“President Adams Moves In”
The White House Historical Association (WHHA) announces publication of issue number seven of White House History, its semiannual journal devoted to the history of the White House and its occupants. The new issue focuses on the first White House inhabitants, John and Abigail Adams, who arrived 200 years ago this November, establishing a tradition. Since that time, every president and his family have lived in the White House.
The new President’s House was not yet finished when Adams arrived. Artist Tom Freeman envisions the scene in a new painting commissioned for the cover of this issue: construction debris and workers’ shacks litter the grounds while fire burns in fireplaces to dry the wet plaster in unfinished rooms.
Adams lived in the new White House for only a few months; he lost the election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson and vacated the house in March of 1801. Robert L. Breeden, WHHA chairman and chief executive officer notes, “Adams was an American hero, if not a commanding presence. He was a Founding Father, like the president before him and two yet to follow. We’ve attempted to recapture some of the flavor of his brief Washington days and the circumstances surrounding him and Abigail Adams in their lives at the White House.”
In her article, Edith B. Gelles looks at the writings of the first White House first lady, Abigail Adams, and sheds light on her feelings about the special role. Richard Samuelson details Adams famous “Midnight Appointments” written on the eve of Jefferson’s inauguration. Corliss Knapp Engle studies John Adams the gardner and the plants that interested him. William Seale describes the appearance, layout, and contents of the White House Adams knew, and Lynne Zacek Bassett discusses the breeches, bonnets, and other fashions of the day. White House curator Betty Monkman writes about the objects now in the White House collection that Adams also knew while he lived there.
Year 2000 subscriptions to White House History may be placed by contacting the White House Historical Association, 740 Jackson Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20503; (202) 737-8292; www.whitehousehistory.org. Subscriptions are $12 for one year; back issues are also available.
The White House Historical Association, established in 1961, is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House. All proceeds from the sale of publications and other association products are used to fund acquisition of historic furnishings and artwork for the permanent White House collection, assist in the preservation of public rooms, and further its educational mission.