National Geographic : 1961 Jan
The Trumans moved in and out, taking back to Missouri, among other possessions, a huge nonfiction library that the history-loving President had long been accumulating. Unique among personal possessions tem porarily lodged in the White House is Presi dent Eisenhower's military-and-civilian collec tion of awards, decorations, swords, and curios presented to him by world leaders and admirers. Many of the more valuable ob jects are destined for display at the Eisen hower museum and library in Abilene, Kansas. Formal Rooms Recall Historic Events The everyday, intimate belongings of First Families are another matter. Because of Secret Service security rules and in deference to family privacy, photographs or detailed diagrams of the living quarters on the west side of the second floor may not be published. Yet in the curious fashion that the White House is part home and part national shrine, the east half of the residential floor has been turned into a combined museum and series of luxury suites for distinguished guests. To foreign visitors of state, their surround ings recall some of the most significant events in American history. In Lincoln's old office, now restored as his bedroom, the Civil War President signed the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863. For hours he had shaken hands with New Year's well-wishers. His right arm was "almost paralyzed." Deliberately he twice steadied his hand so that no quiver in his signature could ever suggest he had hesitated. To me, the Lincoln Room with its oversize bed of the six-foot-four President is the most moving spot in the White House (page 22). Standing by his window, I could picture again the brooding President looking out toward Virginia for hope in a divided land. Walking next door to the Monroe Room, with its sofa used by the fifth President as well as copies of his desk and other furniture (page 24), I moved backward in time to days of a young Republic brash enough to defy the Old World's monarchs. Here James Monroe in 1823 wrote his doctrine warning Europe to keep its power politics out of the Western Hemisphere. In 1959, when Mrs. Eisenhower was show ing descendants of former Presidents around the White House, the group stopped in front of the Monroe desk. Mr. Laurence Gouver neur Hoes, great-great-grandson of President Monroe, asked if anyone knew about the desk's secret compartment. Not even Mrs. Eisenhower had heard of it. So Mr. Hoes re leased two finger locks which opened a panel. Behind it was revealed a modern desk pen. Across the hall from the Monroe Room, the Rose Suite glows with an atmosphere of 18th-century luxury: white marble fireplace, high-canopied bed, soft rose walls, and taffeta draperies (page 28). The 20th century in trudes only when one presses a spring panel and a closet door pops open automatically. Five reigning queens have slept in the Rose Suite. Four of them, visiting years apart, were mother and daughter-Wilhelmina and Juliana of the Netherlands; Elizabeth, now Britain's Queen Mother, and her daughter Elizabeth II. Queen Frederika, visiting with King Paul of Greece (who was quartered in the Lincoln Room), was the fifth. In 1942 a mysterious gentleman, identified on the guest list as "Mr. Brown," occupied the Rose Suite. He turned out to be Russia's Foreign Minister, V. M. Molotov. Unpack ing the guest's bag, a valet found some black bread, sausages, and a revolver. First Lady Has Prodigious Job It sounds glamorous, running the Presi dent's House and meeting the world's great. But behind the pride and glory, the First Lady faces practical and prodigious tasks. Caught in the white glare of publicity trained on the Nation's highest office, she must project a personality that is warm yet reserved. She must strike the right note in greeting Girl Scouts or prime ministers, State beauty queens, or opposition-party politicians. She must meet any number of people, one to five thousand, and act as if she enjoys it. Take a typical day in the life of today's mistress of the mansion. As she breakfasts, she consults in turn with the chief usher (the major-domo of the house), the chief butler, and the housekeeper. (Continued on page 19) Red Room Provides a Sumptuous Setting for Tea Parties Dimming the lights, President Lincoln joked with the "spirits" during a seance held here in April, 1863. Later the room echoed with the hymns of Cabinet members and Congressmen invited by President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy. Portraits of Presidents Woodrow Wilson (left) and William McKinley adorn the walls. KODACHROMEBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERTHOMASNEBBIA © N.G.S.