An Artist Visits the White House Past

Paintings by Peter Waddell

Tiber Creek: The Bathers

John Quincy Adams Takes a Deadly Chance, 1825

Despite its later reputation as a swamp, the Tiber Creek, which in the nineteenth-century ran along where Constitution Avenue runs today, was idyllic with extensive plants and wildlife including the now extinct Carolina Parakeet. President John Quincy Adams liked to swim in its quiet waters. During this particular adventure with his son, John, and servant, Antoine Giusta, the boat carrying the party was leaky and began filling with water, leaving the president fighting for his life in the river! Luckily he reached the opposite shore, only to wait several hours for rescue.

Listen:

Jonathan Pliska, National Park Service Historian, on Tiber Creek: The Bathers

"An Artist Visits the White House Past" (if no audio, click here)

In Depth

Read William Seale’s catalog essay for Tiber Creek: The Bathers, and discover the historical resources used to create the painting.

All images © the White House Historical Association except where otherwise noted.