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A view of the Jackson White House in 1835.

President Andrew Jackson was a slaveholder who brought a large household of slave domestics with him from Tennessee to the President’s House. Many of them lived in the servant’s quarters, but the president’s body servant slept in the room with him. Jackson’s servants worked under Rachel Jackson’s management at his Tennessee home for the better part of their lives and were country folk. Mrs. Jackson died before her husband began his first term. At the President’s House these slaves came under the direction of the steward Belgian Antoine Michel Giusta, a holdover from the Adams administration. Most of the lower level white servants were replaced by slaves who wore the livery of blue coats with brass buttons, white shirts, and yellow or white breeches. Maids, who did not appear in the public rooms, used a long white apron, reaching to hems at the floor. Giusta did not like Jackson or his black servants and left the president’s service in 1834. Another Belgian, Joseph Boulanger, became the steward. Boulanger apparently did not live at the White House and when he was away, the doorkeeper Jemmy O’Neil, a great favorite of Jackson’s, kept the keys to the house. He had a porter’s lodge to the right of the north door with a perspective onto the Entrance Hall where he monitored the comings and goings of the public.

Footnotes & Resources

Read more: William Seale, The President’s House, White House Historical Association, 1986; William Seale, "Upstairs and Downstairs: The 19th-Century White House," American Visions, February-March, 1995, 16-20.