillmore's devotion to her memory Lines on her death ,. 457 


The only daughter of President Fillmore Lady of the White House A cul- 
tured woman Intimacy with Harriet Hosmer A linguist, musician, and 
scholar Presides at the White House with great dignity A credit to her 
sex Educated hy Miss Sedgwick Qualified herself to teach Studied at 
the State Normal School Graduated with high honors Tier father becomes 
President Becomes the first lady in the land A successful career Returns 
the affection bestowed upon her High social qualities Her mother's death 
The pride and comfort of her father A visit to her grandfather Sudden 
illness Her father summoned Dies of cholera The blow a heart-rending 
one Her father and brother left alone Only twenty-two Many tributes to 
her memory A general favorite in society Wife and daughter buried in less 
than one year 474 


The daughter of Rev. Jesse Appleton, D. D., President of Bowdoin College 
Reared in an atmosphere of cultivation A gifted child Delicate and in- 
tensely sensitive Mentnl qualities Married in 1834 Mr. Pierce a gifted 
man Politics utterly distasteful to Mrs. Pierce A union of lasting happi- 
ness A devoted husband Personal popularity of Mr. Pierce A public po- 
sition undesired A good wife, mother, and friend Home at Concord Mr. 
Pierce resigns his seat in the Senate Loss of two sons Resumes the practice 
of law Tendered the position of Attorney-General His wife's illness his 
reason for declining An invalid most of the time Mr. Pierce enlists in the 
army Goes to Mexico Returns a Brigadier- General Absent from home 
nearly a year A wife's anxiety Left alone with an only son Mr. Pierce 
nominated for the Presidency His election Death of her only child 
Killed on a railroad train A bright boy of thirteen Husband, wife, and 
child go down together The search for the boy Still in death A sad re- 
turn home Mistress of the White House under sad circumstances In 
feeble health and deep grief Always present at the public receptions Pre- 
sided at State dinners Agreeable memories of Mrs. Pierce in Washington 
Her observance of the Sabbath The influence she exerted Retirement of 
President Pierce Travels abroad Six months in Madeira A long sojourn 
in the old world Death of Mrs. Pierce in 1863 Kindly things said of her 
Death of Mr. Pierce in 1869 484 


The niece of James Buchanan Her name nearly associated with his fame 


Given to his care when an infant A child to him The ancestry of Pennsyl- 
vania blood Her grandfather Family of James Buchanan His favorite 
sifter Married to Eliot T. Lane Mr. Lane's position Their youngest 
child A vivacious and mischievous girl Little Harriet's impressions of her 
uncle Death of her mother and father Possessed of worldly goods 
Chooses her uncle's home His pride in this affectionate child Her guide, 
philosopher, and friend " She never told a lie " A wilful domestic outlaw 
An anecdote of her girlhood Her uncle's rebuke Harriet sent to school 
Objections to her teachers Her letters to her uncle Under surveillance 
Early hours, brown sugar and cold hearts Another school selected Her 
sister her companion Three years of study Fond of music A visit to Bed- 
ford Springs Her uncle makes her happy In a convent In Washington 
every month Delightful visits Miss Lane's popularity at school A favor- 
ite with the sisters The nuns instruct her in music Her uncle's letters 
Graduated with honor Loved and regretted by her school-mates A beau- 
tiful woman Personal description Taste in dress Her uncle's idol His 
account of her athletic powers Anecdote of a race she ran At Wheatland 
Her fondness for reading aloud Discusses politics and plans improvements 
about the grounds Gay visits to different cities Admired by gentlemen 
Her uncle's house invaded by her lovers Her brothers and sister Mr. 
Buchanan appointed Minister to England His services to his country In 
Congress, Minister to Russia, Secretary of State Twice offered a seat upon 
the Supreme Bench Miss Lane's entrance into English society Publicly 
identified with Mr. Buchanan Her rank The Queen her admirer Decides 
her place in the diplomatic corps for her A blooming beauty First appear- 
ance at a drawing-room A memorable occasion Unconscious of the atten- 
tion she attracted Mr. Buchanan's remark to her Distinguished attentions 
of the Queen Regarded with favor by the royal family Added greatly to 
the social reputation of her uncle An elegant-looking couple A delightful 
specimen of American womanhood The guest of distinguished people 
Offers of marriage Confides her love-affairs to her uncle Brightest years 
of her life Miss Lane's love for England and English people An incident 
of her stay abroad Travels on the continent With Mr. Mason's family in 
Paris Their guest for two months Miss Lane a great belle With her 
uncle at Oxford The degree of Doctor of Civil Laws conferred on Mr. 
Tennyson and Mr. Buchanan The students cheer her Their admiration 
openly expressed Return to America Leaves her uncle behind He re- 
grets the separation Long letters to her The purpose of her coming home 
At Wheatland Her sister to join her Death of her sister Mr. Buchanan's 
return Nominated for the Presidency Miss Lane's social duties Mistress of 
the White House Death of her brother A terrible blow to her The recipient 
of much sympathy Elegant manners of the Lady of the White f louse The 
most admired woman in America Her life a series of honors and pleasures 
The formal receptions The President's appearance His niece by his side 
A trying social position Visit of the Prince of Wales to this country The 
guest of the President A delightful visit An occurrence of memorable in- 


terest Visit to Mount Vernor The Prince a pleasant guest His frank man- 
ners and interest in social matters Wishes to dance The President declines 
to permit it The departure of the Prince Letter from the Queen and the 
Prince Presents the President with his portrait Sends Miss Lane engravings 
of the Royal Family Presented to them, not to the nation Letter from Lord 
Lyons to Mr. Buchanan The closing year of the administration Miss Lane 
a comfort to her uncle The approaching war A time of anxiety The Presi- 
dent's gratitude for her admirable demeanor Faithfully represents him in 
his drawing-room Retirement At Wheatland Continued attentions En- 
thusiastic admirers Miss Lane joins the church No other relative than her 
two uncles Engagement to Mr. Johnston Marriage at Wheatland The 
struggle between two loves Mr. and Mrs. Johnston's tour to Cuba Set- 
tle in Baltimore A luxurious home A gift for "the lady of his dreams" 
Happiness of the young couple Mrs. Johnston as a wife and mother Death 
of her uncle In summer at Wheatland A happy life Later shadows 
Death of her eldest son A noble youth Letter from Judge Black A great 
bereavement 498 


Ambitious to go to the White House A hope long entertained The desire 
gratified Impressed with this feeling in early youth Calculated the proba- 
bilities of such a success with friends Refused to marry a statesman Ac- 
cepts a less brilliant man believing in his future A Kentuckian by birth 
Member of the Todd family Childhood and youth Restless and not happy 
at home -Goes to Springfield, Illinois The attractions of this place Resi- 
dence with her sister Marriage to Abraham Lincoln Their home at the 
Globe tavern The husband's letter Early married life Mr. Lincoln elected 
to Congress His wife and children at home State of the country The 
public life of Mr. Lincoln His fondness for his children A good husband 
and kind man Mrs. Lincoln a fortunate woman The mother of four chil- 
dren Her pleasant home The aspirations and efforts of her husband His 
character untarnished by corruption The place he fills The basis of his 
greatness The time of war and anxiety Less fortunate than any of her pre- 
decessors The people not gay Social duties ignored The conditions 
under which her Washington life was passed Preceding events Repub- 
lican Convention of 1860 The nomination of Mr. Lincoln Mrs. Lincoln's 
excitement Her husband's thoughtfulness His remark about her The 
excitement over the result Springfield crowded with strangers A great 
crowd at Mr. Lincoln's house An elated woman Her husband a grave 
man Had none of the airs of eminence The same honest, simple-hearted 
man Answered his own bell Mrs. Lincoln annoyed by visitors Her hus- 
band receives his guests elsewhere Not inclined to be friendly Her im- 
proper estimate of her position Very ambitious but not conciliatory A 
singular circumstance Superstition of Mr. Lincoln The thrice repeated 
apparition His wife's interpretation of it A sign of his future honors and 
sudden death Viewed in the light of subsequent events Its startling import 


Mrs. Lincoln starts for Washington Her three sons with her At Spring- 
field A salute of thirty-four guns At Cincinnati The family of General 
Harrison The inauguration General Scott in command of the troops An 
exciting day in Washington Presidents Buchanan and Lincoln The oath 
of office administered At the White House Mrs. Lincoln and her sisters 
The first levee The lady of the White House Description of her appear- 
ance The desire of her heart gratified A fortunate woman Fond of 
society and excitement Not equal to the emergency Her conduct criticised 
State dinners abandoned Years of hardship and trial to Mr. Lincoln 
The death of their son Grief of both parents Incidents of Mr. Lincoln's 
love for his children Request to Commodore Porter Tad's love of flowers 
A gratification to his boy At Fortress Monroe Mr. Lincoln dreams of 
Willie Overcome with emotion Reads from " King John " and sobs aloud 
A loving father A relative's opinion of him Never heard to utter an un- 
kind word Mrs. Lincoln in the White House Much alone The state of 
the country preventing gayety At the watering places The Presidential 
Canvass of 1864 Re-election of Mr. Lincoln The New Year's reception 
in 1865 The most brilliant reception given Thousands present The war 
drawing to a close The inauguration Anxiety concerning it Safely accom- 
plished Joy succeeds sorrow General rejoicing at the North Surrender 
of General Lee Peace declared The White House thronged Congratula- 
tions from all directions Anniversary of the fall of Fort Sumter The Presi- 
dent and family at the theatre The greetings of a great audience Those 
beside him In a private box Looking pensive and sad Shot John 
Wilkes Booth the assassin Great consternation The President removed 
from the theatre Mrs. Lincoln unnerved At her husband's death-bed The 
return to the White House Grief of the nation The afternoon before his 
death Out riding Mrs. Lincoln's reference to the otcasion His remarks 
to his wife during the ride They go alone at his wish His touching allusion 
to their son " We have been very miserable " A miserable household . 
Grief of little Tad Utterly inconsolable His remarks about his father 
Mrs. Lincoln unnerved by the shock Never wholly recovers 111 for many 
weeks The funeral cortege leaves Washington The journey to Illinois 
Mourning of the people Impressive scenes The eldest son accompanies 
the cortege Returns to his mother's side Mrs. Lincoln's long stay in the 
White House Embarrassed officials President's Johnson's considerate 
course Final departure of Mrs. Lincoln Death of Tad Subsequent life 
of Mrs. Lincoln In ill-health Travels abroad Petitions Congress for a 
pension Restless and depressed in spirit The end of her ambitions, hopes 
and thoughts of home-life Life abroad Return to America Again at 
Springfield 526 


The only child of a widow Married at seventeen Her husband a tailor's ap- 
prentice A mountain home Well instructed in ordinary branches A very 


beautiful girl The wife of an ambitious man His widowed mother's chief 
support Au additional incentive to study The young couple learn together 
His wife teaches him to write She reads to him as he works Three 
women The zeal and energy of one of them The tailor boy's incentives 
Little children about his hearth Mr. Johnson elected alderman The joy of 
a good wife The village "Demosthenes" Chosen Mayor of Greenville 
Three terms in office A reputation for honest deeds and correct principles 
Mrs. Johnson's devotion to her husband's interests Death of their mothers 
Mr. Johnson a member of the Legislature and Governor of Tennessee 
His wife remains in Greenville Her children's education her care Their 
Greenville home Andrew Johnson's first home His old shop A poor man 
and honest official Elected Senator Mrs. Johnson in Washington Failing 
health Her return home Separated from her husband for two years The 
civil war Cut off from news of home Mrs. Johnson and family ordered out 
of East Tennessee Time asked Too ill to travel The start made Ordered 
to return A long and trying journey Passes through Confederate lines A 
night spent on the cars Without food or beds or fire A tired party Mrs. 
Johnson and her children in Nashville The heroic conduct of the former 
Remembered kindly by friend and foe A long-separated family reunited 
Mrs. Johnson an invalid Death of her eldest son, Dr. Johnson Governor 
Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee Nominated for the Vice-Presi- 
dency Goes to Washington His family remain in Nashville Preparing to 
return to Greenville The assassination of the President Andrew Johnson, 
President of the United States Senator Doolittle's account of the assassina- 
tion conspiracy His letters to the Wisconsin State Historical Society Presi- 
dent Johnson's narrow escape Governor Farvvell's presence of mind 
Leaves the theatre to find Mr. Johnson Fears for his safety Warns the hotel 
clerks " Guard the doors : the President is assassinated" Rushes to the 
Vice-President's room His anxiety supreme Is reassured by hearing Mr. 
Johnson's voice The terrible news he bears A moment of supreme excite- 
ment Hasty plans for safety The moment of danger passed The hotel 
guarded Personal friends pouring in to learn his fate News of Secretary 
Seward's condition Thousands of people in the streets A time of horror 
The President dying Mr. Johnson determined to see him His refusal to 
go guarded Accompanied by Major O'Beirne and Governor Farwell At 
the bedside of the dying President Mrs. Johnson presented with an album 
containing Governor Farvvell's account of the conspiracy plot The family at 
the White House Mrs. Patterson the Lady of the White House "A plain 
people from the mountains of Tennessee " Mrs. Johnson assumes no social 
duties An invalid Only once in the East Room Her household The 
four years in the White House Her glad return to Tennessee Death of 
Colonel Robert Johnson Ex-President Johnson elected Senator His wife 
great4y pleased Living in her old home Illness of her husband His death 
Six months of suffering Her death Buried beside her husband A superb 
monument 6 



Like her father in personal appearance and character A strong, earnest 
woman Description of her mental characteristics Her executive ability and 
energy The pleasant manners of the President's daughter An unostenta- 
tious person A dutiful daughter and kind sister She never had time to 
play A busy school-girl Her mother's assistant The earnest years of early 
life At school in Georgetown A guest at the White House Mrs. Folk's 
bashful visitor Many of her holidays spent there The marriage of Miss 
Johnson to Judge Patterson A visit to her father at Nashville Her home in 
East Tennessee The mother of two children The war Joins her parents 
at Nashville Her home sacked The preparations to return to East Tennes- 
see News of the assassination Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. James K. Polk oc- 
cupy a carriage in the procession in honor of Lincoln Removal to Washing- 
ton A dismantled mansion The East Room in a wretched condition A 

severe task before the new mistress President Johnson's first reception 
Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Stover beside their father The White House refur- 
nished Mrs. Patterson's severe duties A summer spent in Washington reno- 
vating the home of the Presidents A notable housekeeper Travels with her 
father The wife of a Senator and daughter of the President President 
Jefferson's second daughter similarly situated, but not the lady of the White 
House Golden opinions of Mrs. Patterson Compared to Mrs. John Adams 
Superior common sense and strong will power A Southerner's love of 
home Her conduct during the impeachment trial A patient and busy per- 
son The strength ami support of her father His companion and counsellor 
Devotion to his interests A levee at the White House Mrs. Patterson's 
costume described The farewell reception Five thousand people present 
The State dinners given by President Johnson The last entertainment of 
this kind An interesting account of it The President's hospitality Retire 
merit from the White House A stormy and trying ordeal over Farewells to 
old friends 573 


The second daughter of President Johnson A widow when she went to Wash- 
ington A statuesque .blonde Her children with her The grandchildren of 
the President A happy home-circle A stately woman on public occasions 
Her indifference to society The amusement of friends at her manner with 
strangers A shy sufferer in society Her devotion to her children An un- 
affected and sensible lady A pleasant memory in Washington 598 


The inauguration of President Grant in 1869 Youngest man who has occupied 
the office His family Mrs. Grant as hostess, wife and mother Personal 
friends and relatives about her Her personal influence A Missourian by 
birth Her father's social position Her brother a West Point graduate 
Introduced to his class-mate The engagement of the young lieutenant and 


Miss Julia The match not pleasing to her parents The young officer 
ordered to frontier duty With General Taylor in Mexico Saved the life of 
Lieutenant Dent The family relent An engagement of five years Mar- 
ried in 1848 A merry wedding The bride at her husband's post House- 
keeping in Detroit A vine-covered cottage The children of this union 
Captain Grant leaves the army Returns to Missouri Poor and without 
prospects Tries fafming Not successful in his efforts " Hardscrabble" 
Enters a real-estate office Years of adversity The hope and trust of Mrs. 
Grant A visit to his father What came of it In business at Galena Six 
hundred a year " Hardscrabble " still His wife maid of all work, nurse 
and teacher of her children An uncongenial business Hard work and little 
reward His position disagreeable on various accounts The outbreak of the 
war The turning-point in his life Appointed Captain Speedy promotions 
Governor Washburne his friend Is made a Brigadier-General Mrs. 
Grant and her children in Kentucky His father's house her home Her 
loyal devotion to her husband Predicts higher distinction for him His de- 
fender always Much of his success due to her recognition of his character 
With him at Fort Donelson and in Mississippi Serenaded in St. Louis after 
the surrender of Vicksburg Her appearance greeted with cheers Shares 
with her husband his military renown At head-quarters Mrs. Grant's opin- 
ion of her husband "A very obstinate man " He becomes Lieutenant-Gen- 
eral Resides in Washington City Three years of home-life under pleasant 
circumstances The most successful General of the age Is nominated for the 
Presidency Inauguration of President Grant Mrs. Grant in the White 
House The domestic life of the President's family Three years of the ad- 
ministration At Long Branch in summer Debut of Miss Nellie Her tour 
in Europe Distinguished attentions shown her Their sons at home from 
school Marriage of Nellie Grant The lover from over the water National 
interest in the event The sixth wedding in the White House The cere- 
mony in the East Room The groom Algernon Sartoris, of Hampshire, Eng- 
land The son of Adelaide Kemble, and grandson of Charles Kemble His 
aunt the famous actress Fanny Kemble An exceptionally brilliant life 
President Grant's pride in his daughter Her wedding the finest ever known 
in Washington Guests present Departure for Europe The President and 
Mrs. Grant at Long Branch Colonel Fred Grant's marriage Mrs. Grant's 
social administration Elaborate entertainments Notable social events 
Royal visitors at the White House Eight years in the Executive Mansion 
Close of the administration of President Grant The recipient of constant at- 
tentions Guests of the ex-Secretary of State Preparations for a tour around 
the world The guest of George Washington Childs, Esq., in Philadelphia 
Honors paid to the ex- President The last week made memorable Depar- 
ture from Philadelphia The trip down the Delaware Enthusiasm of the 
people The farewell to friends Parting salute The steamer " Indiana" 
departs Welcomed on English soil The journey around the world Two 
years and a-half of sight-seeing The return to the United States In sight of 
home Arrival at San Francisco Universal rejoicings Invitations fr#m all 


the large cities of the Union The ex-President surprised at the heartiness of 
his reception Pleasant incidents A present to Mrs. Grant from the Chinese 
delegation The dinner given her in China Guest of the wife of the Viceroy 
of China John Russell Young's description of the entertainment She is ac- 
companied by the European ladies in Tientsin " What shall we wear?" 
They decide in favor of French fashions The procession of chairs to the 
Yamen Mrs. Grant in the first chair An American and a 'Chinese band 
The refinement of the hostess The Viceregal family Costumes of the Chi- 
nese ladies Crowds of servants in attendance Tea served in the library 
At dinner The dining-room and table furnishing A Chinese and European 
feast The fortitude of the guests Chopsticks handled with dexterity The 
civility of the hostess Democratic customs in China The crowd about the 
windows and doors The toast of the hostess Barbarian ladies surprise her 
The Viceroy looking on Anxious for the success of the entertainment 
The singing and dancing of the guests Barbarian customs approved by 
the Oriental ladies German music in the Viceroy's palace High-bred cour- 
tesy of the hostess Stands or sits as her guests do A refined lady Accom- 
panied Mrs. Grant to her chair The adieux Mrs. Grant travels Has re- 
ceived at the hands of foreigners more attention than any other White House 
occupant The guest of the crown heads of Europe Her chief pleasure in 
life Popular in society Untrammelled with cares The motives governing 
her public career Domesticity her leading characteristic An excellent 
mother Adored by her children Identified with her husband's public 
career Her name a theme of praise The summer of her life The future 
that yet awaits her 603 


Widely popular An element in the Administration Her influence admirable 
The representative of the third period of White House ladies The women 
of the Revolution Their successors The second century of the Republic 
Mrs. Hayes a representative of it Her qualifications and ambition An ideal 
wife Happy married life Long experience in semi-official life Her grace, 
culture and social attributes Pleasant duties well performed Has created a 
higher reverence for her sex As compared with others of her rank What 
men have learned from the days of Socrates to President Hayes The domes- 
tic lives of great men The glory of life realized Mrs. Hayes' birth-place 
Daughter of Dr. James Webb Ancestry The mother of Mrs. Hayes A 
noble woman Her careful training of her children Pupils at Wesleyan 
University Cottage home of Mrs. Webb Lucy a fellow-student with her 
brothers Sent to the Wesleyan Female College Excellent school advantages 
A graduate of the first chartered college for young women in the United 
States Is introduced to a promising young lawyer His interest in the under- 
graduate What he wrote concerning her Pleasant school-memories of Mrs. 
Hayes Her schoolmates' opinion of her "Absolutely will not talk gossip" 
The trait a gift from her mother An exemplification of the Golden Rule 
A member of the church A clever student At the head of her class 


School-life closed Married to Mr. Hayes The wedding A marriage 
crowned with affection "All the world loves a lover " Sensitive apprecia 
tion of what is due her husband's fame from her An incident Mrs. Hayes 
a strong, self-respecting woman A minister's tribute to her temperance views 
Ranks her with the Marys who stood at the cross President Hayes A 
widow's son His mother A self-reliant woman Devotion to her children 
Mr. Hayes a graduate of Kenyon College, and of the Cambridge Law 
School Practises law in Fremont Removal to Cincinnati Offices held by 
him Enters the army as Major Distinctions won during the war At the 
battle of South Mountain Wounded in four engagements An instance of 
her life in camp "A woman who mends the boys' clothes " A kind deed 
to a soldier Mrs. Hayes searching the Washington hospitals Fails to get 
tidings of him Finds him at Middletown, Maryland Her brother with him 
Establishes herself as nurse In the family of Captain Rudy Their opin- 
ion of Mrs. Hayes Her easy, affable ways Visits the hospitals and nurses 
the soldiers A welcome presence in the sick-room Returns to Cincinnati 
with her husband Her departure sincerely regretted Attentions to Miss 
Rudy A guest in the Governor's house President Hayes' letter on the death 
of Captain Rudy The close of the war General Hayes elected to Congress 
Re-elected Nominated Governor of Ohio Re-elected The Executive 
Mansion at Columbus Social life there Elegant hospitality extended Mrs. 
Hayes' public duties Works to enlarge the State Charities Identified with 
all good causes Her wide influence The mother of eight children An 
excellent mother Admirable in all the relationships of life Summers spent 
at Fremont "Spiegel Grove" A hospitable mansion Description of the 
house and surroundings Burchard Park Pen-portrait of Mrs. Hayes Me- 
dium height and well built Fine eyes and expressive features An animated 
face Excellent health and sunny nature A splendid specimen of physical 
womanhood The Presidential canvass in 1876 An exciting event A season 
of great anxiety President and Mrs. Hayes in Washington The guests of 
Mr. Sherman The inauguration Scene in the Senate Chamber The happy 
face in the gallery A bright glance that reassured the principal actor At the 
White House The two Presidents at lunch Ex-President and Mrs. Grant 
leave the White House The farewells at the door The new life begun 
Arrival of the children and guests First day in the White House Mrs. 
Hayes delighted with her position Her admissions on this subject Antici- 
pates enjoyment A pleasant incident Class testimonial to Mrs. Hayes The 
college badge The device made in flowers The note accompanying the 
gift " The best plans will go aglee " The note lost Mrs. Hayes in a quiver 
of excitement How she learned the names of the donors The end felicitous 
The ladies invited to the White House A happy occasion Mrs. Hayes' 
Bibles Enough to stock a hotel The first reception The most gratified 
lady in the land A radiant face The effect as she received Her toilette 
A simple, elegant dress Rare laces The second entertainment Dinner to 
the Grand Dukes Alexis and Constantine of Russia A brilliant gathering 
The drawing-rooms Flowers and Sevres china The table-and dining-room 


ornaments The grand promenade The Grand Duke Alexis and Mrs. Hayes 
President Hayes and Lady Thornton Other members of the brilliant com- 
pany The toilette worn by Mrs. Hayes The facts about the use of wine on 
this occasion Not seen on subsequent occasions A compliment for Mrs. 
Hayes from Paris Her first Sunday in Washington Attends the Foundry 
Methodist Church Mrs. Hayes does not interfere in official matters Con- 
siders no applications for appointments A notable instance of her deviation 
from this rule A temperance postmistress retained The reason for her in- 
terference Mrs. Hayes' attentions to her " poor relations " Democratic in- 
dependence An instance of it The best carriage and livened servants 
Plain people from Ohio A few frills put on for their sakes The household 
at the White House The children of the President What an old school 
friend said of Mrs. Hayes Mrs. Mary Clemmer writes of her The eyes 
of a Madonna A woman of the hearth and home Strong as fair 
" Holding the white lamp of her womanhood unshaken " The finest- 
looking type of man and woman A Southerner's opinion "A God beautiful 
woman" President Hayes Description of personal appearance Manly, 
refined and polished in manners Silver wedding First ever celebrated in 
the White House Rev. Dr. McCabe renews his pastoral blessing The wed- 
ding dress of the bride Friends present Interesting event The children 
who were christened The family dinner Formal reception next evening 
The Executive Mansion brilliant with flowers and gay costumes Dress worn 
by Mrs. Hayes Wedding dress too small Her guests Those who attended 
the first wedding The only present received A gift to Mrs. Hayes In 
memory of past kindness From the officers of the 23d Ohio Volunteer In- 
fantry A silver plate in an ebony frame The inscription The log-hut and 
torn battle-flags Scenes in the Kanawha Valley in 1863-64 The banquet 
All the magnificent White House tableware in use Superb flowers A bless- 
ing asked Telegrams offering congratulations One of the pleasant affairs 
connected with the administration The two notable features it exhibited 
The cards of invitation and the present Mrs. Hayes' friendly interest in the 
soldiers "The mother of the Regiment" The White House during Mrs. 
Hayes' administration Her entertainments public and private Marriage 
of Miss Platt in the White House Many bridal parties there A lunch party 
to young ladies Mrs. Hayes' tours with her husband Never tired of having 
a good time The most idolized woman in America Uses the world without 
abusing it An honor to women Presentation of her portrait to the nation 
Description of picture and frame Farewell to Washington Welcome 


Self-control Her characteristics Before her marriage General Garfield's 
early life Elected to the Senate Death of a child Letter to her husband 
Her husband's tribute The family at Mentor Description of her home 
Mrs. Garfield at home Personal appearance " Mother Garfield " A scene 


at the inauguration The President's family at Washington Early life of 
Mother Garfield Mother and son Inauguration scenes A brilliant scene 
The inauguration ball The ladies of the Cabinet The children of the 
President Mrs. Garfield's- illness At Long Branch Saturday, July 2d, 
" The President shot " Incidents of the assassination Removal to the White 
House Heroic suffering Letter to Mother Garfield Not a politician 
Sympathy of the people The relapse Removal to Long Branch A little 
boy's sympathy Anxious waiting Died September igth, 1881 The death- 
bed scene Alone with her dead Mother Garfield Leaving Elberon 
Tributes by the way The last look The Queen's floral tribute The start for 
Cleveland Scenes by the way At Cleveland The funeral procession At 
the cemetery The last scene The Queen's sympathy 665 


Corner-stone laid How constructed Where situated Trees planted by 
John Quincy Adams Green House Why so-called 6? 

ERC3I .' 





THE first who, in our young republic, bore the honors 
as a President's wife, is described "as being rather 
below the middle size, but extremely well-shaped, with 
an agreeable countenance, dark hazel eyes and hair, 
and those frank, engaging manners so captivating in 
American women. She was not a beauty, but gentle 
and winning in her nature, and eminently congenial to 
her illustrious husband. During their long and happy 
married life, he ever wore her likeness on his heart." 

"It was in 1758 that an officer, attired in a military 
undress, attended by a body-servant tall and militaire as 
his chief, crossed the ferry over the Pamunkey, a branch 
of the York River. On the boat's touching the south- 
ern or New Kent side, the soldier's progress was 
arrested by one of those personages who give the beau- 
ideal of the Virginia gentleman of the old regime ; the 
very soul of kindliness and hospitality. It was in vain 
the soldier urged his business at Williamsburg; im- 
portant communications to the Governor, etc. Mr. 



Chamberlayne, on whose domain the officer had just 
landed, would hear no excuse. Colonel Washington 
was a name and character so dear to all Virginians, that 
his passing by one of the old estates of Virginia without 
calling and partaking of the hospitalities of the host was 
entirely out of the question. The Colonel, however, did 
not surrender at discretion, but stoutly maintained his 
ground, till Chamberlayne brought up his reserve in the 
intimation that he would introduce his friend to a young 
and charmino- widow then beneath his roof. The sol- 


dier capitulated on condition that he should dine, only 
dine, and then, by pressing his charger, and borrowing 
of the night, he would reach Williamsburg before his 
Excellency could shake off his morning slumbers. 
Orders were accordingly* issued to Bishop, the Colonel's 
body-servant and faithful follower, who, together with a 
fine English charger, had been bequeathed by the dying 
Braddock to Major Washington on the famed and fated 
field of the Monongahela. Bishop, bred in the school 
of European discipline, raised his hand to his cap, as 
much as to say, 'Your honor's orders shall be obeyed.' 
The Colonel now proceeded to the mansion, and was 
introduced to various guests (for when was a Virginia 
domicil of the olden time without guests?), and, above 
all, to the charming widow. Tradition relates that they 
were mutually pleased on this their first interview, nor 
is it remarkable; they were of an age when impressions 
are strongest. The lady was fair to behold, of fasci- 
natino- manners, and splendidly endowed with worldly 


benefits; the hero, fresh from his early fields redolent 
of fame, and with a form on which 'every god did seem 
to set his seal, to give the world assurance of a man.' 
The morning passed pleasantly away; evening came, 
with Bishop, true to his orders and firm at his post, 
holding the favorite charger with the one hand, while 
the other was waiting to offer the ready stirrup. The 
sun sank in the horizon, and yet the Colonel appeared 
not, and then the old soldier wondered at his chiefs 
delay. 'Twas strange; 'twas passing strange. Surely 
he was not wont to be a single moment behind his 
appointments, for he was the most punctual of all punc- 
tual men. Meantime, the host enjoyed the scene of the 
veteran on duty at the gate, while the Colonel was so 
agreeably employed in the parlor; and proclaiming that 
no guest ever left his house after sunset, his military 
visitor was, without much difficulty, persuaded to order 
Bishop to put up the horses for the night. The sun 
rode high in the heavens the ensuing day when the 
enamored soldier pressed with his spur his charger's 
sides and sped on his way to the seat of government, 
when, having despatched his public business, he retraced 
his steps, and at her country-seat, the White House, after 
which the home of the Presidents was called, the engage- 
ment took place, with arrangements for the marriage." 

It is pleasant to remember that, with all the privations 
and hardships endured by both in after-years, they never 
encountered poverty. When Colonel Washington mar- 
ried Mrs. Custis, the ceremony was performed under 


the roof of her own home, and the broad lands about it 
were but a part of her large estate. Immediately after 
their wedding-, which has been described repeatedly as a 
most joyous and happy affair, in which every belle and 
beau for miles around took part, they repaired at once 
to Mount Vernon. Here for seventeen bright and 
beautiful years they enjoyed the society of relatives 
and friends, and the constant companionship of each 
other. During those years of prosperity, Mrs. Wash- 
ington had ample opportunity to manifest that ele- 
gance of manner for which she was remarkable. In 
her girlhood, as Miss Dandridge, she had enjoyed 
the best society of Williamsburg, and during Gov- 
ernor Dinwiddie's residence there, she had been one of 
the most popular and admired of the many bloom- 
ing girls who had rendered the court of the Governor 

Nothing remains to us of her childhood save an in- 
distinct tradition;* perhaps her infant years were spent 
at her father's country home, unmarked but by the 
gradual change of the little one into the shy young lady. 
That she was educated after the exigency of her time, at 
home, is likewise a truth gathered from the echoes of the 
past generation. Virginia in those early days for she 
was born in May, 1732 possessed no educational facili- 
ties, and the children of the wealthy were either sent 
abroad for accomplishments unattainable in their native 

* She was a descendant of the Rev. Orlando Jones, a clergyman of Wales. 


land, or put under the care of tutor or governess at 
home. Such knowledge as she possessed of the world 
was gleaned from the few books she read, and the 
society of her father's friends, for she had never been 
farther from home than Williamsburg. 

She is first mentioned as a rustic beauty and belle at 
the British Governor's residence, and was there mar- 
ried, when very young, to Colonel Custis. After her 
marriage, her home was not far distant from her father's 
plantation, and these fleeting years were so fraught with 
every conceivable blessing that her young heart asked 
no other boon. Endeared to each other by the warm- 
est affection, her time spent in dispensing that hos- 
pitality which was deemed a duty and a virtue, it 
seemed as if no trouble could ever mar her happiness. 
Colonel Custis was a gifted and refined man, of emi- 
nently polished and agreeable manners, and the pos- 
sessor of a generous nature, which rendered him 
widely popular. The congenial couple lived in happy 
contentment in the enjoyment of their own and their 
children's society, surrounded by friends, and the pos- 
sessors of all those creature comforts which add so 
essentially to the pleasures of existence. They had 
three children, the eldest of whom was a son, unusually 
endowed with mental gifts, and giving promise of a 
bright future. His health was not good, and though 
watched over with continuous care and forethought he 
died, and his untimely death hastened the disease 
already manifest in his father's system. Colonel Custis 


died of consumption a short time afterward, and thus 
was the wife and mother deprived of her companion, 
whose affection was in keeping with his many virtues and 
elevated mind, and the boy whose existence had first 
called into being all the deathless love of a mother. 

Time soothed the wounds naught else could heal, and 
the young widow discharged the duties that belonged to 
her position. The trust her husband reposed in her 
in leaving their large property in her own hands to 
control she amply vindicated, and her estate was one 
of the best managed in the county. When she met 
Colonel Washington she was twenty-six years of age, 
and was remarkably youthful in appearance and very 
handsome. She had ever been the object of warm and 
disinterested affection, and from her first entrance into 
the society of Williamsburg, down to the last hour of 
her life, it was eminently illustrated. Few had been 
her sorrows, and for each and every one endured she 
could count a twofold blessing. There was nothing in 
her life to foster the faults incident to human nature, 
for the rank weeds of poverty and lack of opportunity, 
which cramp and deform so many earth-lives, were un- 
felt and unknown to her. 

Mount Vernon was the gift to Colonel Washington 
from his elder and bachelor brother Lawrence, and the 
estate was then one of the finest in Virginia. Wash- 
ington had made it his occasional residence before his 
marriage, but it was not until he took his bride there 
that it became his permanent home. The life that Mrs. 


Washington led there was similar in outward circum- 
stances to her former position as Mrs. Custis, for she 
was again the wife of a wealthy, prosperous planter, the 
centre of the refined society of the county. The same- 
ness of country life was interrupted by her frequent 
trips with her husband to Williamsburg, where he was 
for fifteen successive years a member of the Legis- 

"How noiseless falls the foot of time 
That only treads on flowers!" 

Engaged in fascinating pleasures and congenial pur- 
suits, it did not occur to Mrs. Washington how many 
summers of fragrantly blooming flowers and ripening 
fruits had sunk into the unreturning past; nor did she 
consider that the long term of years in which she had 
been so happy had meted to others measured drops of 
bitterness, turning all their harvest-times into chilling, 
dreary winter. There came to her a time when the 
pleasant home-life had to be abandoned, and for eight 
years the harmony of domestic peace was banished. 

The following letter, the only one preserved of the 
many addressed to her, is full of interest, and is replete 
with that thoughtfulness which characterized Washington 
in his capacity as a husband. Mrs. Washington, shortly 
before her death, destroyed every testimonial of this 
kind, unwilling that any other should read these evi- 
dences of affection: 

"PHILADELPHIA, \%th Jitne, 1775. 

" MY DEAREST: I am now set down to write to you on 


a subject which fills me with inexpressible concern, and 
this concern is greatly aggravated and increased when I 
reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you. It 
has been determined in Congress that the whole army 
raised for the defence of the American cause shall be 
put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to 
proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the 
command of it. 

"You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure 
you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seek- 
ing this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my 
power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to 
part with you and the family, but from a consciousness 
of its being a trust too great for my capacity, and that 
I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with 
you at home, than I have the most distant prospects of 
finding abroad if my stay were to be seven times seven 
years. But as it has been a kind of destiny that has 
thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my under- 
taking it is designed to answer some good purpose. 
You might, and I suppose did, perceive, from the tenor 
of my letter, that I was apprehensive I could not avoid 
this appointment, as I did not pretend to intimate when 
I should return. That was the case. It was utterly out 
of my power to refuse this appointment, without exposing 
my character to such censures as would have reflected 
dishonor upon myself, and given pain to my friends. 
This, I am sure, could not and ought not to be pleasing 
to you, and must have lessened me considerably in my 


own esteem. I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that 
Providence which has heretofore preserved and been 
bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe 
to you in the fall. I shall feel no pain from the toil or 
danger of the campaign; my unhappiness will flow from 
the uneasiness I know you will feel from being left alone. 
I therefore beg that you will summon your whole forti- 
tude, and pass your time as agreeably as possible. 
Nothing else will give me so much sincere satisfaction 
as to hear this, and to hear it from your own pen. My 
earnest and ardent desire is, that you would pursue any 
plan that is most likely to produce content and a toler- 
able degree of tranquillity, as it must add greatly to my 
uneasy feelings to hear that you are dissatisfied or com- 
plaining at what I really could not avoid. 

"As life is always uncertain, and common prudence 
dictates to every man the necessity of settling his tem- 
poral concerns while it is in his power, I have, since I 
came to this place for I had no time to do it before I 
left home got Colonel Pendleton to draft a will for me 
by the directions I gave him, which I will now enclose. 
The provisions made for you, in case of my death, will, I 
hope, be agreeable. I shall add nothing more, as I have 
several letters to write, but to desire that you will re- 
member me to your friends, and to assure you that I am, 
with the most unfeigned regard, my dear Patsy, 

"Your affectionate GEORGE WASHINGTON." 

This trial of separation was mitigated, although often 


prolonged to weary months. Ever when the long Indian 
summer days of October shed glory over the burnished 
forest trees, her cumbrous carnage with its heavy hang- 
ings and massive springs, suggestive of comfort, was 
brought to the door and laden with all the appurtenances 
of a winter's visit. Year after year, as she had ordered 
supplies for this annual trip to her husband's camp, she 
trusted it would be the last ; and each time as the ser- 
vants cooked and packed for this too oft-repeated ab- 
sence, they wished it might hurry him home, to remember 
how many were needing his presence there. The bat- 
tles were fierce and the struggles long, and if the orderly 
matron disliked the necessity of leaving home so often 
and for so long a time, her heart was glad of the sacri- 
fice when she reached the doubly anxious husband who 
was watching and waiting for her anxious for his wife, 
somewhere on the road, and for his bleeding country, 
struggling unavailingly for the eternal principles of free- 
dom. It was her presence that gave comfort to the oft- 
times dispirited commander, and sent a gleam of sun- 
shine to the hearts of the officers, who saw in her coming 
the harbinger of their own happiness. For it was an 
established custom, "for all who could, to send for their 
families after the commander had received and welcomed 
his. General Washington, after her annual trip, invari- 
ably wrote to persons who had been attentive and oblig- 
ing, and punctually thanked every one who had in any 
way conduced to her comfort during her tedious stages 
from Mount Vernon. Never but once or twice had those 


yearly moves been disagreeable, and though universally 
unoffending, she felt the painful effects of party bitter- 
ness ; but the noble intrepidity of General Washington 
relieved the depressing influences of such unusual occur- 
rences. Her own pride suffered nothing in comparison 
to the natural sensitiveness she felt for her husband's 
fair fame, and the coldness on the part of others affected 
only as it reflected on her noble protector. Once, after 
a disastrous campaign, as she was passing through Phila- 
delphia, she was insulted by the ladies there, who declined 
noticing her by any civilities whatever. The tide in the 
affairs of men came, and, alas for human nature ! many 
of these haughty matrons were the first to welcome her 
there as the wife of the President. 

Mrs. Washington was unostentatious in her dress, 
and displayed little taste for those luxurious ornaments 
deemed appropriate for the wealthy and great. In her 
own home the spinning wheels and looms were kept 
constantly going, and her dresses were, many times, 
woven by her servants. General Washington wore at 
his inauguration, a full suit of fine cloth, the handiwork of 
his own household. At a ball given in New Jersey in 
honor to herself, she wore a <4 simple russet gown," and 
white handkerchief about her neck, thereby setting an 
example to the women of the Revolution, who could ill 
afford to spend their time or means as lavishly as they 
might have desired. "On one occasion she gave the 
best proof of her success in domestic manufactures, by 
the exhibition of two of her dresses, which were com- 



posed of cotton, striped with silk, and entirely home- 
made. The silk stripes in the fabric were woven from 
the ravelings of brown silk stockings and old crimson 
chair-covers ! " 

When peace was declared and her mantle folded round 
the suffering young Republic, Mrs. Washington wel- 
comed to Mount Vernon her hero-husband, who natur- 
ally hoped that he might " move gently down the stream 
of life until he slept with his fathers." But a proud, fond 
people called him again from his retreat to guide the 
ship of state ; nor was he who had fought her battles, 
and served her well, recreant now. 

Mrs. Washington's crowning glory in the world's 
esteem is the fact that she was the bosom companion of 
the "Father of his Country;" but her fame as Martha 
Dandridge, and afterwards as Martha Custis, is due 
alone to her moral worth. To her, as a girl and woman, 
belonged beauty, accomplishments, and great sweetness 
of disposition. Nor should we, in ascribing her imper- 
ishable memory to her husband's greatness, fail to do 
reverence to the noble attributes of her own nature; yet 
we cannot descend to the hyperbolical strain so often 
indulged in by writers when speaking of Mrs. Washing- 
ton, In tracing the life of an individual, it becomes ne- 
cessary to examine the great events and marked incidents 
of the times, and generally to form from such landmarks 
the motives that prompted the acts of an earth-existence. 
More especially is this necessary if the era in which our 
subject lived was remarkable for any heroic deeds or 


valorous exploits which affected the condition of man- 
kind. Personally, Mrs. Washington's life was a smooth 
and even existence, save as it was stirred by some nat- 
ural cause, but viewed in connection with the historical 
events of her day, it became one of peculiar interest. 

As a wife, mother, and friend, she was worthy of re- 
spect, but save only as the companion of Washington is 
her record of public interest. She was in nowise a 
student, hardly a regular reader, nor gifted with literary 
ability ; but if stern necessity had forced her from her 
seclusion and luxury, hers would have been a career of 
active effort and goodness. Most especially would she 
have been a benevolent woman, and it is to be regretted 
by posterity as a misfortune that there was no real 
urgency for a more useful life. Her good fortune it 
was to be wealthy, of good family, young and attrac- 
tive ; and if she was not versed in the higher branches 
of literature, it was no fault of her own, probably, 
since the drawbacks incident to the pursuit of knowl- 
edge, under the difficulties and obstacles of a life in a 
new country, together with their early marriages, de- 
terred women from ''drinking deep of the Pierean 
spring;" but, under the benign influences of Christian 
morality, the maidens of the Old Dominion were care- 
fully and virtuously trained, and were exemplary daugh- 
ters, wives, and mothers. 

Many have occupied the nominal position Mrs. Wash- 
ington held, but, in reality, no American, or, indeed, no 
woman of earth, will ever be so exalted in the hearts of 


a nation as was she ; and yet there is no single instance 
recorded of any act of heroism of hers, although she 
lived in times that tried men's souls, and was so inti- 
mately associated through her husband with all the great 
events of the Revolution. " Nor does it appear, from 
the documents handed down to us, that she was a very 
notable housewife, but rather inclined to leave the matter 
under her husband's control, whose method and love of 
domestic life admirably fitted him to manage a large es- 
tablishment. They evidently lived together on very ex- 
cellent terms, though she sometimes was disposed to 
quarrel with him about the grandchildren, who he in- 
sisted (and he always carried the point) should be 
under thorough disciplinarians, as well as competent 
teachers, when they were sent from home to be edu- 

It was a source of regret that she bore no children to 
him, but an able writer has said : " Providence left him 
childless that he might be the father of his country." It 
is hard to judge whether or not it was a blessing ; but it 
certainly has not detracted from his greatness that he left 
no successor to his fame. On the contrary, it is all the 
brighter from having no cloud to dim the solitary gran- 
,deur of his spotless name. Few sons of truly great and 
illustrious men have ever reflected honor upon their 
fathers and many have done otherwise. When we con- 
sider how many representative men of the world, in all 
nations and ages, have been burdened and oppressed 
with the humiliating conduct of their children, let it be a 


source of joy, rather than of regret, that there was but 
one Washington, either by the ties of consanguinity or 
the will of Providence. This character was never marred 
by any imperfect type of its own, and in Washington's 
life we recognize the fact that occasionally, in great emer- 
gencies, God lifts up a man for the deed; when the 
career is ended, the model, though not the example, is 
lost to the world. 

Mrs. Washington's two children (Martha and John 
Parke Custis) were with her the bright years of her 
life intervening between her marriage and the Revo- 
lution. Her daughter was fast budding into woman- 
hood, and how beautiful, thought the loving mother, 
were the delicate outlines of her fair young face! 
Airy castles and visionary scenes of splendor reared 
their grand proportions in the twilight-clouds of her 
imagination; and in the sunlight of security she saw 
not, or, if perchance did define, the indistinct outlines of 
the spectre, grim and gaunt, heeded not its significant 
appearance at her festive board. 

In all the natural charms of youth, freshness, and 
worldly possessions, the mother's idol, the brother's play- 
mate, and father's cherished daughter, died, and the light 
of the house went out, and a wail of anguish filled the 
air as the night winds rushed hurryingly past that deso- 
late home on the shore of the murmuring river. 

A great purpose was born out of that grief: a self- 
abnegated firmness to rise above the passionate lamen- 
tations of selfish sorrow; and though afterward, for 


years, the shadow of a past woe rested upon that 
famous home, the poor loved it better than ever before, 
and meek charity found more willing hands than in the 
days of reckless happiness. Religion, too, and winning 
sympathy, softened the poignant grief, and 

" The fates unwound the ball of time, 
And dealt it out to man." 

The cannon of the Continental Militia at Lexington 
belched forth its hoarse sound on the morning of the 
1 5th of April, 1775, as in the gray twilight of approach- 
ing day a band of invaders sallied up to demand the dis- 
persion of the rebels. The echo of those reports went 
ringing through the distant forests, and fleetest couriers 
carried its tidings beyond the rippling waves of the Po- 
tomac, calling the friends of freedom to arms. Mrs. 
Washington heard the war-cry, and felt that the absence 
of her husband was now indefinite; for she knew that 
from his post in the councils of the nation he would go 
to serve his country in the field. Nor was she mistaken 
in her conclusions. 

She met the Commander-in-chief at his winter head- 
quarters at Cambridge, after an absence of nearly a year, 
in December, 1775, and remained with him until opening 
of the spring campaign. During the Revolution she 
continued to spend each winter with him at his head- 
quarters. Early in this year she returned to her home, 
leaving behind her son, John Parke Custis, who had been 
with his adopted father from the beginning of the war. 


The next winter she passed at Morristown, New Jersey, 
where she experienced some of the real hardships and 
sufferings of camp life. The previous season, at Cam- 
bridge, the officers and their families had resided in the 
mansions of the Tories, who had deserted them to join 
the British; but at Morristown she occupied a small 
frame-house, without any convenience or comforts, and, 
as before, returned in the spring, with her daughter-in- 
law and children, to Mount Vernon.* 

Valley Forge, during the last months of 1777 and the 
early part of 1778, was the scene of the severest suffer- 
ings, replete with more terrible want than any ever 
known in the history of the Colonies.^* 

During all this winter of horrors, Mrs. Washington 
remained with her husband, trying to comfort and ani- 
mate him in the midst of his trials. Succeeding years 
brought the same routine, and victory and defeat walked 
ofttimes hand in hand. October of 1781 brought glad 
tidings of great joy, in the capture of York town, and 
nothing seemed to defer the long anticipated return of 
General Washington to his family and friends. 

Ere yet the shouts of victory rang out upon the listen- 
ing ear of a continent, Colonel Custis was borne from 

* Mr. John Parke Custis was married to Miss Nelly Calvert the third of February, 

f Six miles above Norristown, Pennsylvania, and twenty from Philadelphia, on 
the. Schuylkill river, is the deep hollow known as Valley Forge. It is situated at the 
mouth of Valley creek, and on either side rise the mountains above this lonely spot. 
To the fact that in this valley there had once been several forges, it owes its name, 
and here Washington found winter-quarters for his suffering army. 


the scene of triumph to a village in New Kent county to 
die, and soon the messenger startled the wife and 
mother at Mount Vernon with the mournful intelligence. 
Washington, amid the intense joy of his troops, could not 
conceal his anxious feelings over the condition of this 
deeply loved son of his adoption, and his heart went out 
to his crushed wife, so soon to be widowed, and to Mrs. 
Washington, who idolized the son of her youth. ''He 
left Yorktown on the 5th of November, and reached, 
the same day, the residence of his old friend, Colonel 
Bassett. He arrived just in time to receive the last 
breath of John Parke Custis, as he had several years 
previously rendered tender and pious offices at the 
death-bed of his sister, Miss Custis. The deceased had 
been the object of Washington's care from childhood, and 
been cherished by him with paternal affection. Reared 
under his guidance and instructions, he had been fitted 
to take a part in the public concerns of his country, and 
had acquitted himself with credit as a member of the 
Virginia Legislature. He was but twenty-eight years 
old at the time of his death, and left a widow and four 
young children. It was an unexpected event, and the 
dying scene was rendered peculiarly affecting from the 
presence of the mother and wife of the deceased. Wash- 
ington remained several days at Eltham to comfort them 
in their affliction. As a consolation to Mrs. Washington 
in her bereavement, he adopted the two youngest chil- 
dren of the deceased, a boy and girl, who thenceforth 
formed a part of his immediate family." 


Mrs. Washington did not know that her husband had 
left the scene of his triumph, until he suddenly appeared 
in the room of death; and it calmed her to have his 
presence in so trying an hour. He returned with the 
sad mourners to Mount Vernon, and mingled with those 
two sorrowful hearts the tears of his own sad soul. 

The world and its cares called him hence, and he 
turned away from his quiet home to meet the demands 
of his country for his services. Congress received him 
in Philadelphia with distinguished honors, and he every- 
where was the recipient of his country's love and rev- 

Called from his retirement to preside over the des- 
tinies of his country as its first President, Washington 
immediately left his home and repaired to New York 
City, the seat of government.* 

Our young country demanded, in the beginning, that 
regard for forms and etiquette which would command 
respect in the eyes of foreign courts ; and, acting in 
accordance with this design, the house of the first Pres- 
ident was furnished with elegance, and its routine was 
arranged in as formal a manner as that of St. James or 
St. Cloud. 

Always an aristocrat, Mrs. Washington's administra- 
tion as hostess was but a reproduction of the customs 
and ceremonies of foreign heads of government, and her 

* The journey to New York was a continued triumph. The august spectacle at 
the bridge of Trenton brought tears to the eyes of the Chief, and forms one of the 
most brilliant recollections of the age of Washington. 


receptions were arranged on the plan of the English and 
French drawing-rooms. 

She assumed the duties of her position, as wife of the 
Chief Magistrate, with the twofold advantage of wealth 
and high social position, and was, in manner, appearance 
and character, a pleasing and graceful representative 
of American womanhood. 

Reared as she had been, a descendant of the chivalry 
of Virginia, who in their turn were the descendants of 
the English nobility aristocratic, proud and pleased 
with her lofty position she brought to bear all the 
brightness of a prosperous existence, and her influence 
extended to foreign lands. 

The levees held at the Republican Court then 
located at No. 3 Franklin Square, New York were 
numerously attended by the fashionable and refined of 
the city. The rules of the establishment were rigorous, 
and persons were excluded unless in the dress required. 
Access was not easy, and dignified stateliness reigned 
over the mansion of the first President of the United 
States. The subjoined letter, written to Mrs. Warren 
soon after Mrs. Washington's arrival at the seat of 


government, will present her views on the subject of 
her elevation more correctly than could be given other- 

"Your very friendly letter of last month has afforded 
me much more satisfaction than all the formal compli- 
ments and empty ceremonies of mere etiquette could 


possibly have done. I am not apt to forget the feelings 
which have been inspired by my former society with 
good acquaintances, nor to be insensible to their ex- 
pressions of gratitude to the President; for you know 
me well enough to do me the justice to believe that I 
am fond only of what comes from the heart. Under a 
conviction that the demonstrations of respect and affec- 
tion to him originate in that source, I cannot deny that 
I have taken some interest and pleasure in them. The 
difficulties which presented themselves to view upon his 
first entering upon the Presidency, seem thus to be in 
some measure surmounted. It is owing to the kindness 
of our numerous friends in all quarters that my new 
and unwished-for situation is not a burden to me. 
When I was much younger, I should probably have 
enjoyed the innocent gayeties of life as much as most 
persons of my age; but I had long since placed all 
prospects of my future worldly happiness in the still 
enjoyment of the fireside at Mount Vernon. I little 
thought, when the war was finished, that any circum- 
stances could possibly happen which would call the 
General into public life again. I had anticipated that 
from that moment we should be suffered to grow old 
together in solitude and tranquillity. That was the first 
and dearest wish of my heart. I will not, however, con- 
template with too much regret, disappointments that 
were inevitable, though his feelings and my own were 
in perfect unison with respect to our predilection for 
private life ; yet I cannot blame him for having acted 


according to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of 
his country. The consciousness of having attempted to 
do all the good in his power, and the pleasure of finding 
his fellow-citizens so well satisfied with the disinterested- 
ness of his conduct, will doubtless be some compensa- 
tion for the great sacrifices which I know he has made. 
Indeed, on his journey from Mount Vernon to this place, 
in his late tour through the Eastern States, by every 
public and every private information which has come to 
him, I am persuaded he has experienced nothing to 
make him repent his having acted from what he con- 
ceives to be a sense of indispensable duty. On the 
contrary, all his sensibility has been awakened in receiv- 
ing such repeated and unequivocal proofs of sincere 
regard from his countrymen. With respect to myself, I 
sometimes think the arrangement is not quite as it 
ought to have been ; that I, who had much rather be at 
home, should occupy a place with which a great many 
younger and gayer women would be extremely pleased. 
As my grandchildren and domestic connections make 
up a great portion of the felicity which I looked for in 
this world, I shall hardly be able to find any substitute 
that will indemnify me for the loss of such endearing 
society. I do not say this because I feel dissatisfied 
with my present station, for everybody and everything 
conspire to make me as contented as possible in it ; yet 
I have learned too much of the vanity of human affairs 
to expect felicity from the scenes of public life. I am 
still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever 


situation I may be ; for I have also learned from expe- 
rience that the greater part of our happiness or misery 
depends on our dispositions and not on our circum- 
stances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other 
about with us in our minds, wherever we go." 

The second year of Washington's administration, the 
seat of government was removed to Philadelphia. Mrs. 
Washington was sick when she started on the journey, 
and remained in Philadelphia until she was strong 
enough to go on to Mount Vernon. 

The late Rev. Ashbel Green, for a long time Presi- 
dent of Princeton College, and one of the early Chap- 
lains of Congress, in speaking of the seat of govern- 
ment, said : " After a great deal of writing and talking 
and controversy about the permanent seat of Congress 
under the present Constitution, it was determined that 
Philadelphia should be honored with its presence for ten 
years, and afterward the permanent location should be 
in the city of Washington, where it now is. In the 
meantime, the Federal city was in building, and the 
Legislature of Pennsylvania voted a sum of money to 
build a house for the President, perhaps with some hope 
that this might help to keep the seat of the general 
government in the Capital ; for Philadelphia was then 
considered as the Capital of the State. What was 
lately the University of Pennsylvania, was the structure 
erected for the purpose. But as soon as General 
Washington saw its dimensions, and a good while 


before it was finished, he let it be known that he would 
not occupy it, and should certainly not go to the ex- 
pense of purchasing suitable furniture for such a dwell- 
ing ; for it is to be understood, in those days of stern 
republicanism, nobody thought of Congress furnishing 
the President's house ; or if perchance such a thought 
did enter into some aristocratic head, it was too unpopu- 
lar to be uttered. President Washington therefore 
rented a house of Mr. Robert Morris, in Market street, 
between Fifth and Sixth, on the south side, and fur- 
nished it handsomely but not gorgeously." 

From New York, by weary processes, the household 
furniture of individuals and government property were 
moved. General Washington superintended the prep- 
aration and embarkation of all his personal effects, 
deciding the time and manner in which every article 
was taken or sold, and attending to all with a scrupulous 
zeal which is surprising when we consider his public 
position. His letters to Mr. Lear are as characteristic 
of his private life as was his career as founder of the 
Republic. On Saturday afternoon, November the 28th, 
the President and his wife returned from Mount 
Vernon, and took up their residence in the house of 
Mr. Morris, which the corporation had obtained for 
them. They found Congressmen and public characters 
already assembled, in anticipation of a gay and brilliant 
season. Mrs. Washington held her drawing-rooms on 
Friday evening of each week ; company assembled early 
and retired before half-past ten. It is related on one 


occasion, at a levee held in New York the first year of 
the administration, that she remarked, as the hands on 
the clock approached ten, "that her husband retired 
punctually at ten, and she followed very soon after- 
ward." A degree of stiffness and formality existed at 
those receptions that we of this age can scarcely under- 
stand, accustomed as we are to the familiarity and free- 
dom of the present-day gatherings; but the imposing 
dignity of the Executive himself rebuked all attempts at 
equality, and the novelty of the position itself caused a 
general awkwardness. Unlike latter-day levees, the 
lady of the mansion always sat, and the guests were 
arranged in a circle round which the President passed, 
speaking kindly to each one. It is to be regretted that 
no descriptions exist of the appearance of Mrs. Wash- 
ington at these fete evenings. Little or no attention, 
outside of social life, was paid to such items as how 
ladies dressed and what they appeared in, and letter- 
writing on this subject was not so universal as we of 
modern times have made it; hence there remains no 
source from whence to gather these little trifles which 
form part of every newspaper edition of the present 

However, we do know that the President always had 
his hair powdered, and never offered his hand to any 
one at his public receptions. 

"On the national fete days, the commencement of the 
levee was announced by the firing of a salute from a 
pair of twelve-pounders stationed not far distant from 


the Presidential mansion; and the ex-Commander-in- 
chief paid his former companions in arms the compli- 
ment to wear the old Continental uniform." 

The grandchildren of Mrs. Washington were her 
tnly companions during the President's long absences 
in his office; and Mrs. Robert Morris was the most 
social visitor at the mansion. Several times mention 
is made of her presence at the side of Mrs. Washing- 
ton during the presentations at the receptions. And 
at all the dinners by the republican Chief Magistrate, 
the venerable Robert Morris took precedence of every 
other guest, invariably conducting Mrs. Washington, 
and sitting at her right hand. At this, the meridian 
period of her life, Mrs. Washington's personal appear- 
ance was, although somewhat portly in person, fresh 
and of an agreeable countenance. She had been a 
handsome woman thirty years before, when, on the 6th 
of January, 1759, she was married to Colonel Wash- 
ington; and in an admirable picture of her by Wool- 
aston, painted about the same time, is seen something 
of that pleasing grace which is said to have been her 
distinction. During these years of her married life, 
she had enjoyed ample opportunity to cultivate that 
elegance of manner for which she was conspicuous, 
and to develop those conversational powers which ren- 
dered her so attractive. Washington, ever quiet and 
reserved in manner, depended on her; and her tact 
and gentle womanly politeness relieved him from the 
irksome duties of hospitality when business called him 


elsewhere. His first levee, the Marchioness D'Yuro 
wrote to a friend in New York, was brilliant beyond 
anything that could be imagined. She adds: You never 
could have had such a drawing-room; and though 
there was a great deal of extravagance, there was so 
much of Philadelphia tact in everything that it must 
have been confessed the most delightful occasion of the 
kind ever known in this country. 

Mrs. Washington at this time was fifty-eight years 
old; but her healthful, rational habits, and the cease- 
less influence of the principles by which her life was 
habitually regulated, enabled her still to exhibit un- 
diminished her characteristic activity, usefulness, and 
cheerfulness. From the "Recollections" of a daughter 
of Mrs. Binney, who resided opposite the President's 
house, we have some interesting accounts. She says: 
"It was the General's custom frequently, when the day 
was fine, to come out to walk attended by his secre- 
taries, Mr. Lear and Major Jackson. He always crossed 
directly over from his own door to the sunny side of 
the street, and walked down." She never observed 
them conversing, and often wondered and watched as 


a child to see if any of the party spoke, but never per- 
ceived that anything was said. He was always dressed 
in black, and all three wore cocked hats. "It was 
Mrs. Washington's custom to return visits on the third 
day, and in calling on her mother, she would send a 
footman over, who would knock loudly and announce 
Mrs. Washington, who would then come over with Mr. 



Lear." " Her manners were very easy, pleasant, and 
unceremonious, with the characteristics of other Vir- 
ginia ladies." An English manufacturer breakfasted 

o o 

with the President's family on the 8th of June, 1794. 
"I confess," he says, "I was struck with awe and vener- 
ation when I recollected that I was now in the presence 
of the great Washington, 'the noble and wise bene- 
factor of the world/ as Mirabeau styles him. The 
President seemed very thoughtful, and was slow in 
delivering himself, which induced some to believe him 
reserved. But it was rather, I apprehend, the result 
of much reflection; for he had, to me, an appearance 
of affability and accommodation. He was at this time 
in his sixty-third year, but had very little the appear- 
ance of age, having been all his life so exceedingly 
temperate. Mrs. Washington herself made tea and 
coffee for us. On the table were two small plates of 
sliced tongue, and dry toast, bread and butter, but no 
broiled fish, as is the general custom here. She struck 


me as being something older than the President, though 
I understand they were both born the same year. She 
was extremely simple in her dress, and wore a very 
plain cap, with her gray hair turned up under it." 

Eight years of prosperity and progression blessed 
the administration of Washington, and now the hour 
of departure was drawing near. With feelings of 
pleasure, Mrs. Washington prepared for the long-de- 
sired return to her home on the Potomac; and when 
the dauntless robins began to sing and hardy daisies 


to bloom, the family set out, accompanied by the son of 
General Lafayette. Once again the wife and grand- 
mother assumed the duties congenial to her nature, and 
it was reasonable to hope that she might pass many 
years of tranquil, unalloyed happiness under her own 
vine and fig-tree. The old life was resumed, and the 
long-silent house echoed the voices of the young and 
happy. It was during this season of rest and quiet that 
Washington devoted much of his time to the planning 
and laying out of the city which bears his name. An 
account is given of his coming, on one occasion, to it, 
and when he reached the wharf the cannon pealed forth 
a welcome. Passing along the Georgetown road, he 
halted in front of the locality intended as a residence 
for the President, where workmen were then laying the 
foundation of the building. He was deeply interested 
in the welfare of the chosen seat of the government, 
and an amusing anecdote is related of his conference 
with David Burns, whose residence was on the ground 
south of the Presidential mansion, and was until re- 
cently standing. Washington alludes to him in one of 
his letters as the "obstinate Mr. Burns;" and it is re- 
lated that, when the President was dwelling upon the 
advantage he would derive from the sale, the old man 
replied, "I suppose you think people here are going to 
take every grist that comes from you as pure grain; but 
what would you have been if you hadn't married the 
widow Custis?" 

Mount Vernon was constantly thronged with visitors; 


and to the "Correspondence of Washington," which, 
during these last two years of his life, are very volum- 
inous, we are indebted for many items of public and 
private interest. But a blow was in store for the con- 
tented wife which none suspected. A cold, taken after 
a long ride about the farm, produced fever and swelling 
of the throat, which, on the i4th of December, 1799, re- 
sulted in the death of the deeply loved husband. A 
wail of anguish went up from the nation as the direful 
news flew by each hut and hamlet; but in that hallowed 
room, forever consecrated, the bereaved woman who 
has lost her all sits calmly serene. She suspects that 
he is dead, for the doctor and Mr. Lear are gazing at 
each other in mute anguish; and rising from her low 
seat at the foot of his bed, she sees the limbs are com- 
posed and the breath gone. O agony! what is there 
so fearful to a clinging woman's heart as to see the 
strong, loving arm that enfolded her cold and stiff for- 
ever? The' cover is straightened as he fixed it, and his 
face is composed after the violent struggle; but what is 
this appearance of triumph to the desolate wife, who 
gasps for breath like one drowning as she totters to his 
side? Yet the sweet expression calms her; perhaps 
she is thinking of how he would have her do if his spirit 
could only speak. Whatever of inward peace receiving, 
there is a determined effort at control perceptible, and 
she is saying, "Tis well; all is now over. I shall soon 
follow him. I have no more trials to pass through." 
One long look, as if her hungry soul was obtaining food 


to feed on through all eternity, and she is assisted from 
the room. How full of holy memories must that cham- 
ber of death have been to her as she summoned courage 


to turn and drink in the last look ! The great fireside, 
with the smouldering embers dying into ashes gray, 
the quaint old mantel, all covered with vials and ap- 
pendages of a sick apartment, their easy-chairs side by 
side, one deserted forever, and upon the bed lay the 
form of her friend and companion. It was wrong to 
let her stand there and surfer so, but her awe-stricken 
appearance paralyzes the stoutest heart, and they only 
stand and wait. A pale, haggard look succeeds the fierce 
intensity of her gaze, and she wraps her shawl about her 
and turns forever from all she in that hour lost. An- 
other room receives her ; another fire is built for her ; 
and in the endless watches of that black night she 
mastered the longings of her heart, and never more 
crossed the threshold of that chamber of her loved and 
lost. A sickening feeling of utter loneliness and deso- 
lation ushered in the early morn of the first day of her 
widowhood, but her resolve was made ; and when her 
loved ones saw it pained her, they urged no more that 
she should go back to the old apartment she had occu- 
pied all her married life. 

" Congress resolved, that a marble monument be 
erected by the United States, in the Capitol at the city 
of Washington, and that the family of George Washing- 
ton be requested to permit his body to be deposited 
under it, and that the monument be so designed as to 


commemorate the great events of his military and polit- 
ical life. And it further resolved, 

"That there be a funeral procession from Congress 
Hall to the German Lutheran Church in honor of the 
memory of General George Washington, on Thursday, 
the 26th inst., and that an oration be prepared at the 
request of Congress, to be delivered before both Houses 
on that day, and that the President of the Senate and 
Speaker of the House of Representatives be desired to 
request one of the members of Congress to prepare 
and deliver the same. And it further resolved, 

"That the President of the United States be re- 
quested to direct a copy of the resolutions to be trans- 
mitted to Mrs. Washington, assuring her of the pro- 
found respect Congress will ever bear to her person and 
character; of their condolence on the late afflicting 
Dispensation of Providence, and entreating her assent 
to the interment of the remains of General George 
Washington in the manner expressed in the first reso- 
lution. And it further resolved, 

"That the President of the United States be re- 
quested to issue a Proclamation notifying the People 
throughout the United States the recommendation con- 
tained in the third resolution." 

In reply to the above resolutions, which were trans- 
mitted by the President (John Adams) on the 23d Dec., 
1799, Mrs. Washington says: 

MOUNT VERNON, Dec. ^\st, 1799. 

"SiR: While I feel with keenest anguish the late 


dispensation of Divine Providence, I cannot be insensible 
to the mournful tributes of respect and veneration which 
are paid to the memory of my dear, deceased husband, 
and as his best services and most anxious wishes were 
always devoted to the welfare and happiness of his 
country, to know that they were truly appreciated 
and gratefully remembered, affords no inconsiderable 

" Taught by that great example which I have so long 
had before me, never to oppose my private wishes to 
the public will, I must consent to the request made by 
Congress which you have had the goodness to transmit 
to me, and in doing this I need not, I cannot say, what a 
sacrifice of individual feeling I make to a sense of public 

" With grateful acknowledgments and unfeigned 
thanks for the personal respects and evidences of con- 
dolence expressed by Congress and yourself, 
" I remain, very respectfully, 

" Your most obedient and humble servant, 

But this pain might have been spared her, for the 
monument is not yet erected, and the remains are still 
at Mount Vernon, their most fitting resting-place. 

The twofold duties of life pressed constantly upon 
her, nor did she shirk any claim. Yet the compressed 
lip, and the oftentimes quivering eyelid betrayed the rest- 
less meanings of her aching heart 


It has been remarked that she resembled Washington 
in manners and person ; she was like him as every 
weaker nature is like a stronger one living in close 

o o 

relationship. She received from his stronger will his 
influences, and he impressed her with his views so 
thoroughly that she could not distinguish her own. 
Relying on his guidance in every thing, she studied his 
features until her softer lineaments imperceptibly grew 
like his, and the tones of her voice sounded wonderfully 
similar. Imbibing the sentiments and teachings of such 
a nature, her own life was ennobled and his rendered 

She had lived through the five grand acts of the 
drama of American Independence, had witnessed its 
prelude and its closing tableaux, and stood waiting to 
hear the swell of the pe'an she was yet to sing in 
heaven. Her life was passed in seasons of darkness, as 
of glorious, refulgent happiness, and was contempor- 
aneous with some of the greatest minds that will ever 
shine out from any century. Her sphere was limited 
entirely to social occupations, and possessing wealth 
and position she gratified her taste. Had her character 
been a decided one, it would have stamped the age in 
which she flourished, for, as there never was but one 
Washington, so there will never come a time when there 
will be the same opportunities as Mrs. Washington had 
for winning a name and an individuality. But she did 
not aspire to any nobler ambition than merely to per- 
form the duties of her home, and she lives in the 


memories ot her descendants, and in the hearts of the 
people of the United States, as the wife of the illustrious 
Father of his Country, and the first in position of the 
women of the Revolution. 

In the engraving we have before us, taken while in 
the Executive Mansion, we trace the gradual develop- 
ment of her life. All the way through it has counted 
more of bliss than of sorrow, and the calm contentment 
of the face in repose speaks of a heart full of peace and 
pleasantness. How expressive of sympathy and kind- 
ness of heart is that serene face, and how instinctively 
we would trust it! Sustained as she was by her deep 
devotional piety, and shielded by the protecting arm of 
her husband, she grew in spiritual development and 
fondly believed herself strong and self-reliant. But 
when she was tested, when the earthly support was 
removed, the inward strength was insufficient, and she 
pined under the loss until she died. 

The death of her husband was the last event of Mrs. 
Washington's life. It shattered her nerves and broke 
her heart. She never recovered from it. The shaft of 
agony which had buried itself in her soul was never 
removed. Fate had now dealt the last deadly blow to 
her earthly happiness. Her children, their father, the 
faithful, affectionate, sympathizing friend and counsellor, 
with whom through so many years she had stood 
side by side in great and grievous trials, dangers, and 
sorrows all were gone ? It was useless to strive to be 


courageous : a glance at the low, narrow vault under the 


side of the hill unnerved her. She stood, the desolate 
survivor, like a lone sentinel upon a deserted battle-field, 
regarding in mute despair the fatal destruction of hope, 
and love, and joy. Through all time that Saturday 
night would be the closing scene of her life, even 
though her existence should be lengthened to a span of 

" The memory of his faintest tone, 
In the deep midnight came upon her soul, 
And cheered the passing hours so sad, so lone, 
As on they rolled." 

Thirty months numbered themselves among eternity's 
uncounted years, and it became apparent to all that 
another death-scene was to be enacted, and the lonely 
occupant of the room above that other chamber of death, 
was reaching the goal of its long felt desire. The 
gentle spirit was striving to free itself, and the glad light 
in the dim eye asserted the pleasure experienced in the 
knowledge of the coming change. 

For many months Mrs. Washington had been growing 
more gloomy and silent than ever before, and the friends 
who gathered about her called her actions strange and 
incomprehensible. She stayed much alone, and declined 
every offer of company, but the last days of her life 
she seemed more cheerful and contented. When the 
end came on that bright, spring morning in 1801 she 
gave her blessing to all about her, and sank quietly to 
rest, in the seventy-first year of her age, and the third 
of her widowhood. 


Her resting-place beside her husband is, like Mecca 
and Jerusalem, the resort of the travellers of all nations, 
who, wandering in its hallowed precincts, imbibe anew 
admiration and veneration for the immortal genius, 
whose name is traced in imperishable remembrance in 
the hearts of his grateful countrymen. Side by side 
their bodies lie crumbling away, while their spirits have 
returned to their Author. The placid Potomac kisses 
the banks of that precious domain, and the ripple of 
the receding waves makes pleasant music all day along 
the shore of Mount Vernon. 

The temptation to see this historic and romantic home 
of the most beloved of the nation's dead was not to be 
resisted, and one winter day in company with one of the 
few surviving relatives who bear that honored name, the 
start was made from Washington. Although the weather 
was cold and disagreeable, with a threatening aspect of 
a snow-storm, we found the little vessel filled with 
pilgrims, bound to the tomb of Washington. This trip 
is one of intense interest, and particularly since the 
events of the civil war have given to all the locality 
additional attraction. Arlington, Alexandria, and Fort 
Washington ! what memories are stirred by mention of 
these names, and how acute is remembrance when we 
stand face to face with these places. The old common- 
wealth is dear to every generous American, whether of 
northern or southern birth, but more especially to the . 
people of the South, whose ancestors fondly termed it 
the " motherland." 


It was the quaint look of the place which appealed 
strongest to the senses, and the fact that it is long past 
a century old, its foundation having been laid in 1748. 
The boat anchored at Alexandria, and we gazed wistfully 
up those streets through which Washington had often 
passed, and looked in vain to see some " vast and ven- 
erable pile, so old it seemed only not to fall," but the 
residences of most of the old inhabitants are the abodes 
of wealth, and they exhibit evidences of care and pres- 

Alexandria was early a place of some note, for five 
colonial governors met here by appointment, in 1755, 
to take measures with General Braddock respecting his 
expedition to the West. " That expedition proceeded 
from Alexandria, and tradition still points to the site 
on which now stands the olden Episcopal Church (but 
then, in the woods), as the spot where he pitched his 
tent, while the road over the western hills by which his 
army withdrew, long bore the name of this unfortunate 
commander. But the reminiscences which the Alexan- 
drians most cherish are those which associate their town 
with the domestic attachments and habits of Washington, 
and the stranger is still pointed to the church of which 
he was vestryman ; to the pew in which he customarily 
sate ; and many striking memorials of his varied life are 
carefully preserved." 

That old church where Washington and his wife were 


wont to worship, how tenderly it is looked upon now, 
and with what hallowed feelings ! All the commonplace 


thoughts that fill our minds every day are laid aside, 
while we contemplate the character of the man who has 
stamped his image in the hearts of freemen throughout 
the world. There is another church at which one feels 
*these ennobling heart-throbs, and which I confess 
moved me as sensibly, and that is the little Dutch church 
in " Sleepy Hollow," once the shrine at which Wash- 
ington Irving offered the adoration of his guileless 
heart. His beautifully expressed admiration of Wash- 
ington possibly occasioned the constant comparison, and 
to many these two temples are as inseparable as the 
memories of these great men are linked. 

The weather, which had been indicative all day of a 
storm, cleared off as we approached Mount Vernon, and 
as we landed at the wharf, it shone brightly upon us. 
Winding round the hill, following a narrow pathway, 
we reached the tomb before the persons who had taken 
the carriage-way came in view, but preferring to examine 
it last, we continued the meandering path to the front 
of the house. It had been the home, in early youth, of 
the person who accompanied me, and, listening to her 
explanations and descriptions, an interest was felt which 
could not otherwise have been summoned. The house 
is bare of any furniture whatever, save a small quantity 
owned by the persons who live there, and on a winter's 
day looked cheerless and uninviting. The central part 
of Mount Vernon house was built by Lawrence Wash- 
ington, brother to the General ; the wings were added 
by the General, and the whole named after Admiral 


Vernon, under whom Lawrence Washington had served. 
The dining-room on the right contains the Carrara 
marble mantle-piece sent from Italy to General Wash- 
ington. It is elaborately carved and is adorned with 
Sienna marble columns ; Canova is said to be the artist 
who carved it. We feel ashamed to add, it is cased in 
wire-work to prevent its being demolished by injudicious, 
not to say criminal visitors. The rooms are not large, 
with the exception of the one mentioned above, which 
is spacious; the quaint old wainscoting' and wrought 
cornices are curious, and in harmony with the adorn- 
ments of the mansion. The piazza reaches from the 
ground to the eaves of the roof, and is guarded on the 
top by a bright and tasteful balustrade ; the pillars are 
large and present a simple and* grand idea to the mind. 
Beneath this porch the Father of his Country was 
accustomed to walk, and the ancient stones, to hearts of 
enthusiasm, are full of deep and meditative interest. 

The room in which he died is small and now bereft 
of every thing save the mantle-piece ; just above is the 
apartment in which she breathed her dying blessing. 
A narrow stair-case leads from the door of his room, 
which was never entered by her after his death. The 
green-house, once the pride of Mrs. Washington, has 
since been burned, and there remains but a very small 
one, put together carelessly to protect the few rare 
plants remaining. In front of the house, the front facing 
the orchards, and not the river, is a spacious lawn 
surrounded by serpentine walks. On either side, brick 


walls, all covered with ivy and ancient moss, enclose gar- 
dens. The one on the right of the house was once filled 
with costly ornamental plants from the tropical climes, 
and in which was the green-house ; but the box trees 
have grown high and irregular, and the creepers are 
running wild over what hardy rose bushes still survive 
to tell of a past existence of care and beauty. In the 
lifetime of Mrs. Washington, her home must have been 
very beautiful, " ere yet time's effacing fingers had traced 
the lines where beauty lingered." It is even now a 
splendid old place, but rapidly losing the interest it once 
had. The estate has passed out of the family, and the 
furniture has been removed by descendants, to whom it 
was given : much that lent a charm to the place is gone, 
and the only interesting object, save the interior of the 
mansion itself, is the key of the Bastile, presented by 
Lafayette, and hanging in a case on the wall. Portions 
of the house are closed, and the stairway in the front 
hall is barricaded to prevent the intrusion of visitors. 
The room in which Mrs. Washington died, just above 
the one occupied by her husband, was locked, and we did 
not view the room in which she suffered so silently, and 
from which her freed spirit sought its friend and mate. 

The small windows and low ceilings, together with 
the many little closets and dark passage-ways, strike 
one strangely who is accustomed to the mansions of 
modern times ; but these old homesteads are numerous 
throughout the "Old Dominion," and are the most 
precious of worldly possessions to the descendants of 


worthy families. There must be more than twenty 
apartments, most of them small and plain in finish. 
The narrow doors and wide fire-places are the ensigns 
of a past age and many years of change, but are elo- 
quent in their obsoleteness. 

The library which ordinarily is the most interesting 
room in any house, should be doubly so in this home of 
Washington's ; but, bare of all save the empty cases in 
the wall, it is the gloomiest of all. Books all gone, and 
the occupation of the room by the present residents 
deprives it of any attractions it might otherwise have. 
Here, early in the morning and late at night, he worked 
continuously, keeping up his increasing correspondence 
and managing his vast responsibilities. 

Murmurs of another war reached him as he sat at his 
table planning rural improvements, and from this room 
he wrote accepting the position no other could fill while 
he lived. 

Here death found him, the night before his last 
illness, when cold and hoarse he came in from his long 
ride, and warmed himself by his library fire. That night 
he went up to his room over this favorite study, and 
said in reply to a member of his family as he passed 
out, who urged him to do something for it, " No, you 
know I never take any thing for a cold. Let it go as it 


The winds and rains of eighty-odd years have beaten 
upon that sacred home on the high banks of the silvery 
waters beneath, since the widowed, weary wife was laid 


to rest beside her noble dead, and the snows of winter 
and storms of summer have left its weather-worn and 
stained front looking like some ghost of other days 
left alone to tell of its former life and beauty. In its 
lonely grandeur it stands appealing to us for that 
reverence born of sentiments, stirred by the recollections 
of the great and good. 

There was no resisting the feelings of gloomy depres- 
sion as we passed out the front toward the river, and 
took the path leading to the tomb. Far down the side 
of the hill, perched on a knoll surrounded by trees, a 
summer-house was seen, and the walk leading by many 
angles down to it. The view of the river is said to be 
fine from this point, but we did not undertake the 
difficulties of getting to it. The wooden steps con- 
structed across the ravines are fast sinking to ruin, and 
the swollen stream from the side of the hill dashing 
against them, was distinctly audible to us as we stood 
far above. The swallows and bats seem to have built 
their nests in its forsaken interior, and we were not 
inclined to molest them. 

Many times we looked back at the old homestead 
endeared to every American, and stamped upon 
memory each portion of its outlines. 

High above it, the small cupola sported its little 
glittering weather-vane as brilliant as though it had 
been gilded but yesterday. Here again was an object 
which unconsciously associated Washington with his* 
namesake, Washington Irving. In the pleasant sum- 


mer-time I had stood in front of the little " Woolfort's 
Roost," and enjoyed to the finest fibre of feeling its 
lovely simplicity. Above it, too, a little weather-cock 
coquetted with the wind as it swept down from Tappan 
Zee, the same said to have been carefully removed from 
the Vander Hayden palace at Albany, and placed there 
by tender hands long years ago. Upon the side of the 
hill I had stopped then as now, and looked back at the 
house above, embosomed in vines interspersed with 
delicately tinted fuchsias. 

Even as we were standing now looking for the first 
and perhaps the last time upon Mount Vernon, so in the 
beautiful harvest month we had gazed upon the Hudson, 
spread out like a vast panorama with its graceful 
yachts and swift schooners, and descended the winding 
path to the water's edge. But Mount Vernon was 
dressed in winter's dreariness, and its desolate silence 
oppressed rather than elevated the feelings. It is a 
fit place for meditation and communion, and to a 
spiritual nature the influences of the ancient home 
are full of harmony. When the only approach was 
by conveyance from Alexandria, the visitors were not 
so numerous as since the days of a daily steamer from 
Washington City, and much of the solemnity usually 
felt for so renowned a spot is marred by the coarse 
remarks and thoughtless acts of the many who saunter 
through the grounds. 

A gay party of idlers had arranged their eatables 
upon the stone steps of the piazza, and sat in the sun- 


shine laughing merrily. Even those old rocks smoothly 
worn, where so often had stood the greatest of men, 
were not hallowed nor protected from the selfish 
convenience of unrefined people. Callous, indeed, 
must be the heart which could walk unmoved through 
so endeared a scene. To tread the haunts where 
men have thought and acted great, is ennobling to 
sensitive organizations, and to linger over evidences 
of olden times inspires all generous minds with 

The grounds roll downward from the mansion house, 
and in a green hollow midway between that and the 
river, and about one hundred and fifty yards west from 
the summer house, and thirty rods from the house, is the 
vault where reposed the remains of Washington and 
Martha his wife. Now the tomb contains about thirty 
members of his family, and is sealed up, and in front of 
the main vault, enclosed by an iron railing, are the two 
sarcophagi containing the ashes of husband and wife. 
"A melancholy glory kindles around that cold pile of 
marble," and we stood mute in thought. 

But before reaching it we pass the old vault where for 
a few years he was buried. The few cedars on it are 
withered and the door stands open, presenting a deso- 
late appearance. With vines and flowers, and leafy 
trees filled with singing birds, this sight would perhaps 
be less chilling; but the barren aspects of nature united 
with the solemn stillness of the country, conspired to 


freeze every thought of life and beauty, and the mind 
dwelt upon the rust of decay.* 

Lafayette stopped at Mount Vernon when about to 
return to France after his visit to this country, in 1826, 
having reserved for the last his visit to Washington's 
Tomb, and the scene is thus described by Mr. Seward 
in his Life of John Quincy Adams: 

"When the boat came opposite the tomb of Washing- 
ton, at Mount Vernon, it paused in its progress. La- 
fayette arose. The wonders which he had performed for 
a man of his age, in successfully accomplishing labors 
enough to have tested his meridian vigor, whose anima- 
tion rather resembled the spring than the winter of life, 
now seemed unequal to the task he was about to per- 
form to take a last look at 'The Tomb of Washing- 

"He advanced to the effort. A silence the most im- 
pressive reigned around, till the strains of sweet and 
plaintive music completed the grandeur and sacred sol- 

*This sketch was written previous to the restoration of the place by the Ladies' 
Mount Vernon Association. Now it has been restored as far as possible, and many 
old relics have been returned to their apartments. The equestrian portrait of 
Washington by Rembrandt Peale, the harpsichord which was presented by Wash- 
ington to his step-daughter, and which is well preserved, together with many old 
paintings and Revolutionary relics, adorn the once bare rooms. The bed on which 
Washington died has been restored to its place, and a number of pieces of furniture 
in the house at the time of Mrs. Washington's death are again there. The grounds 
have been put in excellent order, and the old farm is cultivated and yields a revenue 
to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which deserves unbounded credit for res- 
cuing the grand old place from destruction, and restoring it as far as possible to its 
former appearance and condition. 


emnity of the scene. All hearts beat in unison with the 
throbbings of the veteran's bosom, as he looked for the 
last tune on the sepulchre which contained the ashes of 
the first of men! He spoke not, but appeared absorbed 
in the mighty recollections which the place and the occa- 
sion inspired." 

During the summer of 1860, Albert, Prince of Wales, 
and heir apparent to the throne of England, visited, in 
company with President Buchanan, the tomb of Wash- 
ington. Here amid the gorgeous beauties of a southern 
summer, the grandson of George the Third forgot his 
royalty in the presence of departed worth; and bent his 
knee in awe before a mere handful of ashes, which, but 
for the cold marble encompassing them, would be blown 
to the four winds of the earth. It was a strange sight 
to see that bright, youthful form kneeling before the 
tomb of the Father of his Country, and attesting his ap- 
preciation of the great spirit which more than any other 
wrested its broad domains from him. 

Stealthily the years go by, and we wist not they are 
passing, yet the muffled and hoarse voice of a century 
astounds us with its parting. The centennial birthdays 
have been celebrated; we have passed the hundredth 
anniversary of victories won and independence achieved. 
If the glad, free spirits of the Chief and his companion 
are permitted to review their earthly pilgrimage, let it 
be a source of gratification to us to know they smile 
upon a Republic of peace. Their bodies we guard, 
while they crumbled away in the bosom of their birth- 


place, and as long as a son of America remains a free- 
man, it will be a well-spring of inspiration to feel that 
Virginia contains the Pater Patrice and the woman im- 
mortalized by his love. 

J M< 



ABIGAIL SMITH, the daughter of a New England Con- 
gregational! st minister, was born at Weymouth, in 1744. 
Her father was the settled pastor of that place for more 
than forty years, and her grandfather was also a minister 
of the same denomination in a neighboring town. 

The younger years of her life were passed in the quiet 
seclusion of her grandfather's house; and under the in- 
structions of her grandmother, she imbibed most of the 
lessons which were the most deeply impressed upon her 
mind. "I have not forgotten," she says in a letter to 
her own daughter, in the year 1795, "the excellent les- 
sons which I received from my grandmother at a very 
early period of life; I frequently think they made a more 
durable impression upon my mind than those which I 
received from my own parents. This tribute is due to 
the memory of those virtues, the sweet remembrance of 
which will flourish, though she has long slept with her 

Separated from the young members of her own family, 
and never subjected to the ordinary school routine, her 
imaginative faculties bade fair to develop at the expense 
of her judgment, but the austere religion of her ances- 
tors, and the daily example of strict compliance to forms, 

prevented the too great indulgence of fancy. She had 



many relations both on the father's and mother's side, 
and with these she was upon as intimate terms as circum- 
stances would allow. The distance between the homes of 
the young people was, however, too great, and the means 
of their parents too narrow, to admit of very frequent 
personal intercourse, the substitute for which was a rapid 
interchange of written communication. "The women of 
the last century," observes Mr. Charles Francis Adams 
in his memoir of his grandmother, "were more remark- 
able for their letter-writing propensities, than the novel- 
reading and more pretending daughters of this era: 
their field was larger, and the stirring events of the times 
made it an object of more interest. Now, the close con- 
nection between all parts of this country, and rapid 
means of transmitting intelligence through the medium 
of telegraphs and newspapers, renders the slow process 
of writing letters unnecessary, save in instances of 
private importance. The frugal habits of the sparsely 
settled country afforded little material for the fashion- 
able chit-chat which forms so large a part of the social 
life of to-day, and the limited education of woman was 
another drawback to the indulgence of a pleasure in 
which they really excelled. Upon what, then, do we 
base the assertion that they were remarkable for their 
habits of writing? Even though self-taught, the young 
ladies of Massachusetts were certainly readers, and their 
taste was not for the feeble and nerveless sentiments, 
but was derived from the deepest wells of English litera- 
ture. Almost every house in the colony possessed 


some old heir-looms in the shape of standard books, 
even if the number was limited to the Bible and diction- 
ary. Many, especially ministers, could display relics 
of their English ancestors' intelligence in the libraries 
handed down to them, and the study of their contents 
was evident in many of the grave correspondences of 
that early time." To learning, in the ordinary sense of 
that term, she could make no claim. She did not enjoy 
an opportunity to acquire even such as there might have 
been, for the delicate state of her health forbade die 
idea of sending her away from home to obtain them. In 
speaking of her deficiencies, the year before her death, 
she says: "My early education did not partake of the 
abundant opportunity which the present day offers, and 
which even our common country schools now afford. / 
never was sent to any school, I was always sick." Although 
Massachusetts ranked then, as it does now, first in point 
of educational facilities, it is certainly remarkable that its 
women received such entire neglect. "It is not impossi- 
ble," says Mr. Adams, "that the early example of Mrs. 
Hutchison, and the difficulties in which the public ex- 
ercise of her gifts involved the colony, had established 
in the public mind a conviction of the danger that may 
attend the meddling of women with abstruse points of 
doctrine; and these, however they might confound the 
strongest intellects, were nevertheless the favorite topics 
of thought and discussion in that generation." 

While the sons of a family received every possible 
advantage compatible with the means of the father, the 


daughter's interest, as far as mental culture was con- 
cerned, was generally ignored. To aid the mother in 
manual household labor, and by self-denial and in- 
creased industry to forward the welfare of the brothers, 
was the most exalted height to which any woman aspired. 
To women there was then no career open, no life-work 
to perform outside the narrow walls of home. Every 
idea of self-culture was swallowed up in the wearying 
routine of practical life, and what of knowledge they 
obtained, was from the society of the learned, and the 
eagerness with which they treasured and considered the 
conversations of others. 

On the 26th of October, 1764, Abigail Smith was 
married to John Adams. She was at the time twenty 
years old. The match, although a suitable one in many 
respects, was not considered brilliant, since her ancestors 
were among the most noted of the best class of their 
day, and he was the son of a farmer of limited means, 
and as yet a lawyer without practice. Mrs. Adams 
was the second of three daughters, whose characters 
were alike strong and remarkable for their intellectual 
force. The fortunes of two of them confined its influ- 
ence to a sphere much more limited than that which 
fell to the lot of Mrs. Adams. Mary, the eldest, was 
married in 1762 to Richard Cranch, an English emi- 
grant, who subsequently became a Judge of the Court 
of Common Pleas in Massachusetts. Elizabeth, the 
youngest, was twice married ; first to the Reverend John 
Shaw, minister of Haverhill, and after his death, to the 


Reverend Mr. Peabody, of New Hampshire. This an- 
ecdote is told in connection with the marriage of Mrs. 


Adams. When her eldest sister was married, her 
father preached to his people from the text, " And Mary 
hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken 
away from her." The disapprobation to his second 
daughter's choice was due to the prejudice entertained 
against the profession of the law. Mr. Adams, besides 
being a lawyer, was the son of a small farmer of the 
middle class in Braintree, and was thought scarcely 
good enough to match with the minister's daughter, 
descended from a line of ministers in the colony. Mr. 
Smith's parishioners were outspoken in their opposition, 
and he replied to them immediately, after the marriage 
took place, in a sermon, in which he made pointed 
allusion to the objection against lawyers. His text on 
this occasion was, " For John came neither eating bread 
nor drinking wine, and ye say, He hath a devil" Mr. 
Smith, it may be as well to add, was in the habit of 
making application of texts to events which in any 
manner interested himself or his congregation. In a 
colony founded so exclusively upon motives of religious 
zeal as Massachusetts was, it necessarily followed that 
the ordinary distinctions of society w^re in a great 
degree subverted, and that the leaders of the church, 
though without worldly possessions to boast of, were 
the most in honor everywhere. If a festive entertain- 
ment was meditated, the minister was sure to be first 
on the list of those invited. If any assembly of citi'zens 


was held, he must be there to open the business with 
prayer. If a political measure was in agitation, he was 
among the first whose opinions were to be consulted. 
He was not infrequently the family physician. Hence 
the objection to Mr. Adams by her friends was founded 
on the fact that she was the daughter and grand-daugh- 
ter of a minister, and his social superior according to the 
opinions of zealous Christians, whose prejudices were 
extreme toward a calling they deemed hardly honest. 

Ten years of quiet home life succeeded her marriage, 
during which time little transpired worthy of record. 
" She appears to have passed an apparently very happy 
life, having her residence in Braintree, or in Boston, 
according as the state of her husband's health, then 
rather impaired, or that of his professional practice, 
made the change advisable. Within this period she 
became the mother of a daughter and of three sons." 

Mr. Adams was elected one of the delegates on the 
part of Massachusetts, instructed to meet persons cho- 
sen in the same manner from the other colonies, for the 
purpose of consulting in common upon the course most 
advisable to be adopted by them. In the month of 
August, 1774, he left home in company with Samuel 
Adams, Thoma^ Cushings, and Robert Treat Paine, to 
go to Philadelphia, at which place the proposed assembly 
was to be held. In two months, Mr. Adams was home 
again. Congress met again in May, 1775, and Mr. 
Adams returned to Philadelphia to attend it. The long 
distance was traversed on horseback, and was replete 


with hardships. At Hartford he heard of the mem- 
orable incident .at Lexington, only five days after his 
departure from Braintree. Up to this time, the trouble 
between the two countries had been a dispute, hence- 
forth it resolved itself into open hostilities. 

"In November, 1775," says Bancroft, "Abigail Smith, 
the wife of John Adams, was at her home near the foot 
of Penn Hill, charged with the sole care of their little 
brood of children ; managing their farm ; keeping house 
with frugality, though opening her doors to the house- 
less, and giving with good will a part of her scant 
portion to the poor ; seeking work for her own hands, 
and ever busily occupied, now at the spinning wheel, 
now making amends for having never been sent to 
school by learning French, though with the aid of books 
aione. Since the departure of her husband for Con- 
gress, the arrow of death had sped near her by day, 
and the pestilence that walks in darkness had entered 
her humble mansion. She herself was still weak after 
a violent illness ; her house was a hospital in every part ; 
and such was the distress of the neighborhood, she 
could hardly find a well person to assist in looking after 
the sick. Her youngest son had been rescued from the 
grave by her nursing. Her own mother had been 
taken away, and after the austere manner of her fore- 
fathers, buried without prayer. Woe followed woe, and 
one affliction trod on the heels of another. Winter was 
hurrying on ; during the day family affairs took off her 
attention, but her long evenings, broken by the sound 


of the storm on the ocean, or the enemy's artillery at 
Boston, were lonesome and melancholy. Ever in the 
silent night ruminating on the love and tenderness of 
her departed parent, she needed the consolation of her 
husband's presence ; but when she read the king's 
proclamation, she willingly gave up her nearest friend 
exclusively to his perilous duties, and sent him her 
cheering message : * This intelligence will make a plain 
path for you, though a dangerous one. I coulcl not 
join to-day in the petitions of our worthy pastor for 
a reconciliation between our no longer parent state, but 
tyrant state, and these colonies. Let us separate ; they 
are unworthy to be our brethren. Let us renounce 
them ; and instead of supplications, as formerly, for their 
prosperity and happiness, let us beseech the Almighty 
to blast their counsels and bring to naught all their 
devices.' " 

Such words of patriotism falling from the lips of a 
woman who had just buried three members of her 
household, one her own mother, and who was alone 
with her four little children within sight of the can- 
nonading at Boston, discovers a mind strong, and a 
spirit fearless and brave under scenes of harrowing 

Now she was alone, and she writes to her husband, 
" The desolation of war is not so distressing as the havoc 
made by the pestilence. Some poor parents are 
mourning the loss of three, four, and five children, and 
some families are wholly stripped of every member." 


December found Mr. Adams once more at home to 
cheer his suffering family, but Congress demanded his 
presence, and after a stay of one month, he returned 
again to the halls of the nation. March came, and her 
anxious, solitary life was in nowise brightened. The 
distance, in those days of slow travel and bad roads, 
from Boston to Philadelphia was immense, and letters 
were precious articles hard to receive. In speaking of 
the anticipated attack on Boston, she says: "It has 
been said to-morrow and to-morrow ; but when the 
dreadful to-morrow will be I know not." Yet even as 
she wrote, the first peal of the American guns rang out 
their dissonance on the chilling night winds, and the 
house shook and trembled from cellar to garret. It 
was no time for calm thoughts now, and she left her 
letter unfinished to go out and watch the lurid lights 
that flashed and disappeared in the distance. Next 
morning she walked to Penn's Hill, where she sat 
listening to the amazing roar, and watching the British 
shells as they fell round about the camps of her friends. 
Her home at the foot of the hill was all her earthly 
wealth, and the careful husbanding of each year's crop 
her only income ; yet while she ever and anon cast her 
eye upon it, the thoughts that welled into words were 
not of selfish repinings, but of proud expressions of 
high-souled patriotism. "The cannonade is from our 
army," she continues, "and the sight is one of the 
grandest in nature, and is of the true species of the 
sublime. 'Tis now an incessant roar. To-night we 


shall realize a more terrible scene still ; I wish myself 
with you out of hearing, as I cannot assist them, but I 
hope to give you joy of Boston, even if it is in ruins 
before I send this away." But events were not ordered 
as she feared, and the result was more glorious than she 
dared hope. All the summer the army lay encamped 
around Boston, and in early fall her husband came 
home again, after an absence of nearly a year. Yet his 
coming brought her little satisfaction, since it was to an- 
nounce the sad truth that he had been chosen Minister 
to France. Could he take his wife and little ones ? was 
the oft-recurring question. A small and not very good 
vessel had been ordered to carry him: the British fleet 
knew this, and were on the watch to capture it. On 
every account it was deemed best he should go alone, 
but he finally concluded to take his eldest son, John 
Quincy Adams, to bear him company, and in February, 
1778, sailed for Europe. 

The loneliness of the faithful wife can hardly be 
understood by those unacquainted with the horrors of 
war. Yet doubtless there are many, very many, who 
in the dark gloom of the civil war can record similar 
feelings of agony, and can trace a parallel in the soli- 
tary musings of this brave matron. The ordinary 
occupations of the female sex have ever confined them 
to a very limited sphere, and there is seldom an occa- 
sion when they can with propriety extend their exer- 
tions beyond the domestic hearth. Only through the 
imagination can they give unlimited scope to those 


powers which the world until recently has never under- 
stood, and which are even now but dimly defined. Had 
mankind given them the privileges of a liberal 
education, and freedom to carve their own destiny, to 
what dazzling heights would a mind so naturally gifted 
as Mrs. Adams', have attained? Circumscribed as her 
lot was, she has left upon the pages of history an 
enviable record, and while Americans forget not to do 
honor to her husband's zeal and greatness, her memory 
lends a richer perfume, and sheds a radiance round the 
incidents of a life upon which she wielded so beneficial 
an influence. 

Ofttimes weather-bound and compelled to remain in- 
doors for days, with no society save her children and 
domestics, it is not strange that she should be lonely.. 
Nor could her mind dwell upon any pleasing anticipa- 
tions for the future. Her husband three thousand, 
miles away, a hostile army encompassing the country,, 
poor and forlorn, she yet so managed and controlled 
her little estate, that it served to support her, and in 
old age, to prove the happy asylum of her honored 
family. Mr. Adams knew her exposed condition,, yet 
trusted to her judgment to protect herself and little 
ones. On a former occasion he had written to her 
"in case of danger to fly to the woods," and now he 
could only reiterate the same advice, at the same time 
feeling that she was strong and' resolute to sustain 
herself. Six months passed,, and Mrs. Adams writes to 
him: "I have never received, a. syllable from you or my 


dear son, and it is five months since I had an oppor- 
tunity of conveying 1 a line to you. Yet I know not but 
you are less a sufferer than you would be to hear from 
us, to know our distresses, and yet be unable to relieve 
them. The universal cry for bread to a humane heart 
is painful beyond description." Mr. Adams returned to 
his family after an absence of eighteen months, but no 
sooner was he established in his happy home, than he 
was ordered to Great Britain to negotiate a peace. 
Two of his sons accompanied him on this trip. He 
went over night to Boston to embark early next day, 
and the sad heart left behind again, found relief in the 
following touching words : " My habitation, how dis- 
consolate it looks ! my table, I sit down to it, but cannot 
swallow my food ! Oh, why was I born with so much 
sensibility, and why, possessing it, have I so often been 
called to struggle with it ? Were I sure you would not 
.be gone, I could not withstand the temptation of coming 
,to town though my heart would suffer over again the 
-.cruel torture of separation/' Soon after this time, she 
wrote to her eldest son in regard to his extreme re- 


luctance at again crossing the ocean, and for its per- 
spicuity and terseness, for the loftiness of its sentiments, 
and the sound logical advice in 'which it abounds, ranks 
itself among the first literary effusions of the century : 

"June, 1778. 

"My DEAR SON: 'Tis almost four months since you 
left your native land and embarked upon the mighty 


waters in quest of a foreign country. Although I have not 
particularly written to you since, yet you may be assured 
you have constantly been upon my heart and mind. 

"It is a very difficult task, my dear son, for a tender 
parent, to bring her mind to part with a child of your 
years, going to a distant land ; nor could I have ac- 
quiesced in such a separation under any other care than 
that of the most excellent parent and guardian who ac- 
companied you. You have arrived at years capable of 
improving under the advantages you will be likely to 
have, if you do but properly attend to them. They are 
talents put into your hands, of which an account will be 
required of you hereafter; and, being possessed of one, 
two, or four, see to it that you double your number. 

"The most amiable and most useful disposition in a 
young mind is diffidence of itself; and this should lead 
you to seek advice and instruction from him who is your 
natural guardian, and will always counsel and direct you 
in the best manner, both for your present and future 
happiness. You are in possession of a natural good 
understanding, and of spirits unbroken by adversity and 
untamed with care. Improve your understanding by 
acquiring useful knowledge and virtue, such as will 
render you an ornament to society, an honor to your 
country, and a blessing to your parents. Great learn- 
ing and superior abilities, should you ever possess them, 
will be of little value and small estimation, unless virtue, 
honor, truth, and integrity are added to them. Adhere 
to those religious sentiments and principles which were 


early instilled into your mind, and remember that you 
are accountable to your Maker for all your words and 
actions. Let me enjoin it upon you to attend constantly 
and steadfastly to the precepts and instructions of your 
father, as you value the happiness of your mother and 
your own welfare. His care and attention to you ren- 
der many things unnecessary for me to write, which I 
might otherwise do; but the inadvertency and heedless- 
ness of youth require line upon line and precept upon 
precept, and, when enforced by the joint efforts of both 
parents, will, I hope, have a due influence upon your 
conduct; for, dear as you are to me, I would much 
rather you should have found your grave in the ocean 
you have crossed, or that any untimely death crop you 
in your infant years, than see you an immoral, profligate, 
or graceless child. 

"You have entered early in life upon the great theatre 
of the world, which is full of temptations and vice of 
every kind. You are not wholly unacquainted with his- 
tory, in which you have read of crimes which your inex- 
perienced mind could scarcely believe credible. You 
have been taught to think of them with horror, and to 
view vice as 

"'A monster of so frightful mien, 
That, to be hated, needs but to be seen.' 

Yet you must keep a strict guard upon yourself, or the 
odious monster will lose its terror by becoming familiar 
to you. The modern history of our own times furnishes 
as black a list of crimes as can be paralleled in ancient 


times, even if we go back to Nero, Caligula, Csesar 
Borgia. Young as you are, the cruel war into which we 
have been compelled by the haughty tyrant of Britain 
and the bloody emissaries of his vengeance, may stamp 
upon your mind this certain truth, that the welfare and 
prosperity of all countries, communities, and, I may add, 
individuals, depend upon their morals. That nation 
to which we were once united, as it has departed from 
justice, eluded and subverted the wise laws which for- 
merly governed it, and suffered the worst of crimes to 
go unpunished, has lost its valor, wisdom, and humanity, 
and, from being the dread and terror of Europe, has 
sunk into derision and infamy. 

"But, to quit political subjects, I have been greatly 
anxious for your safety, having never heard of the 
frigate since she sailed, till, about a week ago, a New 
York paper informed that she was taken and carried into 
Plymouth. I did not fully credit this report, though it 
gave me much uneasiness. I yesterday heard that a 
French vessel was arrived at Portsmouth, which brought 
news of the safe arrival of the Boston; but this wants 
confirmation. I hope it will not be long before I shall 
be assured of your safety. You must write me an ac- 
count of your voyage, of your situation, and of every 
thing entertaining you can recollect. 

"Be assured, I am most affectionately 

"Your mother, ABIGAIL ADAMS." 

The Government was organized under its present 


Constitution in April, 1 789, and Mr. Adams was elected 
Vice-President. He established himself in New York, 
and from there Mrs. Adams wrote to her sister, "that 
she would return to Braintree during the recess of Con- 
gress, but the season of the year renders the attempt 
impracticable." She speaks in one of her letters of the 
drawing-rooms held by Mrs. Washington, and the many 
invitations she received to entertainments. After a resi- 
dence of one year in New York, the seat of government 
was removed to Philadelphia. She says in a letter to 
her daughter, "that she dined with the President in com- 
pany with the ministers and ladies of the court," and that 
"he asked very affectionately after her and the children," 
and "at the table picked the sugar plums from a cake 
and requested me to take them for Master John." In 
February, 1797, Mr. Adams succeeded President Wash- 
ington, and from Braintree she wrote to her husband 
one of the most beautiful of all her noble effusions: 

" * The sun is dressed in brightest beams 
To give thy honors to the day.' 

"And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each 
ensuing season. You have this day to declare your- 
self head of a nation. 'And now, O Lord my God, 
thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people ; 
give unto him an understanding heart, that he may 
know how to go out and come in before this great peo- 
ple ; that he may discern between good and bad. For 
who is able to judge this thy so great a people : ' were 


the words of a royal sovereign, and not less applicable 
to him who is invested with the Chief Magistracy of 
a nation, though he wear not a crown nor the robes of 
royalty. My thoughts and my meditations are with 
you, though personally absent ; and my petitions to 
heaven are that ' the things which make for peace may 
not be hidden from your eyes.' My feelings are not 
those of pride or ostentation upon the occasion. They 
are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the im- 
portant trusts, and numerous duties connected with it. 
That you may be enabled to discharge them with honor 
to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your 
country, and with satisfaction to this great people, shall 
be the daily prayer of yours " 

Soon as the funeral rites of Mrs. Adams, the ven- 
erable mother of President Adams, were performed, 
and the sad leave-takings over, Mrs. Adams set out to 
join her husband at Philadelphia, from whence the seat 
of government was removed in June, 1800, to Wash- 
ington City. 

Her impression of the place is graphically described 
in the following letter to her daughter, Mrs. Smith: 

"WASHINGTON, November 2\st, 1800. 


" I arrived here on Sunday last, and without meeting 
with any accident worth noticing, except losing our- 
selves when we left Baltimore, and going eight or nine 
miles on the Frederick road, by which means we were 


obliged to go the other eight through woods, where 
we wandered two hours without finding a guide or the 
path. Fortunately, a straggling black came up with 
us, and we engaged him as a guide to extricate us out 
of our difficulty. But woods are all you see from Bal- 
timore until you reach the city, which is only so in 
name. Here and there is a small cot, without a glass 
window, interspersed amongst the forests, through which 
you travel miles without seeing any human being. In 
the city there are buildings enough, if they were com- 
pact and finished, to accommodate Congress and those 
attached to it ; but as they are, and scattered as they 
are, I see no great comfort for them. The river, which 
runs up to Alexandria, is in full view of my window, and 
I see the vessels as they pass and repass. The house is 
upon a grand and superb scale, requiring about thirty 
servants to attend and keep the apartments in proper 
order, and perform the ordinary business of the house 
and stables : an establishment very well proportioned 
to the President's salary. The lighting the apartments, 
from the kitchen to parlors and chambers, is a tax in- 
deed ; and the fires we are obliged to keep to secure us 
from daily agues, is another very cheering comfort. To 
assist us in this great castle, and render less attendance 
necessary, bells are wholly wanting, not one single one 
being hung through the whole house, and promises are 
all you can obtain. This is so great an inconvenience, 
that I know not what to do, or how to do. The ladies 
from Georgetown and in the city have many of them 


visited me. Yesterday I returned fifteen visits, but 
such a place as Georgetown appears, why our Milton 
i^ beautiful. But no comparisons ; if they will put 
me up some bells, and let me have wood enough to 
keep fires, I design to be pleased. I could content 
myself almost anywhere three months ; but surrounded 
with forests, can you believe that wood is not to be had, 
because people cannot be found to cut and cart it? 
Briesler entered into a contract with a man to supply 
him with wood ; a small part, 'a few cords only, has he 
been able to get. Most of that was expended to dry 
the walls of the house before we came in, and yesterday 
the man told him it was impossible for him to procure 
it to be cut and carted. He has had recourse to coals : 
but we cannot get grates made and set. We have 
indeed come into a new country. 

"You must keep all this to yourself, and when asked 
how I like it, say that I write you the situation is beauti- 
ful, which is true. The house is made habitable, but 
there is not a single apartment finished, and all within- 
side, except the plastering, has been done since Briesler 
came. We have not the least fence, yard, or other con- 
venience, without, and the great unfinished audience- 
room I make a drying room of, to hang up the clothes 
in. The principal stairs are not up, and will not be this 
winter. Six chambers are made comfortable; two are 
occupied by the President and Mr. Shaw; two lower 
rooms, one for a common parlor and one for a levee 
room. Up-stairs there is the oval room, which is de- 


signed for the drawing-room, and has the crimson furni- 
ture in it. It is a very handsome room now, but when 
completed will be beautiful. If the twelve years, in which 
this place has been considered as the future seat of gov- 
ernment, had been improved, as they would have been 
if in New England, very many of the present inconven- 
iences would have been removed. It is a beautiful spot, 
capable of every improvement, and the more I view it, 
the more I am delighted with it. Since I sat down to 


write, I have been called down to a servant from Mount 
Vernon, with a billet from Major Custis, and a haunch 
of venison, and a kind, congratulatory letter from Mrs. 
Lewis, upon my arrival in the city, with Mrs. Washing- 
ton's love, inviting me to Mount Vernon, where, health 
permitting, I will go, before I leave this place. . . . Two 
articles are much distressed for: the one is bells, but 
the more important one is wood. Yet you cannot see 
wood for trees. No arrangement has been made, but 
by promises never performed, to supply the newcomers 
with fuel. Of the promises, Briesler had received his 
full share. He had procured nine cords of wood: be- 
tween six and seven of that was kindly burnt up to dry 
the walls of the house, which ought to have been done by 
the commissioners, but which, if left to them, would have 
remained undone to this day. Congress poured in, but 
shiver, shiver. No wood-cutters nor carters to be had 
at any rate. We are now indebted to a Pennsylvania 
wagon to bring us, through the first clerk in the Treas- 
ury Office, one cord and a half of wood, which is all we 


have for this house, where twelve fires are constantly 
required, and where, we are told, the roads will soon be 
so bad that it cannot be drawn. Briesler procured two 
hundred bushels of coal, or we must have suffered. 
This is the situation of almost every person. The public 
officers have sent to Philadelphia for wood-cutters and 

u The vessel which has my clothes and other matter is 
not arrived. The ladies are impatient for a drawing- 
room ; I have no looking-glasses, but dwarfs, for this 
house ; nor a twentieth part lamps enough to light it. 
Many things were stolen, many were broken, by the re- 
moval; amongst the number, my tea-china is more than 
half missing. Georgetown affords nothing. My rooms 
are very pleasant, and warm, whilst the doors of the hall 
are closed. 

" You can scarce believe that here in this wilderness- 
city, I should find myself so occupied as it is. My visi- 
tors, some of them, come three and four miles. The 
return of one of them is the work of one day. Most of 
the ladies reside in Georgetown, or in scattered parts of 
the city at two and three miles distance. We have all 
been very well as yet; if we can by any means get wood, 
we shall not let our fires go out, but it is at a price in- 
deed; from four dollars it has risen to nine. Some say it 
will fall, but there must be more industry than is to be 
found here to bring half enough to the market for the 
consumption of the inhabitants." 

The Hon. John Cotton Smith, a member of Congress 


from Connecticut, describing Washington as it appeared 
to him on his arrival there, wrote as follows: 

"Our approach to the city was accompanied with sen- 
sations not easily described. One wing of the Capitol 
only had been erected, which, with the President's 
House, a mile distant from it, both constructed with 
white sandstone, were striking objects in dismal contrast 
with the scene around them. Instead of recognizing 
the avenues and streets portrayed on the plan of the 
city, not one was visible unless we except a road, with 
two buildings on each side of it, called the New Jersey 
Avenue. The Pennsylvania, leading as laid down on 
paper, from the Capitol to the Presidential mansion, was 
then nearly the whole distance a deep morass, covered 
with alder bushes, which were cut through the width of 
the intended Avenue the then ensuing winter. . . . The 
roads in every direction were muddy and unimproved ; 
a side-walk was attempted in one instance by a covering 
formed of the chips of the stones which had been hewed 
for the Capitol. It extended but a little way, and was 
of little value, for in dry weather the sharp fragments 
cut our shoes, and in wet weather covered them with 
white mortar; in short, it was a new settlement. The 
houses, with two or three exceptions, had been very re- 
cently erected, and the operation greatly hurried in 
view of the approaching transfer of the national govern- 
ment. A laughable desire was manifested by what few 
citizens and residents there were, to render our condi- 
tion as pleasant as circumstances would permit. Not- 


withstanding the unfavorable aspect which Washington 
presented on our arrival, I cannot sufficiently express 
my admiration of its local position. From the Capitol 
you have a distinct view of its fine, undulating surface, 
situated at the confluence of the Potomac and its East- 
ern Branch, the wide expanse of that majestic river to 
the bend at Mount Vernon, the cities of Alexandria and 
Georgetown, and the cultivated fields and blue hills of 
Maryland and Virginia on either side of the river, the 
whole constituting a prospect of surpassing beauty and 
grandeur. The city has also the inestimable advantage 
of delightful water, in many instances flowing from 
copious springs, and always attainable by digging to a 
moderate depth. 

"Some portions of the city are forty miles from Bal- 
timore. The situation is indeed beautiful and pleas- 

"The President's house was built to be looked at by 
visitors and strangers, and will render its occupants an 
object of ridicule with some and of pity with others. It 
must be cold and damp in winter, and cannot be kept in 
tolerable order without a regiment of servants. There 
are but few houses at any one place, and most of them 
small, miserable huts, which present an awful contrast to 
the public buildings. The people are poor, and as far 
as I can judge, they live like fishes, by eating each 

The first New- Year's reception at the White House 
was held by President Adams in 1801. The house was 


only partially furnished, and Mrs. Adams used the oval 
room up-stairs, now the library, as a drawing-room. 
The formal etiquette established by Mrs. Washington 
at New York and Philadelphia was kept up in the wil- 
derness-city by Mrs. Adams. 

At this time the health of Mrs. Adams, which had 
never been very firm, began decidedly to fail. Her 
residence at Philadelphia had not been favorable, as it 
had subjected her to the attack of an intermittent fever, 
from the effects of which she was never afterward per- 
fectly free. The desire to enjoy the bracing air of her 
native climate, as well as to keep together the private 
property of her husband, upon which she early foresaw 
that he would be obliged to rely for their support in 
their last years, prompted her to reside much of her time 
at Quincy. 

Thus closed Mrs. Adams' life in Washington, of which 
she has given a picture in her letter to her daughter; 
and spring found her once more in her Massachusetts 
home, recuperating her failing health. She lived in 
Washington only four months and yet she is insepara- 
bly connected with it. She was mistress of the White 
House less than half a year, but she stamped it with her 
individuality, and none have lived there since who have 
not looked upon her as the model and guide. It is not 
asserting too much, to observe that the first occupant 
of that historic house stands without a rival, and re- 
ceives a meed of praise awarded to no other American 


In the midst of public or private troubles, the 
buoyant spirit of Mrs. Adams never forsook her. "I 
am a mortal enemy," she wrote upon one occasion to 
her husband, " to anything but a cheerful countenance 
and a merry heart, which Solomon tells us does good like 
a medicine." "This spirit," says her son, " contributed] 
greatly to lift up his heart, when surrounded by diffi- 
culties and dangers, exposed to open hostility, and 
secret detraction, and resisting a torrent of invective, 
such as it may well be doubted whether any other 
individual in public station in the United States has ever 
tried to stem. It was this spirit which soothed his 
wounded feelings when the country, which he had 
served in the full consciousness of the perfect honesty 
of his motives, threw him off, and signified its preference 
for other statesmen. There are oftener, even in this 
life, more compensations for the severest of the 
troubles that afflict mankind, than we are apt to think." 

The sacrifices made by Mrs. Adams during the long 
era of war, pestilence, and famine, deserves and should 
receive from a nation's gratitude a monument as high 
and massive as her illustrious husband's. 

Let it be reared in the hearts of the women of 
America, who may proudly claim her as a model, and 
let her fame be transmitted to remotest posterity the 
" Portia " of the rebellious provinces. 

Statues and monuments belong rather to a bygone 
than a present time, and are indicative of a less degree 
of culture than we of this century boast. The pages 


of history are the truest, safest sarcophagi of great- 
ness, and embalm in their records the lives of the 
master-workers. Not in marble or bronze be her 
memory perpetuated, for we need no such hieroglyphics 
in this country of free schools. Place her history in the 
libraries of America, and the children of freedom will 
live over her deeds. To the crumbling monarchies of 
Europe on their way to dissolution, it may be necessary 
to erect statues of past greatness, that some shadow of 
their nothingness may remain as warnings ; but the men 
and women of revolutionary memory are become a part 
and parcel of this government, whose very existence 
must be wiped from the face of the earth ere one jot or 
tittle of their fame is lost. 

In viewing the character of Mrs. Adams, as it looms 
up in the pages of the past, we can but regret that she 
occupied no more enlarged sphere. The woman 'who 
could reply as she did to the question, (" Had you 
known that Mr. Adams would have remained so loner 


abroad, would you have consented that he should have 
gone ? ") could have filled any position in civil life. " If 
I had known," she replied, after a moment's hesitation, 
" that Mr. Adams could have effected what he has done, 
I would not only have submitted to the absence I have 
endured, painful as it has been, but I would not have 
opposed it, even though three more years should be 
added to the number. I feel a pleasure in being able to 
sacrifice my selfish passions to the general good, and in 
imitating the example which has taught me to consider 


myself and family but as the small dust of the balance, 
when compared with the great community." 

With the marked characteristics which made her 
determined and resolute, she could have occupied any 
post of honor requiring a strong mind and clear per- 
ceptions of right; cut off, as was her sex, from partici- 
pation in the struggle around her ; confined by custom 
to the lonely and wearisome monotony of her country 
home, she nevertheless stamped her character upon the 
hearts of her countrymen, and enrolled her name 
among its workers. Had she been called into any of 
the departments of State, or required to fill any place 
of trust, hers would have been an enviable name ; even 
as it is, she occupies the foreground of the Revolution- 
ary history, and so powerful were the energies of her 
soul, that biographers and historians have deemed it 
worth their while to deny, in lengthy terms, her in- 
fluence over her husband, and exert every argument 
to prove that she in no way controlled his actions. 
The opinions of men differ on this point, and the stu- 
dents of American biographies decide the questions 
from their own stand-points. Yet who will not venture 
to assert, that with the culture bestowed upon her which 
many men received, she would have towered high above 
them in their pride and selfishness ! Controlled by the 
usages of society, she could only live in her imagination, 
and impress upon her children the great ideas that 
were otherwise doomed to fritter away uselessly in her 

brain. Indifferent to the charms of fashionable life, 


deprived of the luxuries which too often enervate and 
render worthless the capacities of woman, she was as 
independent and self-supporting in her actions, as were 
the inspirations of her mind ; and through good and 
evil report, conduced by her example to place that 
reliance in her country's success which in a great 
measure secured its independence. Her character was 
one of undeviating fairness and frank truthfulness, free 
from affectation and vanity. 

From the year 1801 down to the day of her death, 
a period of seventeen years, she lived uninterruptedly 
at Quincy. The old age of Mrs. Adams was not one 
of grief and repining, of clouds and darkness ; her 
cheerfulness continued with the full possession of her 
faculties to the last, and her sunny spirit enlivened the 
small social circle around her, brightened the solitary 
hours of her husband, and spread the influence of its 
example over the town where she lived. " Yesterday," 
she writes, to a granddaughter, on the 26th of October, 
1814, "completes half a century since I entered the 
marriage state, then just your age. I have great cause 
of thankfulness that I have lived so long and enjoyed so 
large a portion of happiness as has been my lot. The 
greatest source of unhappiness I have known, in that 
period, has arisen from the long and cruel separations 
which I was called, in a time of war, and with a young 
family around me, to submit to." 

The appointment of her eldest son as Minister to 
Great Britain, by President Madison, was a life-long sat- 


isfaction to her; and the testimony President Monroe 
gave her of his worth, by making him his Secretary of 
State, was the crowning joy of her life. Had she been 
spared a few years longer, she would have enjoyed see- 
ing him hold the position his father had occupied before 
him. Mrs. Adams lost three of her children: a daugh- 
ter in infancy; a son grown to manhood, who died in 
1800; and in 1813 her only remaining daughter, Abigail, 
the wife of Colonel William S. Smith. 

The warmest feelings of friendship had existed be- 
tween Mr. Jefferson and herself until a difference in 
political sentiments, developed during the administration 
of President Washington, disturbed the social relations 
existing. "Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson tried as 
hard as men could do, to resist the natural effect upon 
them of their antagonist positions. They strove each in 
turn, to stem the proscriptive fury of the parties to which 
they belonged, and that with equally bad success. 

"Mrs. Adams felt as women only feel, what she re- 
garded as the ungenerous conduct of Mr. Jefferson to- 
wards her husband during the latter part of his public 
life, and when she retired from Washington, notwith- 
standing the kindest professions from his mouth were 
yet ringing in her ears, all communication between the 
parties ceased. Still, there remained on both sides, 
pleasant reminiscences to soften the irritation that had 
taken place, and to open a way for reconciliatioa when- 
ever circumstances should present a suitable opportu- 


The little daughter of Mr. Jefferson, in whom Mrs. 
Adams had taken so much interest in 1787, had in the 
interval grown into a woman, and had been married to 
Mr. Eppes of Virginia. In 1804 she ceased to be num- 
bered among the living, and almost against her own 
judgment Mrs. Adams wrote to him. He seemed to 
be much affected by this testimony of her sympathy, and 
replied, not confining himself to the subject-matter of 
her letter, and added a request to know her reasons for 
the estrangement that had occurred. Without the 
knowledge of her husband she replied to him, but he 
at first did not choose to believe her assertion. Fortu- 
nately, the original endorsement, made in the hand- 
writing of letters retained by herself, will serve to put 
this matter beyond question. Her last letter to him was 
as follows: 

"QuiNCY, 25//fc October, 1804. 

"Sm: Sickness for three weeks past has prevented 
my acknowledging the receipt of your letter of Sept. 
nth. When I first addressed you, I little thought of 
entering into a correspondence with you upon subjects 
of a political nature. I will not regret it, as it has led to 
some elucidations, and brought on some explanations, 
which place in a more favorable light occurrences which 
had wounded me. 

" Having once entertained for you a respect and es- 
teem, founded upon the character of an affectionate pa- 
rent, a kind master, a candid and benevolent friend, I could 
not suffer different political opinions to obliterate them 


from my mind. I felt the truth of the observation, that 
the heart is long, very long in receiving the conviction 
that is forced upon it by reason. It was not until circum- 
stances occurred to place you in the light of a rewarder 
and encourager of a libeler, whom you could not but 
detest and despise, that I withdrew the esteem I had long 
entertained for you. Nor can you wonder, Sir, that I 
should consider as a personal unkindness, the instance I 
have mentioned. I am pleased to find that which re- 
spected my son altogether unfounded. He was, as you 
conjecture, appointed a commissioner of bankruptcy, to- 
gether with Judge Dawes, and continued to serve in it 
with perfect satisfaction to all parties (at least I never 
heard the contrary), until superseded by the appointment 
of others. The idea suggested that no one was in office, 
and consequently no removal could take place, I cannot 
consider in any other light than what the gentlemen of 
the law would term a quibble as such I pass it. Judge 
Dawes was continued or reappointed, which placed Mr. 
Adams in a more conspicuous light as the object of per- 
sonal resentment. Nor could I, upon this occasion, re- 
frain calling to mind the last visit you made me at 
Washington, when in the course of conversation you 
assured me, that if it should lay in your power at any 
time to serve me or my family, nothing would give you 
more pleasure. With respect to the office, it was a 
small object, but the disposition of the remover was con- 
sidered by me as the barbed arrow. This, however, by 
your declaration, is withdrawn from my mind. With 


the public it will remain. And here, Sir, may I be al- 
lowed to pause, and ask whether, in your ardent desire 
to rectify the mistakes and abuses, as you may term 
them, of the former administrations, you may not be led 
into measures still more fatal to the constitution, and 
more derogatory to your honor and independence of 
character? I know, from the observations which I have 
made, that there is not a more difficult part devolves 
upon a chief magistrate, nor one which subjects him to 
more reproach and censure, than the appointments to 
office. And all the patronage which this enviable power 
gives him is but a poor compensation for the responsibility 
to which it subjects him. It would be well, however, to 
weigh and consider characters, as it respects their moral 
worth and integrity. He who is not true. to himself, nor 
just to others, seeks an office for the benefit of himself, 
unmindful of that of his country. I cannot accord with 
you in opinion that the Constitution ever meant to with- 
hold from the National Government the power of self- 
defence; or that it could be considered an infringement 
of the liberty of the press, to punish the licentiousness of 
it. Time must determine and posterity will judge with 
more candor and impartiality, I hope, than the conflicting 
parties of our day, what measures have best promoted 
the happiness of the people; and what raised them from 
a state of depression and degradation to wealth, honor, 
and reputation ; what has made them affluent at home and 
respected abroad; and to whomsoever the tribute is due, 
to them may it be given. I will not further intrude upon 


your time ; but close this correspondence by my wishes 
that you may be directed to that path which may ter- 
minate in the prosperity and happiness of the people 
over whom you are placed, by administering the gov- 
ernment with justice and impartiality; and be assured, 
Sir, no one will more rejoice in your success than 


(MEMORANDUM subjoined to the copy of this letter, in the handwriting of Mr. 


" QuiNCY, I9//4 November, 1804. 

" The whole of this correspondence was begun and 
conducted without my knowledge or suspicion. Last 
evening and this morning, at the desire of Mrs. Adams, 
I read the whole. I have no remarks to make upon it, 

at this time and in this place. 

"J. ADAMS." 

"A new and strong tie was beginning indeed to bind 
the stately old men together. They were speedily be- 
coming the last of the signers of the Declaration of 
Independence the last of the great actors and leaders 
of 1776. Their common and dearly-loved friend Rush 
had died in April, 1813, after a brief illness." Mr. 
Jefferson wrote to Mr. Adams of this occurrence, and 
said: "Another of our friends of seventy-six is gone, my 
dear sir, another of the co-signers of the independence 
of our country. I believe we are under half a dozen at 
present; I mean the signers of the Declaration. Your- 
self, Gerry, Carroll and myself, are all I know to be 


Appended to a letter from Adams to Jefferson, dated 
July 1 5th, 1813, we find the following: 

"I have been looking for some time for a space in my 
good husband's letters to add the regards of an old 
friend, which are still cherished and preserved through 
all the changes and vicissitudes which have taken place 
since we first became acquainted, and will, I trust, re- 
main as long as 

"A. ADAMS." 

"Neither Mrs. Adams nor her husband ever met 
Mr. Jefferson again, but she had the opportunity, and 
eagerly availed herself of it, to bestow kindly and as- 
siduous attentions on some of his family. 

"She lost none of the imposing features of her char- 
acter in the decline of life. An observing and intelligent 
gentleman who was a guest at Quincy within a year or 
two of her death, has given us a description of his visit. 
Mr. Adams shook as if palsied; but the mind and the 
heart were evidently sound. His spirits seemed as elas- 
tic as a boy's. He joked, laughed heartily, and talked 
about everybody and everything, past and present, with 
the most complete abandon. He seemed to our highly 
educated informant to be a vast encyclopaedia of written 
and unwritten knowledge. It gushed out on every pos- 
sible topic, but was mingled with lively anecdotes and 
sallies, and he exhibited a carelessness in his language 
which suggested anything but pedantry or an attempt at 
'fine talking.' In short, the brave old man was as de- 
lightful as he was commanding in conversation. While 


the guest was deeply enjoying this interview, an aged 
and stately female entered the apartment, and he was 
introduced to Mrs. Adams. A cap of exquisite lace 
surrounded features still exhibiting intellect and energy, 
though they did not wear the appearance of ever having 
been beautiful. Her dress was snowy white, and there 
was that immaculate neatness in her appearance which 
gives to age almost the sweetness of youth. With less 
warmth of manner and sociableness than Mr. Adams, 
she was sufficiently gracious, and her occasional remarks 
betrayed intellectual vigor and strong sense. The 
guest went away feeling that he never again should 
behold such living specimens of the * great of old.' ' 

Mrs. Adams died of an attack of fever, the 28th of 
October, 1818, at the advanced age of seventy-four years. 
" To learning," says her grandson, " in the ordinary sense 
of that term, Mrs. Adams could make no claim. Her 
reading had been extensive in the lighter departments 
of literature, and she was well acquainted with the poets 
in her own language, but it went no further. It is the 
soul, shining through the words, that gives them their 
great attraction ; the spirit ever equal to the occasion, 
whether a great or a small one ; a spirit, inquisitive and 
earnest in the little details of life, as when she was in 
France and England ; playful, when she describes daily 
duties, but rising to the call when the roar of cannon is 
in her ears or when she reproves her husband for not 
knowing her better than to think her a coward and to 
fear telling her bad news." 


"The obsequies of Mrs. Adams were attended by a 
great concourse of people, who voluntarily came to pay 
this last tribute to her memory. Several brief but beau- 
tiful notices of her appeared in the newspapers of the 
day, and a sermon was preached by the late Rev. Dr. 
Kirkland, then President of Harvard University, which 
closed with a delicate and affecting testimony to her 
worth. ' Ye will seek to mourn, bereaved friends/ it 
says, ' as becomes Christians, in a manner worthy of the 
person you lament. You do then bless the Giver of 
Life that the course of your endeared and honored friend 
was so long and so bright ; that she entered so fully 
into the spirit of those injunctions which we have ex- 
plained, and was a minister of blessings to all within her 
influence. You are soothed to reflect that she was sen- 
sible of the many tokens of divine goodness which 
marked her lot ; that she received the good of her exist- 
ence with a cheerful and grateful heart ; that, when called 
to weep, she bore adversity with an equal mind ; that 
she used the world as not abusing it to excess, improving 
well her time, talents and opportunities, and though de- 
sired longer in this world, was fitted for a better happi- 
ness than this world can give.' ' 

Mr. Jefferson, despite the. feeling that he had not been 
understood by Mrs. Adams as he thought he deserved, 
never lost any part of the profound respect and friend- 
ship he entertained for her, and soon as the news of 
her death reached him he wrote as follows to her 
husband : 



" MONTICELLO, November lyk, 1818. 

" The public papers, my dear friend, announce the fatal 
event of which your letter of October the 2Oth had given 
me ominous foreboding. Tried myself in the school of 
affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which 
can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you 
have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have 
yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that 
for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only 
medicine. I will not, therefore, by useless condolences, 
open afresh the sluices of your grief, nor, although 
mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word 
more where words are vain, but that it is of some com- 
fort to us both that the time is not very distant at 
which we are to deposit in the same casement our sor- 
rows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to 
an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and 
lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again. 
God bless you, and support you under your heavy afflic- 


Side by side in the Congregational church in Quincy, 
to which he had given the donation to erect it with, lie 
the mortal remains of Mr. and Mrs. Adams. Within 
the same house, a plain white marble slab, on the right 
hand of the pulpit, surmounted by his bust, bears the 
following inscription, written by his eldest son: 


Libertatem. Amicitiam. Fidem Retinebis. 

D. O. M. 

Beneath these walls, 
Are deposited the mortal remains of 


Son of John and Susanna (Boylston) Adams, 

Second President of the United States, 

Born October, 1735. 

On the fourth of July, 1776, 

He pledged his life, fortune, and sacred honour, 

To the Independence of his country. 

On the third of September, 1783, 
He affixed his seal to the definitive treaty with Great Britain, 

Which acknowledged that independence, 
And consummated the redemption of his pledge. 
On the fourth of July, 1826, 

He was summoned 
To the Independence of Immortality 

And to the judgment of his God. 

This house will bear witness to his piety; 

This Town, his birth-place, to his munificence ; 

History to his patriotism ; 
Posterity to the depth and compass of his mind, 

At his side, 
Sleeps, till the trump shall sound, 


His beloved and only wife, 
Daughter of William and Elizabeth (Quincy) Smith. 

In every relation of life a pattern 
of filial, conjugal, maternal, and social virtue. 
Born November , 1744, 
Deceased 28 October, 1818, 

Aged 74. 
Married 25 October, 1764. 


During an union of more than half a century 
They survived, in harmony of sentiment, principle and affection, 

The tempests of civil commotion. 
Meeting undaunted and surmounting 
The terrors and trials of that revolution, 
Which secured the freedom of their country ; 
Improved the condition of their times; 
And brightened the prospects of futurity 
To the race of man upon earth. 

Pilgrim ! 

From lives thus spent thy earthly duties learn : 
From fancy's dreams to active virtue turn : 
Let freedom, friendship, faith, thy soul engage, 
And serve, like them, thy country and thy age. 



MRS. JEFFERSON had been dead nineteen years when, 
in 1 80 1, President Jefferson took possession of the 
White House, and there was, strictly speaking, no lady 
of the mansion during his term. His daughters were 
with him in Washington only twice during his eight 
years' stay, and he held no formal receptions as are 
customary now; and being of the French school of 
democratic politics, professed a dislike of all ceremoni- 
ous visitors. 

On the ist day of January, 1772, Mr. Jefferson was 
married to Mrs. Martha Skelton, widow of Bathurst 
Skelton, and daughter of John Wayles, of "the Forest," 
in Charles City County. 

Mr. Lossing, in his very interesting book of the 
Revolution, gives a fac-simile of Mr. Jefferson's mar- 
riage license bond, drawn up in his own handwriting, 
which the former found in a bundle of old papers in 
Charles City Court House while searching for records 
of Revolution events. " Mrs. Skelton was remarkable 
for her beauty, her accomplishments, and her solid 
merit. In person she was a little above medium height, 
slightly but exquisitely formed. Her complexion was 
brilliant her large expressive eyes of the richest tinge 

of auburn. She walked, rode, and danced with admir- 



able grace and spirits sang and played the spinet and 
harpsichord [the musical instruments of the Virginia 
ladies of that day] with uncommon skill. The more 
solid parts of her education had not been neglected." 
She was also well read and intelligent, conversed agree- 
ably, possessed excellent sense and a lively play of 
fancy, and had a frank, warm-hearted and somewhat 
impulsive disposition. She was twenty-three years of 
age at the time of her second marriage, and had been 
a widow four years. Her only child she lost in infancy. 
Tradition, says Randall, has preserved one anecdote 
of the wooers who sought her hand. It has two ren- 
derings, and the reader may choose between them. 
The first is that two of Mr. Jefferson's rivals happened 
to meet on Mrs. Skelton's door-stone. They were 
shown into a room from which they heard her harpsi- 
chord and voice, accompanied by Mr. Jefferson's violin 
and voice, in the passages of a touching song. They 
listened for a stanza or two. Whether something in 
the words, or in the tones of the singers appeared sug- 
gestive to them, tradition does not say, but it does aver 
that they took their hats and retired to return no more 
on the same errand ! The other, and, we think, less 
probable version of the story is, that the three met on 
the door-stone, and agreed that they would "take turns" 
and that the interviews should be made decisive; and 
that by lot or otherwise Mr. Jefferson led off, and that 
then during his trial they heard the music that they con- 
cluded settled the point. After the bridal festivities at 


the Forest, Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson set out for Mon- 
ticello, and they were destined to meet some not exactly 
amusing adventures by the way. A manuscript of their 
eldest daughter (Mrs. Randolph) furnished Mr. Randall 
by one of her granddaughters and published in his 
"Life of Jefferson" says: "They left the Forest after a 
fall of snow, light then, but increasing in depth as they 
advanced up the country. They were finally obliged to 
quit the carriage and proceed on horseback. Having 
stopped for a short time at Blenheim (the residence of 
Colonel Carter) where an overseer only resided, they 
left it at sunset to pursue their way through a mountain 
track rather than a road, in which the snow lay from 
eighteen inches to two feet deep, having eight miles to 
go before reaching Monticello. 

"They arrived late at night, the fires all out and the 
servants retired to their own houses for the night. The 
horrible dreariness of such a house, at the end of such 
a journey, I have often heard them both relate." Part 
of a bottle of wine, found on a shelf behind some 
books, had to serve the new-married couple both for 
fire and supper. Tempers too sunny to be ruffled by 
many ten times as serious annoyances in after life, now 
found but sources of diversion in these ludicrous contre- 
temps, and the horrible dreariness was lit up with songs, 
and merriment and laughter. 

Nine years afterward, Mrs. Jefferson, the mother of 
five children, was slowly declining, and her husband, 
refusing a mission to Europe on that account, deter- 


mined to give up all other duties to soothe and sustain 
her. She had borne her fifth child in November, and 
when it was two anonths old, she had fled with it in her 
arms as Arnold approached Richmond. "The British 
General Tarleton sent troops to capture Governor Jef- 
ferson, who was occupied in securing his most important 
papers. While thus engaged, his wife and children were 
taken in a carriage, under the care of a young gentle- 
man who was studying with him, to Colonel Coles, 
fourteen miles distant. Monticello was captured (if a 
residence occupied by unresisting servants may be said 
to be captured), and the house searched, though not 
sacked by the enemy. Many of the negroes were 
taken, and but five ever returned, while the greater part 
of those left behind sank under the epidemics raging at 
the time. The house was robbed of nothing save a few 
articles in the cellar, the farm was stripped of valuable 
horses, and many thousand dollars' worth of grain and 
tobacco. An anecdote is told of two of Mr. Jefferson's 
slaves Martin and Caesar, who were left in charge of 
the house and were engaged in secreting plate and 
other valuables under the floor of the front portico, 
when a party of British soldiers arrived. The floor was 
then of planks. One of these was raised, and Martin 
stood above handing down articles to Caesar, in the 
cellar improvised by the faithful slaves in the emer- 
gency. While he was finishing his packing, Martin 
heard the tramp of horses' feet, and looking in the 
direction indicated saw the red coats coming. For 



Caesar to get out was to inform the British where the 
valuables they were trying to save were secreted, and 
without a word of warning the plank was put down. 
Caesar understood the sudden action to mean danger, 
and very soon he knew by the noise overhead that the 
enemy had come. For eighteen hours he remained in ' 
the dark hole, and was not released until Martin was 
sure of the departure of the last one of the raiders." 

In April, the loss of her infant, together with constant 
anxiety for the safety of her husband, shattered the 
remaining strength of Mrs. Jefferson. Toward the close 
of 1781, she rallied. Her last child was born the 8th 
pf May, 1782. Greater apprehensions than usual had 
preceded the event and they were fatally verified. The 
delicate constitution was irrevocably sapped. "A mo- 
mentary hope for her might sometimes flutter in the 
bosom of her lonely husband, but it was in reality a 
hope against hope, and he knew it to be so. That 
association which had been the first joy of his life, which 
blent itself with all his future visions of happiness, which 
was to be the crowning glory of that delightful retreat 
he was forming, and which was to shed mellow radiance 
over the retirement to which he was fondly looking 
forward, was now to end; and it was only a question of 
weeks, or, possibly, months, how soon it would end. 
Mrs. Jefferson had returned her husband's affection, 
with not only the fervor of a woman whose dream of 
love and pride (for what woman is not proud of the 
world's estimation of her husband?) has been more than 


gratified, but with the idolatrous gratitude of a wife who 
knew how often that husband had cast away the most 
tempting honors without a sigh, when her own feeble 
health had solicited his presence and attentions. And 
now, as the dreadful hour of parting approached, her 
affection became painfully, almost wildly absorbing. The 
faithful daughter of the church had no dread of the 
hereafter, but she yearned to remain with her husband 
with that yearning which seems to have power to retard 
even the approaches of death. Her eyes ever rested 
on him, ever followed him. When he spoke, no other 
sound could reach her ear or attract her attention. 
When she waked from slumber, she looked momentarily 
alarmed and distressed, and ever appeared to be fright- 
ened, if the customary form was not bending over her, 
the customary look upon her. For weeks Mr. Jefferson 
sat at that bedside, only catching brief intervals of rest." 

She died on the 6th of September. Her eldest 
daughter, Mrs. Randolph, many years afterward, said 
of the sad scene: " He nursed my poor mother in turn 
with Aunt Carr and her own sister, sitting up with her 
and administering her medicines and drink to the last. 
For four months that she lingered, he was never out of 
calling ; when not at her bedside he was writing in a 
small room which opened immediately into hers." 

To her were denied the honors that later in life 
crowned the brow of her gifted hi;:- band. Had she 
survived, no more pleasant life could have been traced 
than this gentle, cultivated woman's. Hers was no 


passive nature, swayed by every passing breeze, but a 
loving, strong heart, a rare and gifted intellect, culti- 
vated by solid educational advantages, experience, and 
the society of the greatest statesman and scholar of his 
day. In the midst of all happiness, vouchsafed to hu- 
manity, she died ; and her husband, faithful to her 
memory, devoted himself to their children, and lived 
and died her lonely-hearted mourner. 

Martha Jefferson, after the death of her mother, was 
placed at school in Philadelphia, at the age of eleven 
years, where she remained until her father took her, in 
1784, to Europe. His other two daughters, being too 
young for such a journey, were left with their maternal 
aunt, Mrs. Eppes, wife of Francis Eppes, Esquire, of 
Eppington, Chesterfield County, Virginia. Mary, the 
second of his surviving children, was six years old, and 
Lucy Elizabeth, the third, was two years old. The latter 
died before the close of 1 784. The child of sorrow and 
misfortune, her organization was too frail and too in- 
tensely susceptible to last long. Her sensibilities were 
so precociously acute, that she listened with exquisite 
pleasure to music, and wept on hearing a false note. 

After a short period of sight-seeing, Martha Jefferson 
.was placed at a convent, and continued to reside there 
during her father's stay in Europe. In July, 1787, "the 
long-expected Mary (called Marie in France, and 
thenceforth through life, Marie) reached London." She 
had crossed the Atlantic with simply a servant girl, 
though doubtless they were both intrusted to the charge 


of some passenger friend, or some known and trusted 
ship commander, whom we do not find named. They 
were received by Mrs. Adams, and awaited an expected 
opportunity of crossing the Channel with a party of 
French friends of Mr. Jefferson. These continued to 
defer their return, and Mr. Jefferson became too im- 
patient to await their movements. Accordingly, his 
steward, the favorite and trusty Petit, was sent to Lon- 
don after Marie, and she reached her father's hotel in 
Paris, on the 2Qth of July, just three days before her 
ninth birthday. 

Mrs. Adams thus describes her little guest, immediately 
after her departure, in a letter to her sister, Mrs. Cranch, 
of Massachusetts : 

" I have had with me for a fortnight a little daughter 
of Mr. Jefferson's, who arrived here with a young negro 
girl, her servant, from Virginia. Mr. Jefferson wrote me 
some months ago that he expected them, and desired me 
to receive them. I did so, and was amply rewarded for 
my trouble. A finer child of her age I never saw. So 
mature an understanding, so womanly a behavior, and 
so much sensibility, united, are rarely to be met with. * I 
grew so fond of her, and she was so attached to me, that 
when Mr. Jefferson sent for her, they were obliged to 
force the little creature away. She is but eight years 
old. She would sit, sometimes, and describe to me the 
parting with her aunt, who brought her up,* the obliga- 
tions she was under to her, and the love she had for her 

* Mrs. Francis Eppes, of Eppington, Va. 


little cousins, till the tears would stream down her cheeks ; 
and how I had been her friend, and she loved me. Her 
papa would break her heart by making her go again. 
She clung round me so that I could not help shedding a 
tear at parting with her. She was the favorite of every 
one in the house. I regret that such fine spirits must be 
spent in the walls of a convent. She is a beautiful girl, 

Marie (for so we shall henceforth call her, unless when 
adopting her father's sobriquet of Polly) was soon placed 
with Martha in the school of the Abbaye de Panthemont. 
Martha had now grown into a tall, graceful girl, with that 
calm, sweet face, stamped with thought and earnestness, 
which, with the traces of many more years on it, and the 
noble dignity of the matron superadded, beams down 
from the speaking canvas of Sully. The most dutiful 
of daughters, the most attentive of learners, possessing 
a solid understanding, a judgment ripe beyond her years, 
a most gentle and genial temper, and an unassuming 
modesty of demeanor, which neither the distinction of her 
position, nor the flatteries that afterward surrounded 
heV, ever wore off in the least degree, she was the idol 
of her father and family, and the delight of all who knew 

The little Marie has been sufficiently described by 
Mrs. Adams. " Slighter in person than her sister, she 
already gave indications of a superior beauty. It was that 
exquisite beauty possessed by her mother that beauty 
which the experienced learn to look upon with dread, 


because it betrays a physical organization too delicately 
fine to withstand the rough shocks of the world." 


In April, an incident of an interesting character oc- 
curred in Mr. Jefferson's family. His oldest daughter, 
as has been seen, had been educated in the views and 
feelings of the Church of England. Her mother had 
zealously moulded her young mind in that direction. 
Her father had done nothing certainly, by word or act, 
to divert it from that channel ; and it had flowed on, for 
aught Martha knew or suspected to the contrary, with 
his full approbation. If she had then been called upon 
to state what were her father's religious beliefs, she would 
have declared that her impressions were that he leaned 
to the tenets of the church to which his family belonged. 
The daring and flippant infidelity now rife in French so- 
ciety, disgusted the earnest, serious, naturally reverential 
girl. The calm seclusion of Panthemont, its examples 
of serene and holy life, its intellectual associations, wooed 
her away from the turmoil and glare and wickedness and 
eruptions without. After meditating on the subject for 
a time, she wrote to her father for his permission to re- 
main in a convent, and to dedicate herself to the duties 
of a religious life. 


For a day or two she received no answer. Then his 
carriage rolled up to the door of the Abbaye, and poor 
Martha met her father in a fever of doubts and fears. 
Never was his smile more benignant and gentle. He 
had a private interview with the Abbess. He then told 
his daughters he had come for them. They stepped into 


his carriage, it rolled away, and Martha's school life was 
ended. Henceforth she was introduced into society, and 
presided, so far as was appropriate to her age, as the 
mistress of her father's household. Neither he nor 
Martha ever, after her first letter on the subject, made 
the remotest allusion to each other to her request to 
enter a convent. She spoke of it freely in after years, to 
her children, and always expressed her full approbation 
of her father's course on the occasion. She always spoke 
of her early wish as rather the dictate of a transient sen- 
timent than a fixed conviction of religious duty; and she 
warmly applauded the quick and gentle way which her 
father took to lead her back to her family, her friends, 
and her country. Mr. Jefferson left the shores of Europe 
with his two daughters the 28th of October, 1789, and 
the following February Martha was married to Thomas 
Mann Randolph, Jr., who had been a ward of her father's. 
"The young people were cousins, and had been attached 
to each other from childhood. He was tall, lean, with 
dark, expressive features and a flashing eye, commanding 
in carriage, elastic as steel, and had that sudden sinewy 
strength which it would not be difficult to fancy he in- 
herited from the forest monarchs of Virginia." 

On his return home, Mr. Jefferson was immediately 
tendered, and accepted a position in President Washing- 
ton's cabinet, and made his home in New York and 
afterward in Philadelphia until his withdrawal from public 

Mr. Jefferson was elected Vice-President on the ticket 


with President John Adams, and at the end of this ad- 
ministration he was elected to fill the first position in the 
gift of the nation. On the fourth of March, 1801, he was 
inaugurated President of the United States. His daugh- 
ter Martha was living at her husband's country home 
near Monticello, the mother of several children, and 
Marie, who had previously married Mr. Eppes, of 
Eppington, was happily situated at Monticello, awaiting 
her father's promised visit in early summer. 

Sir Augustus Foster, who was Secretary of Lega- 
tion at Washington to the British Minister, Mr. Merry, 
has given some rather entertaining accounts of the 
state of society there in the time of Jefferson. "In 
going to assemblies, one had to drive three or four 
miles within the city bounds, and very often at the risk 
of an overturn, or of being what is termed stalled, or 
stuck in the mud, when one can neither go backward 
nor forward, and either loses one's shoes or one's 
patience. Cards were a great resource of an evening, 
and gaming was all the fashion, for the men who fre- 
quented society were chiefly from Virginia or the West- 
ern States, and were very fond of brag, the most gam- 
bling of all games. Loo was the innocent diversion of 
the ladies, who when they were looed, pronounced the 
word in a very mincing manner. 

"The New Englanders, generally speaking, were very 
religious, but though there were many exceptions, I 
cannot say so much for the Marylanders, and still less 
for the Virginians. But in spite of its inconveniences 


and desolate aspect, it was, I think, the most agreeable 
town to reside in for any length of time. The oppor- 
tunity of collecting information from Senators and Rep- 
resentatives from all parts of the country the hospi- 
tality of the heads of the Government and the Corps 
Diplomatique of itself supplied resources such as could 
nowhere else be looked for." 

In Mr. Jefferson's time^ the population numbered 
about five thousand persons, and their residences were 
scattered over an immense space. Society presented a 
novel aspect; unconnected by similarity of habits, by 
established fashions, by the ties of acquaintance or con- 
sanguinity, the motley throng became united into one 
close and intimate circle by a feeling common to all; 
they were strangers in a strange land, and felt the 
necessity of mutual aid and accommodation, and might 
be compared to a beautiful piece of mosaic, in which 
an infinity of separate pieces of diversified colors are 
blended into one harmonious whole. Mr. Jefferson, 
many years after his retirement from public life, recur- 
ring to that time, remarked to a friend that the peculiar 
felicity of his administration was the unanimity that 
prevailed in his Cabinet; "we were," said he, "like one 
family." The same spirit of union and kindness per- 
vaded the whole circle of society a circle at that time 
very limited in its extent and very simple in its habits. 
The most friendly and social intercourse prevailed 
through all its parts, unshackled by that etiquette and 
ceremony which have since been introduced, to the no 


small detriment of social enjoyment. The President's 
house was the seat of hospitality, where Mrs. Madison 
always presided (in the absence of Mr. Jefferson's 
daughters) when there were female guests. Mrs. 
Madison and her husband spent three weeks at the 
White House after their arrival in the city, until they 
could make arrangements to obtain a suitable house. 
President Jefferson abolished the custom of holding' 
levees which Mrs. Washington had introduced, and the 
fashionable people of the city did not like the innova- 
tion. The ladies in particular were opposed to it, and 
they made up their minds to muster in force at the Presi- 
dential Mansion at the usual time. They accordingly 
did so, and the President received them as they found 
him, hat in hand, spurs on his feet, and clothing covered 
with dust just after a long ride on horseback. He wel- 
comed his guests heartily, did what he could to make 
their call agreeable, but it was not repeated. His op- 
position to levees was said to be due to the fact that he 
was democratic in his ideas and thought them unsuited 
to American institutions. But the fact that there was 
no lady to preside over them was doubtless one of his 

In March, 1802, Mr. Jefferson wrote to his youngest 
daughter that he would be at home between the I5th 
and 2oth of April, and that he wished her to be pre- 
pared to go back to Washington with him and her sis- 
ter; but Congress did not adjourn as he expected, and 
he did not get off until the first of May. The measles 


broke out in the family of Mrs. Randolph, and she did 
not go to Washington. The same cause prevented 
Mrs. Eppes from seeing her father, but during the sum- 
mer months he was at Monticello as usual. 

From the letters of Mr. Jefferson of November and 
December to his youngest daughter, we find him ad- 
vising her to have good spirits and profit by her sister's 
cheerfulness. "We are all well here," he says, "and 
hope the post of this evening will bring us information 
of the health of all at Edgehill, and particularly that 
Martha and the new bantling are both well; and that 
her example gives you good spirits." "Take care of 
yourself, my dearest Marie, and know that courage is 
as essential to triumph in your case as in that of a 
soldier. * * * Not knowing the time destined for 
your expected indisposition, I am anxious on your ac- 
count. You are prepared to meet it with courage, I 
hope." And again he writes: 

"WASHINGTON, March 3, 1804. 

"The account of your illness, my dearest Marie, was 
known to me only this morning. Nothing but the im- 
possibility of Congress proceeding a single step in my 
absence, presents an insuperable bar. Mr. Eppes goes 
off, and, I hope, will find you in a convalescent state. 
Next to the desire that it may be so, is that of being 
speedily informed and of being relieved from the terri- 
ble anxiety in which I shall be till I hear from you. God 
bless you, my ever dear daughter, and preserve you 
safe to the blessing of us all." 


But she was not preserved: frail and sensitive, her 
nervous system gave way, and she died on the i yth of 
April, little more than a month after her father's letter 
was written, leaving to her sister's care her children, the 
youngest of whom was a young infant. Her niece in 
writing of her some years later said: "She had been 
delicate and something of an invalid, if I remember right, 
for some years. She was carried to Monticello from 
her home in a litter borne by men. The distance was 
perhaps four miles, and she bore the removal well. 
After this, however, she continued as before steadily to 
decline. She was taken out when the weather permitted, 
and carried around the lawn in a carriage, I think 
drawn by men, and I remember following the carriage 
over the smooth green turf. How long she lived I do 
not recollect, but it could have been but a, short time. 
One morning I heard that my aunt was dying; I crept 
softly from my nursery to her chamber door, and being 
alarmed by her short, hard breathing, ran away again. 
I have a distinct recollection of confusion and dismay in 
the household. I did not see ,my mother. By-and-by 
one of the female servants came running in where I was 
with other persons, to say that Mrs. Eppes was dead. 
The day passed I do not know how. Late in the after- 
noon I was taken to the death-chamber. The body was 
covered with a white cloth, over which had been strewn 
a profusion of flowers. A day or two after, I followed 
the coffin to the burying-ground on the mountain side, 
and saw it consigned to the earth, where it has lain un- 
disturbed for more than fifty years. 


"My mother has told me that on the day of her sister's 
death, she left her father alone for some hours. He 
then sent for her, and she found him with the Bible in 
his hands. He who has been so often and so harshly 
accused of unbelief, he, in his hour of intense affliction, 
sought and found consolation in the sacred volume. 
The Comforter was there for his true heart and devout 
spirit, even though his faith might not be what the world 
called orthodox. 

"There was something very touching in the sight of 
this once beautiful and still lovely young woman, fading 
away just as the spring was coming on with its buds 
and blossoms nature reviving as she was sinking and 
closing her eyes on all that she loved best in life. She 
perished not in autumn with the flowers, but as they 
were opening to the sun and air in all the freshness of 
spring. I think the weather was fine, for over my own 
recollection of these times there is a soft, dreamy sort 
of haze, such as wraps the earth in warm, dewy, spring 

"You know enough of my aunt's early history to be 
aware that she did not accompany her father, as my 
mother did, when he first went to France. She joined 
him, I think, only about two years before his return, and 
was placed in the same convent where my mother re- 
ceived her education. Here she went by the name of 
Mademoiselle Polie. As a child she was called Polly by 
her friends. It was on her way to Paris that she stayed 
a while in London with Mrs. Adams, and there is a 
pleasing mention of her in that lady's published letters. 


"I think the visit (not a very long one) made by my 
mother and aunt to their father in Washington, must 
have been in the winter of 18023. My aunt, I believe, 
was never there again; but after her death, about the 
winter of 1805-6, my mother, with all her children, passed 
some time at the President's House. I remember that 
both my father and uncle Eppes were then in Congress, 
but cannot say whether this was the case in 1802-3." 

Ever delighting in the society of his two children and 
deeply attached to his home, Mr. Jefferson felt this blow 
with terrible anguish. Worthy of so good a man's af- 
fection, they were never so happy as in being with their 
father, contributing to his comfort in numberless ways. 
They both married cousins when quite young, but were 
never far from their childhood's home, and were always 
under his roof when he paid his semi-annual visits there. 
Mrs. Randolph was a brilliant woman; and had her 
tastes been less inclined to domestic life, she would 
have been a renowned belle. Educated abroad and 
strengthened mentally by travel and the society of the 
literary talent ever to be found about her father, she be- 
came conversant with knowledge's richest store, and 
surpassed most of the women of her day in accomplish- 
ments. Though widely different in other respects, there 
was much resemblance between the President and Vice- 
President in the intensity of their love for their daugh- 
ters. Theodosia Burr and Martha Jefferson will be 
familiar names so long as the history of this country, 
shall be amone the things of earth. Both intellectual 


companions of their only parents, both ardently attached 
to fathers they deemed the wisest and greatest of earth 
they have become forever linked with the life and 
times of each, and covers for the one a multitude of 
faults, and has made the other dear to his people. Both 
were great men, adored by daughters gifted and good. 
Theodosia Burr has thrown around her father's name a 
romantic interest which veils many infirmities, and adds 
lustre to the traits which in the eyes of the world re- 
deemed him. 

Mrs. Adams, who had known Maria Jefferson and 
loved her when a child, overcame the pride she had al- 
lowed to control her silent pen, and wrote to Mr. Jeffer- 
son, awakening in his heart tender feelings of friendship 
too long allowed to lie dormant. He replied that her 
former kindnesses to his lost child made a deep impres- 
sion on her mind, and that to the last, on our meetings 
after long separations, " whether I had heard lately of 
you," and " how you did," were among the earliest of her 
inquiries. Mrs. Adams' letter was as follows : 

"QuiNCY, 20//& May, 1804. 

" Had you been no other than the private inhabitants 
of Monticello, I should, ere this time, have addressed you 
with that sympathy which a recent event has awakened 
in my bosom ; but reasons of various kinds withheld my 
pen, until the powerful feelings of my heart burst through 
the restraint, and called upon me to shed the tear of sor- 
row over the departed remains of your beloved and de- 
serving daughter an event which I sincerely mourn. 


" The attachment which I formed for her when you 
committed her to my care, upon her arrival in a foreign 
land, under circumstances peculiarly interesting-, has re- 
mained with me to this hour : and the account of her 
death, which I read in a late paper, recalled to my recol- 
lection the tender scene of her separation from me, when, 
with the strongest sensibility, she clung round my neck, 
and wet my bosom with her tears, saying, ' Oh ! now I 
have learned to love you, why will they take me from you ? ' 

" It has been some time since I conceived that any 
event in this life could call forth feelings of mutual sym- 
pathy. But I know how closely entwined around a 
parent's heart are those cords which bind the paternal to 
the filial bosom ; and, when snapped asunder, how ago- 
nizing the pangs. I have tasted of the bitter cup, and 
bow with reverence and submission before the great 
Dispenser of it, without whose permission and overruling 
providence not a sparrow falls to the ground. That you 
may derive comfort and consolation in this day of your 
sorrow and affliction from that only source calculated to 
heal the wounded heart a firm belief in the being, per- 
fection and attributes of God is the sincere and ardent 
wish of her who once took pleasure in subscribing her- 
self your friend, "ABIGAIL ADAMS." 

Mr. Jefferson was inaugurated President a second time 
on the 4th of March, 1805, then in the sixty-second year 
of his age. The following winter his only daughter, with 
all her children, passed most of the season in Wash- 



ington. She never made but two visits there ; one with 
her sister, the second year of his first term, and this 
last one in the winter of 1805-6, after her sister's death. 
Means of travel were not so rapid or pleasant as now, 
and the laborious and extremely tedious undertaking" of 
travelling so far in a carriage was sufficient to dampen 
the desire of living for a few alternate months with her 
father. The unhealthy condition of Washington at that 
time, its low and marshy condition, engendering disease, 
rendered it absolutely necessary for those unacclimated 
to be out of its limits during the hot months of summer. 
The increasing cares of children and the duties of Vir- 


ginia matrons also deterred Mrs. Randolph from be- 
coming, as we must only regret she did not, permanently 
located in the President's House. 

Her memory is so fragrant with the perfume of purity 
and saintly sweetness, that it is a privilege to dwell and 
muse upon a theme so elevating. The world has not 
yet developed a more harmonious, refined or superior 
type of womanhood than the daughters of Virginia in 
the last century. Reared in ease and plenty, taught the 
virtues that ennoble, and valuing their good name no 
less than prizing their family lineage, they were the most 
delightful specimens of womanhood ever extant. Most 
particularly was Martha Jefferson of this class, whose 
image is fast losing originality in the modern system of 
utilitarian education. Her father's and her husband's 
great enemy pronounced her " the sweetest woman in 
Virginia;; '\and the assurance comes laden with the tes- 


timony of many tongues, that her existence was one of 
genial sunshine and peace. Are not such natures doubly 
blessed, first, in the happiness they secure to themselves, 
and, secondly, in the blessing they are to those who walk 
in the light of their example ? With the retirement of 
Mr. Jefferson from public life, came a new trouble in the 
shape of innumerable visitors, and the seventeen years 
he lived at Monticello was one continued scene of new 
faces and old friends. Even after the loss of property 
and accumulated debts, he was compelled to entertain 
thoughtless crowds who made pilgrimages to his shrine. 
Time and again he would go to an adjoining estate to 
secure that rest and quiet so essential to his health ; but 
these visits were never of long duration, for he could 
not consent to be separated from his daughter, even 
though accompanied by his grandchildren. As the 
shadows began to darken round his earth-life, and bank- 
ruptcy to hover over him, he turned with redoubled 
affection to this idol, and she was strong and faithful to 


the last. Mother and sister she had buried, and she 
was yet strong enough to see her husband and father 

" There were few eminent men of our country who did 
not visit Mr. Jefferson in his retirement, to say nothing 
of distinguished foreigners." But all visitors v were not 
as agreeable as "eminent men." "There are a number 
of persons now living who have seen groups of titter 
strangers, of both sexes, planted in the passage between 
his study and dining-room, consulting their watches, and 


waiting for him to pass from one to the other to his 
dinner, so that they could momentarily stare at him. A 
female once punched through a window-pane of the house 
with her parasol to get a better view of him. When 
sitting in the shade of his porticoes to enjoy the 
coolness of the approaching evening, parties of men 
and women would sometimes approach within a dozen 
yards, and gaze at him point-blank until they had 
looked their fill, as they would have gazed on a lion in a 

Mrs. Randolph was "the apple of her father's eye." 
All* his letters bear witness to his affection, and all his 
life records this prominent sentiment of his heart. A 
gentleman writing to him for his views on a proper 
course of education for woman, he takes the opportunity 
of complimenting her unconsciously. "A plan of female 
education," he says, "has never been a subject of syste- 
matic contemplation with me. It has occupied my atten- 
tion so far only as the education of my own daughters 
occasionally required. Considering that they would be 
placed in a country situation where little aid could be 
obtained from abroad, I thought it essential to give them 
a solid education, which might enable them when be- 
come mothers to educate their own daughters, and even 
to direct the course for sons, should their fathers be lost, 
or incapable, or inattentive. 

" My surviving daughter accordingly, the mother of 
many daughters as well as sons, has made their educa- 
tion the object of her life, and being a better judge of 

JULY 4TH, 1826. 149 

the practical part than myself, it is with her aid and 
that of one of her eleves, that I shall subjoin a catalogue 
of the books for such a course of reading as we have 

Again, in a letter to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson 
Randolph, he says : 

" You kindly encourage me to keep up my spirits ; but 
oppressed with disease, debility, age and embarrassed 
affairs, this is difficult. For myself, I should not regard 
a prostration of fortune ; but I am overwhelmed at the 
prospect of the situation in which I may leave my 
family. My dear and beloved daughter, the cherished 
companion of my early life, and nurse of my age, and 
her children, rendered as dear to me as if my own, from 
having lived with me from their cradle, left in a comfort- 
less situation, hold up to me nothing but future gloom; 
and I should not care were life to end with the line I am 
writing, were it not that in the unhappy state of mind 
which your father's misfortunes have brought upon him, 
I may yet be of some avail to the family." 

Ex-President Jefferson died the 4th of July, 1826, and 
at nearly the same hour passed away the spirit of John 
Adams. He lingered a little behind Jefferson, and his 
last words, uttered in the failing articulation of the 
dying, were : "Jefferson still survives/' Mrs. Randolph 
left no written account of the scene. On the 2d of July, 
Mr. Jefferson handed her a little casket. On opening 
it, after his death, she found a paper on which he had 
written the lines of Moore, commencing 


" It is not the tear at this moment shed 
When the cold turf has just been lain o'er him " 

There is also a touching- tribute to his daughter, de- 
claring that while he "goes to his fathers," "the last 
pang of life" is in parting from her; that "two seraphs" 
" long shrouded in death " (meaning doubtless his wife 
and younger daughter) " await him ; " that he will " bear 
them her love." 

After this all is sadness. To satisfy creditors, all the 
property was sold, and the proceeds did not fully meet 
the debts. 

"When it became known that Monticello had gone, 
or must go out of the hands of Mr. Jefferson's family, 
and that his only child was left without an independent 
provision, another exhibition of public feeling took place. 
The Legislatures of South Carolina and Louisiana 
promptly voted her $10,000 each, and the stocks they 
created for the purpose sold for $21,800. Other plans 
were started in other States, which, had they been car- 
ried out, would have embraced a liberal provision for 
Mr. Jefferson's descendants. But, as is usual on such 
occasions, the people in each locality obtained exagger- 
ated impressions of what was doing in others, and slack- 
ened their own exertions until the feeling that prompted 
them died away." 

Two years passed, and Mrs. Randolph was called 
upon to see her husband die, and she of all her name re- 
mained to link the memory of her ancestors with those 
of her descendants. 


To her daughter, Mrs. Virginia Jefferson Trist, I am 
indebted for this narrative of the closing eight years of 
Mrs. Randolph's life : 


" I wish it were in my power to answer your inquiries 
more satisfactorily than I am able to do. My recol- 
lections of my mother, at so early a period of my life as 
the one referred to, are altogether childish and imperfect. 
It is true, my very earliest recollections are connected 
with a winter passed in the White House during my 
grandfather's Presidency, but they are so few and so 
scanty and childish, as they rise before me in the mists 
of long past years, that really nothing worth offering 
you suggests itself to my mind. 

"My mother was born in September, 1772, and had 
therefore entered her 2gth year when her father was 
elected President. She was then the mother of five 
children, having married at the early age of seventeen. 
Thus surrounded by a family of young children, she 
could not pass much of her time in Washington ; she did, 
however, spend two winters there, the first in 18023, 
the second in 1805-6. Her health was very bad on the 
first of these two occasions of her visiting her father. 
Having an abscess on her lungs, she was advised by her 
physician to go to pass the winter in Bermuda, and for 
this purpose left her home in Albemarle, Virginia, to go 
as far as Washington in her travelling carriage the 
only mode at that day of making the journey of four 


days' duration. During this journey the abscess broke, 
and she felt so much relieved that her going to Bermuda 
was no longer considered necessary, and she passed that 
winter with her father. I believe my father was in Con- 
gress at that time. My mother's only sister, Marie Jef- 
ferson, then Mrs. John W. Eppes, was also a member of 
her father's family that winter, her husband being in 
Congress. There was a difference of six years in the 
ages of the sisters ; my mother, who was the oldest, had 
accompanied her father to France, where she was edu- 
cated under his eyes. My aunt had afterward followed 
them to Paris under the wing of Mrs. John Adams, in 
whose correspondence mention is made of her. The 
three became thus reunited only two years before their 
return home, after which she (my aunt) was placed at 
school in Philadelphia. She grew up possessed of rare 
beauty and loveliness of person as well as disposition ; 
but her health was delicate, and her natural modesty 
and timidity was so great as to make her averse to so- 
ciety. Undervaluing her own personal advantages, she 
regarded with the warmest admiration, as well as sisterly 
affection, her sister's more positive character and bril- 
liant intellectual endowments. My mother was not a 
beauty; her features were less regular than her sister's, 
her face owing its charms more to its expressiveness, 
beaming as it ever was with kindness, good humor, gayety 
and wit. She was tall and very graceful, notwithstand- 
ing a certain degree of embonpoint. Her complexion 
naturally fair, her hair of a dark chestnut color, very long 


and very abundant. I have always heard that her man- 
ners were uncommonly attractive from their vivacity, 
amiability, and high breeding, and her conversation was 
charming. These two sisters were the ladies of the 
White House in 1802-3. My mother was very sociable 
and enjoyed society. I remember hearing her mention a 
circumstance which seemed to illustrate the natural dif- 
ference of their characters. She said one day, laughingly, 
' Marie, if I had your beauty, I should not feel so indif- 
ferent as you do about it.' My aunt looked vexed and 
pained, and observed, * Compliments to a pretty face 
were indications that no intellectual attractions existed 
in its possessor.' 

"From their contemporary, Mrs. Madison, I have 
heard, that that winter when the sisters were going 
together into society, although on entering a room all 
eyes were turned on the younger, who became a centre 
of attraction, particularly to the gentlemen, that by 
degrees my mother's vivacity and the charms of her 
conversation and manners drew around her a circle of 
admirers who delighted in listening to her even more 
than in looking at her beautiful sister. These two sis- 
ters lived in perfect harmony, linked together by the 
warmest mutual affection, as well as their common de- 
votion to their father, whom both idolized. 

"My mother's second visit to her father was in the 
winter of 1805-6. She had then lost her sister. My 
aunt left two children, Francis and 'Maria Jefferson; the 
little girl was only a few months old and did not long 


survive her mother. Francis passed that winter under 
my mother's care, his father being still in Congress. 
One of my brothers was born that same winter; the first 
birth which took place in the White House. He was 
called James Madison. Mrs. Madison was an intimate 
and much valued friend of my mother's, and her amiable, 
playful manners with children attracted my sisters and 
myself and made her a great favorite with us. Among 
my childish recollections is her 'running away with us,' 
as she playfully expressed it, when she took us away 
with her in her carnage, to give us a drive and then 
take us home with her to play with two of her nieces 
near our ages, and lunch on cranberry tarts. My old- 
est sister, Anne, completed her fifteenth year that win- 
ter, and was not yet going into society; but my mother 
permitted her to go to a ball under the care of a lady 
friend, who requested that my sister might go to her 
house to dress and accompany her own daughter near 
her age to the ball. My sister excited great admiration 
on that occasion. She had a 'remarkably classic head,' 
as I remember hearing an Italian artist remark at Mon- 


ticello upon seeing her there after she was the mother 
of several children. Her hair was a beautiful auburn, 
and her complexion had a delicate bloom very becom- 
ing to her, and with the freshness of fifteen I can 
readily imagine how strikingly handsome she was. My 
mother, accompanied by Mrs. Cutts the mother of 
Gen. Richard D. Cutts went to the ball at a later 
hour. She was very short-sighted, and seeing my sister 


on entering the ball-room she asked Mrs. Cutts, 'Who 
is that beautiful girl?' Mrs. Cutts, much amused, an- 
swered, 'Why, woman, are you so unnatural a mother 
as not to recognize your own daughter?* 

"My sister died many years ago; if she were now 
living, she could no doubt tell much of what happened 
that winter in the White House. She formed some 
pleasant acquaintances in Washington, and made some 
friends with whom she corresponded for years. I have 
some recollections of the house as it was before being 
burned by the British, and as it was rebuilt on the same 
plan, I have since recognized parts of it most familiar 
to my eyes. A lasting impression was made upon my 
memory by the reception in one of the drawing-rooms, 
of the Tunisian Ambassador and suite; the brilliantly 
lighted room, the odd appearance to my puzzled senses 
of the rich Turkish dresses, and my alarm at receiving 
a kiss from the Secretary of the Ambassador, whilst 
one of my sisters, just two years old, whose Saxon 
complexion and golden hair made her a beautiful pic- 
ture, was honored by a kiss from the Ambassador, of 
which she has no recollection. I heard of the elegant 
presents brought by them for my mother and aunt, and 
which were publicly exhibited and sold. My mother 
wished to purchase one of the shawls intended for her, 
but when Mrs. Madison went to make the purchase she 
found that she had been anticipated by another person. 
The talk about these presents could not, of course, fail 
to greatly excite my childish curiosity, but my desire to 


see them was not gratified. My grandfather did not 
allow them to be brought to the President's House, as 
it was then called a name which, it seems, was too 
plain English to suit modern notions of dignified refine- 
ment, for it has been superseded by the more stately 
appellation of 'Executive Mansion.' 

"From its being the cause of my disappointment in 
seeing those beautiful specimens of Oriental luxury 
and taste, my grandfather's strictness on that occasion 
served to impress upon my mind, earlier than it other- 
wise would have been impressed, a trait of his character 
which afterward became as familiar to me, and as nat- 
ural a part of himself, as the sound of his voice I 
mean his scrupulousness in conforming to the laws in 
all things, great or small. 

D ' O 

"To return to my mother, it is to that period that 
belongs a remark which long afterward I was told had 
been made of her by the Marquis de Yrugo, the Span- 
ish Ambassador, that she was fitted to grace any court 
in Europe. I was then too young to know and ap- 
preciate her as I afterward came to do. I have never 
known any one who accomplished as much as she did, 
making use of all she had been taught, in an education 
which fitted her for the performance of the various 
duties which fell to her lot. After my grandfather re- 
tired from public life, she became the mistress of his 
house. My father visited his farm in the neighborhood 
of Monticello daily, and during the busy season of har- 
vest my mother always stayed with him while it lasted. 


My mother educated her six daughters unassisted by 
any one. During" the summer months, the crowds of 
visitors to my grandfather who filled the house and en- 
grossed much of her time, interrupted our studies and 
made us lose much precious time; but she had the art 
of awakening an interest in what she taught us, and 
exciting a desire for improvement, which made us make 
the most of the quiet winter months which she could 
devote to us. She was a good musician, and was fond 
of gardening; she superintended personally all house- 
hold matters, and in the winter evenings when my 
grandfather was seated in his arm-chair in the chimney 
corner, a small candle-stand was placed between them, 
and they spent the evenings reading. She had all the 
tastes which made country life agreeable, without losing 
her relish for the attractions of town life. Such was 
my mother as I knew her, and I remember her most 
perfectly. She was the mother of twelve children, 
eleven of whom lived to grow up. 

" My youngest sister's name was Septimia. She was 
my mother's seventh daughter, and her name was the 
occasion of a poetic compliment to my mother from an 
old Portuguese gentleman, the Abbe Correa de Serra, 
who visited my grandfather every year during his long 
residence in Philadelphia. He was for several years 
Portuguese Ambassador to the United States. His 
learning, his interesting and instructive conversation, 
the amiable, child-like simplicity of his character and 
manners, made this old philosopher alike attractive to 


the older and younger members of the family. His 
visits were enjoyed by us all, from my grandfather and 
mother down to the youngest child of the house, only 
two years old. In allusion to her name of Septimia, he 
said to my mother, * Your daughters, Mrs. Randolph, 
are like the Pleiades ; they are called seven, but six only 
are seen.' The second daughter died an infant. 

"My mother survived her father upward of ten years, 
and her husband about eight years ; during that period 
losing a grown son, James Madison Randolph, born in 
the President's House. 

"In the autumn after my grandfather's death, she 
went to Boston, and passed the winter in the house of 
her son-in-law, Mr. Joseph Coolidge, of that city, having 
with her the two youngest children, Septimia and 
George Wythe, who went to day-schools during that 
winter. Septimia was the only one of her daughters 
who ever went to school at all ; my other sisters and 
myself having our education conducted by our mother; 
she being our only teacher, assisted -somewhat by her 
father. The following summer she accompanied my 
sister, Mrs. Coolidge, to Cambridge, where the two chil- 
dren again attended day-schools. My eldest brother, 
Mr. Jefferson Randolph, was his grandfather's executor; 
he had been in all business affairs the staff of his de- 
clining years, and afterward became a father to his 
younger brothers. The sale of furniture, pictures, and 
other movables at Monticello, took place the winter 
following my grandfather's death, after my mother's 


departure for Boston. The rest of the family passed 
that winter in my brother's house, then the ensuing 
summer at Monticello, a purchaser for which could not 
be found until two years or more after. My mother 
remained in Cambridge the second whiter, as a boarder, 
with her two children, in the family of Mr. Stearns, law- 
professor of Harvard College, to whose excellent family 
she became much attached. 

" My sister Cornelia went to join her in Cambridge, 
and the two were alternately in Boston and Cambridge, 
the one with Mrs. Coolidge, and the other with the 

"In the spring of 1828, my mother returned to Mon- 
ticello, accompanied by Cornelia and Septimia, leaving 
my brother at a boarding school in the country near 
Cambridge. This being their first separation, it was 
felt most acutely on both sides, for he, just ten years 
old, was an unusually sensitive and warm-hearted boy, 
and as the 'youngling of her flock/ was the darling of 
her heart. He was to remain behind among strangers, 
whilst his mother, the object of his passionate fondness 
and devoted attachment, was to return without him to 
that dear old home he so well remembered and loved. 
My mother, on her return to Monticello after an ab- 
sence of eighteen months, found my father very ill. He 
had been a part of the previous winter in Georgia, en- 
gaged as commissioner on the part of the United States 
in establishing a boundary line between that State and 
Florida. His letters spoke of his enjoying the climate, 


and he enjoyed also the opportunities which he there 
found of gratifying- his fondness for botanical studies ; 
but he returned home in very bad health, and after a 
few months of severe suffering, died on the 2Oth of June, 
'1828, in his sixtieth year. Monticello was sold the 
following winter. My mother took leave of her beloved 
home in December that home which had been the 
scene of her happiest years, where she had enjoyed her 
dear father's society, and been the solace of his age ; 
where her children had been, most of them, born and 
grown up around her, and where her own happy child- 
hood had been passed before the death of her mother. 

"She removed with her family to the house of her son 
Jefferson. My mother lived a year with my brother's 
family, during which time she formed a plan of keeping 
a school for young ladies, assisted by her unmarried 
daughters, who were to be teachers under her superin- 
tendence. This plan was, however, rendered unneces- 
sary by the donations so generously made her by the 
States of South Carolina and Louisiana, of $10,000 
each. About this time, also, Mr. Clay, then Secretary 
of State, prompted by the wish to do something in aid 
of Mr. Jefferson's daughter, offered to my husband, who 
had just then commenced the practice of the law, one 
of the higher clerkships in the State Department, with a 
salary of $1,400. This offer was accepted by him, with 
the understanding that my mother and sisters would go 
with us to live in Washington as one family. In the 
autumn of 1829, we bade adieu to our native mountains, 


and removed to Washington. We occupied a small 
house with a pretty garden, pleasantly situated, where 
we lived together, forming one family, consisting of 
seven grown persons and four children, the two young- 
est being my own, and the other two orphans of my 
eldest sister, who had been taken by their grandmother 
to her home at Monticello, while her father was still 

" Upon her arrival in Washington, my mother was 
visited by everybody, and received the most marked 
attentions. The President and the Heads of Depart- 
ments called upon her ; the lady of the White House 
of that day, Mrs. Donelson, and the wives of the cab- 
inet ministers, laid aside etiquette, and paid her the 
respect of a first call. 

" General Jackson, during the whole time of her res- 
idence in Washington, never omitted making her a visit 
once a year, accompanied usually by the Secretary of 
State. As a tribute to her fathers memory, these marks 
of respect were peculiarly gratifying. Her disposition 
was naturally cheerful and social, though she was not 
dependent on society for happiness. Her habits of 
regular occupation, possessing as she did various tastes, 
the cultivation of which afforded her variety, and in- 
creased her interest in life ; and surrounded as she was 
by a large, cheerful family circle, she lived contentedly 
in the country, even during the winters at Monticello, 
which were seldom enlivened by visitors. That season 
was devoted principally to the education of her children; 


the constant crowds of visitors during the rest of the 
year leaving her very little time not engrossed by house- 
hold cares, arising from the duties of hospitality. 

" During the years which she passed in Washington, 
she resumed many of her old occupations ; her taste for 
flowers revived, and good music afforded her enjoyment, 
although she no longer played much herself after my 
grandfather's death. Her habits of reading she never 
lost, and she always began the day with some chapter 
of the New Testament. She was an early riser in 
summer and in winter. She liked an east window in 
her bedroom, because it enabled her to read in bed 
before the household were stirring. Every year she 
visited alternately my elder brother at his residence 
near Monticello, in the southwest mountains of Virginia, 
or my sister, Mrs. Joseph Cooliclge, in Boston. 

"In the spring of 1831 she was called on to make a 
painful sacrifice, such as mothers only can appreciate 
she gave her consent to George's entering the navy. 
After passing a winter with her in Washington, he had 
entered a school near the University of Virginia, when 
a midshipman's warrant was procured for him. At his 
boarding-school in Massachusetts, his conduct had gained 
for him the respect, confidence, and good-will of all, 
teachers and associates; but he was yet a mere child, 
and his mother's heart sickened at the thought of his 
going forth alone to encounter the naval perils, as well 
as brave the hardships of a sea-faring life. She had, 
however, the fortitude to approve of what was judged 


best for his future, and her sorrow was borne with 
the patient and cheerful resignation which belonged to 
her character. 

"The recollection of that parting as a trial for her 
stirs up, even at this distance of time, the long dormant 
feelings which I thought my last tear had been shed for. 
You, dear madam, will excuse this revival of incidents 
not required for your sketch, and will use such things 
only as may have an interest for the public. His first 
cruise lasted eighteen months, in the U. S. ship John 
Adams, which went up the Mediterranean as far as 
Constantinople ; and one of its incidents was the break- 
ing out of the cholera on board. He got back to us 
safely, however, and my mother was rewarded for her 
sufferings by the encomiums elicited by his conduct and 
character from the officers under whom he had served, 
and their predictions as to the useful and honorable 
career which lay before him. She continued to hear 
him highly spoken of, and to learn that he was respected 
by all who knew him, and that his leisure hours on board 
the ship were devoted to reading and study. In the 
interval between his cruises, he was to stay with her in 

" In the second year of her residence there, she had 
the happiness of having my brother Lewis, another of 
her younger children, added to her family. He obtained 
a clerkship, which afforded him a post while he was 
qualifying himself for the practice of the law, and he 
remained with us until his marriage, which took place a 


few years later. He was highly gifted, remarkably 
handsome, and shone in the social circle, but never 
formed one of the idle throng always to be found in 
cities. Very domestic in his tastes and habits, his leisure 
hours were divided between his professional studies and 
associates belonging to the circle in which his family 
moved. He married Miss Martin, a niece of Mrs. 
Donelson, with whom he became acquainted at the 
' White House,' where she was staying. He then 
moved to the young State of Arkansas, where a promis- 
ing career at the bar was cut short by an early death 
from congestive fever, less than a year after his mother's 

"In the summer of 1832, my mother parted with the 
orphan granddaughter, Ellen Bankhead, whom she had 
adopted, and who, being then married to Mr. John 
Carter, of Albemarle, returned to live on his estate in 
his native mountains, and among the scenes of her child- 
hood. Willie, her little orphan brother, was about that 
time claimed by his paternal grandfather, and placed at 
a day-school near him. In the following spring, Mr. 
Trist purchased a house into which we all moved. I 
think my mother felt more at home in this pleasant, new 
abode than she had ever done since leaving Monticello. 
The house had been built by Mr. Richard Rush, our 
Minister to England for many years, and when we first 
moved to Washington, was occupied by this gentleman 
and his lovely wife and family. It was a spacious dwell- 
ing, admirably planned and built, with a large garden 


and out-buildings, the whole enclosed by a high brick 
wall. There the last three years of my mother's life 
were spent, although her death took place suddenly at 
Edgehill, my brother's residence in Virginia. 

"The winter preceding had been marked by the 
death of my brother, James Madison Randolph, who had 
just completed his 2 7th year. He was buried at Mon- 
ticello on a cold day in January. I remember the 
negroes assembled there, and made a fire to keep them 
warm while they waited for the procession which fol- 
lowed him to his early grave, who, they said, was the 
'black man's friend,' and would have shared his last cent 
with one of them. At the time of our removal to that 
pleasant new home, my brother-in-law, Mr. Joseph Coo- 
lidge, of Boston, having gone to China, was engaged in 
business in Canton; his family remaining in Boston. In 
the summer of 1834, and during the absence of her hus- 
band, my sister paid us a visit, passing the summer in 
Virginia at my brother's, and the following winter with 
us in Washington. On that occasion, my mother had 
all her daughters with her for the last time; and Lewis, 
yet unmarried, was still living with her. The season 
was remarkable for its severity, the thermometer falling 
so low as 1 6 below zero, on a gallery with a southern 
exposure of our house, and so late even as the ist day 
of March, stood at zero the snow a foot deep in the 
garden. Soon after the purchase of that house, Mr. 
Trist, whose health had been very delicate, was ap- 
pointed by General Jackson to be United States Consul 


at Havana, which post had become vacant by the death 
of Mr. Shaler, long- distinguished as our Consul at Al- 
giers. He proceeded there alone, and in the summer 
returned to Washington. After remaining with us a 
few months, he again went to Havana alone to pass one 
more winter there, and then return to take charge of 
the office of First Comptroller of the Treasury, which 
General Jackson had tendered to him. He was still in 
Havana in the spring of 1835, when my brother Lewis 
left us to be married in Tennessee, and Mr. Coolidge 
arrived from China and came immediately to Washing- 
ton, where his wife and family were still staying with us. 
He found my mother slowly recovering from a very 
severe illness, considered by our friend and physician, 
Dr. Hall, as a 'breaking up of her constitution,' and 
which was regarded by my brothers, Jefferson and Ben- 
jamin Franklin (who repaired from their homes in Vir- 
ginia to their mother's bedside), as seriously alarming. 
She, however, recovered to a certain point, but never 
perfectly. Mr. Coolidge and my sister with their chil- 
dren returned to Boston, whilst my mother was to fol- 
low them as soon as she was able to travel. Accord- 
ingly, when her strength became sufficiently restored, 
she made the journey, going from Washington to 
Baltimore by steamer down the Potomac and up the 
Chesapeake Bay, she not having strength for the stage- 
coach ride of forty miles, then the only direct public 
conveyance between the two cities. My sister Mary 
accompanied her, and she reached Boston safely. Mr. 


Trist returned from Havana in August after my mother's 
departure. He had then decided, most reluctantly yield- 
ing to the advice of his physician, to prolong his residence 
in Havana: his continuance in that climate for several 
years being judged essential to his recovery from an af- 
fection of the throat, of which there were at that period 
a number of fatal cases. That winter, instead of accom- 
panying my husband on his return to Havana, as I 
should have wished, I had to take up my abode in Phil- 
adelphia to be near our little mute son, Thomas Jeffer- 
son, whom I entered the youngest pupil there as a 
boarder at the institution for deaf-mutes. This last 
winter of her life my mother passed in Boston with but 
two of her children near her: Mrs. Coolidge and Mary 
the others scattered far away from her, fortunately 
for their peace of mind unconscious how soon the last 
parting was to come. My own departure for Havana 
the following autumn was decided on, but dreaded by 
all still nearer was that other parting scene at which 
we were to meet no more on earth. 

"In the month of May, 1836, my mother left Boston 
for Virginia, accompanied by my sister Mary. A final 
adieu it proved to her daughter, Mrs. Coolidge her 
favorite child, it was generally thought, but w^e never 
felt jealous of her. Our family was, I think, a very 
united one. On her journey south, she passed some 
weeks in Philadelphia on a visit to her sister-in-law, Mrs. 
Hackley, the mother of Mrs. Cutts. I was still in Phil- 
adelphia with my little deaf-mute boy, and it was on 


that occasion that this precious portrait was secured 
by my prevailing on her to sit to Mr. Sully, then consid- 
ered the best female portrait painter in our country. 
Twenty years previously, Mr. Sully had passed some 
time as a guest at Monticello, having been employed to 
make a portrait of my grandfather for the Military 
Academy at West Point. Since that time my mother 
had changed very much. Mr. Sully had then found her 
living with her dear father in that happy home, sur- 
rounded by a large, cheerful family circle unbroken by 
death. But in the long interval, many of its members 
had been taken away, and grief had left its traces not 
less plainly stamped upon her face than age. She was 
thinner and more feeble than I had ever seen her it 
was just six months before her death. I accompanied 
her to Mr. Sully's studio for her first sitting, and as she 
took her seat before him she said playfully: 'Mr. Sully, I 
shall never forgive you if you paint me with wrinkles.' 
I quickly interposed, 'Paint her just as she is, if you 
please, Mr. Sully: the picture is for me.' He said, 'I 
shall paint you, Mrs. Randolph, as I remember you 
twenty years ago." He approved of her dress, particu- 
larly a large cape worn by old ladies, and requested her 
not to make any change in it. The picture does rep- 
resent her twenty years younger than when she sat 
to him, but it failed to restore the embonpoint, and es- 
pecially the expression of health, and cheerful, even 
joyous, vivacity, which her countenance then habitually 
wore. While she was sitting for her portrait, her 


youngest daughter, Septimia, arrived by sea from Pen- 
sacola, where she had been taken by Mr. Trist to pass 
the winter with some friends, soon after which my 
mother pursued her journey to Virginia, accompanied 
by Mary and Septimia. 

"Mr. Trist returned in August, and I set out with him 
in September for Virginia to take leave of my friends. 
On our arrival at Washington, finding General Jackson 
there alone in the White House soon to set out for 
Tennessee, where his family had preceded him the 
General expressed a wish for my husband's company 
during the days he might still be detained there. This 
being acceded to, I pursued my journey alone, little 
dreaming that this detention of a few days \vas to de- 
prive my husband of ever again seeing my mother, be- 
tween whom and himself the warmest attachment ex- 
isted. On reaching Edgehill, I found them all assem- 

o o 

bled under my brother's roof, soon to travel together 
northward again before the separation so dreaded by us 
all. My mother and Mary were to pass the winter with 
Mrs. Coolidge, in Boston, whilst Cornelia and Septimia 
were to accompany me to Havana. I found my mother 
still looking very delicate and troubled with sore throat, 
for which a gargle had been prescribed by my brother, 
Dr. Benjamin F. Randolph. She complained of a ver- 
tigo when she threw back her head in using it. The 
day appointed for our departure being close at hand, 
she had exerted herself more than usual in packing a 
trunk ; the following day she had a sick-headache and 


kept her bed. She had all her life been subject to these 
headaches, but within the last few years had ceased to 
have them. One of my sisters expressed the hope that 
their recurrence might be a favorable symptom, a proof 
of returning" vigor, as she had not had anything of the 
sort since her illness eighteen months before in Wash- 


ington. We watched by her bedside, though feeling no 
alarm at an affection which we had always been accus- 
tomed to see her suffer with for several days at a time. 
One of my sisters slept in the room with her, and before 
parting with her for the night, I gave my mother some 
arrow-root. Early next morning I was called and told 
she was worse. I hurried to her bedside, but was too 
late to be recognized, a blue shade passed over the 
beloved face ; it was gone and she lay as in sleep, but 
life had gone too. It was apoplexy. She died on the 
loth of October, 1836, having just completed her sixty- 
fourth year on the 27th of September, ten years and 
three months after her father, and was- laid by his side in 
the graveyard at Monticello." 



WASHINGTON IRVING, in one of his letters, has given 
an amusing account of his troubles in Washington, in 
preparing to attend a levee given by President Madison. 
After a ludicrous description of his vexations, he says, 
he finally emerged into the blazing splendor of Mrs. 
Madison's drawing-room. Here he was most gra- 
ciously received, and found a crowded collection of great 
and little men, of ugly and old women, and beautiful 
young ones. Mrs. Madison, he adds, was a fine, pretty 
buxom dame, who had a smile and a pleasant word for 
everybody. Her sisters, Mrs. Cutts and Mrs. Washing- 
ton, were also present on this occasion, and looked "like 
the merry wives of Windsor." 

Dorothy Payne, the second child of John and Mary 
Coles Payne, was born the 2Oth of May, 1772. Her 
mother was a daughter of William Coles, Esq., of Coles 
Hill ; and was a lady of pleasing social manners. The 
family were Virginians, and though Mrs. Madison \vas 
born in the State of North Carolina, she ever prided 
herself on a title so dear to all its possessors : that of 
beinof a daughter of the old commonwealth. Her 

o o 

parents removed to Philadelphia when she was quite 
young, and joined the Society of Friends at that place. 
Here their little daughter was reared according to the 


strict system of the society, and by example and precept 
taught to ignore all those graceful accomplishments 
deemed so necessary in the formation of a woman's 
education. Attired in the close-fitting dress of her 
order, she would' demurely attend to the duties imposed 
upon her, and the wonderful undertone of sweetness in 
her character kept the brow serene, and the heart ever 
bright and hopeful. Hers was a sunny, elastic nature, 
even as a child ; and if she was not permitted to learn 
the worldly arts she desired, her disposition was not 
soured by these restrictions, and the inner graces which 
afterward made her famous, blossomed and bloomed in 
native harmony. Nothing could conceal her beautiful 
character. Nor could the quaint bonnet of the Friends 
hide her sparkling eyes and perfectly rounded features 
from the admiring gaze of her young acquaintances. 
At the age of nineteen she was married to John Todd, a 
rising young lawyer of Philadelphia and a member of 
the Society of Friends. Her father had manumitted his 
slaves when he moved to the city, and Miss Payne was 
accustomed to a life of simplicity and plentifulness, but 
never to even comparative wealth. Nor was she re- 
markable for her literary abilities or acquired attain- 
ments ; but her warm heart beamed goodness from her 
expressive lips and lent a fascination to her frank, 
earnest face. After her union with Mr. Todd, her time 
was spent in her modest home according to the secluded 
manner of her sect, and during her short married life 
she pursued the even tenor of her quiet way, uncon- 


scions of her rapidly unfolding beauty, or of the admira- 
tion it was exciting. Soon she was left a widow with 
an infant son, and made her home with her widowed 

The personal charms of the young widow, united as 
they were, with manners cordial, frank and gay, excited 
the admiration and awakened the kind feelings of all 
who came within their influence, and unaided by the ex- 
trinsic and accidental advantages of fortune or fashion, 
she became a general favorite, and the object not only 
of attention, but of serious and devoted attachment. 

In October, 1 794, Mrs. Todd was married to Mr. 
Madison, then one of the most talented members of Con- 
gress, a statesman of wealth and social position, and 
withal a great and good man. She had been a widow 
less than a year, and was at the time of her second mar- 
riage in the twenty-third year of her age. The ceremony 
was performed at "Harewood," Jefferson county, Vir- 
ginia, the residence of her younger sister, Lucy, the wife 
of George Steptoe Washington. From this time for- 
ward she lived at "Montpelier," the rural home of Mr. 
Madison, until he was 'called again to public life. It was 
at this time of her life that she developed the loveliest 
traits of her noble character. Placed in a position where 
she could command resources, the warmth and gener- 
osity of her nature was displayed, not in lavish personal 
expenditures, but in dispensing the bounties bestowed 
upon her to all who came as suppliants, and in giving to 
her widowed mother and orphaned sisters a home. The 


blessings of her kindred, and the fond love of her hus- 
band, gladdened these, the first years of her married life, 
and her relatives and friends were made partakers of 
her abundance, while the tender attentions of Mr. Madi- 
son to her aged mother filled her heart to repletion. 
Had she not been placed in a position harmonious to 
her nature, it is probable that her days would have been 
spent in indifferent adherence to a dull routine, and the 
rills of her heart which bubbled and sang so gleefully in 
the summer of her content, never been discovered be- 
neath the weight of circumstances. Fortunately hers 
was a disposition to rightfully appreciate the gifts of for- 
tune and social consideration, and in accepting her 
bright future prospects, she determined to nourish the 
smothered generosity of her soul. Hitherto her lot had 
been circumscribed and the charitable desires of her 
heart been restrained ; but when the power was given 
her to do good, she filled the measure of her life with the 
benedictions of humanity, and reigned in the affections 
of her friends without a rival. 

Mr. Jefferson appointed Mr. Madison Secretary of 
State in 1801, and in April of that year he removed with 
his family to Washington. Here her position was in 
perfect accordance with her disposition, and her house 
was a radiating point for every acquaintance. The great" 
secret of her success lay in the innocence which dwelt 
in her noble nature; and this nobleness of innocence 
underlaid the dignity and high-mindedness which attested 
an elevated nature. She drank the wine of human ex- 


istence without the lees, and inhaled the perpetual 
breath of summer, even after the snows of winter had 
clogged the dull course of life. She was gifted with that 
which was better than Ithuriel's spear, whose touch re- 
veals the beauty which existed in everything, for she was 
humble-hearted, tolerant and sincere. Entirely free 
from malignant cavil, her instinctive sympathy with the 
good and beautiful led her to seek it in everything 
around her, and her life, if not devoted to the higher cul- 
tivation of the mind, developed the sunny brightness of 
her heart. 

The power of adaptiveness was a live-giving principle 
in Mrs. Madison's nature. With a desire to please, and 
a willingness to be pleased, she was popular in society, 
and was to her husband a -support and friend. Wash- 
ington was little more than a wilderness, when, in the 
spring, she commenced life there as the wife of a cabinet 
officer. The elements which combined to form the so- 
ciety of the Capital were various, and difficult to har- 
monize, and her situation was a delicate one to fill ; yet 
she was loved by all parties, and embittered politicians 
who never met save at her hospitable board, there for- 
got " the thorns of public controversy under the roses 
of private cheerfulness." In those days steamboats were 
just beginning, railroads unknown, stage-coaches ex- 
tremely inconvenient, national, indeed even turnpike 
roads were very rare, and the journeys were mostly per- 
formed in the saddle. The daughter of one of the sen- 
ators, who wished to enjoy the gayeties of the Capital, 


accompanied her father five hundred miles on horseback. 
The wife of another member not only rode fifteen hun- 
dred miles on horseback, but passed through several In- 
dian settlements, sleeping for many nights in a tent in 
the woods. Mrs. Madison herself had travelled from her 
Virginia home by easy stages, cumbered with household 
furniture, and stopping on the road to visit relatives ; oc- 
cupying what seems to us at this day an incredible 
length of time to perform such a journey. Her house, 
after the President's, was the resort of most company, 
and the cordial manners of the hostess lent a peculiar 
charm to the frequent parties there assembled. 

Political feuds ran high, and party spirit was more 
virulent than ever before experienced. Washington's 
administration had been a success, and in the eyes of the 
public, he was not included in any party, but was above 
them all. Yet he placed himself, when the question was 
of a political order, under the banner of the federal 
party, and was the declared advocate of the unity and 
force of the central power. He insured its triumph 
during his two terms, and let his mantle descend upon 
one of his most attached friends. The democratic 
party, desiring the rule of the majority, opposed to the 
preponderance of the higher classes, and to aristocratic 
tendencies, overcame the successor of Washington, who 
was defeated by Mr. Jefferson, the leader of the opposi- 
tion. At the commencement of this era, Mrs. Madison 
appeared upon the scene, and gave to her husband that 
support which enhanced his popularity as a public man, 


and made his house the most attractive place of resort 
in the city. During his eight years' life as Secretary of 
State, she dispensed with no niggard hand the abundant 
wealth she rightly prized, and the poor of the district 
loved her name as a household deity. 

In 1810, Mr. Madison was elected President, and after 
Mr. Jefferson left the city, he removed to the White 
House. Under the former administration, Mrs. Madison 
had, during the absences of Mr. Jefferson's daughters, 
presided at the receptions and levees, and was in every 
particular fitted to adorn her position as hostess of the 
mansion she was called to preside over. Every one in 
Washington felt that her watchful care and friendly in- 
terest would be in nowise diminished by her advance- 
ment to a higher position ; and the magical effects of her 
snuff-box were as potent in one capacity as another. 
The forms and ceremonials which had rendered the 
drawing-rooms of Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Adams 
dull and tedious, were laid aside, and no kind of stiffness 
was permitted. Old friends were not forgotten, nor new 
ones courted ; but mild and genial to all, each person 
felt himself the object of special attention, and all left 
her presence pleased and gratified with her urbanity and 

Possessing a most retentive memory, she never mis- 
called a name, or forgot the slightest incident connected 
with the personal history of any one ; and therefore im- 
pressed each individual with the idea of their importance 
in her esteem. Mrs. Madison's sole aim was to be pop- 



ular and render her husband's administration brilliant 
and successful. Her field was the parlor; and with the 
view of reigning supreme there, she bent the energies 
of her mind to the one idea of accomplishment. In her 
thirty-seventh year she entered the White House. Still 
youthful in appearance, denied the cares of maternity, 
which destroy the bloom of beauty on the delicate faces 
of American women, she assumed her agreeable position 
with no encumbrances, no crosses, in perfect health, the 
possessor of great beauty of feature and form, and 
eminently happy in the sincere regard of her husband. 
Contentment crowned her lot with happiness, and the 
first four years of her life there must have been one 
continued pleasure. 

With all her appreciation of admiration, she was not 
extravagant; her house, during the time of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's term, was very plainly furnished, and in no way 
elegant. Like most Virginians, she delighted in com- 
pany, and her home was the most hospitable abode in 
Washington. Her table was her pride; and the multi- 
plicity of dishes, and their size, was a subject of ridicule 
to a foreign minister, who observed " that it was more 
like a harvest-home supper, than the entertainment 
of a Secretary of State/' She heard of this and similar 
remarks, and only observed with a smile, " that she 
thought abundance was preferable to elegance; that 
circumstances formed customs, and customs formed 
taste ; and as the profusion so repugnant to foreign cus- 
toms arose from the happy circumstance of the super- 


abundance and prosperity of our country, she did not 
hesitate to sacrifice the delicacy of European taste for 
the less elegant, but more liberal fashion of Virginia." 
But this time of prosperity was doomed, and war insatiate 
was already treading- upon the shores of the Atlantic. 
Mr. Madison, the peace-loving, humane Executive, was 
compelled to declare war with Great Britain ; and after a 
time its actual presence was felt at the National Capital. 
June, 1812, is memorable as the second appeal of the 
United States to arms, to assert once more the rights of 
its freemen ; and for three years its fierceness was felt 
from Canada to New Orleans, and over the blue waters 
of the oceans of the world. 

"Generous British sentiments revolted at the destruc- 
tion of the American Capital : which might not have been 
branded with universal infamy if confined to navy yards, 
warlike implements, vessels of war, and even private 
rope-walks, if the enormity had stopped there. But no 
warfare can satisfy its abominable lust with impunity on 
libraries, public and private, halls of -legislation, resi- 
dences of magistrates, buildings of civil government, 
objects of art, seats of peace, and embodiments of ra- 
tional patriotic pride. The day before the fall of Wash- 
ington was one of extreme alarm: the Secretary of State 
wrote to the President: 'The enemy are advanced six 
miles on the road to the wood-yard, and our troops are 
retreating, you had better remove the records.' Then 
commenced the panic which was destined to grow more 
general the coming day. Tuesday night every clerk was 


busy packing and aiding in the removal of valuables. 
Coarse linen bags were provided, and late in the evening, 
after all the work was over, and the bags were hanging 
round the room, ready at a moment's warning to be 
moved, Mr. Pleasanton, one of the clerks, procured con- 
veyances, and crossing the Potomac, deposited them in 
a mill three miles off. But fearing for their safety, he de- 
termined to go farther into the interior, and the next 
night slept at Leesburg, a small town thirty-five miles 
from Washington. The light that shone against the 
cloudless sky revealed the fate of the city, and the doom 
of his charge had they delayed. Amongst the documents 
were the original Declaration of Independence, the Fed- 
eral Constitution, and General Washington's commission 
as Commander-in-chief of the Army of the Revolution, 
which he relinquished when he resigned it at Annapolis 
(found among the rubbish of a garret). Scarcely had the 
wagon that bore the papers crossed the wooden bridge of 
the Potomac, than crowds of flying fugitives, men, women 
and children, pressed upon it in such numbers as to ren- 
der the threatened danger almost imminent. The fright- 

3 o 

ened multitude swayed to and fro, seeking means of 
escape till night closed the horrible drama ; then upon 
Capitol Hill appeared the red-coated soldiery of the 
British army. The sun sank beneath the golden sheen 
of fleecy clouds that floated softly over the southern 
horizon, but the going down of the king of day in no- 
wise relieved the atmosphere. Dust and heat were in- 
tolerable, and a rumor that the water was poisoned ren- 


dered the sufferings of the weary soldiers painful in the 
extreme. For the seventh time that day a retreat was 
commanded, and the city troops, mortified and enraged, 
refused to obey. Back from the city to the heights of 
Georgetown was the order; but how could they leave 
their families, their homes and property, and march by 
those they were sworn to protect ! Down the long, 
broad, and solitary avenue, past the President's now de- 
serted house, through Georgetown, and some as far as 
Tenlytown, the disorganized, demoralized remnant of the 
army strayed, and slept on the ground, lighted up by the 
fiery red glare from the burning buildings in Washington. 
All night they lay alarmed and distressed, while but few 
could steal a moment's repose. The bursting shells in 
the navy yard were heard for miles, and each boom was 
a knell to the agonizing hearts, who knew not where 
their helpless ones were in this hour of horrors. When 
the British marched slowly into the wilderness city, by 
the lurid light that shot up from the blazing capitol, the 
population had dwindled down to a few stragglers and 
the slaves of the absent residents. The houses, scattered 
over a large space, were shut, and no sign of life was 
visible. The President had crossed the Potomac early in 
the afternoon, and Mrs. Madison had followed in another 
direction. The bayonets of the British guard gleamed 
as they filed down the avenue, and the fulminations from 
the navy yard saluted them as they passed. Nothing 1 
but the prayers and entreaties of the ladies, and the ex- 
postulations of the nearest residents, deterred the British 


General Ross from blowing up the Capitol ; but he or- 
dered it to be fired at every point, and many houses near 
it were consumed. A house hard by, owned by General 
Washington, was destroyed, which, in justice to human 
nature be it said, the General regretted. Not so the 
Admiral, who ordered the troops to fire a volley in the 
windows of the Capitol, and then entered to plunder. I 
have, indeed, to this hour (said Mr. Richard Rush, in 
1855), the vivid impression upon my eye of columns 
of flame and smoke ascending throughout the ni^ht 

o o o 

of the 24th of August from the Capitol, President's 
house, and other public edifices, as the whole were on 
fire, some burning slowly, others with bursts of flame and 
sparks mounting high up in the dark horizon. This 
never can be forgotten by me, as I accompanied out 
6f the city, on that memorable night, in 1814, President 
Madison, Mr. Jones, then Secretary of the Navy, General 
Mason, of Anacostia Island, Mr. Charles Carroll, of 
Bellevue, and Mr. Tench Ringgold. If at intervals the 
dismal sight was lost to our view, we got it again 
from some hill-top or eminence where we paused to look 
at it." 

It was among the stories when Congress met near 
the ruins three weeks afterward, that the Admiral in a 
strain of coarse levity, mounting the Speaker's chair, 
put the question, "Shall this harbor of Yankee democ- 
racy be burned?" and when the mock resolution was 
declared unanimous, it was carried into effect by heap- 
ing combustibles under the furniture. The temporary 


wooden structure, connecting the two wings, readily 
kindled. Doors, chairs, the library and its contents, in 
an upper room of the Senate-wing, everything that 
would take fire, soon disappeared in sheets of flame, 
illuminating and consternating the environs for thirty 
miles around, whence the conflagration was visible. 
Through "the eternal Pennsylvania Avenue," the Ad- 
miral and General led their elated troops, where but a 
few hours before the flying, scattered Americans, dis- 
mayed, ashamed, and disgusted, had wended their sor- 
rowing way. The Capitol behind them was wrapt in 
its winding robes of flame, and on through the darkness 

o o 

they passed to that other house of the nation. 

An aged lady lived in the nearest residence to the 
Presidential Mansion, and here the ruffianly Cockburn 
and the quiet, sad General Ross halted and ordered 
supper, which they ate by the light of the burning 
buildings. A letter written by Mrs. Madison to her 
sister at Mount Vernon, gives us an insight into her 
feelings, at this time of trial and danger. 

" TUESDAY, August 23^, 1814. 

"DEAR SISTER: My husband left me yesterday morn- 
ing to join General Winder. He inquired anxiously 
whether I had courage or firmness to remain in the 
President's House until his return, on the morrow or 
succeeding day, and on my assurance that I had no 
fear but for him and the success of our army, he left 
me, beseeching me to take care of myself, and of the 


Cabinet papers, public and private. I have since re- 
ceived two dispatches from him written with a pencil; 
the last is alarming, because he desires that I should 
be ready at a moment's warning to enter my carriage 
and leave the city; that the enemy seemed stronger 
than had been reported, and that it might happen that 
they would reach the city with intention to destroy it. 
* * * I am accordingly ready; I have pressed as 
many Cabinet papers into trunks as to fill one carnage ; 
our private property must be sacrificed, as it is impos- 
sible to procure wagons for its transportation. I am 
determined not to go myself, until I see Mr. Madison 
safe and he can accompany me as I hear of much 
hostility toward him. * * * Disaffection stalks 
around us. * * My friends and acquaintances are 
all gone, even Colonel C., with his hundred men, who 
were stationed as a guard in this enclosure. * * 
French John (a faithful domestic) with his usual activity 
and resolution, offers to spike the cannon at the gate, 
and lay a train of powder which would blow up the 
British, should they enter the house. To the last propo- 
sition I positively object, without being able, however, to 
make him understand why all advantages in war may 
not be taken. 

"Wednesday morning, twelve o'clock. Since sunrise 
I have been turning my spy-glass in every direction and 
watching with unwearied anxiety, hoping to discover the 
approach of my dear husband and his friends; but, alas! 
I can descry only groups of military wandering in all 


directions, as if there was a lack of arms, or of spirit, 
to fight for their own firesides! 

"Three o'clock. Will you believe it, my sister? we 
have had a. battle or skirmish near Bladensburg, and 1 
am still here within sound of the cannon! Mr. Madison 
comes not; may God protect him! Two messengers 
covered with dust come to bid me fly; but I wait for 
him. * * * At this late hour a wagon has been 
procured; I have had it filled with the plate and most 
valuable portable articles belonging to the house; 
whether it will reach its destination, the Bank of Mary- 
land, or fall into the hands of British soldiery, events 
must determine. Our kind friend, Mr. Carroll, has 
come to hasten my departure, and is in a very bad 
humor with me because I insist on waiting until the 
large picture of General Washington is secured, and it 
requires to be unscrewed from the wall. This process 
was found too tedious for these perilous moments; I 
have ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas 
taken out; it is clone and the precious portrait placed 
in the hands of two gentlemen of New York for safe- 
keeping. And now, my dear sister, I must leave this 
house, or the retreating army will make me a prisoner 
in it, by filling up the road I am directed to take. When 
I shall again write to you, or where I shall be to-morrow, 
I cannot tell!" 

On the removal of the seat of government to Wash- 
ington, in 1800, a magnificent portrait of General 


Washington, painted by Stuart partly, and completed 
by Winstanley, to whom President John Adams' son-in- 
law, Colonel Smith, stood for the unfinished limbs and 
body, hung in the state dining-room. Colonel Wash- 
ington Parke Custis, of Arlington, a grandson of Mrs. 
Washington, called at the President's to save this pic- 
ture of his illustrious grandfather, in whose house he 
was reared. Then, as now, it was one of the very few 
ornaments which adorned the White House, and at the 
risk of capture Mrs. Madison determined to save it. 
The servants of the house broke with an axe the heavy 
gilt frame which protected the inner one of wood, upon 
which the canvas was stretched, and removed, uninjured, 
the painting, leaving the broken fragments screwed to 
the wall, which had held in place the valued relic. 
Mrs. Madison then left the house, and the portrait was 
taken by Mr. Baker beyond Georgetown and placed in 
a secure position. 

Half a century later, when the White House was 
undergoing a renovation, this portrait was sent, with 
many others subsequently added to this solitary paint- 
ing, to be cleaned and the frame burnished. The 
artist found on examination that the canvas had never 
been cut, since the rusted tacks, time-worn frame, and 
the size compared with the original picture, was the 
most conclusive evidence that Mrs. Madison did not cut 
it out with a carving-knife, as many traditions have 
industriously circulated. 

The frame was a large one, hanging high on the wall, 


and it was impossible that a lady could by mounting a 
table be enabled to reach any but the lower portion ; 
then, too, in that moment of nervous alarm, the constant 
noise of cannon filling each heart with dread, it seems 
improbable that any hand, above all a woman's, could 
be steady enough to cut, without ruining the canvas. 

Again, from the lips of a descendant, the assurance is 
given that Mrs. Madison repeatedly asserted that she 
did not cut it, but only lingered to see it safely removed 
before she stepped into her waiting carriage and was 
driven rapidly toward Georgetown. 

First to the residence of the Secretary of the Navy, 
then to Belleview, and joined by the family of Mr. Jones 
and Mr. Carroll, she returned to town insisting that 
her terrified coachman should take her back toward 
the President's house to look for Mr. Madison, whom 
she unexpectedly found near the lower bridge, attended 
by Mr. Monroe and Mr. Rush, who had reached the 
White House soon after she left it and stopped for re- 

It has been related that the British found a sumptuous 
meal smoking on the table when they reached there 
after dark, and that they enjoyed the iced wines and 
cold ham, amusing themselves with the coarse assertion 
that "Jemmy" ran from his bacon "to save his bacon." 
The low pun found ears ready to credit and circulate it, 
but the porter, who died but a few years since, has 
repeatedly asserted that the occupants of the house had 
been in such constant fright that but little had been 


cooked, and no regular meal partaken of that day ; that 
there was always plenty in the larder for any emergency, 
and a wine-cellar kept well stored, but that after the 
President's party had eaten on their arrival, soon after 
Mrs. Madison's departure, and given the remnants of 
their hasty meal to the tired, jaded soldiers of Col. 
Savol's regiment, that there was nothing left. 

Water was furnished the troops in buckets, and all 
the wine in the house given them. John Siousa, the 
French porter, after seeing the President and his attend- 
ants off, took the parrot belonging to Mrs. Madison to 
the residence of Col. Tayloe, and then returned and 
fastened the house securely and took the keys with him 
to Philadelphia. All the afternoon, parties of straggling 
soldiers, on their way to Georgetown, hung about the 
house and grounds, and vagrant negroes pilfered in 
spite of the efforts of the servants. Many articles were 
taken from the house to be secured and returned as 
some were, but much was never restored. The porter 
secreted the ^old and silver mounted carbines and 


pistols of the Algerian minister, which are now in the 
Patent Office, but the revolvers belonging to the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, which the President laid on a 
table, were stolen. 

Gloating with revenge, at the escape of the President 
and his wife, " whom they wanted to show in England," 
the enemy broke open the doors of the White House, 
and ransacked it from cellar to garret, finding nothing 
of value, or as objects of curiosity, save a small parcel 


of the pencil notes received from her husband by Mrs. 
MadisonJ while he was with the troops, which she had 
rolled up together and put in a table drawer. To all 
the rest of the contents: furniture, wines, provisions, 
groceries, and family stores, which cost Mr. Madison 
twelve thousand dollars, together with an excellent 
library, the torch was applied. Fire was procured at a 
small beer house opposite the Treasury to light the 
buildings with, and while the commanders were eating 
their evening meal at the house of Mrs. Suter, on the 
corner, the common soldiers, together with the negroes 
and thieves of all grades, were pillaging the rapidly 
burning buildings. 

The White House was not so large or complete then 
as now ; the East Room, which had served Mrs. Adams 
for a drying room, was unfurnished and unoccupied, 
and the front vestibule not then added, which so greatly 
enhances the interior of the present mansion. The 
House was plain, unfinished, and totally destitute of 
ornament, the grounds uninclosed, and materials for 
building purposes lying scattered about the woods which 
have since become the ornament of this portion of the 
city. Nothing but the lateness of the hour, and the 
storm coming on, saved the War Department. The 
squadron which was to have co-operated with them, fail- 
ing to come, filled the officers with timorous fear, and 
they determined to evacuate the city the next day unless 
it should arrive in the meantime. For over a week the 
unhappy citizens of Washington had not slept or pur- 


sued the avocations of daily life. Constant rumors and 
frights had unnerved the stoutest hearts, and families 
fleeing from a foreign foe rendered the situation of 
those who could not leave more distressing. Every 
vehicle had been pressed into service, and valuables 
scattered over the country for safety. The city con- 
tained about eight thousand inhabitants, living at great 
distances, of whom not more than one-tenth remained in 
its limits to see the entrance and exit of the British 
army. Over the Long Bridge, until it was in danger of 
giving way, through the country into the interior of 
Maryland and beyond the Georgetown limits, the flying, 
frightened people wandered, not caring whither or how 
they went, so that they escaped from their remorseless 
foes. It was a whole week, said the aged Mrs. Suter 
(at whose house the intruders demanded supper), of 
great trouble, no one sleeping at night and the day 
spent in fright. After the terrors of that sad week and 
dreadful day, the Capitol and other buildings blazing, the 
ammunition in the navy yard exploding, a rain set in which 
in intensity and duration was scarcely ever witnessed, 
and which continued during the following day. A British 
narrator states, "that the most tremendous hurricane 
ever remembered by the oldest inhabitant in the place 
came on. Of the prodigious force of the wind, it is im- 
possible for you to form any conception. Roofs of 
houses were torn off by it, and whisked into the air like 
sheets of paper ; while the rain which accompanied it 
resembled the rushing of a mighty cataract, rather than 


the dropping of a shower. The darkness was as great 
as if the sun had lon^ set and the last remains of 


twilight had come on, occasionally relieved by flashes 
of vivid lightning streaming through it, which together 
with the noise of the wind and the thunder, the crash of 
falling buildings, and the tearing of roofs as they were 
stripped from the walls, produced the most appalling 
effect I shall probably ever witness. This lasted for 
nearly two hours without intermission; during which 
time many of the houses spared by us were blown 
down, and thirty of our men, beside several of the in- 
habitants, buried beneath their ruins. Our column was 
as completely dispersed as if it had received a total 
defeat ; some of the men flying for shelter behind walls 
and buildings, and others falling flat upon the ground to 
prevent themselves from being carried away by the 
tempest ; nay, such was the violence of the wind that 
two pieces of cannon which stood upon the eminence, 
were fairly lifted from the ground and borne several 
yards to the rear." 

This second storm, which was most terrifying to the 
British, unaccustomed as they were to the grand forests 
and heavy rains of America, was, if possible, more de- 
structive than the one of the night before. It com- 
menced about one o'clock in the afternoon, and was so 
awful to the troops that they neglected to fire the post- 
office, and Congress was thereby saved the necessity of 
being driven to Georgetown or Philadelphia, when it 
again met in three weeks. After an occupation of 


twenty-nine hours, the British withdrew and Washington 
was evacuated. 

Mrs. Madison, after meeting her husband, accom- 
panied him to the banks of the Potomac, where one 
'snail boat was kept ready of the many others all sunk 
or removed but that one to transport the President, 
Mr. Monroe, Mr. Rush, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Carroll to 
the Virginia shore. The boat was too small to carry all 
at once, so that several trips were necessary ; and as 
the shades of night set in upon them, they looked like 
departing spirits leaving the world behind, to be ferried 
over an inevitable Styx. Bidding them adieu as the 
last one entered the frail bark, Mrs. Madison returned 
to her friends at Georgetown, but agreeably to her hus- 
band's orders, she started on to a more secure retreat. 
The roads were so blocked with wagons that their 


progress was very slow, and they left their carriages and 
walked to relieve their anxiety. Crowds of soldiers, 
panic-stricken, were retracing their steps to the remnant 
of troops with General Winder. Families, with their 
conveyances loaded down with household goods, moved 
slowly forward, amid the tumult, while the coming dark- 
ness increased the general alarm. Long after dark, the 
party accompanying Mrs. Madison reached the resi- 
dence of Mr. Love, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, 
where they begged the privilege of remaining all night. 
There was little need of beds for that agitated band of 
frightened women, and the night was passed by some in 
tears ; by Mrs. Madison in sitting by an open window, 


gazing back upon the weird and fantastic flames as they 
met and lapped in the far distance. 

Smothered rumbling noises started the listening ear, 
as ever and anon some huge edifice or wing of a build- 
ing fell. The head of the house was away with the 
troops, and his wife was ill and alone with her servants, 
but the sudden visit of so many strangers was no check 
to the hospitality of the hostess. Every sofa and avail- 
able substitute was brought into requisition, and all ren- 
dered comfortable. Sleep was banished from all eyes, 
even had any been inclined to repose. The clanking, 
clattering noise of several hundred disorderly cavalry- 
men around the house kept every one awake, while all 
felt the desolate weariness of the night to be but a har- 
binger of the coming day. " What must have been the 
feelings of the occupants of that house that summer 
night, we of the present day cannot realize," writes an 
eminent historian in 1842 ; but those who had not "fallen 
asleep" when the summer of 1862 came upon us, en- 
dured similar hours of anguish, which seared their hearts 
forever. No scene of horror was enacted in or about 
Washington in that week of excitement that was not 
repeatedly paralleled in the sad years of our civil war. 

Long before day, the sleepless caravan, with Mrs. 
Madison at the head, started forward to the place ap- 
pointed for a meeting with Mr. Madison. Consterna- 
tion was at its uttermost: the whole region filled with 
frightened people, terrified scouts roaming about and 
spreading alarm that the enemy were coming from 


Washington and Alexandria, and that there was safety 
nowhere. As the day wore on. in which the British 
were plyndering and burning Washington, the storm 
that sent terror to their superstitious bosoms overtook 
the tired refugees. But the elemental war, with its 
bolts of thunder and zigzag lightning penetrating the 
darkened recesses of the forest, caused no feeling so 
insupportable as the flying rumor that the negroes were 
in revolt, and maddened with drink and promised lib- 
erty, were roaming in numbers, committing every ex- 
cess, worse than those at Hampton the year before. 
As the day gradually drew to a close, the faint and 
drenched companions of Mrs. Madison reached the 
appointed place, sixteen miles from Washington. But 
the President was not there, and here occurred one of 
those disagreeable scenes that are a disgrace to the 
name of humanity, and which, be it said to the shame of 
her sex, are oftener the acts of woman than of man. 
Crowds of persons from Washington occupied the tav- 
ern, and the women declared that the wife of him who 
had brought war upon the country, should not find 
shelter with them, its innocent victims. Jaded and ex- 
hausted from constant travel and want of sleep, the 
devoted band about Mrs. Madison waited in the rain, 
urging the tavern-keeper to give them an apartment 
until the President should arrive. The furious storm 
grew louder, the sky, lowering before, was black as 
night now, and a tornado of tropical fury set in which 
spread desolation for many miles around. Women 


who had repeatedly enjoyed the hospitalities of the 
White House, been admitted with kind cordiality to 
drawing-rooms and dinings, now vied with the wife of 
the landlord in denouncing vehemently the inclination 
of the men present to admit the Presidential party. 
Embittered by their real and imaginary wrongs, they 
lost all sense of honor and refinement, and stood in 
their true colors before the lady who never for one 
moment forgot the dignity becoming her station. She 
preferred exposure to the storm to contention ; but the 
escort with her, indignant at the contemptible conduct 
of the rude persons within, obliged the ungracious occu- 
pants to open the doors. The old tavern stood in the 
midst of an apple orchard laden with ripening fruit, and 
hardly had the travellers left their carriages when the hur- 
ricane dashed the apples, in several instances the entire 
trees, with fearful strength against the house. Mrs. Mad- 
ison spread the lunch she had prepared the day before at 
the White House, and in silence, interrupted only by her 
inquiries for the welfare of her attendants, they ate their 
damp food and smothered the intense disgust they felt 
for families who only the day before they deemed firm 
friends. The hours dragged slowly on, and the anxious 
wife looked in vain for her absent husband. Did she, in 
that hour of grief and humiliation, think of her illustrious 
predecessors who had endured like her the black in- 
gratitude of the women of her country? Had she for- 
gotten that the ladies of Philadelphia, in 1776, refused 
Mrs. Washington similar attention, and treated with 


scorn the wife of the Commander-in-chief, who was using 
every human endeavor to organize and establish a con- 
tinental army ? Or did it recur to her that a time would 
come when, like Mrs. Washington, she would again, 
through the brightening prospects of peace, receive the 
flattering adulation of those very persons, and the respect 
and admiration of the more cultivated throughout the 
land ? Did she think of that strong, resolute " Portia " 
of the Revolution who, in her modest home near the sea, 
denied and scorned the report that her husband had 
deserted to the British, yet who patiently submitted to 
the averted looks, and silent reproaches of those whom 
she thought her friends, and waited for the storm to blow 
over, and truth once more to triumph? Philadelphia 
was a great distance then from the coast of Massachu- 
setts, and mails were brought only at rare intervals, but 
with her strong faith she trusted in her husband's honor 
and felt that it was not betrayed. Time corrected the 
false rumor, but her heart had been deeply wounded, 
and it never forgot, if it forgave, the conduct of many 
who, in her hour of trial, turned against her. 

Nervous and impatient, Mrs. Madison waited in her 
inhospitable quarters for the President's coming ; and as 
night came on, her mind was relieved by seeing him 
approaching, accompanied by the friends with whom she 
left him the night before. He was careworn and hungry, 
and after devouring the remnants of her scanty meal, 
sought the repose he so needed. "That uneasy and 
humiliating repose, not the last of Mr. Madison's clegra- 


dations, was, however, the turning point of his fortunes; 
for while he slept, Ross hastily and clandestinely evacu- 
ated Washington, victor and vanquished alike victims of, 
and fugitives from, imagined perils." But the terrified 
citizens knew not that the British were impotent, a'nd 
dismayed at the non-appearance of their fleet. Every 
crash of thunder was to them a source of alarm, and its 
rumblings in the distant clouds the imagined noise of 
approaching troops. Toward midnight, a courier, breath- 
less from fatigue and excitement, warned the President 
that the enemy were coming, and he was compelled to 
pass the rest of that miserable night in a hovel in the 
distant woods, with the boughs sobbing and sighing their 
requiem around him, and the last efforts of the storm 
expending itself in moans, while the wind swept through 
the tall trees. The atmosphere was cooled by the great 
and prolonged storm, but all nature seemed to weep 
from exhaustion, and the stillness of the closing hours of 
the night were in marked contrast to the roar and din of 
the preceding twenty-four hours. 

Mrs. Madison was warned by her husband to use a 
disguise, and leaving her carriage and companions, pro- 
cure another conveyance and fly farther. Attended by 
a nephew of Judge Duvall, she set out accompanied by 
one soldier, and at the dawn of day left the inhospitable 
inn where the most unhappy night of her life had been 
passed. Her carriage and four horses were left with her 
friends, and a substitute obtained from a gentleman of 
Georgetown. Soon tidings reached her that Washington 


was evacuated, and retracing her steps, she reached, after 
a weary ride, the Long Bridge, which had been burned 
at both ends. Here the officer in charge positively re- 
fused to let an unknown woman cross in a carriage in 
his only remaining boat. No alternative was left her 
but to send for him and explain who she was, when she 
was driven in her carriage upon the dangerous little raft, 
which bore her nearer home. Reaching Washington, so 
disguised that no one knew her, in a strange carriage, 
she found her former home in ruins, and the noblest 
buildings reduced to blackened heaps of smoking timber. 
Desolation met her on every side, and the deserted 
streets were as quiet as the depths of the forest through 
which she had passed. Fortunately her sister, Mrs. 
Cutts, lived in the city, and she repaired there to await Mr. 
Madison's return. "The memory of the burning of Wash- 
ington," says another, "cannot be obliterated. The sub- 
ject is inseparable from the great international principles 
and usages. It never can be thought of by an American, 
and ought not to be thought of by an enlightened English- 
man, but in conjunction with the deplorable and reprehen- 
sible scenes it recalls. It was no trophy of war for a 
great nation. History cannot so record it. Our infant 
metropolis at that time had the aspect of merely a strag- 
gling village, but for the size and beauty of its public 
buildings. Its scattered population scarcely numbered 
eight thousand; it had no fortresses or sign of any; not 
a cannon was mounted." 

Late in the morning, news reached the President at his 


hiding-place in the hovel, that the enemy were retreating 
to their shipping and he, too, turned his steps toward 
the capital, and found his wife before him. He rented 
the house called the Octagon, owned by Colonel Tayloe, 
where his family passed the winter, and where he signed 
the treaty of peace. 

It was situated on the northeast corner of New York 
Avenue and Eighteenth street. He afterward removed 
to the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 
Nineteenth street, where he resided until the President's 
House was repaired. This house had been previously- 
occupied by the Treasury Department. On F street, in 
a house between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets, now 
numbered 246, Mr. and Mrs. Madison lived when he 
was Secretary of State. All three of these residences 
still remain. 

At the last New Year's Reception held by President 
Madison, he was dressed in a full suit of cloth of Ameri- 
can manufacture, made of the wool of merinoes raised in 
the United States. 

"An old citizen has informed me," says Mr. Gobright, 
in his "Men and Things at Washington," "that the levee 
of Mr. Madison, in February, 1816, was remembered for 
years as the most brilliant ever held up to that date in 
the Executive Mansion. The Justices of the Supreme 
Court were present in their gowns, at the head of whom 
was Chief-Justice Marshall. The Peace Commissioners 
to Ghent Gallatin, Bayard, Clay and Russell were in 
the company. Mr. Adams alone was absent. The levee 


was additionally brilliant the heroes of the war of 1812, 
Major-Generals Brown, Gaines, Scott and Ripley, with 
their aides, all in full dress, forming an attractive feature. 
The return of peace had restored the kindest feeling at 
home and abroad. The Federalists and Democrats of 
both Houses of Congress, party politicians, citizens and 
strangers were brought together as friends, to be thankful 
for the present, and to look forward with delight to the 
great future. The most notable feature of the evening 
was the magnificent display of the Diplomatic Corps, 
prominent in which was Sir Charles Bagot, special am- 
bassador from our late enemy, Great Britain. It was on 
this occasion that Mr. Bagot made the remark, that Mrs. 
Madison ' looked every inch a queen.' The only in- 
cident of* a disagreeable character was the coolness 
toward the French minister (who was very popular with 
the Republicans) by the Representatives of the Holy 
Alliance. Mrs. Madison, like Mr. Clay, was very fond 
of snuff. The lady offered him a pinch from her splendid 
box, which the gentleman accepted with the grace for 
which he was distinguished. Mrs. Madison put her hand 
into her pocket, and pulling out a bandanna handkerchief, 
said, ' Mr. Clay, this is for rough work,' at the same time 
applying it at the proper place; 'and this,' producing a 
fine lace handkerchief from another pocket, * is my pol- 
isher.' She suited the actions to the words, removing 
from her nose the remaining grains of snuff." 

Mrs. Madison at this time was represented as being 
a very gay lady, with much rouge on her cheeks, and 


always appearing in a turban. She was fond of bright 
colors and the elegances of the toilet; yet she generally 
wore inexpensive clothing, preserving always the neat- 
ness of a Quaker, with the elegance of a lady of taste. 

Two plain ladies from the West, passing through 
Washington, determined to see Mrs. Madison; but as 
they reached there late at night, and were to leave early 
next day, they were much puzzled to know how the feat 
should be performed. Meeting in the street an old gen- 
tleman next morning, they timidly approached and asked 
him to show them the way to the President's House. 
Being an old acquaintance of Mrs. Madison, he took 
pleasure in conducting the strangers to the White House. 
The President's family were at breakfast when the 
party arrived, but Mrs. Madison good-naturedly went 
in to be seen by the curious old ladies, who were evi- 
dently much astonished to find so august a personage 
in a plain dark dress, with a linen handkerchief pinned 
about her neck. Her friendly welcome soon put them 
at ease, and rising to leave, after a visit never to be for- 
gotten, one of them said, "P'rhaps you wouldn't mind if 
I jest kissed you, to tell my gals about." Mrs. Madison, 
not to be outdone by her guest's politeness, gracefully 
saluted each of the delighted old ladies, who adjusted 
their spectacles, and, with evident admiration, departed. 

Mr. Madison was a silent, grave man, whose nature 
was relieved by a vein of quiet good-humor, which in his 
moments of relaxation gave an inexpressible charm to 
his presence. A statesman of vast mind and research, 


he could not always descend to the graceful little ac- 
complishments which \vere so attractive to many ladies, 
and hence he was not so universally admired by the 
fair sex as his charming wife was by the gentlemen; but 
nothing gave him more pleasant satisfaction than to feel 
that Mrs. Madison could do credit to both in the draw- 
ing-room, and he was willing to be banished to his 

When Mr. Madison was attending Congress in 1783, 
he became attached to an interesting and accomplished 
young lady, daughter of an old friend of Mr. Jefferson, 
who was a co-signer with him of the Declaration of In- 
dependence.* This attachment, which promised at one 
time the most auspicious result, terminated at last in 
disappointment. The following extract of a letter ad- 
dressed to him on the occasion by Mr. Jefferson, is 
given because of its connection with an event which is 
never without importance in the life of a man of virtu- 
ous sensibilities, and as affording a touching proof of 
the intimate and fraternal sympathies which united the 
two friends. 

"I sincerely lament," he said, "the misadventure which 
has happened, from whatever cause it may have hap- 
pened. Should it be final, however, the world still pre- 
sents the same and many other sources of happiness, 
and you possess many within yourself. Firmness of 
mind and unintermitting occupation will not long leave 
you in pain. No event has been more contrary to my 

* General William Floyd, one of the delegates of New York. 


expectations, and these were founded on what 1 thought 
a good knowledge of the ground. But of all machines, 
ours is the most complicated and inexplicable." 

A curious coincidence connected with three of the 
four first Presidents is, that they married widows, and 
each had been at a previous time seriously interested 
in other ladies. It is also remarkable that neither 
Washington, Jefferson, Madison, or his successor, had 
sons, and two of them were childless. 

Mrs. Madison was not a learned woman, but de- 
cidedly a talented one, and her name will ever be a syn- 
onym for all that is charming and agreeable. 

A warm admirer of hers was convincing a friend that 
she was not vain. "But," said the other, "you tell me 
she used rouge and powder." "Yes, yes, she did," he re- 
plied, " but it was to please and gratify those who were 
thrown with her, not because she was fond of admira- 

Mrs. Trist, the daughter of Mrs. Randolph, in reply 
to my request for her description of Mrs. Madison, sent 
me the following : 

"My recollections of Mrs. Madison are of the most 
agreeable nature, and were formed from a long, intimate 
acquaintance beginning in my childhood, and ending 
only with her life. She had a sweet, natural dignity of 
manner which attracted while it commanded respect; a 
proper degree of reserve without stiffness in company 
with strangers ; and a stamp of frankness and sincerity 
which, with her intimate friends, became gayety and 


even playfulness of manner. There was, too, a cordial, 
genial, sunny atmosphere surrounding her, which won 
all hearts I think one of the secrets of her immense 
popularity. She was said to be, during Mr. Madison's 
administration, the most popular person in the United 
States, and she certainly had a remarkable memory for 
names and faces. No person introduced to Mrs. Mad- 
ison at one of the crowded levees at the White House 
required a second introduction on meeting her again, 
but had the gratification of being recognized and ad- 
dressed by his or her own name. Her son, Payne Todd, 
was a notoriously bad character. His misconduct was 
the sorrow of his mother's life. Mr. Madison, during 
his lifetime, bore with him like a father, and paid many 
of his debts, but he was an incorrigible spendthrift. His 
heartless, unprincipled conduct embittered the last years 
of his mother's life, and no doubt shortened it." 

An anecdote is related of Mrs. Madison, in connec- 
tion with Mrs. Merry, wife of the British Minister, and 
Thomas Moore, the poet. Mr. and Mrs. Merry were in- 
vited to dine with President Jefferson ; when dinner was 
announced, Mrs. Madison happened to be standing and 
talking to the President, at some distance from Mrs. 
Merry, and he offered his arm to her and conducted her 
to the table, where she always presided when no mem- 
bers of his family were present. This attention to the 
wife of the Secretary of State was considered by Mrs. 
Merry as an insult. " Such a stir was made by the angry 
ambassador, that Mr. Madison wrote to Mr. Monroe (who 


had succeeded Mr. King as our Minister to England), 
apprising him of the facts, to enable him to answer an 
expected call of the British Government for official ex- 
planations. Mr. Monroe, however, got his first informa- 
tion from a friendly British under-secretary, who inti- 
mated that he would soon probably hear of the matter 
through a different channel. The Minister was delighted. 
Within a very short period, the wife of an English under- 
secretary had been accorded precedence over his own, 
under analogous circumstances. He had no great fund 
of humor, but the absurdity of the whole affair, and the 
excellent materials in his possession for a reply to a call 
for explanations, struck him in a most amusing light. 
Shaking with merriment, he hinted to his informant the 
satisfaction the call would give him. He never after- 
ward heard a lisp on the subject." 

President Jefferson had abolished all etiquette in 
regard to official precedence when he went in office, 
and Mrs. Merry knew this, but she never forgave the 
occurrence, and never afterward went to the White 
House. Mrs. Madison regretted being the innocent 
cause of such a trouble, but she was spared further noto- 
riety by the absence of the British Minister or his family 
ever afterward at the President's reunions. The affair was 
not, however, destined to end here, for after the first 
clamor had subsided, the President, through another for- 
eign Minister, inquired if Mr. and Mrs. Merry would ac- 
cept an invitation to a family dinner. It was understood 
that they would accept, and Mr. Jefferson wrote the invi- 


tation himself. Mr. Merry addressed a note to the Sec- 
retary of State to know if he was invited in his private 
or official capacity ; " if in the one, he must obtain the 
permission of his sovereign ; if in the other, he must re- 
ceive an assurance in advance that he would be treated 
as became his position." Mr. Madison ended the corre- 
spondence with a very dry note. Thomas Moore, who 
was travelling in the United States at this time, and 
being a friend of Mrs. Merry's, and disgusted with his 
reception, fell to lampooning the President and every- 
thing American, except a few attentive Federal gentle- 
men and ladies. 

In 1817, President Madison's term expired, and his 
Secretary of State, James Monroe, assumed the duties 
of President. Washington had so long been the home 
of Mrs. Madison, that it was with much regret she pre- 
pared to leave the city. Many and dear were her 
friends, and the society of relatives was another strong 
link binding her to the city. 

Always fond of agricultural pursuits, Mr. Madison 
joyfully returned to his beautiful and peaceful home. 
Montpelier was within less than a day's ride of Monti- 
cello, and in the estimate of a Virginian, Mr. Jefferson 
and Mr. Madison were neighbors. 

The National Republican, of November 2d, 1831, thus 
speaks of Mr. and Mrs. Madison: 

"How must they look in these days on the tempestu- 
ous sea of liberty; on the dangers incident to the little 
barks now floating on its agitated surface. Can they 


feel for the safety of that on which embarked the for- 
tunes of Henry Clay? We hope and trust they do; 
and at any rate we rejoice that, safe in port, they can 
review with just pride and pleasure their own safe and 
triumphant voyage, and can recollect the auspicious day 
of their landing. One of them the rallying point, the 
beginning and end of the cabinet in all of its just works, 
and the other the chief ornament and glory of the draw- 
ing-room, in the purest and most intelligent days of 
our Republic." 

"Embosomed among the hills which lie at the foot of 
the South Mountain, is the paternal estate of Mr. Madi- 
son. A large and commodious mansion, designed more 
for comfort and hospitality than ornament and display, 
rises at the foot of a high wooded hill, which, while it 
affords shelter from the northwest winds, adds much to 
the picturesque beauty of the scene. The grounds 
around the house owe their ornaments more to nature 
than art, as, with the exception of a fine garden behind, 
and a wide-spread lawn before the house, for miles 
around the ever-varying and undulating surface of- the 
ground is covered with forest trees. The extreme salu- 
brity of the situation induced the proprietor to call it 

"One wing of the house during her lifetime was ex- 
clusively appropriated to the venerable and venerated 
mother of Mr. Madison, to which were attached offices 
and gardens, forming a separate establishment, where 
this aged matron preserved the habits and the hours 


of her early life, attended by old family slaves, and 
surrounded by her children and grandchildren. 

"Under the same roof, divided only by a partition- 
wall, were thus exhibited the customs of the beginning 
and end of a century; thus offering a strange but 
most interesting exhibition of the differences between 
the old and the new age. By only opening a door, the 
observer passed from the elegancies, refinements, and 
gayeties of modern life into all that was venerable, 
respectable, and dignified in gone-by days; from the 
airy apartments windows opening to the ground, hung 
with light silken drapery, French furniture, light fancy 
chairs, gay carpets, etc., etc., to the solid and heavy 
carved and polished mahogany furniture darkened by 
age, the thick rich curtains, and other more comfortable 
adjustments of our great-grandfathers' times. It was 
considered a great favor and distinction by the gay visi- 
tors who thronged Mrs. Madison's hospitable mansion, 
to be admitted to pay the homage of their respect to his 
reverend mother." A lady who visited Montpelier in 
1836, when the latter was in her ninety-seventh year, 
said of her: 

" She still retained all her faculties, though not free 
from the bodily infirmities of age. She was sitting, or 
rather reclining, on a couch; beside her was a small table 
filled with large, dark, and worn quartos and folios of most 
venerable appearance. She closed one as we entered, 
and took up her knitting which lay beside her. Among 
other inquiries, I asked her how she passed her time. 'I 


am never at a loss/ she replied; 'this and these (touch- 
ing her knitting and her books) keep me always busy; 
look at my fingers, and you will perceive I have not 
been idle.' In truth, her delicate fingers were polished 
by her knitting-needles. 'And my eyes, thanks be to 
God, have not failed me yet, and I read most part of 
the day; but in other respects I am feeble and helpless, 
and owe everything to her,' pointing to Mrs. Madison, 
who sat by us. 'She is my mother now, and tenderly 
cares for all my wants.' My eyes were filled with tears 
as I looked from the one to the other of these excellent 
women, and thought of the tender ties by which they 
were united. Never, in the midst of a splendid draw- 
ing-room, surrounded by all that was courtly and 
brilliant, all that was admired and respected the centre 
of attraction the object of admiration never was Mrs. 
Madison so interesting, so lovely, so estimable as in 
her attendance on this venerable woman, the acknowl- 
edged object of her grateful affection. 

" Much as she graced her public station, she has not 
been less admirable in domestic life. Neighborly and 
companionable among her country friends, as if she had 
never lived in a city ; delighting in the society of the 
young, and never better pleased than when promoting 
every youthful pleasure by her participation ; she still 
proved herself the affectionate and devoted wife during 
the years of suffering health of her excellent husband. 
Without neglecting the duties of a kind hostess, a faithful 

friend and relative, she soothed and enlivened, occupied 


and amused, the languid hours of his long confinement; 
he knew, appreciated, and acknowledged the blessing 
which heaven had bestowed on him in giving him such a 

At about sixty-six years of age Mr. Madison retired 
from public life, and ever after resided on his estate in 
Virginia, except about two months while at Richmond 
as a member of the convention in 1829, which sat there 
to remodel the constitution of that State. His farm, his 
books, his friends, and his correspondence, were the 
sources of his enjoyment and occupation during the 
twenty years of his retirement. During most of that 
time his health, never robust, was as good as usual, and 
he partook with pleasure of the exercise and the con- 
viviality in which he had always enjoyed himself. 

At eighty-five years of age, though much reduced by 
debility, his mind was bright, his memory retentive, and 
his conversation highly instructive and delightful. Suffer- 
ing with disease, he never repined. Serene and even 
lively, he still loved to discuss the constitution, to incul- 
cate the public good, and to charge his friends with 
blessings for his country. He was long one of the most 
interesting shrines to which its votaries repaired: a relic 
of republican virtue which none could contemplate with- 
out reverence and edification. 

On the 28th of June, 1836, he died; as serene, philo- 
sophical, and calm in the last moments of existence as 
he had been in all the trying occasions of life. 

In the winter of 1836, Mrs. Madison wrote to Presi- 


dent Jackson in regard to a manuscript left by her 
husband and which he intended for publication. The 
copyright had been offered to several publishing houses, 
but their offers had fallen so far below her expectations, 
that she determined to lay the matter before the Chief 
Magistrate. In a special message, the President com- 
municated the contents of her letter to Congress, and 
the manuscript was purchased as a national work, and 
thirty thousand dollars paid her for it. 

The novel and interesting features of the case, the 
venerable relict of one of the founders of the Republic 
coming before the country with a manuscript precious 
in its rela&oii to its national destiny, were such that the 
proposition was not to be met with a cold appreciation 
of merits, or with nice questions of Congressional power. 
I,t was 'this feeling also which induced Congress to pass 
a subsequent act, giving to Mrs. Madison the honorary 
privJege of a copyright in foreign countries. The work 
is a record of the Debates in the congress of the conven- 
tion during the years 1782-1787. 

Congress also conferred the franking privilege upon 
Mrs. Madison, and voted her a seat upon the floor of the 

The last twelve years of Mrs. Madison's life were spent 
in Washington, where she mingled in the society of the 
young and happy, as well as the aged and recluse. Many 
remember her dignified bearing, and gentle, kind manner 
in her old age, and it was considered a pleasure to be 
a guest where she was to be present. On New Year's 


and Fourth of July, she held public receptions, and the 
throng of visitors was equal to that which assembled at 
the President's house. She took up her residence in 
Washington in 1837, m the house in which she died. 
This house on the southeast corner of H. street North 
and Madison Place was built by President Madison in 
1819; after her death it was purchased by Captain 
Wilkes and by him enlarged. She died on the I2th of 
July, 1849, at ^e age of eighty-two years. Her funeral, 
which was attended by a large concourse of people, took 
place on the i6th, from St. John's Episcopal Church, 
and the interment took place at Montpelier. The grave 
is near by that of her husband's, over which latter a 
noble monument stands. The old homestead has 
passed into other hands, but it will ever be associated 
with the illustrious man who gave it name and fame, 
and the fact that it is the last resting-place of the fourth 
President of the United States, and of his wife, will ever 
hallow it in the hearts of reverent Americans. 



THE era in which Mrs. Monroe lived was the most 
eventful in the history of nations, and her record 
is of interest and value, in a twofold degree. The 
women who stamp the influence of their virtues on a 
time of public excitement and wonderful changes, bear 
in their natures strength of character worthy of emu- 
lation ; and they become the benefactors of succeeding; 
ages, as they were the blessings of their own. The me- 
mqrials of such should be familiar to the children of 
America, who under the genius of Republican institu- 
tions, are the inheritors of, and successors to, their fame 
and positions. No daughter of Columbia should be 
ignorant of the history and experiences of their national 
ancestors, whose lives were beautiful in their simplicity, 
and rich in varied experiences. 

The rarest treasure our country possesses is the 
fame of her children ; and her noblest legacy to pos- 
terity should be the record of those, who by their talents 
have adorned, and by their wisdom sustained, the 
pioneers of liberty in their first weak efforts. Of such 
a class was Mrs. Monroe, whose husband for half a cen- 
tury reaped the reward of his country's constancy, and 
filled in that period more important offices than any 
other man in the United States. 



Statesmen in this country are too often forced to give 
way to politicians, and patriots to demagogues. The 
perpetual agitations of a Republic carry up on the flood 
those who in turn are swept down with the tide ; while 
in the commotion many are lost to history. But this is 
less the case with Virginia statesmen than with any 
other class of public men. Whatever may be said of 
the Ingratitude of other States, the "Old Mother" has 
been true to her children, and the caprice and change- 
ableness of younger commonwealths but render her 
trust and confidence the more conspicuous. And if she 
has trusted implicitly the integrity of her offspring, she 
has been rewarded by the love and fidelity of the 
noblest public men of the nation. 

The inauguration of Washington at New York, in 
1789, was followed by the immediate assembling of 
Congress, and thither went Mr. Monroe, as Senator 
from Virginia, accompanied by Mr. Jefferson, the newly- 
appointed Secretary of State. 

The ancient seat of the Dutch dynasty on this Conti- 
nent was a place of much wealth ; and not the least of 
its possessions were the bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked de- 
scendants of the rich old Patroons, whose delight knew 
'no bounds when their city was chosen as the capital. 
No less pleased were their fathers who, in their capaci- 
ties as merchants and capitalists, hoped to achieve new 
honors and increased wealth. 

The festivities which subsequently followed the in- 
auguration were attended by all the members of Con- 


gress, who, as strangers of distinction, received the 
largest share of the young belles' attention. Prominent 
among these belles was Miss Elizabeth Kortright, the 
daughter of Lawrence Kortright, a former captain in 
the British, army. After the peace of 1783, he remained 
with his family in New York, where his children were 
reared and educated. Of this interesting family there 
were one son and four daughters, two of whom, Mrs. 
Heyliger, of Santa Cruz, whose husband, Mr. Heyliger, 
had been Grand Chamberlain to the King of Denmark, 
and Mrs. Knox, were married when Congress assembled 
in their adopted city. The other daughter was the wife 
of Nicholas Gouverneur of New York.* 

Mrs. Monroe's marriage took place in New York, in 
1786, while Mr. Monroe was attending a session of 
Congress. Soon after their marriage they took up 
their abode in Philadelphia, whither the seat of the 
General Government had been removed. In this po- 
sition he remained until 1794, when he was appointed 
from the Senate to be Envoy Extraordinary and Min- 
ister Plenipotentiary to France. Thus is shadowed 
forth the five years of Mrs. Monroe's life succeeding 
her marriage. Nothing more definite can be gathered. 
It is a matter of regret that no biographer of her day 
anticipated the needs of a coming generation, and tran- 
scribed, with all the facts and incidents fresh in his mind, 

* The only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Knox married Colonel Alexander Hamil- 
ton, son of the statesman, Alexander Hamilton. 


an impartial account of the every-day existence of the 
woman whose memory appeals now for justice. 

Very little was written of her during her life, beyond 
occasional mention after her husband's election to the 
Presidency, nor has any history of his life been written 
from which to glean even a mention of her name. This 


is a remarkable fact, that in none of the public libraries 
of New York or Brooklyn, is there any history of a man 
who occupied the Presidential chair eight years, and 
whose record should be the inheritance of his descend- 
ants. A brief sketch, written many years ago, is all that 
was to be found, and there is no mention of his wife in it. 

Of dignified and stately manners was Mrs. Monroe, and 
possessed of a face upon which beauty was written in un- 
mistakable lines. Tall and gracefully formed, polished 
and elegant in society, she was one fitted to represent 
her countrywomen at the court of St. Cloud. Her posi- 
tion, as the wife of a wealthy Virginia Senator, sur- 
rounded by luxury and prosperity, proud of her husband 
and of her country, was calculated to enhance the 
pleasure of a trip to Europe, while the comparative in- 
frequency of a voyage across the Atlantic heightened the 
pleasure with which she received the announcement of 
his appointment. 

During their residence in Paris, the eldest daughter 
of Mr. and Mrs. Monroe, who afterwards married Judge 
George Hay, of Richmond, Virginia, :i: was a pupil at 

* Their eldest daughter, Hortensia, a very beautiful girl, married Lord Rogers, 
of Baltimore. 


Madame Campan's celebrated school, where Hortense 
Beauharnais, the daughter of Josephine, and the future 
Queen of Holland and mother of Napoleon III., was 
also a pupil, and between whom there existed a warm 

Young and ambitious, full of enthusiasm and admira- 
tion for the principles of a free government, Mr. Monroe 
left the shores of his native land, whose liberty he had so 
recently assisted in establishing. He had entered the 
service of his country as a cadet in a corps under the 
command of the gallant General Mercer, of Virginia. 
Soon afterward he was appointed a lieutenant, and joined 
the army at New York. Following the fortunes of the 
Chief, he was with him at Trenton, Princeton, Brandy- 
wine, Germantown and Monmouth. Retiring from the 
staff of Lord Sterling, where he had served two cam- 
paigns, after being wounded in the shoulder at Trenton, 
he repaired to Virginia to raise a regiment. From va- 
rious causes he failed in this undertaking, and did not 
return to the army, but entered Mr. Jefferson's office as 
a student at law. A member of the Legislature, and at 
the age of twenty-four elected to the Continental Con- 
gress, from which he passed to the Congress of the 
United States, we find him from his earliest boyhood 
devoted to the land of his birth, and serving it in these 
various positions of honor and eminence. 

But glowing with youthful admiration for the Republic- 
he had left behind, he was not careful to conceal his feel- 
ings in imperial France, and hence made himself un- 


popular with those in power. He was deemed too en- 
thusiastically engaged in the feelings of revolutionary 
France to do justice to his own country, and he was 
recalled by Washington. 

In August, 1792, Lafayette was taken prisoner by the 
Austrians, and after being thrown like a criminal in the 
Prussian dungeon at Wesel on the Rhine, was trans- 
ferred successively to Magdeburg, Glatz, Neisse, and 
finally to Olmutz. In this Austrian dungeon he was 
convinced by the rigor of his confinement and the brutal 
treatment of his captors that his fate was sealed. 
Down in his dark cell, ten paces deep, where the rain 
through the loop-holes poured, and the sun did not shine, 
the young defender of American liberty lay chained, 
while the weary months dragged by, and no word of 
hope or certainty of death came from his wife and 
children left behind in Paris. Wasted by disease, de- 
prived of light, air, and decent food the loathsome 
dampness and filth of his dungeon so reducing him that 
his hair fell from him entirely by the excess of his suffer- 
ings, his cruel tormentors cheered his gloom and oppres- 
sion by no word or look of sympathy. America knew 
the fate of his loved ones, and while his estates were 
confiscated, his wife in the prison of La Force, and his 
litde children, two of whom shared the confinement of 
their mother, awaiting the wrath of their oppressors, the 
agents of the country whose once hopeless cause he had 
espoused were actively employed in behalf of their 
former friend. 


It is not to be wondered that Mrs. Monroe shared the 
feeling entertained by her husband, or that her warmest 
womanly feelings were stirred by the recital of Madame 
Lafayette's woes. The Marquis de Lafayette was adored 
by Americans, and the indignities heaped upon his 
heroic wife could scarcely be borne by the Minister and 
his family, when they felt that the death of a martyr 
would be the result of her cruel and protracted confine- 
ment. The lofty position America had just assumed 
among the nations of the earth, and the respect engen- 
dered by her success rendered her Ministers in foreign 
countries objects of special attention and regard. When 
Mr. Monroe decided to risk displeasure by sending his 
wife to see Madame Lafayette, he appreciated the decided 
effect it would have for good or evil. He well knew 
that either it would meet with signal success, and be of 
benefit to his unfortunate friend, or render her slight 
claim to clemency yet more desperate. Enlisted as his 
feelings were, he determined to risk the die, and Mrs. 
Monroe was consulted in regard to the plan. To her 
husband's anxious queries, she replied calmly, and 
assured him of her ability to control and sustain herself. 

As the carriage of the American Minister, adorned 
with all the outward emblems of rank, halted before the 
entrance of the prison, the keeper advanced to know the 
object of the visit. Mrs. Monroe, with firm step and 
steady voice, alighted and made known her business, 
and to her surprise was conducted to the reception 
room, while the official retired to make known her re- 


quest. Her heart beat loudly as she alone listened to 
the tread of the jailer as he closed the heavy door and 
passed down the long hall which separated the cells. 
After a lapse of time, which to one in her nervous state 
seemed an age, she heard the footsteps returning, and 
soon the opening of the ponderous door discovered to 
her astonished view the presence of the emaciated 
prisoner, assisted by her guard. 

The emotion of the marchioness was touching in the 
extreme, and she sank at the feet of Mrs. Monroe, 
unable to articulate her joy. 

All day she had been expecting the summons to pre- 
pare for her execution, and when the silence of her cell 
was disturbed by the approach of the gendarmes, her 
last hope was fast departing. Instead of the cruel an- 
nouncement the assurance that a visitor awaited her 
presence in the receiving-room ot the prison, and on 
finding in that visitor the American Ambassadress, the 
representative of her husband's adopted home, her long- 
pent feelings found relief in sobs. The reaction was 
sudden, and the shock more than her feeble frame could 

The presence of the sentinels precluded all efforts at 
conversation, and both hesitated to peril the frail chance 
of life, or to abuse the unheard-of privilege of an inter- 
view. After a painful stay of short duration Mrs. Mon- 
roe rose to retire, assuring her friend in a voice audible 
to her listeners, for whom it was intended, that she 
would call the following morning, and then hastened to 
relieve the anxiety of her husband. 


Madame Lafayette's long-delayed execution had been 
decided upon, and that very afternoon she was to have 
been beheaded, but the unexpected visit of the Min- 
ister's wife altered the minds of the officials, and to the 
surprise of all, she was liberated the next morning. 

The prestige of the young Republic was appreciated 
by the French in power, and they dared not, from mo- 
tives of self-interest, sacrifice a lady in whom the Ameri- 
can Minister was so directly interested. They had not 
forgotten with what admiration the people of the United 
States looked upon her husband, the Marquis de La- 

Deaf to all the entreaties of her friends, and firm in 
her determination to carry immediate consolation to the 
dungeon of her persecuted husband, Madame Lafayette 
left Paris accompanied by her two daughters in disguise, 
and under the protection of American passports. 

Passing under the name of Mrs. Motier, she landed 
at Altona on the ninth of September, 1 795, and after 
repeated difficulties eventually reached the prison, 
where she was notified that if she passed its threshold, 
she must remain. 

The heroic woman signed her consent and determina- 
tion, to share his captivity in all its details, being " fully 
determined never again to expose herself to the horrors 
of another separation." 

The two most conspicuous men of their age, George 
Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte, effected by their 
co-operation the release of Lafayette and his deeply- 


injured family the former after an imprisonment of 
more than five years, the latter a period of twenty-two 

Mr. Monroe was recalled, and after his return to 
America, he published a justification of his conduct while 
abroad ; the pamphlet settled nothing, but justified both 
parties in the views which they had taken. 

Thus was Mrs. Monroe's short stay in Europe 
brought to a termination. In many ways it had been 
pleasant and beneficial, and although she regretted her 
husband's unfortunate recall, she rather joyed in the 
conduct which had produced this result. Unacquainted 
with diplomacy and the line of action necessary between 
nations, she allowed her own feelings to decide her 
movements, and honored the same spirit in her hus- 
band. The privilege of being a succor and means of 
relief to Madame Lafayette satisfied her more than min- 
isterial honors, and she would rather have performed 
this deed prompted by Mr. Monroe's advice than re- 
mained the wife of the Ambassador. 

The friendship between Mr. Monroe and Lafayette 
was very strong. The latter felt that Mr. Monroe was 
largely instrumental in the presentation of the $200,000 
which the United States gave him in 1824, and also for 
kindness shown his son, George Washington Lafayette, 
when he was in prison. The lad was about to be con- 
scripted into the army, and Mr. Monroe, aided by two 
American gentlemen, Joseph Russell and Col. Perkins, 
raised the amount necessary to buy a substitute ($1,500), 


and then sent him to America, where he was the guest 
of Washington for a year. 

When news reached Lafayette in 1828 of the pecuniary 
trouble which Mr. Monroe was in, and the ill health of 
his wife, he wrote him offering him the proceeds of the 
sale of half of his Florida lands, which were very valuable, 
as a loan, and urging Mr. Monroe not to mortify him 
by a refusal, since he had accepted like favors from him 
in the past. The generous offer was declined by Mr. 

Paris as now, though in a less degree, was the centre 
of all that was to be enjoyed, and Mrs. Monroe did 
not regret her stay there, though so abruptly ended. 
This first trip over the tedious waters was fraught with 
interest and improvement to both. New fields of thought 
were explored by them, and the expanse of their souls, 
under a sense of freedom and change, gained for their 
ultimate happiness more than mere worldly honors could 
give or take away. 

Thus in the devious windings of life we are constantly 
reminded that after the lesson is the application, and ex- 
perience pronounces both, though hard to bear, necessary 
for ultimate progression. 

Mrs. Monroe returned to New York with her husband, 
who was looked upon as a disgraced minister, and being 
the first who had been so designated, was viewed by his 
friends with deep sympathy. For a time the society of 
her family and friends soothed her sensitive feelings, but 
she soon afterwards accompanied her husband to Vir- 
ginia, where he was at once chosen Governor. 


This evidence of affection gladdened the hearts of both 
recipients, and during the constitutional term of three 
years, through which he served, Mrs. Monroe added to 
the dignity and success of his official life by her uniform 
and acceptable course. The capital of the State at that 
time was Williamsburg, a place of refined hospitality 
and sociability, and here the fine character of the Gov- 
ernor's wife was discovered under the most delicate cir- 
cumstances, as well as during the most pleasing occasions. 

After President Jefferson came into power, he ap- 
pointed Mr. Monroe Envoy Extraordinary to the Court 
of France, to act with Mr. Livingston in negotiating for 
the purchase of Louisiana. As soon as he arrived on 
the French soil, Mr. Livingston wrote as follows to 
him : 

PARIS, iQth of April, 1803. 

DEAR SIR : I congratulate you on your safe arrival. 
We have long and anxiously wished for you. God grant 
that your mission may answer your and the public ex- 
pectation. War may do something for us ; nothing else 
would. I have paved the way for you, and if you could 
add to my memoirs an assurance that we were now in 
possession of New Orleans, we should do well. But I 
detain Mr. Beutalon, who is impatient to fly to the arms 
of his wife. I have apprised the minister of your arrival, 
and told him you would be here on Tuesday or Wednes- 
day. Present my compliments and Mrs. Livingston's to 
Mrs. Monroe, and believe me, dear sir, your friend and 
humble servant, ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. 


After the business of the treaty was arranged, Mr. 
Monroe was sent as Minister to London, to succeed Mr. 
King, who wished to return home. From there he was 
ordered to Spain, which country he visited by way of 
Paris. Mrs. Monroe accompanied him in all his wan- 
derings, and returned with him to England soon after 
the death of Mr. Pitt. 

Mr. Monroe was minister to England when the attack 
on the frigate "Chesapeake" placed the two countries, 
already irritated, in a hostile attitude, and finding his 
position at the St. James anything but pleasant, he re- 
turned to this country. Thus did Mrs. Monroe spend 
almost ten years in Europe, returning only when the 
country was plunging again into a second war with the 
mother land. She gladly sought retirement at Oak Hill,, 
her husband's Virginia home, and the following years 
passed in the enjoyment of the serene pleasures of 
country life Mr. Monroe engaged during the- day ilk 
reading and taking the general supervision of. his plan- 
tation, while she supervised the education of their two. 
daughters and the household duties, which, in a Virginia, 
home were always arduous. 

But this quiet home-life was not destined: to last, and 
the husband and father resumed the duties of a. politician, 
and was elected to the Legislature. In. a. few months he 
was again chosen Governor of the. old commonwealth, 
and continued to discharge the duties of that office until 
chosen Secretary of State by President Madison. 

When the war of 1812 was~ declared, Mrs.. Monroe was 


living in Washington City, dispensing the duties of a 
minister's wife, and enjoying the society of her two 

As the strife came nearer home and the capital was 
threatened, she returned to Oak Hill, and there remained 
until peace was finally proclaimed. Anxious and uneasy 
about her husband, who was ever beside the President, 
she yet felt that her place was at her own home, that he 
might feel assured of the safety of herself and children. 

In 1817, Mr. Monroe became President of the United 
States, and removed his family to the White House, 
where they continued to reside during both terms of his 
administration. Mrs. Monroe was spoken of at this time 
.by the leading paper of the day as follows : 

" Mrs. Monroe is an elegant, accomplished woman. 
She possesses a charming mind and dignity of man- 
ners, which peculiarly fit her for her elevated station. 
Her retired domestic habits will be much annoyed by 
what is here called society, if she does not change the 
etiquette (if it may be called so), established by Mrs. 
Washington, Adams and Madison, a routine which her 
feeble constitution will not permit her to encounter. To 
go through it, she must become a perfect slave to the 
sacrifice of her health. The secretaries, senators, foreign 
ministers, consuls, auditors, accountants, officers of the 
navy and army of every grade, farmers, merchants, par- 
sons, priests, lawyers, judges, auctioneers and nothinga- 
rians all with their wives and some with their gawky 
offspring, crowd to the President's house every Wednes- 


day evening ; some in shoes, most in boots, and many in 
spurs ; some snuffing, others chewing, and many longing 
for their cigars and whiskey-punch left at home. Some 
with powdered heads, others frizzled and oiled, with 
some whose heads a comb has never touched, half-hid by 
dirty collars, reaching far above their ears, as stiff as 

And an English writer comments in a similar strain : 

" Mrs. Monroe is a lady of retired and domestic habits, 
not ungraceful and apparently very amiable. 

" Having resided in Europe with her husband, she 
has acquired some of its manners and a good deal of its 
polish. She receives company, but returns no visits; 
she seems more attached to the silence and peace of 
obscurity, than the bustle, confusion and glare of public 
assemblies. But to preserve a custom established by 
her predecessor, a lady it is said of great elegance of 
manners and much dignity of deportment, she gives 
what are termed 'drawing-rooms' for the purpose of 
gratifying the wishes and curiosity of such strangers as 
may please to visit her and the President. 

"These drawing-rooms are conducted on principles 
of republican simplicity, and are widely different from 
the magnificence and splendor of the English levees. 
They appeared to me, however, very unpleasant; the 
rooms are so crowded, the hum of voices so loud, and 
the motion of the. company so incessant, that the possi- 
bility of continuing a conversation on any subject is 
wholly precluded, and you are jostled every instant 


without the power of enjoying the ' feast of reason ' or 
even the pleasure of the senses." 

The White House had been partly rebuilt when Mr. 
Monroe became President, but it possessed but few com- 
forts and no elegance. The furniture was not of the 
kind nor quality befitting the house of the Chief Magis- 
trate, and the debris of the former ill-fated building lay 
in heaps about the mansion. The country being once 
more at peace, Congress ordered Consul Lee, then re- 
siding at Paris, to purchase a silver service of plate, 
which was forwarded at once, and which has continued 
in use until replaced by a more modern and expensive 
set in March, '69. 

About the same time was bought for the East Room 
the furniture which now adorns that famous apartment. 
When the purchase was made in Paris, each article was 
surmounted by the royal crown of Louis XVIII. This 
ornament of gilt was removed, and the American Eagle 
substituted before it was sent from France. To the 
thoughtful mind this furniture is of interest in so far as 
it recalls the dead who have lon^ since crumbled back 


to dust, yet, whose memory is associated with the chairs 
and ottomans still remaining where they were placed 
years ago. True, they have been often repaired, but the 
original eagles are as bright as when they left the shores 
of the Empire, to grace the house of the Republic. 

Mrs. Monroe mingled but little in the society of Wash- 
ington, and always secluded herself from the observation 
of the throng. Her health was frail during the latter 


years of her life in the White House, and she became 
more than ever a recluse. One of the many guests of 
the President and Mrs. Monroe during the last winter 
of their stay in the White House was Lafayette, who 
afterward visited them at their residence in Loudon 
county, Virginia. 

In a recent publication there is a copy of an old letter 
written by Mr. Cooper, in which he thus mentions a 
dinner and a reception at the White House during Mr. 
Monroe's time. 

" On this occasion we were honored with the presence 
of Mrs. Monroe and two or three of her female relatives. 
Crossing the hall we were admitted to a drawing-rooni,in 
which most of the company were already assembled. The 
hour was six. By far the greater part of the guests were 
men, and perhaps two-thirds were members of Congress. 

" There was great gravity of mien in most of the com- 
pany, and neither any very marked exhibition, rior any 
positively striking want of grace of manner. The con- 
versation was commonplace and a little sombre, though 
two or three men of the world got around the ladies, 
where the battle of words was maintained with sufficient 
spirit. To me the entertainment had rather a cold than 
a formal air. When dinner was announced, the oldest 
Senator present (there were two, and seniority of ser- 
vice is meant) took Mrs. Monroe and led her to the 
table. The rest of the party followed without much 
order. The President took a lady, as usual, and preceded 
the rest of the guests. The dining-room was in better 

o o 


taste than is common here, being quite simple and but 
little furnished. The table was large and rather hand- 
some. The service was in china, as is uniformly the 
case, plate being exceedingly rare, if at all used. There 
was, however, a rich plateau, and a great abundance of 
the smaller articles of table-plate. The cloth, napkins, 
etc., etc., were fine and beautiful. The dinner was 
served in the French style, a little Americanized. The 
dishes were handed around, though some of the guests, 
appearing to prefer their own customs, coolly helped 
themselves to what they found at hand. 

" Of attendants there were a good many. They were 
neatly dressed, out of livery, and sufficient. To con- 
clude, the whole entertainment might have passed for a 
better sort of European dinner-party, at which the guests 
were too numerous for general or very agreeable dis- 
course, and some of them too new to be entirely at their 
ease. Mrs. Monroe arose, at the end of the dessert, and 
withdrew, .attended by two or three of the most gallant 
of the company. No sooner was his wife's back turned 
than the President reseated himself, inviting his guests 
to imitate the action. After allowing his guests sufficient 
time to renew, in a few glasses, the recollections of sim- 
ilar enjoyments of their own, he arose himself, giving the 
hint to his company that it was time to rejoin the ladies. 
In the drawing-room coffee was served, and every one 
left the house before nine/' 

"On the succeeding Wednesday, Mrs. Monroe opened 
her doors to all the world. No invitation was necessary. 


it being the usage for the wife of the President to receive 
company once a fortnight during the session, without 
distinction of persons. We reached the White House 
at nine. The court (or rather the grounds) was filled 
with carriages, and the company was arriving in great 
numbers. On this occasion, two or three additional 
drawing-rooms were opened, though the frugality of 
Congress has prevented them from finishing the principal 
reception-room of the building. I will acknowledge the 
same sort of surprise I felt at the Castle Garden fete, at 
finding the assemblage so respectable in air,, dress and 
deportment. The evening at the White House, or 
drawing-room, as it is sometimes pleasantly called, is, in 
fact, a collection of all classes of people who choose to 
go to the trouble and expense of appearing in dresses 
suited to an ordinary evening party. I am not sure that 
even dress is much regarded, for I certainly saw a good 
many there in boots. The females were all neatly and 
properly attired, though few were ornamented with jew- 
elry. Of course, the poor and laboring classes of the 
community would find little or no pleasure in such a 
scene. The infamous, if known, would not be admitted, for 
it is a peculiar consequence of the high tone of morals 
in this country, that grave and notorious offenders rarely 
presume to violate the public feeling by invading society. 
" Squeezing through the crowd, we achieved a passage 
to a part of the room where Mrs. Monroe was standing, 
surrounded by a bevy of female friends. After making 
our bow here, we sought the President. The latter had 


posted himself at the top of the room, where he remained 
most of the evening, shaking hands with all who ap- 
proached. Near him stood all the secretaries, and a 
great number of the most distinguished men of the na- 
tion. Individuals of importance from all parts of the 
Union were also here, and were employed in the manner 
usual to such scenes. Besides these, one meets here a 
great variety of people in other conditions of life. I ha^e 
known a cartman to leave his horse in the street, and go 
into the reception-room to shake hands with the Presi- 
dent. He offended the good taste of all present, be- 
cause it was not thought decent that a laborer should 
come in a dirty dress on such an occasion ; but while he 
made a trifling mistake in this particular, he proved how 
well he understood the difference between government 
and society. He knew the levee was a sort of homage paid 
to political equality in the person of the First Magistrate, 
but he would not have presumed to enter the house of the 
same person as a private individual without being invited, 
or without a reasonable excuse in the way of business." 
Maria Monroe, the youngest daughter of the President, 
was married March, 1820, in the East Room, to her cousin, 
Samuel L. Gouverneur, of New York, after what a letter 
writer of that day describes as "the New York style." 
This was a wedding where only the attendants, the re- 
lations, and a few old friends of the bride and groom 
witnessed the ceremony. Then the bridesmaids were 
dismissed until a week from that day, when the bride 
received visitors. A reception was given then at which 


Mrs. Gouverneur presided in the place of her mother, 
and was formally introduced to all the guests present. 
The President and Mrs. Monroe mingled with the crowd, 
and left the bridal couple to do the duties of host and 
hostess. The bridal festivities were to include general 
receptions, and Commodore and Mrs. Decatur gave the 
young couple a largely attended ball shortly after the 
White House reception. Cards had been issued by 
Commodore Porter for an entertainment in their honor, 
when the news of the death of Commodore Decatur put 
an end to all gayety in Washington. The couple soon 
after took up their residence in New York. The eldest 
daughter was living at this time in Richmond, Virginia. 

After Mr. Monroe retired from office, he returned to 
his home in Loudon county, and engaged with Messrs. 
Jefferson and Madison in establishing the University of 
Virginia. This occupation formed a pleasant pastime 
to him, and was of lasting benefit to his beloved State. 
Afterward he was chosen President of the Virginia Con- 
vention to amend the Constitution of his native State. 
Meanwhile Mrs. Monroe found womanly employment 
for hands and heart in caring for those dependent upon 
her bounty, and entertaining the various throngs who 
delighted to do honor to the three ex-Presidents of the 
United States, and sons- of the old commonwealth. 

Mrs. Monroe was now alone and becoming aged, and 
was pleasing herself with the delusion that after so 
many years of public life, her husband would spend the 
evening of his days with her, around the fireside. But 


he felt as if he could never cease to serve Virginia. 
Long after his duty to his country had been performed 
and she had dismissed him with plaudits and laurel 
wreaths, he struggled under accumulated infirmities and 
trials, and to the last hearkened to the voice of his 
State. The last public position he held was a magis- 
tracy in the county of Loudon, where he resided, and 
was as attentive and devoted to the performance of 
every duty as when holding the highest office in the gift 
of the people. 

Mrs. Monroe died suddenly in 1830, and thus was 
ended the old home-life. Oak Hill was closed, and the 
crushed husband sought refuge from loneliness in the 
home of his daughter, Mrs. Gouverneur, in New York, 
whose devoted affection soothed his pathway to the grave. 

The venerable Dr. Francis tells us that he often met 
Mr. Monroe walking out when the weather was fine, 
and that on these occasions he was the object of the 
most affectionate attentions. He has often met him 
making purchases for the family, at the Centre Market, 
where all the stallmen knew and honored him. 

He was tall and spare, very modest in his bearing, 
dignified and gentlemanly. In his address, he was hes- 
itating and diffident, and polite to the poorest and hum- 
blest as to any. He was one of the most industrious 
of men, a hard student, and his cares left their marks on 
his face. The wound he received at Trenton was felt 
for many years afterward indeed, throughout his life 
he occasionally suffered from it. 


Less than a year after Mrs. Monroe's death her hus- 
band was preparing to join her. On the 4th of July, 
1831, the anniversary of American Independence, just 
five years after his predecessors had quitted this scene 
of their labor and their triumph, he, too, joined them. 

His funeral was a very imposing one the largest 
that at that time had ever been seen in New York. 
The military under Gen. Jacob Morton, Grand Marshal, 
filled Broadway from Prince to Broad Street, through 
which it passed to the cemetery. The day was fine, 
and the signs of mourning were generally adopted by 
the citizens of New York. 

There is an old cemetery on the north side of Second 
street, in this city (New York), between First and 
Second Avenues, separated from the sidewalk by a tall 
iron fence, placed upon a granite foundation. 

The shrubbery is always clean and vigorous ; the 
grass is always the greenest, and the walks are scrupu- 
lously neat. There are many tasteful and appropriate 
monuments to the dead that sleep within this hallowed 
inclosure ; but to the memory of the most famous of its 
dumb inhabitants there was no marble shaft, no obelisk, 
not even a head-stone erected. But upon a simple slab 
of marble that lies flat, some two feet square, upon the 
earth, and is almost covered by grass, is the following 
inscription : 



Vault No. 147. 


There is nothing to indicate that the James Monroe 
mentioned is the Monroe who was in the battle of White 
Plains, and received a ball in the shoulder at the attack 
on Trenton, who fought by the side of Lafayette at 
Brandywine, who was Minister to France in 1 794, and 
afterward to England ; who was Secretary of State in 
1811, and for two full terms President of these United 
States. Yet such is the fact, and that weather-stained 
slab of marble, two feet square, covered for many years 
the grave of Ex-President Monroe. 

Many years afterward, by order of the Virginia Legis- 
lature, the remains of Ex-President Monroe were re- 
moved to Richmond, and a monument befitting his fame 
was erected over his grave. 

The property of Oak Hill is now owned by Mr. 
Fairfax, and with it one thousand acres of land. Three 
hundred acres are comprised in the McGowan estate. 

The second daughter of President Monroe, Mrs. 
Maria Gouverneur, died in 1850 at Oak Hill, where she 
was buried by the side of her mother. The eldest 
daughter died in Paris, and was buried in Pere la 
Chaise. There are now living but few descendants of 


Mrs. Monroe. 

At this short remove from her day, not many inci- 
dents relating to her career are extant. She lived as 
public a life as did Mrs. John Adams, and was far 
better acquainted with society in this country and 
Europe than several of the ladies who preceded her in 
the semi-official position she filled, but her ill health 


and her temperament unfitted her for familiarity with the 
people, and kept her from being popular in the sense 
that Mrs. Madison was. The difference between these two 
women was that the latter was fond of company, en- 
joyed life and had a healthy, hearty interest in the 
events transpiring about her. The other lived in re- 
tirement as far as possible, and the record of so quiet 
an existence is not as familiar to the people of this 
country as is that of those of her contemporaries who 
occupied the high place she filled. 

Society was differently organized in her time than it 
is now. It is difficult to realize that newspaper corre- 
spondents were the exception and not the rule, and that 
public attention was rarely directed to ladies ; whereas 
now it is impossible for women in semi-official life to 
keep themselves out of the multitudinous prints of the 
day, object as they may. 



MRS. ADAMS was the sixth in the succession of occu- 
pants of the Executive Mansion, and with her closed 
the list of the ladies of the Revolution. A new genera- 
tion had sprung up in the forty-nine years of Independ- 
ence, and after her retirement, younger aspirants claimed 
the honors. Born in the city of London on the i2th of 
February, 1775, she received advantages superior to 
those enjoyed by most of the ladies of America. Her 
father, Mr. Johnson, of Maryland, although living at the 
outbreak of the war, in England, was ever a patriotic 
American, and soon after hostilities commenced, re- 
moved with his family to Nantes, in France. "There he 
received from the Federal Congress an appointment as 
Commissioner to examine the accounts of all the Amer- 
ican functionaries then entrusted with the public money 
of the United States, in Europe ; in the exercise of the 
duties of which he continued until the peace of 1782. 
Our National Independence having then been recog- 
nized, he returned to London, where he continued to 
reside, and where he acted as consular agent for the 
United States, until his final return in 1797, to his native 

It was fortunate for Mrs. Adams that her husband 
was a strong, intellectual nature ; he both satisfied and 

MARRIAGE IN 1797. 239 

sustained her, and rendered her sojourn on earth con- 
tented and agreeable. In her father's house in London 
he first saw her, in 1794, and on the 26th of July, 1797', 
they were married at the Church of All-Hallows. Soon 
afterward his father became President, and he was 
transferred to Berlin, where he repaired with his wife as| 
a bride, to play her part in the higher circles of social 
and political life. It need scarcely be added that she 
proved perfectly competent to this; and that during 
four years, which comprised the period of her stay at 
that court, notwithstanding almost continual ill-health, 
she succeeded in making friends and conciliating a de- 
gree of good-will, the recollection of which is, even at 
this distance of time, believed to be among the most 
agreeable of the associations with her varied life. In 
1801, after the birth of her eldest child, she embarked 
with Mr. Adams on his return to the United States. 
Not to Maryland, the home of her childhood, but, a 
stranger to their habits and manners, she went among 
the New England people, and settled with her husband 
in Boston. Here she determined to be satisfied and 
live with a people whom in feeling she was not unlike, 
but scarcely was she beginning to feel at home when 
Mr. Adams was elected Senator, and she removed with 
him to Washington. A sister was already established 
there, and she met once more the members of her own 
family, where to her the winter months passed pleas- 
antly away. Each summer she returned to Boston, and 
thus alternating between there and Washington in win- 


ter, she passed the eight years of Jefferson's term. To 
many, the capital was an out-of-the way place, and not al- 
ways pleasant to Congressmen's wives, some of whom left 
the gayeties of larger cities to be detained six or eight 
months; but Mrs. Adams was peculiarly fortunate in her 
position, having around her near and dear relations from 
whom she had been separated many years. It became 
home to her, and to a Southerner, the climate was more 
congenial than the region of her husband's birthplace. 

Mr. Adams, called by President Madison, to embark 
for Russia as its first accredited minister, Mrs. Adams 
determined to go, even at the cost of leaving her two 
eldest children with their grandparents, and taking with 
her a third, not yet two years old. They sailed from 
Boston early in August, and after a long and somewhat 
hazardous passage arrived in St. Petersburg toward the 
close of October. 

What voyages those must have been, when nearly 
three months was consumed in getting from one country 
to another; when weary weeks of summer merged into 
winter before the barrier between the old and the new 
world could be passed. Yet how often had members 
of that family braved dangers unknown to perform some 
duty in the other world. Far back into the past, their 
Puritan ancestors had found a refuge on "wild New 
England's shore," and in that interval, the waters of the 
sea had wafted the children of the third and fourth gen- 
erations over its crested waves, to ask for the heritage 
their forefathers claimed liberty of conscience, and 
freedom to worship God. 


Years before, a brave, strong woman had, with 
streaming eyes, seen the form of her eldest boy start 
over the same track he was now treading, and she had 
gone back to her lonely home to suffer. Now, through 
its well-known and treacherous path, that son, grown to 
man's estate, with children of his own left behind, wends 
his tedious way, to bear to the halls of remotest nations 
the wishes and intentions of his young country. 

His wife, preferring an uncertain exile in a foreign 
country to a separation from her husband, suffered ex- 
tremest anguish as she thought of her weeping children, 
for the first time separated from her. She felt the great 
distance and doubtful prospects of hearing from them, 
not less keenly than she did the length of time which 
might elapse before she again would tread the shores ot 
her native land. And the bleak climate to which she 
was hastening in nowise tended to make her cheerful; 
nor did the fact that Mr. Adams was the first Minister,, 
allay her anxious sadness. Never, perhaps,, in the his- 
tory of the world, were such scenes being enacted as; 
now. Europe was literally a battle-field,, and Napoleon, 
the scourge of the corttinent, was ruling,, by the mighty 
force of his great skill, the destinies of the- Old World; 
Shut up in St. Petersburg, Mrs. Adams gathered ru- 
mors of the progress of that "-man of destiny," and 
listened for his knock even at the gates of the imperial 

During the six years of her- stay in Russia, what won- 
drous things transpired !. What, intense interest marked 



the era, we, of comparative quiet, can scarcely conceive. 
Death took from her an infant, born whilst there, and 
the twofold affliction of public and private trouble 
weighed upon her. 

" Mr. Adams/' said his son, " lived there poor, studious, 
ambitious and secluded, on the narrow basis of the parch- 
ment of his commission, respected for learning and tal- 
ents, but little given to the costly entertainments of an 
opulent and ostentatious court circle. But the extraor- 
dinary mission could afford and was entitled to more 
expensive circulation in the splendid palaces of a mag- 
nificent city, inhabited by the owners of thousands of 
serfs, and some of them of Ural Mountains containing 
mines of gold. Living frugally, withdrawn from all but 
indispensable parade, Mr. Adams laid the basis of a 
modest competency for his return to America, whose 
official acquisition American, republican parsimony in- 
duces, If not justifies." 

The war between England and America broke out in 
the meantime, and communication was almost entirely 
cutoff. British ships cruised about our ports to capture 
peaceful vessels,, and thundered their cannon at the cap- 
ital of the country. While Mrs. Adams grew tired and 
weary of her cheerless abode in that far, northern climate, 
British troops were busy devastating the country round 
about her old home, and burning the mansion which later 
in life she was to occupy. Completely cut off from all 
that made life dear, Mr. Adams hoped for some oppor- 
tunity to .be .recalled, and .restore .his divided family to 


each other. Emperor Alexander unconsciously prepared 
the way for their return by proposing to be mediator for 
England and the United States. In consequence of this 
offer, the commissioners repaired to St. Petersburg, ac- 
companied by Mr. Payne Todd, the stepson of President 
Madison, whose simple position in America was exag- 
gerated by European mistake to princely position. 
Their coming was a source of pleasure to Mrs. Adams, 
whose jime had been spent so quietly, and it was her 
hope to return with them ; but while the commissioners 
enjoyed themselves with the sights of the Russian capital, 
great changes were taking place on the continent, and 
they were unaware how radical they were. The return 
ship to the United States brought the news to Boston 
that Napoleon was banished to Elba, Louis the XVIIL 
propped on the throne of his ancestors by foreign 
armies, and England was at the zenith of her power and 
greatness. Never were the prospects of republican 
America so low since its independence, and the hearts of 
those patriots trembled when they thought of the future. 
The Russian mediation failed, but the commissioners 
afterward met at Ghent, where delays succeeded each 
other until on Christmas eve, Saturday, 24th December, 
1814, the treaty was signed. It was the desire of Mr. 
and Mrs. Adams to have returned home this winter, but 
the failure of the commissioners at St. Petersburg neces- 
sitated the presence of Mr. Adams at Ghent, and it was 
thought best she should remain in Russia. The stateof Eu- 
rope, restless and revolutionary, was considered another 


argument in favor of her remaining, and consequently 
Mr. Adams set out without her. Alone in that place 
where she had lived five years, where she had buried one 
child, and where she hoped her husband would soon re- 
join her, she passed the sixth winter, and wished only 
for the spring to come to release herself and son from 
their exile. How her heart must have yearned, in days 
short only because the darkness was so long, for her 
little ones over the wide Atlantic, and with what zeal 


must she have prepared for that homeward-bound trip, 
so near in anticipation, yet in reality so far off. But her 
trial was in proportion to her strength, and if she did not 
go home, her children came to her afterward.* Spring 
at last came, on the almanac at least, if not in the gor- 
geous beauty it was wont to appear in her far-off south- 
ern home, and she was advised to travel by land to rejoin 
her husband at Paris, whither he had gone from Ghent. 
The difficulties and dangers of a land route through the 
late theatre of a furious war, had no influence to bear 
upon her determined idea to go, and braving solitary 
journeys, rogues, and dangers of every conceivable kind, 
set out with her child to travel to France. Hers must 
have been an indomitable spirit, else the lonely days of 
constant travel through villages and wild, uncultivated 
countries, where every inanimate thing bore traces of 

* Mrs. Adams had four children, three sons and a daughter. I. George Wash- 
ington Adams, born in Berlin, I2th April, 1801. 2. John Adams, born in Boston, 
4th July, 1803. 3. Charles Francis Adams, born in Boston, August i8th, 1807. 4. 
Louisa Catherine Adams, born in St. Petersburg, August I2th, 1811, and died there 
the next year. 


grim-visaged war, would have convinced her of the risk 
she was running. With the passports of the Russian 
government, and the strong recommendation of being- 
the American minister's wife, she bade adieu to all ap- 
prehensions, and risked all to only get nearer to home 
and children. 

Her son, in speaking of this time, said : " In such 
circumstances, to be fastened in a snow-drift with night 
coming on, and to be forced to rouse the peasants of the 
surrounding country to dig them out, which happened in 
Courland, was no slight matter. But it was of little sig- 
nificance compared to the complicated anxieties incident 
to the listening, at every stopping-place, to the tales of 
robbery and murder just committed on the proposed 
route, so perpetually repeated at that time to the travel- 
ler; and to the warnings given by apparently friendly 
persons of the character of her own servants, corrobo- 
rated by the loss of several articles of value, and, most 
of all, to the observation of the restless contention be- 
tween jarring political passions under which the whole 
continent of Europe was heaving until it burst forth at 
the return of Napoleon from Elba. Hardly a day passed 
that did not require of Mrs. Adams some presence of 
mind to avoid becoming implicated in the consequences 
of party fury. For even the slight symbol of a Polish 
cap on the head of her servant came near making food 
for popular quarrel." 

On the way she heard of Napoleon's return from 
Elba, and knew that his coming would be disputed not 


only by the Bourbons in power, but that it would be the 
signal for a general uprising throughout Europe. As 
she journeyed along from place to place, she witnessed 
the excitement that followed the news, and saw, with 
much concern, the preparations for hostile demonstra- 
tions. As she neared the border the activity of the mil- 
itary was observable on all sides. Napoleon was making 
by forced marches the seven hundred miles that lay be- 
tween the seaport at which he landed and Paris, and 
at every point he was receiving the accessions to his 
numbers that increased until he reached Paris at the 
head of an army. The immense influence which his 
past successes had over the French people was thus ex- 
hibited, and he took possession of the capital amid the 
huzzas of the populace and to their great delight. It 
was at such a time that Mrs. Adams was approaching 
the city, and it may well be imagined that her every 
thought was in the direction of her own and her chil- 
dren's safety. Later, when the events were over, and 
she was at liberty to recall them, she dwelt with interest 
upon the dangers confronted and the anxieties she had 
endured, nor did she express regret that her experiences 
had been what they were. The scenes she witnessed 
were commanding the consideration of the world, and 
romance in her wildest dreams had not conceived of any- 
thing more thrilling than the enterprise in which Napo- 
leon had embarked. It was a matter that concerned 
all Europe, and the moment he set foot upon French 
soil, the crown-heads of the old world began to prepare 


for a conflict that was to end his career, or change the 
fate of nations. 

Mrs. Adams found, as she neared Paris, the dangers 
to which she was exposed, and dismissing her servants, 
who were afraid to go farther, hired others and con- 
tinued her approach to her husband. But every cross- 
road and forest path was filled with soldiers wild with 
enthusiasm, rushing forward to join their great chief, and 
at one time she found herself surrounded by them. This 
was a very awkward position, as the troops seemed dis- 
posed to require from all around them the most une- 
quivocal declaration of political faith. Mrs. Adams 
appealed to the commander of the detachment, and by 
his advice she was enabled to- fall back, although not 
without the exercise of considerable prudence, until the 
last of the men had passed, when she diverged into 
another road, and by making a considerable circuit, 
avoided any further meeting. 

Having proved, in this manner, that calmness and 
presence of mind render many things perfectly prac- 
ticable which imagination at first invests with insuper- 
able difficulties, she arrived in Paris safe and well, 
there to be greeted by her husband, on the evening 
of the 2ist of March, 1815, immediately after that of 
the memorable arrival of Napoleon and the flight of the 

The advantages thus thrown in the way of an 
American woman were justly appreciated by Mrs. 
Adams, and she, free from prejudice, studied the strange 


perversities of fortune. The events of the hundred 
days were enough to crowd the memory for a life-time. 
They fill us at this day, as we ponder over them, with 
awe and amazement. All was activity and eagerness, 
all bustle and confusion. The armies were reviewing in 
the square of the Place Carousel, and the inspiriting 
notes of martial music added enthusiasm to the grand- 
n-ess of the time and place. 

But the arrival of her children in England, from 
whom she had been separated since the autumn of 1809, 
nearly six years, was of more interest to her than the 
events happening around her. On the 25th of May, 
1815, Mr. Adams went to London with his family, 
and soon afterward learned that he was appointed 
Minister to the Court of St. James. The impression 
made upon the most eminent circles during his resi- 
dence in London has been retained up to the present 
time. It has been said of him that " his simple habits, 
his plain appearance, his untiring industry, his richly 
stored mind, his unbending integrity, his general inter- 
course and correspondence with foreign courts and 
diplomatists of the greatest distinction, all tended to 
elevate, in a high degree, the American character in the 
estimation of European nations." 

Mrs. Adams had advantages in London which 
scarcely any American woman has ever had since ; true, 
she had not wealth to make a great display, but her 
home was one of pleasant comfort, and enjoying as she 
did the society of one of the most intelligent of men, 


and of the best informed circle in the great capital, 
she had signal opportunities for cultivation. Charles 
King, in his eulogy on John Quincy Adams, speaks 
thus : " It was while Mr. Adams was Minister of the 
United States in London, that it was my personal good 
fortune to be admitted to his intimacy and friendship. 
Being then in London on private business, and having 
some previous acquaintance with Mr. Adams, I found 
in his house an ever kind welcome, and in his inter- 
course and conversation unfailing attraction and im- 
provement. Under an exterior of, at times, almost re- 
pulsive coldness, dwelt a heart as w r arm, sympathies as 
quick, and affections as overflowing, as ever animated 
any bosom. His tastes, too, were all refined. Litera- 
ture and art were familiar and dear to him, and hence 
it was that his society was at once so agreeable and so 
improving. At his hospitable board, I have listened 
to disquisitions from his lips on poetry, especially the 
dramas of Shakespeare, music, painting, sculpture of 

rare excellence and untiring interest. The extent of 


his knowledge, indeed, and its accuracy, in all branches, 
were not less remarkable than the complete command 
which he appeared to possess over all his varied stores 
of learning and information." 

Mr. Monroe succeeded Mr. Madison in the Presi- 
dential chair in 1817, and immediately appointed Mr. 
Adams his Secretary of State. On receiving notice of 
his appointment to this responsible office, Mr. Adams 
with his family embarked for the United States, on 


board the packet-ship " Washington," and landed in New 
York on the 6th of August, 1817. A few days after his 
arrival, a public dinner was given him in Tammany Hall, 
New York. The room was elegantly decorated. In 
the centre was a handsome circle of oak leaves, roses, 
and flags the whole representing, with much effect, our 
happy union and from the centre of which, as from her 
native woods, appeared our eagle, bearing in her beak 
this impressive scroll : 

" Columbia, great Republic, thou art blest, 
While Empires droop, and monarchs sink to rest." 

Soon afterward, ' Mr. Adams and family went to 
Boston to visit his father's family, where he was the 
recipient of another public dinner: the last meeting 
with his mother on earth, it was one which he never 
forgot. It was gratifying to her sensitive nature to see 
him thus rising from one elevated position to another, 
and it soothed her aged heart beyond any power of 
expression. Many years of his life had been spent far 
away from her, and his absences were long and 
unbroken. She had always written regularly to him, 
and by example and precept endeavored to instil into 
his nature some portion of her own aspirations. When 
his talents had won for him this last position, she 
bowed her head and thanked God. Perhaps her spirit 
recognized his still higher promotion, and the natural 
conclusion, arrived at from former precedents, that by 
gradual ascent he would reach the place his father oc- 


cupied, occurred to her. When she died at her home 
in Ouincy, he was in Washington, busy with the manifold 
duties of his place, whither he had gone to reside per- 
manently, in September, 1817. 

The performance of the duties of the State Depart- 
ment necessarily required a residence at Washington, 
and the manner in which Mr. Adams thought proper to 
devote himself to them, devolved upon his lady the en- 
tire task of making his house an agreeable resort to the 
multitudes of visitors who crowd to the capital on 
errands of business, or curiosity, or pleasure, from the 
various sections of the United States during the winter 
season. A large diplomatic corps from foreign coun- 
tries, who feel themselves in more immediate relations 
with the Secretary of State, and a distinguished set of 
public men, not then divided by party lines in the man- 
ner which usually prevails, rendered the society of that 
time, and Mrs. Adams' house where it most often con- 
gregated, among the most agreeable recorded in the 
social history of the capital. 

Much as it has been ridiculed since, the "era of good 
feeling" had some characteristics peculiar to itself. For 
an instant, sectional animosities relented, the tone of 
personal denunciation and angry crimination, too gen- 
erally prevailing in extremes, yielded; and even where 
the jealous rivalry for political honors still predominated 
in the hearts of men, the easy polish of general society 
removed from casual spectators any sense of its rough- 
ness, or inconvenience from its impetuosity. Washing- 


ton may have presented more brilliant spectacles since, 
but the rancor of party spirit has ever mingled its bale- 
ful force too strongly not to be perceptible in the per- 
sonal relations which have existed between the most 
distinguished of our political men. 

The following letter, not before published, from Mrs. 
Adams to her father-in-law will be read with interest. 
She corresponded regularly during her life in Washing- 
ton, with him, until his death, in 1826: 


"WASHINGTON, 1 6th April, 1819. 

''Yes! my dear sir, was my mind sufficiently strong 
or capacious to understand, or even to comprehend the 
study of ancient and modern philosophy, I am certain I 
should derive very great advantage from that study; 
but you certainly forgot when you recommended it, that 
you were addressing the weaker sex, to whom stoicism 
would be both unamiable and unnatural, and who would 
be very liable in avoiding Scylla, to strike upon Charyb- 
dis, or to speak without metaphor, to rush into sceptic- 
ism. Have you perceived anything like fatalism in my 
letters? I am unconscious of it, though I fear there 
may sometimes be a little inclination toward it. The 
woman you selected for your wife was so highly gifted 
in mind, with powers so vast, and such quick and clear 
perception, altogether so superior to the general run 
of females, you have perhaps formed a too enlarged 
opinion of the capacities of our sex, and having never 


witnessed their frailties, are not aware of the dangers to 
which they are exposed, by acquirements above their 

" The systems of the ancients have been quite out of 
my reach, excepting the Dialogues of Plato, which Mr. 
A. recommended to me last year, and which I read at- 
tentively. I cannot say that I am entirely unacquainted 
with their different theories, but that acquaintance has 
been too superficial to make them well understood, and 
I have been too much inclined to view them, as difficult 
of practice, and not tending much to the real benefit of 
mankind. With the modern philosophers I have become 
more intimate, if I may make use of such a word, speak- 
ing of works which I have read, but which I could not 
understand or digest. Locke has puzzled me, Berkley 
amused me, Reid astonished me, Hume disgusted me, 
and Tucker either diverted me or set me to sleep. This 
is a very limited sort of reading, and you will laugh at 
my catalogue of names which have at best, I believe, 
but little title to the rank of philosophers, or at' least 
must come in at the fag end. I have dipped into others 
and thrown them aside, but I have never seen anything 
that would satisfy my mind, or that would compare with 
the chaste and exquisitely simple doctrines of Chris- 

" I fear you will find this letter more extravagant fchan 
any you have ever received from me, but I have made 
it a rule to follow where the current of my ideas carried 
me, and to give them to you in a perfect undress. My 


reading has been too general, and too diffuse to be very 
beneficial. French authors have occupied my attention 
the largest portion of my y life, but their venom was 
destroyed, by the events which were continually passing 
almost before my eyes, and which showed how wicked 
was the practice resulting from such theories. You, my 
dear sir, have ever possessed a nature too ardent, too 
full of benevolent feelings to all your race, with a mind 
too noble, and a capacity too enlarged, to sink into the 
cold and thankless state of stoicism. Your heart is too 
full of all the generous and kindly affections for you 
ever to acquire such a cold and selfish doctrine. No, 
my dear sir, it was, it is impossible. Look at your past 
life, retrace all the eminent services you have rendered 
to your country, and to mankind, and if you, by unfore- 
seen and uncontrollable events, have been prevented 
from doing all you wished, all you desired, toward pro- 
moting their felicity, let their unequalled prosperity (in 
producing which, you had so large a share) sooth your 
latest hours, and cheer your heart with the conviction, 
that to you, in a great measure, they owe it; and this 
sentiment alone will be sufficient reward. I set out in 
life with the most elevated notions of honor and prin- 
ciple ; ere I had entered it fairly, my hopes were blasted, 
and my ideas of mankind, that is, all the favorable ones 
almost, were suddenly chilled, and I was very near 
forming the horrid and erroneous opinion, that no such 
thing as virtue existed. This was a dreadful doctrine at 
the age of little more than twenty, but it taught me to 


isrilect and not to 'build my house in the sand.' My 
life has been a life of changes, and I had early accus- 
tomed myself to the idea of retirement. The nature of 
our institutions, the various turns of policy to which an 
elective government is ever liable, has long occupied 
my thoughts, and I trust I may find strength to sustain/ 
any of the changes which may be in store for me, with 
fortitude, dignity, and I trust cheerfulness. To these 
changes, I can never attach the idea of disgrace. Pop- 
ular governments are peculiarly liable to factions, to 
cabals, to intrigue, to the juggling tricks of party, and 
the people may often be deceived for a time, by some 
fair speaking demagogue, but they will never be de- 
ceived long ; and though they may, in a moment of ex- 
citement, sanction an injustice toward an old and faithful 
servant, they appreciate his worth, and hand his name 
down with honor to posterity, even though that ' name 
may not be agreeable to the fashionables.' It is one 
which I take a pride in bearing, and one that I hope and 
pray my children may never dishonor. 

" What you say concerning the Floridas is, I believe, 
universally allowed, and as to the effect upon the name, 
why, it is of little importance, provided the substance is 
left, and the act undeniable. There is the lance, let the 
lance speak I can safely swear as an individual I never 
set my heart on what the world calls a great reward. I 
am too well assured that 'uneasy lies the head that 
wears a crown,' and the station is too full of thorns to 
render it very desirable. I have no relish for being ab- 


solutely crucified for the sake of a short pre-eminence. 
You have, I suppose, seen the correspondence between 
Gen. Scott and old Hickory? How do you like the 
epistle of the former ? What do you think of De Witt 
Clinton's reply to the charge insinuated against him ? 
We hear of nothing but complaints of the times, and 
our commercial world are in great distress. In Balti- 
more (that city where the South American privateers 
are owned and fitted out by native citizens in the very 
face of the public, and committing depredations on the 
property of their fellow-citizens) there are failures every 
day, and it is said the mischief will extend to all parts 
of the Union. In Virginia, a man who broke out of the 
jail in this city, has offered himself as a candidate for 
Congress, telling the electors that he would take only 
six dollars a day, as he thinks eight too much ; because 
if he found his pay insufficient, he would play, and by 
this means insure himself a living. That he had often 
played with their late member, and with many of the 
most distinguished members of Congress, who used to 
send for him to play with them. Such things are 

"Adieu, my dear Sir." 

" During the eight years in which Mrs. Adams pre- 
sided in the house of the Secretary of State," writes her 
son, Hon. Charles Francis Adams, in 1839, "no exclu- 
sions were made, in her invitations, merely on account 
of any real or imagined political hostility ; nor, though 
keenly alive to the reputation of her husband, was any 


disposition manifested to do more than to amuse and 
enliven society. In this, the success was admitted to be 
complete, as all will remember who were then in the 
habit of frequenting her dwelling. But in proportion as 
the great contest for the Presidency, in which Mr. Adams 
was involved, approached, the violence of partisan warfare 
began to manifest its usual bad effects, and Mrs. Adams 
decided to adopt habits of greater seclusion. When at 
last the result had placed her in the President's mansion, 
her health began to fail her so much, that though she 
continued to preside upon occasions of public reception, 
she ceased to appear at any other times, and she began 
to seek the retirement which since her return to private 
life she has preferred. Mr. Adams has been, it is true, 
and still continues, a representative in Congress, from 
the State of Massachusetts, and this renders necessary 
an annual migration from that State to Washington and 
back again, as well as a winter residence within the 
sound of the gayeties of that place ; but while her age 
and health dispense her from the necessities of attending 
them, severe domestic afflictions have contributed to re- 
move the disposition. Thus the attractions of great 
European capitals, and the dissipation consequent upon 
high official station at home, though continued through 
that part of her life when habits become most fixed, have 
done nothing to change the natural elegance of her man- 
ners, nor the simplicity of her tastes. In the society of 
a few friends and near relatives, and in the cultivation 

of the religious affections without display, she draws all 


the consolation that can in this world be afforded for her 
privations. To the world Mrs. Adams presents a fine 
example of the possibility of retiring from the circles of 
fashion, and the external fascinations of life, in time still 
to retain a taste for the more quiet though less showy 
attractions of the domestic fireside. A strong literary 
taste which has led her to read much, and a capacity for 
composition in prose and verse, have been resources for 
her leisure moments; not with a view to that exhibition 
which renders such accomplishments too often fatal to 
the more delicate shades of feminine character, but for 
her own gratification and that of a few relations and 
friends. The late President Adams used to draw much 
amusement, in his latest years at Quincy, from the accu- 
rate delineation of Washington manners and character, 
which was regularly transmitted, for a considerable 
period, in letters from her pen. And if as time ad- 
vances, she becomes gradually less able to devote her 
sense of sight to reading and writing, her practice of the 
more homely virtues of manual industry, so highly com- 
mended in the final chapter of the book of Solomon, 
still amuses the declining days of her varied career." 

On the fourth of March, 1825, John Quincy Adams 
was inaugurated as President of the United States, and 
took the executive chair, which had been entered twenty- 
eight years before by his venerated father. The scene 
at the inauguration was splendid and imposing. At an 
early hour of the day, the avenues leading to the capitol 
presented an animated spectacle. Crowds of citizens on 


foot, in carriages and on horseback, were hastening to 
the great centre of attraction. Strains of martial music 
and the movements of the various military corps height- 
ened the excitement. 

At 1 2 o'clock, the military escort, consisting of gen- 
eral and staff officers and several volunteer companies, re- 
ceived the President-elect at his residence, together with 
President Monroe and several officers of government. 
The procession, led by the cavalry, and accompanied by an 
immense concourse of citizens, proceeded to the capitol, 
where it was received with military honors by the U. S. 
Marine Corps, under Col. Henderson. 

Meanwhile the hall of the House of Representatives 
presented a brilliant spectacle. The galleries and the 
lobbies were crowded with spectators. The sofas be- 
tween the columns, the bar, the promenade in the rear 
of the Speaker's chair, and the three outer rows of the 
members' seats, were occupied by a splendid array of 
beauty and fashion. On the left, the Diplomatic Corps, 
in the costume of their respective courts, occupied the 
place assigned them, immediately before the steps which 
led to the chair. The officers of the army and navy 
were scattered in groups throughout the hall. In front 
of the clerk's table chairs were placed for the Judges of 
the Supreme Court. 

At twenty minutes past 12 o'clock, the marshals, in 
blue scarfs, made their appearance in the hall, at the 
head of the august procession. First came the officers 
of both Houses of Congress. Then appeared the Pres- 


ident-elect, followed by the venerable ex-President Mon- 
roe, with his family. To these succeeded the Judges of 
the Supreme Court, in their robes of office, the mem- 
bers of the Senate, preceded by the Vice-President, 
with a number of the members of the House of Repre- 

Mr. Adams, in a plain suit of black, made entirely of 
American manufactures, ascended to the Speaker's chair 
and took his seat. The Chief-Justice was placed in front 
of the clerk's table, having before him another table on 
the floor of the hall, on the opposite side of which sat 
the remaining judges, with their faces toward the chair. 
The doors having been closed and silence proclaimed, 
Mr. Adams arose, and in a distinct and firm tone of voice 
read his inaugural address. 

The congratulations which then poured in from every 
side, occupied the hands, and could not but reach the 
heart, of President Adams. The meeting between him 
and his venerated predecessor had in it something pecu- 
liarly affecting. General Jackson was among the earliest 
of those who took the hand of the President ; and their 
looks and deportment toward each other were a rebuke 
to that littleness of party spirit which can see no merit 
in a rival, and feel no joy in the honor of a competitor. 
Shortly after i o'clock, the procession commenced leav- 
ing the hall. The President was escorted back as he 
came. On his arrival at his residence, he received the 
compliments and respects of a great number of ladies 
and gentlemen, who called on him to tender their con- 


gratulations. The proceedings of the day were closed 
by an inaugural ball in the evening. Among the guests 
present were the President and Vice-President, ex-Pres- 
ident Monroe, a number of foreign ministers, with many 
civil, military and naval officers.* 

Mrs. Adams gave up the comforts of her home, and 
took possession of the White House soon after the in- 
auguration. The spring and summer wore quietly away, 
for even in the White House, gayety was confined to 
the winter season, and save the visits of friends, nothing 
occurred to vary the quiet of every-day life. Her chil- 
dren were a consolation to her in her infirm condition, 
for her health failed her as soon as she moved into the 
President's house. 

It was the happy fortune of Mrs. Adams to be the 
occupant of the White House when Lafayette visited 
the United States, who at the invitation of the President 
spent the last weeks of his stay at the Executive 
Mansion, and from there, on the yth of September, 1825, 
bade an affecting farewell to the land of his adoption. 

As the last sentence of this farewell address was 
pronounced, Lafayette advanced and took President 
Adams in his arms, while tears poured down his ven- 
erable cheeks. Retiring a few paces, he was over- 
come by his feelings, and again returned and falling on 
the neck of Mr. Adams, exclaimed in broken accents, 
"God bless you." The sighs and tears of the many 

* National Intelligencer, 1825. 


assembled bore testimony to the affecting solemnity of 
the scene. Having recovered his self-possession, the 
General stretched out his hands, and was in a moment 
surrounded by the greetings of the whole assembly, 
who pressed upon him, each eager to seize, perhaps for 
the last time, that beloved hand which was opened so 
freely for our aid when aid was so precious, and which 
grasped with firm and undeviating hold the steel which 
so bravely helped to achieve our deliverance. The 
expression which now beamed from the face of this 
exalted man was of the finest and most touching kind. 
The hero was lost in the father and the friend. Dignity 
melted into subdued affection, and the friend of Wash- 
ington seemed to linger with a mournful delight among 
the sons of his adopted country. 

A considerable period was then occupied in convers- 
ing with various individuals, while refreshments were 
presented to the company. The moment of departure 
at length arrived ; and having once more pressed the 
hand of Mr. Adams, he entered the barouche, accom- 
panied by the Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, and 
of the Navy, and passed from the capital of the Union. 

The whole scene the peals of artillery, the sounds of 
numerous military bands, the presence of the vast con- 
course of people, and the occasion that assembled them, 
produced emotions not easily described, but which every 
American heart can readily conceive. 

In the following September, she accompanied her 
husband on a visit to his aged father at Quincy, but 


being taken very ill at Philadelphia, the President 
was compelled to proceed without her. He did not 
remain long, and on the i4th of October set out again 
for Washington. It was the last time Mr. Adams ever 
saw his father! "The aged patriarch had lived to see 
his country emancipated from foreign thraldom, its in- 
dependence acknowledged, its union consummated, its 
prosperity and perpetuity resting on an immovable foun- 
dation, and his son elevated to the highest office in its 
gift. It was enough! His work accomplished the 
book of. his eventful life written and sealed for im- 
mortality he w^as ready to depart and be at peace. 
The 4th of July, 1826, will long be memorable for one 
of the most remarkable coincidences that have ever 
taken place in the history of nations. It was the fiftieth 
anniversary, the jubilee of American Independence! 
Preparations had been made throughout the Union to 
celebrate the day with unusual pomp and display. John 
Adams and Thomas Jefferson had both been invited to 
participate in the festivities of the occasion, at their sev- 
eral places of abode. But a higher summons awaited 
them: they were bidden to a * jubilee' above, which 
shall have no end! On that half-century Anniversary 
of American Independence, at nearly the same hour of 
the day, the spirits of Adams and Jefferson took their 
departure from earth ! Amid the rejoicings of the peo- 
ple, the peals of artillery, the strains of music, the exul- 
tations ot a great nation in the enjoyment of freedom, 
peace, and happiness, they were released from the toils 
of life, and allowed to enter on their rest." 


These two patriarchs had been corresponding regu- 
larly, and their letters had attracted the attention of Eu- 
rope as well as America. Mr. Adams had written the 
last letter, in which occurs the following expression: 
"Half an hour ago, I received, and this moment have 
heard read, for the third or fourth time, the best letter 
that was ever written by an octogenarian, dated June 
i st." 

The editor of the London Morning Chronicle prefaces 
his notice of this correspondence with the following 
remarks : 

" What a contrast the following correspondence of 
the two rival Presidents of the greatest republic of the 
world, reflecting an old age dedicated to virtue, temper- 
ance, and philosophy, presents to the heart-sickening 
details occasionally disclosed to us, of the miserable 
beings who fill the thrones of the continent. There is 
not, perhaps, one sovereign of the continent, who in any 
sense of the word can be said to honor our nature, while 
many make us almost ashamed of it. The curtain is 
seldom drawn aside without exhibiting to us beings 

o o 

worn out with vicious indulgence, diseased in mind, if 
not in body, the creatures of caprice and insensibility. 
On the other hand, since the foundation of the Ameri- 
can Republic, the chair has never been filled by a man 
for whose life (to say the least) any American need 
once to blush. It must, therefore, be some compensa- 
tion to the Americans for the absence of pure monarchy, 
that when they look upward, their eyes are not always 
met by vice, and meanness, and often idiocy." 


The administration of Mr. Adams was remarkable for 
the peace and prosperity of the country, and there was 
therefore no event in Mrs. Adams' social life of a stirring 
nature. Her husband was certainly the most learned 
man who has yet occupied the Presidential chair. No ' 
one at all acquainted with his life will deny this asser- 
tion. Profoundly versed in the lore of the ancients, he 
was yet more thoroughly acquainted with the history of 
modern governments, and was a deep thinker, as well as 
an eloquent speaker. A Southern clergyman visited him 
during his administration, and was astonished to find he 


was intimately acquainted with all sects and creeds, and 
had read every book he could mention. Finally he re- 
membered one work of importance, and asked if he had 
read it. Mr. Adams had not, whereupon the minister, 
delighted with his success, told it everywhere and was 
afterward known as the man who had read one more 
book than John Quincy Adams. 

Mrs. Adams retired from the White House with 
heartfelt pleasure, and sought the quiet her delicate 
health demanded. 

The following interesting account of an interview with 
ex-President Adams, by a Southern gentleman, in 1834, 
affords some conception of the home of Mrs. Adams at 

''Yesterday, accompanied by my friend T., I paid a 
visit to the venerable ex-President, at his residence in 
Quincy. A violent rain setting in as soon as we ar- 
rived, gave us from five to nine o'clock to listen to the 


learning of this man of books. His residence is a 
plain, very plain one ; the room into which we were 
ushered (the drawing-room, I suppose) was furnished in 
true republican style. It is probably of ancient con- 
struction, as I perceived two beams projecting from the 
low ceiling, in the manner of the beams in a ship's cabin. 
Prints commemorative of political events, and the old 
family portraits hung about the room ; common straw 
matting covered the floor, and two candlesticks, bearing 
sperm candles, ornamented the mantel-piece. The 
personal appearance of the ex-President himself corre- 
sponds with the simplicity of his furniture. He resem- 
bles rather a substantial, well-fed farmer, than one who 
has wielded the destinies of this mighty confederation, 
and been bred in the ceremony and etiquette of a 
European court. In fact, he appears to possess none 
of that sternness of character which you would suppose 
to belong to one a large part of whose life has been 
spent in political warfare, or, at any rate, amidst scenes 
requiring a vast deal of nerve and inflexibility. Mrs. 
Adams is described in a word a lady. She has all the 
warmth of heart and ease of manner that mark the 
character of the Southern ladies, and from which it 
would be no easy matter to distinguish her. 

"The ex-President was the chief talker. He spoke 
with infinite ease, drawing upon his vast resources with 
the certainty of one who has his lecture before him 
ready written. The whole of his conversation, which 
steadily he maintained for nearly four hours, was a con- 


tinned stream of light. Well contented was I to be a 
listener. His subjects were the architecture of the 
middle ages; the stained glass of that period; sculpture, 
embracing monuments particularly. On this subject, 
his opinion of Mrs. Nightingale's monument in West- 
minster Abbey differs from all others that I have seen or 
heard. He places it above every other in the Abbey, 
and observed in relation to it, that the spectator ' saw 
nothing else/ Milton, Shakespeare, Shenstone, Pope, 
Byron, and Southey were in turn remarked upon. He 
gave Pope a wonderfully high character, and remarked 
that one of his chief beauties was the skill exhibited in 
ranging the cesural pause, quoting from various parts 
of his author to illustrate his remarks more fully. He 
said very little on the politics of the country. He spoke 
at considerable length of Sheridan and Burke, both of 
whom he had heard, and could describe with the most 
graphic effect. He also spoke of Junius ; and it is re- 
markable that he should place him so far above the best 
of his cotemporaries. He spoke of him as a bad man ; 
but maintained, as a writer, that he had never been 
equalled. The conversation never flagged for a mo- 
ment ; and on the whole I shall remember my visit to 
Ouincy as amongst the most instructive and pleasant I 
ever passed." 

Mrs. Adams enjoyed the pleasures of her home but 
one year, when Mr. Adams was elected a member of 
Congress, and from that time forward to the hour of 
his death he represented the Plymouth district with 


fidelity and ever increasing honor and power. Mr. 
Adams took his seat in the House of Representatives 
in December, 1831, and he lived in his own house sit- 
uated on I street. For fifteen years he was a member 
of Congress, residing continually at Washington, al- 
though making frequent visits to his old home. 

More than fourscore years had left their impress upon 
Mr. Adams' brow, and he was still in the midst of his 
usefulness. In November, 1846, he had a stroke of 
paralysis, from which he never recovered. On the 
morning of that day, while sojourning at the residence 
of his son, in Boston, preparing to depart for Washing- 
ton, he was walking out with a friend to visit a new 
medical college, and was attacked by the way. After 
several weeks, he improved sufficiently to return to his 
duties at the capital, but never afterward entirely re- 
covered. On Monday, the 2ist of February, 1848, at 
half-past one o'clock, whilst in his seat in the House, he 
was struck a second time with the same disease. He 
was removed to the Speaker's apartment, borne on a 
sofa by. several members, and plasters applied, which 
seemed to relieve him. Mrs. Adams was sent for, and 
on his recovering consciousness, was gladdened by her 
presence in answer to his inquiry for her. She was in 
extreme illness and suffering acute pain, but remained 
beside him, sustained by her niece and nephew. Mr. 
Adams lay in the Speaker's room in a state of apparent 
unconsciousness through the 22d and 23d Congress, 
in the mean time, assembling in respectful silence, and 


immediately adjourning from day to day. At seven 
o'clock on the evening of the 23d he died. President 
Polk issued a Proclamation announcing his death, and 
orders were issued from all the Departments directing 
that suitable honors should be paid the illustrious dead. 
The funeral took place in the Capitol, at twelve o'clock, 
Saturday, 26th of February, after which the body was 
conveyed to the Congressional burying-ground, to re- 
main until the completion of the preparations for the 
removal to Quincy. 

The following letter of thanks from Mrs. Adams, 
addressed to the Speaker, was laid before the House of 
Representatives : 

" WASHINGTON, February 2^/1, 1848. 

"Sin: The resolutions in honor of my dear deceased 
husband, passed by the illustrious assembly over which 
you preside, and of which he at the moment of his 
death was a member, have been duly communicated 
to me. 

" Penetrated with grief at this distressing event of my 
life, mourning the loss of one who has been at once my 
example and my support through the trials of half a 
century, permit me nevertheless to express through you 
my deepest gratitude for the signal manner in which the 
public regard has been voluntarily manifested by your 
honorable body, and the consolation derived to me and 
mine from the reflection that the unwearied efforts of an 
old public servant have not even in this world proved 


without their reward in the generous appreciation of 
them by his country. 

" With great respect, I remain, Sir, your obedient 


On the following week, the remains of the deceased 
ex-President were conveyed to Quincy, accompanied by 
a committee of one from each State and Territory in 
the Union. 

After this sad event in Mrs. Adams' life, she lived 
uninterruptedly at her home in Quincy, enjoying the 
society of her children and relations. Mr. Charles 
Francis Adams thus closes a letter regarding his 

" I should be very glad to be of service to you if I 
were possessed of the material which you desire in 
connection with the life of my mother. But I fear 
they are not to be found among the papers left by 
her. She wrote much and read a great deal, both of 
French and English literature, and translated from the 
former for the amusement of her friends. She also 
wrote verses frequently in the same way. But all 
these accomplishments of hers, including a nice taste in 
music and a well-cultivated voice, are matters of little 
moment in a publication, however much they may con- 
tribute to the refinement of the social circle at home. 
Although she lived to quite an advanced age, her 
health was always delicate and variable, so as to inter- 


rupt the even tenor of her life and disincline her to the 
efforts required for general society, especially during 
her twelve years spent at different courts in Europe." 

Mrs. Adams died the I4th of May, 1852, and was 
buried by the side of her husband, in the family burying- 
ground at Quincy, Massachusetts. 



THE cruel misrepresentations of political opponents 
had crushed the heart of Rachel Jackson, and ended 
her days before her husband took possession of the 
Home of the Presidents. She was denied the grati- 
fication of accompanying him to Washington, and 
of gracing the White House, but she was even in 
death the President's wife, and as such is ranked. In 
his heart she lived there, the object of the most death- 
less and exalted affection, the spiritual comforter and 
companion of his lonely hours. The friends and visit- 
ors of the new President saw her not, nor was she 
mentioned by the throng ; but to him she was ever 
present in the form of memory and eternal, undying 

The day of party strife and bitterness toward Gen- 
eral Jackson has passed away forever, and the nobility 
and refined sensibility of his nature are at last appreci- 
ated. The slanders and falsehoods which embittered 
his earthly life, have been eclipsed by the sunlight of 
truth, and over the lapse of years comes ringing the 
prophetic assertion of the immutability of right. He is 
avenged. Once it was the fashion to revile him, and 
multitudes in this country who had no independent 

judgments of their own, took up the gossip of the day 



and pursued their congenial calling, even after death had 
taken him from their sight forever. 

Down from the canvas beams his speaking eye upon 
us, and its meaning seems to say, justice to her is honor 
to me. With feelings an American only can appreciate, 
the task is undertaken, and whatever its defects may 
be, its merit is its truthfulness. 

In 1779 Colonel John Donelson, a brave and wealthy 
old Virginia surveyor, started to the banks of the Cum- 
berland with a party of emigrants. He had been pre- 
ceded by Captain James Robertson and his companions, 
nine sturdy pioneers, who had engaged to build huts, 
plant corn, and make as comfortable a home as possible 
for the band that was to follow. This consisted of 
families, and among them the families of several of 
those adventurous pioneers. 

The country was full of Indians, the forests deep, 
wild and unexplored, and the perils very great. In 
order to escape the toil and danger of travelling through 
the wilderness, Colonel Donelson accomplished the 
journey by water. It was a distance of more than two 
thousand miles, and never before had any man been 
bold enough to project such a voyage. They sailed 
down the Holston river to the Tennessee, down the 
Tennessee to its junction with the Ohio, up the Ohio 
till they reached the Cumberland, and up this stream to 
the French Salt Springs, on the spot where now stands 
the city of Nashville. Colonel Donelson kept an ac- 
count of this remarkable and perilous voyage, " entitled, 



''Journal of a voyage, intended by God's permission, in 
the good boat Adventure, from Fort Patrick Henry on 
Holston river, to the French Salt Springs on Cumber- 
land river, kept by John Donelson," and the thrilling 
incidents and remarkable personal adventures are 
deeply interesting. 

They were four months on the journey, the sufferings 
and privations of which can scarcely be appreciated by 
the more fortunate who now travel the same way amid 
quiet woods, green fields, and peaceful country homes. 
To those adventurers, the dangerous points of the rivers 
were unknown, and many were the accidents that befell 
them. They started in the depths of winter, and were 
obliged to encounter excessive cold and frosts. But 
worse than all, the Indians were ever on the watch to 
entrap them. The journal says, "we still perceived 
them, marching down the river in considerable bodies, 
keeping pace with us." The wildest, most romantic, and 
lonely spot on this continent is the "Whirl," in the Ten- 
nessee river, where the river is compressed within less 
than half its usual width by the Cumberland mountain 
which juts in on both sides. Its beauty is only equalled 
by its danger. In passing through this place, a large 
canoe, containing all the property of one of the emigrants, 
was overturned and the little cargo was lost. The family 
had gone into a larger boat for safety. " The company," 
says Colonel Donelson, " pitying their distress, concluded 
to halt and assist in recovering the property. We had 
landed on .the northern shore, at a level spot, and were 


going up to the place, when the Indians, to our astonish- 
ment, appeared immediately over us on the opposite 
cliffs, and commenced firing down upon us, which occa- 
sioned a precipitate retreat to the boats. We immedi- 
ately moved off." 

One of this intrepid little band of emigrants,- sharing 
in its hardships and dangers, was Rachel Donelson, the 
daughter of Col. John Donelson. She was then a bright- 
eyed, black-haired, sprightly, pretty child of about twelve 
years. On the 24th of April, 1780, they reached the little 
settlement of log-cabins that Captain Robertson and his 
band had made ready for them. But perils -and priva- 
tions were not past. The Indians were wily and untiring 
in laying their crafty ambushes, and many were the 
victims that fell within their deadly grasp, and were 
despatched by their murderous weapons. With all 
these troubles, however, the settlement grew in numbers 
and in strength ; such was the intrepidity and the per- 
severing energy which inspired these heroic men and 
women. As Colonel Donelson was one of the most 
influential, he became one of the wealthiest of the settlers. 
He had owned extensive iron works in Pittsylvania 
County, Virginia, which he had sold when he started to 
the West. Prior and subsequent to the revolution, he 
was a member of the House of Burgesses, and had re- 
peatedly represented the counties of Campbell and Pitt- 
sylvania. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were 
his personal friends ; he held commissions under each 
of them to execute important trusts, such as the survey 


of State lines, the negotiating of treaties with Indians, or 
establishing the authority of the State over distant terri- 
tory. His confidence in General Washington was im- 
plicit, and the earnestness with which he spoke his 
sentiments had a most happy and conservative influence 
over the people of the West. The little colony soon 
began to suffer from the insufficient supply of corn and 
of powder and lead, and as the family of Colonel Donel- 
son numbered many children and servants, he concluded 
to remove with them to Kentucky. He had in that State, 
moreover, land claims which he could more easily attend 
to and secure by being there. During his residence 
there, his daughter Rachel was married to Lewis Robards, 
a man of good family. She had grown up amid the trials 
and dangers of a frontier life, but the examples that she 
daily saw of noble fortitude, of calm bravery, and of 
heroic labor were worth many a tamer and weaker 
lesson of more civilized life. She grew up accomplished 
in the higher art of making home attractive and relatives 
happy. She was at the same time lively and gentle, 
gifted with patience and prudence, and winning in her 
simple and unaffected manners. 

Soon after his daughter's marriage, Colonel Donelson 
returned to Tennessee with his family. In the fall of 
1785, while surveying in the woods far from home, this 
brave and gallant gentleman was pierced by bullets from 
an unseen foe, and died the same night. Judge John 
Overton, then a young lawyer, in the fall of 1787, went 
to Mercer County, Kentucky, and became a boarder in 


the family of Mrs. Robards, where Lewis Robards and 
his wife were living. Judge Overton was not long in 
discovering that they lived very unhappily, because Cap- 
tain Robards was jealous of a gentleman named Short. 
His disposition was extremely unfortunate, and kept the 
whole family in uneasiness and distress. This unpleasant 
state of affairs continued to increase until Captain 
Robards wrote to his mother-in-law, the widowed Mrs. 
Donelson, requesting that she would take her daughter 
home, as he did not intend to live with her any longer. 
Some time in the latter part of 1788, Samuel Donelson 
came and started away with his sister. Judge Overton 
says, " my clear and distinct recollection is, that it was 
said to be a final separation, at the instance of Captain 
Robards ; for I well recollect the distress of old Mrs. 
Robards on account of her daughter-in-law Rachel 


going away, and on account of the separation that was 
about to take place, together with the circumstance of 
the old lady's embracing her affectionately. The old 
lady always blamed her son Lewis, and took the part of 
her daughter-in-law." 


Judge Overton further remarks that he never heard 
any of the family censure young Mrs. Robards on ac- 
count of the unhappy difference between her husband 
and herself; but that he frequently heard them express 
the most favorable sentiments regarding her. 

As stated in his narrative, published in 1827, Judge 
Overton, deciding to fix his residence in Tennessee, left 
old Mrs. Robards, with the promise that he would use 


his best endeavors to effect a reconciliation between her 
son Lewis and his wife, particularly as her son seemed 
unhappy, and regretful of what had occurred. The 
Judge took occasion to speak with him upon the subject, 
and he said he was convinced that his suspicions were 
unfounded, and that he wished to live with his wife. 
Upon arriving at his destination in Tennessee, by a re- 
markable and romantic coincidence, the Judge again 
became a boarder in the same house with Mrs. Lewis 
Robards. Mrs. Donelson, her mother, was not only 
willing to accommodate him, but was glad to add to the 
number of her protectors against the Indians. Another 
lawyer, Andrew Jackson, became a boarder with Mrs. 
Donelson at the same time, being introduced by Judge 
Overton. " Soon after my arrival," continues the Judge 
in his narrative, "I had frequent conversations with Mrs. 
Lewis Robards, on the subject of living happily with her 
husband. She, with much sensibility, assured me that 
no effort to do so should be wanting on her part ; and I 
communicated the result to Captain Robards and his 
mother, from both of whom I received congratulations 
and thanks. 

"Captain Robards had previously purchased a pre- 
emption in this country on the south side of the Cum- 
berland river, in Davidson county, about five miles from 
where Mrs. Donelson then lived. In the arrangement 
for a reunion between Captain Robards and his wife, I 
understood it was agreed that Captain Robards was to 
live in this country instead of Kentucky; and that until 


it was safe to go to his own land, he and his wife were to 
live at Mrs. Donelson's." They became reunited in the 
year 1789. 

" Not many months elapsed before Robards became 
jealous of Jackson, which, I felt confident, was without 
the least ground. Some of his irritating conversations 
on this subject with his wife, I heard amidst the tears of 
herself and her mother, who were greatly distressed. I 
urged to Robards the unmanliness of his conduct, after 
the pains I had taken to produce harmony as a mutual 
friend of both .families, and my honest conviction that his 
suspicions were groundless. These remonstrances 
seemed not to have the desired effect. As much com- 
motion and unhappiness prevailed in the family as in 
that of Mrs. Robards, in Kentucky. At length I com- 
municated to Jackson the unpleasant situation of living 
in a family where there was so much disturbance, and 
concluded by telling him that we would endeavor to get 
some other place. To this he readily assented. 

" Being conscious of his innocence, Jackson said he 
would talk to Robards. What passed between them I 
do not know. Mrs. Donelson related that Robards be- 
came violently angry and abusive, and said that he was 
determined not to live with Mrs. Robards. Jackson re- 
tired from the family and went to live at Mansker's Sta- 
tion. Captain Robards remained several months with 
his wife, and then went to Kentucky. Soon after this 
affair, Mrs. Robards went to live at Colonel Hays', who 
married her sister. 


"Some time in the fall of 1790, there was a report 
afloat that Captain Robards intended to come down and 
take his wife to Kentucky. This created great uneasi- 
ness both with Mrs. Donelson and her daughter, the 
latter of whom was much distressed, being convinced after 
two fair trials, as she said, that it would be impossible 
to live with Captain Robards ; and of this opinion was I, 
with all those I conversed with, who were acquainted 
with the circumstances. During the winter of i 791, Mrs. 
Donelson told me of her daughter's intention to go down 
the river to Natchez, to some of their friends, in order 
to keep out of the way of Captain Robards, as she said 
he had threatened to haunt her. Knowing, as I did, 
Captain Robards' unhappy disposition, and his temper 
growing out of it, I thought she was right to keep out 
of the way, though I clo not believe, that I so expressed 
myself to the old lady or to any other person. 

"The whole affair gave Jackson great uneasiness. In 
his singularly delicate sense of honor, and in what I 
thought his chivalrous conceptions of the female sex, it 
occurred to me that he was distinguishable from every 
other person with whom I was acquainted. About the 
time of Mrs. Donelson's communication to me respecting 
her daughter's intention of going to Natchez, I perceived 
in Jackson symptoms of more than usual concern. Wish- 
ing to ascertain the cause, he frankly told me that he was 
the most unhappy of men, in having innocently and un- 
intentionally been the cause of the loss of peace and 
happiness of Mrs. Robards, whom he believed to be a 


fine woman. It was not long after this before he com- 
municated to me his intention of going to Natchez with 
Colonel Stark, with whom Mrs. Robards was to descend 
the river, saying that she had no friend or relation that 
would go with her, or assist in preventing Stark and his 
family and Mrs. Robards from being massacred by the 
Indians, then in a state of war and exceedingly trouble- 
some. Accordingly, Jackson, in company with Mrs. 
Robards and Colonel Stark, a venerable and highly es- 
teemed old man and friend of Mrs. Robards, went down 
the river from Nashville to Natchez, in the winter or 
early spring of 1791. It was not, however, without the- 
urgent entreaties of Colonel Stark, who wanted protec 
tion from the Indians, that Jackson consented to accom 
pany them. 

"Previously to Jackson's starting, he committed all 
his law business to me, at the same time assuring me 
that as soon as he should see Col. Stark and his family 
and Mrs. Robards situated with their friends, he would 
return and resume his practice. He descended the 
river, returned from Natchez to Nashville, and was at 
the Superior Court, in the latter place, in May, 1791, 
attending to his business as a lawyer and solicitor-gen- 
eral for the government. Shortly after this time, we 
were informed that a divorce had been granted by the 
Legislature of Virginia. 

" The divorce was understood by the people of .this 
country to have been granted in the winter of 1790 
1791. I was in Kentucky in the summer of 1791, re- 


mained at old Mrs. Robards', my former place of resi- 
dence, a part of the time, and never understood other- 
wise than that Captain Robards' divorce was final, until 
the latter part of the year 1793. In the summer of 1791, 
General Jackson went to Natchez, and, I understood, 
married Mrs. Robards, then believed to be freed from 
Captain Robards, by the divorce in the winter of i 790- 
1791. They returned to Nashville, settled in the neigh- 
borhood of the city, where they have lived ever since, 
esteemed and beloved by all classes. 

"About the month of December, 1793, after General 
Jackson and myself had started to Jonesborough, in East 
Tennessee, where we practised law, I learned for the first 
time that Captain Robards had applied to Mercer Court, 
in Kentucky, for a divorce, which had then recently been 
granted; and that the Legislature had not absolutely 
granted a divorce, but left it for the Court to do. I need 
not express my surprise, on learning that the act of the 
Virginia Legislature had not divorced Captain Robards. 
I informed General Jackson of this, who was equally 
surprised; and during our conversation, I suggested the 
propriety of his procuring a license on his return home, 
and having the marriage ceremony again performed, so 
as to prevent all future cavilling on the subject. 

" To this suggestion, he replied that he had long since 
been married, on the belief that a divorce had been 
obtained, which was the understanding of every person 
in the country ; nor was it without difficulty he could be 
induced to believe otherwise. 


" On our return home from Jonesborough, in January, 
1794, to Nashville, a license was obtained, and the mar- 
riage ceremony again performed. 

" The slowness and inaccuracy with which information 
was obtained in Tennessee at that time, will not be sur- 
prising when we consider its insulated and dangerous 
situation, surrounded on every side by the wilderness, 
and by hostile Indians, and that there was no mail estab- 
lished until about 1797." 

Subsequent events proved this marriage to be one of 
the very happiest that was ever formed. A romantic 
person would say that it was made in Heaven, and cer- 
tainly it had the requisites of a heavenly union. Noth- 
ing could exceed the admiration, and love, and even 
deference of General Jackson for his wife. Her wish to 
him was law. It was a blessed ordering of Providence 
that this kind, good heart should find at last, after so 
many troubles, a tender and true friend and protector, 
understanding her perfectly, and loving her entirely. 

Mrs. Jackson was a noble woman, and abundantly 
blessed with superior sense. She was a good manager, 
a kind mistress, always directing the servants, and taking 
care of the estate in her husband's frequent absences, 
and withal a generous and hospitable neighbor. 

She had a great many nieces and nephews, some 
of whom were nearly all the time staying with her. 
She was very lively in her manners, well knowing how 
to tell stories, and amuse the young people of the neigh- 
borhood, who were much attached to her, all calling her 


affectionately Aunt Rachel, as her nieces and nephews 

About the year 1804, General Jackson fixed his resi- 
dence upon a superb estate of a thousand acres, twelve 
miles from Nashville, which he named the Hermitage. 
They lived at first in an ordinary frame building, suffi- 
ciently comfortable, but rather small. No lack of space 
in the house, however, could contract the liberal and 
hospitable spirit of the master and mistress of the Her- 
mitage. When the Marquis de Lafayette visited Nash- 
ville on his return to America, there was an entertain- 
ment given in his honor at the Hermitage, to which many 
ladies and gentlemen were invited. At this banquet, 
and during his stay in Nashville, General Lafayette was 
particularly respectful and attentive to Mrs. Jackson ; 
and after his return to France, he never failed, in writing 
to General Jackson, to send her his compliments. 

But the General was the "prince of hospitality," as 
one of his neighbors said, "not because he entertained 
a great many people, but because the poor belated ped- 
lar was as welcome as the President of the United 
States, and made so much at his ease that he felt as 
though he had got home." 

One who often visited General Jackson's house wrote 
that "it was the resort of friends and acquaintances, and 
of all strangers visiting the State; and the more agree- 
able to all from the perfect conformity of Mrs. Jackson's 
character to his own. She had the General's own warm 
heart, frank manners, and hospitable temper, and no two 


persons could have been better suited to each other, 
lived more happily together, or made a house more at- 
tractive to visitors. She was always doing kind things 
in the kindest manner. No bashful youth or plain old 
man, whose modesty set them down at the lower end 
of the table, could escape her cordial attention, any more 
than the titled gentlemen at her right and left." 

She had no children of her own, and it was a source 
of regret to both; but a fortunate circumstance threw a 
little child across her pathway, and she gladly took the 
babe to her home and heart. Her brother had twin 
boys born to him, and wishing to help her sister in a 
care which was so great, took one of them to the Her- 
mitage when it was but a few days old. 

The General soon became extremely attached to the 
little guest, and adopted him, giving him his own name, 
and treating him from that time with unremitting kind- 
ness and affection, as if he were indeed his only son. 
A traveller, who arrived at the Hermitage one wet, chilly 
evening in February, says: "I came upon General Jack- 
son in the twilight, sitting alone before the fire, a lamb 
and a child between his knees. Seeing me, he called a 
servant to remove the two innocents to another room, 
and said that the child had cried because the lamb was 
out in the cold, and begged him to bring it in, which he 
. had done to please the child his adopted son, then not 
two years old." This son, Andrew Jackson, jr., was the 
sole heir of the General's large estate. His widow 
resides yet at the Hermitage, at the request of the 


State of Tennessee, which purchased the homestead at 
the close of the war. 

A few days after the battle of New Orleans, Mrs. 
Jackson arrived in that city with a party of Tennesseeans, 
bringing with her the little Andrew, then about seven 
years old. She participated in the attentions that were 
showered upon the General, who showed her, himself, 
the most marked respect and deference. The ladies of 
New Orleans presented her with a valuable and beauti- 
ful set of topaz jewelry. In her portrait, at the Hermi- 
tage, Mrs. Jackson wears the dress which she appeared 
in at the grand ball given in New Orleans, in honor of 
the General. It is white satin, ornamented with lace, 
and jewelry of pearls. This portrait was painted by 
Earl, an artist who married a niece of Mrs. Jackson's 
and resided many years in General Jackson's family. 

In 1816 Mrs. Jackson joined the church, while attend- 
ing the ministry of the Rev. Gideon Blackburn, a Pres- 
byterian divine, whom she ever after regarded with the 
deepest veneration. To gratify her, General Jackson 
built a little church on the estate, a quarter of a mile 
from the house. It was plain and simple, and small, but 
very dear to Mrs. Jackson, who spent in it many happy 
hours. It was a blessing to the neighbors, who found it 
convenient and pleasant to send their children to Sun- 
day-school, and to attend church themselves when it was 
impossible to go farther. 

A new house was built during the summer of 1819. 
It was erected expressly for Mrs. Jackson, and every- 


reofardinof it was done exactly in accordance with 

o <=> J 

her wishes. Major Lewis, who visited the site, recom- 
mended a more elevated position to the General. " No, 
Major," said he, "Mrs. Jackson chose this spot, and she 
shall have her wish. I am going to build this house for 
her; I don't expect to live in it myself/' He was at the 
time very feeble and exhausted from the severe illness 
succeeding his return from the Seminole war, and was, 
as he supposed, not long for this world. 

The house is situated in a level place, rather lower 
than the avenue which leads to it, and from the gate 
only glimpses of it can be obtained. The surrounding 
country is exceedingly beautiful. The long stately 
avenue of cedars ends in an oval-shaped lawn in which 
stands the mansion. Both in front and in the rear of 
the house there are grand double piazzas, with stone 
floors supported by large fluted columns, round which 
cling and bloom beautiful rose vines. Under the shade 
of these drooping tendrils, General Jackson and his 
cherished wife were wont to saunter, occasionally stop- 
ping to more distinctly hear the rich notes of the south- 
ern songsters, or to catch the mournful cry of the ring- 
dove in the distant cotton-field. 

The walls of the hall are covered with scenes from 
Telemachus, which was formerly so fashionable for paper- 
ing. The fairy beauty of Calypso's enchanted island, 
with its sparkling fountains, its flowery groves, its elegant 
pillared palaces, its dancing nymphs, its altars of incense 
and votive wreaths, its graceful groups of statues on the 


seashore, and, above all, its lovely queen and the noble 
youth and his wise Mentor, lend an air of interest and 
beauty to this cool hall which is delightful. There is 
hanging here a handsome portrait of Columbus. The 
furniture is old-fashioned and dignified, and there are 
several busts of distinguished men. That of General 
Jackson was taken by Mr. Persico, made in Italy and 
presented to the General. 

The parlors are large, pleasant rooms, in which there 
are many curiosities, and various odd and exquisite pieces 
of furniture that were presented at different times to 
General Jackson. The house is spacious and handsome. 
When first built, it was the most elegant one in all the 
country around. It was a gift of love from the General 
to his beloved wife, when he did not expect to survive 
her ; and it was arranged to suit her slightest wish, that 
nothing might be wanting to her satisfaction, which it was 
possible in his power to provide. The extensive and 
carefully-ordered garden was tended and overlooked by 
her, and contains a great many sweet shrubs and ever- 
greens and beautiful flowers, a large number of which 
she planted herself. 

In 1821 General Jackson was appointed Governor of 
Florida, and left the Hermitage the i8th of April, accom- 
panied by Mrs. Jackson and the "two Andrews," the 
adopted son and nephew Andrew Jackson Donel- 
son.* The following September she wrote to a friend 

* After General Jackson landed at Blakely, near Mobile, he proceeded up the 
river about forty miles, to a military post under the command of Colonel Brook, and 


at Nashville : "The General, I think, is the most anxious 
man to get home I ever saw. He calls it a wild-goose 
chase, his coming here. He tells me to say to you and 
Captain Kingsley, that in the multiplicity of business, if 
he had or could have seen any advantages for your 
better prospects, he would have written Captain Kings- 
ley long since. You are in the best country in America. 
O, how has this place been overrated. We have had a 
great many deaths ; still I know it is a healthy climate. 
Amongst many disadvantages, it has few advantages. I 

called " Montpelier." Here he was detained some days, during which time he 
learned that the Indian Chief " Weatherford," who commanded at the destruction, 
and massacre of Fort Mimms, was living but a few miles off. General Jackson re- 
membered the brave conduct of the Chief at the battle of " Horse Shoe," where, 
losing the most of his warriors, he surrendered alone, remarking, that " he had' 
fought as long as he had men, and would fight longer if he could ; " * and at his 
suggestion Colonel Brook invited the Chief to dinner the following day. The next 
day his appearance attracted much attention at the fort, and when dinner was an- 
nounced, General Jackson escorted him to the presence of the ladies, introducing 
him to Mrs. Jackson as the Chief of the Creek Indians and the bravest of his tribe. 
She smilingly welcomed him and said, "she was pleased to meet him at the festive: 
board, and hoped that the strife of war was ended forever." " I looked..up," he 
said, " and found all eyes upon me, but I could not speak a word.. I found some- 
thing choked me, and I wished I was dead or at home." Colonel' Brook came to 
his rescue by replying to Mrs. Jackson, and the dinner passed off pleasantly, but the 
Chief related the occurrence a few years later, and said, " he was never caught in 
such quarters again." 

* Weatherford's words were, " I am in your power. Do with me what you please. 
I have done the white people all the harm I could. I fought them, and fought them 
bravely. There was a time when I had a choice; I have none now. Even hope 
is dead. Once I could animate my warriors ; but I cannot animate the dead. They 
can no longer hear my voice; their bones. ate at.Tallushatches,.Talladega, Enmcfaw 
and To-ho-pe"-ka." 


pity Mr. J., he will have so much fatigue. Not one min- 
ister of the gospel has come to this place yet ; no, not 
one ; but we have a prayer-meeting every Sabbath. The 
house is crowded so that there is not room for them. 
Sincere prayers are constantly sent up to the Hearer of 
prayer for a faithful minister. Oh, what a reviving, re- 
freshing scene it would be to the Christians, though few 
in number. The non-professors desire it. Blessed be 
God, he has a few even here that are bold in declaring 
their faith in Christ. You named, my dear friend, my 
going to the theatre. I went once, and then with much 
reluctance. I felt so little interest in it, however, I shall 
not take up much time in apologizing. My situation is 
,a peculiar one at this time. I trust in the Lord my dear 
'child, Andrew, reached home in safety. I think you all 
must feel a great deal for me, knowing how my very 
heart recoiled at the idea of what I had to encounter. 
.Many have been disappointed. I have not. I saw it as 
plain as I now do when it is passing. O Lord, forgive, 
if thy will, all those my enemies that had an agency in 
the matter. Many wander about like lost sheep ; all 
'have been disappointed in offices. Crage has a con- 
stable's place of no value. The President made all 
the appointments and sent them from the City of Wash- 


General Jackson, in a letter to Captain John Donelson, 
Sr., speaks thus of his wife : 

"I hope we will be able to leave here by the ist of 
October for home. Mrs. Jackson's health is not good, 


and I am determined to travel with her as early as my 
business and her health will permit, even if I should be 
compelled to come back to settle my business and turn 
over the government to my successor. I am determined 
to resign my office the moment Congress meets, and live 
near you the balance of my life. * * * Before this 
reaches you, Colonel Butler and our little son will be 
with you, I hope. I trust you will extend your care over 
him until we are where he has gone. You may be sure 
your sister will not remain long behind. We all enjoy 
tolerable health at present, but I am wearied with busi- 
ness and this hot weather." 

Mrs. Jackson sighed for her quiet home and her little 
church during her stay in Florida. Pensacola was so 
different, and the people so entirely divided in all their 
tastes and pursuits from the devout Christian matron, 
that she could not be satisfied. " Three Sabbaths," she 
says, " I spent in this house before the country was in 
possession under American government. The Sabbath 
profanely kept, a great deal of noise and swearing in the 
streets ; shops kept open, trade going on I think more 
than on any other day. They were so boisterous on that 
clay I sent Major Stanton to say to them that the ap- 
proaching Sunday would be differently kept. And must 
I say, the worst people here are the outcast Americans 
and negroes ! Yesterday I had the happiness of wit- 
nessing the truth of what I had said. Great order was 
observed; the doors kept shut; the .gambling houses 
demolished ; fiddling and dancing not heard any more 
on the Lord's day ; cursing not to be heard. 


"Pensacola is a perfect plain: the land nearly as 
white as flour, yet productive of fine peaches, oranges 
in abundance, grapes, figs, pomegranates, etc. Fine 
flowers grow spontaneously, for they have neglected the 
gardens, expecting a change of government. The 
town is immediately on the bay the most beautiful 
water prospect I ever saw; and from 10 o'clock in the 
morning until 10 at night we have the finest sea-breeze. 
There is something in it so exhilarating, so pure, so 
wholesome, it enlivens the whole system. All the 
houses look in ruins, old as time. Many squares of 
the town appear grown over with the thickest shrubs, 
weeping-willows, and the Pride of China : all look neg- 
lected. The inhabitants all speak Spanish and French. 
Some speak four or five languages. Such a mixed mul- 
titude you nor any of us ever had an idea of. There 
are fewer white people far than any other, mixed with 
all nations under the canopy of heaven, almost in 
nature's darkness." 

On the 3d of November, General and Mrs. Jack- 
son arrived at the Hermitage, delighted to be again at 
that home within whose doors the angels, Peace and 
Happiness, awaited their return, and sat with folded 



General Jackson set out for Washington, accompa- 
nied by his wife, in 1824, going all the way in their own 
coach and four, and being twenty-eight days on the 
journey. In a letter to a friend in Nashville she says : 
" We are boarding in the same house with the nation's 


guest, General Lafayette. When we first came to -this 
house, General Jackson said he would go and pay the 
Marquis the first visit. Both having the same desire, 
and at the same time, they met on the entry of the 
stairs. It was truly interesting. At Charleston, General 
Jackson saw him on the field of battle ; the one a boy 
of twelve, the Marquis, twenty three." 

A great many persons paid their respects to Mrs. 
Jackson. She says, " there are not less than from fifty 
to a hundred persona calling in one day." While 
wondering at " the extravagance of the people in dress- 
ing and running to parties," she speaks with enthusiasm 
of the churches and the able ministers. 

Soon after their return home, Mrs. Jackson's health 
began to decline, and in the succeeding years of Gen- 
eral Jackson's campaign for the Presidency, it con- 
tinued delicate. She went with the General to New Or- 
leans, in the beginning of the year 1828, and witnessed 
his splendid reception there. " She was waited on by 
Mrs. Marigny and other ladies, the moment she landed 
from the Pocahontas, and conducted to Mr. Marigny's 
house, where refreshments had been prepared, and 
where she received the salutations of a large and bril- 
liant circle. The festivities continued four days, at the 
end of which, the General and Mrs. Jackson and their 
friends re-embarked on board the Pocahontas and re- 
turned homeward." 

Mrs. Jackson's health continued to fail, and no ex- 
cursions or remedies were found availing. She had 


suffered from an affection of the heart ; a disease which, 
increased and heightened by every undue excitement, 
was, in her case, exposed to the most alarming ex- 
tremes and continually liable to aggravation. The 
painful paragraphs in regard to her character with 
which the papers of the country abounded, wounded 
and grieved her sorely. The circumstances of her 
marriage, so easily misconstrued and so lamentably mis- 
understood by many whom distance and meagre infor- 
mation had kept in ignorance, were used by the polit- 
ical enemies of General Jackson as lawful weapons 
wherewith they might assail his fair fame and obstruct 
his rapid progress to the highest place in the land. 
Considered in all its bearings, there is not in the whole 
world a position more honorable, more important, or 
more responsible, than that of the President of the 
United States. Well were it needful to choose with 
circumspection the Chief Magistrate of a country so 
vast, of a people so intelligent and brave, and possess- 
ing the elements of such greatness and glory; who 
holds in his grasp such a multitude of destinies ; and 
who is able, by his decisions, to continue the sunshine 
of prosperity, or to bring the bitter blasts of adver- 
sity and discord. Hence the ardor and even the des- 
peration of the struggles for victory in each Presiden- 
tial campaign. The same enthusiasm which actuated 
the friends of General Jackson, actuated also his ene- 
mies ; and nothing could exceed the earnestness and 
rancor with which they attacked him. Not content 


with reviling him, they must needs drag before the 
public the long-forgotten circumstances of his mar- 
riage, and wrest them to suit their unworthy purposes. 
The kind heart of Mrs. Jackson, though wrung with 
mortification and grief, prompted no utterance of im- 
patience. She said very little, but was often found in 
tears. Meanwhile, her health continued to decline. 
It was too hard to bear that he to whom she had de- 
voted the affections and energies of her long life, 
should be taunted, for her sake ; that he should, for 
her sake, be considered unworthy of the trust of than 
nation for whose defence and honor he had undergone 
unnumbered fatigues and conflicts and perils. This 
silent suffering told upon her spirits, but anxiety to 
know the event sustained her. 

When the news arrived of General Jackson's elec- 
tion to the Presidency, it was received with rejoicings 
and hilarity in Nashville as everywhere else, but with 
calmness by him and her who were so highly honored. 
Her gratification must have been too deep and heart- 
felt to be expressed with noise and mirth. Despite 
the calumnies which their enemies had heaped upon 
her and the General, the nation had bestowed upon 
him its highest gift; and had confided, for a time, the 
keeping of its honor and well-being into his hands. 
The sorrows through which she had passed, those 
clouds that had hung over her thorny way, had been 
dispersed by the favoring wind of truth, and the bright 
rays of peace shone upon her heart. But she was not 


dazzled by the new prospects opening before her. The 
splendors and gayeties of a life in the White House 
could offer her no attractions. Her domestic and sim- 
ple tastes found more pleasure in her own home and 
family-circle at the beloved Hermitage. " For Mr. Jack- 
son's sake," said she, " I am glad ; for my own part, I 
never wished it." She seemed to regret the necessity of 
a residence in Washington, and remarked to a friend with 
an expression of the utmost sincerity, "I assure you that 
I would rather be a door-keeper in the house of my 
God, than to live in that Palace in Washington." 

Mrs. Jackson always purchased all the clothing and 
household articles, both for her own and the servants' 
use. Desiring to arrange everything comfortable dur- 
ing the winter, for she knew that General Jackson 
would have many friends at the Hermitage, she made 
frequent visits to Nashville, and on one occasion heard 
the thoughtless remarks of persons who probably for- 
got a moment afterward the words which broke the 
heart of their victim. It was her custom usually to go 
to one of her most intimate friends on reaching the city, 
and have the horses and carriage put in the stable, and 
then go out shopping ; but on this occasion she went 
early in her cumbrous coach, and as she had many places 
to visit, determined to send the driver to a livery stable 
and meet it in the afternoon at the Nashville Inn, then 
the principal hotel in the city. 

Weary and exhausted after a tedious day's shopping, 
she went at the appointed hour to the parlor of the 


hotel, and while waiting there, she heard her name 
called in the adjoining room. It was impossible for her 
not to hear, and there she sat, pale and excited, listen- 
ing to a repetition of calumnies which political strife had 
magnified and promulgated. The bare truthful outlines 
of her early unfortunate marriage were given, but so 
interwoven with false misrepresentations, that she could 
hardly believe herself the subject of remark. All she 
did hear was never known, but on her death-bed she 
told the circumstance to her husband, and then he under- 
stood the cause of her violent attack. He had tried to 
keep every paragraph and abusive line out of her sight, 
and hoped that now, after the election was decided, this 
unhappy subject of "her marriage before a divorce was 
granted," would be dropped forever. She had acted as 
she thought was the best, and indeed in every act of her 
life she discovered the fine sense she displayed in her 
conduct towards her first husband. But the malicious 
envy of people who could not bear her elevation, caught 
at every straw to revile her pure and blameless life. 
Had she lived unhappily with General Jackson, there 
might have been some excuse for considering her a 
weak woman; but her long, happy and beautiful exist- 
ence as his wife, was a convincing proof of her affec- 
tionate nature, and religious, high-minded soul. The 
fatal error of her youth, in marrying a man her intellect- 
ual and moral inferior, was more than atoned for in the 
miserable years she spent as his unappreciated wife. 
She was sensitive and refined, and her nature revolted 


at his coarseness. She had acted rashly in marrying 
him, but she was loth to part with him. Was she 
to blame that she did not know his character thoroughly 
before her marriage ? The sigh that heaves from the 
hearts of thousands of women as they recall a similar 
experience, attests her innocence. Was she to blame 
for marrying again, when she and every one who knew 
her believed her free? He had never provided a home 
for her, she had always been compelled to live either 
with her mother or his, thereby sealing her doom, for no 
wife, however kind her husband may be, can be as happy 
in the home of her parents as she could in one of her 
own, be it ever so lowly. Captain Robards never tried 
to make her comfortable or contented, but augmented 
the sorrows of her young heart by a course of conduct 
revolting in even the most degraded of men, and inex- 
cusable in him, since he was of a respectable family, and 
supposed to be somewhat cultivated. 

But her offence was the acceptance of a companion and 
friend, who would shield her from poverty and unhappi- 
ness, and add to her life, what she had never known, a 
husband and a home. The bonds of a civil marriage 
had been dissolved, not by her efforts, but by her ungen- 
erous, narrow-minded husband, and she had become the 
wife of a man eminently suited to her. With all the 
bitter experience of her short married life, she trustingly 
confided her happiness into the keeping of one who 
never betrayed it, and who made her existence a con- 
tinued source of joy. In the higher courts, in her con- 


science, but one marriage tie was recognized, and but 
one possessed the entire affection of her young and 
chastened heart. 

It had been arranged that a grand dinner and ball 
should be given on the 23d of December, to General 
and Mrs. Jackson, that day being the anniversary of the 
night-battle below New Orleans ; a day rendered cele- 
brated in the annals of his country by his own heroic 

A week previous to this intended festival, and a few 
days after her visit to Nashville, Mrs. Jackson was seized 
with a spasmodic affection of the muscles of the chest 
and left shoulder, attended with an irregular action of 
the heart, and great anxiety of countenance. The sus- 
pense and uneasiness occasioned by the late political 
strife being at an end, and the uncertainty of the event 
no longer torturing her, she could bear up no fur- 
ther. One of the physicians in attendance upon her, 
gives the following minute and interesting account: 

" Being hastily sent for, I lost no time in rendering 
her all the assistance in my power. Finding she had 
been bled before my arrival, without any manifest abate- 
ment of the symptoms, I repeated the operation, which 
was again had recourse to in the evening, on the arrival 
of Dr. Hogg, an eminent physician of Nashville, who 
had been sent for simultaneously with myself. These 
successive bleedings, together with other treatment, pro- 
duced great relief, and an entir.e subsidence of all the 
alarming symptoms. The three following days she con- 


tinued to improve ; she was cheerful, and could sit in 
her chair and converse with her friends. On Monday 
night, however, she sat up too long, caught cold, and had 
slight symptoms of pleurisy. These soon yielded to the 
proper remedies, a profuse perspiration ensued, which it 
was thought proper to encourage with mild, diluent 
drinks ; everything promised a favorable issue. In this 
situation, after Dr. Hogg and myself had retired to an 
adjoining room, our patient unfortunately got up twice 
and sat by the fire. The perspiration became suddenly 
checked. She cried out, ' I am fainting,' was placed in 
bed, and in a moment afterwards she was a lifeless 
corpse ! 

"All our efforts for her restoration were vain and fruit- 
less. No blood could be obtained either from the arm 
or the temporal artery. Sensibility had ceased, life had 
departed; and her meek and quiet spirit sought that 
rest with her God and her Redeemer, which a cruel 
world refused to grant. 

"From a careful review of the case, there seems to be 
no doubt but that there was a sudden reflux of the blood 
from the surface and the extremities, upon the heart and 
other organs, producing an engorgement and conse- 
quent spasm of that important viscus. That her death 
is to be attributed to this cause, rather than to an effu- 
sion of the brain, seems to be inferable from the fact 
of the total and instantaneous cessation of the functions 
of the heart. Not a pulsation could be perceived ; her 
lungs labored a minute or two, and then ceased. 


" How shall I describe the agony the heart-rending 
agony of the venerable partner of her bosom ? He 
had, in compliance with our earnest entreaties, seconded 
by those of his wife, left her chamber, which he could 
seldom be persuaded to do, and had lain down in an ad- 
joining room, to seek repose for his harassed mind and 
body. A few minutes only had elapsed, when we were 
hastily summoned to her chamber; and the General, in 
a moment, followed us. But he was only in time to wit- 
ness the last convulsive effort of expiring nature. Then 
it was that all the feelings of the devoted husband burst 
forth. His breast heaved, and his soul seemed to 
struggle with a load too oppressive for frail humanity. 
Nor was he the only mourner on this melancholy occa- 
sion. A numerous train of domestics crowded around 
the bed of their beloved mistress, and filled the room 
with their piercing cries. They could not bring their 
minds to a belief of the painful reality that their mis- 
tress and friend, for such indeed she was, lay before them 
a lifeless corpse. ' Oh ! is there no hope ? ' was their 
agonizing question ; and vainly would they flatter them- 
selves with the belief, that perhaps ' she was only fainting/ 

" The distressing event spread with the rapidity of the 
wind ; and neighbors and relatives thronged the house 
from midnight until late the following morning. Soon 
the painful tidings reached Nashville, twelve miles 
distant, and a fresh concourse of friends pressed forward 
to show their respect for the dead and to mourn with 
the living." 


Early on the morning of the 230! December, while 
active preparations for the expected banquet \vere 
going on, and many bright eyes and gay hearts were 
already, in anticipation, beginning the pleasures of the 
day, the afflicting news reached the city, of the Presi- 
dent's unlooked-for and terrible bereavement. This 
sad paragraph appeared in the papers and cast a gloom 
over the breakfast-tables where so many had assem- 
bled in joy. " In the midst of preparations for fes- 
tivity and mirth, the knell of death is heard, and on 
the very day which it was arranged and expected that 
our town should be a scene of general rejoicing, we 
are suddenly checked in our career, and are called on to 
array ourselves in garments of solemnity and woe. 
Mrs. Rachel Jackson, wife of General Andrew Jackson, 
President elect of the United States, died last night, 
at the Hermitage, in this vicinity. The intelligence 
of this awful and unlooked-for event has created a 
shock in our community almost unparalleled. It was 
known, a few days since, that Mrs. Jackson was vio- 
lently attacked by disease ; which, however, was sup- 
posed to have been checked, so as to afford a prospect 
of immediate restoration to health. This day, being 
the anniversary of an interesting and important event 
in the last war, was appropriately selected to testify the 
respect and affection of his fellow-citizens and neigh- 
bors to the man who was so soon to leave his sweet 
domestic retirement, to assume the responsibilities and 
discharge the important duties of Chief Magistrate of 


the nation. The preparations were already made ; the 
table was well-nigh spread, at which all was expected to 
be hilarity and joy, and our citizens had sallied forth on 
the happy morning- with spirits light and buoyant, and 
countenances glowing with animation and hope, 
when suddenly the scene is changed, congratulations 
are converted into expressions of condolence, tears are 
substituted for smiles, and sincere and general mourn- 
ing pervades a community where, but a moment before, 
universal happiness and public rejoicing prevailed. But 
we have neither time nor room, at present, to indulge in 
further reflections on this melancholy occurrence. Let 
us submit with resignation and fortitude to the decrees, 
however afflicting, of a just and merciful, though 
mysterious and inscrutable Providence." 

The preparations making for the festivity were im- 
mediately stopped, upon the arrival of the melancholy 
information ; and, in their stead, the committee of ar- 
rangements, together with the Mayor and Aldermen of 
the city, recommended to the citizens, as an evidence of 
their deep regret and sympathy for the calamity which 
had befallen their honored fellow-citizen, to suspend for 
one day the ordinary business of life, which was 
cordially observed. In the course of the morning, 
a card eight inches long and six inches wide, with a 
mourning border one-third of an inch in width, was 
printed, containing the following announcement: 

" The committee appointed by the citizens of Nash- 
ville to superintend the reception of General Jackson 


on this day, with feelings of deep regret, announce 
to the public that MRS. JACKSON departed .this life last 
night, between the hours of ten and eleven o'clock. 

" Respect for the memory of the deceased, and a 
sincere condolence with him on whom this providential 
affliction has fallen, forbid the manifestations of public 
regard intended for the day. 

"In the further consideration of the painful and un- 
expected occasion which has brought them together, 
the committee feel that it is due to the exemplary 
virtues and exalted character of the deceased, that some 
public token should be given of the high regard enter- 
tained towards her while living. They have, therefore, 

"That it be respectfully recommended to their 
fellow-citizens of Nashville, in evidence of this feeling, 
to refrain, on to-morrow, from the ordinary pursuits of 


"JosiAH NICHOL, Chairman. 

"December 2$d." 

The city authorities also passed suitable resolutions, 
the last of which reads as follows : 

" Resolved, That the inhabitants of Nashville are re- 
spectfully invited to abstain from their ordinary business 
on to-morrow, as a mark of respect for Mrs. Jackson, 
and that the church bells be tolled from one until two 
o'clock, being the hour of her funeral." 

These proceedings were signed by Felix Robertson, 
Mayor, and attested by E. Dibbrell, Recorder. 


About a fortnight before her death, she remarked to 
a friend, that although she had lived with Mr. Jackson 
nearly forty years, there had never an unkind word 
passed between them, and the only subject on which 
they ever differed, or where there was the slightest 
opposition, was his acceptance of appointments when 
conferred upon him ; she being always unwilling for him 
to enter upon public life. Such was the woman whom 
General Jackson was called upon to separate from, at a 
moment of all others the most trying. 

Although the weather was unfavorable, her friends 
assembled from every point, to pay the last tribute of 
respect to one who could befriend them no more. Every 
vehicle in Nashville, and there were more at that day 
than now, in proportion to the population, was put in 
requisition. The road to the Hermitage had not been 
macadamized, and it was, consequently, at that season 
of the year almost impassable ; yet an immense number 
of persons attended the funeral. 

When the hour of interment drew near, the General, 
who had not left the beloved remains, was informed that 
it was time to perform the last sad rites. The scene that 
then ensued is beyond description. There was no heart 
that did not ache, no eye that did not weep. Many of 
the officers present, who had shared with the General 
his difficulties and dangers ; who had seen him in the 
most trying situations ; who had eyed him when his 
gallant soldiers were suffering for food to sustain life, 
and he unable to relieve them ; who had witnessed him 



on the battle-field, when the wounded and the dying were 
brought before him, and every muscle seemed moved, 
and his very frame agonized with sorrow ; yet had seen 
no suffering, however poignant or excessive, affect the 
General like this great affliction. When he bade his 
final adieu to the last kindred link that bound him to 
earth, his Roman fortitude seemed for a time to be com- 
pletely overcome. It was a soul-rending sight to see an 
old veteran, whose head was whitened by the hardships 
he had endured for his country, bending over the lifeless 
form of an affectionate wife, whose death was hastened 
by the cruelty of those whose rights he had so nobly de- 
fended. By a muscular and almost superhuman effort, 
he endeavored to check the current of his grief; and, 
waving his hand to the afflicted company, begged them 
to weep no more. "I know," said he, " it is unmanly, 
but these tears were due to her virtues. She shed 
many for me." But one wish pervaded the assembly, 
that the individuals who had hastened this scene by their 
relentless attacks on an unoffending woman, could be 
brought to witness the saddest spectacle that any present 
had ever beheld. 

But they were not there to witness the effects of their 
calumnies. She was dead, and they were vanquished. 
Ever after that funeral, his opponents complained that 
his personal feelings were allowed to govern his public 
acts, and that to be suspected by him of having believed 
aught of slander against his wife, was the unpardonable 
crime which he never forgave. Brave old Hero ! how 


deathless was the feeling which to the latest hour of his life 
displayed the strength made manifest from its inception ! 
Silent and grave he was on the subject, but f<5rgetfulness 
or indifference did not occasion such a course of action, 
as too many found to their sorrow. A dangerous look 
in his flashing eye satisfied any one of the sacred ground, 
and few braved his anger by recalling an unpleasant 
recollection connected with her. The inhumanity of the 
world robbed him of his treasure, and darkened his life, 
but while he lived her name was a hallowed sound 
breathed in the darkened recesses of his bruised and 
lonely heart, which cheered him on to the portals of the 
tomb through which she had passed to immortality. 

The dear remains were interred in a corner of the Her- 
mitage garden ; and thither the afflicted General was sup- 
ported by General Coffee and Major Rutledge. The 
following gentlemen were pall-bearers : Governor Sam 
Houston, Col. Ephraim H. Foster, Col. George Wilson, 
Gen. Robert Armstrong, Col. Sam. B. Marshall, Col. 
Allen, Mr. Solomon Clark, and Major G. W. Campbell. 

A resident of Nashville, writing to his brother in Phila- 
delphia, said : " Such a scene I never wish to witness 
again. I never pitied any person more in my life than 
General Jackson. I never before saw so much affliction 
among servants on the death of a mistress. Some 
seemed completely stupefied by the event; others wrung 
their hands and shrieked aloud. The woman that had 
waited on Mrs. Jackson had to be carried off the ground. 
After the funeral, the General came up to me and shook 


my hand. Some of the gentlemen mentioning my name, 
he again caught- my hand, and squeezed it three times, 
but all he could utter was ' Philadelphia/ I shall never 
forget his look of grief." 

Through the kindness of Sarah Jackson, the widow of 
General Jackson's adopted son, I am in possession of a 
book compiled by Mr. Earl, under the direction of the 
General himself, entitled in gilt letters on the back, 
" Obituary Notices of Mrs. Jackson." It contains the 
funeral card before mentioned ; a great number of 
eulogies taken from the papers of the day ; innumerable 
paragraphs expressive of respect and sympathy ; and a 
synopsis of the funeral sermon, in manuscript. It was 
preached by the Reverend William Hume, of Nashville, 
and has never heretofore been published. It will be 
found interesting, not only as the funeral discourse of so 
eminent a lady, but as a specimen of a sermon delivered 
forty years ago, in a country so undeveloped as Tennes- 
see was in those days. 

" The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance." 

Psalm cxii., 6th verse. 

"These words might be applied to that venerable 
matron, with much propriety, as she gave every reason- 
able evidence that she was among the righteous. In- 
deed, as her name is indissolubly connected with that of 
the President of the United States, it shall be held in 
remembrance while the page of history displays the 
memorable actions of General Jackson. The words of 


the Psalmist, however, are applicable to her in a much 
nobler sense. 

" The death of this worthy lady is much deplored, not 
only by her distinguished husband and immediate rela- 
tions, but by a large majority of the people of the 
United States of America. Her character was so well 
known to multitudes who visited the Hermitage, the 
abode of hospitality, that the following remarks will 
readily be acknowledged as true : 

" With respect to her religious principles, they were 
such as are held sound by all religious denominations 
that are commonly called evangelical. Convinced of 
the depravity of human nature, as taught in the Holy 
Scriptures, she relied on the Spirit of God alone, to 
illuminate, renovate and purify that nature that it might 
be qualified for the unspotted society of heaven. Be- 
lieving with the inspired Paul, that by the works of the 
law, no flesh can be justified in the sight of God, her 
dependence for eternal life was placed on the merits 
and mediation of Jesus. Fully persuaded that the law 
is holy and the commandment holy, and that God will 
not acquit the sinner from condemnation, in a way that 
will conceal the dignity of His government, the purity 
of His nature, the truth of His threatening, or the glory 
of His unchangeable justice, she derived all her hope of 
acceptance with God from Him who 'bore our sins in 
His own body on the tree; who suffered, the just for the 
unjust, that He might bring us to God.' 

"While, however, her whole dependence for accept- 


ance with God was founded upon the atonement of the 
Son of God, through whom grace reigns unto eternal 
life, she knew that this doctrine did not tend to im- 
morality. She was taught by Paul that holiness is 
always inseparably connected with this dependence on 
the merits of the Saviour, and that every motive to holi- 
ness arising from interest or gratitude or the pleasures 
of religion remains in full force ; she therefore abounded 
in good works. Assured by the infallible testimony of 
her Lord and Master, that every branch of the true vine, 
as it derives its verdure, beauty, vigor, and sap from 
the vine is fruitful, she, a genuine branch, was so too. 
In acts of piety, as adoration, thanksgiving and praise, 
she took delight. Her seat was seldom empty in the 
house of God. Though very often surrounded with 
company from every State in the Union, neither she nor 
her illustrious husband neglected the house of God on 
that account. The tears of genuine penitence were 
often shed by her in the temple of the Lord. She had 
a tender and a feeling heart, and sometimes I have seen 
the tears bedewing her cheeks while she was speaking 
of the dangerous condition of those around her, who 
seemed to be entirely careless about a future state. In- 
deed, her devotional spirit was manifest in all her con- 
duct. She meditated on the wonders of redeeming love 
with much delight, as the source of her present joy and 
future hope of glory. Indeed, her piety was acknowl- 
edged by all who knew her, as it manifested itself by the 
most unequivocal proofs ; a reverential awe, a supreme 


love and profound veneration for the incomparable ex- 
cellences of God, and a cordial gratitude to Him as the 
source of all her mercies. Her love to God was dis- 
played by an unusual obedience to His commands and 
by an humble submission to His providence. 

"As a wife, connected with one who stood so high in 
the estimation of his fellow-citizens, she was, as a Chris- 
tian, exposed to some peculiar temptations; for who can 
resist the fascinations of honor and of power? While 
she rejoiced in the honor of a nation of freemen spon- 
taneously given to a husband so dear to her heart, yet 
no unbecoming elation of mind, no haughtiness, no 
overbearing conduct, could ever be seen, even by an 
inimical eye, in this amiable lady. She was adorned 
with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, in an 
eminent degree. Esteem and affection were so mixed 
in her bosom for her husband, that her respectful be- 
havior to him, in her house and among her connections 
and acquaintances, struck every beholder as the soft im- 
pulse of the sweetness of her disposition; so that by her 
kindness and affability, her husband was more happy in 
his own family than in the midst of his triumphs. In 
consequence of her amiable manners, his own house was 
the chief place of his enjoyment. 

"The tears and lamentations of the servants are 
proofs of the most unequivocal kind of her excellence 
as the mistress of her household. Never did children 
seem to mourn more sincerely for a mother than the 
household servants lament for her. The cordial regard 


of her servants may well be attributed to the gentleness 
of her commands, the calmness of her temper, and her 
tenderness in treating them in health and in sickness. 
She was, indeed, a mother to her family. 

"The widow and the orphan will long lament the 
death of Mrs. Jackson. In the circle of the widows and 
orphans her benevolence accompanied with the most 
substantial acts of beneficence, shone with distinguished 
splendor. To her the words of Job may be properly 
applied: 'When the ear heard her, then it blessed her; 
and when the eye saw her, it gave witness to her, be- 
cause she delivered the poor that cried, and the father- 
less, and him that had none to help him. The blessing 
of him that was ready to perish came upon her, and she 
caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. She put on 
righteousness, and it clothed her. Her judgment was a 
robe and a diadem. She was eyes to the blind, and feet 
to the lame, and a mother to the poor.' Blest with 
affluence, she had a heart to feel and a hand to relieve 
the poor and the needy. She viewed the bounties of 
Providence not only to refresh herself and her family, 
but as designed by her Benefactor to flow in channels 
leading to the doors of those who were perishing of 
thirst, that they, also, might quaff and be satisfied. 

"Some, indeed, during the Presidential struggle, with 
unfeeling hearts and unjustifiable motives, exerted all 
their powers to throw her numerous virtues into the 
shade. It was, no doubt, the intention of the defamers 
to arouse the indignation of her husband that he might 


perpetrate some act to prevent his elevation to that high 
station to which the American people resolved that he 
should be raised. Under this cruel treatment Mrs. 
Jackson displayed the temper of a disciple of Him who 
was meek and lowly of heart. Her meekness was con- 
spicuous under all the injuries and provocations which 
were designed to provoke and exasperate her. Seldom, 
indeed, has the busy tongue of slander and detraction 
been more gratuitously and basely employed ; never 
was it put to silence with more helplessness and confu- 
sion than in the case of this amiable and pious lady. 
Influenced by the religion that she professed, she re- 
strained all immoderate sallies of passion and harsh lan- 
guage on that trying occasion. She felt, indeed, the 
injustice of the warfare. Her compassionate heart was 
wrung with sorrow. Her tears flowed, but there was no 
malevolence in her bosom. She could have received no 
pleasure in giving pain to her detractors. Confiding in 
God, that He would bring forth her righteousness as the 
light, and her salvation as a lamp that burneth, she was 
not disappointed. 

" She was permitted to live until the people of 
America, by their unbiased suffrage, asserted their full 
conviction of her innocence in a manner calculated to 
shame and confound the most furious and unprincipled 
of her defamers. Yes, she lived to see every cloud of 
calumny blown away by the united breath of the Ameri- 
can people ; and found herself and her beloved husband 
in the enjoyment of an unclouded sky, favored with 


the smiles and the esteem of a people uninfluenced by 
detractors and qualified to form their own opinions. 

"While we cordially sympathize with the President of 
the United States, in the irreparable loss he has sus- 
tained in the death of his amiable lady, whom he 
deemed so worthy, as he said, of our tears; we, from 
our long acquaintance with Mrs. Jackson, and our many 
opportunities of seeing her virtues displayed, cannot 
doubt but that she now dwells in the mansions of glory 
in company with the ransomed of the Lord, singing the 
praises of that Saviour whom she loved and served 
while she was a pilgrim on earth. In heaven, she drinks 
of the pure stream of the river of life, issuing from the 
throne of God and of the Lamb." 

Various newspapers, and among them, the Mercury 
of Philadelphia, clothed their columns in the badge of 
mourning; which was "alike merited," says the Mer- 
cury, " by his services and fame and her virtues and 

The ladies of Abingdon, Virginia, met and entered 
into resolutions to transmit to General Jackson a letter 
"assuring him of the sincere regard they bore the char- 
acter and person of his deceased lady, and the sorrow 
they feel at his afflictive bereavement," and also to wear 
mourning badges on their dresses for thirty days. The 
following is a copy of the letter of condolence to General 
Jackson : 

" January $th, 1829. 

" DEAR SIR: We have heard, with the deepest sorrow, 


of your late afflictive bereavement in the death of your 
truly pious and amiable wife ; and we have met to mingle 
our tears with yours for the irreparable loss you have 
sustained. To weep on such an occasion is not blamable; 
it is but a becoming tribute to departed worth; yet, at 
the same time, we should bow with submission to the will 
of Him who ' gives and who takes away at his pleasure.' 
She has gone, we trust, to those mansions 'where the 
wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest/ 
where the voice of malice cannot reach her or the tongue 
of calumny disturb her. 

" On such an occasion, when religion is deprived of 
one of its brightest ornaments, and society of one of its 
most valuable members, we consider it our duty to offer 
to her memory the tribute of esteem which is due to her 
worth ; and to give you, Sir, our sincerest condolence for 
this late afflictive dispensation. At the same time, we 
offer our fervent prayer to the Almighty disposer of 
human events, that your administration of the high 
office to which you have lately been elected may be as 
wise and happy as your military career was brilliant and 


This effusion expressive of womanly feeling does in- 
finite credit to the highly esteemed authoress. She was 
a daughter of General William Campbell, who so glori- 
ously commanded the Virginia militia, and afterwards a 
gallant corps in the battle of Guilford Court House, who, 


in the language of the historian, were " the first engaged 
and the last to quit." 

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen of Knoxville, 
Tennessee, unanimously adopted a preamble and resolu- 
tions in regard to the death of Mrs. Jackson. Joseph 
C. Strong was Mayor, and William Swan, Recorder. 
Colonel Jacobs offered the paper, and we annex the 
resolutions : 

" Resolved, That while we deeply regret the death of 
Mrs. Jackson, we cannot but express our gratitude to 
the Supreme Governor of the universe, that she was not 
taken from time to eternity until the people of the Union 
had given a clear and distinct manifestation of the high 
estimation in which they held the reputation of herself 
and husband. . 

"Resolved, That in consequence of the death of Mrs, 
Jackson, the Mayor be directed to request the Rev. 
Thomas H. Nelson to preach a sermon suitable to the 
occasion, in the First Presbyterian Church, at eleven 
o'clock A. M., on Thursday, the first day of January next. 

" Resolved, That the inhabitants of Knoxville be re- 
spectfully requested to attend church, and abstain from 
their ordinary business on Thursday, the first day of 
January next, as a tribute of respect to the memory of 
the deceased. Dec. 29th, 1828." 

In accordance with the request contained in the second 
resolution, the Reverend Thomas H. Nelson preached 
a funeral sermon on Thursday the first day of January, 


The Common Council of the city of New York passed 
resolutions of condolence to mark their " deference for 
her domestic virtues, her benevolence and her piety." 
An authenticated copy of these resolutions was forwarded 
to General Jackson. 

A public gathering assembled at the Vine Street 
Meeting House, Cincinnati, Ohio ; at which a very 
large committee was appointed to draft resolutions 
which they did, in honor of "a lady in whom by uni- 
versal consent, the practical chanties of the heart were 
gracefully blended with the purest and most unaffected 

On the 8th of January, throughout the country, instead 
of the customary firing of cannon commemorative of the 
day, a solemn silence was maintained, as a token of re- 
spect for the deceased. At various public dinners on 
that day, Mrs. Jackson's death was alluded to in the most 
gentle and sympathetic terms. As an illustration of the 
tone and spirit of these allusions, we copy the following. 
At Boston, this toast was offered by S. Fessenden, Esq. : 
"The memory of Mrs. Jackson sadness to our joy, but 
for the bright hope that the event which hath wrought 
for him whose praise we celebrate a cypress chaplet, 
hath introduced her whose memory we revere and whose 
death we deplore, to a crown of unfading glory." 

In New Orleans the following toast was offered: "The 
memory of Mrs. Jackson an example of piety, benevo- 
lence, and every Christian virtue. 'The only amaran- 
thine flower on earth is virtue.' " 


In Nashville, Captain Parrish presented this " The 
memory of Mrs. Jackson." 

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the celebration of the 
members of the Legislature, the following toast was 
drunk: "The memory of Mrs. Jackson the amiable 
wife of the slandered hero. The grave now shrouds her 
mortal remains, but her virtues will shine in brilliant 
purity, when her unprincipled slanderers are lost to the 
memory of man." 

A touching reference to the sad event was made in 
the House of Representatives by the Hon. Pryor Lea, 
of the Tennessee Delegation. 

And so hundreds of pages of eulogies published in 
every section of the Republic might be copied. 

Many pieces of poetry mourning the death of Mrs. 
Jackson appeared in the papers, one of which, from the 
Cincinnati Advertiser, is subjoined: 



**As wintry blasts succeed the summer's bloom, 
And summer suns give place to winter's gloom; 
As to morn's radiance o^er creation spread, 
The night succeeds, when every ray is fled; 
Or as the heart, but erst with joy elate, 
To sorrow turns beneath some stroke of fate; 
So a joy'd nation Fate has bid to turn 
Its smiles of joy to tears o'er Virtue's urn. 
Sacred the numbers breathed in Virtue's name, 
Dear still to goodness, if unknown to fame. 
Bt: thine the grateful task, O humble muse 
(Virtue's thy theme, and thou canst ne'er refuse), 

MONODY. 319 

Be thine the task that goodness to deplore, 
Which Death, relentless, bids to be no more; 
To sing th' unspotted life, unknown to blame. 
But every virtue dear to woman's name ; 
The meek-eyed charity, the guileless heart, 
The long enduring under sorrow's smart ; 
The ready friend to comfort in distress; 
The hand as willing as the heart to bless; 
The every charm exalted virtue lends, 
Conferring blessings as its means extends ; 
The mind sincere, unknown to pious guile ; 
Which ne'er deceit, dishonest, could defile, 
But still intent religion to obey, 
And as she taught its precepts, led the way ; 
To all its active impulses awake, 
And virtuous only for fair virtue's sake. 

* Scarce was the contest o'er, the victory won, 
Mysterious Fate ! But half thy will was done. 
From that first hour a nation made its choice 
Of him in whose great name its sons rejoice, 
From the first hour the grateful news was hailed, 
Even from that hour her gentle spirit failed. 
While o'er the land loud peals of triumph rang, 
Her milder nature felt the mortal pang 
Which still protracted, nought availed to save 
Her suffering nature from an honored grave. 

" Eternal Providence ! Whate'er thy ways, 
'Tis still our duty to adore and praise. 
Lo, the bright virtues from her earliest time, 
Which souls ungenerous slandered into crime. 
Lo, her loved husband's fame, by foes assailed, 
Impotent still. And while each effort failed, 
Behold them turn with most dishonest arts, 
Against domestic Peace their venomed darts. 
Nor sex, nor purity, nor honored age 
Could save them from the shafts of blinded rage. 


Yet she but lived to triumph and to see 

Her fame proved pure as 'twas designed to be, 

When Nature, in her great and high behest, 

Formed, of her daughters, her among the best. 

Yet shall her cherished memory long endure, 

To still assuage the grief it may not cure. 

As when the glorious sun retires to rest, 

He leaves a golden twilight in the west, 

Where the mild radiance of his thousand rays 

Illumes the skies and gladdens every gaze ; 

So the remembrance of her virtues dear 

Shall o'er the hearts of those who loved her here 

Shed the mild radiance of that tranquil joy, 

Which death, nor fate, nor ill can e'er destroy." 

Until a few days before his death, the General wore 
always around his neck and hidden in his bosom a min- 
iature of Mrs. Jackson, on the back of which is a pretty 
little wreath made of his and her hair. The chain to 
which it is attached is curiously wrought of black beads 
intermingled with a flower-work of bright gold ones, into 
which these words are skilfully introduced : " Presented 
to General Andrew Jackson as a token of esteem, from 
Caledonia M. Gibson. May blessings crown thy hoary 
head." Every night he placed this miniature on a little 
table by his bedside, leaning against his Bible, with the 
beloved face towards him, so that the kind, familiar smile 
should be his first greeting when he waked. His grand- 
daughter, now Mrs. Lawrence, bears the honored name 
of his wife, Rachel Jackson, and was an especial favorite 
of his. His eyes were often fixed upon her during his 
last illness with peculiar interest and affection. One 
morning within a few days of his death, when she came 


to bid him good-bye, before starting to the city to 
school, he threw the chain around her neck and asked 
her to wear, for his sake, the miniature he had loved and 
worn so long. 

In a corner of the garden at the Hermitage there is a 
simple elegant monument raised over the vault in 
which lie the remains of General Jackson and his wife. 
The steps run around the circular area, eighteen feet 
across. From this platform spring eight fluted columns 
of the Doric order, surmounted by a handsome entabla- 
ture supporting the dome, which is crowned with a fu- 
nereal urn. On the interior, a plain cornice of vaulted 
ceiling, stuccoed in white, gives an air of purity and 
comeliness, well suited to a tomb. From the centre of 
the platform rises a pyramid on a square base. On the 
floor, on each side of this pyramid, lie the tablets which 
contain the inscriptions. The one on the left is the 
General's, which bears only his name, and the record of 
his birth and death. The hand of an undying affection 
has covered the other with a long and tender testimony 
to her worth. It runs thus : 

" Here lie the remains of Mrs. Rachel Jackson, wife 
of President Jackson, who died the 22d of December, 
1828, aged 61. Her face was fair, her person pleasing, 
her temper amiable, and her heart kind ; she delighted 
in relieving the wants of her fellow-creatures, and cul- 
tivated that divine pleasure by the most liberal and un- 
pretending methods ; to the poor she was a benefactor, 
to the rich an example; to the wretched a comforter, to 



the prosperous an ornament ; her piety went hand in 
hand with her benevolence, and she thanked her Creator 
for being permitted to do good. A being so gentle and 
yet so virtuous, slander might wound but could not dis- 
honor. Even death, when he tore her from the arms of 
her husband, could but transport her to the bosom of 
her God." 

Here in the freshness and greenness of the garden 
they planted, surrounded with climbing vines and fra- 
grant blooms, the General and his beloved wife sleep 
their last sweet sleep. Across a garden path lie the 
remains of Mr. Earl, the artist, " friend and companion 
of General Andrew Jackson." Beside him lies Andrew 
Jackson, the adopted son of the General ; and near are 
two of his infant sons, and a grown son, Samuel, who 
fell in battle. 

General Jackson survived his wife more than sixteen 
years, and, unto the end, his love for her burned as 
brightly as in the hey-day of his youth. Though aged 
and suffering greatly, he was remarkably energetic and 
kept up his correspondence with his old and dear friends. 
The last letter that he ever wrote, only two days before 
his death, was addressed to the Hon. Mr. Polk, Presi- 
dent of the United States, expressing confidence in his 
judgment and ability to guard well and truly the in- 
terests of his country. 



MRS. EMILY DONELSON, the accomplished mistress of 
the White House during General Jackson's Presidential 
term, was the youngest child of Captain John Donelson, 
a man of sterling integrity and irreproachable character, 
perfect in all the relations of life, respected as a citizen, 
honored as a Christian, and beloved as a friend and 
neighbor. She was born in Davidson County, Tennes- 
see, and educated at the Old Academy, in Nashville. Of 
rare personal loveliness and superior intellect, no expense 
or care was spared to fit her for the high position she 
was destined to fill in society. Though her childhood 
was spent in what was then called the "backwoods," it 
was not passed in obscurity, for her close relationship 
with Mrs. Jackson, the public prominence of her near 
relations, Generals Smith, Coffee, and Hayes, and the 
great wealth and high standing of her father, early made 
her familiar with camps and crowds, and developed that 
courtly grace and ease of manner for which she was 
afterwards so pre-eminent. A host of suitors contended 
for the beautiful maiden's hand, among whom were Gen- 
eral Sam Houston, Col. Ephraim H. Foster, and 
Major Gustavus A. Henry ; they always spoke of her 
as the " lovely Emily," and delighted in expatiating on 
the charms of her mind and person. 



At the early age of sixteen she was married to her 
cousin, Major Andrew J. Donelson, the protege and con- 
fidential adviser of General Jackson. She was ever a 
fond and faithful wife, sharing the joys and triumphs of 
her husband, relieving his cares and sorrows, filling his 
home with peace and comfort, and his heart with happiness. 

On General Jackson's election to the Presidency, he 
appointed Major Donelson his private Secretary, and 
invited Mrs. Donelson to officiate as mistress of cere- 
monies at the Executive Mansion. 

To settle a delicate question of precedence between 
Mrs. Jackson, jr., and Mrs. Donelson, who were both in- 
mates of the President's House and nieces of General 
Jackson, he said to Mrs. Jackson, "You, my dear, are 
mistress of the Hermitage, and Emily is hostess of the 
White House." Both were satisfied with this decision, 
and ever afterward Mrs. Donelson occupied the first 
position in the President's Mansion. This was a posi- 
tion that the elegance and refinement of the former mis- 
tresses of the mansion had invested with great respect ; 
and Mrs. Donelson filled it as they had done, ever 
mindful of her dignity as a lady, and true to her duty as 
a wife and mother. In all that is lovely and noble in 
woman, she was the peer of her illustrious predecessors; 
and her tact and grace contributed much to render Gen- 
eral Jackson's term such a brilliant epoch in American 
history. It was a day of fierce party spirit ; political ani- 
mosity spared neither sex nor condition, yet the voice of 
detraction was never raised against her honored name. 
Friend and foe alike paid homage to her charms. 


Mrs, Donelson was of medium height, with dark 
auburn hair, dark brown eyes, fair complexion, lips and 
brow exquisitely moulded, slender symmetrical figure, 
and hands and feet tiny as a child's. Her portrait bears 
a striking resemblance to the pictures of Mary Queen 
of Scots. No stranger ever passes it without comment- 
ing on its singular fascination. Young, fond of society 
and pleased with attention, she entered with zest into 
the festivities of Washington, and participated in all its 
gayeties. Her taste in dress was exquisite, and her 
toilette was the envy and admiration of fashionable 
circles. The dress she wore at the first inauguration, 
an amber-colored satin, brocaded with bouquets of rose- 
buds and violets, and richly trimmed with white lace and 
pearls, was a present from the General, and was de- 
scribed in every paper of the Union. It is still pre- 
served in the family, and even in this day of costly attire, 
would be a gala dress. Beloved as a daughter by Mrs. 
Jackson, and intimately associated with her for years, she 
was beside that honored and dear friend at the time of 
her death ; and her tenderness and sympathy did much 
to mitigate the poignancy of the General's bereavement. 
He always called her "my daughter;" and often when 
wearied with the cares of office, would seek relaxation 
amid her family circle. Arbiter in politics, he deferred 
all matters of etiquette to her; and when she would 
appeal to him to settle any knotty social point, he would 
reply, "You know best, my dear. Do as you please." 
Of lively imagination, she was quick at repartee, and had 


that gift -possessed by so few talkers, of listening grace- 
fully. Thrown in contact with the brightest and most 
cultivated intellects of the day, she sustained her part ; 
and her favor was eagerly sought by the learned and 
polished. A foreign minister once said to her, "Madam, 
you dance with the grace of a Parisian. I can hardly 
realize you were educated in Tennessee." "Count, you 
forget," was the spirited reply, " that grace is a cos- 
mopolite, and like a wild flower, is much oftener found 
in the woods than in the streets of a city." 

During the Eaton controversy, the public was curious 
to see what course she would take. Her friends were 
also Mrs. Eaton's friends, it was her policy to please 
General Jackson, and General Jackson's heart was set 
on Mrs. Eaton's social recognition. At the public re- 
ceptions and levees, she received Mrs. Eaton with her 
usual dignity and courtesy; but when the General asked 
her to visit that lady, and set the example of public 
recognition of his favorite, she refused decidedly, saying, 
"Uncle, I will do anything on earth for you, consistent 
with my dignity as a lady, but I cannot and will not visit 
any one of Mrs. Eaton's reputation." She carried her 
point, and the President never alluded to the distasteful 
subject again in her presence.* 

Mrs. Donelson's four children were all born at the 
White House, and their earliest reminiscences are of 

* Mr. Eaton was the Secretary of War, and Mrs. Eaton, with whose name scandal 
was rife, was ignored by the wives of the Cabinet officers as well as by the generality 
of ladies in Washington. The Secretary was an old and intimate friend of the 
President's, and his sympathy was enlisted on Mrs. Eaton's side of the quarrel, but 
without avail, so far as securing her social recognition was concerned. 


the East Room, levees, state dinners, and processions. 
General Jackson made their christenings occasions of 
great ceremony. He was god-father of two of them, 
Mr. Van Buren of another, and General Polk of the 
youngest. General Jackson was very fond of these little 
ones, and took a grandfather's interest in all their plays 
and games. The White House has probably never had 
a more charming tableau than that presented by the old 
hero, surrounded by the lovely family group, of which he 
was the soul and idol. Of Mrs. Donelson's children, 
only her two daughters are now living. Her two sons 
passed away in the spring-time of life. They were 
young men of great promise, superior intellect, and high 
social standing. Andrew, the eldest, was captain of 
engineers in the United States army, and died of con- 
sumption in 1859. John was captain in the Confederate 
service, and fell in the battle of Chickamauga, fighting 
bravely in defence of the cause he had espoused. 

In the spring of 1836, Mrs. Donelson's health became 
so delicate that she concluded to leave Washington and 
go home to Tennessee, hoping, in the quiet and seclusion 
of her beautiful home (Tulip Grove) soon to regain her 
health and strength. But her symptoms grew more 
alarming, and it soon became evident that consumption 
had marked her for its victim. The, scene changes now 
from the gay festivities of Washington to the loneliness 
and suffering of the sick-room. The hectic flush and 
wasting form marked the rapid progress of the insidious 
disease, and thoughts of death became familiar. Though 


so young and gay, she bore her suffering with the patience 
and fortitude of an angel, and submitted without a mur- 
mur to the decree that tore her away from husband, chil- 
dren and friends. Shortly before her death, she made a 
public profession of religion, and connected herself with 
the Presbyterian Church. Every resource of medical 
skill and experience was tried to stay the course of her 
disease, but in vain ; and in December her spirit passed 
from earth. Her death was as peaceful and hopeful as 
her life had been loving and happy. Always a fond and 
proud mother, as the time drew near for a final separa- 
tion from her children, she clung to them with a tender- 
ness and devotion touching to behold. A few evenings 
before her death, she was sitting at an open window, 
admiring the beauty of a winter sunset, when a bird 
entered, and flying several times around the room, 
alighted on her chair. One of her little children, playing 
by her side, made some exclamation and tried to catch 
it. " Don't disturb it, darling," said the dying mother, 
" maybe it comes to bid me prepare for my flight to 
another world. I leave you here, but the Heavenly 
Father, who shelters and provides for this poor little bird 
this wintry day, will also watch over and take care of you 
all when I am gone. Don't forget mamma ; love her 
always, and try to live so that we may all meet again in 
heaven." Ere the week closed, her chair was vacant ; 
earth had lost one of its noblest, purest spirits, but 
heaven had gained an angel. 

" Lovely, bright, youthful, chaste as morning dew, 
She sparkled, was exhaled and went to heaven." 



THE wife of President Jackson's foster-son was the 
daughter of Peter Yorke, of Philadelphia, whose grand- 
father, Judge Yorke, held an appointment under the crown 
of Great Britain prior to the Revolution. She was edu- 
cated in that city, and received all the accomplishments 
a mind of superior order under similar fortunate circum- 
stances would be capable of appreciating. Left an 
orphan at an early age, her affections were concentrated 
upon those nearest of kin to her, and well and nobly has 
she fulfilled all the requirements of sisterly love. A large 
circle of friends and relatives rendered her young life 
happy by their sympathy and affection, and her youth 
is remembered as a scene of varied though ceaseless 

Miss Yorke was married to Mr. Jackson soon after 
the inauguration of his adopted father, and made her 
entree at the White House as a bride. Necessarily the 
object of remark and criticism, which has not generally a 
tendency to promote ease of manner, she yet managed 
to win sincere admiration from all who came in contact 
with her. Seldom has any one in so conspicuous a posi- 
tion exhibited so much of the perfect self-possession 
which distinguishes the lady " to the manor born." She 
combined the opposite qualities of dignity and affability, 



and secured thereby a lasting influence over those with 
whom she was associated. Blending a quick temper and 
high spirits with much kindliness of heart, she was, as is 
often the case with such natures, generous and forbearing 
toward loved ones determined" and unyielding where 
her rights were invaded. Her affection for her father- 
in-law was intense, and he often testified his love for 

On one occasion, when receiving a deputation from 
the Keystone State, he remarked to them, "Gentlemen, 
I am very glad to see you, for I am much indebted to 
Pennsylvania. She has given me a daughter who is a 
great comfort to her father." 

The tone and impressive manner convinced his hearers 
of the entire truth of his remark, while the look of affec- 
tionate pride bestowed upon her filled her heart with 

At the White House she shared the honors of hostess 
with her kinswoman, Mrs. Donelson, whose superior 
charms were gracefully acknowledged by Mrs. Jackson, 
and acted in accordance with the President's suggestion 
to remain as the mistress of his own home. 

During the long period of ill health which accom- 
panied the declining years of General Jackson, she 
ministered to him as only a loving woman can. Never 
for a moment was her watchful care withdrawn, but 
leaving all other duties, she devoted herself to his 

The crowds of company which flocked to the Hermit- 


age were always smilingly received by her, and her 
name was dear to all who enjoyed the hospitality of the 
home of old Hickory. After the death of Mrs. Donel- 
son and the failing health of her father, her task was one 
of seventy, but the method and order which reigned in 
and about her home the attention she bestowed upon 
her children, and the manner in which she cared for the 
dependent ones about her, attest her strong Christian 
character, and convince us that her success was entire. 
Hospitality at the Hermitage was taxed in a scarcely 
less degree than Monticello had once been, and for many 
years Mrs. Jackson received the world's votaries at the 
shrine of greatness. 

In addition to all this, there was a never ceasing de- 
mand on her time and brain for the welfare of her 
numerous dependents. She was a true friend to the 
slaves of the family, and the many helpless ones always 
seen on a large plantation were her special property. 
The wants of the sick, the control of the young and the 
management of all, was a task only appreciated by those 
accustomed to an institution now extinct. On Sabbath 
evenings, for many years, it was her habit to have all 
who would choose to gather around, to hear her read 
of eternal life, and to instruct the children in religious 

Called to pass through great afflictions to part 
with father and husband, and later to mourn the loss of 
a son in his early manhood, whose life was just budding 
into promise of future usefulness, her sorrows rest now 


in her declining years heavily upon her. Her grief is 

During the civil war, whose earliest tocsin was sounded 
near her, and whose dying echoes reverberated along 
the banks of the Cumberland, she remained in the lonely 
home of her happier youth, amid scenes which continu- 
ally recall the unreturning past. In the quiet of a win- 
ter's night, or even amid the beauty of a midsummer's 
day, she looks upon the tomb in the garden, and hallowed 
recollections fill her heart. Through the triumphs of life 
she has passed, and now in the eventide sits beside her 

Now, as in early youth, she .evinces her submission 
to the will of God, and the little church adjoining the 
Hermitage is as sacred to her as it was dear to her 
adopted mother. 

In her present retirement with her children, of whom 
two remain to bless her evening of life, and grandchil- 
dren to cheer her with their innocent gayety, let us hope 
that further trials may be spared her, and that even to 
the end she may enjoy the sweet security of a promise 
made to those like her, who have finished their course, 
and are called to enter into the joys of their Lord. 

* The State of Tennessee owns the Hermitage, and Mrs. Jackson resides there 
as its guest. 



THE wife of President Van Buren was born at Kinder- 
hook, on the Hudson, in the year 1782, a few months 
after the birth of her future husband, whose schoolmate 
and companion she was during their early years. She 
was of Dutch descent, and the original name Goes, but 
pronounced by her ancestors Hoes, and since so called 
by all the members of the family in this country, is 
familiar to those who are acquainted with the history of 
the Netherlands. 

If the charms of nature grand scenery, magnificent 
views, and the ever-varying harmony of beautiful skies 
could add to the growth and development of child- 
hood, Hannah Hoes was incomparably blest. The years 
of her life were spent in a happy home circle in the most 
beautiful section of her native State a State remarkable 
for the grandeur of its mountain scenery, and the num- 
ber of its romantic rivers. Chief among these, and sur- 
passed by none in the world, is the Hudson, in sight of 
whose classic waters she lived and died. 

Her ancestors were sturdy, enterprising Dutch, whose 
homes for many generations had been along the banks 
of the stream discovered by their renowned countryman, 
and not one of the rosy urchins of their households but 



knew of the adventures of Hendrick Hudson, and rever- 
enced him not only as the hero of their race and the dis- 
coverer of their river, but the founder of their prosperity. 
Nor could the tales of the old dames who resided nearest 
the lofty Catskills that he and his followers still haunted 
the mountains and were the direct cause of calamities 
divest their minds of his wondrous exploits. In each 
ripple of the dancing waves, in the denseness of the gray 
fog, or perchance in the quiet stillness of eventide, they 
recognized some similarity, and recalled a parallel of his 

Mid such scenes and under such influences passed all 
the years of Mrs. Van Buren's life. 

In February, 1807, at the age of twenty-five, she was 
married to Mr. Van Buren. The intimacy which resulted 
in this union was formed in early childhood, and the 
marriage took place as soon as his position at the 
bar would justify such a step. The steadfastness of his 
attachment to his young relative was a remarkable trait 
in the character of Mr. Van Buren, and adds a lustre to 
his honored name. 

Some time after their marriage they removed to Hud- 
son City, where eight years of wedded life passed fleetly 
away, they losing, in the meantime, the youngest of their 
four sons, an infant only a few weeks old. In 1816, 
Mr. Van Buren removed his family to Albany, drawn 
thither, doubtless, by his increased and increasing pro- 
fessional standing and political leadership. 

From this time forth, the highest wishes of his early 


life were crowned with complete success. Wealth, fame 
and influence were the fruits of his unremitted industry 
for nearly twenty years. " His natural talents had 
reached their full expansion ; his laborious industry ex- 
hibited its proper results ; and amid a constellation of 
great minds, whose brilliant efforts erected and adorned 
the fabric of New York jurisprudence, the vigor of his 
intellect and the richness of his learning won for him a 
conspicuous and acknowledged eminence." 

But the voice of adulation fell upon unheeding ears 
when sickness invaded the household and hastened the 
cherished wife and mother from her loved ones. Not 
even the ardent devotion, the deathless affection of the 
husband whose efforts in life had all been made for her, 
could stay the destroyer in his cruel work. For months 
she lay an invalid, tended by those who loved her more 
than life, and then sank into the grave a victim of con- 

A gentleman of high distinction, who knew her inti- 
mately from her earliest years, said, " There never was a 
woman of a purer and kinder heart.'* Gentle and win- 
ning in life, her memory is redolent with the perfume of 
her saintly sweetness and purity. Miss Cantine, the 
niece of Mrs. Van Buren, who was but sixteen years of 
age at the time of her aunt's death, gives this picture of 
her last days: "Aunt Hannah lived but a short time 
after their removal to Albany, dying at the early age of 
thirty-five, when her youngest child was still an infant. 
I can recall but little about her till her last sickness and 


death, except the general impression I have of her 
modest, even timid manner her shrinking from obser- 
vation, and her loving, gentle disposition. . The last, long 
sickness (she was confined to the house for six months) 
and her death are deeply engraved on my memory. 
When told by her physicians that she could live, in all 
probability, but a few days longer, she called her children 
to her and gave them her dying counsel and blessing, 
and with the utmost composure bade them farewell and 
committed them to the care of the Saviour she loved, 
and in whom she trusted. 

"This scene was the more remarkable to those who 
witnessed it, as, through the most of her sickness, she 
had been extremely nervous, being only able to see her 
children for a few moments on those days on which she 
was most comfortable. They could only go to her bed- 
side to kiss her, and then be taken away. As an evi- 
dence of her perfect composure in view of death, I will 
mention this fact. It was customary in that day, at least 
it was the custom in the city of Albany, for the bearers 
to wear scarfs which were provided by the family of the 
deceased. Aunt requested that this might be omitted at 
her burial, and that the amount of the cost of such a 
custom should be given to the poor. Her wishes were 
entirely carried out." 

The following obituary notice is in itself a sketch of 
the character of Mrs. Van Buren, and was written by 
one who knew her better than any one out of her own 


From the Albany Argus, Feb. 8, 1819. 

" Died in this city, on the evening of Friday, the 5th 
inst, after a lingering- illness, Mrs. Hannah Van 
Btiren, wife of the Hon. Martin Van Buren, in the 
thirty-sixth year of her age. The death of this ami- 
able and excellent woman is severely felt by a nu- 
merous circle of relatives and friends. As a daughter 
and a sister, wife and mother, her loss is deeply de- 
plored, for in all these various relations she was affec- 
tionate, tender, and truly estimable. But the tear of 
sorrow is almost dried by the reflection that she lived the 
life and died the death of the righteous. Modest and 
unassuming, possessing the most engaging simplicity of 
manners, her heart was the residence of every kind 
affection, and glowed with sympathy for the wants and 
sufferings of others. Her temper was uncommonly 
mild and sweet, her bosom was filled with benevolence 
'and content no love of show, no ambitious desires, no 
pride of ostentation ever disturbed its peace. When 
her attention was directed, some years before her death, 
to the important concerns of religion and salvation, she 
presented to the gospel she embraced a rich soil for the 
growth and cultivation of every Christian principle. 
Humility was her crowning grace, she possessed it in a 
rare degree; it took deep root and flourished full and 
fair, shedding over every action of her life its genial 
influence. She was an ornament of the Christian faith, 
exemplifying in her life the duty it enjoins, and experienc- 
ing, in a good degree, its heavenly joys, its cheering 



hopes. In her last illness she was patient and resigned. 
In the midst of life, with all that could make it worth 
possessing esteemed and loved, happy in her family 
and friends she was forced away. But she left all with- 
out a sigh. She waited the approach of death with 
calmness her Redeemer had robbed it of its sting and 
made it a welcome messenger. Doubtless, * 'twas gain 
for her to die.' Doubtless, she is now enjoying that 
rest ' which remaineth for the people of God.' Precious 
shall be the memory of her virtues, 

" Sweet the savor of her name, 
And soft her sleeping bed." 



THE era in which Hannah Van Buren lived was far 
removed from her husband's ascension to the Presidency, 
for she had been dead seventeen years, when, in 1837, 
that event occurred. He remained a widower, and, but 
for the presence of his accomplished daughter-in-law, his 
administration would have been socially a failure. The 
prestige of his high position was not complete until the 
honors were shared with his young relative. 

Angelica Singleton, the daughter of Richard Singleton, 
Esq., was born in Sumpter District, South Carolina. 
Her grandfather Singleton, and her great-grandfather 
General Richardson, served with distinction in the revolu- 
tionary war. On the maternal side, her grandfather, 
John Coles, Esq., of Albemarle county, Virginia, was 
the intimate and valued friend of Presidents Jefferson 
and Madison, and two of his sons were respectively their 
private secretaries during their Presidential terms. 

Miss Singleton's early advantages were in keeping 
with her elevated social position. To complete an 
education superior to the generality of her sex at that 
day, she spent several years at Madame Grelaud's sem- 
inary, in Philadelphia. The winter previous to her 
marriage, she passed in Washington, in the family of 



her kinsman, Senator William C. Preston. Soon after 
her arrival, her cousin, the justly celebrated Mrs. Madi- 
son, procured the appointment of a day to present her 
to the President, accompanied also by Senator Preston's 
family. Her reception was a very flattering one, and 
she became a great favorite with President Van Buren. 
In November of the year following (1838), she was 
married at her father's residence, to Colonel, then Major, 
Van Buren, the President's eldest son, and his private 
secretary a graduate of West Point and long an officer 
in the army. Her first appearance as the lady of the 
White House was on the following New Year's day, 
when, supported by the ladies of the cabinet, she received 
with the President. 

The following brief though favorable cotemporaneous 
notice of that occasion is taken from a long and racy 
account by a correspondent of the Boston Post, of the 
movements at the capital on New Year's day: 

" The Executive Mansion was a place of much more 
than usual attraction in consequence of the first appear- 
ance there of the bride of the President's son and private 
secretary, Mrs. Abram Van Buren. She is represented 
as being a lady of rare accomplishments, very modest, 
yet perfectly easy and graceful in her manners, and free 
and vivacious in her conversation. She was universally 
admired and is said to have borne the fatigue of a three 
hours' levee with a patience and pleasantry which must 
be inexhaustible to last one through so severe a trial. 
A constant current set from the President's house to the 


modest mansion of the much respected lady of ex-Presi- 
dent Madison. Ex-President Adams and his lady were 
also cordially greeted at their residence by a number of 

Mrs. Van Buren is the only daughter of South 
Carolina who has graced the White House as hostess, 
and her life there was rendered as entirely agreeable as 
the combined influences of wealth, station, and refine- 
ment could make it. The reminiscences of her early 
life carry us back to a period when South Carolina en- 
joyed the distinction of sharing with Virginia the honor 
of being the seat of elegant hospitality and refined culture. 

Under the benign influences of a matchless climate and 

great wealth, the people of the Palmetto State enjoyed 
the leisure and opportunity of developing all those char- 
acteristics which adorn humanity and render life attrac- 
tive. The citizens of this State were fortunate in being 
the descendants of the best families of Virginia, and Mrs. 
Van Buren was a most pleasing representative of this 
old aristocracy. 

Perhaps no aristocracy in this country was ever so 
entirely modeled after the ways and habits of the English 
nobility as that of Virginia and South Carolina. The 
people were enabled, through the institution of slavery, 
to keep up a style of living impossible under other 
conditions, and they had the wealth and the inclination 
to be its successful imitators. They were a monarchial 
class in a republican government. 

The position of Mrs. Van Buren's family was always 


such that all the avenues of intellectual enjoyment were 
open to her, while her natural endowments were of that 
high order which rendered cultivation rapid and pleasant. 
Added to her many gifts was the irresistible one of 
beauty of form and deportment. The engraving, from 
a portrait by Inman, painted soon after the time of her 
marriage, represents the exceeding loveliness of her 
charming person. More potent than mere regularity 
of features is the gentle, winning expression of her clear 
black eyes ; and the smile about her finely chiselled 
lips betokens the proud serenity of her most fortunate 

Mrs. Van Buren was, on her mother's side, descended 
from a long line of ancestors, and the genealogical 
tables of the family discover many of the leading names 
of American politicians and statesmen. Aside from 
mere wealth, they possessed abilities which, in many in- 
stances, secured them the highest position in the gift of 
their government. Prominent among these was her 
uncle, Mr. Stevenson, Minister to England. In the 
spring of 1839, Colonel and Mrs. Van Buren made a 
rapid visit to Europe, returning at the request of the 
President in the following fall in time for the session of 
Congress. While abroad, they enjoyed the most un- 
usual social advantages, being members of the Presi- 
dent's family, and she a niece of the American ambas- 
sador, who had been a resident of London several years. 
They were in London during the whole of the season of 
the year following the queen's coronation, which derived 

ABROAD. 343 

especial brilliancy from the presence of the present 
Emperor of Russia, Prince Henry of Orange, and other 
foreigners of note. 

No American lady has ever visited Europe under 
similar circumstances. Nor have any of her country- 
women made a more lasting impression than did this 
young representative of the President's family. By her 
cultivated, unassuming manners she made herself most 
agreeable to the court circles of England, and main- 
tained in the saloons of royalty the simplicity and dignity 
of her republican education. 

Mrs. Stevenson was the chaperon of Mrs. Van Buren 
on all public occasions, and the recollections of evenings 
spent with her at " Almack's," at the Palace, and in the 
society of the cultured and noble, were always sunny 
memories in the heart of her niece. 

Major Van Buren's position as private secretary ren- 
dered their unexampled and most fortunate visit to 
England of short duration. To reach America before 
the meeting of Congress, they left London for the con- 
tinent. In the course of their hurried tour, they passed 
some weeks in Paris, and were presented by the Amer- 
ican minister, General Cass, to the king and queen. 
They were invited to dine at St. Cloud, and were re- 
ceived with the kind, unceremonious manner which, it is 
well known, distinguished all the members of that branch 
of the Orleans family. After dinner, Louis Philippe 
conducted them through the rooms of the Palace, even 
to the door of the sleeping apartment, as he supposed, 


of his grandson, the Comte De Paris, at which he 
knocked without obtaining any response. The queen, 
having been told by Mrs. Van Buren on her return of 
what had happened, said, laughingly, " Ah ! that is all 
the king knows about it! After his mother left with the 
Due D'Orleans for Algiers, I caused the child to be re- 
moved to a room nearer my own." She then proposed 
to send for him, and for her Wurtemberg grandchild 
also, but unfortunately for the gratification of her 
guest's natural curiosity, the little princes were fast 

After the expiration of President Van Buren's term 
of office, Mrs. Van Buren and her husband lived with 
him at Lindenwald through several years of his retire- 
ment, passing much of the winter months with her 
parents in South Carolina, and in 1848 establishing 
themselves in the city of New York, which has since 
been their home uninterruptedly, except by visits to the 
South, rendered necessary by the death of her father 
and the consequent charge of her patrimonial estate, 
and by a three years' absence in Europe, superintending 
the education of their sons. 

Mrs. Van Buren's middle life was spent in New York, 
where she lived a pleasant existence, surrounded by her 
family, and in the midst of a charming social circle. Her 
career was an exceptionally prosperous one, and she en- 
joyed life thoroughly. She was a cultivated, elegant-man- 
nered person, considerate of others, sweet in disposition, 
and gracious in speech. Her home was the centre of 


elegant hospitality, and in the gayest city on this con- 
tinent she was accounted a society leader. She was an 
unselfish woman, and she was never tardy in employing 
her gifts or her means in behalf of others. Prosperous 
and educated to the enjoyment of wealth; cultured and 
inclined to appreciate all that was pleasing and beautiful 
in life, her career is a delightful one to chronicle. She 
knew sorrow in the early death of two of her children ; 
and in later years the loss of relatives and friends cast a 
momentary gloom about her. But few earthly lives 
have been so unvaryingly even and free from strong 
contrasts. Up to the time of her death (which occurred 
the 29th of December, 1878) she was a lady upon whom 
it was a pleasure to look ; whose bearing discovered 
aristocratic lineage, and cultivation under happy con- 



ANNA SYMMES, the wife of the ninth President of tho. 
United States, was born the famous year of American 
Independence, and but a few months after the renowned 
skirmish at Lexington. Her birthplace was near Mor- 
ristown, New Jersey, the scene of suffering the following- 
year, where the tracks of the blood-stained feet of the 
soldiers attested their forlorn condition. Soon after her 
birth, which occurred the 25th of July, 1775, her mother 
died. Bereft of her care, she was thrown upon her 
father's hands for those attentions necessary for one of 
such a tender a^e, which until her fourth year he care- 

O ' J 

fully bestowed. Her maternal grandparents, Mr. and 
Mrs. Tuthill, were residing at Southhold, Long Island, 
and thither at the age of four years she was taken by 
her surviving parent. The incidents of her journey from 
Morristown to Long Island, then in the possession of the 
British, she remembered through life. Her father, the 
Hon. John Cleves Symmes, though at the time a Colonel 
in the Continental army, was so anxious to place his 
daughter with her grandmother, that he assumed the 
disguise of a British officer's uniform and successfully 
accomplished his perilous undertaking. Leaving her in 
the home from which he had taken her mother years 

before, he joined his own troops and served with dis- 


tinction during the war. Not until after the evacuation 
of New York, in the fall of 1783, did the father and child 
meet again, nor did she return to his New Jersey home. 
Under the care of her excellent grandmother, she be- 
came early imbued with a love of religious reading, and 
learned those early habits of industry which the young 
under the right influences early attain. Mrs. Tuthill was 
a godly woman, whose soul had been deeply stirred by 
the preaching of Whitfield, whom she greatly reverenced 
and admired. From her lips the little Anna received 
her first religious instructions, the good impressions of 
which lasted her through life. She often remarked that 
"from her earliest childhood, the frivolous amusements 
of youth had no charms for her. If ever constrained to 
attend places of fashionable amusement, it was to gratify 
others and not herself." In this early home of quiet and 
retirement, she acquired habits of order and truthfulness 
which characterized her conduct in after years. Her 
hands, even as a child, were never idle, but as a Christian 
virtue, she was trained to diligence, prudence, and econ- 
omy. When old enough to attend school, she was placed 
at a seminary in East Hampton, where she remained 
some time, and subsequently she was a pupil of Mrs. 
Isabelle Graham, and an inmate of her family in New 
York city. Here she readily acquired knowledge, and 
improved the opportunities afforded her. For her 
teacher she ever retained the highest regard, and cher- 
ished the memory of that pious and exemplary woman 
through all the changes of her own life. 


At the age of nineteen she bade adieu to her aged 
grandparents, and accompanied her father and step- 
mother to Ohio, in 1 794. A year previous to this time, 
Judge Symmes had located a small colony of settlers who 
had accompanied him from New Jersey, at a point on 
the Ohio river, afterward known as North Bend. Re- 
turning to the Eastern States, he married Miss Susan 
Livingston, a daughter of Governor Livingston, of New 
York, and in the autumn started again, accompanied by 
his wife and daughter, for his frontier home. The journey 
was made with great difficulty, and the party did not 
reach North Bend until the morning of the i st of January, 
1795. Thus was the youthful Anna a pioneer in the 
land which she lived to see blossoming as the rose under 
the hands of civilization and material progression. 

Judge Symmes was one of the Associate Judges of the 
Supreme Court of the Northwestern Territory, and was 
often called to attend court in a distant part of the Terri- 
tory. During the absence of her father on these jour- 
neyings, Anna would spend most of her time with an elder 
sister, who had previously removed to Lexington, Ken- 
tucky. It was while on one of these visits to her sister, 
Mrs. Peyton Short, that she formed the acquaintance 
of her future husband, then Captain Harrison,* of the 

* William Henry Harrison, the third and youngest son of Benjamin Harrison, of 
Virginia, was horn the gth day of February, 1773, at Berkley, on the James river, 
about twenty-five miles below Richmond, in Charles City county. His father was 
a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a member of the Continental Con- 
gress, and afterward Governor of Virginia. Young Harrison was educated at 


United States Army, and in command of Fort Washing- 
ton, the present site of Cincinnati. The youthful Vir- 
ginian was much attracted by the gentle, modest 
manners and the sweet face of Anna Symmes, and he 
determined on winning her hand. The effort was highly 
successful, for they were married at her father's house, 
North Bend, Ohio, November 22d, 1795. 

Thus, in less than one year after her removal from 
her childhood's home, in the twentieth year of her age, 
Anna Symmes became the wife of Captain Harrison, 
subsequently the most popular General of his day and 
President of the United States. 

Soon after their marriage, Captain Harrison resigned 
his commission in the army, and was elected the first 
delegate to Congress from the Northwest Territory. 
Mrs. Harrison accompanied him to Philadelphia, then 
the seat of the General Government, but spending, 
however, most of the session in visiting her husband's 
relatives in Virginia. 


From those who knew Mrs. Harrison at this period 
of her life, is given the assurance that she was very 

Hampden Sydney College, and afterward studied medicine. After his father's 
death, in 1791, he became the ward of Robert Morris, the celebrated financier, 
whose private fortune so often relieved the sufferings of the Continental Army. 
When about to graduate as a physician, the reports of troubles in the West decided 
him to join the frontier troops. The opposition of his excellent guardian was not 
sufficient to deter him from his purpose, and as his design was approved by Wash- 
ington, who had also been a warm friend of his father, he received from that noble 
warrior an ensign's commission in the first regiment of United States Artillery, then 
stationed at Fort Washington. 


handsome. Her face was full of animation and kindli- 
ness, and her health, which was perfectly robust, added 
a glow to her features, very pleasing to behold. Her 
figure was not large, but a happy medium, although 
rather inclined to become reduced upon the slightest 
occasion. Later in life, as her health grew more deli- 
cate, she looked much smaller than when in youth's 
bright morn she became a bride. In a letter received 
by her in 1840, from a friend who had known her at 
eighteen years of age, this passage occurs: "I suppose 
I should not recognize anything of your present coun- 
tenance, for your early days have made such an impres- 
sion upon my mind that I cannot realize any counte- 
nance for you but that of your youth, on which nature 
had been so profusely liberal." In the pictures taken 
later in life, her face exhibits a very intellectual and 
animated expression, and there are traces of former 
beauty in the delicate features and bright black eyes. 

When the Indiana Territory which now forms the 
State of Indiana, was formed out of a portion of the old 
Northwestern Territory, General Harrison was ap- 
pointed its first Governor by President Adams. 

He removed his family to the old French town of 
Vincennes, on the Wabash, then the seat of the Terri- 
torial Government, where Mrs. Harrison lived for many 
years a retired but very happy life. 

Dispensing with a liberal hand and courteous manner 
the hospitality of the Governor's Mansion, she was be- 
loved and admired by all who knew her. General Har- 


risen retained this position during the administrations of 
Adams, Jefferson and Madison, until the inglorious sur- 
render of Hull in 1812, when he was appointed to the 
command of the northwestern army. Mrs. Harrison 
remained in Vincennes during the fall of 181 1, while her 
husband was marching with his small force to disband 
the tribes of hostile Indians gathering for battle at 
Prophet's Town, and was there when the news of the 
battle of Tippecanoe reached her. But she rejoiced 
that it was over, and the formidable combinations of 
Tecumseh and the Prophet were dissipated forever. 
Henceforth the settlers might work in peace, for the foot, 
of the red man came never again across the Wabash 


with hostile intent. 

The battle-ground of Tippecanoe, the scene of Gen- 
eral Harrison's dearly-bought triumph, after the lapse 
of three-quarters of a century, is as quiet and green as 
a village churchyard. A low white paling fence sur- 
rounds it, and the trees are tall and carefully pruned of 
undergrowth. Mounds, so frequently observed in the 
west, and here and there a quaint wooden headboard 
marks the spot of some brave soldier's fall. The train 
as it rushes from Lafayette, Indiana, through what was 
formerly a wilderness, to the west, gives the traveller but 
a moment to look upon this historic spot, where on that 
fatal 7th of November morning, the Indians rushed un- 
expectedly upon the weary troops, sleeping after the 
exhaustive fatigue of travel, and met with a defeat that 
made the spot famous. 


After the battle of Tippecanoe, General Harrison re- 
moved his family to Cincinnati, and accepted the posi- 
tion of Major-General in the forces of Kentucky, then 
about to march to the relief of the Northwestern 

Mrs. Harrison was thus left a comparative stranger 
in Cincinnati, with the sole charge of her young and 
large family of children during the greater part of the 
war of 1812. During this time, several of the children 
were prostrated by long and severe illness, and to this 
trial was added the painful anxiety attending the fate of 
her husband. But under these and all afflictions, Mrs. 
Harrison bore up with the firmness of a Roman matron, 
and the humility and resignation of a tried Christian 

In 1814, General Harrison resigned his position in 
the army and went to live at North Bend, fifteen miles 
below Cincinnati, on the Ohio. In the limits of this 
sketch it is impossible to give all the interesting details 
of Mrs. Harrison's life during her thirty years' residence 
at the old homestead. Many, very many of her acts of 
neighborly kindness and Christian charity will never be 
known on earth, for she shrank from any display of 

General Harrison being much from home, engaged in 
public affairs, she was left in the control of her large 
family of ten children, and ofttimes the children of her 
friends and neighbors. Schools in that new and un- 
settled country were " few and far between," and Mrs. 


Harrison always employed a private tutor. The gen- 
erous hospitality of North Bend being so well known, it 
was not surprising that many of the children of the 
neighborhood became inmates of her family for as long 
as they chose to avail themselves of the privileges of the 
little school. 

Although at this time in delicate health, Mrs. Harrison 
never wearied or complained in the discharge of domes- 
tic duties, and forgot the multiplied cares she assumed 
in the thought m of the benefit the children of others 
would derive from such an arrangement. She was sus- 
tained by her husband, and loved by her children and 
servants, and the burden was lightened spiritually if not 

But here commenced the long series of trials which* 
tested her character and chastened her heart. During 
her thirty years' life at North Bend,, she buried, one 
child in infancy, and subsequently followed to the grave 
three daughters and four sons, all of whom wene settled 
in life, and ten grandchildren. In view of these bereave- 
ments she wrote to her pastor, "And now what shall L 
say to these things; only, 'Be still and know that I am. 
God.' You will not fail to pray for me and my dear son. 
and daughter who are left. For I have no wish for my 
children and grandchildren than to see them the humble 
followers of the Lord Jesus." 

Her influence over her family was strong and abiding,, 
and all loved ta do> reverence to her consistent, con- 
scientious life. Her only surviving son wrote in 1848, 


"That I am a firm believer in the religion of Christ is not 
a virtue of mine. I imbibed it at my mother's breast, 
and can no more divest myself of it than I can of my 

The same was true of all her children, and what errors 
they might embrace, they could not forget the religion 
of their mother, nor wander far from the precepts, for 
"whatever is imbibed with the mother's milk lasts for- 
ever for weal or for woe." The following incident will 
show that her precepts and examples as a member of 
the church were not unappreciated by her husband. In 
1840, during the Presidential canvass, a delegation of 
politicians visited North Bend on the Sabbath. General 
Harrison met them near his residence and extending his 


hand, said : ''Gentlemen, I should be most happy to wel- 
come you on any other day, but if I have no regard for 
religion myself, I have too much respect for the religion 
of my wife to encourage the violation of the Christian 

In 1836, General Harrison was first nominated for the 
Presidency. Mrs. Harrison was much annoyed by even 
-the remote possibility of his election. There were no 
.less than three candidates of the old federal party in the 
field, and the triumph of either was almost an impossi- 
bility. Yet even this probability of having to break up 
the retirement of her old home at North Bend and be 
thrown in the station of fashion and position in Wash- 
ington, filled the heart of Mrs. Harrison with dismay. 
When the trio of candidates had defeated themselves 


and elected the champion of the Democracy, Mrs. Har- 
rison felt heartily glad that her quiet was again restored, 
and she contemplated with renewed delight the happy 
contentment of her western home on the banks of the 
sparkling, flowing river. 

In 1840, the Federal party had ceased to exist; the 
opponents of Jackson and the system which emanated 
from his administration had taken the name of the Whig" 
party, and Harrison, the sagacious Governor of the 
Northwestern Territory, the successful General, and 
later the farmer of North Bend, was the chosen of the 
people, and the idol of his party. 

The canvass, for months before the day of the election, 
carried the most intense excitement and unbounded 
enthusiasm throughout the Union. The pecuniary diffi- 
culties of the country, during the past administration, 
left the people an opportunity for political gatherings. 
Financial prostration and hopeless bankruptcy paralyzed 
the various trades; and in the workshop, as in the count- 
ing-house, in the streets, in the fields, in vacant factories 
and barns, in the mechanic's as in the artisan's room, 
were heard debates of the pending question. Every- 
where long processions with mottoed banners were seen 
marching to music, and throughout the land was heard 
the famous old " Tippecanoe and Tyler too," and " Van is 
a used-up man," campaign songs. Never before or since 
was such interest manifested, and never again will there 
be the same admiration expressed for any aspirant to 
public honors. Log-cabins, illustrative of General Har- 


rison's early days, were "raised" everywhere, and "com- 
panies" visited from place to place, equipped in hand- 
some uniforms, and accompanied by bands of music. 
The whigs struggled manfully to elect their candidate, 
bringing to their service powerful appeals in the forms 
of stirring song, executed by youths in the streets, and 
dwelling continually upon the resumption of specie pay- 
ment, revival of languishing trade, and public retrench- 
ment and economy. The result was such as every one 
expected. General Harrison was elected President by 
a large majority, and John Tyler, of Virginia, w r as chosen 
Vice-President. This triumphant victory brought no 
sense of pride or elation to Mrs. Harrison. She was 
grateful to her countrymen for this unmistakable appre- 
ciation of the civil and military services of her husband, 
and rejoiced at his vindication over his traducers, but 
she took no pleasure in contemplating the pomp and cir- 
cumstance of a life at the Executive Mansion. At no 
period of her life had she any taste for the gayeties of 
fashion or the dissipations of society. Her friends were 
ever welcome to her home, and found there refined pleas- 
ures and innocent amusements, but for the life of a 
woman of the world she had no sympathy. 

General Harrison left his home in February, and was 
received in Washington with every demonstration of re- 
spect, and welcomed by Mayor Seaton in a speech deliv- 
ered at City Hall. It was raining hard when he left the 
railroad depot, yet he walked with his hat in his hand, 
accompanied by an immense concourse of people. He 


went from Washington to his old home in Virginia for a 
few days, but returned in time for the Inauguration. The 
morning of the 4th of March, 1841, was ushered in by a 
salute of twenty-six guns. The day was devoted entirely 
to pleasure. The city of Washington was thronged with 
people, many of whom were from the most distant States 
of the Union. The procession was in keeping with the 
enthusiasm and interest displayed throughout the cam- 
paign. Ladies thronged the windows, and waved their 
handkerchiefs in token of kind feelings, while the wild 
huzzas of the opposite sex filled the air with a deafening 
noise. General Harrison was mounted on a white 
charger, accompanied by several personal friends, and 
his immediate escort were the officers and soldiers who 
had fought under him. Canoes and cabins, covered with 
appropriate mottoes, were conspicuous, and the scene 
was one of universal splendor. 

Mrs. Harrison's health, delicate for many years, was 
particularly frail in February when her husband left home 
for Washington, and her physicians protested against 
her crossing the mountains at that season of the year, 
and urged her remaining in Ohio until the opening of 
spring. General Harrison was accompanied to Wash- 
ington by his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Jane F. Harrison, 
the widow of his namesake son, and her two sons. She 
was a very refined, accomplished person, and exceedingly 
popular during her short stay as mistress of ceremonies 
at the White House. Besides Mrs. Jane F. Harrison, 
there were several ladies of the President's family resid- 


ing temporarily with her until Mrs. Harrison should 
come on. Mrs. Findlay, the wife of General Findlay 
and aged aunt of Mrs. Harrison, Miss Ramsay, a cousin, 
and Miss Lucy S. Taylor, of Richmond, Virginia, a niece 
of the President's, these were the occupants of the man- 
sion the few short weeks of the President's life, for in 
one month from the day of his inauguration he died. 
Pneumonia was the avowed cause, but it was the appli- 
cants for office who killed him. He was weak and aged, 
and unaccustomed to the confined life forced upon him 
in his new position, and the gentle kindness with which 
he received all who were clamoring for office did but 
inspire them with renewed ardor. The whig party had 
been out of power many years, and the greed of the 
politicians snapped the tendrils of the veteran's declining 
years and sent him to the tomb before the glad notes of 
the inauguration anthem had died over the Virginia hills. 
President Harrison died the 4th of April, 1841, and on 
the yth was laid temporarily to rest in the Congressional 
burying-grounds. The service was performed in the 
White House, by Rev. Mr. Hawley, in the presence of 
President Tyler, ex-President Adams, members of the 
cabinet, of Congress, and the foreign ministers. The 
procession was two miles in length, and was marshalled 
on its way by officers on horseback carrying white 
batons with black tassels. At the grounds, the liturgy 
of the Episcopal church was recited by Mr. Hawley. 
The coffin having been placed in the receiving vault, 
and the military salute having been fired, the procession 


resumed its march to the city, and by five o'clock that 
evening nothing remained but empty streets; and the 
emblems of mourning upon the houses, and the still 
deeper gloom which oppressed the general mind with 
renewed power after all was over ; and the sense of the 
public bereavement alone was left to fill the thoughts. 
The following touching lines, from the gifted pen of 
N. P. Willis, remarkable for their pathos and har- 
mony, need no apology for being introduced here. 
The grandeur and simple beauty of the swelling poem 
deserve a more lasting record than transitory verses 
usually receive. 

What soared the old eagle to die at the sun, 
Lies he stiff with spread wings at the goal he has won ! 
Are there spirits more blest than the planet of even 
Who mount to their zenith, then melt into heaven? 
No waning of fire, HO quenching of ray, 
But rising, still rising, when passing away ! 
Farewell, gallant eagle! thou'rt buried in light! 
God-speed unto heaven, lost star of our night 1 

Death ! Death in the White House ! ah, never before 
Trod his skeleton foot on the President's floor ; 
He is looked for in hovel and dreaded in hall, 
The king in his closet keeps hatchments and pall, 
The youth in his birth-place, the old man at home, 
Make clean from the door-stone the path to the tomb; 
But the lord of this mansion was cradled not here, 
In a churchyard far off stands his beckoning bier: 
He is here as the wave crest heaves flashing on high, 
As the arrow is stopp'd by its prize in the sky 
The arrow to earth, and the foam to the shore, 
Death finds them when swiftness and shankle are o'er j 
But Harrison's death fills the climax of story : 
He went with his old stride from glory to glory. 


Lay his sword on his breast ! there's no spot on its blade 

In whose cankering breath his bright laurels will fade : 

'Twas the first to lead on at humanity's call, 

It was stay'd with sweet mercy when " glory " was all; 

As calm in the council as gallant in war, 

He fought for his country, and not its " hurrah ! " 

In the path of the hero with pity he trod, 

Let him pass with his sword to the presence of God ! 

What more ? Shall we on with his ashes ? Yet stay ! 

He hath ruled the wide realm of a king in his day; 

At his word, like a monarch's, went treasure and land, 

The bright gold of thousands has passed through his hand. 

Is there nothing to show of his flittering hoard ? 

No jewels to deck the rude hilt of his sword 

No trappings no horses? what had he? But now, 

On, on with his ashes ! he left but his plough ! 

Brave old Cincinnatus ! unwind ye his sheet : 

Let him sleep as he lived with his purse at his feet. 

Follow now as ye list : the first mourner to-day 
Is the nation whose father is taken away. 
Wife, children and neighbor may moan at his knell 
He was " lover and friend " to his country as well ! 
For the stars on our banner grown suddenly dim 
Let us weep, in our darkness but weep not for him. 
Not for him, who, departing, leaves millions in tears; 
Not for him, who has died full of honor and years ; 
From the round at the top he has stepped to the sky 
It is blessed to go when so ready to die ! 

The members of President Harrison's family imme- 
diately vacated the Executive Mansion, and the grief- 
stricken widow ceased the preparations for her prolonged 
absence from home. What a shock this death must 
have been to her ! For many months an interested 
spectator, if not an actor, in the stirring events of the 


canvass and election, afterward a sharer in the triumphs 
of her husband, and for weeks anticipating the happy 
reunion in the mansion of the Presidents, to be rudely 
torn by fate from his presence for ever, and to see ever} 7 
hope lying" crushed around her, would have harrowed a 
nature of coarsest mould. She was summoned from the 
busy care of forwarding some matter of interest to be 
told that he was dead. Dead ! she could scarcely be- 
lieve the evidences of her senses. Dead ! or was she 
mistaken in what was said to her? His last letter was 
before her, and she had scarcely ceased reading the ac- 
counts in the papers of the magnificence of the inaugural 

Howsoever cruel the blow, it was borne meekly and 
humbly by the Christian wife and mother, and she 
aroused herself from the stupor in which the announce- 
ment had thrown her. 

In July, the remains of the sincerely regretted Presi- 
dent and deeply mourned husband and father were re- 
moved to their present resting-place at North Bend. 

Had her husband lived, Mrs. Harrison would have 
gone to Washington and discharged faithfully and con- 
scientiously the duties of her position. But her residence 
there would not have been in accordance with her wishes 
or her taste. 

She continued to reside at her old home, where the 
happiest years of her life had been spent, until the 
autumn of 1855, when she removed from the old home- 
stead to the residence of her only surviving son, Hon. J. 


Scott Harrison, five miles below North Bend, on the 
Ohio river. She remained an inmate of his family until 
her death. 

During the latter part of her life, she had many and 
severe attacks of illness, and perhaps nothing but the 
skill and devoted medical services of her physicians, 
and the almost idolatrous attentions of her grand- 
daughters, kept the lamp of her life flickering so long. 
Her grandsons, too, claimed their share in this labor of 
love, and when the telegraph bore to their distant homes 
the tidings of her illness, they came with their wives to 
wait at her bedside, and whatever of business was sus- 
pended or neglected, their attentions to her were not 
relaxed for a moment. In a recent letter received from 
a granddaughter of Mrs. Harrison's, this paragraph oc- 
curs: "Of many of the facts of her later life I was an 
eye-witness, as I was an inmate of my father's family for 
three years previous to her death, and had the ines- 
timable privilege of seeing her beautiful Christian resig- 
nation and conformity to the will of God as life drew to 
its close. Indeed, it was upon my breast that she 
breathed her precious life away." 

Mrs. Harrison was not indifferent to the political 
events of the age in which she lived, and few were better 
informed with regard to public men and measures than 
herself. Much of her time she spent in reading, during 
the closing years of her life, and she kept herself in- 
formed, through the medium of the daily papers, of the 
transactions of the outside world. Very few persons of 


even younger years took a greater interest in the move- 
ments of the armies during the late civil war, or could 
give a more succinct and graphic account of the details 
of a campaign. 

She was not radical in her sentiments, and indulged in 
no preconceived prejudices against the South and its 
objectionable institution. In regard to the holding of 
slaves, she was willing that all should be fully persuaded 
in their own minds as to its propriety, but her own con- 
victions were strongly against it. 

Many of her grandsons were officers and soldiers in 
the Union army, and as occasion would permit, they 
would visit her to ask her blessing and her prayers. 
The one was given and the other promised with a patri- 
otic zeal and ardor that many of the sterner sex might 
well have emulated. 

During the war, a grandson and member of the family 
in which she resided came home on a brief leave of ab- 
sence. The day of his departure arrived, and he went 
to the chamber of his grandmother to take what he sup- 
posed to be his last farewell in this life, as she was then 
confined to her bed with a severe illness. She received 
him with great affection, and in reply to his expressions 
of regret at leaving her, she said, "O, no, my son, your 
country needs your services; I do not. Go and dis- 
charge your duty faithfully and fearlessly. I feel that my 
prayers in your behalf will be heard, and that you will be 
returned in safety. And yet, perhaps, I do not feel as 
much concerned for you as I should : I have parted so 


often with your grandfather under similar circumstances, 
and he was always returned to me in safety, that I feel it 
will be the same with you." 

The young Captain did return to see his grand- 
mother again in this life after several hard-fought battles, 
in which he received complimentary notice from his com- 
manding officers. Her granddaughter says : " My hus- 
band, Dr. Eaton, one of her physicians being in the 
house and an invalid, spent much of his time in her 
room, and would often say to me, ' I never met a more 
entertaining person than your grandma. I could sit for 
hours and listen to her conversation/ Such is not often 
said, by a man in the prime of life, of an old lady nearly 
ninety years of age. Since then he has gone to join her 
in her heavenly home." 

Mrs. Harrison's distinguishing characteristics were 
her Christian humility and total want of selfishness ; her 
modest, retiring manners and generosity and benevo- 
lence. She was always anxious to promote the well- 
being of others at her own expense, and sacrificed herself 
for the good of others. 

Many incidents of generosity are remembered and 
treasured by her descendants, which, though not of suffi- 
cient interest to record, are of priceless value to those 
who witnessed their exhibition, and were recipients of 
her beneficence. 

Every public and private charity was near her heart, 
and received liberally from her hand. But those who 
enjoyed her bounty knew not of its source. To a poor 

DIED FEBRUARY 25, 1864. 365 

minister she would write : "Accept this trifle from a 
friend." To the Bethel Sabbath school, " This is but a 
widow's mite." To the suffering poor of the city, "Please 
distribute this from one who wishes it was a thousand 
times more." 

She continued to bear on her praying lips the salvation 
of her descendants, and as she drew near the closing 
scene, this was her song : 

" Just as I am, without one plea 
But that thy blood was shed for me, 
And that thou bidd'st me come to thee, 
O Lamb of God ! I come." 

Her intellectual powers and physical senses were re- 
tained to the last, and at the age of eighty-eight she was 
an agreeable companion for both old and young. 

On the evening of the 25th of February, 1864, in the 
eighty-ninth year of her age, Mrs. Harrison died at the 
residence of her son. 

Her funeral took place at the Presbyterian church at 
Cleves, on Sunday, February the 28th. The sermon was 
preached by the Rev. Horace Bushnell, from the text, 
" Be still and knpw that I am God." The selection was 
made by herself and given several years before to Mr. 
Bushnell, her pastor and intimate friend for many years. 
The remains were deposited beside those of her husband, 
and they together sleep by the banks of the beautiful 
Ohio at North Bend. 



THE first wife of John Tyler, tenth President of the 
United States, was the third daughter of Robert Chris- 
tian, Esq., of Cedar Grove, in New Kent county, in the 
State of Virginia; a gentleman of good private fortune, 
an earnest Federalist of that day in his political opinions, 
and an attached friend and adherent of George Wash- 
ington. He possessed the highest social and political 
influence in the county of his residence, and, indeed, 
throughout the Peninsular District, embraced between 
the York and James rivers. His house was the seat of 
genuine Virginia hospitality, and his neighbors, trusting 
implicitly to his good sense and integrity, appealed to his 
arbitration in matters involving legal controversy, in 
preference to submitting their cases in the courts. For 
many consecutive years, he was not only the presiding 
magistrate of his county, but also its representative in 
the Legislature of the State ; and his brothers, among 
whom was the late Major Edmond Christian, of Creigh- 
ton, Marshal of Virginia, were men of mark and in- 

This worthy gentleman married in early life Mary 
Brown, an amiable lady of high worth and character, 
with whom he lived in happiness until her death, and 

through whom he was blessed with a large family of sons 



and daughters ; the males being, without exception, dis- 
tinguished for their personal courage, intelligence, and 
graceful appearance and manners, and the daughters for 
their beauty, piety, and domestic virtues. 

Among that bevy of fair daughters, Letitia, afterward 
Mrs. Tyler, born on the i2th of November, 1790, unden 
the paternal roof at Cedar Grove, was, perhaps', the 
most attractive in her modest refinement and striking 
loveliness of person and character; and although always 
instinctively shrinking from public observation, she was 
regarded as one of the belles of Eastern Virginia. Her 
hand was sought in marriage by many suitors, but from 
the number who presented themselves some of whom 
were the possessors of large estates her heart and 
excellent judgment selected the then talented and rising 
young lawyer, who, inheriting the unrivalled popularity 
of his father, Governor John Tyler, with a mind still 
more brilliant and cultivated, was just entering upon 
that remarkable career which has so directly and power- 
fully impressed his genius, not only on the history of his 
noble old State, but on that of the United States of 

The marriage of the youthful pair, on the 2gth of 
March, 1813, she being in the twenty-second year of her 
age, and he having completed his twenty-third on that 
day, was particularly acceptable to both houses; and 
Letitia being the idol of her brothers and sisters, upon 
Mr. Tyler was at once concentrated the unfailing affec- 
tion and support an affection and support which at- 


tended him through life of every member, of the nu- 
merous and powerful Christian family, harmonizing to 
no inconsiderable extent in Lower Virginia, and uniting 
in his favor both of the great political parties of the day 
his own father having been, privately and publicly, the 
constant friend of Henry and of Jefferson, a leader in 
the movement and war of Independence, and the special 
representative of the State Rights Republicans in his 
own right, and Mr. Robert Christian having been the 
constant friend of Washington, and a prominent leader 
and representative man among the Federalists. 

The wedding festivities over, Mr. and Mrs. Tyler re- 
tired to their own home in Charles City county, a part 
of the " Greenway" estate of his father, which at once 
became an object of attraction and intense interest to 
the many admirers, friends, and relatives of its happy 
inmates. Dating from this period until Mrs. Tyler's 
death in the Executive Mansion, at the city of Washing- 
ton, nearly thirty years afterward, nothing, except the 
loss of two infant children and her subsequent ill-health, 
ever transpired to mar the felicity of this auspicious 

In the unselfish, constant, and vigilant affection of his 
wife, in her personal charms, in her strong common 
sense and excellent judgment, in her unaffected religious 
sentiments, in the sweet purity of her gentle life, in her 
parental and filial devotion, in her watchful care and love 
for her children, Mr. Tyler found everything to satisfy 
his affections and to gratify his pride. 


In his admitted integrity and worth as a man and 
citizen, in his great intellectual powers, in his constantly 
increasing prosperity and rising reputation, in the ac- 
counts she received of his eloquence both at the bar and 
in the legislature, and in the high official trusts which 
ultimately were literally showered upon him, one after 
the other, almost without intermission ; and finally in his 
tender solicitude to restore her failing health and to 
minister to her slightest wish, she discovered all that her 
woman's heart, or her feminine ambition required, to 
complete and secure her wedded happiness. The fol- 
lowing letter, the first that Mr. Tyler ever ventured to 
address to her before marriage, and the original of 
which is still preserved in the family apart from the 
natural simplicity of its style and the ordinary interest 
that would attach to it not only presents the most 
unmistakable evidence of the sound and healthy senti- 
ments, emotions, and principles of character associated 
with both and impelling to their union, but it is also a 
remarkable illustration, in view of a long engagement 
prior to marriage, of the delicate tone and exalted 
purity of the social structure and civilization that sur- 
rounded them and under whose happy influences they 
were born and reared. 

" RICHMOND, December $th, 1812. 

"Although I could not entirely obtain your permis- 
sion to write to you, yet I am well aware that you will 

not be displeased at my exercising a privilege, so valu- 



able to one standing in the relation that I do to you. 
To think of you and to write to you, are the only 
sources from whence I can derive any real satisfaction 
during my residence in this place. The prerogative of 
thinking of those we love, and from whom we are sepa- 
rated, seems to be guaranteed to us by nature, as we 
cannot be deprived of it either by the bustle and confu- 
sion of a town, or by the important duties that attach to 
our existence. Believe me, my L., that this observation 
has been completely verified by me since I last saw you, 
for although deafened by noise, and attentive to the 
duties of my station, yet you are the subject of my 
serious meditations and the object of my fervent prayers 
to heaven. From the first moment of my acquaintance 
with you, I felt the influence of genuine affection ; but 
now, when I reflect upon the sacrifice which you make 
to virtue and to feeling, by conferring your hand on me, 
who have nothing to boast of but an honest and upright 
soul, and a heart of purest love, I feel gratitude super- 
added to affection for you. Indeed, I do esteem myself 
most rich in possessing you. The mean and sordid 
wretch who yields the unspeakable bliss of possessing 
her whom he ardently loves, may boast of his ill-ac- 
quired wealth, and display his treasures in all the pride 
of ostentation to the world, but who shall administer to 
him comfort in the hour of affliction? Whose seraph 
smile shall chase away the fiends which torment him ? 
The partner of his bosom he neither esteems nor re- 
gards, and he knows nothing of the balm which tender 


affection can bestow. Nature will be still true to her- 
self, for as your favorite Thomson expresses it, 

" ' Naught but love can answer love, 
Or render bliss secure.' 

"You express some degree of astonishment, my L., 
at an observation I once made to you, ' that I would not 
have been willingly wealthy at the time that I addressed 
you.' Suffer me to repeat it. If I had been wealthy, 
the idea of your being actuated by prudential consider- 
ations in accepting my suit, would have eternally tor- 
tured me. But I exposed to you frankly and unblush- 
ingly my situation in life my hopes and my fears, my 
prospects and my dependencies and you nobly re- 
sponded. To ensure to you happiness is now my only 
object, and whether I float or sink in the stream of 
fortune, you may be assured of this, that I shall never 
cease to love you. Forgive me for these remarks, 
which I have been irresistibly led to make. 

" Colonel Christian will deliver you this letter, together 
with the first two volumes of the 'Forest of Montabano.' 
I do not trouble him with the last two volumes, for fear 
of incommoding him, and because I shall be at your 
father's on Wednesday evening, if the business before 
the Legislature be not very important. You will feel 
much sympathy for the unfortunate Angelina, and 
admiration for the character of good Father Patrick. 
Frederick is inexplicable until the last volume is 


" Again suffer me to assure you of my constant 
esteem and affection, and believe me to be yours most 
faithfully, " JOHN TYLER. 

" New Kent." 

Mrs. Letitia Semple, the only surviving daughter of 
Mrs. Letitia Tyler, says, regarding this letter, " I enclose 
you a copy of the first letter my father ever wrote to 
my mother ; and I had a book of original sonnets written 
by him in his youthful clays, many of which were ad- 
dressed to her ; for he was full of music and full of 
poetry and possessed an exquisite literary taste ; but this 
book has been lost to us, in one of my writing desks 
stolen during the war. 

" My father and my mother were born in the same 
year that of 1790, he being from the 29th March to the 
1 2th November older than she was. They were mar- 
ried on father's twenty-third birthday following that of 
his birth, after a courtship and engagement of nearly 
five years. He met her for the first time at a private 
party in the neighborhood, while on a visit to ' Green- 
way,' the home residence of grandfather Tyler, in Charles 
City county, adjoining that of New Kent, where grand- 
father Christian resided at ' Cedar Grove.' He had 
already taken his collegiate degrees at William and 
Mary College when. scarcely more than seventeen years 
old, and was at the time a law student in Richmond, 
under the special office counsel and instruction of the 


celebrated Edmund Randolph, justly esteemed as the 
father of the Constitution of the United States, as Mr. 
Jefferson was of the Declaration of American Independ- 
ence, and who had been the Attorney-General of Presi- 
dent Washington, and the Secretary of State of President 
Jefferson, my grandfather Tyler being Governor of Vir- 
ginia, and then residing in Richmond. After their troth 
was plighted, he had been twice or thrice elected to the 
State Legislature before their marriage was solemnized; 
and his last visit to her at * Cedar Grove ' was only three 
weeks before the wedding, yet I have heard him repeat- 
edly say that, * then, for the first time, he ventured to kiss 
her hand on parting, so perfectly reserved and modest 
had she always been.' 

" My mother's mother was Mary Brown, of the same 
family with that of the late Judge John Brown, of Wil- 
liamsburg, and Professor Dabney Brown, of William 
and Mary College, the former of whom finally moved to 
Kentucky, and the latter more recently to California ; 
and with that of the Hon. James Halyburton, late Judge 
of the United States District Court of Virginia, and of the 
Hon. John M. Gregory, late Judge of the Henrico Circuit 
and Governor of Virginia ; and as to the late Judge 
Christian, and the present Judge Christian, of the Penin- 
sular Circuit and of the General Court of Virginia, the 
first was her son, and the last her cousin, as are also the 
present Doctors William and Edward Warren, formerly 
of Edenton, North Carolina, whither they moved from 
New Kent in Virginia, but now of Baltimore." 


Not long after her marriage, Mrs. Tyler had the mis- 
fortune to lose both of her parents, and now having two 
less to love in this world, she freely gave the share which 
had been theirs, to her husband and her children, and to 
her sisters and her brothers. In truth, at no period of 
her life does it seem that she existed for herself, but only 
for those near and dear to her. 

She was noted for the beauty of her person and of 
her features, for the ease and grace of her carriage, for 
a delicate refinement of taste in dress that excluded 
with precision every color and ornament not strictly be- 
coming and harmonizing in the general effect. Possess- 
ing an acute nervous organization and sensitive tem- 
perament, combined with an unusually correct judgment, 
any observant stranger of polished education would 
have been almost unconsciously attracted to her among 
thousands by her air of quiet courtesy and benignity. 
With these engaging qualities, and the social advan- 
tages attaching to her position, she could easily have 
impressed her power upon what is termed society had 
she so desired, still she never aspired to wield the 
sceptre of fashion, and never sought to attract attention 
beyond the limits of her own family, and the circle of 
her immediate friends and relatives. 

She modestly shrank from all notoriety and evaded 
the public eye as much as possible. She had not the 
faintest wish to enjoy the reputation of authoress or wit, 
or for maintaining an ascendency in the company of 
brilliant men and women of the world. She was per- 


fectly content to be seen only as a part of the existence 
of her beloved husband ; to entertain her neighbors in 
her own easy, hospitable, and unostentatious way; to 
converse with visitors on current topics intelligently; to 
sit gently by her child's cradle, reading, knitting, or 
sewing; or else to while away pleasant hours in the en- 
dearing companionship of her sisters and her intimate 

It appears that, though she resided in Richmond 
during the period that Mr. Tyler was Governor of Vir- 
ginia, and did the honors of the Executive Dwelling of 
the State with ease, and grace, and singular discretion, 
winning the commendation of all at a time when the 
metropolis of Virginia was unexcelled upon the Ameri- 
can continent, either in respect to elegant men or ac- 
complished women; yet that she had rarely visited the 
city while he was a member of the Legislature, and that 
during his long term of service as Representative and 
Senator in the Congress of the United States having 
been three times elected to the House and twice to the 
Senate, she suffered herself to be persuaded only once 
to pass a winter in Washington, and at the end of 
another session only reluctantly consented, at his earnest 
entreaty, to visit one summer the gay centres and 
resorts of the North. 

When either her own health, or that of her husband, 
or that of her children, absolutely required a change of 
air and scene, as several times happened, she vastly pre- 
ferred the bracing temperature and invigorating atmos- 


phere of the mountains of Virginia and the life-imparting 
Greenbriar waters to the seats of more fashionable dis- 
play and empty vanity. She was, under all circum- 
stances, the wife and mother, sister and friend, appar- 
ently living in and for those whom she loved, and not 
for herself. 

No English lady was ever more skilled and accom- 
plished in domestic culture and economy than was Mrs. 
Tyler, and she was never so happy as when in the en- 
joyment of domestic privacy. At her own home she 
was a pattern of order, system, and neatness, as well as 
of hospitality, charity, benevolence, and conscientious- 
ness in the discharge of every duty incumbent upon the 
mistress of a large household, and scrupulously atten- 
tive to every wish expressed by her husband as to the 
management of his interests in his absence on public 

Nothing escaped her watchful yet kindly eye, either 
within or without the mansion. She loved all pure and 
beautiful things, whether in nature or in art. The 
grounds within the curtilage were tastefully arranged in 
lawns and gardens, and under her immediate inspection 
were kept carefully adorned with shade trees, and flow- 
ering shrubs, and odoriferous plants, and trailing vines, 
so that in the spring, summer, and fall the airs around 
were literally loaded with sweets. The kitchen-garden 
and fruit-orchards were always extensively cultivated. 

The dairy and laundry were sedulously supervised, 
and in all directions poultry and fowls of almost every 


kind most prized for the table, were to be seen in flocks. 
She preferred that her servant-women should be held to 
these milder employments, and to spinning and weaving, 
knitting and sewing, rather than being assigned to the 
more onerous tasks of the field upon the plantation. 

Thus, under her superintendence, not only were all 
the negro field-hands and negro children comfortably 
provided with clothing of home manufacture and make, 
as well as ministered to with care and supplied with all 
necessary medical attendance when sick, but, at the same 
time, the members of the immediate household had their 
wants, in these respects, for the most part bountifully 
met; while the rarest and most beautiful toilet fabrics, 
and counterpanes, and coverlets, such as are not now to 
be had at any price, were produced by her handmaids, 
assisted by those of the neighborhood inheriting the art. 
Beyond all question, and without regard to the portion 
she brought with her after marriage, as the gift of her 
father, which was by no means relatively inconsiderable, 
she maintained by her active economy the pecuniary in- 
dependence of her husband under his continued public 
employments, in an age of public virtue, when the rep- 
resentatives of the people, as well as those of the States, 
received but slight remuneration for their services, and 
when, in all probability, he would have been otherwise 
compelled to have withdrawn from the public councils, 
and to have relinquished the career of ambition in view 
of his family necessities and requirements. 

Mrs. Tyler was baptized in infancy in the Protestant 


Episcopal Church, and in early life became a consistent 
communicant. At every stage of her existence she was 
pervaded by a deep religious sentiment, and the Bible 
was her constant companion. For her neighborly and 
charitable nature she was proverbial. Although every 
one who knew her as a young unmarried lady, and 
nearly all of her contemporaries in more advanced years, 
are now dead, still her reputation in these respects 
abides among the living, and is particularly referred to 
and commented upon in every communication we re- 
ceived concerning her, as well as in all of her obituaries 
that we have read. And one of the most beautiful traits 
in her lovely and almost faultless character, in the midst 
of all her mildness, meekness, gentleness and amiability, 
was the perfect self-respect which constantly attended 
her, beating in unison with her true woman's soul, suffer- 
ing no encroachment upon true propriety and decorum 
in her presence, and sustaining her dignity as a Virginia 
matron, which never, under any circumstances whatever, 
deserted her. 

Mrs. Robert Tyler, the wife of her oldest son, thus 
wrote concerning her, at her own home, in the bosom of 
her own family, in the old city of Williamsburg, Virginia, 
under the first impressions she received after she was 
married in Pennsylvania, to her sisters at the North : 


* * * "The bridal festivities so profusely extended 
to us in Charles City, that most hospitable of counties, 
ended last week. My honeymoon has waned, and I have 


at last settled down at home. If I can ever learn to 
think any place a home where, my own dear father and 
sisters are not, I certainly can do so here, for a new 
father and mother have opened their arms and their 
hearts to me ; new and lovely sisters cluster around me; 
and I am welcomed and approved of by any number of 
uncles, aunts and cousins. The introduction to all of 
them was an awful ordeal to go through, you may be 
sure, but it is happily over, and I have now settled my- 
self down absolutely as one of the family. I know you 
want me to tell you of each separate member, and of the 
house, and all my surroundings. 

"You know how entirely charming Mr. Tyler's father 
is, for you saw him at my wedding in Bristol, but you 
cannot imagine the tenderness and kindness with which 
he received me, his 'new daughter,' as he called me. Mr. 
Tyler's mother is very much as I imagined her from his 
description. She must have been very beautiful in her 
youth, for she is still beautiful now in her declining years 
and wretched health. Her skin is as smooth and soft as 
a baby's ; she has sweet, loving black eyes, and her fea- 
tures are delicately moulded ; besides this her feet and 
hands are perfect ; and she is gentle and graceful in her 
movements, with a most peculiar air of native refinement 
about everything she says and does. She is the most 
entirely unselfish person you can imagine. I do not be- 
lieve she ever thinks of herself. Her whole thought and 


affections are wrapped up in her husband and children; 
and I thank God I am numbered with those dear chil- 


dren, and can partake with them in the blessing of her 
love. May He give me grace to be ever a kind and 
loving daughter to her. 
# * # ##### 

"The house is very large and very airy and pleasant, 
fronting on a large lawn and surrounded by a most 
beautiful garden. The parlor is comfortably furnished, 
and has that homelike and occupied look which is so 
nice. The prettiest thing in it, to my taste, though very 
old-fashioned, is the paper upon the walls, which depicts 
in half life-size pictures the adventures of Telemachus 
on Calypso's enchanted isle. Telemachus is very hand- 
some, Calypso and her nymphs as graceful as possible ; 
and old Mentor as disagreeable and stern as all Mentors 
usually are. I find something new in the paper every 
day, and love to study it. The dining-room is opposite 
the parlor, across a broad passage, kept too bright and 
shiny almost to step upon, and is also a very spacious 
room, with a great deal of old family silver adorning the 
sideboard, and some good pictures upon the walls. 
There are two other rooms behind the parlor and the 
dining-room, one of which is used as a sitting and read- 
ing-room, for it is a large double house, flanked by offices 
in the yard in which the library is kept, and one of which 
is used for law and business purposes by Mr. Tyler's 
father and himself. 

"The room in the main dwelling furthest removed an 1 


most retired is ' the chamber,' as the bedroom of the mi..- 
tress of the house is always called in Virginia. This la \ 


to say nothing of others, or of the kitchen, storerooms 
and pantries, is a most quiet and comfortable retreat, 
with an air of repose and sanctity about it ; at least I 
feel it so, and often seek refuge here from the company, 
and beaux, and laughing and talking of the other parts 
of the house ; for here mother, with a smile of welcome 
on her sweet, calm face, is always found seated on her 
large arm-chair with a small stand by her side, which 
holds her Bible and her prayer-book the only books 
she ever reads now with her knitting usually in her 
hands, always ready to sympathize with me in any little 
homesickness which may disturb me, and to ask me 
questions about all you dear ones in Bristol, because she 
knows I want to talk about you. Notwithstanding her 
very delicate health, mother attends to and regulates all 
the household affairs, and all so quietly that you can't 
tell when she does it. All the clothes for the children, 
and for the servants, are cut out under her immediate eye, 
and all the sewing is personally superintended by her. 
All the cake, jellies, custards, and we indulge largely in 
them, emanate from her, yet you see no confusion, hear 
no bustle, but only meet the agreeable result. * * * * 
All Mr. Tyler's sisters are lovely and sweet. Sister 
Mary Mrs. Jones, who is the oldest of all I have 
already introduced you to in my letter from Charles 
City, where she resides, at * Woodburn,' one of the plan- 
tations or 'farms' as they are called here, of her hus- 
band, and where she so happily entertained us recently. 
Next comes Letitia, Mrs. Semple, married last February. 


She is very handsome and full of life and spirits. She 
has a place called ' Cedar Hill,' some distance from Wil- 
liam sburg, in New Kent county, but is now here on a 
visit. Then comes Elizabeth, a very great belle here, 
though she is not yet seventeen. She is remarkably 
sweet and pretty, with beautiful eyes and complexion, 
and her hair curled down her neck. John, who is next 
to Mr. Tyler in age, and who was at my wedding, and 
therefore needs no description, is not here now, but he 
and his wife will spend next winter with his father, as he 
still attends the law department and higher scientific 
courses of 'William and Mary' college, as it is termed 
in accordance with the original charter of King William 
and Queen Mary, although it is now and has been for 
many years a university. 

" I have not seen her yet, but hear that she is very 
beautiful. The two younger children, Alice and Taze- 
well, make up the family. * * * The children, with 
all the rest of the family, seem very, very fond of me, but 
you must not suppose that all this affection and kindness 
makes me vain. It is very comforting and sweet, but I 
know they all love me from no merit of my own, but from 
the devotion the whole family feel for Mr. Tyler, who is 
idolized by his parents, and profoundly loved and 
respected by his brothers and sisters." * 

* The ancient Tylers of Virginia, of whom but few are left in the State, were from 
a younger branch of the Tylers of Shropshire, in Wales, bordering on England. 
John and Henry, brothers, came to Virginia in the beginning of the settlement, and 
finally took up their abode in the " Middle Plantations " between Jamestown and 
Yorktown, in 1636. 


Mrs. Letitia Semple, in a letter addressed to her 
brother, and which he kindly placed at my disposal, thus 
writes : 

****** "It is a sad truth, but 
I know of no one now r alive who remembers my mother 
in her youth. As late as 1861, there were several who 
had known her from infancy, but now they are all gone. 
We have not an uncle, or an aunt, of all our once numer- 
ous family, left on earth. The early portion of her life 
must be gleaned from the little incidents we, her children, 
may remember to have been recited concerning her, by 
those now dead. Apart from ourselves, there are those 
who may recall something of her married life, but these 
have been scattered by the events of the war far and wide 
asunder. Her character was so unobtrusive, and her 
personal deportment was so little influenced by a desire 
to shine before the public eye, that those alone best knew 
her who were intimately associated with the family as 
near relatives, or as private friends. Our older and two 
younger sisters are dead ; our elder brother, and one 
younger, the one driven by the relentless fates to Ala- 
bama, and the other to California, and you, the sport of 

President Tyler was the fifth John from the first of the name. The older line in 
Shropshire, now divided, still maintain their status there, represented by the present 
Sir Charles, son of the late Sir William. The Tylers of the North have never been 
able to trace any connection or common origin with those of Virginia, either in their 
correspondence with the first Governor Tyler, or with President Tyler; but of recent 
years many have poured into Eastern Virginia, and some have now purchased estates 
that formerly belonged to the ancient Virginia family. History in the future will 
doubtless, under these circumstances, become confused on the subject. 


a similar fatality, together with myself, may recollect many 
little things sacred to filial devotion. The beautiful affec- 
tion ever manifested toward her by every member of 
the family by her uncles and her aunts, by her sisters 
and her brothers, her nephews and her nieces, and by her 
cousins, male and female by all without exception we 
know of, and can speak to the fact. It w r as with each one 
of them the unadulterated affection of the heart for piety, 
purity and goodness. There was nothing else to attract 
it, for their mere worldly circumstances were, in every 
direction, fully equal to her own, and in many instances 
superior in affluence to those she enjoyed. Nothing 
could have exceeded the devotional regard of her sister 
Anna, the owner of the paternal estate of Cedar Grove, 
and who in addition to her own inheritance, had derived 
a large fortune by marriage and the early death of her 
husband, Mr. Savage. And I have often heard aunt 
Elizabeth Douglas, her oldest sister, speak of her obe- 
dient disposition and truthfulness as a child, and of her 
almost surpassing beauty, grace, elegance, and refine- 
ment in riper years. We ourselves know how exem- 
plary a wife and mother she was. One of the earliest 
memories I have of her is, that she taught me my letters 
out of the family Bible. Over and often can I recall her 
with a book in her lap, reading and reflecting, while her 
fingers were knitting or stitching for some of us ; or 
while watching over us until a late hour of the night, in 
the absence of our father upon his public duties. 

"You know that these days of our childhood were 


days of struggle with our father, under heavy security 
obligations, and she had but one idea apart from conjugal 
piety and affection, and that was to save him from every 
care and every expense in her power. 

" His pecuniary independence was preserved, and 
much of his success was secured, through her economy, 
her diligence, her providence, and her admirable self- 
sacrificing demeanor. I have frequently heard our 
father say that he rarely failed to consult her judgment 
in the midst of difficulties and troubles, and that she 
invariably led him to the best conclusion, and that he had 
never known her to speak unkindly of any one. She 
was permitted to see him fill the highest office in the gift 
of his country, but before he was suffered to enter into- 
his rest from political life, she had gone to that rest re- 
maining for the people of God. She died, as you know, 
on the loth September, 1842, in the Executive Mansion 
at Washington, where her third daughter, our sister 
Elizabeth Waller, had been shortly before married, and 
where two of her grandchildren now living, the oldest 
daughter of our brother Robert, named Letitia, and the 
youngest son of our sister Mary, named Robert were 

" You remember her fondness for flowers. Her fa- 
vorite flower was the monthly damask rose, and that 
brought in to her on the morning of the day of her 
death, was found clasped in her hand when the spirit was 
fled. From the time that she had been first stricken by 

paralysis, her health had been frail, but none of us antic- 



ipated an immediate, or even an early renewal of the 
attack, and far less a sudden dissolution of her system ; 
and I had closed my last visit to her only a few days 
before, and had gone to 'Cedar Grove' to inform Aunt 
Anne of the condition in which I had left her, as if the 
sad Fates had carried me there to be ready to receive 
her remains, returning to the place of their birth to 
repose, in their separation from her husband, by the side 
of those of her father and her mother, as when first 
quickened into life; but our sister, Elizabeth Waller, and 
our Aunt Elizabeth Douglas, were with her, and wit- 
nessed her last breath, and they told me this particularly 
sweet circumstance of her favorite rose still clinging to 
her hand in death.'' 

These letters, taken with the obituaries subjoined, and 
the lines of Mr. Sargent, together with other communi- 
cations descriptive of the daily social routine in the 
" White House" at this epoch, which remain to be sub- 
mitted and cannot fail to interest, leave but little neces- 
sary to fill out and perfect the portraiture of one of the 
loveliest characters in history. 

Upon the accession of her husband to the Presidential 
office in the beginning of April, 1841, Mrs. Tyler pro- 
ceeded with him to the Executive Mansion of the nation, 
at Washington, but with many sighs and tears at parting 
with her own home, and without the thought of personal 
triumphs in the world of fashion and display. She re- 
signed herself to the change simply to be with her loved 
ones, and to receive the tender care and attention of 


those in whom she literally "lived and had her being." 
Her health had become greatly impaired from a severe 
attack of illness during the year 1839, and her condition 
remained as has been described by her daughter-in-law, 
Mrs. Robert Tyler, then to have been in the month of 
October. Nevertheless, in all the private apartments of 
the President's mansion, the same modes of life were 
maintained as those to which she had ever been accus- 
tomed. Her sisters and brothers and other relatives, as 
well as her children, still hovered around her, as they 
had always done, with increased and increasing affection 
as they discovered her frame becoming somewhat more 
feeble. She passed her time chiefly in their society, 
receiving but few visitors and returning no visits. Her 

o o 

health, indeed, required that she should delegate to 
some one of her married daughters the semi-official 
duties of her position. 

For the greater part of the time, her own married 
daughters, Mrs. Jones* and Mrs. Semple, were com- 
pelled by their domestic duties, in the line of the private 

* Mary, the first child and oldest daughter of Mrs. Letitia Tyler, in her features 
bore a marked but refined and delicate likeness to her father, and strikingly blended 
in her character the admirable attributes of both father and mother. She was a 
lady of the most exalted worth and lovely mould. She married, at an early age, 
Mr. Henry Lightfoot Jones, of Charles City county, Virginia, and died after her 
mother, leaving an infant daughter that soon followed her spirit, and three sons, two 
of whom only survive, Henry and Robert, who fought in the ranks in Lee's army, 
both being mentioned in orders, and the latter of whom, born in the "White 
House," was promoted for a feat of daring gallantry and three wounds received at 
Gettysburg, to a first-lieutenancy. 


affairs and personal interests of their husbands, to re- 
main at their respective residences in Virginia, but 
frequently coming to Washington, for brief periods, it is 
true, through solicitude for her health and to bestow 
their affection upon her; and as regards her two remain- 
ing daughters, Elizabeth, afterwards Mrs. Waller, was 
just grown up to womanhood, and was not yet married; 
and Alice, afterward Mrs. Henry M. Denison,* was still 
but a child. However it fortunately so happened that 
her oldest son and his wife had not permanently located 
themselves in life since their recent marriage, and it was 
considered best they should continue in the family. 
Sometimes, on the temporary visits of Mrs. Jones and 
Mrs. Semple, all her married daughters would appear 
together in the Reception-rooms ; but under the circum- 
stances, the constant task of representing her mother, in 
respect to the honors of the establishment, was dele- 
gated, with the consent of the President, to Mrs. Robert 
Tyler,j- a lady of admirable culture and address, to 

* Alice, fourth and last daughter of Mrs. Letitia Tyler, resembled her mother in 
features more than any other child. She married, years after her mother's death, 
the Rev. Henry M. Denison, of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, a clergyman of marked 
ability, eloquence, and conscientiousness, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and 
Rector, at the time, of old Bruton Parish Church, at Williamsburg, Virginia. She 
died while he was assistant to the Bishop of Kentucky, at Louisville, and he died 
while Rector at Charleston, South Carolina, a victim to his high sense of duty to 
his congregation during the prevalence of the yellow fever in that city before the 
war. They left an infant daughter named Elizabeth, who has been reared and edu- 
cated by her aunt, Mrs. Letitia Tyler Semple. 

f Mrs. Robert Tyler, wife of the second child and oldest son of Mrs. Letitia 
Tyler, is the daughter of Thomas Abthorpe Cooper, the distinguished tragedian, an 


whom she was, as well as the rest of the family, de- 
votedly attached as to her own daughter. One of the 
few occasions on which she assented to appear per- 
sonally in the public Reception-rooms, before a large 
and distinguished assemblage of men and women asso- 
ciated with the world of fashion and that of politics and 
diplomacy, was that of the marriage of her daughter 
Elizabeth, and is thus portrayed by Mrs. Robert Tyler 
shortly afterward, in a letter addressed to her relatives 
near Philadelphia : 

"WASHINGTON, February, 1842. 

* * * " Lizzie* has had quite a grand 
wedding, although the intention was that it should be 

English gentleman, ward and nephew of Goodwin, the political economist, pupil of 
Holcroft, and friend and relative of Shelley, the poet. Her mother was the daughter 
of Major Fairlee, of New York, an officer of the Revolutionary war of Inde- 
pendence, and of the Governor Yates and Vanness family. Her eldest daughter, 
named after her grandmother, Letitia Christian, was born in the White House. 

* Elizabeth, third daughter of Mrs. Letitia Tyler, was married to Mr. William 
Waller, of Williamsburg, Virginia, in the East Room of the President's Mansion, at 
Washington, on the thirty-first day of January, 1842, in the nineteenth year of her age. 
In character she greatly resembled her mother, and showed much of her early beauty 
and grace. Her oldest son, named William, resigned from the West Point military 
school and married during the recent war between the States the youngest sister of 
the wife of President Davis, in the Executive Mansion of the Confederate States, at 
Richmond. And her second son, John, though a mere lad, was killed during the 
war, " fighting for his mother's grave," to use his own words. Another son, 
Robert, and a daughter, Mary, had been born to her before she died. Her children, 
through their great-grandfather, the first Secretary of the American Colonial Con- 
gress, and their great-grandmother, his wife, the sister of the Earl of Traquaire, and 
whose grandson is the present titular Earl, bear in their veins, probably, the nearest 
living blood to that of Queen Mary Stuart, of Scotland, whose name her daughter 


quiet and private. This, under the circumstances, 
though, was found impossible. The guests consisted of 
Mrs. Madison, the members of the cabinet, with their 
wives and daughters, the foreign ministers near the gov- 
ernment, and some few personal friends, outside of the 
family and their relatives. 

" Lizzie looked surpassingly lovely in her wedding 
dress and long blonde lace-veil ; her face literally covered 
with blushes and dimples. She behaved remarkably 
well, too ; any quantity of compliments were paid to her. 
I heard one of her bridesmaids express to Mr. Webster 
her surprise at Lizzie consenting to give up her belleship, 
with all the delights of Washington society, and the ad- 
vantages of her position, and retire to a quiet Virginia 
home. 'Ah/ said he, 

' Love rules the court, the camp, the grove, 
And love is heaven, and heaven is love.' 


" Our dear mother was down-stairs on this occasion 
for the first time, in so large a circle, since she has been 
in Washington. She gained by comparison with all the 
fine ladies around her. I felt proud of her, in her per- 
fectly faultless, yet unostentatious dress, her face shaded 
by the soft fine lace of her cap, receiving in her sweet, 
gentle, self-possessed manner, all the important people 
who were led up and presented to her. She was far 
more attractive to me in her appearance and bearing 
than any other lady in the room, and I believe such was 
the general impression. Somebody says, 'the highest 


order of manner is that which combines dignity with 
simplicity;' and this just describes mother's manner, the 
charm of which, after all, proceeds from her entire for- 
getfulness of self, and the wish to make those around her 
haonv "#******* 

Major Tyler, who was for more than three years 
" Major Domo " of the establishment, and to the last pri- 
vate secretary, says, regarding the modes and inmates 
of the President's house during this time: 

" My mother's health was entirely too delicate to per- 
mit her to charge herself with the semi-official social re- 
quirements of the mansion, and my married sisters being 
unavoidably absent for the most of the time, the task de- 
volved upon Mrs. Robert Tyler to represent my mother 
on stated occasions. She continued in the role of 
honors, as they are termed, until after my mother's 
death, and my brother made his arrangements to practise 
law in Philadelphia, by which time it also happened that 
Mr. Semple's affairs became differently accommodated, 
and he proceeded to sea as a Purser in the United 
States Navy, when my sister Letitia* became at liberty 
to take up her abode in Washington. Accordingly, 

* Letitia, the second and only surviving daughter and fourth child of Mrs. Letitia 
Tyler, married in early life the nephew and adopted son of Judge Semple, of Wil- 
liamsburg, Virginia, who reared and educated him to manhood, his own father, 
a brother of the Judge, as well as his mother, dying in his infancy, leaving him by 
will a handsome fortune. The Semples are of the family of the Earls Dundonald, 
of Scotland, and of the same branch with that of the celebrated Blair, appointed by 
King James the first commissioner of Virginia, and who was afterward President of 
William and Mary College. 


both the President and myself now addressed to her 
letters, inviting her to assume the position and duties of 
hostess of the White House, which she consented to do, 
and so acted until May, 1844. 

" During my mother's life, and up to this date, always 
contemning pretension and worldly vanity, we lived in 
the ' White House ' as we lived at home, save that we 
were obliged to have rather more company, less select 
as to true worth than was altogether agreeable. In the 

o o 

course of the ' fashionable season,' and while the sessions 
of the Congress lasted, we gave two dinner parties each 
week, very much after the plain, substantial Virginia 
manner and style, to the first of which, usually confined 
to gentlemen from different parts of the country visiting 
Washington, and who had shown respectful attention to 
the President and family, twenty guests were always in- 
vited ; and to the second, usually embracing both ladies 
and gentlemen from among the dignitaries of the differ- 
ent departments of the Federal and State governments, 
and the diplomatic corps of foreign governments, forty 
persons were invited, making in either case quite a full 

" Our drawing-rooms, as at home, were open every 
evening informally until 10 o'clock never later when 
the family rose and retired, and doors were closed. Be- 
fore my mother's death, we gave occasionally during 
the winter months, by special invitations, in the general 
reception-rooms, a private ball, attended with dancing, 
but terminating at 1 1 o'clock. In addition to these 


private entertainments and strictly social converse, we 
introduced at this period for the first time it had been 
done music on the grounds of the south front of the 
Mansion, on the Saturday evenings of each week during 
the mild weather of the spring, summer, and fall, for the 
recreation of the public at large ; and to a similar end a 
public levee was held once a month, in addition to the 
general receptions on the first day of January and the 
Fourth of July, of each year. 

" Nothing whatever preceded by cards of invitation 
was permitted to be considered in any other light than 
as a private affair of the Presidential family, with which 
the world outside and the public press had nothing 
whatever to do, just precisely as if we had been in our 
own house in Williamsburg. Even in respect to the 
public receptions mentioned, the Madisonian was never 
suffered to indulge in a description either of the persons 
or characters present, in an individualizing manner, after 
modern usages, and no encouragement was given to 
any one so to do. I send you a specimen of the only 
sort of notice, even in the latter case, that was regarded 
as at all admissible while my mother lived. Anything 
more particular would have shocked her delicate sense 
of propriety, and been absolutely offensive to the Presi- 

"From the Madisonian, Washington, Monday, March l^th, 1842. 

"The levee held by the President on Tuesday evening 
last was a brilliant affair, and gave satisfactory evidence 


of the esteem in which that high functionary is held in 
social circles. 

"Among the visitors of peculiar note were the distin- 
guished authors of the ' Sketch-Book,' and of the * Pick- 
wick Papers,' in addition to whom almost all the Ministers 
of Foreign Powers to our Government were in attendance 
in full court dress. 

"The rooms were filled to overflowing with the talent 
and beauty of the metropolis, whilst Senators and Mem- 
bers of Congress, without distinction of party, served to 
give interest and to add animation to the scene. It 
seems to us that these levees, as at present conducted, 
are peculiarly adapted to the genius of our Republican 
institutions, inasmuch as all who please may attend 
without infringement of etiquette. We almost regret 
their termination for the season, but look forward with 
pleasure to the period when they will be renewed." 

" I may say that this notice, as restrained as it is, bears 
internal evidence showing 1 that it would not have been 


made but for the necessity of informing the public in 
some indirect manner of the termination of the public 
receptions for a season. I find none other. In another 
column, and in quite a different connection, the Madi- 
sonian says : * The Richmond Whig admits, and we 
heartily concur in the sentiment, that Mr. Tyler, in his 
appointment of Washington Irving, the author of the 
' Sketch-Book,' as minister to Spain, has paid a just 
tribute to the most distinguished ornament of American 
letters. Scarcely any notice appears of the marriage of 


my sister Elizabeth in the preceding January, that being 
regarded as a purely family matter." 

No perceptible change in Mrs. Tyler's condition of 
health occurred until Friday, the Qth day of September, 
1842. On the morning of that day, her family physician 
detected a change unhappily for the worse, and a threat- 
ened renewal of paralysis. He instantly called in con- 
sultation others of the faculty, and everything devised 
by the skill of the profession to ward off the fatal 
stroke was promptly applied. But all in vain.- On the 
evening of the next day, Saturday, September the loth, 
at eight o'clock, the hour came for her to be joined to 
her fathers. A pious communicant of the Church of 
Christ, innocent in soul as a little child, crowned with 
the virtues which had marked her useful and unselfish 
life, fearing and loving God, reverencing her husband, 
adoring and adored by her children she passed into 
the heavenly kingdom palpitating with the immortal 
joys of a spirit released from every earthly pain and 
sorrow. On Sunday, the Executive Mansion stood 
arrayed in mourning, and the tolling of the bells of the 
city announced the sad visitation to those among the 
living. Every honor that the sincerest respect and the 
purest love and the sense of a bitter bereavement could 
suggest, was paid to her remains. A committee of the 
citizens of Washington conveyed her body, after it had 
laid in state in the East Room for several days, to the 
family burial-ground at the old paternal residence in 
New Kent county, and there, in the midst of a sorrowing 


assemblage of relatives and friends and neighbors who 
had known her from birth, the parting tears of her hus- 
band and her children, gushing up from the fountain of 
their hearts, were shed upon her coffin ere it was de- 
posited in the earth, where reposed already the dust of 
her parents and of others she had loved, and who fondly 
loved her. 

Thus lived and died Mrs. Letitia Tyler, wife of the 
last of the Virginia Presidents of the United States, a 
model of the exalted civilization of the "ancient com- 
monwealth and dominion," a representative of her sex 
worthy of their grateful memory, and an honor to the 
human family. 



PRESIDENT JOHN TYLER was married to Miss Julia 
Gardiner the 26th day of June, 1844, at the Church of 
the Ascension, New York city. Immediately after the 
wedding, the bridal party returned to the White House, 
where they held a grand reception in lieu of the usual 
wedding festivities.. It was the first, and up to the pres- 
ent time, the only instance of the marriage of a Presi- 
dent, and the affair created great excitement and 
interest throughout the United States, heightened doubt- 
less by the recollection of the tragic death of the father 
of the bride, a few months previous. 

Miss Gardiner was the daughter of a wealthy gentle- 
man residing on Gardiner's Island, and the eldest of 
three children. Her education, continued at home until 
her sixteenth year, was completed at the Chegary Insti- 
tute, in New York city. Immediately after the termina- 
tion of her school life, she accompanied her father to 
Europe. Returning from abroad after an extended 
tour, she visited, during the sitting of Congress, the 
National Capital, and there for the first time met 
the distinguished man to whom she was afterward 

It was while on a visit to Washington in the winter of 
1844, that Mr. Gardiner and his young daughter were 



invited by Captain Stockton to accompany a large party 
of the President's friends to Alexandria, and on the return 
trip, when just opposite to the fort, all the gentlemen were 
invited on deck to witness the firing of the " peace- 
maker." Many of the party, who were all partaking of a 
collation, responded to the invitation ; among the number 
the father of Miss Gardiner. The explosion startled the 
President, who with the ladies had remained below, and 
in a moment the piercing cries of the wounded filled 
the hearts of the passengers with terror. Death had 
made fearful havoc, and the living waited in breathless 
anxiety for the announcement of the names of the 

The bodies were conveyed to the White House, where 
the funeral services were preached, and the last sad rites 

The following summer Miss Gardiner was married, 
and from that time until the close of her husband's 
administration, a period of eight months, she did the 
honors of the Executive Mansion, performing her 
agreeable task with credit to herself and pleasure to her 

After President Tyler's retirement from public life, he 
removed to his home in Virginia, where he continued to 
reside until his death, which occurred in Richmond, the 
1 7th of January, 1862. 

Of late years Mrs. Tyler has suffered pecuniary losses, 
and in the winter of 1879 she petitioned and received 
from Congress a pension. She has resided for the past 


few years in Washington City, and at present (1881) is 
living in Georgetown. A devoted Catholic, she finds it 
pleasant to be a resident of that retired and peaceful 
place, near to Washington, and yet not in it. 



SARAH CHILDRESS, the daughter of Captain Joel and 
Elizabeth Childress, was born near Murfreesboro, in 
Rutherford county, Tennessee, the 4th day of Septem- 
ber, 1803. In that beautiful portion of the South, almost 
a wilderness then, passed the younger years of her life, 
and there is little to record of it save its contentment and 
tranquil happiness. Her father, a farmer in easy circum- 
stances, and considered rich for those days, allowed his 
children every benefit to be derived from his fortunate 
circumstances, and she was early placed at school. The 
Moravian Institute at Salem, North Carolina, was chosen 
by Mr. Childress as the most suitable place for his little 
daughter, and she was placed in that strict and most 
thorough establishment. There she attained discipline 
and culture, and her school days with their varying 
shadows and sunshine passed quietly away. There was 
nothing to mar the influence of those happy school days, 
and each as it came, did its appointed duty in moulding 
her character. The April life fleeted by, clouds and sun- 
shine, little griefs and joys, the studious hour, the frank 
companionship of girlhood, the animating walk, hand in 
hand with young friends and with nature, soon rolled 
away, and Sarah Childress returned home. Surrounded 

in her father's house by all the comforts possible to ob- 
( 4 oo) 


tain in that State in those days, and possessing a hopeful 
temperament and sunny heart, adorned with all the ac- 
complishments that the attention of parents and teachers 
could bestow, she was a bright ornament in her home, 
and a pleasure to her friends and society. 

At the early age of nineteen she was married to 
James Knox Polk, in Murfreesboro. The wedding was 
a festival of rejoicing, at which many friends of the 
bride and groom assisted, and was characterized by the 
abundance and merriment customary at that day. 

Mr. Polk had recently entered public life, and was then 
a member of the Legislature of Tennessee. In the fol- 
lowing year he was elected to Congress from the district, 
at that time composed of the counties of Giles, Maury, 
Lincoln, and Bedford. During fourteen sessions he 
continued the representative of that district. After 
having served on the most important committees in th^ 
House, he was, in 1836, elected Speaker of the House 
of Representatives, a position for which his studious and 
industrious habits, together with his constantly increasing 
popularity, peculiarly fitted him. 

Mrs. Polk did not fail to accompany her husband to 
Washington every winter except in a single instance. 
She occupied there a conspicuous place in society, and 
by her polite manners and sound judgment made her 
companionship pleasant and inspiriting, not only to Mr. 
Polk, but to the friends by whom he was surrounded. 
Mrs. Polk was a highly cultivated without being a literary 

woman. Being interested in all that related to her hus- 


Henry Clay, the idol of the Whig party, and the most 
popular public man in the Commonwealth, against the 
champion of Democracy, James K. Polk. 

The election was keenly contested, and the result 
most damaging to the Whig party. March 4, 1845, Mr. 
Polk was inaugurated. The day was very disagreeable, 
rain and mud rendering much of a display out of the 
question. He was accompanied from the Capitol to the 
White House by the retiring President, who there took 
a kindly leave, wishing him prosperity and happiness in 
his new and exalted position. Mrs. Polk immediately 
assumed the agreeable duties of the lady of the White 
House, and having no children to occupy her time, she 
devoted herself entirely to the pleasures of her new 
station. She held weekly receptions, and it was custo- 
mary for her to receive her company sitting. The ex- 
treme formality required now was not practised then. 
The crowds that attend the few levees held by the Pres- 
ident's family render everything like sociability out of 
the question. Farther and farther from the old land- 
marks we are drifting. In Mrs. Washington's day the 
company were seated, and herself and the President 
passed among the company. Later in the history of the 
- Chief Magistrates, President Adams dispensed cake and 
wine to the guests, and General Jackson cheese. As the 
throng grew more numerous, Mrs. Polk did away with 
refreshments, and now policemen are stationed in the 
Mansion during receptions to keep the crowds from 
crushing the President and family, who are compelled 


to stand and shake hands the entire evening. Verily 
we are a progressive people. 

The reputation which Mrs. Polk had acquired was 
nobly sustained, even when subjected, as one might say, 
to the gaze of the whole world. Every circumstance, 
whether of embarrassment, perplexity or trial, added to 
the undiminished lustre of her name. She maintained 
the dignity of the President's Mansion, which, in this 
country of republican freedom and simplicity, was often 
in danger of being lowered. Her parents were of the 
old school, high-toned in manners and principles, and she 
had imbibed from them what may be called the aristoc- 
racy of virtue ; an idea that, whatever the mass of society 
might consider themselves at liberty to do, it was indis- 
pensably due to her station to preserve inviolate the 
strict laws of decorum and of the purest principles. 
Hence it will not be surprising that during her occupancy 
of the White House the practice which had formerly ob- 
tained, of dancing there, was discontinued ; a practice 
which was evidently out of all harmony with the place, 
and more suitable anywhere else. 

The return of Mrs. Polk to Washington was antici- 
pated by her friends with the liveliest gratification. She 
was considered, by those who knew her, remarkably 
fitted to fill and adorn the high seat to which she was 
bidden. The following extracts will show the feeling 
which was rife. The Tennessee Democrat said : 

" We have recently noticed in our exchange papers, 
of both political parties, the most respectful and flatter- 


band, she took pains to inform herself fully in political 
affairs, and read all the news and discussions of the day 
relating to the well-being of the country, subjects which 
to most ladies of that day proved wearisome and hard 
to understand. Living in the atmosphere of politicians 
and surrounded by public men, she however avoided the 
maelstrom upon which ladies are often stranded, and 
never discussed a subject in relation to which her sex 
were expected to be entirely ignorant. Women were 
then as now, supposed to be too weak to understand the 
mighty problem of Government, and they evidenced 
their acquiescence in such a supposition by remaining 
entirely unacquainted with the politics of the country. 
Not so Mrs. Polk, who however was no politician, for 
her visitors were not aware of the depth of her under- 
standing, nor were they offended by the recurrence to a 
subject deemed out of her sphere. There was an in- 
tuitive feeling in her heart of what was due to her deli- 
cacy, and she was wise enough to be consistent and 
appropriate in all her actions. Yet her mind was 
strengthened by careful reading and intimate intercourse 
with many of the finest minds in the country. 

Mr. Folk's residence was at Columbia, Tennessee, 
where the intervals between the sessions of Congress 
were spent among his relatives. In the year 1834, Mrs. 
Polk joined the Presbyterian Church of that place. 
Since that time her character has been entirely a Chris- 
tian one. Faithful and devout, consistent in her conduct 
to every rule and requirement of her sect, she has ex- 


emplified in her life the punctual observance of a vow 
to serve her God through the acknowledged tenets of 
the Presbyterian faith. 

On the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Polk from Wash- 
ington, in 1839, Mrs. Polk received the graceful compli- 
ment of a copy of verses addressed to her by the emi- 
nent jurist, Hon. Joseph D. Story. 

In the same year Mr. Polk was made the Governor 
of Tennessee, and removed his residence to Nashville, 
in order to fulfil the duties of his new position. Mrs. 
Polk, always amiable and animated by the truest fidelity 
to her husband's interests, exerted a wide influence in 
the new circle into which her life had been cast. By the 
winning gentleness which ever accompanied her fine 
social qualities, she attracted even those members of the 
Legislature who were among the opponents of Mr. Polk. 
And this is saying a great deal when it is remembered 
that the political campaign of 1840 was the most fierce 
and exciting one in the history of the country. It is 
known as the " hard cider and log-cabin campaign.'* 
Political rancor and animosity prevailed to an unprece- 
dented degree. But the lady-like affability, and high 
and exalted virtues of Mrs. Polk, won universal admira- 
tion from friend and foe alike. She lived above the 
warring elements that surrounded her. The calm and 
charming bearing of the Governor's wife was a source 
of constant praise. 

From the sister States of Tennessee and Kentucky 
came the opposing Presidential candidates in 1844. 


ing compliments paid to the amiable and accomplished 
lady who is shortly to take charge of the White House. 
We cannot refrain from copying the following compli- 
mentary tribute to Mrs. Polk, which is taken from the 
Southern (Miss.) Reformer, and we are sure that in this 
community, where Mrs. Polk is best known, the compli- 
ment will be duly appreciated." 

" ' This lady is one of the most sensible, refined and 
accomplished of her sex, and will adorn the White House 
at Washington, over which she is destined to preside, 
with distinguished honor to her country. All who have 
mingled in her society know well how to appreciate the 
gracefulness of her disposition. We have seen few 
women that have developed more of the genuine repub- 
lican characteristics of the American lady. She has had 
her admirers not only in the highest, but in the humblest 
walks of life. The poor know her for her benevolence ; 
the rich for the plainness of her equipage ; the church 
for her consistency; the unfortunate for her charities; 
and society itself for the veneration and respect which 
her virtues have everywhere awarded her. We feel 
proud that the southwest can boast of such a noble off- 
spring.' " 

"WASHINGTON CITY, February 24, 1845. 

" MY DEAR SIR: The advent of our President-elect 
has concentrated everything to and about him. The 
prudence that he observed before he reached here in 
reference to the formation of his Cabinet still exists. He 
keeps his own counsels, and no tie of personal or politi- 


cal friendship, as far as we can learn, has been enabled 
to get from him a glimpse of the future. It is generally 
believed here that Mr. Polk will be influenced by no 
ultra party considerations ; that he will look to the great 
interests of the country as a whole, and study, with the 
incentives of a statesman and a patriot, so to administer 
the government. Should he prescribe to himself this 
policy, those who know him best know that he has firm- 
ness of purpose commensurate to its fulfilment 

" Whatever the diversities of opinion that divide poli- 
ticians, and whatever the asperities of feeling engendered 
by the conflicts to which they lead, they seem, by common 
consent, to be surrendered upon the altar that is reared 
in every chivalrous heart, to the meed most justly due to 
elegance and excellence of female character, in the per- 
son of the lady of the President-elect. 

"All approach her with the tribute that is due to her 
exalted station, and all leave her with the pleasing im- 
pression that the refinement and blandishments of her 
manners, the gentleness of her disposition, and unosten- 
tatious bearing, fit her eminently for the place and part 
she is to occupy for the next four years. At home and 
abroad, the influence of her character will do honor to 
our country. These are the impressions of your friend." 

" Not long since, in the Nashville Union, appeared a 
communication in which the writer very justly applauds 
the lady of the President of the United States in con- 
sequence of her dignified and exemplary deportment 
since her occupancy of the Presidential Mansion. A mong 


other remarks, the following occur : * She is a consistent 
member of the Presbyterian Church, and therefore has 
abolished dancing and other light amusements in her 
bouse.' Assuredly nothing more effectually commends 
the religion of the Bible than the holy and consistent 
conduct of those who profess to be governed by its 

"A professor of religion, doubtless Mrs. Polk deeply 
realized the responsibility of her position. Exposed to 
the temptations of fashionable life in their most alluring 
forms, it required no trivial amount of gracious influence 
to enable her to abjure the maxims and customs of an 
ungodly world. The friends of religion anxiously looked 
forward in regard to the course she might think proper 
to adopt in that respect, and thanks to Providence and 
her own pious heart, their hopes and expectations have 
not been disappointed. By her consistent and exem- 
plary conduct she has secured the gratitude and respect 
of the friends of religion of every name, yea, of all 
whose good opinion is most worth enjoying ; while, in 
the meantime, the friends and advocates of the rejected 
pastimes, nolens volens, will even on that account feel con- 
strained to accord to her the homage of their augmented 

" The example of Mrs. Polk can hardly fail of exerting, 
in various respects, a salutary influence. Especially does 
it rebuke the conduct of those ladies who, professing 
godliness, nevertheless dishonor its profession by their 
eager participation in the follies and amusements of the 


world. However politicians may differ in regard to the 
merits of Mr. Folk's administration, there can be no dif- 
ference as respects that of his lady, in her department of 
the Presidential Mansion. All will agree that by the ex- 
clusion of the frivolities spoken of, and her excellent de- 
portment in other respects, she has conferred additional 
dignity upon the executive department of our govern- 
ment, and may well be considered a model worthy of 
imitation by the ladies who may hereafter occupy the 
elevated position from which she is about to retire. This 
excellent lady, ere long, it is presumed, will return to the 
society of kindred and friends, among whom, it is sin- 
cerely hoped, she may long live to receive and confer 
happiness upon all around, and as hitherto, continue to 
be an ornament to the religion and church her example 
has so signally honored." 

In her elevated and conspicuous situation, the stateli- 
ness of Mrs. Folk's bearing was strikingly becoming and 
appropriate. With this an English lady was impressed, 
who averred that not one of the three queens whom she 
had seen could compare with the truly feminine yet dis- 
tinguished and regal presence of Mrs. Polk. She says : 
" Mrs. Polk is a very handsome woman. Her hair is 
very black, and her dark eye and complexion remind one 
of the Spanish donnas. She is well read, has much talent 
for conversation, and is highly popular. Her excellent 
taste in dress preserves the subdued though elegant 
costume which characterizes the lady." 

The same feeling of admiration seemed to inspire the 


graceful writer, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, in the following 
tribute : 

" Lady, had I the wealth of earth 

To offer freely at thy shrine, 
Bright gold and buds of dewy birth, 

Or gems from out the teeming mine, 
A thousand things most beautiful, 

All sparkling, precious, rich and rare, 
These hands would render up to thee, 

Thou noble lady, good and fair ! 

" For as I write, sweet thoughts arise 

Of times when all thy kindness lent 
A thousand hues of Paradise 

To the fleet moments as they went ; 
Then all thy thoughts were winged with light, 

And every smile was calm and sweet, 
And thy low tones and gentle words 

Made the warm heart's blood thrill and beat._ 

" There, standing in our nation's home, 

My memory ever pictures thee 
As some bright dame of ancient Rome, 

Modest, yet all a queen should be ; 
I love to keep thee in my mind, 

Thus mated with the pure of old, 
When love, with lofty deeds combined, 

Made women great and warriors bold. 

" When first I saw thee standing there, 

And felt the pressure of thy hand, 
I scarcely thought if thou wert fair, 

Or of the highest in the land ; 
I knew thee gentle, pure as great, 

All that was lovely, meek and good; 
And so I half forgot thy state 

In love of thy bright w.omanhood. 


"And many a sweet sensation came, 

That lingers in my bosom yet, 
Like that celestial, holy flame 

That vestals tremble to forget. 
And on the earth or in the sky, 

There's not a thought more true and free, 
Than that which beats within my heart, 

In pleasant memory of thee. 

" Lady, I gladly would have brought 

Some gem that on thy heart may live, 
But this poor wreath of woven thought 

Is all the wealth I have to give. 
All wet with heart-dew, flush with love, 

I lay the garland at thy feet, 
Praying the angel-forms above, 

To weave thee one more pure and sweet." 

The receptions of the President were always largely 
attended, and were made agreeable to everybody by the 
spirit of liveliness as well as of courtesy that prevailed. 
A visitor says: "Last evening I had an opportunity of 
seeing the members of the royal family, together with 
some choice specimens of the Democracy, in the ' circle- 
room ' of the White House. It was reception night, and 
the latch-string, in the shape of a handsome negro, was 
'outside the door.' On entering, I found the room full. 
Mr. Polk is so affable as to prevent one from feeling 
any awe that he is in direct communication with the con- 
centrated majesty of the whole United States and Terri- 

" The wife of the President was seated on the sofa, 
engaged with half a dozen ladies in lively conversation. 


Ill and clumsy as I am at millinery, yet for the sake of 
my fair readers, I will try to describe her toilet. A 
maroon colored velvet dress, with short sleeves and high 
in the neck, trimmed with very deep lace, and a hand- 
some pink head-dress was all that struck the eye of the 
general observer. Mr. Willis would, no doubt, have no- 
ticed many other little accompaniments, interesting to 
ladies, but I never could indulge in any such familiarity. 
Who would think of plucking at an angel's wing in order 
to give an analysis of its fibre ? Mrs. Polk is a handsome, 
intelligent and sensible woman, better looking and better 
dressed than any of her numerous lady visitors present 
on the occasion. 

"Among the guests of distinction were the Hon. Cave 
Johnson, Postmaster-General, who bears a strong re- 
semblance about the head to Mr. Greeley, of the Tribune; 
Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, Commodore De Kay, Mr. Rockwell, 
of Connecticut, and a Wall Street financier, who can draw 
a larger draft on London than any other man in the 
country. There were two or three pairs of epaulettes ; 
a couple of pretty deaf and dumb girls, who only talked 
with their fingers ; and scores of others who talked with 
their eyes, while a whole regiment of the ' raw material ' 
of the Democracy in frock coats, stood as straight as 
grenadiers around the outer circle of the room, gazing 
in silent astonishment at the President and the chan- 

On one of the reception nights a distinguished gentle- 
man from South Carolina remarked in a loud tone of 


voice to Mrs. Polk, " Madam, there is a woe pronounced 
against you in the Bible." Every one ceased conversing 
for a moment, when Mrs. Polk inquired what he meant. 
"Well, the Bible says, 'Woe unto you when all men 
shall speak well of you.' ' A general laugh followed, 
and the remark was considered very appropriate. 

During President Polk's administration, the war with 
Mexico was inaugurated by a difficulty about the bound- 
ary line of Texas. The country is acquainted with the 
brilliant successes of the American troops in Mexico, 
and of General Scott's glorious successes, whereby he 
reached and revelled in the halls of the Montezumas. 
The war ended in 1848, the year before Mr. Polk's re- 
tirement. President Polk's easy, courteous manners, 
went far toward allaying the opposition which is ever ap- 
parent in times of national trouble, and the affable man- 
ners of Mrs. Polk rendered his efforts the more success- 
ful. With the exception of the summer of 1847, spent 
in Tennessee, Mrs. Polk remained uninterruptedly at 
the White House ; the visits of members of her family 
cheerinof the otherwise monotonous routine of her life 



A gentleman who called at the White House one even- 
ing in the fall of 1846, writes in the following terms of 
his visit : " We were met by Mr. Walker, the Private 
Secretary, with much politeness, the President being ab- 
sent, and were received by Mrs. Polk in the kindest, and 
at the same time most graceful, manner. It may be said 
with truth, she is a lady of commanding dignity at all 


times; and her conversation, generally of the most 
agreeable character, is always happily directed. In my 
judgment, at no period in our history have we seen the 
hospitalities and ceremonies of the White House more 
handsomely dispensed, or displayed with greater repub- 
lican simplicity than at the present time. If my obser- 
vation be correct, no invidious or improper distinction 
seems to be made in the circle of visitors. There is no 
imposing movement or extra formality exhibited when a 
Secretary or some other high officer of Government pre- 
sents himself. The quiet and unheralded citizen receives 
a polite and cordial salutation, as well as the haughty mil- 
lionnaire, or some proud minister of state. And this is 
precisely as it should be, a just and beautiful com- 
mentary, alike upon our noble institutions, and the 
charming social qualities of the President and his family. 
" I was struck not only with the easy and fascinating 
manners of Mrs. Polk, but equally with her patriotic 
sentiments and feelings. A gallant Lieutenant just 
from the bloody but glorious conflict at Monterey, was 
there also ; and as Mrs. Polk gracefully carried back his 
thoughts to the distant field of his early fame, he caught 
the inspiration at once, and dwelt briefly for her enter- 
tainment upon some of the thrilling incidents of those 
scenes. In the course of this animated conversation to ' 
which I was a favored listener, the modest young officer 
remarked, in a playful manner, that something which I 
do not now recollect was rather too democratic; to which 
Mrs. Polk replied, that 'whatever sustained the honor, 


and advanced the interests of the country, whether re- 
garded as democratic or not, she admired and ap- 
plauded/ The sentiment was a truly noble one." 

A correspondent of the New York Journal of Com- 
merce has also given to the public a sketch of a visit to 
the Presidential Mansion, which is interesting. "These the 
musings were soon interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. 
Polk who, with an easy smile and a graceful simplicity 
of manner, bid me welcome as an American citizen, and 
partaker of a common faith. She bears her honors 
meekly, and surely it is no mean elevation to be the 
wife of an American President ; an elevation to which 
many fond and ambitious aspirations are doubtless se- 
cretly cherished in the bosoms of high-minded American 
women, but which .only one, now and then, can enjoy. 
And this one, probably, was among the last to expect it, 
till the news came to disturb the quietude of her happy 
domestic life in Tennessee. 

"Mrs. Polk may be considered a felicitous specimen of 
the intelligent, refined American lady, who, without arti- 
ficial airs, without any assumption of stateliness of man- 
ners, without any ambitious ornaments of dress, ex- 
changes the courtesies of social life, and demeans her- 
self in public, with a sincerity somewhat rare in the cur- 
rent circles of fashion. 

"I cannot but think that the basis of her style of char- 
acter is laid in a true and unaffected piety. She is reg- 
ular in her attendance on divine worship and on the 
communion of the Lord's supper. In our conversation, 


she expressed her great delight, among similar things, 
in having recently witnessed and welcomed the admis- 
sion of three or four interesting youths to the commu- 
nion of the Presbyterian Church, of which she is a 
member. Unlike some of her predecessors, Mrs. Polk 
has no taste for the gay amusements of the lovers of 

In the early fall of 1847, tne illness of Mrs. Polk threw 
a cloud of sorrow and apprehension over many hearts ; 
but it was only a cloud, and the recovery of this beloved 
and honored lady was hailed with delight and thanks- 
giving. Some one writing to the Baltimore Sun says : 
"This fall we have a peculiar sorrow, in the dangerous 
illness of the honored lady of President Polk. She came 
among us almost a stranger, respected on account of 
her station, but unknown to most of us ; she is now the 
pride of society, as well as the object of our tender 
affection. The social circles of Washington gratefully 
acknowledge the happiness she has diffused through 
them ; the needy and suffering bless God for such a 
friend. All admire her character, all revere her virtues, 
and all with one consent join in supplicating the Father 
of mercies to spare her long, very long to her distin- 
guished husband and the friends to whom she is so 

A few days before the close of his administration, a 
splendid dinner party was given by the President to 
General Taylor. At the levee, the same evening, a 
great concourse of persons acquaintances, admirers, 


and friends assembled to pay their last respects and 
take their last adieu of the President and his wife. 

On Sunday afternoon, in the first Presbyterian 
Church, Mrs. Polk participated for the last time in the 
solemn services of the communion. The Rev. Mr. Bal- 
lentyne addressed the distinguished lady in a most ap- 
propriate manner; and on the conclusion of the cere- 
monies, the pastor and a large number of the commu- 
nicants approached and bade her an affectionate fare- 

The following morceau appears in the Washington 
Union : 


" Lady, farewell ! amid the gloom of grief, 

How many a heart will utter that sad sound ! 
Farewell ! for tliee a thousand hearts will mourn; 

So much of friendship lo^t, of sorrow found. 
And thou shalt leave a void in Friendship's hall, 

Where joyous notes were once so wont to rise, 
Like that fair Pleiad which forsook its home, 

And caused to mourn the sisters of the skies. 
But thou must go : yet with thee thou shalt bear 

A stranger's hope upon the distant way, 

And only fade to give a calmer day. 
A welcome, too, I'd give thee to my home, 

My sunny home, the old Palmetto soil ; 
Where many a heart, all warm and true and kind, 

Shall chase away the gloom of travel's toil. 
And may life pass as soft as sunset hour, 

When gentle rays gleam on the skies above, 
And may each pulse in sweetest union beat 

To the soft music of the harp of love. 



The departure from Washington and return to Nash- 
ville was a continued scene of ovation and triumph. 
Everywhere along the route, demonstrations of respect 
and esteem greeted the distinguished travellers. Arriv- 
ing at home, the citizens of Nashville showed them every 
possible mark of regard. 

Before the expiration of Mr. Folk's Presidential term, 
he had purchased a house in Nashville, from the Hon. 
Felix Grundy, in the most commanding position in the 
city. It was enlarged and ornamented and put in the 
most complete and elegant order. Ever since it has 
been known as " Polk Place." The surrounding grounds 
are tastefully and elaborately arranged and adorned 
with flowers and shrubbery. They extend from Vine 
street on the east, to Spruce street on the west; and 
from Union street on the north, to Polk avenue, which 
leads from the mansion to Church street, on the south. 
The dwelling, is large and imposing, and the grounds 
ample, forming one of the most attractive places in the 
city. This was the chosen spot for the declining days 
of the recent occupants of the White House. 

Soon after their return from Washington, the ex- 
President and his wife contemplated a tour in Europe; 
then a much more serious undertaking than at the 
present day. He even engaged a courier who could 
speak and write French and German, to obviate many 
difficulties of the journey. But ill-health and the speedy 
termination of the statesman's life, put an end to the 
pleasant scheme. 


After the death of Mr. Polk, a small but beautiful 
temple, of native marble, was erected on the grounds 
on the eastern front, beneath which lie the remains of 
the distinguished statesman. On three sides of a mon- 
ument within the temple, there are full and lengthy 
inscriptions, recording the principal events of a useful 
and honored life. The death of her husband was the 
only affliction of Mrs. Folk's life. It had been invari- 
ably calm, cheerful, and happy. " In this great trial and 
deep draught of the waters of bitterness, she was sus- 
tained and consoled by the divine principles and precious 
promises of her religion. She was enabled by faith to 
look forward to a reunion in the better land, with him 
on whose strong arm she had so long leaned, and to 
whom her attachment and companionship had been so 
dear. She had removed her membership from the 
church in Washington, and had become connected with 


the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, of which the 
lamented Dr. John T. Edgar was so long the beloved 
pastor." The sympathizing attention paid to Mrs. Polk 
in her grief was universal. From every lady and gen- 
tleman of her wide acquaintance she received letters of 
condolence and consolation. 

The study of the President, a large room in the sec- 
ond story, commanding a view of the Capitol, is kept by 
Mrs. Polk just as he left it. Here are his books, his 
papers, his pen and all the little articles that betoken 
an apartment in daily use ; as if he had just stepped out 
and would soon return. It is kept in order by her own 


Such public marks of respect have been shown to 
Mrs. Polk as it has been no other American lady's for- 
tune to receive. Prominent men of all classes and call- 
ings rarely visit the city without paying their respects 
to her. It was for years the habit of the Legislature 
to call upon her, in a body, on New Year's Day. Large 
delegations of Masons, of Odd Fellows, and of Sons 
of Temperance, at the various meetings of their societies, 
have done themselves the honor to be presented to her. 
Numbers of the members of the General Assembly of 
the Presbyterian Church have, at different times, visited 
Polk Place to evince their sincere respect for her whose 
life has been so pure and blameless, and whose Christian 
character is so shining an example. 

During the Confederate days of Nashville, Mrs. 
Polk received the kind attentions of the supreme offi- 
cers ; among others of Gen. Beauregard, of Gen. Breck- 
enridge, and of Gen. Preston. Afterward, Gen. Buell, 
Gen. Thomas, Gen. Nelson, Gen. Mitchell, Gen. Crit- 
tenden, Gen. McCook, Gen. Sherman, Gen. Wood, and 
many others, and staff officers innumerable, called to 
pay their duty to the distinguished mistress of Polk 

In a letter from a visitor at Melrose, the residence 
of Mrs. Gov. A. V. Brown, in the vicinity of Nashville, 
is the following pleasant description : "Among the pleas- 
ures that we most value and trust never to lose, was 
meeting and becoming acquainted, while at Melrose, 
with one of Nashville's most valued residents Mrs. 


President Polk. By far the most interesting spot in 
that city is Polk Place, this lady's home, an elegant and 
stately erection, the portico of the noblest architecture, 
exquisite in design and proportion. The house has 
large, lofty rooms, a noble hall, rich in presents received 
by Mrs. Polk during the Presidential career of her hus- 
band. Among them is a beautiful drawing of Niagara, 
a fine oil painting of De Soto, and walking sticks in 
curious shapes and of precious-looking wood. Besides 
these, the walls are hung with portraits of illustrious 
men, and fine likenesses of the President, repeated at 
different ages. In this cherished retirement, enlivened 
by the presence of a sweet little relative, an adopted 
daughter of Mrs. Polk's, men of all parties meet, forget- 
ting their political differences in social enjoyment. 

" But the house, noble as it is, is not the goal of the 
visitor's pilgrimage. As at the Hermitage, the true 
shrine is to be found in the shade, the verdure, the fra- 
grance of a sloping garden, amid dazzling masses of 
verbena, geraniums, heliotrope and jessamine. In the 
centre of this lovely mosaic is a fine monument, erected 
over the remains of him whose brief and bright career 
was cut suddenly short, enriched by an elegant inscrip- 
tion from Mrs. Polk's pen ; a true and noble record, hon- 
orable alike to the departed and to the survivor. Here, 
amid the song of birds and the odor of flowers, we paid 
willing homage to all that remained of one who died 
lamented by his countrymen of every sect and party. 

" His mourners were two parts, his friends and foes. 


He had kept the whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er 
him wept. 

" Meeting Mrs. Polk was like seeing the original of a 
familiar picture, and in a few moments after seeing her, 
we were surprised to find ourself forgetting, in a con- 
fiding feeling, that we were conversing with a lady who 
had presided at the Executive Mansion with a wider 
popularity than has since been attained by any of her 
successors. She seems to have a warm and unenvying 
sympathy in the success of others, and in her conversa- 
tion there is an expression of those affectionate sympa- 
thies which made her beloved in a more elevated sphere. 
She has a pleasing figure, what we call ladylike, delicate, 
erect and graceful, with a great deal of manner, in the 
last respect resembling the late Mrs. Madison. Mrs. 
Folk's mental endowments, as well as her personal qual- 
ities, combine to render her a general favorite, while her 
manners and character give a permanence to her social 
success by converting admirers into friends." 

In a pecuniary point of view, Mrs. Folk's life has 
passed in ease and affluence. Her father was compara- 
tively wealthy, and Mr. Folk's circumstances were always 
good. In addition to his property in Tennessee, he 
owned a large and flourishing plantation in Mississippi. 
Chief-Justice Catron, Major Daniel Graham and other 
distinguished personal friends, have attended to Mrs. 
Folk's financial affairs during her widowhood, and have 
thus relieved her from all care. 

Mrs. Polk, though ever willing to converse, and always 


enriching the conversation from her ready store of in- 
formation and observation, is remarkably reticent in re- 
gard to her own life. Her most familiar friends fail to 
persuade an account of incidents relating purely to her- 
self. She is never seen in public except at church. The 
visits of chosen friends are grateful to her, but she does 
not return them, and no attraction is sufficient to draw 
her far away from the home where cluster so many dear 
and sacred memories. Occasionally she spends a few 
days with her relatives in other counties. 

Having no children, Mrs. Polk, some time after the 
death of her husband, adopted a niece, who has ever 
since been an inmate of her house. No employment 
could have served better to console the many lonely 
hours that must be the inevitable heritage of a widowed 
heart, than the charge of a daughter. 

Mrs. Polk was born in the dawn of the nineteenth 
century, and is a pure type of a class which is rapidly 
becoming extinct. With her will pass away many of the 
excellences and not a few of the foibles of a class mod- 
elled after the aristocracy of the old world on their 
graftings in the new. Her life has been spent in 
an age and country where chivalric honor to woman is 
a matter of national pride, yet in a land of slaves and 
slavery. The young and middle-aged of to-day will 
never know the opportunities of time and means which 
she, half a century ago, enjoyed; for the South is changed, 
and verily old things have passed away and all are new. 
The present generation, thrown more upon their own 


resources, and passing through the perplexities of change 
and misfortune, will grow away from the old regime, and 
may perhaps lose many of their virtues with too few of 
their faults. 

During the late civil war, she suffered in common with 
the people of the South, losing much of her valuable 
property, but was fortunately left with sufficient means 
to enable her to live in her usual style of comfort. Her 
sympathies were with the section of country in which 
she was reared, but her conduct was throughout be- 
fitting her station, and no expression or action of hers is 
a reflection of aught save refined bearing and high-toned 

Surrounded with comforts and luxuries, and enjoying 
the companionship of her relatives and friends, Mrs. Polk 
glides calmly down the vale of years, with the memory 
of a past all brightness, and the hopes of a future all 
peace. The lifetime imitation of a pure and useful 
standard of excellence has rewarded her with a glorious 
fame, and she dwells among the friends of her youth, 
honored and respected, trusted and beloved. 



THE importance attached to Presidential honors is not 
in our country the inheritance of persons born to the 
wearing of them. Monarchial governments, by tradition 
and law, designate not only who is the " chief magis- 
trate," but also provide candidates in advance for the 
succession. People, therefore, born to such high estate 
are always, from infancy onward, objects of world-wide 
interest; and the minutest acts of their lives, before they 
achieve their inherited position as well as after, are sub- 
jects of note from a thousand pens. 

In our own country the popular will selects its candi- 
dates for the highest office within its gift as often from 
those who have suddenly received popularity as from 
those who have, by antecedent history, become known 
to fame. It is probably true that, just before the 
breaking out of actual hostilities between this country 
and Mexico, there was no military officer his long and 
faithful public service considered who was as little 
known to the country at large as General Taylor. 

That the future Mistress of the White House who 
was buried in the seclusion of his retired private life, 
should be little known out of her domestic circle, is there- 
fore not surprising; and that a family, the members of 
which had always courted seclusion and were satisfied 



with making perfect the narrow circle of their accepted 
duties, should shrink from publicity and notice, is not to 
be wondered at; and, as a consequence, there is but 
little left to afford material for the pen of the historian. 

Mrs. Taylor and her daughter "Betty," who for a 
while shone forth as the acknowledged " first ladies of 
the land," never sympathized with the display and bustle 
of the White House, and they always performed such 
official duties as were imperatively forced upon them, by 
their exalted position, as a task that had no compensa- 
tion for the sacrifices attending it. 

The key to Mrs. Taylor's life was touched by General 
Taylor himself, who, when receiving from an appointed 
speaker, at Baton Rouge, the official announcement that 
he was elected President of the United States, among 
other things said: 

11 For more than a quarter of a century, my house has 
been the tent, and my home the battle-field." This state- 
ment, which might have been used with propriety as fig- 
urative language by any officer who had been for more 
than a quarter of a century on active duty, was literally 
true of General Taylor's experience. He \vas emphati- 
cally a hard-working officer: either from choice or acci- 
dent, his public life was never varied by those terms of 
"official repose" which give officers a rest at Washing- 
ton, at West Point, or at head-quarters in some large 

On the contrary, General Taylor, from the time he 
entered the army as a lieutenant until he laid aside his 


well-earned commission as a Major-General to assume 
the highest responsibility of Commander-in-Chief of the 
Army and Navy, had never been out of what might be 
termed the severest frontier duties. 

He was known as having acquired the largest ex- 
perience as an Indian fighter. He was alike the hero 
of the " Black Hawk," as he was the most prominent 
officer in the Seminole war. Hence it is that Mrs. 
Taylor, more than any other mistress of the White 
House, had seen more army service, and passed through 
more varied frontier experiences ; for she would never, 
under any circumstances, if she could avoid it, separate 
herself from her husband, no matter how severe were 
the trials resulting from wifely devotion. 

This heroic spirit, that gives such grace and beauty to 
useful qualities, carried her cheerfully to Tampa Bay, 
that she might be near her husband when he was en- 
deavoring to suppress the wily Seminoles in the swamps 
and everglades of Florida ; and as the long previous 
years in the western country made her familiar with the 
attributes of savage triumphs, so the final defeats that 
eventually secured our settlers a peaceful home on the 
rich plains of Mexico, and laid the foundation of the 
prosperity of the great West. 

In all this quarter of a century so feelingly alluded to by 
General Taylor, as the time when his house was a tent and 
his home the battle-field, it was seldom that Mrs. Taylor 
was not at his side, bearing her share of the hardships in- 
cidental to her husband's life, and cheerfully attending to 


the duties which fell to her to perform. All this while the 
modest accommodations were acceptable, the log-cabin in 
winter, the tent if necessary in summer, with the coarse 
but substantial food of the soldiers, and often even this 
not in abundance. Deprived of the little elegancies 
which are so necessary for a woman's comfort sepa- 
rated from the society of her children, who were almost 
always away at school nothing stood in the way of her 
fealty to her husband, and she was content thus to live. 

Through all these trying circumstances Mrs. Taylor, 
by her good sense, her modesty, her uncomplaining 
spirit, her faculty of adding to the comforts and sur- 
roundings of her husband's life, filled the measure of her 
duty, and set an example of the true woman, especially 
a soldier's wife, that her sex for all time can admire and 
point to as worthy of imitation. 

Her domestic duties, so far as they related to the com- 
fort of her family, she would never intentionally abandon 
for a single day to menial hands. Especially was she 
careful in the preparation of the food for the table, and 
however simple the meal might be, she saw that the ma- 
terial was carefully prepared. And this home training 
General Taylor displayed when in Northern Mexico, 
away from his domestic care ; for while he was indiffer- 
ent to a degree about luxuries, yet what he did eat, he 
persisted in having carefully selected and prepared with 
due regard to healthfulness ; and his tent was ever a 
model of neatness and rude comfort. 

Mrs. Taylor's maiden name was Margaret Smith. She 


was born in Maryland, and came of a family identified 
for their substantial qualities which distinguished intelli- 
gent agriculturists. She received such an education as 

& o 

was at the command of female pupils in the beginning 
of the century. An education which considered the 
practical, rather than the intellectual, and to this plane 
of her school life she was trained with special care in 
all the accomplishments of domestic duties. 

" Maryland house-keeping " was for years in the south- 
west, and is still among the " old settlers," a compli- 
mentary remark, if applied to a lady from any part of 
the country, so excellent was considered the housewives' 
work of those who learned their duties on the tide- 
waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and among those exam- 
ples of domestic perfection in her State, Mrs. Taylor was 
eminent. And to be more than this to make her home 
happy she evidently had no ambition. Marrying an 
officer of the United States army, who was born in Ken- 
tucky, and was appointed from private life, her husband 
had no associations that took him to the North, which, 
independent of official opportunities, are increased by a 
student's career at West Point. " Captain Taylor" was 
therefore, from the beginning of his public life, confined 
to the frontiers, and was known as one of the " hard- 
working," and " fighting officers." His boyhood days 
were made up of adventures with Indians, and around 
the fireside of his own home, listening to his father and 
his father's friends, talk over the struggles, sufferings, 
and triumphs they endured as active participators in the 


Revolution, under the leadership of General Washington 
and General Wayne, and of their subsequent hard lives 
after they left Virginia, to found homes " in the dark and 
bloody ground." 

To accept with pleasure the incidents of the conse- 
quent life was the true spirit of the American heroine, 
and to adorn it through long years of privations and 
sufferings as Mrs. Taylor did, is the noblest tribute that 
can be paid to her virtues. For sixteen years after the 
conclusion of our second war with England, the time 
indicated in history as the " treaty of Ghent," Major 
Taylor spent an active life in what was then known as 
our western frontiers. He established forts and corre- 
sponded with the .Government on Indian affairs. His 
custom was to personally superintend the varied and 
difficult labors imposed upon him. All this while he was 
literally in the savage wilderness, and Mrs. Taylor, then 
a young wife, persistently accompanied him. To her 
attentions to her husband the country was largely in- 
debted for his usefulness, and by her influence and 
example the subordinates, who were attached to the 
pioneer army, were made contented and uncomplaining. 

This era of Mrs. Taylor's life she was wont always to 
speak of with subdued enthusiasm. 

It was while thus living that her children were born. 
They followed her fortunes as long as a mother's care was 
absolutely necessary for their safety ; but the moment 
they were sufficiently matured to leave her protection, 
she submitted to the painful sacrifice of having them 


sent to her relatives in the " settlements," for a less 
perilous life and the enjoyment of the facilities of educa- 
tional institutions ; but she never thought of abandoning 
her husband, her first duty being for his interest and com- 
fort. It is not surprising that when the "Florida war" 
began, that the Captain Taylor of twenty years previous 
was now a Colonel, and that his past services should 
have secured for him the difficult and dangerous honor 
of taking command against the treacherous Seminoles 
of the Everglades. True to the characteristics of his 


whole life, he quietly proceeded to this new field of 
action, and to the surprise of the country, the people of 
which now began to know Colonel Taylor, it was heralded 
in the papers that Mrs. Taylor had established herself 
at Tampa Bay. It was looked upon at the time as a 
piece of unpardonable recklessness that she should thus 
risk her life, when to the outward \vorld the odds at the 
time seemed to be against her husband's success. But 
she evidently knew his character and her own duty best, 
and through the lasting struggle, made so terrible and 
romantic by the incidents of the battle of Okee-Chobee, 
Mrs. Taylor was of immense service in superintending 
the wants of the sick and wounded, but more especially 
so by shedding over disaster the hopefulness created 
by her self-possession and seeming insensibility to the 
probability of the failure of her husband's final triumph 
over the enemy. 

At the conclusion of active hostilities, the then Secre- 
tary of War, addressing Gen. Jessup, said: "You will 


establish posts at Tampa, and on the eastern shore, and 
wherever else they are in your opinion necessary to pre- 
serve the peace of the country; and I would suggest the 
propriety of leaving Col. Zachary Taylor, of the First 
Infantry, in command of them." Agreeably to this order, 
General Taylor in time of peace repeated his previously 
pursued life on the northwestern frontiers, of forming 
new military stations in the wilderness and paving the 
way for the amelioration of peaceful populations. If he 
had one thought that he needed repose, or that his 
patriotism was overtaxed by such a continued demand on 
his time, he had the comforts of a home and a devoted 
wife with him, and thus cheered and sustained, he 
patiently performed his severe duties; thus the country 
was indebted to Mrs. Taylor for the constant services 
performed by her gallant husband. 

In the year 1840, General Taylor, who now had 
almost become forgotten in this obscurity of the Florida 
swamps, asked to be relieved of his command, and 
soon afterward arrived with his family in New Orleans. 
The " Old Colonel," as he was called by the citizens of 
Louisiana, came unostentatiously, and was permitted, 
much to his own gratification, to proceed quietly to 
Baton Rouge, which place should be for a while, at least, 
the head -quarters of his family. With this understand- 
ing, Mrs. Taylor joyfully established herself with sur- 
roundings more comfortable than were afforded in the 
Florida swamps. 

This idea encouraged her to arrange a home which she 


hoped would be abandoned only when the " General " 
had selected some quiet place, where they would to- 
gether peacefully end their days. 

The barracks at Baton Rouge are picturesquely situ- 
ated upon the high land, that here, in a sort of a penin- 
sula, rising out of the surrounding level, reaches the 
river. The soldiers usually quartered at Baton Rouge 
were mustering along the banks of the Red river, and 
the buildings were left, save a single company of infantry, 
without occupants, and Mrs. Taylor could select her 
"quarters" with all the facilities the place afforded. 
Leaving the imposing brick^ buildings, with their com- 
fortable arrangements for housekeeping, to the entire 
possession of one or two officers' families, Mrs. Taylor 
selected a little tumble-down cottage, situated directly 
on the banks of the river, which was originally erected 
for, and inhabited by the Captain-commandant, when the 
post belonged to Spain. 

In the long years of its existence, the cottage, consist- 
ing only of a suite of three or four rooms, inclosed 
under galleries, had become quaint in appearance and 
much out of repair, and was hardly considered else than 
a sort of admitted wreck of former usefulness, left be- 
cause it was a harmless, familiar object, entirely out of 
the way of the lawn and parade ground. To Mrs. Taylor's 
eye, this old cottage seemed to possess peculiar charms, 
for she promptly decided to give up the better quarters 
at her disposal, as the wife of the Commander-in-Chief 
of the military department, and move into this cottage. 


With the aid of her own servants, two in number, and 
the usual assistance always afforded by invalid soldiers 
unfit for military duties, she soon put the neglected place 
in proper order. It was remarked by the people of 
Baton Rouge, how rapidly the old " Spanish Comman- 
dant's cottage" became transformed into a comfortable 
dwelling under the superintendence of the new occu- 
pants. And in a country where so much is left to ser- 
vants, and where the mistress and daughters had so 
many at command, they set the noble example of doing 
much themselves. 

The work employed the^r minds, and they were hap- 
pier in the performance of the details of their well-di- 
rected industry. It is certainly true that Mrs. Taylor 
and her daughter, Miss Betty, were evidently too much 
engaged in managing their household duties to have 
time for un happiness or regrets, if they had cause to 
indulge in them. 

The house had but four rooms, surrounded on all sides 
by a verandah, and thus in the hottest weather there 
was always a shady side, and in the coldest, one most 
sheltered ; and so cozy and comfortable did the house 
become under the management of its new mistress, that 
Mrs. Taylor was most thoroughly justified in her choice 
by the universal commendation of the citizens of the 
town that it was now the pleasantest residence in all 
the country round, and its inmates were probably as 
contented and happy as people can be. 

General Taylor himself was not idle, but was kept 


busy visiting Fort Gibson and Fort Smith, until finally, 
to be near his family, was at his own request transferred 
to Fort Jessup, Louisiana. He bought the house se- 
lected by his family, within his military department. 
The domestic life of General Taylor's family was now 
complete. He had performed public duties enough his 
friends thought, to permit him to indulge in the luxury 
of being left quietly at the head-quarters of a frontier 
department, where he could enjoy repose from severe 
military duties, look after his neglected private interests, 
and for the few years that remained live a kind of 
private life. Alas ! how the dream was to be dissi- 

Texas was at this time a State, acting independently 
of Mexico, yet unacknowledged as such by the mother 
country. The Texans, inspired by the difficulties of 
their situation, and surrounded by political influence in 
the United States, agitated the question of coming into 
the Union. The result was that General Santa Anna, 
then President of Mexico, made preparations which con- 
templated the reassertion of the national government in 
the revolted province. 

This naturally made the southern border line of Lou- 
isiana, the Sabine, an object of attack, and as General 
Taylor had, with the idea of being left in peaceful retire- 
ment, asked to be in command in Louisiana, he uncon- 
sciously placed himself in the very position that was to 
call him into a more active and important field of duty 
than had yet been entrusted to him. 


Mrs. Taylor, meantime, painfully unconscious of the 
drama that was opening before her, calmly and full of 
content, went about her domestic duties. A garden was 
planted, and she cherished the first signs of the growing 
vegetation with almost childish delight. Her old friends 
among the citizens of the neighborhood made friendly 
visits. Miss Betty, who was now in the very perfection 
of her blooming womanhood, was popular with the 
young ladies of her age and station. 

The "old General" was here and there, according to 
his habits ; one day away attending to some military 
matter, then enjoying what seemed to him an endless 
source of interest, the examination of the workings of 
plantation life. He began, in fact, to assume the airs of 
an agriculturist; invested what means he had in a cotton 
farm on the Mississippi, and looked forward to the time 
when his income would be large and liberal for the pur- 
suits of peace. 

All this time to the south of General Taylor's military 
department there were signs of trouble, and one day he 
received from the Adjutant-General of the Army a letter, 
which announced that there was great danger of a hos- 
tile incursion of Indians on the southern border of his 
department. The letter thus concluded: "Should the 
apprehended hostilities with the Indians alluded to break 
out, an officer of rank probably yourself will be sent 
to command the United States forces to be put in the 

The quiet domestic life so much desired by Mrs. Taylor 


was becoming a dream. The events which followed so 
rapidly soon placed her husband on the banks of the Sa- 
bine as commander-in-chief of the "Army of Occupation." 
A succeeding order, and he invaded the disputed terri- 
tory, and by one single stride rose from the comparative 
obscurity of a frontier fighter to be the observed of all 
the world, in a conflict where two Christian nations were 
to struggle for supremacy in an appeal to arms. The 
succeeding actions, that began at Palo Alto and ended 
at Buena Vista, made him for the time being a hero. 
While these events were culminating, Mrs. Taylor and 
Miss Betty remained in the little cottage on the banks 
of the Mississippi, each hour becoming objects of greater 
interest, and from their quietness and unobtrusive life 
making themselves dear to the nation. 

But the applause and flattery that began to reach the 
inmates of the old Spanish cottage made no apparent 
impression. Mrs. Taylor, while her husband distin- 
guished himself on the Rio Grande, only worked harder 
in her little garden, and she had no superior among the 
planters of the vicinity of Baton Rouge in the raising of 
succulent luxuries for the table, and she seemingly took 
more pride in showing these triumphs of her industry 
than she did in hearing compliments upon her husband's 
growing fame. Nay, more than this, she instituted a 
miniature dairy, and added to her other comforts what 
was almost unknown at the time in the vicinity an 
abundance of fresh milk and butter. It may be readily 
imagined that with such care and supervision the little 


cottage in the garrison was illustrative of domestic com- 
fort nowhere else surpassed. Thus practically Mrs. 
Taylor taught the young wives of the officers residing in 
the barracks their duties, and prepared them by her ex- 
cellent example to perform the arduous task imposed 
upon them as soldiers' wives in a manner best calculated 
to insure their own happiness and secure honor and re- 
nown to their patriotic husbands. 

But Mrs. Taylor's usefulness did not end with the per- 
fect performance of her household responsibilities. The 
town of Baton Rouge at this time had no Protestant 
Episcopal Church. It was a want which she, in common 
with other officers' wives and some few persons in the 
village, felt keenly; and in her quiet, practical way, she 
set about meeting the demand. It was, of course, only 
necessary for her to designate a proper room in the gar- 
rison buildings to be used as a chapel, when it was at 
once prepared for that purpose. She superintended 
' with others the labor necessary to fit up a chapel, then 
used her influence to secure the occasional services of a 
rector who resided at some distance away. Meantime 
her expressed wish that " the service " be regularly read 
was responded to, and thus was secured to Baton Rouge 
a commencement of a religious movement that in a few 
subsequent years crystallized in the building of a hand- 
some church, and the establishment of a permanent and 
intelligent congregation. 

This garrison chapel in time became a place of great 
interest. Owing to active hostilities in Mexico the num- 


her of officers' wives increased, and it included, as may 
be supposed, some of the most accomplished and elegant 
ladies in the land. Their husbands, gallant and noble 
soldiers, were involved in the duties of actual war, and 
they, brave-hearted and courageous, comforted each 
other. As the news came that actual collision was 
threatened, some of these ladies, unable to control their 
anxiety for the safety of their husbands, would be over- 
come with suppressed emotion, and grow for the mo- 
ment wild with terror. It was on these occasions that 
Mrs. Taylor and Miss Betty maintained their self-pos- 
session, and had kind words and hopeful suggestions for 
those suffering sisters. And when at last some rumors 
reached Baton Rouge of battles fought, of blood being 
shed, of men and officers falling in the strife ; when those 
heart-stricken wives and daughters of the soldiers en- 
gaged were left to the agony of apprehension, Mrs. 
Taylor, still always calm and cheerful, was a constant 
source of comfort, and shed around her an atmosphere 
of hope, an inspiration of true courage. At last when 
names were given of those who fell on the fields of Palo 
Alto and Resaca de la Palma, the stricken ones of the 
garrison suppressed their wild sorrow, lest they should 
wound the feelings of their superior in rank and influ- 
ence, and in the little chapel founded by Mrs. Taylor 
sought, through the holy influences of religion, that con- 
solation that could reconcile them to the irretrievable loss 
of friends, brothers, fathers and husbands. There was 
at this time, amid these scenes of actual war, a bit of 


domestic history revived in Mrs. Taylor's mind that no 
doubt made a strong impression. 

General Taylor was a great admirer of business men, 
and was opposed to his daughters marrying officers of 
the army. He condemned his own life by saying that 
soldiers never had a home, and in this sentiment was 
cordially sustained by Mrs. Taylor, who no doubt in her 
heart reviewed her varied life from place to place on the 
frontiers, and her constant separations from her husband, 
with a regret she could not conceal. It was this cause 
that called forth so much oppositiori from the family to 
Lieutenant Jefferson Davis marrying the second daugh- 
ter, Sarah, which opposition resulted in an elopement 
and runaway marriage. General Taylor, at the time this 
occurred, was away from home on military service, and 
when he heard of it he expressed himself in the most 
unmeasured terms of disapprobation. He seemed ut- 
terly insensible to the feelings which inspired the young 
people in such an adventure, and persisted in looking 
upon "young Davis" as having done a dishonorable 
thing, and his daughter as being entirely regardless of 
her filial obligations. To all protests calculated to 
lessen his indignation, he would make the invariable 


replies, " that no honorable man would thus defy the 
wishes of parents, and no teuly affectionate daughter be 
so regardless of her duty." General Taylor, though a 
man of strong impulses, and possessed of but little 
training to conceal his feelings, except what military dis- 
cipline enforced, was at heart of a generous and for- 


giving nature ; and no doubt time would .have brought 
about its softening influences, and the usual ending which 
follows all runaway matches would have taken place, 
reconciliation and entire forgiveness. But ere this oc- 
curred, within a few short months of her marriage, Mrs. 
Davis suddenly died, and a beloved child upon whom 
he had garnered all his affections passed forever away, 
the last words she had from him being those of reproof 
and condemnation. This incident and the sudden death 
of her daughter left a deep impression upon Mrs. Tay- 
lor's life. Naturally of a quiet disposition and living 
from necessity almost entirely away from influences of 
society, this sad domestic history was left to make the 
greatest possible impression upon her mind. That Gen- 
eral Taylor keenly cherished for long years his sense of 
sorrow was destined to be most romantically displayed. 
His call for volunteer troops at the time he believed his 
little army was imperilled, on the eve of its memorable 
march from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande, was an- 
swered promptly by Louisiana and Mississippi. The last- 
named State promptly organized a splendid regiment, 
composed of the very elite of the native young men, and 
Jefferson Davis was elected its commander. 

At Monterey the ist Mississippi regiment was sta- 
tioned at one of the forts in the suburbs of the city, and 
in the battle that ended with the defeat of Ampudia, its 
Mexican defender, Jefferson Davis received a slight 
wound. Before this event, at the time and subsequently, 
it was noticed that Colonel Davis and General Taylor 


had never met, and it was evident that this was designed 
and not the result of accident there was an under- 
standing seemingly that kept them apart. The cause of 
this was freely discussed, and it came to the surface that 
a reconciliation had never taken place between General 
Taylor and Colonel Davis on account of the elopement, 
and so things remained until the close of the three days' 
struggle that ended in triumph at Buena Vista. It was 
on the occasion when victory seemed hesitating where 
she should bestow her wreath when the men of the 
North and the West had exhausted their energies when 


Clay, Crittenden, Yell, and their brave compatriots slept 
in death on the bloody field at this moment, when 
Santa Anna believed and announced himself the hero 
of the field, and when he concentrated his favorite troops 
to make a last charge upon our dispirited and exhausted 
columns, that Colonel Davis, at the head of his Missis- 
sippi regiment, nobly sustained the shock, and sent the 
foe back disappointed and dismayed. Then it was that 
" Old Zach," seeing by whom he, his gallant men, and 
his country's honor, had been saved, had no place in 
his heart but for gratitude, and the long estranged 
embraced each other and wept tears of reconciliation 
upon the battle-field. 

Time passed on, and General Taylor completed his 
brilliant campaign. Our country had then, for nearly 
two generations, been unused to war, and the magnificent 
achievements of old u Rough and Ready " filled the hearts 
of the people with the intensest admiration. The old 


cottage on the low bluff at Baton Rouge gradually be- 
came of classic interest. Grateful people travelling 
along the highway of the great Mississippi, representing 
every State in the Union, and every civilized nation of 
the earth, would admiringly point out General Taylor's 
residence. If any of those great western floating palaces 
stopped at Baton Rouge, some of the passengers would 
climb up the hill and visit the "garrison grounds," and 
the young ladies especially would make the pilgrim- 
age in hopes they might see Miss Betty, whom they with 
woman's quickness of perception, felt was to be the first 
lady of the land, by presiding at the White House. 

How much the neatness of that home, its characteris- 
tic simplicity, its quiet domestic comforts, the self-posses- 
sion and unpretending, yet lady-like manners of its in- 
mates, impressed themselves on the public, and prepared 
the way for that popular affection that greeted General 
Taylor on his return from Mexico, and culminated in his 
triumphant election to the Presidency, is difficult to 
decide ; but that it had an element of strength and of 
vast importance is certain, and presents in a strong view 
how much can be done by the devoted, sensible wife, in 
aiding her husband in achieving success. 

Meantime, General Taylor returned, the triumphant 
soldier, to the United States. However wonderful were 
the subsequent victories achieved over the Mexicans, in 
the brilliant march from Vera Cruz to the City of Aztecs, 
the novelty of the war when this was enacted, was gone. 
The first impressions remained vivid, the subsequent ones 


were received with gratification, but not enthusiasm. 
General Taylor returned, not only a military hero, but 
over his head was suspended the wreath of an approach- 
ing civic triumph ; and the little cottage on the bank of 
the Mississippi that Mrs. Taylor selected for her strictly 
private residence, became a Mecca for pilgrims from all 
lands, and for more than a year it was the centre of inter- 
est, where patriotism, intellect, and beauty paid homage. 
In recalling the impressions made upon the public 
through the press, it is well remarked what a full share 
of compliments were paid to Mrs. Taylor, and how grate- 
ful was the task of every one to praise Miss Betty for her 
agreeable manners, her hospitality, and her resemblance 
to her father in matters of good sense, and the further 
possession of all accomplishments that adorn her sex. 
But this flow of visitors, this public ovation, this constant 
bustle about Mrs. Taylor was submitted to and borne, 
but never received her indorsement and sympathy. 
Her heart was in the possible enjoyment of a quiet 
household. She saw nothing attractive in the surround- 
ings of the White House. All this " worldly glory " de- 
feated her womanly ambition, and her life-long dream 
that, at some time or another, " the General " would be 
relieved of his public duties, and that together in the re- 
tirement of their own estate, unnoticed and unknown 
except to their friends, they might together peacefully 
end their days ; and that the realization of her modest 
ambition was due to her, for the separations and wander- 
ings that had characterized all her early married life. 


General Taylor was by habit a public servant, and his 
future, as shaped by circumstances, he quietly accepted. 
But Mrs. Taylor opposed his being a candidate for the 
Presidency. She spoke of it as a thing to be lamented, 
and declared when such a position was first fore- 
shadowed, that the General's acquired habits would not 
permit him to live under the constraints of metropolitan 
life ; and to those of her intimate friends who spoke of 
his being President, she sadly replied, " That it was a 
plot to deprive her of his society, and shorten his life by 
unnecessary care and responsibility." With the announce- 
ment that General Taylor was President-elect, came his 
resignation as an officer of the army. It was after all a 
sad day for him and his family, when he severed a con- 
nection that had lasted so long, and had been made so 
memorable by a life of conscientious duty. Miss Betty 
now appeared on the scene as an agent of national inter- 
est. The White House under Mrs. Polk had been grave 
and formal. There was a cold respectability and correct- 
ness about it, that was somewhat oppressive to the citi- 
zens of Washington ; and there was a degree of earnest 
pleasure created in the public mind when it was under- 
stood that as a consequent of General Taylor's election, 
there would preside over the White House a lady emi- 
nently attractive in her personal appearance, young in 
years, accomplished in mind, and made more interesting, 
if possible, by being the bride of Major Bliss, who had 
served so faithfully under her father as his accomplished 


Elizabeth Taylor, third and youngest daughter of 
President Taylor, was twenty-two years of age, when, as 
Mrs. Bliss, she assumed the formal duties of Hostess of 
the White House, her mother, from disinclination, refus- 
ing to accept the responsibility of official receptions. 
Mrs. Bliss, or Miss Betty, as she was popularly called, 
was at this time admired by all who saw her, and had the 
distinction of being the youngest daughter of any chief 
magistrate who had honored our Presidential receptions 
with her presence. Her face was pleasant, her smiles 
exceedingly attractive, and her eyes beamed with intelli- 
gence. She had been throughout her life but little with 
her parents. When not among her relations in Virginia 
or Kentucky, she was at some boarding school. Her 
education was completed at Philadelphia, after which she 
resided with her parents. No inauguration of any of 
the later Presidents was more enthusiastically celebrated 
than General Taylor's. He was at the time the nation's 
idol. Everything in his history charmed the popular 
mind, and the fact that he was a total stranger to Wash- 
ington that his family were unknown, gave a mystery 
and novelty to the whole proceeding quite different from 
common place precedence. 

For this reason, more than ordinary encouragement 
was given to the celebration of the occasion by a grand 
ball. A wooden building of enormous size was erected, 
which at the time was considered an " immense affair." 
It was tastefully decorated with flags and other proper 
insignia ; in the enthusiasm of the hour, many articles 


were loaned for its decorations by citizens, who ordi- 
narily took no interest in these "stated occasions." The 
best music that could be obtained was in attendance, 
and to give the crowning zest, "Miss Betty" was to be 
present. The Lady of the Mansion for the next four 
years, young, handsome, and hopeful, was to be pre- 
sented to the admiring public. 

There was the usual crowd and the characteristic con- 
fusion ; but nevertheless there pervaded the multitude 
an intense desire to behold the new occupant of the 
White House. There was a " Hero President." There 
was a charming young bride, a young and graceful lady 
to do the honors of the public receptions. "At eleven 
o'clock, General Taylor entered, leaning on the arms of 
Major Seaton and Speaker Winthrop." His fine eye 
was bright, his step was elastic, he was brave, he was a 
conqueror, he was President, and the gentlemen ex- 
pressed their feelings in spontaneous cheers, while ladies 
waved their handkerchiefs and many wept for sympathy. 
A silence ensued, a movement at the head of the room 
indicated that a new scene was to be enacted. The throng 
pressed back, and Mrs. Bodisco, then the young and 
handsome wife of the Russian Minister, enveloped in a 
cloud of crimson satin and glistening with diamonds, 
supported by two ambassadors emblazoned in gold lace 
and orders, came forward just behind were two "Lou- 
isiana beauties," a blonde and a brunette, whose brilliant 
charms subsequently divided the gentlemen in perplex- 
ity as to which should be acceded the palm of the belle 


of the evening. "Which is Miss Betty?" whispered the 
throng as these queenly creatures, by their native 
charms, without the aid of dress, eclipsed the more glow- 
ing splendor of the Russian court. Then behind these 
came "Miss Betty," plainly dressed in white, a simple 
flower in her hair, timid and faltering, yet with an ex- 
pression in her eye that showed she was Zachary Tay- 
lor's favorite child. The expectations of the vast crowd 
were for the moment realized, and then followed expres- 
sions of enthusiasm that were overwhelming. 

The reaction that followed the inauguration in Wash- 
ington was, as usual, intense. The season was more 
than usually warm, and the Congress fled from the Cap- 
ital. Mrs. Taylor was never visible in the reception 
room ; she received her visitors in her private apart- 
ments, and escaped all observation from choice. Once 
established in her new home, she selected such rooms 
as suited her ideas of housekeeping, and, as far as was 
possible, resumed the routine that characterized her life 
at Baton Rouge. As was her merit, she attended per- 
sonally to so much of it as affected the personal com- 
forts of the General, and it was not long before the 
" opposition " found fault with her simple habits, and 
attempted, but without effect, to lessen the public esteem 
felt for General Taylor, by indulging in offensive per- 

General Taylor was, from principle and choice, an 
abstemious man. On the sixth of July, the dullness of 
Washington was enlivened by the presence of Father 


Mathew, the Apostle of Temperance. To know him, 
General Taylor invited him to the White House. The 
press discussed this honorable notice of the great philan- 
thropist, and spoke of " Miss Betty " as presiding at the 
reception with unusual grace and affability. 

The winter following opened officially and fashionably 
with the commencement of Congress. There was then 
in the Senate, Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Benton, Cass, 
and lesser but still shining lights. Mr. Fillmore pre- 
sided over the body with dignity, and such an array of 
talent and statesmanship divided the public mind with 
the claims of the White House. 

Few official receptions were given. The excitement 
attending the admission of California the fiery elo- 
quence of Mr. Clay the attack of Mr. Calhoun or 
Mr. Benton, and the growls of disappointed office- 
seekers, divided the current that might have otherwise 
flowed on to the Executive Mansion, and it is apparent 
that this created no regrets in the minds of the ladies 
of the President's House. It was soon understood that 
set, formal, and official dinners were not coveted, and 
they were not encouraged. But social and unceremo- 
nious visits prevailed beyond any precedent, and Miss 
Betty was always ready to dispense the honors of her 
exalted position, with a grace and frankness that was 
constantly securing for her a wide circle of admiring 
friends. Thus the first winter of General Taylor's term 
passed away. 

To those who were familiar with the actual life of the 


White House, it was apparent that a change had gradu- 
ally taken place in the feelings of the female inmates. 
Mrs. Taylor had gradually abandoned much of her per- 
sonal superintendence of domestic matters, and Miss 
Betty had assumed the manner of one who began to 
appreciate the importance of her social elevation. The 
embarrassments that General Taylor suffered from the 
betrayal of " false friends" had the double effect, to make 
the members of his family more devoted to each other, 
and at the same time created a resolve to more osten- 
tatiously perform the duties of their high social position. 
A revolution, political and social, had been resolved 
upon without the parties interested being aware of the 
change. This new era was inaugurated by the ladies 
of the President's House having a reception on the 4th 
of March, 1850, in honor of the inauguration. The 
affair was of singular brilliancy. It was remarked at the 
time that the ladies never appeared to better advantage; 
the rustling of costly dresses and the display of diamonds 
were paramount, while the gentlemen, for the time being, 
eschewing the license of Republican institutions, accepted 
the laws of good society, and appeared in dress coats and 
white kid gloves. General Taylor surprised his friends 
by the courtliness and dignity of his manner. Some of 
his soldiers who saw him in his battles said there was 
mischief in his eye. He was evidently attempting a new 
role, and doing it with success. 

Miss Betty, as hostess, was entirely at her ease, and 
made the ladies by her affability feel at home in the 


National Mansion. For the first time, at the public re- 
ceptions, she led off in conversation, and her remarks 
were full of quiet humor and good sense. The following 
day, the papers expressed their admiration in different 
ways. " Miss Betty" was complimented with the remark 
that, in manner and grace at a public reception, Victoria 
could not surpass her. General Taylor, it was said, 
" had at last determined to open the campaign for the 
second term, and those about him, who were intriguing 
for the succession for others than for himself, would 
have to stand aside." These suspicions were justified 
by constantly repeated rumors that Cabinet changes 
would be made that would entirely change the character 
of the general Administration. Mr. Webster began now 
to visit the White House, and was treated with marked 
consideration by its female inmates. The influence of 
the ladies of the White House began to be felt in 
political circles, and what had been for the preceding 
year a negative, now became a positive power. Gen- 
tlemen who had distinguished themselves for the early 
advocacy of General Taylor's election, but who had re- 
ceived no recognition, were now welcomed to the White 
House. It was evident that a radical change had come 
over its inmates. General Taylor seemed at last to 
begin to understand his duties, and knowing them, he 
commenced their performance with the same zeal and 
determination that marked his military career. Four 
months of spring and summer passed away. The 
seventy-fourth anniversary of our national Fourth of 


July was approaching. It was decided that the event 
should be celebrated by the laying of the corner-stone 
of the Washington Monument. General Taylor ac- 
cepted the invitation to be present without hesitation, 
and surprised his friends at the pleasure he evinced at 
the opportunity. 

The day was unusually warm and oppressive for 
Washington City. The procession out to the banks of 
the Potomac moved slowly, and General Taylor suffered 
with the intense heat. Upon taking his seat upon the 
stand, he remarked that he had never before experi- 
enced such unpleasant sensations from the sun, much as 
he had borne its unshielded rays in the swamps of Florida 
and Mexico. General Foote was the official orator, and 
Washington Parke Custis took part in the proceed- 
ings. It was noticed that General Foote addressed 
to General Taylor many of his most pointed remarks in 
praise of Washington. The papers of the day said that 
" when the orator quoted from a letter of Hamilton to 
Washington, protesting against his refusing to serve a 
second term, President Taylor, who sat on the left of the 
orator, roused from his listless attitude, as if desirous of 
catching every word." " Perhaps," added a reporter, 
"General Taylor was thinking what would be his conduct 
in a similar emergency." 

From the celebration the President returned to the 
White House, and to relieve himself from the terrible 
thirst the heat had occasioned, in accordance with his 
primitive tastes, he partook freely of cold water and 


fruit. In less than an hour he was seized with symp- 
toms of a fearful sickness. The announcement that the 
President was prostrated by indisposition, struck the 
people of Washington with prophetic terror, for the 
news went from house to house, as if presaging the 
fatal result. General Taylor, after the first paroxysms 
were over, seemed to anticipate that he would never 
recover. He yielded to the solicitations of his physi- 
cians, and the efforts of his afflicted family to assist him. 
On the evening of the third day of his sufferings, he 

" I should not be surprised if this were to termi- 
nate in death. I did not expect to encounter what has 
beset me since my elevation to the Presidency. God 
knows, I have endeavored to fulfil what I considered 
to be an honest duty ; but I have been mistaken, my 
motives have been misconstrued, and my feelings 
grossly betrayed." 

Mrs. Taylor, who heard these remarks, for the first 
time admitted to herself the possibility of her husband's 
death. She then recalled, in the bitterness of her soul, 
the remark she made when it was announced to her that 
possibly General Taylor would be President: 

" It was a plot to deprive her of his society and shorten 
his life by unnecessary care and responsibility." This 
was indeed about to happen, and in the agony of that 
hour she prostrated herself at her husband's bedside, 
while her children clung around her. 

The sun, on the morning of the 9th of July, 1850 rose 


gloriously over the White House. The President's 
family and Colonel Bliss had remained by his bedside 
all night, refusing the indulgence of necessary repose. 
Each hour it was evident that the catastrophe was 
nearer. Mrs. Taylor would not believe that death was 
possible. He had escaped so many dangers, had been 
through so much exposure, he could not die surrounded 
with so many comforts and loved so intensely by his 
family and friends. The emotions of apprehension 
were so oppressive, that overtaxed nature with Mrs. 
Taylor found relief in fits of insensibility. 

At thirty-five minutes past ten p. M., the President 
called his family about him, to give them his last 
earthly advice and bid them his last good-by. No con- 
ventional education could restrain the natural expres- 
sions of grief of the members of this afflicted household, 
and their heart-rending cries of agony reached the 
surrounding street. "I am about to die," said the 
President, firmly, "I expect the summons soon. I have 
endeavored to discharge all my official duties faithfully. 
I regret nothing, but that I am about to leave my 

Mrs. Taylor and family occupied the White House 
until the sad ceremonies of the funeral ended with the 
removal of the late President's remains. The bustle 
and the pomp was now painful to her sight and ears, 
and she realized, in the fearful interval of time, how 
truly he was dead, who, though the nation's successful 
General and a President, was to her only a cherished 


husband. It can easily be imagined that, as the glit- 
tering, heartless display of the Executive Mansion com- 
menced fading away from her sight, that she must have 
regretfully turned to the peaceful era of her last home 
at Baton Rouge, and the unpretentious cottage, the 
neglected garden ; and the simple life connected with 
these associations, must have appeared as a dream of 
happiness when contrasted with the fearful year and a 
half of sad experiences in Washington. From the time 
Mrs. Taylor left the White House, she never alluded to 
her residence there, except as connected with the death 
of her husband. 

Accompanied by her daughter, Mrs. Bliss, after 
leaving Washington, she first sought a home among her 
relations in Kentucky, but finding herself oppressed 
by personal utterances of sympathy, she retired to the 
residence of her only son, near Pascagoula, Louisiana, 
where, in August, 1852, she died, possessed of the 
same Christian spirit that marked her conduct through- 
out her life. The sudden and lamented death of Major 
Bliss soon followed, and without children by her mar- 
riage " Miss Betty Taylor," as she must ever be known 
in history, studiously sought the retirement of private 
life, and found it in the accomplished circles of the 
"old families of Virginia," with so many of whom she 
was connected by ties of blood. By a second mar- 
riage, her historical name passed away. But when 
the traditions and histories of the White House have 
the romance of time thrown around them, Miss Betty 


Taylor will be recalled to mind, and for her will there 
be a sympathy that is associated with youth, for she 
was the youngest of the few women of America who 
have a right to the title of Hostess of the President's 


X\ ! 


/v- *. J i <he youngest child of Lemuc 

rv a pronmve:U J&iftist clergyman of that day, w . 
v. ater. Saratoga county, XV w York, Ma;xi, 

Dr. Powers wa > of Massachusetts descent, being one 
of the nine thousand six hundred and twemy-fc"r de- 
scendants of Henry Lelancl, of Sherburm ,md a cousin 

1 life-long friend of the eccentric and vaiented 
Lelancl, Though not a wealthy man, he yet pos-^ssed 
a competence, and his profession was the most h> irrecl 
and respecied of all pursuits. 

lecade from the martyr < ; 

Xcw tngland. and not entirely removed from 
ercc oi* tiiat severely religious section, he wa ; > 
out the iter-iness a? id rigor usual to individuals j\vi i n^ 
his high office. 

He died while yet his danglitet was in her infancy, 
leaving to the care of a watchful nothe;|t ; . *r education 
and training, 

So';n afterward, Mr . Powers, finding that her income 
w. u 1 not justify her in liberality of expenditure, derer- 
mined to remove with her brother and several families 
of relations and friends to a frontier settleiru U s and 



ABIGAIL POWERS, the youngest child of Lemuel 
Powers, a prominent Baptist clergyman of that day, was 
born in Stillwater, Saratoga county, New York, March, 

Dr. Powers was of Massachusetts descent, being one 
of the nine thousand six hundred and twenty-four de- 
scendants of Henry Leland, of Sherburne, and a cousin 
and life-long friend of the eccentric and talented John 
Leland. Though not a wealthy man, he yet possessed 
a competence, and his profession was the most honored 
and respected of all pursuits. 

Only a short decade from the martyr memories of 
New England, and not entirely removed from the influ- 
ences of that severely religious section, he was yet with- 
out the sternness and rigor usual to individuals holding 
his high office. 

He died while yet his daughter was in her infancy, 
leaving to the care of a watchful mother her education 
and training. 

Soon afterward, Mrs. Powers, finding that her income 
would not justify her in liberality of expenditure, deter- 
mined to remove with her brother and several families 
of relations and friends to a frontier settlement, and 



thus, at the early age of ten, we find our little heroine 
established in her new home in Cayuga county. Here 
began the stern lessons which ultimately educated the 
pioneer child, and from this point may be dated the 
foundation of her noble character, made strong through 
discipline and spiritualized through sorrow. She was 
studious and ambitious, and with her mother's assist- 
ance, rapidly progressed in knowledge ; her improve- 
ment must have been very rapid, for at an early age she 
assumed the duties of a teacher, and for many years 
continued her chosen avocation. Her mother, after the 
settlement of her father's estate, being greatly reduced 
in outward circumstances, was compelled to use the 
most undeviating industry and economy ; and she, feel- 
ing the necessity of relieving her of the burden of her 
education, began to teach, during the summer months, to 
pay her winter's tuition. Thus, alternating between 
teaching and studying, between imparting and receiving 
instruction, she became a thorough scholar and remark- 
able woman. There are circumstances of poverty which 
throw an interest around those involved in them far 
greater than the noblest gifts of prosperous fortune 
could confer. The sight of a young, aspiring woman 
actuated by the loftiest, purest desire implanted by na- 
ture, overcoming obstacles, laughing to the winds the 
remonstrances of weak and timid natures, and mounting, 
by patient toil and unceasing labor, the rugged hill of 
wisdom is calculated to dignify humanity and render 
homage to God. 


Man may at once determine his calling and assert his 
place woman has hers to seek, and however resolute 
she may appear, with all the dignity she may assume, 
there are hours of fearful despondency, and moments 
when, in the crowded avenues of trade, the craving for 
solitude and aloneness absorbs the energies of her na- 
ture, and stills the voice of ambition. Yet the example 
of this young life is proof that woman's dependence is 
more the result of custom, than the fiat of nature, and 
the record of her trials and final success is a testimonial 
of virtue's reward, and energy's omnipotence. 

Varied as were the experiences of Miss Powers' life, 
they only served to develop all the latent strength of 
her body as well as mind ; her singular embodiment of 
the physical was not less remarkable than the depth and 
research of the intellectual. 

Commanding in person, for she was five feet six 
inches in height, of exceeding fairness of complexion and 
delicacy of features, hers was a harmonious blending of 
beauty and strength. But she did not possess that mere 
superficial beauty which cannot retain if it awakens 
admiration. Hers was no statue-like perfection of 
figure, nor classically symmetrical face. Genuine kind- 
liness of heart beamed through her light, expressive 
eyes, and her brow was the throne of pure and lofty 
inspirations. Perhaps, if any one of her features was 
more universally admired than the others, it was her 
light luxuriant hair, which fell in flowing curls round her 
finely-shaped head. 


Thus particular in describing her personal appear- 
ance, a circumstance never to be omitted in sketches of 
women, we but recognize these facts that the face is 
the mirror of the soul, and that the law of unerring na- 
ture is, that the exterior is symbolical of the inner being. 

In the backwoods of New York State, where the bor- 
ders of the adjoining county were the limits of civiliza- 
tion, accustomed only to the society of the village peo- 
ple, Miss Powers passed the first twenty-eight years of 
her apparently uneventful life, but in reality, the in- 
tensity of her moral and affectional nature gave breadth 
and depth to her every-day existence, and in the 
quiet recesses of her heart she lived life over more than 

Her occupation as a teacher was continued after her 
mother's second marriage, which occurred about this 
time, and henceforth her home was in the family of a 
much loved relation. It was while in this home that she 
first met Mr. Fillmore, then a clothier's apprentice, and 
during the winter months a teacher in the village 

His father's unwise choice of a trade for his son but 
added to his all-absorbing desire to become a lawyer. 
But he was not yet twenty, his time was his parents', 
and his poverty compelled him to serve out his appren- 
ticeship, and, even after he had commenced the study of 
law, to desire to return to his trade. 

The assistance of a- gentleman who became much 
interested in the ambitious youth, enabled him to buy 


his time and devote himself to study. Thus he over- 
came the adverse circumstances which denied him free- 
dom of action, and attained for himself leisure to lay the 
foundation of future usefulness. 

His subsequent removal to Erie county deprived him 
of the society of Miss Powers his now promised wife, 
and so limited were his means, that for three years he 
was unable to travel a distance of one hundred and fifty 
miles to see her. 

In February, 1826, they were married at the residence 
of her brother, Judge Powers, in Moravia. Erie county 
was as much a wilderness to the young wife as Cayuga 
had been years before, but the obstacles to be overcome 
were not considered by the affectionate couple, and they 
started out in their married life buoyed by a confidence 
in their own strength, and a reliance on a higher power. 

Into the small house built by the husband's hands, the 
wife carried all the ambition and activity of other days, 
and at once resumed her avocation as a teacher, whilst 
performing the duties of maid-of-all-work, housekeeper, 
and hostess. 

Mr. Fillmore was thus enabled to practise his profes- 
sion, relieved of all care and responsibility by his 
thoughtful wife, and so rapid was his progress that in less 
than two years he was elected a member of the State 

Mrs. Fillmore rendered her husband most efficient 
help in his struggle for eminence, and was the wings by 
which he soared so high. Instead of clogging his foot- 


steps by her helplessness, she, with her intellectual 
strength, relieved and sustained his every effort. So 
enthusiastic and unchanging was her attachment to him, 
that no duty was burdensome, no privation sufficient to 
cloud her brow. The struggles those first years with 
poverty and increasing cares were trying, but her dig- 
nity never forsook her her chosen path never became 
distasteful. Many are noble from choice, she was so from 
necessity. The greatness of soul and devotion to prin- 
ciple inherent in her nature left no other course. 

A letter now old and worn, written in her neat style, 
has been placed in my hands by a member of that happy 
household in which she resided so long. It was ad- 
dressed to one of the sisters, now dead, and cherished 
by another for the reminiscences it recalls of the beauti- 
ful attachment which existed through life between these 
two friends. 

" AURORA, August 27 'th, 1826. 

"DEAR MARIA: Although I have been guilty of 
breaking my promise to you of writing, and treated you 
with neglect and indifference, still you are dear and near 
to me, still you are remembered with that affection which 
one must feel after being so long an inmate with so kind 
a girl, one who has bestowed upon me so many acts of 
kindness and friendship. No, Maria, I feel that I can 
never forget your family. My mind often reverts to the 
pleasant hours I have passed at your house. Many 
friendly conversations I have had with your mother after 
the family had retired to rest, but those hours are gone 


never to return, yet the remembrance of them is sweet. 
Oh, that I may again have the pleasure of spending 
a happy evening in your family with the little children 
sitting near me, asking a thousand interesting questions. 
Perhaps I may see that time next winter I hope so. 

"Woujd you like to know how I am pleased with the 
country? It does not appear to me as pleasant as 
Cayuga, but perhaps it may in time. I enjoy myself as 
well as I expected to ; the inhabitants, as far as I am ac- 
quainted, appear friendly. I am not yet housekeeping, 
but am teaching school. But Mr. Dunning will give all 
these particulars more fully than I can write on this sheet 
of paper. You will have a pleasant visit with his sister 
Emily ; I think her an amiable girl. 

" Maria, if you can forgive me for not writing, I hope 
you will let me hear from you by the bearer of this. 
Write me all the news. You cannot imagine how any 
little circumstance concerning my friends interests me 
when absent so far from them. Ask Olive to write to 
me if she can find leisure. My best respects to your 
parents, and affectionate remembrance to your brothers 
and sisters, and believe me your sincere friend and 


" Mr. Fillmore wished me to present his respects to 
yourself and parents. 


In the spring of 1830, Mrs. Fillmore removed with her 


husband to Buffalo. In the enjoyment of her children s 
society, her husband's prosperity, and the pleasure of 
entertaining her friends, she found great happiness, and 
as the years passed by they were noted only for the 
peace and contentment they brought her. 

As her life previous to this time had been. spent in 
comparative seclusion, so now it was a scene of gay 
society. The social element was very largely developed 
in her nature, and constant practice rendered it a 
marked characteristic. All the associations of her 
youth had been those of the country, and in its fresh- 
ness and beauty, as well as its drearier garb, she had 
revelled. Now, in her city home she was the same 
artless, warm-hearted woman of other years, basking in 
the brightness about her and reflecting upon others her 
own quiet peace. Well balanced and self-reliant, affec- 
tionate and happy, there was wanting nothing to com- 
plete her character. The domestic harmony of her life 
can be partly appreciated from the remark made by her 
husband after her death. "For twenty-seven years, my 
entire married life," he said, " I was always greeted with 
a happy smile." 

The result of such unusual evenness of disposition was 
owing, in a great measure, to the tender sympathy and 
ennobling affection of her husband, whose ambition was 
gratified only when he saw that she was content. With 
her there was no variation or change, no despondency 
or doubt as to his success in any avocation ; she hovered 
round his pathway, a beacon, and the light never grew 


dim. True and faithful in all things, at all times, she 
ever was; but there was even more of ceaseless vig- 
ilance than mere faith implies, where he was concerned. 
To him who shielded her in her sensitiveness and over- 
flowing affectional nature, and, by his gentleness and 
unremitting watchfulness, guarded every avenue of her 
heart from sorrow, she meted the wealth of her love and 
fondness and existed in the sunshine of his presence. 
After her husband's accession to the Presidency, she 
went to the White House ; but the recent death of a 
sister kept her from entering into the gayety of the' outer 
world. As much as possible she screened herself from 
public observation, and left to her daughter the duties 
devolving upon her. Her health had become impaired, 
and she rather shrank from the necessity of appearing 
before the world in the position in which she was more 
than competent to acquit herself. In such a formal rou- 
tine of life she did not delight; hers was a confiding 
nature, and to her family she always turned for the hap- 
piness the world could not give. 

Mr. Fillmore's friends in New York, soon after he be- 
came President, presented her with a fine carriage and 
a costly pair of horses. This carriage was used by the 
family during their stay in the White House. After his 
wife's death, Mr. Fillmore sold it and invested the pro- 
ceeds in a set of plate, which he preferred to the elegant 
equipage and horses. 

But only by the most exact details, by endless partic- 
ularities, breathing out her whole life and giving evi- 


dence, by their nature, of the depths from which they 
spring ; only by such means is it possible, in a degree, 
to give some perception of her remarkable life the 
fountain can only be judged of by the channel through 
which it flows. 

She died at Willard's Hotel, Washington City, on the 
30th of March, 1853. 

In testimony of respect to the memory of the de- 
ceased, the public offices were closed, both houses of 
Congress adjourned, and other marks of respect were 
adopted. Her remains were conveyed to Buffalo, where, 
on the 2d of April, they were laid to rest. 

The accompanying letter, written by a well-known 
lady of Buffalo, who was much of the time an inmate of 
the White House during Mrs. Fillmore's stay there, is 
replete with interest, and gives us an insight into the 
home life of this noble woman, we could in no other way 

" The great interest I feel in your undertaking has 
outweighed my diffidence and decided me, in accordance 
with your request, to state briefly some of my recollec- 
tions of the habits and social traits of my late friend, 
Mrs. Fillmore, with incidents of life at the White House. 

"The retiring modesty of manner so inseparable from 
the idea of a perfect lady, was eminently characteristic 
of Mrs. Fillmore. Although well qualified and, when 
occasion required, ever ready to act her part in the posi- 
tion which Providence assigned her, she much preferred 
the quiet of domestic life. Her home was pleasant, and 


while she was a woman of strong common sense, her 
tastes were highly refined. Especially was she fond of 
music and of flowers. Her love for the former received 
great gratification from her daughter's musical attain- 
ments, and her fondness for flowers amounted to a pas- 
sion, and much of her time in her own home was de- 
voted to their culture and care. 

" Mrs. Fillmore read much and carefully, and being 
possessed of excellent powers of observation, was conse- 
quently a well-informed and cultivated woman. With 
qualities like these, it is superfluous to say that, when 
she was called to preside at the White House, she did it 
with dignity and propriety. She was not strong in 
health, and had suffered much from a sprained ankle, 
from which she never fully recovered. Fortunately for 
her, the etiquette of Washington did not require the 
President and his wife to return visits or to attend par- 
ties, though I believe the President did sometimes dine 
with a cabinet minister. All the claims of society were 
met and attended to by the daughter, and how well she, 
a young girl just from school, acquitted herself in this 
trying position, all will remember who were fortunate 
enough to come within the circle of her happy influence. 

"When Mr. Fillmore entered the White House he 
found it entirely destitute of books. Mrs. Fillmore was 
in the habit of spending her leisure hours in reading, I 
might almost say in studying. She was accustomed to 
be surrounded with books of reference, maps, and all 
the other acquirements of a well -furnished library, and 


she found it difficult to content herself in a house devoid 
of such attractions. To meet this want, Mr. Fillmore 
asked of Congress and received an appropriation, and 
selected a library, devoting to that purpose a large and 
pleasant room in the second story of the house. Here 
Mrs. Fillmore surrounded herself with her own little 
home comforts, here her daughter had her own piano, 
harp, and guitar, and here Mrs. Fillmore received the 
informal visits of the friends she loved, and for her the 
real pleasure and enjoyments of the White House were 
in this room. With strangers she was dignified, quiet, 
and rather reserved ; but with her friends, she loved to 
throw aside all restraint and enjoy a good laugh and in- 
dulge in a little vein of humor, which lay quietly hidden 
under the calm exterior. 

" Mrs. Fillmore was proud of her husband's success in 
life, and desirous that no reasonable expectations of the 
public should be disappointed. She never absented 
herself from the public receptions, dinners, or levees 
when it was possible to be present ; but her delicate 
health frequently rendered them not only irksome, but 
very painful, and she sometimes kept her bed all day to 
favor that weak ankle, that she might be able to endure 
the fatigue of the two hours she would be obliged to 

o o 

stand for the Friday evening levees. 

"The President and Mrs. Fillmore received on Tues- 
day mornings, from twelve to two o'clock. The levees 
were on Friday evenings, from eight till ten, and at these 
there was generally a band* of music, but no dancing. 


Every Thursday evening there was a large dinner party, 
and frequently another on Saturdays. Then there 
were often smaller dinners in the family dining-room, 
which were more sociable arid agreeable, as the invita- 
tions were usually confined to the personal friends of 
the family. 

"But what Mrs. Fillmore most enjoyed was to sur- 
round herself with a choice selection of congenial friends 
in her own favorite room the library, where she could 
enjoy the music she so much loved, and the conversation 
of the cultivated society which Washington at that time 
certainly afforded. One of these evenings I remember 
with more than ordinary pleasure. Mr. Webster was 
there, and Mr. Corwin, and Mrs. A. H. H. Stuart, of 
Virginia, Judge Hall and his wife, and possibly some 
other members of the Cabinet; Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, 
of New York, Miss Derby, of Boston, then a guest at 
the White House, Mr. and Mrs. Carroll, and several 
others of the distinguished residents of Washington. 
Mrs. Brooks' daughter, then quite too young to appear 
in general society, was there by special request of Mrs. 
Fillmore, who so enjoyed her wonderfully sweet singing, 
that she relied upon her as one of the attractions for 
this evening. Miss Fillmore played the piano with 
much skill and exquisite taste. Indeed, few ladies ex- 
celled her in this accomplishment ; and this evening she 
was particularly successful in her efforts to please. Mrs. 
Brooks accompanied her upon the harp, which instru- 
ment she played with much grace. Altogether, the 


music, the conversation, and the company made It an 
occasion long and pleasantly to be remembered. 

" One of the events of Mr. Fillmore's first winter in 
the Executive Mansion was a visit from his father. It 
was the first time any President had ever entertained his 
father in the White House, and Mrs. Fillmore was very 
anxious lest some unlooked-for event might prevent this 
anticipated pleasure. But he arrived in safety one 
Monday night. Tuesday was reception day. The 
morning papers announced that the venerable father of 
the President arrived in town the evening before. There 


was an unusual attendance at the reception that day, 
and it was interesting to watch each person, as they cast 
their eyes about the room, unable to light upon any one 
who answered to their idea of the 'venerable father of 
the President,' and when they were presented to him, as 
he stood before them, tall and perfectly erect, and with 
hair but little whiter than the President's, there was a 
general expression of surprise. They had evidently ex- 
pected to see an infirm old man, bent with years, and 
leaning upon a cane, and Mr. Nathaniel Fillmore, at the 
age of eighty, did not answer to that description. Sen- 
ators and Judges, and Foreign Ministers came that 
morning, all anxious to pay their respects to the Presi- 
dent's father. One gentleman from New York, desirous 
of drawing him into conversation, said to him, ' Mr. Fill- 
more, you have been so very successful in bringing up 
sons, I wish you would tell me how to raise my little 
boy.' * Cradle him in a sap-trough, sir,' said the old 


gentleman, always ready with an answer. That was an 
interesting reception, to the President and to all, and 
when it was over, Mr. Fillmore the elder said 'to me, 'If 
I had had the power to mark out the path of life for my 
son, it would never have led to this place, but I cannot 
help feeling a kind of pride in it now that he is here/ 

" The routine of life at the White House which came 
under my observation, did not vary materially from 
week to week. The social habits of both Mr. and Mrs. 
Fillmore were simple and in accordance with those of 
well-bred people everywhere. Without ostentation or 
arrogance, they maintained the honor of the high posi- 
tion they were called to occupy, with quiet dignity and 

" I was not in Washington the winter Mrs. Fillmore 
died, and therefore know nothing, except from others, of 
her illness and death, but I know that she died lamented 
by all who knew her well, and leaving behind her many 
pleasant memories. 

" Her death was a terrible blow to her family, and to 
none more than to her daughter, a young lady whose 
beautiful life and sad death, following so soon upon her 
return to her own home, made such an indelible im- 
pression upon her friends, and for whom all her native 
city so justly mourned. 

" The reverence her son had for her memory proves 
her to have been a devoted mother, and how tenderly 
Mr. Fillmore cherished that memory is shown in the 
sacredness with which he treasures every memento of 


her. I have heard him say that he has carefully pre- 
served every line she ever wrote him, and that he could 
never destroy even the little notes she sent him on busi- 
ness to his office. 

"Such affectionate regards from the living speak 
volumes for the dead." 

Lines on the death of Mrs. Millard Fillmore, by Miss 
Matilda Stuart, on the occasion of her burial at Forest 
Lawn, April 2d, 1853. 

Give room, give room, a friend is here, 

She comes to tarry with us now 
And though no greeting on her lips, 

No light of gladness on her brow, 
Yet this is home that hallowed place 

Where she had fondly longed to rest. 
Here were her earlier, fresher joys, 

Here was the hearth-stone love had blest. 

Though she had moved 'mid stranger scenes, 

To share the honor and the strife 
Of him whose life was dearer far 

Than friend or kindred, home or life 
Though she had tasted pleasure's cup, 

While it was sparkling to the fill, 
And seen what few may ever see, 

Hope's brightest dreams grow brighter still ; 

Yet there were places in her heart 

Where love could rest and friendship live. 
There was a light within her soul 

Which earth could neither take nor give. 
And there were accents for her ear, 

More winning than the notes of fame, 
Where household voices softly breathed 

The sweetness of a mother's name. 


And when she heard the other voice 

That comes but once, yet comes to all, 
Alike to him who longs to go, 

And him who dreads to hear the call', 
She looked toward her brighter home, 

And left life's garments frail and worn, 
As calmly as she laid aside 

The robes of honor she had borne. 

Now she has come to sleep in peace 

Within our grand old forest shades, 
And fresher than the spring-time leaves 

Are those sweet memories that have come 
. To steal the bitter tear away, 

And bid us look, as she had done, 
Beyond the pomp of Time's brief day. 

Around her loved and honored grave 

The severed " household band " may come, 
And seem to hear those blessed tones 

That made the music of their home. 
The faded form, the silent shroud, 

These, these were all they gave the tomb; 
She watches o'er them, while she wears 

The freshness of immortal bloom. 

NOTE. President Fillmore died at his residence in Buffalo, March 8th, 1874. 



THE only daughter of President Fillmore was, dur- 
ing her father's administration, in consequence of her 
mother's ill-health, the Lady of the White House, and 
as such deserves more mention than the limits of this 
sketch will allow. She was remarkable for her mental 
and intensely affectional nature, and discovered during 
her brief life only those traits which served to render 
her a source of interest and admiration. As a child, she 
was precocious ; latterly in life, her physical health was 
so entirely good that it overcame every tendency to brain 

She was well fitted, by education and a long residence 
in Washington, to adorn the high station she was destined 
to fill, and acquitted herself there, as in every other posi- 
tion, with great dignity and self-possession. 

Her talents were varied, nor was she a dull scholar at 
anything she attempted. With the French, German, 
and Spanish languages, she was thoroughly conversant; 
so thorough, indeed, was her mastery of the former 
that a French professor declared her accent equal to 
that of his own countrymen. 

Her taste for sculpture was fostered by association 



with a loved schoolmate, the since renowned Harriet 

Had her life been spared, she would have become 
famous through the exercise of some one of the many 
talents given her, but in less than a year after her 
mother's death she, too, passed away. Her father and 
brother were left alone for a few days, that she might go 
and see her aged grandparents. From this journey she 
did not return. A message in the night-time roused her 
parent from his slumber to hasten to her, and though no 
time was lost, it was too late. She was nearing the 
golden gates of the spirit-land, when those two of a once 
happy band reached her bedside. 

So full of life and health had she been but a few short 
days before, and so entirely unconscious of any illness 
of body, that she anticipated a visit of great pleasure ; 
after her death, a memorandum of house-work to be 
performed while she was absent, was found in her bas- 
ket, she expecting to be gone but a few days. 

The obituary notices are so complete that I am con- 
strained to quote them in lieu of my own imperfect 
material, believing they discover a more thorough 
acquaintance with the subject than I can gather through 
other sources. 

" The character of Miss Mary Abigail Fillmore, daugh- 
ter of ex-President Fillmore, whose sudden death was 
announced yesterday, deserves a more extended notice. 
Though young being but twenty-two years of age on 
the ayth day of March last she was widely known. 


" Being a native of the city of Buffalo, most of her life 
had been spent here, where she had a numerous circle 
of sincere and devoted friends. From her early child- 
hood she evinced great talent and industry, combined 
with judgment and discretion, and softened by a cheerful 
and affectionate disposition, which made her with all a 
safe and welcome companion. 

"As an only and much beloved daughter, her parents 
were resolved to give her an excellent, practical educa- 
tion. As they were unwilling to spare her from the 
little family circle, she received much of her primary 
education at our excellent public schools, and the higher 
branches, with the modern languages, music, drawing, 
and painting, were taught her by private tutors. That 
she might learn, away from home, something of the 
world without imbibing its vices, and be taught self-reli- 
ance under judicious restraints, she was sent for a single 
year to the celebrated select family school of Mrs. Sedg- 
wick, in Lenox, Massachusetts. She left that school, 
feeling the necessity of an education not merely of grace 
and ornament, but which should, in case of a reverse of 
fortune, place her beyond that degrading and painful 
feeling of dependence which so often renders the life of 
a female in this country one of wretchedness and misery. 
She therefore expressed a desire to attend the State 
Normal School and qualify herself to be a teacher. This 
she could not do without assuming an obligation to 
teach. To this requirement she readily submitted and 
entered the school. 


" Graduating at the end of six months with the highest 
honors, she was then employed as a teacher in the 
higher department of one of the public schools of Buf- 
falo for three months, where she exhibited an aptitude 
and capacity for teaching that gave entire satisfaction. 
But the death of General Taylor and the consequent 
elevation of her father to the Presidency, compelled his 
family to relinquish their residence here and remove to 
Washington. This introduced her into a new sphere of 
action, but she moved in it with the same apparent ease 
and grace that she would have done had she been bred 
in the midst of the society of the Federal city. At the 
close of her father's official term, she was destined to 
suffer a heart-rending bereavement in the death of her 
excellent and devoted mother. She returned with her 
father and brother to their desolate home in this city, 
and by her entire devotion to the duties thus suddenly 
devolved upon her, she relieved her father from all 
household cares, and exhibited those high domestic and 
social qualities which gave a grace and charm, as well as 
system and regularity, to the home over which she pre- 
sided. She again called around her the friends of her 
childhood and early youth, for no change of fortune had 
in the least impaired her early attachments attachments 
which she continued to cherish with unabated ardor and 
devotion. The home of her bereaved father had once 
more become cheerful and happy, for her whole mind 
and heart were given to promote his happiness and that 
of her only brother, and they repaid her devotion with 
the kindest and most grateful affection. 


"She had some weeks since promised a visit to her 
grandfather, at Aurora, about seventeen miles from this 
city. She went from here in the afternoon of Tuesday 
last in good spirits and apparent good health, and she 
reached Aurora in the evening. She appeared well and 
cheerful on her arrival, and after conversing with her 
grandparents she retired to rest about nine o'clock. 

" She was soon after attacked with what proved to be 
the cholera; but unwilling to disturb the family, she 
called no one until after 12, when a physician was im- 
mediately sent for, but alas ! too late. A messenger was 
dispatched for her father and brother, but they only 
arrived to see her breathe her last, unconscious of their 
presence. She died about 1 1 o'clock on Wednesday 
morning. The effects of this crushing shock upon her 
fond and devoted father and her affectionate brother 
may perhaps be imagined, but cannot be described. 

" Her remains were immediately removed to Buffalo 
and interred yesterday in the Forest Lawn Cemetery 
by the side of her mother. She was followed to her 
last resting-place by a numerous concourse of sorrowing 

" In the absence of the Rev. Dr. Hosmer, her pastor, 
the Rev. Dr. Shelton officiated in the funeral services." 


From the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, of July 2%th, 1854- 

rt We yesterday announced in the usual terms the 
death pf Mary A. Fillmore. The sad event seems to 


demand some expression of our esteem lor her charac- 
ter, and of our grief at the heavy loss. We would not, 
indeed, obtrude our consolations upon those hearts, 
broken by so sudden a calamity, whose sorrows human 
sympathy can only pity in reverent silence, nor do we 
expect either to soothe or express the feelings of that 
intimate circle of friends which her many attractions had 
drawn around her. But the contemplation of her vir- 
tues is a relief to friendship, and we shall perform a 
most useful duty, if, by a slight sketch of her character, 
sincerely and simply drawn, others shall be inspired to 
the pursuit of similar excellence. Miss Fillmore's char- 
acter was written upon her face. It was not beautiful, 
yet it was so full of vivacity of intellect, of cordiality, 
and of goodness, that it attracted more than any beauty, 
and as it rises before us now its expression only sug- 
gests the simple thought, 

" How good, how kind ! And she is gone.' 

In that character were mingled, in just proportion, al- 
most masculine judgment and the most feminine ten- 
derness. Its leading feature was excellent common- 
sense, united with great vivacity of temperament, gen- 
uine sensibility, and real intellectual force. With a 
keen sense of the ridiculous, overflowing with wit and 
humor, all her views of life were nevertheless grave 
and serious, and she saw clearly beneath its forms and 
shows in what consists its real happiness, and devoted 
herself to the performance of its duties, with all the 


energies of a powerful will, and the fidelity of the 
strictest conscientiousness. This fidelity to her own 
sense of duty had led her most carefully to cultivate 
all of her talents ; and it is no exaggeration to say that 
she was among the most accomplished young women 
we have ever seen among us. 

" She was, for her years, uncommonly familiar with 
English literature ; spoke the French language with 
ease and elegance, was well versed in Italian, and had 
lately made great progress in her German studies. 
She had much taste in drawing, but had mostly aban- 
doned that accomplishment for music ; because, as she 
said, the latter gave greater pleasure to her friends, 
and she was a skilful performer both upon the piano 
and the harp. Shortly before her death, she had be- 
gun to pay some attention to sculpture, and had got 
her materials together for self-instruction in this high- 
est branch of art. It affords an instructive lesson upon 
the use of time to know, that she had perfected her- 
self in all these studies and accomplishments since her 
father's accession to the Presidency, and in the leisure 
moments of a life almost devoted to society. In 
Washington, the etiquette of the place and her moth- 
er's feeble health combined to devolve upon her, al- 
most unaided, the entire performance of the social 
duties incident to her father's station. She was but a 
young girl fresh from school; but all admired the 
self-possession, the tact, and the kindness with which 
she filled the position allotted to her; and how, young 


and retired as she was, society in her presence became 
something more genuine and hearty, as if ashamed of 
its false mockeries in the light of her sagacious mind 
and honest heart, 

" She was eminently social, and latterly her conver- 
sational powers were of the first order. She had read 
much ; her advantages had been great, and she had 
reaped their entire fruit. She was a keen but kind ob- 
server of character, had been familiar with men and 
women of very various ranks and descriptions, and she 
would paint to the life the very interesting events which 
she had witnessed, and the character of the many 
distinguished persons with whom her fortune had made 
her acquainted. Full -of information and of spirits, 
more anxious always to listen than to talk, yet never at 
a loss, even with the dullest, for something pleasant 
and entertaining to say, with a countenance beaming 
with honesty and intellect, and with a sweet cordiality 
of manners which invited at once confidence, affection, 
and respect. No wonder that wherever she went she 
became the centre of a circle of friends who loved her 
most tenderly, and at the same time looked up to her 
as one of a stronger mind and heart, as a guide and 

" She was a genuine tender-hearted woman. Obser- 
vant of all the forms of elegant life, yet with the most 
utter contempt for its mere fashions ; kind and atten- 
tive to all, yet without one point of sympathy with 
merely worldly people, she loved her friends with all the 


affection of a strong and ardent nature. She never saw 
or read of a kind or noble deed that her eyes did not 
fill with tears. 

"She clung to her old friends without regard to 
their position in life, and her time and talents seemed 
devoted to their happiness ; she was thinking constantly 
of some little surprise, some gift, some journey, some 
pleasure, by which she could contribute to the enjoy- 
ment of others. * Blessing she was, God made her 
so ; ' and with her death, with many of her friends is 
dried up forever the richest fountain of their happiness. 

" She was reserved in the expression of her religious 
views. As is natural with youthful and independent 
minds, she had little comparative respect for creeds and 
forms, perhaps less than she would have manifested in 
maturer years, but her intimate friends knew that she 
was always governed by a sense of religious duty, that 
her relations to her Creator and her Saviour were the 
subject of her constant thought, and that she trusted for 
her future happiness to the kind mercies of a benevolent 
.Father, to the conscientious improvement of all her 
talents, to a life devoted to deeds of kindness, and to a 
.heart as pure and unspotted as a child's. At home ah! 
that house, all ' emptied of delight/ over which she pre- 
-sided with so much dignity and kindness, that forsaken 
parlor where all the happiness that social life can give 
was wont to be so freely and hospitably enjoyed ; the 
weeping servants those bleeding and broken hearts 
let these tell what she was at home ! 


"But she is gone ! and young- though she was, she has 
accomplished much. She has done much to lay the 
foundation in our midst of a mode of social life more 
kind, genuine, and cultivated than most of what is called 
society ; and she has left behind her the example of her 
life, which, though most private and retired, will always 
be a blessing to her friends, and through them, we trust, 
to a wider circle for many coming years. 

" Farewell ! 

" Forgive our tears for one removed, 
Thy creature whom we found so fair, 
We trust she lives in Thee, and there 
We find her worthier to be loved." 



THERE are two classes of ladies of whom the bio- 
grapher is compelled to write, and both are alike inter- 
esting. One includes those whose lives have been 
passed in the sunshine of prosperity and allurements of 
fashionable society, who have been widely known, and 
who have mingled with the leading characters of this 
country. The lives of such women include innumerable 
incidents of public and private interest, and are, in fact, 
necessary to a perfect history of their time. They are a 
part of the great world about them, and it as easy to 
gather the facts of their careers, as of the great men 
with whom they have been associated nearly or re- 

The other class is composed of those of whom the 
.world knows little; whose perfect seclusion even in a 
public position has given but little evidence of their abil- 
ities, and the world, with its eager curiosity, has been 
but imperfectly apprised of their merits. Such natures, 
howsoever cultivated and developed, receive but a small 
portion of that admiration awarded to the first-men- 
tioned class. Their lives are known only to the inmates 
of their homes, and though cherished there as a beautiful 
harmony, and their memory as a holy, sealed book, the 

.inquirer after facts .and incidents is dismayed by the 



small amount of material to be gathered from such an 
existence. Such an one was Jane Means Appleton 
Pierce, who was born at Hampton, New Hampshire, 
March I2th, 1806. She was but one year of age when 
her father, Rev. Jesse Appleton, D. D., assumed the 
presidency of Bowdoin College. Reared in an atmo- 
sphere of cultivation and refined Christian influences, 
the delicate child grew in years, unfolding rare mental 
qualifications, but fragile and drooping in health, devel- 
oping year by year the most exquisite nervous organiza- 
tion. Naturally inclined to pensive melancholy the 
result, partly, of her physical condition, she was from her 
childhood the victim of intense sensibilities and suffer- 
ing, and was during her life the unfortunate possessor 
of an organism whose every vibration was wonderfully 
acute and sensitive. The world of suffering locked up 
in the hearts of such persons it is impossible to estimate; 
but happier by far is the day of their deaths than the 
years of their lives. Blended with a naturally strong 
mind, Miss Appleton possessed a quick appreciation of 
the beautiful, which in the later years of her life was of 
priceless value to her own heart. Thrown by her mar- 
riage into the political arena, and much in the society of 
public men of note, she yet soared to a higher theme, 
and, when not incompatible with politeness, discovered 
to her company the natural elevation of her nature. 
Politics, a theme most generally uninteresting to wo- 
man, was peculiarly so to her, and it was in her presence 
impossible to sustain a conversation on the subject. In 


1834, at the age of twenty-eight, she was married to 
Hon. Franklin Pierce, then of Hillsborough, and a mem- 
ber of the lower house of Congress. The match was a 
pleasing union of kindred natures, and was a source of 
deep and lasting happiness. The wealth and tenderness 
of Mr. Pierce's nature, appreciated to its fullest extent 
by her, had its reflex in the urbanity and courteousness 
with which his conduct was ever characterized toward 
others. He is spoken of in a recent publication as the 
most popular man, personally, in the District of Colum- 
bia, who ever occupied the position he filled. 

To a person organized as was Mrs. Pierce, public 
observation was extremely painful, and she shrank from 
it always, preferring the quiet of her New England home 
to the glare and glitter of fashionable life in Washington. 
A friend has said of her : " How well she filled her station 
as wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, those only 
can tell who knew her in these private relations. In this 
quiet sphere she found her joy, and here her gentle but 
powerful influence was deeply and constantly felt, through 
wise counsels and delicate suggestions, the purest, finest 
tastes and a devoted life." 

" She was not only ministered to, but ever minister- 
ing," and there is so much of the spiritual in her life that 
from Bulwer we gather a refrain most applicable to her. 
"The cast of her beauty was so dream-like and yet so 
ranging ; her temper was so little mingled with the com- 
mon characteristics of women ; it had so little of caprice, 
so little of vanity, so utter an absence of all jealousy and 


all anger ; it was so made up of tenderness and devo- 
tion, and yet so imaginative and fairy-like in its fondness, 
that it was difficult to bear only the sentiments of earth 
for one who had so little of earth's clay." 

In 1838, Mr. Pierce removed from Hillsborough to 
Concord, where he afterward continued to reside. Four 
years later, he resigned his seat in the Senate to practise 
law, and thereby make provisions for the future. A 
bereavement, the second of its kind, occurred two years 
later in the loss of his second son, Frank Robert. 

When President Polk tendered Mr. Pierce the posi- 
tion of Attorney-General, it was the illness of his wife 
which drew from him his reply declining it. He says : 

"Although the early years of my manhood were de- 
voted to public life, it was never really suited to my taste. 
I longed, as I am sure you must often have done, for the 
quiet and independence that belong only to the private 
citizen, and now, at forty, I feel that desire stronger than 

" Coming so unexpectedly as this offer does, it would 
be difficult, if not impossible, to arrange the business of 
an extensive practice, between this and the first of No- 
vember, in a manner at all satisfactory to myself, or to 
those who have committed their interests to my care, 
and who rely on my services. Besides, you know that 
Mrs. Pierce's health, while at Washington, was very 
delicate. It is, I fear, even more so now ; and the re- 
sponsibilities which the proposed change would neces- 
sarily impose upon her, ought, probably, in themselves 


to constitute an insurmountable objection to leaving" our 
quiet home for a public station at Washington." 

Mrs. Pierce was not called upon to leave her pleasant 
home, and for another year she passed her time in tran- 
quil happiness, little dreaming that her country would so 
soon demand the sacrifice of him who thought not of 
public honors when she was concerned. 

The declaration of war with Mexico found him ready 
and willing to serve the best interests of his State and 
Government, by enlisting as a private soldier in a com- 
pany raised in Concord. He was subsequently appointed 
Colonel, and finally Brigadier-General, which position he 
filled with honor and distinction. He sailed from New- 
port, the 27th of May, 1847, an< ^ remained in Mexico 
nine months, during which time Mrs. Pierce and her son 
continued at their home in Concord. Her health during 


his absence was not more frail than usual, but anxiety 
and suspense, watching yet fearing to hear of the absent 
one, kept her from regaining or improving her impaired 
constitution, and of renewing the slender chord by 
which her life was held. 

The mother of three children, none survived her, and 
the death of the last, under circumstances so peculiar, 
shattered the small remnant of remaining health, and left 
her mother's heart forever desolate. On the 5th of Jan- 
uary, previous to the inauguration of Mr. Pierce as 
President, an accident occurred on the Boston & Maine 
Railroad, which resulted in a great calamity ; among the 
passengers were the President elect, his wife, and only 


son, a bright boy of thirteen years. The family were on 
their return to Concord from Boston, and it was between 
Andover and Lawrence that the axle of one of the pas- 
senger-cars broke, and the cars were precipitated down 
a steep embankment. Mr. Pierce, sitting beside his 
wife, felt the unsteady movements of the train and in- 
stantly divined the cause. Across the seat from them 
sat their son, who but a moment ago was amusing them 
with his conversation. A crash, a bounding motion as 
the cars were thrown over and over down the hill, and 
men began to recover from their fright and assist in aid- 
ing those injured in the fearful accident. Mr. Pierce, 
though much bruised, succeeded in extricating his wife 
from the ruins, and bearing her to a place of safety, 
returned to hunt his boy. 

He was soon found ; his young head crushed and 
confined under a beam, his little body still in death. 
Even now it is a subject too painful to dwell upon. 
What must have been the feelings of those grief-stricken 
parents, in a moment bereft of their all ! 

The remains were conveyed to Andover until ar- 
rangements could be made for their removal to Con- 

Under such a bereavement, in feeble health and ex- 
hausted vitality, came Mrs. Pierce to the White House. 

Through the season, before her great trial was sent 
upon her, she had been nerving herself for the unde- 
sired duties and responsibilities of her public station 
at Washington ; and with the burden of that crushing 


sorrow she went forward, with the noblest self-sacrifice, 
to do what was to be done, as well as to bear what was 
to be borne. That she performed her task nobly and 
sustained the dignity of her husband, the following letter 
will prove. 

From Mr. J. H. Hoover, who, during President Pierce's 
administration, was Marshal of the District of Columbia, 
the following facts were received : 

" MY DEAR MADAM : I learn that Prof. Aiken's notice 
of Mrs. Pierce, that appeared in the Observer, has been 
sent to you, and I presume it does not contain informa- 
tion on all the points you desired to reach particularly. 
Hence this note. The idea has somehow gone out that 
Mrs. Pierce did not participate in the receptions and 
entertainments at the White House. Mr. Gobright, in 
his book recently published, ' Recollections of Men and 
Things at Washington,' makes the statement that Mrs. 
Pierce did not, until the close of the administration of 
President Pierce, appear at the receptions. This is an 
inexcusable blunder, for Mr. Gobright was here on the 
spot, and should have known better. The fact is, Mrs. 
Pierce seldom omitted attendance upon the public re- 
ceptions of the President. She was punctually present 
also at her own Friday receptions, although at times 
suffering greatly. Often in the evening of the Presi- 
dent's levee, she would allow herself to be conducted 
into the Blue Room, and there remain all the evening 
receiving, with that quiet ease and dignity that charac- 


terized her always : a duty which few ladies, indeed, 
would have had the courage to perform in her then 
delicate state of health. She presided, too, with the 
President at the State dinners, as well as those of a 
more social character, and certainly never before or 
since, was more hospitality dispensed by any occupant 
of the White House. The most agreeable memories of 
Mrs. Pierce at the Presidential Mansion, and such only, 
are retained and cherished in this city. The days of 
that period when a quiet and dignified but hearty hospi- 
tality signalized the Executive Mansion, and the pro- 
tection of the Constitution, which diffused a sense of all- 
pervading security, were indeed the bright days of the 
Republic. This is the view of our own people, and who 
are better judges than they who have seen so many 
Administrations here? 

" Every one knew and respected the enfeebled condi- 
tion of Mrs. Pierce's health, and felt that the sad event 
which happened only a short time before she came to 
Washington, on that fatal railroad train, might have shat- 
tered a much hardier constitution than was hers, and at 
least have unfitted her, physically as well as mentally, to 
discharge the duties of the Lady of the White House. 
Yet she suppressed her inward grief before the public 
eye, and overcame her debility in deference to what she 
believed to be her duty toward her distinguished hus- 
band's exalted position. Those who knew Mrs. Pierce 
well at this time eulogized her heroism. 

" No lady of the White House left more warm friends 


in Washington among our best people, and she had not 
a single enemy. What I have written above, you are 
at liberty, madam, to use (if you deem it worthy) in 
your forthcoming work. It has the merit at least of 
being the testimony of ' one who knows.' I give it 
in order that the grievously wrong statements in Mr. 
Gobright's work, concerning Mrs. Pierce, may be cor- 
rected, and the error exposed before it passes into 

Another friend says of her: "It is no disparagement 
to others who have occupied her station at the White 
House, to claim for her an unsurpassed dignity and 
grace, delicacy and purity, in all that pertains to public 
life. There was a home, a Christian home, quietly and 
constantly maintained, and very many hearts rejoiced in 
its blessings.'' 

Mrs. Pierce was always extremely delicate, and was 
reduced to a mere shadow after the loss of her son. I 
have heard a gentleman say, who was a member of Mr. 
Pierce's family at the time, that "it was with the utmost 
difficulty she could endure the fatigue of standing during 
a reception, or sitting the tedious hours of a dinner 
party," and her courage must have been all-powerful to 
have sustained her under the most uncongenial of all 
things to an invalid the presence of comparative, and 
in many cases entire, strangers. Her pious scruples 
regarding the keeping of the Sabbath were a marked 
attribute of her life. Each Sunday morning of her four 


years' stay in the White House, she would request, in 
her gentle, conciliatory way, all the attaches of the Man- 
sion to go to church, and on their return, would make 
pleasant inquiries of what they had heard, etc. " Many 
a time," remarked Mr. Webster, the Private Secretary, 
" have I gone from respect to her, when, if left to my, 
own choice, I should have remained in the house." In 
her unobtrusive way, ever thoughtful of the happiness 
of those about her, she diverted their minds to the ele- 
vated and spiritual, and sought, in her own life, to be a 
guide for the young with whom she was thrown. How 
rare are these exquisite organizations, and how little do 
we know of them, even though they have lived in our 
midst, and formed a part of us ! A while they linger 
here to learn the way to brighter spheres, and when they 
vanish, naught is left but a memory fragrant with the 
rich perfume of a beautiful, unselfish life. 

In the autumn of 1857, Mrs. Pierce, accompanied by 
her husband, left the United States, on the steamer 
" Powhatan," for the island of Madeira, and passed six 
months in that delightful place. The following eighteen 
months were spent in Portugal, Spain, France, Switzer- 
land, Italy, Germany, and England. Of her appreciation 
of this lengthy sojourn in the most historic and renowned 
countries of the old world, we have no evidence save in 
the supposition, how one of her fine nervous nature must 
have enjoyed the bygone splendors of Spain, the ever- 
ranging panorama of luxurious Paris, and the snow-cap- 
ped mountains of Italy and Switzerland, of the Alps, of 


Mont Blanc, and the tamer scenery of German towns and 
cities ! Would that it were possible to present even one 
of her letters to the American public who have ever 
evinced their regard and admiration for Mrs. Pierce, 
through the sympathy extended to her now desolate hus- 
band. But that repugnance to publicity, so characteristic 
in life, is respected now by the few of her family who have 
survived her, and the painful recollections of what she 
suffered are as yet too fresh in the minds of her friends 
to desire them to be recalled. 

From ex-President Pierce, who very kindly replied to 
my many inquiries, the following letter was received just 
previous to his death, which occurred on the 8th of 
October, 1869: 

"If your attention has been called to the obituary no- 
tice of Mrs. Pierce, published in the Boston Recorder, of 
January 8th, 1864, and reproduced in the New York Ob- 
server within two or three weeks of that date, you may 
have been impressed with the sentences, ' She shrank 
with extreme sensitiveness from public observation.' I 
cannot help being influenced by that very controlling 
trait of her character, and this, I am sure, is true of all 
her relatives. Hence, and indeed, in consulting our own 
tastes, we were thoroughly satisfied with the sketch from 
the hand of one who knew her intimately, from his early 
manhood, and loved her well. 

" Mrs. Pierce's life, as far as she could make it so, was 
one of retirement. She very rarely participated in gay 
amusements, and never enjoyed what is sometimes called 

DIED DECEMBER 2, 1863. 495 

fashionable society. Her natural endowments were of a 
high order, recognized by all persons with whom she 
was, to any considerable extent, associated. She inher- 
ited a judgment singularly clear and correct, and a taste 
almost unerring. She was carefully and thoroughly edu- 
cated, and moved all her life, prior to her marriage, very 
quietly in a circle of relatives and intimate friends of rare 
culture and refinement." 

On the 2d of December, 1863, at Andover, Massachu- 
setts, she died. Many of her kindred and all her children 
had gone before her, and she was ready to join them, 
But she was patient, and had "learned to wait, with 
growing confidence and love, for the revealing of her 
Heavenly Father's will." Among her last words was the 
familiar line, 

" Other refuge have I none," 

repeated with all the emphasis of which she was then 
capable. Now she has reached that refuge. 

On the 5th of December, she was buried by the side 
of her children in the cemetery at Concord, New Hamp- 

Those who knew her will be glad, glad just in propor- 
tion to the intimacy of their acquaintance with her, to be 
reminded of the qualities in which they found so much 
delight. To others who have only known of her, and 
that mainly in connection with her sorrows, it will be just 
to present very briefly other aspects of her life. Her 


fine natural endowments were developed by a careful 
and generous culture, not merely under the forms of 
education, but through the agency of all the examples 
and influences of her early home and the circle of related 
families. No one knew better how to make tributary all 
the experience of life. All her instincts and choices 
drew her toward, and attracted toward her, whatever was 
refining and elevating. Her tastes were of exceeding 
delicacy and purity. Her eye appreciated, in a remark- 
able degree, whatever was beautiful in nature and art. 
During the last years of her invalid life, she found not 
merely physical relief, but the deepest gratification in 
foreign travel, and in residence near our own New Eng- 
land mountains and sea-shore. This contact with na- 
ture's freshness and variety and beauty, often renewed 
her strength when the ministries of human affection and 
skill were alike powerless. 

The following touching tribute was written by a friend 
whose affection for Mrs. Pierce knows no change. He 
sent it carefully wrapped in many covers to protect it. 
Oft used and much worn as it is, he prizes the paper, 
from the associations clustered with its appearance, and 
the circumstances under which it was written. Its beauty 
is its truth and simplicity. 

" The distinctions of earth fade away in the presence 
of death ; but the memory of departed excellence comes 
forth fresh and perennial from the very portals of the 

" To-day this paper records the lamented decease of 


one who has filled the highest station in the land with 
dignity and propriety unsurpassed, and who has adorned 
private life with every estimable quality which could 
become a true Christian gentlewoman. 

"The many who have esteemed and respected her 
throughout life will deeply deplore her loss, and will sin- 
cerely sympathize with him who has been thus called to 
submit to one of the severest of human afflictions. 

"His beloved companion has passed through great 
sufferings, bearing always with him the memory of a 
great grief; and she has doubtless gone to that rest 

which we know ' remaineth for the people of God.' ' 




THE name of Harriet Lane is so nearly associated 
with the latest and most illustrious years of her uncle, 
James Buchanan, that it is quite impossible to write a life 
of the one in which the other shall not fill some space. 
Of all his kindred she was the closest to him, Given to 
his care when she was scarcely past infancy, she took 
the place of a child in his lonely heart, and when she 
reached womanhood ' she repaid his affection by minis- 
tering with rare tact and grace, abroad and at home, in 
public life and in private, over a household which would 
otherwise have been the cheerless abode of an old 
bachelor. The sketch of her history which we propose 
to give will, therefore, necessarily involve many recol- 
lections of the great ex-President, with whom her name 
is inseparably associated. 

Harriet Lane is of Pennsylvania blood, of English 
ancestry on the side of her father, and Scotch-Irish on 
that of her mother. Her grandfather, James Buchanan, 
emigrated to America from the north of Ireland, in the 
year 1783, and settled near Mercersburg, in Franklin 
county, Pennsylvania. In the year 1788, he married 
Elizabeth Speer, the daughter of a substantial farmer, a 
woman of strong intellect and deep piety. The eldest 
child of this marriage was James, the late ex-President. 



He spoke uniformly with the deepest reverence of both 
his father and mother, and took delight in ascribing to 
the teachings of that good woman all the success that he 
had won in this world. 

Jane Buchanan, the next child after James, his play- 
mate in youth, his favorite sister through life, known as 
the most sprightly and agreeable member of a family all 
gifted, was married, in the year 1813, to Elliot T. Lane, 
a merchant largely engaged in the lucrative trade at that 
time carried on between the East and the West, by the 
great highway that passed through Franklin county. In 
this trade James Buchanan the elder had accumulated 
his fortune, and on the marriage of his daughter with 
Mr. Lane much of his business passed into the hands of 
the latter. 

Mr. Lane was descended from an old and aristocratic 
English family, who had settled in Virginia during the 
Revolution, and he was connected with some of the best 
names of this land. His business talents were well 
known and trusted, and all who enjoyed his acquaint- 
ance testify to the uncommon amiability of his dispo- 

Harriet, the youngest child of Elliot T. Lane and Jane 
Buchanan, spent the first years of her life in the pictur- 
esque village of Mercersburg, in the midst of a society 
distinguished for its intelligence and refinement She 
inherited the vivacity of her mother, was a mischievous 
child, overflowing with health and good humor. Her 
Uncle James, then in the prime of life, and already an 


illustrious man, paid frequent visits to his birth-place, 
and the impression which his august presence and 
charming talk made upon little Harriet was deep and 
lasting. She conceived an affection and reverence for 
him which knew no abatement till the hour of his 

Her mother died when she was but seven years old, 
and her father survived but two years longer. She was 
left well provided with money, and with a large family 
connection, but at his solicitation she accepted as a home 
the house of her Uncle James, and sought his guardian- 
ship in preference to that of any of her other relatives. 

Although Mr. Buchanan was not particularly fond of 
children, he was attracted toward this frank and hand- 
some child from her earliest infancy. Her exuberant 
spirits, love of mischief, and wild pranks called forth from 
him daily lectures and severe rebukes, but his acquaint- 
ances all knew that he was well pleased to have been 
singled out by the noble and affectionate girl as her guide, 
philosopher, and friend. No doubt that even at that early 
age he recognized in her a kindred spirit, and his good 
angel whispered to him that the boisterous child who 
sometimes disturbed his studies and mimicked his best 
friends, would one day be to him a fit adviser in diffi- 
culty, a sympathetic companion in sorrow, the light and 
ornament of his public life, and the comfort, at last, of 
his lonely hearth. 

Mr. Buchanan was reticent in speaking the praises, 
however well deserved, of his near relatives, but he has 


been known, especially of late years, to dwell with a 
delight he could not conceal .upon the admirable quali- 
ties displayed by Miss Lane in childhood. Said he: 
"She never told a lie. She had a soul above deceit or 
fraud. She was too proud for it." 

During the earliest years of Miss Lane's residence 
with her uncle, in Lancaster, she attended a day-school 
there, and though she evinced much more than the 
usual aptitude for study, she was chiefly distinguished 
as a fun-loving, trick-playing romp, and a wilful do- 
mestic outlaw. 

There was one anecdote her uncle liked to tell of 
her, as an evidence of her independent spirit and her 
kind heart. When she was about eleven years old, 
she was well grown and, indeed, mature looking for 
her age. Unlike most young ladies at that ambitious 
period of life, she was entirely unconscious of her bud- 
ding charms, never dreaming that men must pause to 
wonder at and admire her, and that her actions were 
no longer unimportant as those of a child. One day 
Mr. Buchanan was shocked upon beholding from his 
window Miss Harriet, with flushed cheek and hat awry 
trundling along, in great haste, a wheelbarrow full of 
wood. Upon his rushing out to inquire into the cause 
of such an unseemly and undignified proceeding, she 
answered in some confusion, that she was just on her 
way to old black Aunt Tabitha, with a load of wood, 
because it was so cold. 

In administering the reproof that followed, Mr. 


Buchanan took good care that she should not see the 
amused and gratified smile with which he turned away 
from the generous culprit. 

About this time, her uncle executed a threat which 
he had long held suspended over Harriet. This was 
to place her under the tender care of a couple of el- 
derly maidens of the place ladies famous for their 
strict sense of propriety and their mean domestic econ- 
omy just such rule as our high-spirited young lady 
would chafe under. She had never believed her uncle 
to be in earnest about the matter, and her horror at 
finding herself duly installed in this pious household, 
under the surveillance of these old damsels, must have 
been comical enough to Mr. Buchanan, who was never 
blind to the funny side of anything. He was in the 
Senate at the time, and she was in the habit of pour- 
ing out her soul to him in childish letters that com- 
plained of early hours, brown sugar in tea, restrictions 
in dress, stiff necks, and cold hearts. The winter 
passed slowly away, only solaced by the regular arrival 
of fatherly letters from her uncle, or by an occasional 
frolic out of doors to say nothing of pocketsful of 
crackers and rock-candy, with which the appetite of the 
young woman was appeased, her simple fare being, if 
not scanty, unsuited to the tastes of one who had sat at 
Mr. Buchanan's table. 

The next autumn, when she was twelve years old, 
she was sent with her sister, a lovely girl but a few 
years Harriet's senior, to a school in Charlestown, 


Va. Here they remained three years. Harriet was 
not a student, but she knew her lessons because it was 
no trouble for her to learn them. She was excessively 
fond of music, and made great progress in it. Her 
vacations were spent with Mr. Buchanan ; but the great 
event of those three years was a visit with him to Bed- 
ford Springs. It was a glorious time, which even now 
the woman of the world looks back upon with her own 
bright smile of pleasure. 

She was next sent to the convent at Georgetown - 
a school justly celebrated for the elegant women who 
have been educated there. Miss Lane went over to 
Washington every month, and spent Saturday and 
Sunday with her uncle, then Secretary of State. These 
visits were, of course, delightful. Without seeing any 
gay society, she always met -at Mr. Buchanan's house 
such men as few young girls could appreciate, and 
listened to such conversation as would improve the taste 
of any one. 

Miss Lane at once became a great favorite with the 
sisters, who constantly expressed the highest opinion 
of her talents and her principles. 

Before Mr. Buchanan had decided to send her to 
the convent, he had asked, "Do you think you would 
become a Roman Catholic ? " She was anxious to go, 
but she answered, " I can't promise ; I don't know 
enough about their faith." "Well," said he, "if you are 
a good Catholic, I will be satisfied." 

She did not change ber religious opinions, but her 


intercourse with the good sisters has always made her 
respect the old church, and has taught her sympathy 
and charity for all God's people. 

Here she became very proficient in music, an accom- 
plishment which, unfortunately for her friends, she has 
much neglected, owing to her constant engagements in 
social life and her disinclination for display in her public 
position. The nuns were anxious to have her learn to 
play upon the harp, not only on account of her musical 
taste, but because of her graceful person and exquisite 
hand. For some reason, however, she never took les- 
sons upon that beautiful instrument, so well calculated 
to display the charms of a graceful woman. 

Her uncle once asked in a letter what were her favorite 
studies. She answered, " History, astronomy, and espe- 
cially mythology." Mr. Buchanan did not forget this 
avowed preference, and in after years gratified his 
natural disposition to quiz those of whom he was fond, 
by appealing to his niece as authority on mythological 
questions, in the presence of company before whom she 
would have preferred to be silent. 

Miss Lane was exceedingly quick and bright. She 
never applied her whole mind to study except the last 
of the two years she spent at Georgetown. The result 
of that effort was that she won golden opinions and 
graduated with great honor. She left the school, loved 
and regretted by the sisters, with some of whom she has 
been on terms of close friendship ever since. They 
always speak of her with pride, and have followed her 


career with an interest they seldom evince in anything 
outside their sphere of seclusion and quiet. 

At this time, Miss Lane's proportions were of the 
most perfect womanliness. Tall enough to be command- 
ing, yet not high enough to attract observation light 
enough to be graceful, but so full as to indicate the per- 
fect health with which she was blest. Indeed, this 
appearance of health was the first impression produced 
by Miss Lane upon the beholder. It made one feel 
stronger only to watch her firm, quick step and round, 
elastic form. Her clear, ringing voice spoke of life. 
The truthful, steady light of her eyes inspired one with 
confidence in humanity, and the color that came and 
went in her cheek, set one's own blood to a more youth- 
ful, joyous bound. 

Miss Lane was a blonde, her head and features were 
cast in noble mould, and her form, when at rest, was 
replete with dignified majesty, and, in motion, was in- 
stinct alike with power and grace. Hers was a bright, 
good face upon which none looked with indifference. 
Those deep violet eyes, with the strange dark line 
around them, could glance cold, stern rebuke upon the 
evil-doer, and they could kindle, too, and pour young 
scorn upon what was small and mean. Yet of all her 
features, her mouth was the most peculiarly beautiful. 
Although in repose it was indicative of firmness, it was 
capable of expressing infinite humor and perfect sweet- 
ness. Her golden hair was arranged with simplicity, 
and in her dress she always avoided superfluous orna- 
ment. In toilet, speech, and manner she was a lady. 


Miss Lane was fond of games, and invariably excelled 
at all she ever attempted. Her uncle secretly prided 
himself upon her prowess, and, in her absence, fre- 
quently spoke of this success of hers: but he liked to 
laugh at her for being able to " distance everybody else 
in athletic sports." He used to tell about her daring 
some young man to run a race with her, and then leaving 
him far behind and out of breath. Yet it was known he 
had, upon this occasion, rebuked her for want of that 
dignity which, in his heart, he gladly owned she did not 

At Wheatland, Miss Lane saw much company from 
a distance, her uncle constantly entertaining his foreign 
and political friends. Their conversation and her his- 
toric reading, directed by Mr. Buchanan, made her a 
most congenial companion for him. 

She was a good reader, her voice sweet and pure, and 
her enunciation clear and distinct. She was in the habit 
of reading aloud the newspapers, and afterward discuss- 
ing with him the news and the political and literary 
subjects of the day. She took great interest in the 
grounds, and it was her taste that suggested many of 
the improvements made at Wheatland. 

The quiet of her life here was interrupted by gay 
visits to Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Washing- 
ton, and Virginia. Wherever she went, she left hosts 
of friends, and never came home without bringing with 
her scores of masculine hearts. Indeed, their former 
owners often followed them and the young lady, in hopes 


of obtaining her hand in exchange. She remained, 
however, " fancy free," until her heart was touched by 
the love-tale of Mr. Johnston, whom she met at Bedford 
Springs, during the annual visit made there by herself 
and Mr. Buchanan. 

Mr. Johnston was a young gentleman of Baltimore, 
fresh from college honors, manly, frank, and kind 
full of enthusiasm, and as demonstrative as youth and 
Southern blood make an earnest man when deeply in 

Geranium leaves exchanged in those golden days of 
youth withered surely in the lapse of time, and, one. 
would fancy, long since cast aside are worn by Mis.s 
Lane and her husband in memory of a dawning affection 
of which neither could have foreseen the end. 

Miss Lane's brothers lived in Lancaster. One of 
them married there. Her sister Mary, who had been 
married to Mr. George W. Baker, also resided in Lan- 
caster, and was much with Harriet until her removal to 
California. It was during her absence, in 1852, that Mr. 
Buchanan went as Minister to England, taking Miss 
Harriet Lane with him. 

No more illustrious man than James Buchanan had 
ever been sent to represent his country at the court of 
the greatest empire of the world. His fame as a states- 
man had preceded him. To the public men and edu- 
cated classes of England his name was familiar, for he 
had been one of the most conspicuous figures in the 
Uaited States for the third of the century. No citizen 


of this country had ever held so many great stations as 
he. His life had been crowded with the gravest public 
employments. Apart from his reputation as a states- 
man, he had won the highest encomiums at the bar. 
For ten consecutive years he had sat in the lower house 
of Congress. As Minister to Russia, he had negotiated 
our first commercial treaty with that empire. In the 
Senate of the United States he had stood for years in 
the foremost rank of those mighty men whose states- 
manship and eloquence made that body, thirty years 
ago, the most dignified assembly on earth. When he 
resigned his seat as a Senator, it was to become Secre- 
tary of State, and during that period, when he held that 
position, he refused a seat on the Supreme Bench of the 
United States, urged upon him by Mr. Tyler, and after- 
ward by Mr. Polk. His name had, for half his life-time, 
been associated with the Presidency. When he went to 
England, it was at the earnest solicitation of Mr. Pierce, 
who was unwilling to trust the settlement of the great 
questions then at issue between the two countries, to 
any hands less able than his, and it was well believed 
by many friends that, his work abroad completed, he 
would return to take possession of the Executive Chair. 

In the blaze of this reputation, and led by the protect- 
ing hand of one so illustrious, did Harriet Lane make 
her entrance into English society. 

And now she became publicly identified with Mr. 
Buchanan. At dinners and upon all occasions, she 
ranked, not as niece, or even daughter, but as his wife. 


There was, at first, some question on this point, but the 
Queen, upon whom the blooming beauty had made a 
deep impression, soon decided that, and our heroine was 
thenceforward one of the foremost ladies in the diplo- 
matic corps at St. James. 

Her first appearance at a Drawing-room was a mem- 
orable occasion, not only to the young republican girl 
herself and her uncle, but to all who witnessed her 
graceful and dignified bearing at the time. Notwith- 
standing her youthful appearance, it could scarcely be 
credited that she, who managed her train so beautifully, 
appeared so unconscious of the attention she attracted, 
and diffused her smiles in such sweet and courtly man- 
ner, had never before been in the presence of royalty. 

That night when she and Mr. Buchanan discussed the 
events of the day as they habitually did before retiring 
he suddenly turned about, saying, "Well, a person 
would have supposed you were a great beauty, to have 
heard the way you were talked of to-day. I was asked 
if we had many such handsome ladies in America. I 
answered, 'Yes, and many much handsomer. She 
would scarcely be remarked there for her beauty.' ' 

Upon every occasion Miss Lane was most graciously 
singled out by the Queen, and it was well known that 
she was not only an unusual favorite with her majesty, 
but that she was regarded with favor and admiration by 
all the royal family. She was so immediately and uni- 
versally popular, that she was warmly welcomed in 
every circle, and added much to the social reputation 


Mr. Buchanan's elegant manners won him everywhere. 
At her home she was modest and discreet, as well as 
sprightly and genial, and her countrymen never visited 
their great representative in England without congratu- 
lating themselves upon having there also such a speci- 
men of American womanhood. 

The limits of our sketch prevent us from dwelling 
upon particular characters, political, noble and literary, 
with whom Miss Lane constantly came in contact. Nor 
have we time to mention the country houses of lord and 
gentry where Mr. Buchanan and herself were gladly re- 
ceived. Suffice it to say that her offers of marriage were 
very numerous, and such as would do honor to any lady 
of any land men of great name, of high position and 
immense fortune, English and American. 

She always confided these affaires du cceur to her 
uncle, who gave his advice as freely as it was asked. 
But he never attempted to influence her affections, 
although one could not have blamed him for wishing 
her to remain as she was. She always decided for her 
uncle, and ended the consideration of each proposal by 
trusting to the happiness she had already tried. 

The years that Miss Lane spent in England were 
probably the brightest of her life. She loved England, 
English people, and English habits, and fortunate indeed 
it was for her that in the days of her early youth, when 
just entering upon womanhood, she acquired that taste 
for exercise, early hours, wholesome food, and healthy 
living, which make the ladies of Great Britain the fairest 
and most substantial beauties in the world. 


One of the incidents of her stay abroad with her uncle 
was her visit with him to Ostend, at the time of the cele- 
brated conference between the American Ministers to 
England, France, and Spain. From here she travelled 
with Mr. Mason and others to Brussels, Aix-la-Chapelle, 
Coblentz, and Frankfort on the Main, and thence joined; 
Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Soule at Brussels, where the 
business of the Conference was completed. 

She accompanied Mr. Mason on his return to Paris, 
and spent two months at his house. It is needless to 
say that these were happy months, for Mr. Mason's 
elegant hospitality, and the agreeable manners, and kind 
hearts of wife and daughters, made his home a thronged 
resort of all Americans who visited the gay capital. 
Miss Lane's recollections of that noble man are as warm 
as those of any of the thousands who were familiar with 
his virtues, and whose feeling regarding him was happily 
expressed after his death in an obituary written by a 
near friend, who summed up his faults and his merits in 
the title taken from the most genial character ever drawn 
by Bulwer, of "Old Gentleman Waife." 

Among the brilliant circle that nightly assembled 
in the saloons of Mr. Mason, Miss Lane reigned a pre- 
eminent belle. 

We must also particularly refer to the enthusiasm 
excited by Miss Lane upon a memorable occasion in 
England. . We mean the day when Mr. Buchanan and 
Mr. Tennyson received the degree of Doctor of Civil 
Laws at the University of Oxford. Her appearance was 


greeted with loud cheers by the students, and murmurs 
of admiration. 

She returned to America, leaving Mr. Buchanan in 
London, waiting for a release from his mission, which 
he had long urged, but which the State Department at 
Washington had failed to give him. 

During this separation, her uncle wrote her long 
letters, overflowing with affection and regret that he 
had suffered her to leave him. Indeed, she would 
never have consented to absent herself from his side 
for an hour, had she not been expecting a visit at 
Wheatland from her sister, Mrs, Baker, whose sweet 
companionship she had missed in all her pleasures and 
triumphs. It was soon after her happy arrival at dear 
old Wheatland, with the welcome of friends still in her 
ears, and amid hurried and loving preparations for the 
reception of this beautiful and only sister, that the 
dreadful tidings of her death on the distant shores of the 
Pacific, smote on the sad heart of Harriet. In the agony 
of her first great grief, brooding over the memory of 
this twin soul, often did she echo in feeling those verses 
of Tennyson : 

"Ah yet, even yet, if this might be, 
I, falling on thy faithful heart, 
Would, breathing through thy lips, impart 
The life that almost dies in me. 

"That dies not, but endures with pain, 
And slowly forms the firmer mindj 
Treasuring the look it cannot find, 
The words that are not heard again." 


Under these sad circumstances Mr. Buchanan came 
home, and the news of his nomination for the Presi- 
dency soon afterward reached Wheatland. Miss Lane 
heard it, not with indifference, but with less enthusiasm 
than she had shown about anything in which her uncle 
was concerned. She, however, received his friends with a 
grace which, if sadder than of old, was none the less inter- 
esting ; and the noble figure clad in mourning, and the mod- 
est, tender face beneath her dark English hat, will never be 
forgotten by those who saw Harriet Lane dispensing the 
dignified hospitalities of Mr. Buchanan's table, or calmly 
strolling over the lawn during the summer of 1856. 

Saddened by suffering, but sustained by her warm 
affection for her uncle, she became the mistress of the 
White House. Her younger and favorite brother,, 
Eskridge, accompanied Mr. Buchanan and Miss Lane- 
to Washington, and after a few days' stay there went 
home to Lancaster, promising his Bister, who was loth to 
bid him good-by, that he would return in about a month.. 
But just a month from that parting, the telegraph bore 
to Mr. Buchanan the news of his sudden death. 

The President loved this youth above all his nephews,, 
and had meant to have him with him at Washington. 
This was a terrible blow to him, but in his affliction he 
was mindful of Harriet, and it was with the kindest care 
he broke to her the intelligence. 

The sister, again and so soon smitten, with a crushed 
heart set out for the scene of death, there, to yearn over 
the dear clay of that lost brother. 



When Miss Lane returned to her uncle, it was not to 
parade her trouble, but quietly and cheerfully to assist 
him in his social and domestic life; to keep her grief for 
her closet, and in the endurance of it, to ask no help but 
God's. Yet all who saw her, subdued but dignified, as 
she received familiar friends during those first months in 
Washington, were struck with the elegant repose of her 
manners, her sweet thanks for sympathy, and her kind 
and gentle interest in everything about her. 

The next winter she went to no entertainments, but 
the usual dinners and receptions at home were not omit- 
ted. In her new high sphere she was as much admired 
as she had always been, and after she began to partici- 
pate in the gayeties of that gayest administration, her 
life was made up of a series of honors and pleasures 
such as have never fallen to the lot of any other young 
lady in the United States. 

On the occasion of a New Year's reception, when 
Mr. Buchanan stood up to receive the ambassadors of 
the world's kingdoms and empires, his great frame, his 

massive head, his noble countenance, marked and 

adorned by the lines of thought, but untouched by the 
wrinkles of decay, made him a spectacle so impressive 
and majestic, that it did not require* the addition of his 
courtly manners to elicit a thrill of pride in the breast of 
every American who beheld him. 

It would have been a trying contrast to the beauty 
and dignity of any one to have stood by his side ; yet it 
was difficult for those who saw Harriet Lane there to 


decide between the uncle and the niece to say which 
looked the proudest and the greatest the man or the 
woman, the earlier or the later born, 

Miss Lane's position was more onerous and more 
crowded with social duties than that of any other person 
who had filled her place since the days of Martha Wash- 
ington, because Mr. Buchanan received not merely official 
visits in the capacity of President, but his wide acquaint- 
ance at home and abroad was the cause of his constantly 
entertaining, as a private gentleman, foreigners and 
others, who came, not to see Washington and the Presi- 
dent, but to visit Mr. Buchanan himself. 

Jefferson Davis, who, for reasons creditable to Mr. 
Buchanan's course at the outbreak of the secession 
movement, was not friendly to him, speaking to Dr. 
Craven at Fortress Monroe, said : " The White House, 
under the administration of Buchanan, approached more 
nearly to my idea of a Republican Court than the Presi- 
dent's house had ever done before since the days of 
Washington." In this compliment, extorted by trutii, of 
course Miss Lane shared. 

In the summer of 1860, Queen Victoria accepted the 
invitation of the President for the Prince of Wales to 
extend his Canadian tour to this country. The duty of 
preparing for the Prince's reception devolved upon Miss 
Lane, and so admirably did she order the Executive 
household, that a party far less amiable than the Prince 
and the noble gentlemen who accompanied him, could 
not have failed to find their visit an agreeable one. 


Apart from the personal qualities of this distinguished 
guest (and Mr. Buchanan always spoke with enthusiasm 
of the admirable qualities and excellent disposition of 
his young friend), his visit was an occurrence of memo- 
rable interest, being the first occasion on which an heir 
apparent to the Crown of Great Britain had stood in the 
Capital of her lost colonies. Especially did this interest 
attach, when, standing uncovered by the side of the 
President, before the gateway of Washington's tomb, 
and gazing reverently on the sarcophagus that holds his 
ashes, the great-grandson of George the Third paid open 
homage to the memory of the chief who rent his empire 
when the last born king of William the Conqueror's 
blood bowed his knee before the dust of the greatest 
rebel of all time. 

The modesty of the Prince's behavior, and his perfectly 
frank manners attested the excellence of the training 
given him by his good mother and his high-souled, wise, 
and pious father. He entered with all the freshness of 
youth into every innocent amusement planned to beguile 
the hours of his stay. 

It may be well here to mention, as an instance of Mr. 
Buchanan's care for the proprieties of his station, that, 
anxious as it was possible for man to be to gratify 
the Prince, who, on more than one occasion, proposed 
dancing, approving of it as a harmless pastime, and fond 
of it as a spectacle, he yet declined to permit it in the 
White House, for the reason that that building was not 
his private home, that it belonged to the nation, and that 


the moral sense of many good people who had assisted 
to put him there, would be shocked by what they 
regarded as profane gayety in the saloons of the State. 

The visit of the English party lasted five days, and 
they separated from Mr. Buchanan and Miss Lane 
leaving behind them most agreeable recollections. 

On the Prince's arrival in England, the Queen 
acknowledged her sense of the cordiality of his re- 
ception by the President, in the following autograph let- 
ter, in which the dignity of an official communication is 
altogether lost in the personal language of a grateful 
mother thanking a friend for kindness done her first- 
born child. It is the Queen's English employed to 
express the sentiments of the woman : 

"WINDSOR CASTLE, Nov. \^th, 1860. 

" MY GOOD FRIEND : Your letter of the 6th ult. has 
afforded me the greatest pleasure, containing, as it does, 
such kind expressions with regard to my son, and 
assuring me that the character and object of his visit to 
you and to the United States have been fully appreci- 
ated, and that his demeanor and the feelings evinced by 
him, have secured to him your esteem and the general 
good-will of your countrymen. 

" I purposely delayed the answer to your letter until I 
should be able to couple with it the announcement of 
the Prince of Wales' safe return to his home. Contrary 
winds and stress of weather have much retarded his 
arrival, but we have been fully compensated for the 
anxiety which this long delay has naturally caused us, 


by finding him in such excellent health and spirits, and 
so delighted with all he has seen and experienced in his 

" He cannot sufficiently praise the great cordiality 
with which he has been everywhere greeted in your 
country, and the friendly manner in which you have 
received him ; and whilst, as a mother, I am grateful 
for the kindness shown him, I feel impelled to express, 
at the same time, how deeply I have been touched 
by the many demonstrations of affection personally 
toward myself which his presence has called forth. 

" I fully reciprocate toward your nation the feel- 
ings, thus made apparent, and look upon them as form- 
ing an important link to connect two nations of kin- 
dred origin and character, whose mutual esteem and 
friendship must always have so material an influ- 
ence upon their respective development and pros- 

" The interesting and touching scene at the grave of 
General Washington, to which you allude, may be fitly 
taken as the type of our present feeling, and, I trust, of 
our future relations. 

"The Prince Consort, who heartily joins in the 
expressions contained in this letter, wishes to be kindly 
remembered to you, as we both wish to be to Miss 

" Believe me always 

" Your good friend, 



The Prince spoke for himself in the following note : 

"JAFFA, March 2()th, 1862. 

"DEAR MR. BUCHANAN : Permit me to request that 
you will accept the accompanying portrait as a slight 
mark of my grateful recollection of the hospitable 
reception and agreeable visit at the White House on the 
occasion of my tour in the United States. 

" Believe me, that the cordial welcome which was 
then vouchsafed to me by the American people, and 
by you as their chief, can never be effaced from my 

"I venture to ask you at the same time to remember 
me kindly to Miss Lane, a?nd 

" Believe me, dear Mr. Buchanan, 

"Yours, very truly, 


The portrait to which the Prince alludes in the pre- 
ceding letter was a handsome painting of himself, done 
by Sir John Watson Gordon, and sent to Mr. Buchanan. 

The Prince also presented Miss Lane with a set of 
engravings of the Royal Family, which are now in her 
possession. A newspaper correspondent, after Mr. 
Lincoln's inauguration, wrote that the appearance of the 
Mansion was very much hanged by the removal of the 
portraits, which had been presented for the White 

Mr. Buchanan could not let so grave a charge re- 


main unanswered, and wrote to Lord Lyons, whose 
letter is for the first time published. 

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 2$th, l86l. 

"SiR: I have this morning had the honor to receive 
your letter of the igth of this month, requesting me to 
state the facts connected with a present made by His 
Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to Miss Lane, of 
a set of engravings representing Her Majesty, the 
Queen, and other members of the Royal Family. 

"The Prince of Wales told me, when His Royal 
Highness was at Washington, that he had asked Miss 
Lane to accept these engravings he said that he had 
not them with him there, but that he would send them, 
through me, from * Portland. His Royal Highness 
accordingly sent them on shore immediately after he 
embarked at that place. 

"They were marked with Miss Lane's name, in the 
handwriting of General Bruce. 

" In obedience to the commands I had received 
from the Prince, I presented them in his name, to Miss 
Lane. I had the honor of placing them myself in her 

" I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, 

" Your most obedient humble servant and friend, 


"The Honorable 

" JAMES BUCHANAN, etc., etc., etc." 


When the secession movement was inaugurated by 
South Carolina, immediately after the election of Mr. 
Lincoln, the position of Mr. Buchanan become one of 
extreme delicacy and difficulty, and in its great cares 
as well as in its petty social annoyances, Miss Lane 
bore a heavy part. 

During those last months of his administration, when 
Mr. Buchanan was harassed on every side, when his 
patriotism was doubted, when his hands eager to hold 
steady the reins of Government were tied fast by 
the apathy of Congress and the indifference of the 
Northern people, his mind was lightened of much of 
its load of anxiety by the consciousness that his niece 
faithfully represented him in his drawing-room, and that 
his patriotism and good sense woulcl never suffer by any 
conversational lapse of hers. He always spoke with 
warmth and gratitude of her admirable demeanor at this 
critical time. 

And now we see Miss Lane once more at Wheat- 
land, sharing and enjoying the dignified retirement of 
her uncle. 

The society of that revered man who was preparing 
for a better world and appealing to a higher judgment 
than that of a selfish faction, the calm pleasures of coun- 
try life, the continued attentions of enthusiastic admirers, 
the many visits of dear tried friends, the consolations 
of religion, and the devotion of one true heart that had 
never ceased its homage, was her compensation for many 


In 1863, Miss Lane was confirmed in the Episcopal 
Church, at Oxford, Philadelphia, of which her uncle was 
the rector, by Bishop Stevens. She would have joined 
the Presbyterian Church, to which her uncle belonged, 
had he desired it, because she was as liberal as he is 
known to have been in his religious views, and they 
never differed on doctrinal points. But several circum- 
stances had made it convenient for her to attend the 
Episcopal Church a great deal, and she had early learned 
to love its beautiful prayer book, and in any other church 
to miss its significant forms. 

About this time occurred the death of James B. Lane, 
leaving Harriet no brother nor sister, nor indeed any 
near relations except her two uncles, the Rev. E. Y. 
Buchanan, and the ex-President, to whom she clung with 
renewed affection. 

However, one morning in January, 1866, when the 
evergreens before the old house at Wheatland were 
burdened with snow, and the lawn was white, and the 
spring was frozen, and icicles hung from the roof, the 
grounds there were made gay and bright by the assem- 
blage of carriages that brought guests to see the mar- 
riage, by the Rev. Edward Y. Buchanan, of Harriet 
Lane and Henry Elliott Johnston. Indoors, there was 
nothing in the glow of the fire, the odor of the flowers, 
the gratified appearance of the host, or the sunny faces 
of the wedding party, to indicate the struggle just finished 
between two loves. 

Some weeks after the marriage, Mr. and Mrs. John- 


ston went to Cuba, where they spent a month or two 
most delightfully. From there, Mr. Johnston took his 
wife to his house in Baltimore, which, with characteristic 
taste, thoughtfulness, and liberality, he had elegantly 
and luxuriously fitted up for the lady of his dreams, to 
whom he forthwith presented it. 

It would scarcely be fair to dwell, in print, upon the 
happiness of this congenial pair, but it would be unpar- 
donable if we did not assure the reader, that Mr. John- 
ston is all that Miss Lane's husband ought to be. Even 
those who naturally disliked to see Miss Lane pass out 
of the house of her great kinsman into any other home, 
soon became charmed with Mr. Johnston, and could not 
but congratulate Miss Lane upon this choice, made from 
many lovers. 

Nor can we consent to close this sketch of Mrs. John- 
ston's life without attracting attention to her in her last 
and most endearing relation. In her most glorious days, 
she was never more beautiful than as a mother, and the 
matronly grace with which she cares for her child is 
sweeter to her husband than the early flush or the 
queenly prime when he occasionally ventured on pres- 
ents of fruits and flowers. 

Would that we could now drop the curtain upon this 
fair domestic scene without noticing the cloud that dark- 
ened the prosperous life of Mrs. Johnston after her mar- 
riage. The death of Mr. Buchanan caused her the 
greatest grief of her life, and is its permanent bereave- 


Again, she is at Wheatland now her own summer 
home mourning for the good man gone ; but comforted 
by the thought that, though in all his dear familiar haunts 
she will see him nevermore, he is already understood 
and appreciated, and that history is even now doing him 
jusjice. Comforted also in knowing that her husband 
ministered to her uncle's dying days, and that he re- 
ceived his unqualified confidence and affection. Com- 
forted also in the sweet task, the great work of training 
up her boy to be worthy the name of James Buchanan 
Johnston. ..... .... 

This son grew to be a noble youth of fourteen, and 
died on the 25th of March, 1881. His character was 
affectionate and truthful, and his bearing was distin- 
guished for its grace. His death was a terrible blow to 
his parents, of whom and of him Judge Jere. S. Black 
wrote as follows in a letter to a friend : 

"I have just returned from the funeral of James 
Buchanan Johnston, affected by a deeper sense of be- 
reavement than any death outside of my own immediate 
family has caused me in many years. It is strange that 
we cannot get hardened to these calamities in the course 
of time, or at least learn to accept some measure of con- 
solation when our friends are fatally stricken. But human 
philosophy, how well soever it may be strengthened by 
trials, is powerless to save our equanimity in cases like 
this. The overwhelming grief of that beloved mother and 
the awful break-down of the proud father's spirit cannot 
even be thought of without strong emotion. Besides 


that I had built much hope of my own upon the future 
of that bright and beautiful boy. He was gifted with 
uncommon talents, so well cultivated, and developing so 
rapidly, that even at the age of fourteen he was intel- 
lectually a full-grown man. With moral principles 
clearly defined and quick perceptions of the right, his 
sense of justice and his love of truth would have given 
him a dignity of character not surpassed by that of his 
illustrious uncle. But these visions of a moment are 
faded forever, and we can only sigh * for the touch of a 
vanished hand ' and listen in vain ' for the sound of a 
voice that is still.' " 



To Mrs. Lincoln more than to any other President's 
wife was the White House an ambition. She had ever 
aspired to reach it, and when it became her home, it was 
the fruition of a hope long entertained, the gratification 
of the great desire of her life. In her early youth she 
repeatedly asserted that she should be a President's 
wife, and so profoundly impressed was she with this 
idea, that she calculated the probabilities of such a suc- 
cess with all her male friends. She refused an offer of 
marriage from Stephen A. Douglas, then a rising young 
lawyer, doubting his ability to gratify her ambition, and 
accepted a man who at that time seemed to others the 
least likely to be the President of the United States. 

Mary Todd was a Kentuckian by birth, and a member 
of the good old Todd family, of Lexington. Her 
younger years were spent in that homely town of 
beautiful surroundings, with an aunt who reared her, she 
being an orphan. Childhood and youth were passed in 
comfort and comparative luxury, nor did she ever know 
poverty; but her restless nature found but little happi- 
ness in the society of her elders, and she went, when 
just merging into womanhood, to reside with her sister 

in Springfield. The attraction of this, then small place, 



was greatly augmented by the society of the young 
people, and Mary Todd passed the pleasantest years of 
her life in her sister's western home. On the 4th of 
November, 1842, at the age of twenty-one, she was 
married to Abraham Lincoln, a prominent lawyer, of 
Illinois. A letter written the following May, to Mr./ 
Speed, of Louisville, Kentucky, by Mr. Lincoln, contains 
the following- mention of his domestic life: "We are 


not keeping house," he says, "but boarding at the Globe 
Tavern, which is very well kept now by a widow lady, 
of the name of Beck. Our rooms are the same Dr. 
Wallace occupied there, and boarding only costs four 
dollars a week. I most heartily wish you and your 
Fanny will not fail to come. Just let us know the time, 
a week in advance, and we will have a room prepared 
for you, and we'll all be merry together for a while." 
The pleasant spirits in which the husband wrote, must 
have argued well for the married life they had entered 
upon. Although much in public life, Mr. Lincoln was 
holding no office at the time of his marriage, but four 
years later he was elected to Congress, and took his 
seat December 6th, 1847. Mrs. Lincoln did not accom- 
pany her husband to Washington, but remained at her 
home. It was a season of war and general disturbance 
throughout the country, and while her husband attended 
to his duties at the Capital, she lived quietly with her 
children in Springfield. In August he returned to enter 
upon the duties of his profession, and to "devote him- 
self to them .through a series of years, less disturbed by 


diversions into State and National politics than he had 
been during any previous period of his business life. It 
was to him a time of rest, of reading, of social happi- 
ness, and of professional prosperity. He was a happy 
father, and took an almost unbounded pleasure in his 
children. Their sweet young natures were to him a 
perpetual source of delight. He was never impatient 
with their petulance and restlessness, loved always to 
be with them, and took them into his heart with a fond- 
ness which was unspeakable. It was a fondness so 
tender and profound as to blind him to their imperfec- 
tions, and to expel from him every particle of sternness 
in his management of them." 


At this time Mrs. Lincoln was the mother of four 
children, and though one had passed on to the higher 
life, her home was one of happiness. Ministered to by 
a husband who never knew how to be aught but kind 
to her, and surrounded by evidences of prosperity, her 
lines had fallen in pleasant places, and she was consid- 
ered by her friends a fortunate woman. 

Mr. Lincoln was a hard student and. constant reader, 
and was steadily progressing in knowledge. Thrown 
among talented and educated gentlemen, and possess- 
ing an intense desire for improvement, he had become, 
during the years of his married life, a superior lawyer 
and statesman. His was an aspiring nature, striving 
for the golden truths of sage experience. 

His enemies sometimes speak of him as a man who 
owed his eminence rather to the contrast between his 


social and his political* rank, between his qualifications 
and the place in history which it was his fortune to fill, 
than to his personal character or his political capacity, 
but the estimate is not a true one. A man so revered 
as is his memory by all classes of his countrymen, had 
a character untarnished by corruption, and a moral re- 
finement far above the comprehension of the average 
public man. He was in his domestic life the embodiment 
of fidelity and gentleness. His career as a statesman, 
and not the manner of his death, places him next to 
Washington in the hearts of Americans. His services 
to the country rank as the noblest performed in its his 
tory after those of Washington. Opportunity, while it 
did much for him, was not all that made Lincoln 
great ; it was his readiness to meet the emergency 
when it came ; his ability to seize the occasion, and 
use it to the honor of his country, and his own lasting 

Mr. Lincoln was so intensely individual in his career, 
and his life was so devoted to public affairs, that it is 
with difficulty that a sketch of Mrs. Lincoln can be 
written that is not largely composed of the events per- 
taining to the official life of her husband. The White 
House during her life in it was the reverse of gay. Of- 
ficials were the chief callers at the mansion, and the 
movement of armies, and the news from the front occu- 
pied the attention of its inmates. She was less fortu- 
nate than any lady who had ever preceded her in this 
respect, and to judge of her success in her position, it. is 



needful to keep in mind the conditions under which the 
administration existed. 

The Republican Convention at Chicago verified Mrs. 
Lincoln's prophecy of being" the wife of a President. It 
assembled the i6th of June, 1860, and after a close con- 
test between the two favorites of the Republican party 
Governor Seward and Mr. Lincoln the latter was 
declared unanimously nominated as a candidate for 
the Presidency. In Springfield, Mrs. Lincoln waited in 
her own home for the result of her prediction, and when 
at noon the cannon on the public square announced the 
decision of the Convention, breathless with expectancy, 
she scarcely dared to ask the result. Her husband, in 
the excitement of the moment, did not forget her, but 
putting the telegram in his pocket, remarked to his 
friends that " there was a little woman on Eighth street 
who had some interest in the matter," walked home to 
gladden her heart with the good news. That Friday 
night must have been the very happiest of her life, for 
few women have ever craved the position as she did, 
and it was hers ! Crowds of citizens and strangers 
thronged her home all the afternoon, and the roar of 
cannon and the wild, tumultuous shouts of excited men 
filled the town with a deafening noise. At night the Re- 
publicans marched in a body to Mr. Lincoln's house, 
and, after a brief speech, were invited, as many as could 
get into the house, to enter, " the crowd responding that 
after the fourth of March they would give him a larger 
house. The people did not retire until a late hour, and 


then moved off reluctantly, leaving the excited household 
to their rest." 

And now commenced the life which Mrs. Lincoln had 
so long anticipated, and if her husband was not elated, she 
was, and the hearts of these two, so nearly concerned in 
this great honor, beat from widely different emotions. 
"He could put on none of the airs of eminence; he 
could place no bars between himself and those who had 
honored him. Men who entered his house impressed 
with a sense of his new dignities, found him the same 
honest, affectionate, true-hearted and simple-minded 
Abraham Lincoln that he had always been. He an- 
swered his own bell, accompanied his visitors to the door 
when they retired, and felt all that interfered with his old 
homely and hearty habits of hospitality as a burden al- 
most an impertinence." She, annoyed by the crowds 
who thronged the house, and the constant interruptions, 
found it so intolerable that Mr. Lincoln to6k a room in 
the State House, and met his friends there until his de- 
parture for Washington. 

Mrs. Lincoln was not greatly inclined to observe the 
requirements of her social position, and she thereby lost 
opportunities of advancing her husband's interests of 
which she perhaps was unaware. She did not rightly 
estimate the importance of conciliatory address with 
friend and foe alike, and seemed not conscious of the 
immense assistance which, as the wife of a public man, 
she had it in her power to give her husband. And this 
was all the more singular for the reason that she was 
very ambitious. 


Just after the election, a circumstance occurred which 
Mrs. Lincoln interpreted in a manner which forced one 
to recall the predictions of her childhood. Mr. Lincoln 
thus repeated it. " It was after my election, when the 
news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and there 
had been a great 'hurrah, boys!' so that I was well tired 
out and went home to rest, throwing myself upon a 
lounge in my chamber. Opposite to where I lay was a 
bureau with a swinging glass upon it; and looking in 
that glass, I saw myself reflected nearly at full length ; 
but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct 
images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches 
from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, per- 
haps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but 
the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it a 
second time, plainer, if possible, than before; and then I 
noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five 
shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted 
away and I went off, and in the excitement of the hour 
forgot all about it nearly, but not quite, for the thing 
would once in a while come up, and give me a little 
pang, as though something uncomfortable had hap- 
pened. When I went home, I told my wife about it, and 
a few days after I tried the experiment again, when, sure 
enough, the thing came back again ; but I never suc- 
ceeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I 
once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who 
was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was a 
'sign' that I was to be elected to a second term of 


office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was 
an omen that I should not see life through the second 

Mr. Lincoln regarded the vision as an optical illusion, 
caused from nervousness, "yet, with that tinge of super- 
stition which clings to every sensitive and deeply 
thoughtful man, in a world full of mysteries, he was so 
far affected by it as to feel that ' something uncom- 
fortable had happened.' " Viewed in the light of subse- 
quent events, Mrs. Lincoln's prophetic interpretation of 
the vision had almost a startling import. 

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln and their three boys, accom- 
panied by a number of Mr. Lincoln's old friends, left 
Springfield in a special car, and all along the route they 
were welcomed by the people with every demonstration 
of hearty good-will. It was a time of anxiety, and the 
throngs that gathered about the newly elected Chief 
Magistrate seemed impelled by a stronger feeling than 
mere curiosity or excitement. Between Chicago and 
Indianapolis, the stations were decorated, the towns and 
villages were gay with flags and flower-bedecked mot- 
toes, and wherever a stop was made, men, women and 
children grasped the hand of Mr. Lincoln, and wished 
him a safe journey and all success in the trying place he 
was going to fill. 

An immense crowd cheered him as the train reached 
the depot at Indianapolis, and a national salute was fired 
in his honor. The Cincinnati committee of reception, 
filling his car, met the party there, and accompanied it 


next. day. The train passed by the burial-place of Gen- 
eral Harrison, who had for a short month occupied the 
Presidential chair, and here the family of the deceased 
patriot were assembled. Mr. Lincoln bowed his re- 
spects to the group and to the memory of his prede- 

The morning of the fourth of March, 1861, broke 
beautifully clear, and it found General Scott and the 
Washington police in readiness for the day. The friends 
of Mr. Lincoln had gathered in from far and near, deter- 
mined that he should be inaugurated. In the hearts of 
the surging crowds there was anxiety; but outside all 
looked as usual on such occasions, with the single excep- 
tion of an extraordinary display of soldiers. The public 
buildings, the schools and most of the places of business 
were closed during the day, and the stars and stripes 
were floating from every flag-staff. There was a great 
desire to hear Mr. Lincoln's inaugural ; and at an early 
hour, Pennsylvania Avenue was full of people, wending 
their way to the east front of the Capitol, from which it 
was to be delivered. 

At five minutes before twelve o'clock, Vice-President 
Breckinridge and Senator Foote escorted Mr. Hamlin, 
the Vice-President elect, into the Senate Chamber, and 
gave him a seat at the left of the chair. At twelve, Mr. 
Breckinridge announced the Senate adjourned, and then 
conducted Mr. Hamlin to the seat he had vacated. At 
this moment, the foreign diplomats, of whom there was 
a very large and brilliant representation, entered the 


chamber, and took the seats assigned to them. At a 
quarter before one o'clock, the Judges of the Supreme 
Court entered, with the venerable Chief-Justice Taney 
at their head, each exchanging salutes with the new 
Vice-President, as they took their seats. At a quarter 
past one o'clock, an unusual stir and excitement an- 
nounced the coming of the most important personage 
of the occasion. It was a relief to many to know that 
he was safely within the building ; and those who were 
assembled in the hall regarded with the profoundest 
interest the entrance of President Buchanan and the 
President elect the outgoing and the incoming man. 
A procession was then formed which passed to the plat- 
form erected for the ceremonies of the occasion, in the 
following order: Marshal of the District of Columbia, 
Judges of the Supreme Courts and Sergeant-at-Arms, 
Senate Committee of Arrangements, President of the 
Senate, Senators, Diplomatic Corps, heads of depart- 
ments, Governors of States and such others as were in 

the chamber. 


After the reading of the inaugural and the oath of 
office, administered by the venerable Chief-Justice 
Taney, Mr. Lincoln was escorted back to the White 
House, where Mr. Buchanan took leave of him, and 
where he received the large number of persons who 
called to see him. 

During the afternoon, Mrs. Lincoln took possession 
of the White House, and her eventful life commenced in 


The following" days were spent with her sisters in 
happy bustle and excitement, arranging for the first 
levee, and domesticating themselves in their new 

It was held the Qth of March, and was the only one 
of the season. Her personal appearance was described 
in these words : 

" Mrs. Lincoln stood a few paces from her husband, 
assisted by her sisters, Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Baker, 
together with two of her nieces, and was attired in a rich 
pink moire-antique, pearl ornaments, and flowers in her 
hair and hands. She is a pleasant-looking, elegant- 
appearing lady, of perhaps forty, somewhat inclined to 
stoutness, but withal fine-looking and self-possessed." 
The levee was a brilliant one, and many citizens and 
strangers, not accustomed to taking part in the gay 
world about them, did themselves the pleasure of pay- 
ing their respects to the new President and his family. 
It was perhaps the proudest occasion of Mrs. Lincoln's 
life a triumph she had often mused upon and looked 
forward to as in store for her. The desire of her heart 
was gratified, and she was mistress of the White 

Mrs. Lincoln was a fortunate woman in that she 
secured the measure of her ambition, but it was the 
impartial judgment of her friends that she was not a 
happy person. The match was an unfortunate one, in 
that it united two people of widely divergent tastes and 
characteristics. Mr. Lincoln was utterly devoid of those 


social qualities which would have made him agreeable 
in the drawing-room and in the presence of fashionable 
people. His wife was fond of society, pleased with ex- 
citement, and gratified to be among the gay and brilliant 
company which she, by reason of her husband's position, 
found herself in. She would have made the White 
House, socially, what it was under other administrations, 
but that w r as impossible. She found herself surrounded 
on every side by people who were ready to exaggerate 
her shortcomings, find fault with her deportment on all 
occasions and criticise her performance of all her semi- 
official duties. The state dinners were abandoned and 
she was said to be parsimonious. Weekly receptions 
were substituted, and her entertainments were made the 
topic of remark. The first two years of the administra- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln were years of the severest trial to 
him, and his gloom and absorption affected his family. 
The death of Willie, the second son, occurred during 
this period of anxiety, and for nearly two more years 
the President's family were in mourning. Mrs. Lincoln 
grieved long and deeply over her loss, and it was not 
possible for either husband or wife to allude to him with- 
out showing intense feeling. Mr. Lincoln rarely men- 
tioned his name, and Mrs. Lincoln never afterward 
entered the room where he died, or the Blue Room in 
which his body lay. Several instances are told by Mr. 
Carpenter, the artist, of the affection entertained by the 
President for his sons. On one occasion while paying a 
visit to Commodore Porter at Fortress Monroe, " Tad," 


the youngest son, accompanied his father, and the latter, 
noticing that the banks of the river were dotted with 
spring blossoms, the President said, with the manner of 
one asking a special favor : " Commodore, Tacl is very 
fond of flowers ; won't you let a couple of your men take 
a boat and go with him for an hour or two along shore, 
and gather a few ? it will be a great gratification to him." 
On another occasion, while he was at Fortress Monroe 
awaiting military operations upon the Peninsula, he 
called his aide, who was writing in the adjoining room, 
and read to him selections from " Hamlet " and " King 
John." Reciting the words where Constance bewails 
her imprisoned lost boy, Mr. Lincoln said: "Colonel, 
did you ever dream of a lost friend, and feel that you 
were holding sweet communion with that friend, and yet 
have a sad consciousness that it was not a reality? Just 
so I dream of my boy Willie." Overcome with emo- 
tion, he dropped his head on the table and sobbed 

A man who could thus feel towards his children may 
well be called an excellent father: and such Mr. Lincoln 
was. He was, as a lady relative of his who spent many 
months in his house said of him, " all that a husband, 
father and neighbor should be : kind and affectionate to 
his wife and child and very pleasant to all around him. 
Never," said she, "did I hear him utter an unkind 

Mr. Herndon, Mr. Lincoln's law partner, who knew 
both husband and wife well, summed up his estimate, 


based on long acquaintance, in a single sentence: "All 
that I know ennobles both." Mrs. Lincoln was a lonely 
woman much of the time spent in the White- House. 
The President had but little leisure to devote to her, and 
the state of the country was such that any display or 
gayety seemed out of keeping with the position she occu- 
pied. In the summer of 1864, the political canvas ab- 
sorbed attention, and much of the season Mrs. Lincoln 
spent at the watering-places. In the autumn she re- 
newed the receptions, and after the re-election of Mr. 
Lincoln the White House habitues saw promise of more 
pleasure than had been enjoyed there. The New Year 
reception of 1865 was the most brilliant entertainment 
|iven by the administration. Thousands of people paid 
I heir respects to the' President and Mrs. Lincoln, and 
Congratulated them on the confidence reposed in him by 
the people. The war was drawing to a close, and the 
North was inclined to look upon the Union as well-nigh 
restored. The inauguration was anxiously looked for- 
ward to, and when it was safely over the people 
breathed freer, and gave up the fear that had oppressed 

There was general rejoicing in the land when the long 
anticipated peace was declared. General Lee surren- 
dered on the Qth of April, and the White House was the 
scene of excitement from that time on to the close of 
the President's life. People thronged to congratulate 
him, and from all parts of the nation telegrams poured 
in upon him. The i4th of April was the fourth anni- 


versary of the fall of Sumter, and on that evening the 
President, Mrs. Lincoln, Major Rathbone, of the United 
States army, and a daughter of Senator Harris attended, 
by invitation, the performance at Ford's Theatre. A 
large audience greeted the President as he took his seat 
at the front of the private box. As he sat waiting for 
the curtain to rise on the third act, looking pensive and 
sad, as was his wont, he was shot from behind by John 
Wilkes Booth, the leader of a gang of conspirators, who 
had carefully matured their plans to kill the President 
and members of the Cabinet. The shot was a deadly 
one, and total insensibility followed it. 

Mrs. Lincoln, unnerved by the sudden and terrible 
event, was assisted from the theatre to a house across the 
street, where her husband had been taken. She re- 
mained beside him until death released him from all 
pain. The return to the White House was a journey 
never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The 
grief of Mrs. Lincoln and her children was shared by a 
nation of people, but nothing could restore the dead, or 
give back the husband and father who went out from 
their midst so well only the evening before. 

The afternoon of the day on which the President was 
shot he was out driving with his wife, and she subse- 
quently remarked that she never saw him so supremely 
happy as on this occasion. When the carriage was 
ordered she asked him if he would like any one to ac- 
company them, and he replied, " No ; I prefer to ride 
by ourselves to-day." During the ride his wife spoke 


of his cheerfulness, and his answer was : " Well, I may 
feel happy, Mary, for I consider this day the war has 
come to a close ; " and then added : " We must both 
be more cheerful in the future ; between the war and 
the loss of our darling Willie, we have been very miser- 
able." His household was very miserable from that 
awful nicrht. 


The grief manifested by little Tad, the youngest son, 
on learning that his father had been shot was touching 
to behold. For twenty-four hours he was inconsolable. 
He frequently said that "his father was never happy after 
he came here," and asked questions of those about him 
as to their belief in his beinof in heaven. He seemed 


resigned when this idea fastened itself strongly in his 
mind, and in his simplicity he imagined that his father's 
happiness in heaven made the sun shine brightly. 

Mrs. Lincoln never recovered from the shock. After 
the death of the President she remained in the W T hite 
House five weeks, too ill to depart. The remains of her 
husband were borne back to Illinois, through towns, 
villages and hamlets, bearing every outward token of 
woe, and the cortege was met at each stopping-place by 
thousands of mourners who paid their respects to the 
great dead. Impressive scenes occurred all along the 
route, and the funeral pageant which met the remains at 
Springfield was the largest ever assembled in the 
country. Robert Lincoln, the eldest son, accompanied 
the remains, and after all honor had been paid the body 
of the martyred father, he returned to remove his mother 
to their future home. 


The White House was like a public building during 
these sad weeks. The officials were embarrassed u rider 
the extraordinary circumstances, and the mansion was 
given over to servants. The soldiers on duty there had 
no other authority than to keep out the rabble, and no 
one felt justified in taking charge of the house while 
Mrs. Lincoln remained. The new President, Mr. John- 
son, disavowed any inclination to hasten her departure ; 
and when at last Mrs. Lincoln removed from the build- 
ing, it was in the condition to be expected after the hard 
usage it had received subsequent to the tragedy. 

Mrs. Lincoln left Washington accompanied by her 
sons, the youngest, " Tad," being her special care and 

The country learned with sincere regret of the death 
of this lad after the return of the family to their western 
home. Mrs. Lincoln, after all the excitement and the 
trials through which she had passed, was unable to live 
quietly in any place, and travelled with the hope of re- 
covering her health. In 1868 she went abroad and re- 

mained a considerable time in Germany. During her 
stay there she asked Congress for a pension, her letter 
to the Vice-President bearing date of January ist, 1869. 
The bill was presented by Senator Morton, of Indiana, 
and was adversely reported upon by the Committee on 
Pensions. It read as follows : 

"The committee are aware the friends of the resolu- 
tion expect to make a permanent provision for the lady 
under the guise of a pension ; but no evidence has been 


furnished to them, or reasons assigned why such pro- 
vision should be made. If such was the intention, the 
committee submit, the reference should have been made 
to some other committee, as the Committee on Pensions, 
at least for some years past, have not thought it com- 
patible with their duty or the objects of their appoint- 
ment to recommend in any case the granting of any 
special pension, or any pension of a greater amount than 
is allowed by some general law. If they thought the 
amount so allowed too small, they would feel it incum- 
bent on them to report a general bill for the relief in all 
similar cases. If the increase proposed was on account 
of extraordinary military or naval services, the proper 
reference would be to the military or naval committee. 
Under all these circumstances, the committee have no 
alternative but to report against the passage of the gen- 
eral resolutions." 

It was, however, granted her by a later Congress. 

Broken in health and depressed in spirits, Mrs. Lin- 
coln has lived in various countries, much of her time for 
several years being spent in France. She has not and 
will not recover from the catastrophe which robbed the 
country of its President, and her of her husband. With 
him died all her hopes of ambition, of home-life, and of 
rest and companionship in old age. 

In October, 1880, Mrs. Lincoln returned to the United 
States from France on the steamer Amerique, and 
among her fellow- voyagers was Mile. Bernhardt, the 
French actress. The New York Sun, in describing the 


arrival and reception of the latter thus incidentally men- 
tions Mrs. Lincoln : 

"A throng was assembled on the clock and a greater 
throng was in the street outside the gates. During the 
tedious process of working the ship into her dock there 
was a great crush in that part of the vessel where the 
gang plank was to be swung. Among the passengers 
who were here gathered was an aged lady. She was 
dressed plainly and almost commonly. There was a bad 
rent in her ample cloak. Her face was furrowed, and 
her hair was streaked with white. This was the widow 
of Abraham Lincoln. She was almost unnoticed. She 
had come alone across the ocean, but a nephew met her 
at Quarantine. She has spent the last four years in the 
south of France. When the gang plank was finally 
swung aboard, Mile. Bernhardt and her companions, in- 
cluding Mme. Columbier of the troupe, were the first to 
descend. The fellow- voyagers of the actress pressed 
about her to bid adieu, and a cheer was raised, which 
turned her head and provoked an astonished smile, as 
she stepped upon the wharf. The gates were besieged, 
and there was some difficulty in bringing in the carnage 
which was to convey the actress to her hotel. She tem- 
porarily waited in the freight office at the entrance to 
the wharf. Mrs. Lincoln, leaning on the arm of her 
nephew, walked toward the gate. A policeman touched 
the aged lady on the shoulder and bade her stand back. 
She retreated with her nephew into the line of spectators, 
while Manager Abbey's carriage was slowly brought in. 


The Bernhardt was handed inside, and the carnage made 
its way out through a mass of struggling 'longshoremen 
and idlers who pressed about it and stared in at the 
open windows. After it, went out the others who had 
been passengers on the Amerique, Mrs. Lincoln among 
the rest." 

Mrs. Lincoln went at once to Springfield, where her 
sister resided, and took up her abode with her, leading 
thenceforth a quiet and retired life. Her only son 
Robert was appointed Secretary of War by President 
Garfield. Some years previous to that event he had 
married the daughter of ex-Senator Harlan, and has a 
family of children growing up about him. 



IN the autumn of 1824, the term of a fatherless boy's 
apprenticeship expired, and he entered the world rich 
only in energy, and a noble ambition to provide for a 
\vidovved mother. But he was sensitive and anxious to 
enlarge his facilities for an education, and his strong 
mind grasped and analyzed the fact that to succeed he 
must form new ties, and find a broader field of action. 
Tennessee was the land of promise which attracted his 
attention, and accompanied by his mother, who justly 
deserved the affection he bestowed upon her, he reached 
Greenville in 1826. 

Young, aspiring, and ambitious, he was not long in 
making friends, and among them a beautiful girl evinced 
her appreciation of his character, by becoming his wife. 
Eliza McCardle was the only daughter of a widow, whose 
father had been dead many years, and whose life had 
been spent in her mountain home. When she was mar- 
ried, she had just reached her seventeenth year, and her 
husband was not yet twenty-one. 

Education in those days did not comprehend and 
embrace the scientific accomplishments it does now, but 
a naturally gifted mind, endowed with much common 
sense, received a broad basis for future development. 

She was well versed in the usual branches of instruc- 


tion, and possessed, in an extraordinary degree, that 
beauty of face and form which rendered her mother one 
of the most beautiful of women. 

It is a mistaken idea that she taught her husband his 
letters ; for in the dim shadows of the workshop at 
Raleigh, after the toil of the day was complete, he had 
mastered the alphabet and made himself generally ac- 
quainted with the construction of words and sentences. 
The incentive to acquire .mental attainment was cer- 
tainly enhanced when he felt the superiority of her ac- 
quirements, and from that time his heroic nature began 
to discover itself. In the silent watches of the night, 
while sleep rested upon the village, the youthful couple 
studied together ; she ofttimes reading as he completed 
the weary task before him, oftener still bending over 
him to guide his hand in writing. 

He never had the benefit of one day's school routine 
in his life, yet he acquired by perseverance the benefits 
denied by poverty. What a contemplation it must have 
been to those mothers who watched over their children 
as they struggled together ! Let time in its flight trans- 
port us back to those years, and see what a scene was 
being then enacted there. In that obscure village in the 
mountains, three strong, yet tender-hearted women 
watched over and cherished the budding genius of the 
future statesman. History, in preserving its record of 
the life and services of the seventeenth President of 
the United States, rears to them a noble tribute of their 


The young" wife, thrifty and industrious all day, 
worked patiently and hopefully as night brought her 
pupil again to his studies, and punctually completed 
her womanly duties that she might be ready for the 
never-varying rule of their lives. Much of latent 
powers he owed to her indefatigable zeal and encour- 
agement, and he never forgot those evening hours years 
ago when the scintillations of natural genius first began 
to dawn, which ultimately converted the tailor boy into 
the Senator, and subsequently into the President of his 

Year after year she watched him as he rose step by 
step, and always as willing and earnest as when in life's 
bright morn they were married. 

The later years of Mrs. Johnson's life were crowned 
with the honors her husband's successes had won, but 
the story of her younger days is fraught with most in- 
terest to all who can appreciate true worth and genuine 
greatness of soul. 

In her girlhood she was the purest type of a Southern 
beauty, and like her mother was very graceful and agree- 
able in her manners. I have heard persons say that her 
mother was the handsomest lady in all that region of coun- 
try, and her old neighbors stoutly maintained that Mrs. 
Johnson was the image of her. Her extreme modesty 
denied the imputation that she was the belle of the 

While their means increased as time passed, and the 
caroling of their little children gladdened their home, 


Mr. Johnson received his first substantial proof of the 
confidence of the community in which he lived in his 
election as "alderman." How intense must have been 
the joy of the good wife as she saw her pupil progressing 
in a career he was so well fitted to occupy ! 

At this time their residence was situated on a hill just 
out of Greenville, simple and plain in its surroundings, 
yet the resort of the young people of the village. The 
college boys, as they passed to and fro on errands, 
always stopped to enjoy a chat with their " Demos- 
thenes," and were ever welcomed by the genial, frank 
manners of the gentle wife. 

Fresh laurels crowned the alderman's brow when he 
was chosen Mayor, and for three terms he filled the po- 
sition with credit, winning for himself an enviable reputa- 
tion for honest deeds and correct principles. 

Little has been written of Mrs. Johnson, mainly from 
the fact that she always opposed any publicity being 
given to her private life, and from the reluctance of her 
friends to pain her by acceding to the oft-repeated re- 
quests of persons for sketches of her. In a conversa- 
tion held with her while she was in the White House, 
she remarked " that her life had been spent at home, 
caring for her children, and practising the economy ren- 
dered necessary by her husband's small fortune." 

An impartial writer cannot be swayed by such natural 
and creditable sentiments, nor is it just that a woman 
who was the means of advancing her husband's interests 
so materially, and who occupied the position she did, 


should be silently passed by. She deserved, as she re- 
ceived from all who were fortunate enough to know her, 
the highest encomiums; for by her unwearying efforts 
she was a stepping-stone to her husband. Patient and 
forbearing she was universally liked, and if she had an 
enemy it was from no fault of hers, nor did she number 
any among the acquaintances of a life-time. 

Like Mr. Johnson she had very few living relatives ; 
her children having neither aunts nor uncles, and being 
deprived of both grandmothers while they still were 
young. Mrs. Johnson's mother died in April, 1854, and 
his parent lived until February, 1856; each having been 
the object of his tenderest care, and living to see him 
holding the highest position his native State could bestow. 
There was not two years' difference in the deaths of these 
two mothers, and it was the unspeakable happiness of 
their children to know that as the wick burned low, and 
the lamp of time went out, all that peace and plenty 
could devise for their happiness they received, and their 
departure from earth was rendered calmly serene by the 
assurance that their work was well done and finished. 

When the civil war, which snapped the cords of so 
many old persons' lives and hurried them to premature 
graves, sounded its dread tocsin through East Tennes- 
see, it was a source of mournful satisfaction to know 
that those two aged mothers lay unconscious of the ap- 
proaching conflict which was to bathe that section of the 
State in blood. The tall grass grew unharmed, and 
no impious hand desecrated the resting-place of de- 
parted virtue. 


During the meetings of the Legislature to which Mr. 
Johnson was repeatedly called, Mrs. Johnson remained 
at Greenville; and while he sought honors and support 
away from home, she found compensation for his pro- 
longed absence in the knowledge that she best pro- 
moted his interest when she lived within their still 
slender means. Her children received the benefit of 
her ripe, matured experience, until one by one they left 
their home; two to marry and dwell near her, and the 
youngest to be a comfort in her days of suffering. Her 
home in Greenville was thus described in 1865: "Just 
down there, at the base of this hill, stands a small brick 
building with a back porch, and around it the necessary 
fixtures. It stands on the corner of the square, near 
where the mill-race passes under the street on its way 
down to the little mill. That is the first house Andrew 
Johnson ever owned. It now belongs to another person. 
Almost directly opposite the mill, whose large wheel is 
still moving, but whose motion is scarcely perceptible, 
you will see a rather humble, old-fashioned-looking, two- 
story brick house, standing near the south end of Main 
street. It has but one entrance from the street. In 
front of it stand three or four small shade-trees. The 
fences of the lot and windows of the house show evi- 
dent signs of dilapidation, the consequences of rebellion 
and of rebel rule. Like many other windows in the 
South, a number of panes of glass are broken out and 
their places supplied with paper. Glass could not be 
obtained in the Confederacy. As you pass along the 


pavement on Main street, by looking into the lot you 
will see several young apple trees, and in the spaces be- 
tween two of them are potatoes growing. In the rear 
of the kitchen stands a small aspen shade-tree, and down 
there in the lower end of the lot is a grape-vine trained 
upon a trellis, forming a pleasant bower. Scattered 
over the lot are a number of rose, currant, and goose- 
berry bushes. At the lower end of the lot, and just 
outside, stand two large weeping willows, and under 
their shade is a very beautiful spring. This is the resi- 
dence of Andrew^ Johnson, President of the United 
States. Up the street stands his former tailor shop, 
with the old sign still on it. And in an old store-room 
up the street are the remains of his library. At present, 
it consists principally of law books and public documents, 
most of his valuable books having been destroyed by 
the rebel soldiers." 

In the spring of "'61," Mrs. Johnson spent two 
months in Washington with her husband, then a Senator, 
but failing health compelled her early return to Tennes- 
see. Long and stormy were the seasons which passed 
before she again met Mr. Johnson, and how changed 
were all things when they resumed the broken thread 
of separation, after an interval of nearly two years! 

At her home quietly attending to the duties of life, 
and cheered by the frequent visits of her children, she 
was startled one bright morning by the following sum- 
mons : 



"OFFICE PROVOST-MARSHAL, April 24^, 1862. J 

" MRS. ANDREW JOHNSON, Greenville : 

" Dear Madam : By Major-General E. Kirby Smith 
I am directed to respectfully require that you and your 
family pass beyond the Confederate States' line (through 
Nashville, if you please) in thirty-six hours from this 

" Passports will be granted you at this office. 
"Very respectfully, 


"Colonel and Provost- Marshal.'* 

This was an impossibility, both on account of her very 
poor health, and the unsettled state of her affairs. Nor 
did she know where to go; rumors reached her of the 
murder of Mr. Johnson in Kentucky, and again at 
Nashville ; then again she would hear that he had not 
left Washington. She knew not what to do, and ac- 
cordingly wrote to the authorities for more time to 
decide on some definite plan. 

The military movements delayed the execution of 
the next order sent her, and the continued illness of 
Mrs. Johnson distressed her children, who knew that a 
change of residence would sooner or later become 
necessary. All the summer she remained in Greenville, 
occasionally visiting her daughters, and hoping daily to 
hear of her husband. September came, and knowing 
she would be compelled to leave East Tennessee, she 
applied to the authorities for permission to cross the 


lines, accompanied by her children and her son-in-law, 
Mr. Stover. 

Finally, after numerous endeavors, the cavalcade set 
out. A few miles out from town they were overtaken 
by an order to return. 

Reaching Murfreesboro, exhausted and weary from 
the long trip, the little band were told they could not 
go through the lines. The Confederate troops occupied 
this once beautiful town, and no accommodations were 
to be obtained. Wandering from one house to another 
after the long walk from the depot, in the night-time, 
without food or shelter, Mrs. Johnson and her children 
despaired of securing any more inviting abode than the 
depot, and that was a long distance from the centre of 
the town. As a last resort, a woman was requested to 
share her home with the tired refugees, and she con- 
sented with the understanding that in the morning they 
would depart. Their Union sentiments made them 
obnoxious, and it required courage to show them hospi- 
tality. Next day they returned to Tullahoma, but on 
arriving there received a teleoram to retrace their 

o o 

steps, as arrangements had been made for their pas- 
sage through to Nashville. 

A former friend of the family obtained this favor for 
them, and, nothing daunted, night again found the same 
band at Murfreesboro. 

No effort was made to secure lodgings, all preferring 
to stay on the cars, rather than undertake the expe- 
riences of the previous night, 


The eating-house near by was vacant, and into this 
Colonel Stover conducted the tired party. Without fire 
or food, or any kind of beds or seats, they determined 
to stay as best they could; and but for the thoughtful, 
motherly care of Mrs. Johnson, it would have been a 
night of horrors. She had provided herself with candles 
and matches before starting, and the remnants of an old 
lunch satisfied the hunger of the little ones, and rendered 
less cheerless their lonely abode. 

Thus, from one trouble to another, subject to the com- 
mands of military rulers, liable to be arrested for the 
slightest offence, and ofttimes insulted by the rabble, 
Mrs. Johnson and her children performed the perilous 
journey from Greenville to Nashville. Few who were 
not actual participators in the civil war can form an esti- 
mate of the trials of this noble woman. Invalid as she 
was, she yet endured exposure and anxiety, and passed 
through the extended lines of hostile armies, never 
uttering a hasty word or by her looks betraying in the 
least degree her harrowed feelings. Wherever she 
passed she won kind words and hearty prayers for a safe 
journey, and is remembered by friend and foe as a lady 
of benign countenance and sweet, winning manners. 

The following day Mrs. Johnson received the follow- 

ing note : 

"MuRFREEbBORO, October I2///, 1862. 

" MRS. ANDREW JOHNSON : General Forrest sends a 
flag of truce to Nashville -to-morrow morning, and he 
wishes you and your party to make your arrangements to 
go down with the flag, at seven o'clock A, M., to-morrow. 


" The General regrets that he has no transportation 
for you ; he will send a two-horse wagon to carry your 
baggage, etc. By remaining until to-morrow, you can 
go the direct route to Nashville ; by going previous to 
that time, the route would be necessarily circuitous. 



A diary kept by a citizen of Nashville at this time 
contains the following : 

" Quite a sensation has been produced by the arrival 
in Nashville of Governor Johnson's family, after incur- 
ring and escaping numerous perils while making their 
exodus from East Tennessee. The male members of 
the family were in danger of being hung on more than 
one occasion. They left Bristol in the extreme north- 
eastern section of the State, on the Virginia line, by per- 
mission of the rebel War Department, accompanied by 
a small escort. Wherever it became known on the rail- 
road route that Andrew Johnson's family were on the 
train, the impertinent cuiiosity of some rebels was only 
equalled by the clamor of others for some physical 
demonstration on Johnson's sons. Arriving at Mur- 
freesboro, they were met by General Forrest and his 
force. Forrest refused to allow them to proceed, and 
they were detained some time, until Isharn G. Harris and 
Andrew Evving, noted rebels, telegraphed to Richmond, 
and obtained peremptory orders allowing them to pro- 
ceed. The great joy at the reunion of this long and 


sorrowfully separated family may be imagined. I will 
not attempt to describe it. Even the Governor's Roman 
firmness was overcome, and he wept tears of thankful- 
ness at this merciful deliverance of his beloved ones 
from the hands of their unpitying persecutors." 

Nashville and comparative quiet were at last reached, 
and the long separated family hoped their trials were 
over. Mrs. Johnson had exhausted her strength, and 
for many months kept her room, too feeble to venture 
out. But her little grandchildren enjoyed the freedom 
of play once more, and their happy faces are remem- 
bered by strangers and friends who watched them in 
their gambols about the capital. 

By-and-by Mrs. Patterson joined the family in the 
safe asylum they had found in Nashville, and young and 
old were happy in the reunion. But trouble, never far 
from Mrs. Johnson, came very near in tho cruel death 
of her eldest son. Not long after receiving his diploma 
as physician, he was appointed a surgeon in the First 
Tennessee Infantry. 

One bright spring morning, he started on his rounds 
of professional duty. In the exuberance of health, youth, 
and spirits, he sprang upon the horse of a brother offi- 
cer. He had gone but a short distance, when the high- 
mettled creature reared upon its hind feet suddenly; the 
young man was thrown backward, and falling upon the 
frozen earth, was instantly killed. The concussion frac- 
tured his skull. Mrs. Johnson grieved for this son as 
did Jacob for his beloved Joseph, and not only the 


mother, but the whole family, mourned with unusual 
poignancy his untimely death. Any mention of " Char- 
lie's" name for years after brought the hot tears to their 
eyes, and a sadness, hard to dispel, gathered about their 
lips, when some familiar object recalled their loved and 
early lost one. 

The convention, in 1864, nominated Andrew Johnson, 
then Military Governor, for the Vice-Presidency, on the 
ticket with Mr. Lincoln. In March, 1865, Mr. Johnson 
left his family in Nashville and went on to Washington. 
It was their intention to vacate the house then occupied 
by their family and remove to their home in Greenville, 
but the events of the coming month caused them to form 
other plans. President Lincoln was assassinated the 
1 4th of April, and the Vice-President was immediately 
sworn into office. A telegraphic notice in the Nashville 
papers the next morning contained the following: 

"The Vice-President has already assumed the au- 
thority which the Constitution devolves upon him, and 
we feel doubly assured that he will so conduct himself 
in his high office as to merit the affection and applause 
of his countrymen." As this was the first murder of 
a ruler in the experience of the Republic, it will ever 
occupy a prominent place in the history of America, 
and, involving as it did the result of civil war, will live a 
silent monitor to all democratic countries. Had the con- 
spiracy, which had been carefully planned, been suc- 
cessfully executed, the Government would have been 
paralyzed. Even as it was, and there was but one 


death, when many others were meditated, the shock was 
terrible and lasting. It was a humiliating calamity to 
our free government, and a source of national sorrow 
and mortification. Men and women, reared to idealize 
rather than ponder the principles of the system 
under which they had lived ; educated to give a ready 
assent to the hero worship of the signers of the 
Declaration, and voluntary adoration to the First 
General- of the army, and the first President, rudely 
awakened from their dream of a perfect Government, 
became discouraged and dismayed at the unexpected, 
never to be thought of, murder of a President. It may 
not be amiss to orve a few facts in connection with this 


unhappy affair, relative to the husband of Mrs. Johnson, 
which, affecting her interests materially, are not out of 
place in this sketch of her life. 

After her arrival in Washington, a beautifully bound 
album, containing the letters of the Wisconsin State 
Historical Society, to Senator Doolittle, and the replies 
of himself and Ex-Governor Farwell, was presented to 
her. The letters were inscribed by an expert penman, 
and are prized by the family as a truthful account of 
Mr. Johnson's narrow escape from death, together 
with the main incidents of the assassination conspiracy. 

The Historical Society of Wisconsin, through Hon. 
L. C. Draper, its Secretary, wrote to Senator J. R. Doo- 
little for a full account of the circumstances; to which 
he replied, that "by the sagacity, presence of mind, 
courage, and devotion of Governor Farwell, our own 


distinguished fellow-citizen, Mr. Johnson was apprised 
of his danger, and his life secured, if not absolutely 
saved from destruction ; " " and it is a matter of con- 
gratulation to ourselves and our State that a former 
Governor of Wisconsin was successfully efficient in 
securing the life of the nation's Chief Magistrate." 

Governor Harwell's letter, in reply to the request of 
the Society, through Senator Doolittle, is perhaps the 
most authentic statement ever made in regard to the 
unfortunate affair. It is as follows: 

"WASHINGTON, February Sth, 1866. 

" HON. JAMES R. DOOLITTLE, United States Senate 

"DEAR SIR: I have received your favor of the 226. 
ult., requesting, on behalf of the Wisconsin State His- 
torical Society, a statement of my connection with the 
occurrences that took place in this city on the night of 
the assassination of President Lincoln. It is a mournful 
task to recall the terrible scenes that I then witnessed. 
Yet in order that the expressed wishes of that Society, 
of which from the time of its formation I have been a 
member, and in which. I have always taken a deep 
interest, may be gratified, and a truthful account of 
those events, so far as I witnessed them, may find its 
way into history, I comply with the request. 

"At the time of the assassination of President Lin- 
coln, I was boarding at the Kirkwood House, my family 
being then in Wisconsin. The Vice-President had 
rooms, and was boarding at the same place, and I there 


came to know him, and occasionally passed an evening 
in his room. 

"Early in the evening of April I4th, 1865, I called 
to see Mr. J. B. Crosby, of Massachusetts, and found 
that he had but a short time to stay and was very de- 
sirous of seeing the President before his return. Hav- 
ing noticed in the papers a statement that Mr. Lincoln 
was expected to be present at Ford's Theatre on that 
evening, to witness the play entitled * Our American 
Cousin,' we concluded to go thither for the express 
purpose of seeing him. This we did, and procured 
seats having the President's box in full view on our 
right. When the fatal shot was fired, we involunta* 
rily turned our eyes to the box from which the sound 
proceeded, and at the same instant the horrible vision 
of J. Wilkes Booth flashed upon my eyes, brandishing 
a knife, and jumping from the President's box repeal- 
ing the words, ' Sic Semper Tyrannis." I had scarcely 
seen and heard him before he had vanished from the 
stage. As the President fell, and the cry ran through 
the house that he was assassinated, it flashed across my 
mind that there was a conspiracy being consummated 
to take the lives of the leading officers of the Govern- 


ment, which would include that of Mr. Johnson. The 
cause of this suspicion and of my alarm for the safety 
of Mr. Johnson was, probably, the fact of my having 
read in some newspaper the article copied from the 
Selma (Ala.) Despatch, being an offer by some fiendish 

rebel to aid in contributing a million of dollars for 


procuring the assassination of Lincoln, Johnson, and 

"While some seemed paralyzed by the boldness of 
the deed, and others intent upon knowing how seriously 
the President was injured, I rushed from the theatre, and 
ran with all possible speed to the Kirkwood House, to 
apprise Mr. Johnson of the impending danger, impelled 
by a fear that it mi^ht even then be too late. Passino- 

* o <5 

Mr. Spencer, one of the clerks of the hotel, who was 
standing just outside the door, I said to him, ' Place a 
guard at the door: President Lincoln is murdered; ' and 
to Mr. Jones, another clerk, who was at the office desk 
as I hurried by ' Guard the stairway and Governor 
Johnson's room: Mr. Lincoln is assassinated;' and then 
darting up to Mr. Johnson's room, No. 68, I knocked, 
but hearing no movement, I knocked again, and called 
out with the loudest voice that I could command, ' Gov- 
ernor Johnson, if you are in this room I must see you.' 
In a moment I heard him spring from his bed, and ex- 
claim, 'Farwell, is that you ? ' ' Yes, let me in,' I replied. 
The door opened, I passed in, locked it, and told him 
the terrible news, which for a time overwhelmed us both, 
and grasping hands, we fell upon each other as if for 
mutual support. But it was only for a moment. While 
every sound suggested the stealthy tread of a conspirator, 
and every corner of the chamber a lurking place, yet 
Mr. Johnson, without expressing any apprehension for 
his own safety, and with that promptness and energy 
which has always characterized him, at once deliberated 


upon the proper course to meet the emergency. But 
the moment of danger had passed. The officers of the 
hotel, as requested by me, had s-tationed guards, who in 
a short time were released by Secretary Stanton. Soon 
many personal friends of Mr. Johnson arrived, anxiously 
inquiring for his safety. In the meantime, the news of 
the murderous assault upon Secretary Seward and his 
son Frederick had reached us, and justified our fears as 
to the general purpose of the conspirators. Mr. John- 
son was desirous of knowing the real condition of the 
President and Mr. Seward, and requested me to go and 
see them personally, and not to credit any story or rumor 
that might be flying about the city. This was no easy 
task. Distrust and horror seemed to fill every mind. 
The very atmosphere was burdened with stories of dark 
conspiracies and bloody deeds. Thousands of excited 
citizens, soldiers, and guards, blocked up every avenue 
leading to Mr. Peterson's house, No. 453 Tenth Street, 
to which the President had been carried, and in which he 
was dying. None but prominent citizens, either known 
to the officers of the guard, or who could be generally 
vouched for, were allowed to pass, and it was with the 
utmost difficulty that I succeeded in working my way 
through the crowd and past the guards to the house, 
and then into the room in which the President had been 
placed. The news was all too true. There he lay, 
evidently in the agonies of death, his medical attendants 
doing all that human zeal or skill could devise, and 
many of his friends had gathered about him, some in 


tears. Turning away from this sad sight, I worked my 
way to the house of Secretary Seward, and there, too, I 
found that the villains had done their work. I then 
returned and reported to Mr. Johnson the disastrous 
doings of the conspirators. In a short time Mr. Johnson 
resolved to see the President himself. His friends 
thought he ought not to leave the house when there 
was so much excitement in the city, and when the extent 
of the conspiracy was unknown. President Lincoln had 
just been shot in the presence of a crowded assembly, 
and his assassin had escaped. Secretary Seward had 
been stabbed in his chamber, and the minion had fled. 
But he determined to go. Major James R. O'Beirne, 
commanding the Provost Guard, desired to send a de- 
tachment of troops with him, but he declined the offer, 
and, buttoning up his coat, and pulling his hat well 
down, he requested me to accompany him and the 
Major to lead the way, and thus we went through the 
multitude that crowded the streets and filled the pas- 
sage-way, till we joined the sad circle of friends who 
were grouped around the bedside of the dying Presi- 
dent. It is unnecessary to acid anything more to this 
account of my connection with an event which forms, 
with the rebellion plot, the darkest chapter in our coun- 
try's history. 

" If it is true, as regarded by many, that the life of 
President Johnson was saved by the timely arrival of 
citizens at the Kirkwood, at the risk of their lives, then 
such risk was properly, and so far as I am concerned, 


joyfully incurred, and this statement may be worthy of 
preservation. Trusting- that this may meet the wishes 
of the Society as expressed through you, 

" I have the honor to be, 
" Respectfully, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" L. J. HARWELL." 

The Washington correspondent of the Chicago Re- 
publican thus speaks of Mrs. Johnson : 

" Mrs. Johnson, a confirmed invalid, has never ap- 
peared in society in Washington. Her very existence 
is a myth to almost every one. She was last seen at a 
party given to her grandchildren. She was seated in 
one of the Republican Court chairs, a dainty affair of 
satin and ebony. She did not rise when the children 
or old guests were presented to her ; she simply said, 
' My dears, I am an invalid,' and her sad, pale face and 
sunken eyes fully proved the expression. Mrs. Johnson 
looks somewhat older than the President, and her age 
does exceed his by a few swings of the scythe of time. 
She. is an invalid now, but an observer would say, con- 
templating her, 'A noble woman God's best gift to 
man.' Perhaps it is well to call to mind at this time 
that it was this woman who taught the President to 
read, after she became his wife, and that in all their 
earlier years she was his counsellor, assistant, and guide. 
None but a wise and good mother could have reared 
such daughters as Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Stover. 


When Mrs. Senator Patterson found herself ' the first 
lady in the land," she made this remark, which has been 
the key-note of the feminine department of the White 
House from that day to the present time : 4 We are 
plain people, from the mountains of Tennessee, called 
here for a short time by a national calamity. I trust 
too much will not be expected of us.' When Anna 
Surratt threw herself prostrate upon the floor of one of 
the ante-rooms of the W T hite House, begging to see 
Mrs. Patterson, she said : 'Tell the girl she has my sym- 
pathy, my tears, but I have no more right to speak than 
the servants of the White House.'' When the 'pardon 
brokers' trailed their slimy lengths everywhere about 
the Mansion, they never dared to cross a certain en- 
chanted pathway ; and the face of any lobbyist set in 
this direction has always brought up in the end against 
a stone wall." 

Mrs. Johnson shared as little as possible in the honors 
accorded her family, as well after as during their stay in 
the White House, and gladly turned her face homeward, 
to find rest and repose so necessary to her feeble con- 

Once more quietly established at home, she anticipated 
renewed happiness in the presence of her reunited 
family, and reasonably hoped to have much happiness 
in the future. 

Death hovered near her when least expected, and one 
night, as the servant entered the room of her son (Col. 
Robert Johnson), he was discovered in a dying condh 


tion, and in an unconscious state passed from earth. 
From a tear-stained letter is gathered these sad particu- 
lars. " He was well and on the street at five o'clock, 
and at dusk, as the servant went as usual to light his 
lamp, she discovered that he was in a deep sleep. He 
was never aroused from it. All the physicians of the 
village were immediately called in, but alas! too late to 
do any good. He breathed his last at half-past eleven 
that night, without a single groan or struggle. 

" I do not suppose he ever made an enemy in his life. 
He was certainly the most popular boy ever raised in 
this part of the country, and continued so after he be- 
came a man. Oh, if he could only have spoken one 
word to us ! but he passed into the tomb, unconscious 
of all around him. He w r as buried with Masonic honors, 
and the largest funeral ever before seen in this village 
accompanied his remains to the grave." 

After seven years of wanderings, he was permitted to 
accompany his parents to their home, and to die sur- 
rounded by the friends of his youth. 

Mrs. Johnson grieved deeply for this son as she had 
done for his brother. She lived in and for her family, and 
the loss of any one dear to her affected her seriously. 
Frail in health, tried by anxiety and care in early life, 
and a confirmed sufferer in maturer years, she became 
now a helpless invalid ; and though she was glad to be 
at home again, pleased to see the kindly faces of her old 
neighbors and friends, she could not be an active partic-. 
ipator in anything. She could only mourn for her dead,, 


and receive and give comfort to those about her in her 
own home. The world saw but little more of her. The 
suggestion at this time that she would live longer than Mr. 
Johnson, if made to her, would have been derided. She 
had little thought of recovering her health at any time, 
and particularly after the first ten years of her invalidism. 
Subsequent to her return, and the death of Robert, she 
ceased to entertain the wish to live many years, for she 
was less and less concerned in public affairs, now that 
her husband had retired, and was likely to remain, as she 
thought, in private life. His health was not as robust as 
formerly, and during the summer succeeding his return 
from Washington, he was stricken with cholera, and his 
life was for a time despaired of. From this he recovered, 
and in the fall he was again participating in the service 
of redeeming Tennessee from the reconstruction errors 
into which it had been led by men more eager for place 
than true principle. 

In 1874 Mr. Johnson was elected to the Senate to 
succeed William G. Brownlow, and his wife saw him set 
out again for Washington, holding the same position he 
had held before the war. She rejoiced in the ovation 
that was paid him ; read all that the papers said of him, 
and was pleased that his career was not over, as she had 
at one time supposed. He was again in Greenville in 
the early spring, and the quiet home-life was continued 
during the summer. He spent much time from home 
during the following season, making speeches through- 
out the State, and giving his time as of old to politics. 


As a defeated candidate, he returned, to Greenville from 
Nashville that season, and Mrs. Johnson then felt that 
they were two old people who would go towards the 
grave together quietly, surrounded by the worldly com- 
fort he had secured for his family. This was not to be, 

It was given him to enjoy the triumph of a re- 
election to the Senate for the lono; term, beginning- in 

o o o 

December, 1874, and he sat out the extraordinary ses- 
sion, and made his last speech in the Louisiana case. 
But it was not given this indomitable patriot long to 
enjoy the dignity with ease, which his own party and his 
opponents equally wished. He only lived to attend 
this one session, and the opportunity was given him to 
make one speech of importance to himself as a vindica- 
tion of the course he had pursued while President. It 
\vas an appeal for the rights of a population whose gov- 
ernment was kept from them by military force, and in it 
he threw all the fervor and sincerity of a man who was 
not only deeply interested in the subject, but who was 
speaking in favor of a policy he had devised and upheld 
under most adverse circumstances. Naturally enough, 
it was the grandest effort of his life, as it was his last. 
He went back from the Senate to his own people, and 
in mid-summer he was stricken down with death. On 
the morning of the 3ist of July, 1875, he died at the res- 
idence of his youngest daughter in Carter county. Her 
home was not far distant from Greenville, and he 
thought that, though ill when starting, he would fecuper- 


ate from the fatigue of the ride, and recover more 
speedily in the country than in town. He had fre- 
quently said to his physician that " he did not think he 
coulcl hold out more than a year or two longer, as 
he was completely worn out." Two clays before his last 
illness, he made a similar remark to his wife, who was 
anxiously noting the change that had come over his 
spirits. He left her in the early morning, saying good- 
bye, with no thought of a longer absence than a week or 
two. The next morning his son and daughter were 
summoned to their father's bedside, and the startling 
news was broken to the invalid wife. She could not go 
to him, and her part was to remain alone in her deserted 
house, while her children hastened away. When they 
returned, it was to bring with them the dead. From 
this shock she did not recover. At no time had she 
ever entertained the slightest thought of outliving her 
husband, and now that this event had occurred, she was 
stunned and bewildered. She lived for six months, and 
died at the home of her eldest daughter on the I3th of 
January, 1876. It was not an unlooked-for event, though 
her children had become so accustomed to her invalid- 
ism, that they could not realize she was dying. She was 
always quiet and gentle, and her serenity deceived even 
those who watched over her continually. Very patiently 
and uncomplainingly she bore her part of sorrows, and 
it was only after she was dead that others realized what 
a sufferer she had been. Denied every other means of 
serving her loved ones, she cheered them, and the un- 


selfishness of her life was not fully understood until two 
white hands were clasped in death, and her sad eyes 
were closed forever. She lived for others, and counted 
not self, and was rewarded for all life's trials in the love 
she was capable of giving to others. She was a woman 
of heroic mould, and her life-example was a noble one 
to her family, to her friends, and to the world. 

Mrs. Johnson was buried beside her husband in the 
romantic place he selected many years ago. At the time 
he bought the property, Mr. Johnson offered to pur- 
chase sufficient ground for a public cemetery, provided 
the authorities would improve it. The liberal offer was 
not accepted, and for a time there were no other graves 
there. The monument erected by the children is a 
superb structure, standing twenty-six feet high, with a 
base that is nearly ten feet square. Granite piers rest 
on each of the graves, lying side by side, over which is 
sprung a granite arch, and upon this the monument 
rests, leaving an opening under the arch, through which 
are seen the graves. The structure is one of great 
beauty, with its four funeral urns supported on pilasters, 
and its exquisite carving. Upon the front of the arch 
is carved a scroll, representing the Constitution of the 
United States, and an open book with a hand resting 
upon it, representing the taking of the oath of office. 
Over the apex of the shaft which of itself is thirteen 
feet high hangs an American flag in graceful folds, and 
surmounting the whole is an American eagle with out- 
stretched wings. On the 28th of May, 1878, this monu- 


ment was unveiled with the most imposing ceremonies, 
and for the first time the simple inscription was seen. 
It contained the names, ages, and death dates of Mr. 
and Mrs. Johnson, and underneath the name of the 
seventeenth President is the motto : 

" His faith in the people never wavered." 



THE resemblance to her father is a marked attribute 
of Mrs. Patterson's face; a reproduction, though moulded 
in a softer cast, of his distinct and strong features and 
expressive eyes. She inherited his executive ability, his 
comprehensiveness, and many of his characteristic pecu- 
liarities. Her countenance denotes strength, and the 
organs of the head indicate a harmonious and perfect 
blending with the finer sentiments of the heart. 

Eyes large and full discover her power of language, 
and the development of form, color, size and weight, 
attest her ability to judge correctly and estimate propor- 
tions unerringly. Viewed from a phrenological stand- 
point, hers is a remarkable organism. The head is sym- 
metrical, tending upward from the brow, indicating 
spirituality, and gently sloping to the ears and neck, em- 
bracing in its outlines the faculties of firmness, gen- 
erosity and benevolence. 

Never led off by persuasion from what her judgment 
decides correct, she rarely makes a mistake in regard to 
persons or places, and is the firm advocate of those less 
fortunate than herself. Like her heart, her mouth is 
large, the lips partaking more of the intellectual than 



of the sensual. The length, prominence, and compres- 
sion of the upper lip, bespeaks the firmness and strength 
of character which stamps her, wherever she goes, a 
woman of rare powers. Adapting herself to circum- 
stances, she quickly masters any situation in which she 
is placed, and controls rather than follows the will of 
others. The intellectual lobe is large, the perceptive 
and reflective faculties are harmoniously blended, and 
withal hers is an educated intellect, with an available 
mind. She is possessed of almost sleepless energy, and 
her slight, frail form seems knitted for endurance. 
Never restless or impatient, she comprehends at a 
glance her position and requirements, and by the force 
of her will overcomes obstacles and bears up with forti- 
tude under accumulated trials. 

Reared in the mountains of East Tennessee, her 
nature is untrammeled by artistic contortions, and her 
manners are as free from ostentation as are the feelings 
which prompt them. The eldest of five children, she 
was to her mother an efficient aid in the care of her 
brothers and sister, and in the management of her house. 
When she was old enough to attend school, it was her 
task to assist in keeping house, and no duty was neg- 
lected. It has been remarked that she never had time 
to play. While other school-girls amused themselves in 
the sports of the season, the pale, quiet Martha Johnson 
hastened back to relieve her mother, and by her inde- 
fatigable industry performed the many deeds so grate- 
ful to a parent, when offered by a child. The neigh- 


bors called her a strange, silent being, indifferent to 
the ordinary amusements of the young, but she felt her- 
self ennobled by the work she daily made a part of her 
life, and passed these younger years in her own earnest 

She was placed by her father, who was then a mem- 
ber of Congress, at school in Georgetown, where she 
remained three terms, and there laid the foundation of 
the structure which, as she grows older, develops her 
native strength of mind. 

It happened that, during her school-life in George- 
town, President Polk, of Tennessee, occupied the White 
House, and she became his frequent guest, spending 
most of her holidays in the mansion in which, later in 
life, she was to preside. Her own accounts of her 
sojourn are amusing, deprecating as she does the awk- 
ward conduct of the timid, bashful girl, in the stately 
residence, through which the voices of children never 
resounded. She was shy and distant, and the stately 
kindness of the hostess could not overcome her shrink- 
ing reserve ; it was her greatest delight then to observe 
persons, and the opportunity afforded was not lost upon 
her. She returned home in 1851, and was married to 
Judge David T. Patterson, on the i3th of December, 
1856. No wedding festivities marked the occasion, it 
being congenial to her habits to have a quiet ceremony. 
After which she visited Nashville, where her father was 
residing as Governor of the State. Extending her tour 
through the Southern cities to New Orleans, she returned 


to her old home in Tennessee, where she continued to 
live until the war in 1860 disturbed the private relations 
of the entire family. Throughout the stormy years of 
'61 and '62, she remained in East Tennessee, nor did 
she leave there till, late in the next year, she visited her 
mother's family at Nashville. It was her intention to 
remain several months and then go back to her home ; 
but before she again crossed its threshold, the two con- 
tending armies had passed through the place, leaving 
nothing but the empty house. Every particle of furni- 
ture, every prized relic of her own and her children's 
infant years were gone, and their home was desolated. 
She trod its familiar apartments where she had left so 
many mementos of a happy past, and nothing remained 
save the bare walls. Well she remembered the arrang- 
ing and adjusting of everything before closing it up, and 
as she gazed upon its comfortless appearance, her mind 
dwelt upon the time she had spent in adding to its 

The family were in Nashville when the nomination of 
the father, then Military Governor of Tennessee, as 
Vice-President was announced, and they witnessed the 
delight of the Union men of the Capital, as the news 
spread of his success. 

Early in February, the Vice-President proposed to 
leave Tennessee, and his children decided to seek once 
more their home in Greenville. The news of the assas- 
sination of President Lincoln flashed over the wires on 
the morning of the i5th of April, as the drums were 


beating and soldiers parading for a grand review and 
procession in honor of the recent victories. It reached 
the family of Mr. Johnson as they were preparing for 
their removal home, and awakened in their breasts 
anxious fears for the fate of the husband and father. 
Assurances of his safety calmed their minds, and with 
deep thankfulness that he was spared, they sorrowed 
for the untimely death of the President. The Nashville 
papers of the iQth of April thus speak of the funeral 
procession in honor of the murdered Chief Magistrate : 

"All places of business were closed, and every store 
and dwelling appropriately draped in mourning. The 
procession numbered upward of fifteen thousand per- 
sons ; among them were Generals Thomas, Miller, 
Whipple and Donaldson, and in the line of civilians 
which swelled its length was seen the carriage of Mrs. 

o o 

James K. Polk, occupied by herself and Mrs. Patterson, 
the daughter of President Johnson." 

The family of the new President reached Washington 
in June, and soon after took up their residence in the 
White House. Here was a new field entirely for the 
diffident woman who was compelled to do the honors in 
lieu of her mother, who was a confirmed invalid. After 
the harrowing scenes through which the former occu- 
pants had passed, the House looked anything but invit- 
ing to the family. Soldiers had wandered unchallenged 
the entire suites of parlors ; and the East Room, dirty 
and soiled, looked as little like itself as could be im- 
agined. Guards had slept upon the sofas and carpets 



until they were ruined, and the immense crowds who, 
during 1 the preceding years of war, filled the President's 
house continually, had worn out the already ancient 
furniture. No sign of neatness or comfort greeted 
their appearance at their new home, but evidences 
everywhere of neglect and decay met their eyes. To 
put aside all ceremony and work constantly, was the 
portion of Mrs. Patterson, under whose control were 
placed the numerous servants connected with the estab- 

"The first reception held by President Johnson was 
on the first of January, 1866, assisted by Mrs. Patterson 
and Mrs. Stover, his two daughters. Their softness and 
ease of manner had an eloquent external expression in 
the simple neatness of their apparel, and surpassed in 
quiet dignity all who gathered to see them. The house 
had not been renovated, and the apartments were dingy 
and destitute of ornament save two kinds, which are 
more touchingly beautiful than gems of the East. 
Natural flowers were in profusion, and left their fra- 
grance, while the little children of the house were living, 
breathing ornaments attracting every eye. The old 
injured furniture of the East Room was removed, and 
the worn-out carpets covered with linen. The super- 
vision of Mrs. Patterson made the house quite present- 
able. Mrs. Patterson was attired in a blue velvet, white 
lace shawl, and point lace collar. Her dark hair was put 
back from her face, with pendent tresses, and adorned 
with a single white flower. Mrs. Stover, who was yet in 


half-mourning for her gallant husband, wore a heavy 
black silk, with no ornaments in her light hair." 

During the early spring an appropriation was made 
by Congress of thirty thousand dollars to refurnish the 
Executive Mansion, and during the long and warm sum- 
mer succeeding, Mrs. Patterson struggled unceasingly 
with the "atlas-heaps of lumber and old furniture scarcely 
worth repairing, but which was renovated for use. The 
firmness and decision of her character was fully tested 
in this trying ordeal, but she triumphed over every 
difficulty, and so managed the amount appropriated 
that the Executive Mansion was once more comfort- 
able and more beautiful than ever before. 

Appreciating the condition of the country just emerg- 
ing from a long strife, she determined to make the funds 
voted sufficient to satisfy the demands of the upholsterer, 
and to do soshe constituted herself agent. 

Hearing the proposals of various firms, she found, to 
put the matter in other hands, she could not more than 
furnish the parlors and reception rooms, and then her 
determination was formed to superintend the purchases. 
By dint of perseverance and the co-operation of compe- 
tent assistants, she had the house completed when the 
winter season approached. Old and abused sets were 
repolished and covered, and the papering which she had 
not the means to remove entirely, was made to assume a 
brighter appearance by the addition of panelings and 
gilt ornaments. 

The warm weather, which had ever found her before 


the war in her mountain home, now came upon her in 
its intensity, as she labored with' her numerous assistants 
in arranging the comfortless residence over which she 
presided. Who, while admiring the elegant and refined 
atmosphere of the historic house during her father's ad- 
ministration, imagined that the entire labor was accom- 
plished by the tact and energy of the daughter who re- 
ceived and entertained her visitors so unostentatiously ? 
Tenderly caring for her invalid mother, and her chil- 
dren, who grew weary of the restraints imposed upon 
them, she struggled on and succeeded in making the 
house not only attractive to her friends, but to citizens 
and strangers, who pronounced it handsomer than it 
ever was in times past. The exquisite walls of the 
Blue Room long remained a lasting proof of her 
artistic and cultivated taste, and the graceful adorn- 
ments of the hitherto stiff and ungainly ^East Room 
were evidences of her ability. A newspaper corre- 
spondent who visited the White House complimented 
Mrs. Patterson upon the Republican simplicity of the 
establishment, to which she replied, "We are a plain 
people, sir, from the mountains of Tennessee, and we 
do not propose to put on airs because we have the for- 
tune to occupy this place for a little while." " There is 
a homeliness in this utterance," said the Albany Evening 
Journal, " which will shock the sensitive refinement of 
' ottar of roses and lavender water classes/ but it has a 
sentiment in it which must meet with response from 
every true lover of democratic ideas and practices." 


Throughout the White House there existed not a 
single evidence of tawdry gaudiness or coarseness in 
color or quality; and from cellar to garret it was over- 
hauled and adorned by the unaffected hostess, who 
called herself "a plain person from East Tennessee." 

"The reference of Mrs. Patterson to the mountain 
home of her family, is suggestive of the fact that when 
the tornado of war was sweeping over Tennessee, Pres- 
ident Johnson's kin dwelt where its ravages were most 
dreadful, and that while some who are now leading the 
shoddy aristocracy of the metropolis were coining their 
ill-gotten dollars from the sufferings and blood of brave 
men, they were being hunted from point to point, driven 
to seek a refuge in the solitude of the wilderness, forced 
to subsist on coarse and insufficient food, and more than 
once called to bury with secret and stolen sepulture those 
whom they loved : murdered because they would not join 
in deeds of odious treason to union and liberty. A family 
with such a record of devotion and suffering, needs 
for its recognition none of the adventitious aids of show 
and pretence. It is refreshing in these days of extrava- 
gant and pompous display, when silly pretence is made 
to pass current for gentility, when bombast and fustian 
are palmed off as good breeding, when the shopman's 
wife emulates the luxury of a duke's household, when 
eo one is presumed to be worthy the honors of good 
society who does not ' put on airs,' to hear that the 
President's daughter, who, by courtesy of her new 
position as his housekeeper, is the first lady of the land, 


proposes to set the example of a truly republican sim- 
plicity all too rare among those who influence the 
customs of the land." 

In September, 1867, Mrs. Patterson accompanied the 
Presidential party on their tour through the Northern 
and Western States, leaving her two children with her 
mother at the White House. Returning in a few weeks, 
she resumed the routine of her life, and prepared for 
the approaching season. 

Mrs. Patterson is the first instance of the wife of a 
Senator and a daughter of the President presiding over 
the Executive Mansion. President Jefferson's second 
daughter, Mrs. Eppes, held a similar position, but she 
never presided over the Mansion, and was but once a 
visitor at the President's house during her short life, 
after her father's election. The threefold responsibili- 
ties were accepted and endured with a calm reliance, on 
the energies of a mind ever ready for the occasion, and 
the world has already rendered the verdict of " many 
daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them 

Simple but elegant in her apparel, never descending 
to a disregard of place, yet not carried away by the 
follies of fashion, Mrs. Patterson pleased the eye, and 
gratified the pride of all who felt an interest in her 
success. Golden opinions of her taste were won by the 
rich simplicity of her toilet on every public occasion, and 
the beauty of her dress in part consisted in the artless, 
unassuming manner of the wearer. 


In the combined elements which go to form the 
marked character of Mrs. Patterson, she was not unlike 
Mrs. John Adams, and her will-power, guided by 
superior common-sense, recalls to mind the life of that 
brave woman of the Revolution ; but the current of cir- 
cumstances into which she has been thrown, has been 
almost too strong to allow her perfect freedom of ac- 
tion. In her life there has never come a time when 
she might choose between diverging pathways ; but if 
she could not alter the stern fiats of fate, she had the 
power of dignifying little insignificant things, and, by 
her manner of meeting them, making the pleasantest 
side appear. In an eminent degree she inherits that 
most marked trait of her father's character, patient en- 
durance, and knows " how sublime a thing it is, to suffer 
and be strong." Treacling unmurmuringly the ap- 
pointed way of life, she depends upon her judgment to 
guide her bark, recognizing the fact that when nature 
fills the sails the vessel goes smoothly on ; and when 
judgment is the pilot the insurance need not be high. 

In the higher walks of literary pursuits she will never 
shine, nor yet as a conspicuous person in any depart- 
ment of life. She has essentially a Southerner's love of 
home ; and the duties devolving upon her as a mother, 
daughter, and wife, fill the meed of her ambition. True 
.to principle, she will perform the duties of her station, 
be it high or low, and the amount of courage hidden 
away in the recesses of her nature would lead her in 
emergencies to dare if need be to die. 


Simple to a fault in her desires, she has learned to 
gather happiness from within, and to rely upon the cold 
charity of the world for nothing. She would not pine 
for luxuries which others deem necessities, but even 
rather scorns the value many set upon them. Reared as 
she was in childhood by parents remarkable for cease- 
less industry, she imbibed the lessons taught her by 
example, and is energetic to restlessness, and vigilant in 
working while the day lasts. 

During the impeachment trial of her father, Mrs. 
Patterson was asked what she thought of it, and how 
it would terminate. " I have so much to do," she re- 
plied, "that I have no time to discuss the subject, and 
I suppose my private opinion is not worth much ; I do 
not know how it will end, but all we can do is to wait." 
And she did wait, bending every energy to entertain 
as became her position, and wearing always a patient, 
suffering look. Through the long weeks of the trial, 
she listened to every request, saw every caller, and 
served every petitioner (and only those who have filled 
this position know how arduous is this duty), hiding 
from all eyes the anxious weight of care oppressing 
her. If she was indisposed after the acquittal, it sur- 
prised no one who had seen her struggling to keep up 

There are no triumphs or displays to record of her life, 
no travels in foreign lands, nor novel sights of strange 
places. She has not stood in the Orient and watched 
the great stars swim down hot southern skies, nor heard 


from the distant palm groves the orioles and nightingales. 
The even tenor of her way has been spent far from the 
palaces of luxury or the frivolities of fashion. She has 
not trodden the gilded halls of ephemeral wealth, nor 
basked in the sunlight of uninterrupted prosperity, but 
from the emanations of her father's genius she has 
gathered the forces which strengthen her own mind, and 
the rounds she has mounted in the ladder of progressive 
development have been won by earnest thought and the 
gradual experiences of a still young life. 

She more than any other of her name and race, appre- 
ciated the giant efforts of her father, and upon her he 
devoted most attention. The companion in childhood 
of the village tailor, she became in womanhood the 
counsellor and friend of the successful statesman. 

Louis Napoleon, in his Life of Julius Caesar, says: 
" How little able are common men to judge of the mo- 
tives which govern great souls." The history of Mrs. 
Patterson's stay in the Executive Mansion suggests the 
thought how unappreciated she was by those who fawned 
around her in her hour of triumph. Possessing native 
intellect to a high degree, she knows her latent powers, 
and her head thinks and her soul feels the difference 'be- 
tween her sound principles and practical sense, and the 
flippant, vain women who consider her unfashionable. 
With such a class she could have no sympathy; and it is 
foreign to her nature to dissemble. Circumventing all 
attempts at advice and assistance, she taught many who 
insisted upon helping her, that a sepsible woman is never 


at a loss for words or manners, and to such Presidents* 
houses are as simple residences, requiring only the re- 
finement of the lady and the ability of a resolute, deter- 
mined person. Genial and social to familiar friends, she 
was generally distant and reserved toward promiscuous 
visitors ; while, at the same time, she had a high sense 
of the justice due the masses from the family of the first 
official in the nation. This feeling of duty toward others 
actuated her course in keeping the White House ready 
always to be seen by the crowds who daily throng it. 
Parlors and conservatories were kept open as much as 
consistent, though many times very annoying to the in- 
mates, and rendering the privacy of their own apart- 
ments rather a matter of chance than of certainty. It 
was not unfrequent that idle curiosity-seekers ventured 
through the closed doors which separated the private 
from the public wing of the building, and intruded upon 
the forbearing occupants ; yet such occurrences were 
never made the occasion of trouble a polite request 
and pleasant acceptance of the proffered apology suf- 
ficed, and not un frequently added the offenders of eti- 
quette to her list of new-made friends. 

Ft was the custom of Mrs. Patterson to rise early ; and 
"after a simple toilet, to skim the milk and attend to the 
dairy before breakfast. In the hall connecting the con- 
servatory to the main building, her clean pails might be 
seen ranged in regular order. When, on Saturday af- 
ternoons, the greenhouses were thrown open to the 
public, these evidences of her house-keeping propensi- 


ties were removed. Fond of the delicacies of the table, 
she valued home-made articles, and the delicious food 
found always upon her table gave evidence of her per- 
sonal oversight and thoughtfulness. 

Caring for real comforts, to the exclusion of costly ex- 
penditures, she prided herself upon gratifying the wants 
and tastes of her household, and rendering the domestic 
life of the White House a reality. 

In the possession of such principles, and actuated by 
motives which redound to her praise, Mrs. Patterson's 
life cannot fail to be worthy of emulation, and the satis- 
faction of her conscience must be a well-spring of plea- 
sure, sparkling like sunshine through the darkest places 
in her earthly career. 

The last levee held by President Johnson was dis- 
cussed by a Washington paper after the following manner: 

"The levees at the Executive Mansion have always 
been occasions of especial interest to strangers who 
chanced to be in Washington during the session of Con- 
gress ; but never before, since receptions were inaugu- 
rated, has there been such an ovation at a Presidential 
levee as was last night at President Johnson's closing 
reception. The attendance comprised not only an un- 
usual number of our o\vn citizens, but also a greater 
multitude of visitors from all parts of the world, than 
was ever present on a similar occasion. As early as 
half-past seven, and long before the doors were opened, 
there were numerous arrivals at the Presidential Man- 
sion. An hour later, and the rush had commenced in 


good earnest. A long line of carriages extended from 
the street to the portico in front of the house ; every car 
on the F street and avenue lines added fresh accessions 
to the crowd ; while hundreds, availing themselves of 
the pleasant weather, came on foot. Although an extra 
police force had been detailed for the evening, and 
every arrangement had been made in the cloak-room 
for the accommodation of all, so great was the rush that 
confusion was, in a measure, unavoidable. The dressing- 
rooms and corridors were closely packed with people 
mainly striving to reach the entrance to the Reception- 
room, and it was found necessary to close the outside 
doors, and also the door leading from the hall into the 
Red Parlor. The crowd here was fearful, but, fortu- 
nately, it was composed mainly of the male sex. 

" Those in front were pushed on by those behind, and 
the position of every one was most uncomfortable, while 
at one time, persons were in actual danger of being 
crushed. However, the utmost good humor prevailed, 
and we heard of no accidents. In the ladies' dressing- 
room, the pressure was also very great, and the break- 
ing down of a table caused some thoughtless person to 
raise an alarm of fire, which for a few moments created 
terror and consternation among the timid fair ones. At 
ten o'clock, the line of equipages not only filled the car- 
riage-way from the east to the west gate, but extended 
for two squares on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

" The space in front of the Mansion, and the sidewalk 
from the portico to the gate, was crowded with people, 


waiting in the hope of gaining admission to the house. 
Policemen were now stationed at the front entrance, and 
only a few were admitted at a time. Those who made 
their exit from the mansion were obliged to pass under 
the arms of the policemen, who were stationed to keep 
back the surorina- crowd. Hundreds left unable even 

O C5 

to reach the portico. The door leading to the ladies' 
dressing-room was blocked by gentlemen looking for 
those under their charge, while scores of bright eyes 
searched anxiously through the throng seeking in vain 
for escorts not to be found. Many of the ladies, unable 
to find their escorts, were pushed on by the crowd, and 
were obliged to make their entrance into the Blue 
Room unattended, and in several instances it was not 
until the close of the reception that parties who had been 
separated at the commencement of the evening were 
again united. 


" The President occupied his usual position near the 
entrance of the Blue Parlor, the visitors being presented 
by Marshal Cording. From eight o'clock until after 
eleven, the crowd poured through the apartments, and 
to each person, however humble his or her station, Pres- 
ident Johnson extended a pleasant and cordial greeting. 
Mrs. Patterson, who stood at the right of the President, 
and a few steps farther back in the room, was attired 
with customary taste and elegance. She wore a Lyons 
black velvet, handsomely trimmed with bands of satin 
and black lace. A shawl of white thread lace fell in 
graceful folds over her dress. Her hair was simply and 


becomingly ornamented, and her jewelry was of the 
most chaste description. The ceremony of introduction 
was graciously performed by General Mickler. In the 
vast concourse assembled to pay their respects to the 
retiring Chief Magistrate were many persons of dis- 
tinction from abroad, as well as an unusual number of 
Washington celebrities. From Maine to Florida, and 
from the Atlantic coast to the seaboard on the Pacific, 
there was scarcely a State or Territory that was not 
represented last night, at the farewell reception of An- 
drew Johnson, whose kindly grasp and sincere smile 
called forth many a hearty wish for his future happiness 
and prosperity. Exquisite bouquets of choice exotics 
were scattered through the rooms. The superb East 
Parlor was dazzlingly illuminated. Magnificent mirrors 
flashed back the light from the quivering crystals of the 
massive chandeliers. From the ante-chamber came the 
sweet strains of the Marine Band, floating in softened 
cadence through the sumptuous apartments. The scene 
was one of unrivalled interest, and will never be forgot- 
ten by those who were present. The display of wealth 
and beauty was bewildering. It would be a difficult 
task to describe the toilettes of the many lovely ladies 
present, and it would be still harder to decide, among so 
large a number of magnificent dresses, which was the- 
most beautiful." 

Another prominent daily contained a lengthy and 
interesting account of this reception, the largest ever 
held in the Executive Mansion, and from all the circum- 


stances connected with the unpleasant political life of 
the President, was a significant proof that he w r as socially 
pre-eminently popular. Every grade of citizens, repre- 
senting every party and creed, vied with each other in 
their expressions of admiration for the honest, upright 
conduct of the retiring Executive and his charming 

" Last night, President Johnson held his farewell 
reception at the White House, and certainly quite in a 
blaze of glory, as far as social attention is concerned. 
Perhaps the whole history of the Presidential Mansion 
gives no record of such a crowded reception. It is esti- 
mated that some five thousand people sought admit- 
tance in vain, while fully as many must have gained an 
entrance, almost each individual member of this success- 
ful crowd submitting the host of the evening to the 
inevitable hand-shaking. He bore it well, and until the 
last moment a sweet, suffering smile irradiated his coun- 
tenance. The band struck up 'Hail Columbia/ and the 
doors were thrown open. The President received the 
crowd in the Blue Room, which was handsomely lighted 
up, and adorned in the centre with a magnificent stand 
of fragrant flowers. As the crowd increased, the saga- 
cious official abandoned the system of announcing 
names, so that the President accepted without explana- 
tion all who presented themselves. 

"A few steps from the President, and near the stand 
of flowers, Mrs. Patterson, a handsome, though not tall 
lady, of very pleasing manners and appearance, 're' 


ceived' the lady guests. She wore an elegant white lace 
shawl, which quite enveloped her person, and a long curl 
fell down her back. The simply unaffected grace of 
this lady, and her entire freedom from pretension, either 
in garb or manner, attracted highly favorable comment. 
Mrs. Patterson is quite a young lady, and when some 
of the bare-armed, bare-necked, would-be-juvenile dow- 
agers were presented to her, the contrast was entirely in 
favor of the President's daughter." 

Of the many elegant entertainments given by Presi- 
dent Johnson, none surpassed the State dinners. They 
were conducted on a most generous and princely scale, 
and reflected lasting honor upon the taste and judgment 
of his daughter, to whom was left the 'entire arrange- 
ment of every social entertainment. The magnificent 
State dining-room, which had been closed during the 
last few years of President Lincoln's administration, 
became again a scene of hospitality, and resounded once 
more with the voices of welcome guests and personal 

Nothing contributed more than these "affairs of State" 
to win for the family that popularity, apart from their 
lofty social position, which they enjoyed whilst in Wash- 
ington. A letter written by a lady who was familiar 
with the home-life of Mrs. Patterson, may not prove un- 
interesting, pertaining, as it does, particularly to the 
subject of State dinners. 

" Late in the afternoon I was sitting in the cheerful 
room occupied by the invalid mother, when Mrs. Patter- 


son came for me to go and see the table. The last 
State dinner was to be given this night, and the prepara- 
tions for the occurrence had been commensurate with 
those of former occasions. I looked at the invalid, 
whose feet had never crossed the apartment to which 
we were going, and by whom the elegant entertainments 
over which her daughters presided, were totally unen- 
joyed. Through the hall and down the stairway, I 
followed my hostess and stood beside her in the grand 
old room. It was a beautiful and altogether rare scene 
which I viewed in the quiet light of this closing winter 
day, and the recollections and associations of the time 
linger most vividly in memory now. The table was 
arranged for forty persons, each guest's name being 
upon the plate designated in the invitation list. 

" In the centre stood three magnificent ormolu orna- 
ments filled with fadeless French flowers, while beside 
each plate was a bouquet of odorous greenhouse exotics. 
It was not the color or design of the Sevres china, of 
green and gold the fragile glass, nor yet the massive 
plate which attracted my admiration, but" the harmony 
of the whole, which satisfied and refreshed. From the 
heavy curtains, depending from the lofty windows, to 
the smallest ornament in the room, all was ornate and 
consistent. I could not but contrast this vision of 
grandeur with the delicate, child-like form of the 
woman who watched me with a quiet smile as I en- 
joyed this evidence of her taste and appreciation of 
the beautiful. 


"All day she had watched over the movements of 
those engaged in the arrangement of this room, and 
yet so unobtrusive had been her presence and so sys- 
tematically had she planned, that no confusion occurred 
in the complicated household machinery. For the 
pleasure it would give her children hereafter, she had 
an artist photograph the interior of the apartment, 
and he was just leaving with his trophy when we 

" Long we lingered, enjoying the satisfaction one ex- 
periences in beholding a beautiful and finished task. 
All was ready and complete, and when we passed from 
the room, there was still a time for rest and repose 
before the hour named in the cards of invitation. 

" Through the Red and Blue parlors we sauntered 
slowly, she recalling reminiscences of the past four 
years, and speaking with unreserved frankness of her 
feelings on her approaching departure. It was almost 
twilight as we entered the East Room, and its sombre- 
ness and wondrous size struck me forcibly. The hour 
for strangers and visitors had past, and we felt secure 
to wander in our old-fashioned way up and down its 
great length. It was softly raining, we discovered as 
we peered through the window, and a light fringe of 
mist hung over the trees in the grounds, and added a 
shade of gloom to the cheerless view. The feeling of 
bodily comfort one has in watching it rain, from the 
window of a cozy room, was intensified by the associa- 
tions of this historic place, and the sadness of time was 
lost in the outreachings of eternity. 


"Its spectral appearance as we turned from the win- 
dow and looked down its shadowy outlines the quickly 
succeeding thoughts of the many who had crowded into 
its now deserted space, and the remembrance of some 
who would no more come, were fast crowding out the 
practical, and leaving in its place mental excitement, 
and spiritualized, nervous influences, not compatible 
with ordinary every-day life. Mrs. Patterson was first 
to note the flight of time, and as we turned to leave with 
the past the hour it claimed, her always grave face 
lighted up with a genuine happy expression, as she said, 
* I am glad this is the last of entertainments it suits me 
better to be quiet and in my own home. Mother is not 
able to enjoy these things. Belle is too young, and I 
am indifferent to them so it is well it is almost over. 1 
As she ceased speaking the curtains over the main en- 
trance parted, and the President peered in, ' to see/ he 
said, 'if Martha had shown you the portraits of the 
Presidents ? ' Joining him in his promenade, we passed 
before them, as they were hanging in the main hall, he 
dwelling upon the life and character of each, and we 
listening to his descriptions, and personal recollections. 
The long shadows of twilight and deepening gloom dis- 
appeared before the brilliant glare of the gas, and we 
turned from this place of interest, reminded that the 
present was only ours, and with the past we could have 
no possible business when inexorable custom demanded 
of us speedy recognition and attention." 

On the morning of the 4th of March, 1869, President 


Johnson, accompanied by his family, bade adieu to the 
servants and employes of the Mansion, and were 
driven to the residence of Mr. Coyle, on Missouri 
Avenue. Mrs. Patterson accepted the hospitality of 
Secretary Wells, and reached there soon after twelve 

Thus closed the administration of President John- 
son. The most perilous, stormy, and trying one ever 
known in the history of this country ; a record of rude 
unpleasant contact with defiled revilers, and a continued 
struggle from first to last to maintain untarnished the 
oath too sacred to be violated. Not here, but in the 
annals of history will all its triumphs be written; not in 
this day or generation can its untainted and correct 
measures be fully estimated, but to the coming men 
of America it is bequeathed, a sad acknowledgment of 
the tyrannous oppression of a President, and a testi- 
mony of his undeviating course, moving onward, swerv- 
ing neither to the right nor to the left, but forward to 
the cradles of posterity who will pass judgment and 
wreathe immortelles to the memory of the patriot, 
whose truth will not be doubted, whose honesty cannot 
be impeached. 

, During the afternoon of the day the President left 
the Executive Mansion, the house in which he was a 
visitor was crowded to overflowing with friends and ad- 
mirers who gathered about the members of his family 
to express their attachment. For two weeks the same 
scene was re-enacted, and day and night the numerous 


callers crowded the spacious dwelling. One continued 
ovation of people of every political party assured them 
of their popularity, too wide-spread to be circumscribed 
by party lines. Behold them, reader, as they were seen 
that last night in Washington ! The invalid wife is in 
her room, too feeble to walk, but surrounded by hearts 
softened and eyes moistened at the prospect of seeing 
her no more. Mrs. Patterson is bidding a farewell to the 
sorrowing band of employes who have asked as a last favor 
for a photograph, and she makes the gift the more accept- 
able by presenting them with pictures of all the family, 
accompanied by her deeply felt and eloquently expressed 
thanks for faithful services and personal friendship. 
Ever and anon the familiar face of a servant appears, 
and is not disappointed in the welcome received, or the 
parting token of well-merited reward for faithful ser- 
vices. Flowers, " recalling all life's wine and honey," 
shed their aroma through space, and soften by their del- 
icate beauty the feelings of all kindly natures. 

Time unheeded passes, and yet the advent of callers 
forbids the wearied eyes to close, or the final prepara- 
tions to be made. With a hand raw and swollen from 
the hand-shakings in Baltimore a few days before, Mr. 
Johnson stands placid, earnest, and deeply interested in 
the final words of all. The lateness of the hour, not 
the last of the stream of visitors ended the affecting 
scene, and a weary but happy household slept at last, 
and their public life in Washington was ended. 



THE second daughter of President Johnson was mar- 
ried in April, 1852, to Mr. Daniel Stover, of Carter 
county, East Tennessee. He died December 18, 1864, 
leaving her with three small children. 

Mrs. Stover remained at home after the removal of 
her father's family to Washington until the last of 
August, and then, accompanied by her interesting 
family, took up her residence in the White House. 

Said a newspaper correspondent of her : ''Visitors at 
the White House during the past two or three years 
may retain the memory of a dignified, statuesque 
blonde, with a few very fine points which, a fashionable 
butterfly once said, would make any woman a belle 
if she only knew how to make the most of them. Mrs. 
Stover never became a star in fashionable circles, and 
now that she has left the gay capital, perhaps for a 
life-time, she is remembered by those who knew her 
best as a charming companion of the domestic fireside, a 
true daughter and judicious mother." 

During the administration of President Johnson, the 
White House was brightened by the glad, happy faces 
of children, and for the first time since its occupation 
they became a part of the society of the House, and ex- 
erted a powerful social influence outside. Nothing 


afforded their little friends more pleasure than to be in- 
vited to the President's House, and the agreeable 
manners of the hostesses and hosts rendered their visits 
always delightful. 

Mrs. Stover's little trio, and her sister's son and 
daughter, were an attraction not to be resisted ; and 
nothing pleased old acquaintances more than to be 
invited into their private apartments, where the games 
and plays of the young people interested more sedate 
heads. During the day, writing and music lessons 
hushed their merry voices, and the tasks of indulgent 
mothers occupied reasonable spaces; but after the even- 
ing meal and the return of the boys from out-door 
sports, the merriment began to the infinite delight of 
every one. Strangers who at the formal receptions saw 
the stately, sometimes haughty appearing daughter re- 
ceiving with quiet grace the many who drew near for the 
inevitable shake of the hand, little knew the sociability 
and good nature hidden beneath her calm exterior. 

It was a source of enjoyment and much laughter to 
Mrs. Stover's friends to watch her actions on social oc- 
casions, especially when her sister was not present. 
Like a statue the first part of the evening, with a look 
of resignation on her face irresistible, she would gravely 
return the salutations proffered, and resume her forlorn 
expression as soon as the persons passed on, only to be 
addressed again by other strangers, whose names their 
owners sometimes forgot and she rarely ever heard. 
Much sympathy she would receive from kind-hearted 


acquaintances who supposed her weaned, until the band 
struck up the last air, and then they would be astonished 
at the glad light in her eye and the fervor with which 
she would bow them out. Bantering did no good, nor 
good-natured rebukes from the many spies who enjoyed 
her agony and deprecated her evident regret at parting. 
Often as she performed the task, she acted over her 
amusing role ; and the last time she assisted at a recep- 
tion, before her departure for her home, her penetrating 
eye discovered the suppressed smile, which broadened 
into hearty laughter as she tried to suffer meekly the 
infliction she would bear no more ; but true to habit, 
she expressed her farewells with so much impressiveness 
that old habitues detected her and the old suspicion was 
aroused as to her sincerity. Long after the lights in the 
parlors were out, she repeated her experiences up-stairs 
to a friend, and congratulated herself that she was re- 
lieved from the only irksome task connected with her 
life there. 

It was from no want of appreciation or just estimate 
of her position, but an unfeigned diffidence which she 
could not overcome, which kept her from mingling in the 
society of the Capital. And perhaps a feeling that she 
was not understood, developed this disinclination to 
meet strangers. To persons to whom she was at- 
tracted, she was gay and affectionate, full of interest and 
thoroughly devoid of affectation. Her children imbibed 
this trait, and none ever saw evidences of deceitfulness 
on the part of any member of the family. A native 


strong sense, called common, but in fact a rarity, enabled 
her to discern the true merits of individuals, and in her 
conduct toward others to recognize the truth of her 
father's motto, that 

" Worth makes the man, the want of it the fellow." 

To devise new means of enjoyment for her children, 
and provide for their mental and bodily needs, was her 
first thought, and each day was spent with them at some 
one of their duties, often at their dancing school, again 
overlooking their efforts at writing, never so well con- 
tent as when performing some conscientious duty. It 
was in this character she made so many love her, and 
people who never knew her until she went to Washing- 
ton, were never weary of praising the young mother, 
who so unaffectedly acted her part in the high station to 
which she was called. 

Recollections of Mrs. Stover will not outlive the 
changes of time in the bosoms of the "society" people, 
who tried so vainly to enlist her in their set; but the 
sewing-women and trades-people, the attaches of the 
White House, in all capacities, and the servants who 
served her four years, will never forget her generous 
liberality of manners and means ; her polite civilities to 
all who approached her, and the evident interest she 
took in their affairs, won her their lasting regards. The 
night before she left for her Southern home several days 
previous to the departure of the President and members 
of the family, the servants who had learned to appreciate 


her friendship, wept unrestrainedly as they bade her 
and her children a last good-by. 

The house was lonelier after her departure, and the 
voices of her little ones gladden the ears no more of 
those so long accustomed to hear their noisy gambols. 
No President ever before had in the White House so 
many children, or as youthful ones as were the five 
grandchildren of President Johnson, nor will there ever 
be a brighter band there again. 

mm. s o 



THE inauguration of General Grant as President of 
the United States placed his wife in the exalted social 
position of Mistress of the White House. Mrs. Grant's 
first receptio on the 4th of March, 1869, marked the 
passing away of just fourscore years since Mrs. Wash- 
ington so gracefully dispensed the ceremonious hospi- 
tality of the Executive Mansion. 

Her husband being the youngest man who has occu- 
pied the Presidential office, he consequently carried with 
him into the White House the novelty of a family of 
youthful children, and a wife who was still possessed of 
the ambition to shine in society, and who enjoyed the 
blandishments and excitements of high social position. 

The prestige of General Grant's military reputation 
added increased lustre to his new position, and, conse- 
quently, could but render any triumph of political life 
the more signal, since his experiences had been of a 
widely different character. Upon Mrs. Grant, therefore, 
devolved the pleasure of performing a twofold part, in 
the discharge of which the people of this country from 
the beginning have desired her entire success. Unob- 
trusively and quietly she entered upon her duties as 
hostess of the White House, and devoted her attention 

as in the past to her husband's interests. She enter- 



tained personal friends and relatives in large numbers, 
and not one of her old acquaintances was neglected or 
overlooked by her in those her days of unbounded pros- 
perity and happiness. Very kindly the press of the 
nation referred to her, and always, upon every occasion, 
she so conducted herself as to dignify the name she 
bears, and to gratify her countrywomen. As wife and 
mother she is greatly admired, and in both these rela- 
tions she is a credit to the sex and an honor to the 
nation she has represented so well. The moral atmos- 
phere of the Presidential Mansion was a matter of con- 
gratulation to the American people, and they do not 
forget that the personal influence of Mrs. Grant had 
much to clo with impressing this characteristic of her 
husband's administration upon the world at large. She 
is essentially a good woman, and as daughter, sister, 
wife, and mother, she has been all that could be desired, 
and has in an eminent degree fulfilled the promise of 
her early years, and the predictions then made for her 
by her friends. 

Mrs. Grant is a Missourian by birth, and her early 
years were spent on her father's farm, Whitehaven (now 
the property of her husband), near St. Louis. Her 
father, Judge Dent, was a man of position and impor- 
tance, and his son was, at the time now referred to, a 
cadet at West Point. Through her brother Miss Dent 
made the acquaintance of his classmate, and in the 
course of events very naturally this young couple, mu- 
tually pleased with each other, plighted their troth. The 

MARRIED IN 1848. 605 

match was not particularly pleasing to the parents of 
Miss Julia, and it was with no little satisfaction that they 
saw the young officer ordered to frontier duty with the 
army under General Taylor. Once out of sight they 
hoped that their daughter's feelings would undergo a 
change, and that she eventually would make a more 
brilliant match. But events occurred which endeared 
him to the family, and when, to crown all, young Grant 
saved the life of Lieutenant Dent in Mexico, the objec- 
tions of the family gave way and they unconditionally 
surrendered. The constancy of the young people was 
rewarded after an engagement of five years, when, on 
the 22d of August, 1848, they were married-. The wed- 
ding took place at Judge Dent's residence in St. Louis, 
and a merry one it was to all concerned. After the fes- 
tivities the young bride accompanied her husband to 
Sackett's Harbor, on Lake Ontario, and after a stay 
there of six months, removed with him to Detroit, where 
he was stationed for more than two years. They kept 
house in a little vine-covered cottage near the barracks, 
and lived in the most unpretentious style. During their 
residence in Detroit, Mrs. Grant made a visit to her 
parents in St. Louis, and during her stay their first son, 
now Lieut-Colonel Fred. D. Grant, was born. Two 
years later, and while the father was on the Pacific 
coast, Ulysses, the second son, was born at the residence 
of his paternal grandfather, in Bethel, Ohio. The other 
children born of this union are Nellie, the only daughter, 
and Jesse; the former in August, 1855; tne latter in 


1858. Both of these were born at their grandfather 
Dent's country home, near St. Louis, the birthplace of 
their mother. 

After Captain Grant's resignation, in 1854, he re- 
turned to Missouri, poor and disheartened, and with no 
prospects before him. His father-in-law, to assist him, 
gave his wife a farm of sixty acres, and here for several 
years he fought poverty with his plough and axe poor 
weapons, indeed, for one born to wield the sworcl, and 
educated in a military school. Of course he failed, and 
leaving " Hardscrabble," the title which he had himself 
given to the scene of such hard and unrequited labors, 
he entered the real estate office of a cousin of his wife's 
in St. Louis. He began his career as agent without a 
hope of success, and but for his family would doubtless 
have thrown up the position in despair. Nothing sus- 
tained him in all these years of bitter adversity and 
uncongenial surroundings but the hopefulness of his 
wife and the unaffected and unchanging faith she had in 
him. It nerved him to renewed effort, and animated 
him with fresh zeal each time that he faltered in his 
rough pathway. Her affection was appreciated by him 
in return, and his tenderness and fidelity was such that 
to them poverty was less terrible to bear than it was to 
their friends to witness. But there were four little 
mouths to feed, and the father felt that yet greater effort 
must be made for them. His wife did all the work of 
their home, and yet with the most frugal care he could 
not meet his expenses. 


In the spring of 1860 he paid a visit to his father at 
Covington, Kentucky, to take counsel with him concern- 
ing his future, and to plan some new way to struggle 
for bread. His father owned a valuable business at 
Galena, where two younger brothers were making 
money, and into this establishment went the unfortunate 
ex-captain on a salary of six hundred dollars a year. 
Moving his little family to Galena, he commenced work 
in the tannery which has since been made famous by his 
association with it. Poverty went with him to his new 
home, and what had been "hardscrabble" on the little 
farm, and in St. Louis, was hardscrabble still ; he could 
not meet expenses. Twice his salary was increased, yet 
he could not afford to keep any help, and his wife was 
maid of all work, and nurse and teacher of her children 
as well. 

The business did not grow more congenial to the 
husband, though he tried his best to do his duty in it, 
and worked many times as hard as would have been 
necessary had he loved his task. Possibly, one reason 
of his unpleasant position was due to the fact that 
his brother, who was thirteen years his junior, was his 
employer, and as the success of the business was due 
to the enterprise of this brother and another still 
younger, the place he held, and which he could not 
satisfactorily fill, grew daily more disagreeable and un- 

The twelfth of April, 1860, the day of the fall of Fort 
Sumter, and the death-knell of slavery, was the turning 


point in the life of Captain Grant, as it was to many 
thousands of others, both North and South. But to no 
one man in the nation has it proven of such personal 
significance as to him. 

He was soon appointed captain of a volunteer com- 
pany raised in Galena ; afterwards was made colonel, 
and later, through Gov. Washburne's influence, he re- 
ceived the appointment of brigadier-general. From 
this time he rapidly rose to distinction and recognition. 
Mrs. Grant and the children were at her father's or 
visiting his father's family at Covington, during these 
first years of the rebellion ; she caring for her hus- 
band's honor and studying his interest in every possible 

While General Grant was in command at Cairo, just 
after the battle of Belmont, and while his promotion to 
a major-generalship was being discussed, a relation of 
his said to her : " Ulysses may get along as brigadier, 
but he had better be satisfied with that and not seek to 
rise higher." 

" There is no danger of his reaching a position above 
his capacity," she replied, indignantly. " He is equal to 
a much higher one than this, and will certainly win it if 
he lives." And this was the recognition she always 
gave him, and to this fearless advocate of his worth he 
was indebted for much of the material help he had re- 
ceived from both his and her family. In this time of 
success though as well of anxiety she repeatedly de- 
fended him, and more than once brought smiles to the 


faces of her friends by saying : " Mr. Grant has great 
natural ability, he would fill any public position well if 
he once had a chance." 

After the capture of Fort Donelson, while yet the 
country was ringing with praises of her husband's ex- 
ploits, she visited him at that point, and later she paid 
him a visit at Jackson, Mississippi. Just after the sur- 
render of Vicksburg she was in St. Louis, where she 
was serenaded by a great concourse of people, and in 
response to their repeated demand she appeared on the 
balcony of the hotel, leaning on the arm of General 
Strong. The moment she came in view the people 
greeted her with vociferous cheers. She was beginning 
to be made aware of the exalted place her husband had 
won in the admiration of the people, and for the first 
time she was sharing with him the dignity of the place 
to which he had risen. 

Several weeks were spent with her husband at Vicks- 
burg, and then, when his head-quarters were established 
at Nashville, she removed her children there, and re- 
mained in that city until after his appointment as lieu- 
tenant-general, making during the time a visit to St. 

The implicit confidence Mrs. Grant reposed in her 
husband has long ago been rewarded, and there is now 
no one to question his ability as a military officer. But 
there was a time when her faith in him was in marked 
contrast to the opinions entertained by his and her 
relatives. They had seen him fail at farming and in the 



leather business, and a man, in their opinion, who could 
not make money in either of these pursuits, was not 
likely to reach success in anything. 

But his wife was loyal to him, and, when asked by a 
party of ladies her opinion concerning her husband's 
new responsibilities and prospects, just before the battle 
of the Wilderness, she replied : 

" Mr. Grant has succeeded thus far, wherever the 
Government has placed him, and he will do the best he 

" Do you think he will capture Richmond?" 

" Yes, before he gets through : Mr. Grant always was 
a very obstinate man." 

With the return of peace General Grant settled in 
Washington City, where his head-quarters as commander- 
in-chief of the army were established. His family were, 
for the first time in many years, again with him, and 
they greatly appreciated the three years of comparative 
rest they enjoyed. But they were destined to play a 
still higher part in the national, life. General Grant, 
the idol of the people after Lincoln, and the most suc- 
cessful general of the age, was elected President of the 
United States. 

Mrs. Grant parted reluctantly with her own home and 
prepared to take up her abode in the White House, but 
it was not before the fall of the year that she settled 
down to the routine life there, and prepared to perform 
the duties expected of her. 

The first three years passed away pleasantly and with- 


out any very great eclat. The President's household was 
accounted an eminently happy one, and there was al- 
ways in the house some one or more of his own or his 
wife's kindred. But the children were at school, and 
there was less of gayety than when, later, Miss Nellie 
made her debut into society, and the young cadet son 
had returned from West Point, and was his sister's 
escort and companion. 

The family travelled a great deal more perhaps than 
that of any other of the Presidents. Every summer 
they spent at the sea-shore, and now Long Branch is 
their permanent home in the warm season. The chil- 
dren travelled abroad during their father's administra- 
tion, the daughter receiving the most distinguished 
attentions while in England and elsewhere ; and when 
at home their young friends gathered about them, eager 
to enjoy the pleasure of their company and the hospi- 
talities of their splendid home. 

But the event that drew the American people to the 
President and his household, as nothing else could have 
done, was the marriage of his only daughter. Mrs. 
Grant and Nellie became, from the moment her engage- 
ment was announced, the most interesting persons in 
the nation. What will the mother do for her child that 
shall be befitting the occasion ? was the question the 
young and old of the sex asked of each other all over 
America. And grave old men, who had long ago for- 
gotten the excitements of their own wedding days, 
caught the prevailing infection and became interested in 


the sole daughter of the house, soon to be an inmate of 
it no longer. Mothers' hearts ached with Mrs. Grant's 
over the thoughts of the long separation, for Nellie was 
to marry an Englishman and live in England; and when 
at last the time drew near for the nuptials, the entire 
nation became interested spectators of an event which 
they could not but feel was the most pleasing, and yet 
the most sad act of all the grand drama of the double 

Nellie Grant's was the seventh wedding which had 
taken place in the White House. President Monroe's 
daughter, Marie, and President Tyler's daughter, Lizzie, 
among others, had passed out from it as brides, and 
now, more than thirty years later, this youngest of the 
Presidents saw his only daughter wedded in the famous 
East Room, on Thursday, May 2ist, 1874. The wedding 
took place under circumstances of peculiar brilliancy. 
Mr. Algernon Sartoris, the groom, was, at the time of his 
marriage, twenty- three years of age, and Nellie was 
nineteen. He had been educated in England and Ger- 
many, and was a son of Mr. Edward Sartoris, of Hamp- 
shire, England, and his wife, Adelaide Kemble, daughter 
of Charles, and sister of Fannie Kemble. 

Nellie Grant had led an exceptionally happy life, and 
for ten years previous to her marriage had been the 
recipient of the most distinguished attentions. Her 
father's position, and his rapidly increasing wealth, had 
enabled him to gratify every wish of his daughter, and 
as if to reward the fidelity of his wife in years past, he 

r of the hoase, soon to be an inmat 
Mothers :hed wh 

-ughts of the long ion, foj 

Englishman and live in Engr 

at last the time d , the e 

nation became inf >rs of an event v. 

could r ' lost pleasing, and 

the most sad a rand drama of the double 

adm: on, 

was .the seventh \v , which had 
in the White House. President Mon. 
.. : dent 7 

the famous 

ace under circ--.. 

rnon Sartori, -;s, at the tin 

iage, twenty- three years' of age, and Nellie 
). He had been educated in England and 
r .vas a son t>f Mr. Edward Sartoris, of H 
and his wife, Adelaide Kernble, dau; 
sister of Fannie Kr.mble. 
ad led an exceptionally happy life, and 
ious to her mar; ' n the 

i distil; 1 attention 

ais rapidly inci i!th, had 

ery wish of his daughter, and 
as i le fidelity of his wife in years pa 


surrounded her children with every earthly blessing. It 
seemed only strange that one so situated, and withal so 
young, should consent to marry and retire to private 
life. But the love affair, begun on the Russia, was des- 
tined to terminate auspiciously, and eighteen months 
afterwards the young couple were united. The wedding 
was the finest ever known in Washington, and was the 
theme of newspaper comment both in this country and 
Europe. All that affection, wealth and high social posi- 
tion could devise were combined to make it an event 
that should fittingly express the love and pride of the 
parents in their only daughter. 

Not more than two hundred guests were present, but 
they represented the officials of the government and 
their families ; the army, navy and marine corps and 
their families; the diplomatic corps and personal friends. 
The floral decorations of the house were superb, those 
of the East Room being the richest. The bridal party 
was accompanied by the President and Mrs. Grant, and 
the brothers of the bride, to New York, from which port 
the young couple sailed for England. 

The summer was passed by the President and Mrs. 
Grant at Long Branch, and in the autumn the social life 
of the White House was resumed. Colonel Fred. Grant 
introduced his bride (Miss Honore) during the season, 
and the winter passed off pleasantly, though the daughter 
of the House was missed sadly. 

The eight years' social administration of Mrs. Grant 
was characterized by great elegance and dignity. All 


official and social observances were conducted on a scale 
of magnificence, and the mansion itself was richly fur- 
nished costly plate and decorations were supplied, and 
the entertainments were on a more elaborate scale than 
had marked previous administrations. Among the so- 
cial events of an official character that occurred were 
receptions and state dinners in honor of the Duke of 
Edinburgh, of England, the Grand Duke Alexis, of 
Russia, the King of Kalakaua, and the first Chinese 
Ambassador. The official entertainments were frequent, 
and the social career of Mrs. Grant as Lady of the 
White House closed with one of the most brilliant re- 
ceptions ever given in it. After leaving the White 
House, ex-President and Mrs. Grant became the 
guests of Secretary and Mrs. Fish, and during their 
stay in Washington were the recipients of continued 
social attentions. 

It had been the long-expressed desire of General 
Grant to visit Europe, and soon after the close of his ad- 
ministration he began the preparations for an extended 
journey. Returning from a visit to Galena, he arrived 
in Philadelphia a week previous to the day appointed 
for the departure of the steamer, and with Mrs. Grant 
became the guests of George Washington Childs, Esq. 
The most flattering attentions were bestowed upon them. 
Military parades, public receptions, and private enter- 
tainments followed each other in quick succession. The 
vessel selected by General Grant on which to make the 
voyage was the "Indiana," one of the only American 


line of steamships crossing the Atlantic ocean. On the 
morning of the departure Mr. Childs entertained at 
breakfast a number of guests, including the late Secre- 
tary of State, Hon. Hamilton Fish, General Sherman, 
Governor Hartranft, and others, and afterwards the 
party, augmented by the presence of a large number of 
prominent gentlemen, proceeded down the Delaware. 
Mrs. Grant, accompanied by the youngest son, Jesse, 
who made the tour with them, Mr. and Mrs. Childs, 
Mrs. Sharp Mrs. Grant's sister and many other ladies 
and gentlemen were taken down the river to the 
" Indiana " on the revenue cutter "Hamilton." Arriving 
at New Castle after a sail of thirty-five miles, the voya- 
gers bade adieu to their friends and boarded the 
steamer. The scenes which accompanied the ex-Presi- 
dent and his family from the moment of leaving the hos- 
pitable mansion of Mr. Childs to the farewells at the 
vessel were such as never before had been witnessed in 
this country. Thousands of people lined the wharves 
and the air resounded with their cheers. The shipping 
was gayly decorated, and the flags of all nations floated 
in the breeze. Steam-whistles blew their shrill notes, 
and salutes were thundered forth from the larger vessels 
as the ex-President and his friends passed down the 
river to their vessel. The party sailed on the i7th of 
May, 1877, and from the moment of landing on English 
soil they were welcomed with generous hospitality by all 
the nations they visited. Over the continent of Europe, 
through Egypt, the Holy Land, and back through Italy, 


Spain, Ireland and India, to China and Japan they trav- 
elled, and were everywhere the objects of distinguished 
hospitalities. The return voyage to San Francisco was 
completed in September, 1879, and the reception at San 
Francisco was of such magnitude and enthusiasm as to 
greatly surprise the ex-President. The people, without 
respect to race or party, joined in the hearty welcome 
home. The festivities varied each day, and every city 
in the Union sent invitations to the ex-President to 
extend his travels to all parts of his own country. One 
of the pleasantest incidents connected with their stay in 
San Francisco was the visit of a delegation of the Chi- 
nese of that city to General Grant, and the presentation 
to him of an address and a scroll of worked silk. Gen- 
eral Grant, in acknowledging the great kindness and hos- 
pitality shown him by the people and authorities of China, 
expressed the hope that the country, by breaking down 
the seclusion in which she had been shrouded for ages, 
would continue to draw nearer to her the trade and sym- 
pathy of the civilized world. The head of the delega- 
tion then presented to Mrs. Grant a small ivory casket, 
saying that she had done much to break down the spirit 
of domestic exclusiveness that reigns in China, and that 
the Chinese in San Francisco desired to thank her for it. 
This circumstance recalls an exceptional honor paid 
Mrs. Grant while in China, an honor the like of which no 
other woman has ever shared. And though she received 
distinguished attentions in all her travels, she remem- 
bers this as one of the most marked and most pleasant 


incidents of her journeyings over the world. The occa- 
sion was a dinner given by the wife of the Viceroy of 
China. In view of the fact of the exclusiveness of the 
Chinese as a race, and the position of woman in that 
country, it is one of the events of the age. Mr. John 
Russell Young, the historian of the travellers, gives an 
entertaining description of it,* from which is taken the 
following excerpt : 

" It was a radical thing for the Viceroy to throw open 
the doors of his house and bring the foreign barbarian 
to his hearthstone. This dinner was arranged for our 
last night in Tientsin, and in honor of Mrs. Grant. The 
principal European ladies in the colony were invited. 
Some of these ladies have lived in Tientsin for years 
and had never seen the wife of the Viceroy had never 
seen him except through the blinds of the window of his 
chair. The announcement that the Viceroy had really in- 
vited Mrs. Grant to meet his wife, and European ladies 
to be in the company, was even a more extraordinary 
event than the presence of General Grant or the arrival 
of the band. Society rang with a discussion of the 
question which, since Mother Eve introduced it to the 
attention of her husband, has been the absorbing theme 
of civilization what shall we wear ? I have heard many 
expositions on this theme, but in Tientsin it was new 
and important. Should the ladies go in simple Spartan 
style : in muslin and dimity, severely plain and colorless, 

* "Around the World with General Grant." 


trusting alone to their graces and charms, and thus show 
their Chinese sister the beauty that exists in beauty un- 
adorned ; or should they go in all their glory, with gems 
and silks and satins and the latest development of French 
genius in the arrangement of their hair ? It was really 
an important question, and not without a bearing, some 
of us thought, on the future domestic peace of the 
Viceroy. The arguments on either side were conducted 
with ability, and I lament my inability to do them justice, 
and hand them over to the consideration of American 
ladies at home. The discussion passed beyond me and 
entered into the sphere of metaphysics, and became a 
moral, spiritual almost a theological theme, and was 
decided finally in favor of the resources of civilization. 
The ladies went in all the glory of French fashion and 

" No gentlemen were invited to the Viceroy's dinner, 
and the Viceroy himself did not entertain his guests. It 
was arranged that the ladies should go in chairs. Of 
ladies there were in all, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Detring, Mrs. 
Denny, Mrs. Dillon, Mrs. Forrest, Mrs. Dorian, and Miss 
Denny. It was a distance of two miles to the Yamen, 
and the streets were filled with a curious multitude 
watching the procession of chairs, and having their own 
thoughts, we can well fancy, at this spectacle of the vice- 
regal home invaded by the wives of foreign barbarians. 
It was quite dark when the ladies reached the Yamen. 
They alighted in a courtyard illuminated with lanterns, 
and crowded with officials in their quaint costumes. 


The band of the 'Richmond' had been sent ahead by 
Captain Johnson, and as our ladies arrived they were 
welcomed with the familiar notes of home music. The 
Viceroy also had a band, and the musical effect of the 
two styles of music the Chinese running largely to 
gongs, and the American with trumpet and drum 
was unique, and added to the strangeness of the cere- 

"As Mrs. Grant, who was in the first chair, descended, 
she was met by the wife of the Viceroy, who took her 
hand and escorted her into the house. The other ladies 
w ; ere shown in by one of the missionary ladies, who came 
to act as interpreter. They passed through a sort of 
hall into a small library. The walls of this library were 
cut up into pigeon-holes, filled with Chinese books made 
of soft, tough paper. The Viceroy's wife took her seat 
at the head of the table, and as each lady entered she 
was introduced by the interpreter. The hostess arose 
and shook hands with each in cordial European fashion, 
with perfect grace, and as though it had been her custom 
all her life to use this form of salutation. There were 
two other ladies of the vice-regal family present, the 
daughter of the Viceroy, a maiden of sixteen, and his 
daughter-in-law, a lady of twenty-three. They sat at the 
opposite end of the table from the hostess, looking on 
with curious interest at the company of foreign ladies, 
the first they had ever seen. Still they restrained their 
curiosity, showing no wonder, no surprise, and received 
their Eurppean friends with as much ease as if they 


had been accustomed to a London drawing-room. The 
daughter-in-law of the Viceroy was dressed in subdued 
colors, much the same as the hostess, but the maiden 
was brilliantly costumed in a bright pink satin jacket, 
and green satin trousers, the whole embroidered with . 
gold thread, and silk of a variety of colors. At every 
movement she tinkled with her abundant ornaments of 
pearl and jade, which hung in long pendants from her 
ears, wrists, fingers, and the cord of her fan. She wore 
two long gold finger-nail shields on the third and fourth 
fingers of her left hand, a curious ornament made neces- 
sary by the custom of high-bred persons in China of 
allowing the finger-nails to grow. Both of the young 
ladies wore their hair ornamented in the same manner 
as the wife of the Viceroy. 

" The company sat in the library about ten minutes. 
During this time they were served with strong pale tea, 
without sugar or milk, in tiny porcelain cups. Then, at 
a gesture from the hostess, the ladies arose and walked 
into another room, a larger one, the hostess conducting 
Mrs. Grant. Crowds of servants swarmed about, and 
other crowds of curious persons looked in at the win- 
dows and doors at the unusual spectacle. The dining- 
room was furnished in European fashion, with divans 
and chairs. A chandelier of four gas jets hung over the 
centre of the table, and was an object of curiosity to all, 
as Tientsin has not yet attained to the blessing of gas. 
The dinner table was set in European style, with silver 
and French china, and decorated with a profusion of 


(lowers. The ladies took seats according to the rank 


of their husbands, Mrs. Grant sitting on the right and 
Mrs. Denny on the left of the hostess. Each of the 
ladies had her own servant who waited on her. The 
dinner was a blending of Chinese and European cookery. 
First came a European course. Then came a Chinese 
course, served in silver cups with small silver ladles and 
ivory chopsticks. Smaller silver cups in saucers sat at 
each plate, filled with the warm Chinese wine which you 
find at every dinner. The ladies tasted their Chinese 
food with fortitude, and made heroic efforts to utilize the 
chopsticks. The Chinese ladies partook only of their 
own food. The hostess kept up a conversation with all 
the ladies. First she asked each one her age, which in 
China is the polite thing to do. I have no information 
as to the responses elicited by this inquiry, the sources 
of my knowledge failing at this point. Then questions 
were asked as to the number of children in the families 
of the married ladies, and the age of each child. The 
younger Chinese ladies of the party sat at the other end 
of the table, and having no interpreter made themselves 
understood by signs by graceful little gestures of the 
hand, nods, questioning eyes. It is wonderful how 
much talk can be done by pantomime, and the Chinese 
ladies with their quick intelligence soon found them- 
selves in earnest conversation with their European 
friends. During the dinner there was a Chinese Punch 
and Judy show, and the noise of this entertainment, with 
the chatter of the servants, and the curious gazing crowd 


who never left the doors and windows, made an unceas- 
ing din. China has democratic customs and privileges 
which are never invaded. Whenever General Grant 
and party dined as the guest of a Chinaman, in Canton, 
or Shanghai, or Tientsin, it was always in presence of a 
multitude. If the people were to have the doors closed 
upon them, even the doors of the Viceroy, it would make 
trouble. And now, of all days in the calendar of China, 
this day when female barbarians are welcomed to a 
nobleman's house, it is important that all the world 
should stand by and see the wonder. 

"The hostess, with a gesture and smile of welcome, 
drank from her cup of warm wine a toast to her friends. 
The ladies sipped their wine in response. This aston- 
ished the hostess, who had been told that it was the 
custom of barbarian ladies to drink their glasses dry. 
But it was explained that while some ambitious gentlemen 
in foreign society ventured upon such experiments, the 
ladies never did. The hostess wondered at this, and 
seemed to think that somehow it would be more like 
what she had heard if the ladies drank more champagne, 
if they drained their glasses and turned them upside 
down. Then the jewels were passed from hand to hand 
to be examined by the Chinese ladies. This study of 
jewelry, of diamond and emerald, of ruby and turquoise, 
occupied most of the time that remained to the dinner. 
Once or twice the tall form of the Viceroy could be ob- 
served looking over the heads of the crowd to see how 
his wife and her foreign friends were enjoying them- 


selves. When observed his Excellency withdrew. Al- 
though not appearing during the dinner, nor at the recep- 
tion before, the Viceroy was now and then seen moving 
about among the curious gazers, evidently anxious about 
his feast, anxious that nothing should be wanting in 
honor of his guests. 

"After the dinner the party went into another room. 
Here was a piano which had been brought from the 
foreign settlement. This was a new delight to the 
hostess, who had never seen a piano, and she expressed 
her pleasure and surprise. One of the pieces was a 
waltz, a merry German waltz, and two of the ladies 
went through the measures, giving variety to the dance 
by balancing separately with one arm akimbo, the other 
holding up the skirt, then twirling away to different 
parts of the room and coming together again. This 
revelation of barbarian customs created great astonish- 
ment, and when the dance stopped there was a chorus 
of approbation from the Chinese, as if they had discov- 
ered a new pleasure in the world, the hostess nodding 
and smiling with more energy of manner than she had 
shown during the evening. This performance was wit- 
nessed by the Viceroy, who perhaps had his own 
thoughts as a far-seeing statesman as to what China 
would become if German music ever found its way into 
Chinese households, and mothers and maidens gave way 
to the temptations of the waltz. There were snatches 
of singing, one of the ladies who had an expressive 
voice warbling some roundelay from the Tyrol. This 


created another sensation, and was so new, and strange, 
and overwhelming" that the Chinese maiden in the daz- 


zling pink jacket lost her Oriental composure, and gave 
a faint start and laughed, and fearing she had committed 
some breach of propriety, suddenly recovered herself 
and coyly looked about to see if she had in any way 
given offence to her barbarian guests. The hostess, 
however, sat by the side of Mrs. Grant during the whole 
performance, and looked on as calmly at these strange 
phenomena of an unknown civilization as if she had 
known the waltz and heard Tyrolean ditties all her days. 
The hostess, with high-bred courtesy, always arose when 
her guests did, and never sat down until they were seated. 
The feet of the Chinese ladies were extremely small 
scarcely more than two or three inches long and when 
they walked it was with difficulty, and only by the aid of 
the waiting-women who walked behind. A Chinese lady 
of rank does nothing without the aid of servants. If she 
wishes to take a handkerchief out of her pocket a ser- 
vant performs the office. But during the whole evening, at 
every phase of the reception and the entertainment, the 
hostess showed a self-possession and courtesy that might 
have been learned in the drawing-rooms of Saint Ger- 
main. She took pains to show attention to every one. 
When the time came to leave she went with Mrs. Grant 
to her chair. When the others left she took her leave 
of them at the door, and they parted with good wishes 
and polite little speeches of thanks and welcome." 

Mrs. Grant has the distinction of having travelled 


more than any other lady who has graced the White 
House, and of having received at the hands of for- 
eigners more attention than has fallen to the lot of any 
other American lady. In her tour she was the guest of 
the heads of .the government in all countries, and par- 
ticipated in hospitalities of crown heads and the repre- 
sentative nobility. Her life from the period when her 
husband became the victorious general of the army, has 
been one of high social rank, and the years as they 
have passed have brought her many blessings. She has 
known public honors and domestic happiness, and is a 
most fortunate woman. She has sought her chief 
pleasure in life in the family circle, and her reward has 
been found in their happiness. The White House 
under Mrs. Grant's social administration was a de- 
lightful home, and was ever the abode of many relatives 
and friends who shared in the many pleasures it 
afforded. An atmosphere of pleasant social life was 
felt by all visitors at the Executive Mansion, and though 
Mrs. Grant was not particularly fond of society, her stay 
in the White House is remembered as a period of great 
gayety in Washington. She was identified with the 
events of the administration in all semi-official ways, 
and was as popular in society as any of the women who 
had preceded her. A wife and mother, she was occupied 
with the duties pertaining to domestic relations, and divi- 
ded her time between her public and private obligations. 
In this respect of having two-fold duties to perform she was 

like all the wives of the Presidents, and with one excep- 
4 o 


tion the White House has known no lady differently sit- 
uated. Harriet Lane was untrammelled with domestic 
cares when she presided there, and was moreover a great 
belle. Society claimed more from her than it ever did 
of any other lady, and the circumstances .attending her 
life there made it the most marked in many respects that 
has yet been chronicled. Mrs. Grant's deep interest in 
the success of her husband, and her commendable desire 
to have her countrywomen satisfied with her administra- 
tion as hostess, were motives sufficiently impelling to 
incite her to every exertion necessary to the accomplish- 
ment of her purpose, and she has the satisfaction of 
knowing that her career was approved. In her domes- 
ticity, which is her leading characteristic, and with her 
strong sense and practical ideas, she had ample armor of 
protection against mistakes, and she lived eight years in 
the White House as serenely as she would have done in 
Galena. It is to her credit that her sons, grown to man- 
hood, pay her marked attentions, and that she is to them 
the ideal mother. To be approved by one's friends is 
comfort, but to be adored by one's children is to be 
crowned with the most imperishable of earthly diadems. 
When Mrs. Grant appeared in sight of the people of San 
Francisco, she was leaning on the arm of one of her 
boys, who had gone out to meet her, and it was a 
pleasing sight to those who saw the tender devotion of 
the son to his long-absent mother. General Grant was 
in the hands of the committees who were to show him 
honor, but his wife was accepting homage far more sat- 


isfying. Her mother's heart was far more touched by 
the welcome she received than any other that could be 
given her. It is this womanly quality which has influ- 
enced her to be a less conspicuous figure than her posi- 
tion lent her opportunity for being. She has not cared 
to be recognized apart from her husband, but to be iden- 
.tified with him, and while this trait is an admirable one, 
it has none the less conspired to limit rather than en- 
large the acquaintance of the public with her. But she 
is a woman approved by her sex, and her record is one 
that her sister-women will always admire. She has en- 
joyed great honors, and abused none of her gifts, and 
her name will ever be associated in terms of praise with 
that of the country's second military President, and the 
most successful general of his day. Her life is yet in 
its summer, and the laurels bestowed upon her are 
bright and undimmed, and for a long time yet she will 
be in the enjoyment of them. Whatever future awaits 
her she will meet it with dignity and appreciative consid- 
eration of the exceptionally brilliant position she has 



MRS. HAYES was the most widely known and univer- 
sally popular President's wife the country has known. 
She was an .element in the administration that was 
gladly recognized, and her influence was most potent 
and admirable. In her successful career as the first lady 
of the land was outlined the future possibilities of her 
sex in all other positions and conditions. She repre- 
sented the new woman era, and was the first of the 
women of the White House of the third period. The 
women of the Revolutionary period of American history 
exhibited stronger traits of character than those who 
succeeded them. There was necessity for higher quali- 
ties the display of courage, heroism and fortitude, and 
they were discovered in every emergency. The country 
was young and the people were experimenting with 
liberty ; there were common dangers to be shared, and 
fewer honors than have fallen to those who came into 
the inheritance secured for them. With the end of the 
administration of John Quincy Adams a new generation 
of men and women claimed public notice, and the wo- 
men who came to hold the highest place of honor in the 
land were the representatives of this second era of the 
country's history. They were social queens, but nothing 

more. They aspired to supremacy in the drawing room, 



and were content to acquire it. Some were too little 
used to the world to care for even this, and led retired 
domestic lives, wholly apart from the public careers of 
their husbands. 

Mrs. Hayes is the product of the last half of the nine- 
teenth century, and in her strong, healthful influence 
gives the world assurance of what the next century wo- 
men will be. Her life, for many years, was spent before 
the public, and she> so fully identified herself with her 
husband's administration that it can never be remem- 
bered apart from her. She gave her every thought to 
the maintenance and advancement of her husband's fame 
and name as the Chief Magistrate of the United States ; 
she deemed no act, however insignificant of itself, too 
slight to be considered unimportant if, in its results, it 
could add to his renown. In no one particular did she 
so ably display her strength of character as in com- 
manding, by her strict adherence to her domestic duties, 
the recognition due her