National Geographic : 1966 Nov
necessities, such as lamps, bells, and firewood to heat her drafty "castle." Since she had "not the least fence, yard, or other convenience, without," Abigail hung the Presidential laundry to dry in what is now the formal gold-draped East Room. Yet the Adamses gave the mansion a proud start. Mrs. Adams dispensed hospitality in the village Capital with as much dignity as that of Europe's royal courts. The President per formed his duties with typical integrity. Carved today on the mantel of the State Din ing Room are these lines from a letter he wrote to his wife after his first night in the house: "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter in habit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." Mansion Grows Under a Lonely President In 1801 President Jefferson came to the White House, a lonely widower still grieving for the loss of his wife Martha 19 years before. Occasionally his married daughters, Mar tha and Maria, would bring their families for a visit, filling the house with noise and cheer. In 1806 Martha Jefferson Randolph gave birth here to a boy, her eighth child and the first baby born in the Executive Mansion. But mostly the President remained alone, busy with the big problems of a small new Nation, reading his books, playing his violin, and serving little dinners in the room later used as the Green Parlor. To avoid eaves dropping waiters, he devised revolving trays built into the walls to move courses in and out. Jefferson also found time to add other con veniences to the house described in a daily newspaper of the time as "big enough for two emperors, one pope, and the grand lama." Gradually, low wings sprouted, as at his own Virginia home, Monticello.* Their arcaded fronts hid servants' quarters, stable, wine cellar, and ice, meat, and chicken houses. For eight years the White House had no First Lady. Then President Madison's wife arrived with a reputation for glamor and ener gy. As the wife of Jefferson's Secretary of State, Dolley Madison had often helped the President as hostess. Once when she was away, Jefferson and his private secretary agreed they felt like "two mice in a church." Statuesque Dolley, whose bright turbans added to her height, adored her small, stu dious husband. He thought her perfect. At (Continued on page 611) *See "Mr. Jefferson's Monticello," by Joseph Judge, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, September, 1966. 606 Dark hours of grief EIGHT PRESIDENTS have died in office, four by the hands of assassins. Cut down at the moment of Civil War victory, Abraham Lincoln slumped in his box at Ford's Theatre, mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth. Mourners displayed this eight-inch ribbon in their windows. On June 30, 1881, Presi dent James A. Garfield listened to Lincoln's son Robert, Secretary of War, tell of his father's assas sination. Two days later Garfield himself fell from a bullet fired by Charles Guiteau, a deranged office seeker. For weeks, doctors, wife, and nurse (with fan) kept vigil by his White House bedside. Hoping to speed recovery, they moved him to Elberon, New Jersey, where he died. Once again, in 1901, the country lost a Chief Ex ecutive to gunfire: William McKinley, shot by an archist Leon Czolgosz. The Nation, personified as a woman, weeps on McKinley's mourning ribbon. "The rainbow of Hope is out of the sky..." wrote sorrowing Indian chiefs. "Tears wet the ground of the tepees.... The Great Chief of the Nation is dead. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!" The whole world felt the shock when John F. Kennedy died by an assassin's bullets on November 22,1963. Flying to Washington, na tional leaders marched in the . funeral procession, paying RALPH E. BECKERCOLLECTION, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION honor to both man and coun try. From left: President Hein rich Liibke, West Germany; President Charles de Gaulle, France; Queen Frederika, Greece; Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, Germany; King Bau douin, Belgium; Emperor Haile Selassie I, Ethiopia; President Diosdado Macapa gal, Philippines; President Chung Hee Park, South Korea.