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Rubenstein Center Scholarship

Examples of State Dinners Throughout History

  • December 22, 1874: First State Dinner for a foreign head of state King David Kalakaua of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Hosted by President Ulysses S. Grant, the king had royal food testers to sample the more than 20-course White House dinner.
  • 1902: The Roosevelt renovation included a major expansion of the State Dining Room from entertaining approximately 40 guests to the accommodation of 120 people. The first dinner held in the renovated White House was in honor of the cabinet members and their wives.
  • June 8, 1939: State Dinner for King George VI, the first trip to the United States by a British Monarch.
  • 1941-1945: During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt held many State Dinners for heads of Allied-recognized exiled governments under Axis rule, including Greece, Yugoslavia, Poland, and the Netherlands.
  • September 15, 1959: Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers Nikita Khrushchev was a guest of honor hosted by President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower during the height of the Cold War. Khrushchev refused to wear formal attire as was customary.
  • November 7, 1961: President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy host the first State Dinner for an Indian leader, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • June 12, 1964: First State Dinner held outside on the White House grounds, a dinner hosted by the President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson for Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of West Germany in the Rose Garden.
  • July 7, 1976: President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford hosted a tented State Dinner in the Rose Garden honoring Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh during the celebration of the bicentennial of the American Revolution.
  • September 7, 1977: President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter hosted a State Dinner with 18 Latin American Heads of State following the signing of the Panama Canal treaties.
  • March 26, 1979: A State Dinner hosted by the Carters was held for Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt after the signing of the Camp David Accords between the two countries.
  • November 9, 1985: Although it was not an official State Dinner, the event hosted by President Ronald and First Lady Nancy Reagan in honor of Great Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana created a worldwide sensation when actor John Travolta danced with the Princess.
  • December 8, 1987: State Dinner between General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev of the Soviet Union and President Ronald Reagan after the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, decreasing the Cold War buildup of intermediate range missiles.
  • October 4, 1994: President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a State Dinner for Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa.
  • May 7, 2007: President George W. Bush hosted a white-tie state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to mark the 400th anniversary of the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.
  • January 19, 2011: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a State Dinner in honor of President Hu Jintao of China on his final trip to Washington as the Chinese leader.
  • April 24, 2018: State Dinner for President Emmanuel Macron of France, hosted by President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
  • April 26, 2023: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden held a State Dinner for the president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK Alliance.