Sunday, April 29, 2012

John Adams and White House Trivia

East Room

The White House, better known as the “President’s House”, is a magnificent building.  Even today, many Europeans regard it as an “English clubhouse”, as Charles Dickens described it after a visit with President John Tyler in 1841.  The Living White House, pg 10, 1970, by Lonnelle Aikman.

It was the beginning headquarters for the next four Presidents—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe who served the cause of our independence and hammered out our Constitution.  The Living White House, pg 12, 1970, by Lonnelle Aikman

Today we will visit John Adams, who moved into the house in 1800, four months before his term expired in 1801.  The house was not finished, debris littered all the rooms, only a couple fireplaces were useable, and there were no stairs to the second floor bedrooms.  Abigail Adams was sorely disappointed in the condition of the President’s House but as a stout pioneer, she overcame the hardships to make the house livable.  All the rooms were cold and drafty, no curtains and very little furniture. 

Every day living was a true challenge as was wash day.  Outside tents for the black workers and their families littered the surrounding muddy grounds.  Building materials, animals, and an assortment of wagons took up the rest of the area as did an insurmountable number of dirt mounds.  There was no space or would anyone want to hang clean wash on a line among all that debris.  So in order to dry her family’s clothes, Mrs. Adams conveniently had the wash hung up in the East Room.  I wonder how the last three First Ladies would feel about seeing several lines of wash hanging in their beautifully decorated East Room now.  Quite a shock.

The Adams family consisted of President and Mrs. Adams, plus their six children: 

Abigail A. Adams (Nappy)—1765-1813-Died of breast cancer
John Quincy Adams –1767-1848 – Sixth President of USA-after term he served as a Massachusetts House
           Representative until his death.
Grace Susanna Adams 1768-1770—Died age 2—His favorite daughter, John Adams only spoke her name
           once after her death.
Charles Adams 1770-1800—kicked out of Harvard - died of alcoholism
Thomas Boylston Adams—1772-1832—served as justice of the Circuit Court of Common Pleas for
            Massachusetts –also had trouble with alcoholism.
Elizabeth Adams—1777- Stillborn

If you would like to know more about this family, click on John Adams and enjoy the read. 




Eunice Boeve said...

Gwyn, Great post on the White House wash. We have it so easy compared to the 1800s in domestic matters. I wonder if the Presidents of those days had handling the affairs of the country easier than the presidents of this complex and complicated world. I guess every era had/has its troubles as does most every life.

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