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  • William Henry Harrison, April 7, 1841: President Harrison passed away on April 4, 1841. As the first president to die while in office, his funeral had no precedent. The funeral service took place in the East Room of the White House on April 7 at noon. His coffin was decorated with a laurel wreath and two swords.1 President John Tyler, former President John Quincy Adams, and other prominent politicians, as well as friends and family, attended the East Room service.2 His wife, First Lady Anna Harrison, was not present as she had been too ill to attend Harrison’s Inauguration and had instead remained in Ohio. The Executive Mansion was draped in black for the occasion. Businesses closed, bells throughout the city tolled, and guns were fired in his honor throughout the day.3 President Harrison’s remains were then taken to Congressional Cemetery inside a funeral car accompanied by a military escort and civic procession. His body was placed into the Public Vault there.4 It remained there for several months before his remains were transported to North Bend, Ohio, for burial in July 1841.5
  • Zachary Taylor, July 13, 1850: Four days after President Taylor’s unexpected passing on July 9, 1850, the city of Washington observed his death with the sound of church bells and gun salutes.6 Businesses closed for the event, and buildings throughout the city, including the White House, were decorated in black. President Millard Fillmore ordered government officers to wear mourning badges for six months following the late president’s passing.7 Taylor’s funeral took place in the East Room of the White House. A military escort and civic procession, including Taylor’s funeral hearse and his favorite horse Old Whitey, made its way to the Congressional Cemetery, where his remains resided in the Public Vault prior to being interred in Louisville, Kentucky.8
  • Abraham Lincoln, April 19-May 4, 1865: Four days after President Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865, his funeral took place in the East Room of the White House. Six hundred mourners attended the service, including President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses S. Grant; First Lady Mary Lincoln was too grief-stricken to appear.9 The White House and U.S. Capitol were dressed in black, gun salutes occurred, church bells tolled, and the country observed a day of mourning.10 Tens of thousands of spectators gathered to watch the mile-long procession to the Capitol that followed, which included the president’s hearse, military escorts, members of the administration, and some of Lincoln’s family.11 President Lincoln’s body lay in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda – the first president to receive this honor – until April 21, when his remains, along with those of his deceased son Willie, depart the city aboard a funeral train outfitted in black.12 A hastily constructed wooden bier was made to hold Lincoln’s casket, earning the nickname the “Lincoln catafalque.”13 Massive crowds lined the route, which mirrored his train journey to Washington for his 1861 Inauguration.14 The train stopped in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, and several others before finally reaching Springfield, Illinois, on May 3. His remains were placed on view in the Old State Capitol. The next day, the president’s remains were buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery.15
  • James A. Garfield, September 21-26, 1881: President Garfield passed away in Elberon, New Jersey, on September 19, 1881. He had traveled to Elberon to recuperate after being shot earlier that summer. His remains were transported by train to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda and escorted by U.S. Army and Navy service members.16 Garfield lay in state from September 21-23. On September 22, President Chester Arthur announced a day of mourning.17 The funeral service took place there on the afternoon of September 23. First Lady Lucretia Garfield did not attend; instead, the Rotunda was emptied earlier that morning to give her privacy to say goodbye.18 This was a departure from previous presidential funerals which took place in the East Room of the White House. Nonetheless, the Executive Mansion was decorated with mourning crape. Garfield’s remains were then placed aboard a funeral car, which departed from the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Depot—the same location where he had been shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2.19 The train traveled to Cleveland, Ohio; there, another public viewing took place before his burial at Lakeview Cemetery.20
  • William McKinley, September 17-19, 1901: President McKinley succumbed to his gunshot wounds on September 14, 1901, while in Buffalo, New York. His body returned to the nation’s capital by train two days later, where it was escorted to the White House by a cavalry squadron.21 McKinley’s flag-draped casket lay in the East Room overnight, surrounded by floral decorations and tributes.22 In 1893, U.S. code dictated that “no building owned, or used for public purposes, by the Government of the United States, shall be draped in mourning;” as a result, the White House was not draped in black mourning décor as was common in the past.23 On September 17, McKinley’s cortege proceeded to the U.S. Capitol, where the funeral service took place. His remains lay in state for the rest of the day before being escorted to the waiting train, which departed that evening.24 First Lady Ida McKinley chose not to attend the events at the Capitol but traveled to Ohio with her husband’s remains.25 President McKinley was buried in Canton at West Lawn Cemetery.
  • Warren G. Harding, August 7-10, 1923: On August 2, 1923, while on a tour of the Western United States, President Harding died unexpectedly in San Francisco. In his room at the Palace Hotel, a brief, private service was held, attended by First Lady Florence Harding and other members of his travel party.26 Harding’s casket was conveyed back to the capital by train, guarded by service members of the Armed Forces.27 Spectators gathered along the route to pay their respects, though the funeral car made no formal stops. The funeral train arrived at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station on August 7. President Calvin Coolidge and former President William Howard Taft (serving as chief justice at the time) received Mrs. Harding there.28 Pallbearers moved Harding’s remains to the White House East Room, where family, friends, and White House staff paid their respects.29 At 10 a.m. on August 8, Harding’s caisson was escorted to the U.S. Capitol by soldiers and sailors led by General John J. Pershing and accompanied by President Coolidge, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, and former President Woodrow Wilson. As the procession moved down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Marine Band played “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and other hymns.30 A public viewing of the casket followed a funeral service in the Rotunda. Harding’s remains then traveled to Ohio. His father, George Harding, held a public viewing of the casket at his home in Marion, attended by thousands.31 President Coolidge declared August 10, the day of Warren Harding’s interment in Ohio, a national day of mourning.32
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 14-15, 1945: President Roosevelt passed away at Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt flew by plane to Warm Springs that night after visiting with President Harry Truman, First Lady Bess Truman, and their daughter Margaret. The next day, FDR’s flag-draped casket began the journey back to Washington, D.C. aboard a train. Upon arrival in Washington, President Harry S. Truman and members of the cabinet met the train. A military caisson transported Roosevelt’s remains to the White House, accompanied by members of the U.S. military, the Marine Band, and Roosevelt’s family.33 Roosevelt’s casket was placed in the East Room, which was decorated with flowers for the funeral service. Friends, family, and staff paid their respects while crowds gathered in Lafayette Park, hoping to catch a glimpse.34 Because of the ongoing war, President Roosevelt did not lay in state at the U.S. Capitol, unlike many of his predecessors. Instead, the ceremonies surrounding his passing were much smaller. Prior to his passing, Roosevelt had communicated some of his last wishes; one of which was to be buried in the Rose Garden at Hyde Park, the Roosevelt family home.35 As a result, a funeral train conveyed Roosevelt’s body to Hyde Park after his White House viewing.36 On April 15, President Roosevelt was buried in a ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and a P-47 flyover.37 Among the many mourners that day was Fala, Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, who barked after each gunshot.38
  • John F. Kennedy, November 23-25, 1963: On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated while campaigning in Dallas, Texas. His body was conveyed back to Andrews Air Force Base aboard Air Force One. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy asked White House Chief Usher J. B. West to research precedents and model her husband’s state funeral after the ceremonies used for President Abraham Lincoln.39 On November 23, Kennedy’s flag-draped casket was placed in the East Room of the White House by a military honor guard. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared it a national day of mourning.40 The house was outfitted with mourning crape for the occasion, and mourners stood vigil in the rain outside the White House gates. Later that day, a private Mass was held for family and close friends.41 Former presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower paid their respects to Mrs. Kennedy; Herbert Hoover proved too ill to attend but sent family in his stead.42 President Kennedy’s funeral was the first to be televised, allowing millions of people around the country and world to witness the ceremonies live. The next day, President Kennedy’s casket was taken to the Capitol Rotunda and over 250,000 people passed through to pay their respects.43 His casket was placed atop the Lincoln catafalque, which has been used for most of the lying in state services in the Rotunda.44 The next morning, a funeral procession moved from the U.S. Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue, passed by the White House, and then on to St. Matthew’s Cathedral for a pontifical requiem Mass. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Kennedy family members and close friends, prominent politicians, and dozens of world leaders attended the service.45 Later that day, the president’s casket was conveyed to Arlington National Cemetery for the burial. At the service, there was an Air Force and Navy flyover, including Air Force One, and Mrs. Kennedy, Edward Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy lit the eternal flame at the president’s gravesite.46

Former Presidents

  • Herbert Hoover, October 22, 1964- October 26, 1964: Following former President Hoover’s death on October 20, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson called for the lowering of flags to half-staff for a period of thirty days.47 On October 22, a private funeral service was held in New York at St. Bartholomew’s Church for 600 guests, including President Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson.48 On October 23, the casket was taken by train from New York to Union Station in Washington, D.C. President and Mrs. Johnson arrived to meet the funeral party at the train station. Neither former President Harry Truman nor former President Dwight Eisenhower were able to attend the services due to illness.49 The Coast Guard Band played “Hail to the Chief” and “The Light of God is Falling” as the coffin was carried through the station and taken by horse drawn caisson to the Capitol.50 As the funeral procession approached, the U.S. Marine Band played “Hail to the Chief” and “Ruffles and Flourishes,” a 21-gun salute was fired, and jets flew overhead. Like many of his predecessors, former President Hoover lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda atop the Lincoln catafalque.51 The casket was then conveyed to National Airport where another 21-gun salute occurred. The funeral party flew to Iowa aboard four Air Force jets from National Airport. Hoover was buried on October 26, in West Branch, Iowa, near the cottage where he was born in 1874. This was a “happy funeral service” at the request of the Hoover family who wanted to have a Quaker approach to this final service, presided over by Hoover’s friend, Dr. Elton Trueblood.52
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, March 29-April 2, 1969: Former President Eisenhower passed away on March 28 in Washington, D.C. He and Mamie Eisenhower had made plans for his funeral prior to his passing, including two ceremonies in Washington, D.C., and Kansas. On March 29, a military escort transported his body to Washington National Cathedral, where it lay in repose.53 Per his request, Eisenhower was dressed in his World War II uniform and buried in a government issue casket that was standard for a solider in the U.S. Army. The next day, Eisenhower’s casket was placed atop a caisson and transported to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda; a 21-gun salute honored his arrival.54 While Eisenhower lay in state, President Richard Nixon delivered a eulogy.55 Politicians, dignitaries, and members of the public paid their respects throughout the day. The next day, March 31, President Eisenhower’s casket returned to National Cathedral, where a funeral service honored his life and legacy. President Nixon had declared a national day of mourning.56 Eisenhower’s remains were then conveyed to Abilene, Kansas, for a funeral held on the grounds of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.57 At the conclusion of the ceremony, former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower received the flag atop his casket.58 He is buried in the Place of Meditation onsite.
  • Harry S. Truman, December 28, 1972: Following former President Truman’s death on December 26, 1972, he was buried in his hometown of Independence, Missouri, at his presidential library.59 This was a decision made by President Truman: “I would like to be buried out there. I want to be out there so I can get up and walk into my office if I want to.”60 Although larger funeral plans were considered, out of respect for Bess Truman, they opted for a smaller, more private funeral service. On December 27, eight military pallbearers carried the casket to a hearse and transported the president’s body in a motorcade from the funeral home to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. The procession passed the Truman home, where Bess Truman watched from the window. Upon the hearse’s arrival at the Truman Library, twenty-one Air Force Jets flew overhead and the Fifth Army Band played “Ruffles and Flourishes” and “Hail to the Chief” as the casket was brought into the library.61 Truman’s body lay in repose in the front lobby in a closed casket draped with an American flag featuring forty-eight stars to represent the number of states during his presidency. President Richard Nixon announced a national day of mourning and the closure of federal offices in honor of the former president for the day of the funeral. He also traveled to Independence to pay his respects along with First Lady Pat Nixon.62 Former President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson also paid their respects. The funeral took place on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. with approximately 250 guests in the library auditorium. Then the casket was taken outside for the burial rites while the band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” A twenty-one-gun salute, three volleys of musket fire, and “Taps” marked the end of the ceremony and Mrs. Truman was given the flag draped over the casket. The State Department held a public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral several days later January 5, 1973.63
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, January 25, 1973: Former President Johnson died on January 22, 1973, less than a month after the death of former President Truman. Flags were still flying at half-staff.64 President Richard Nixon announced the closing of government offices for the date of the funeral, January 25, and announced the lowering of the flag for another thirty days.65 Johnson’s body first lay in respose with a full honor guard at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, from Tuesday, January 23, until the morning of Wednesday, January 24. Then, President Richard Nixon sent a presidential jet to transport Johnson’s casket to Washington, D.C.66 The body arrived at Andrews Air Force Base at 1:07 p.m. where an honor guard accompanied the casket to a hearse while a 21-gun salute took place. Then, the hearse made the journey to the Capitol as crowds looked on, bands played, and military units marched. Around 3:00 p.m. the former president was taken into the Capitol Rotunda where he lay in state.67 The next morning, a motorcade conveyed the casket to National City Christian Church for the funeral service.68 President Richard Nixon, First Lady Pat Nixon, and Mamie Eisenhower sat in the front row opposite the Johnson family, while many former Johnson officials and members of the government attended the service. A choir sang and Leontyne Price performed “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Following the funeral, the body was transported by motorcade back to Andrews Air Force Base and the funeral party flew to Texas and then went to the LBJ Ranch for Johnson’s burial in his family cemetery.69 Upon arrival a band played “Ruffles and Flourishes” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Reverend Billy Graham spoke at the graveside services: “History will never be able to ignore Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was history in motion.” At the conclusion of the service, a Texas National Guard Unit fired a 21-gun salute. A volley of rifle fire followed, along with the playing of “Taps.” Anita Bryant also sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Then, the flag draped over the coffin was presented to Lady Bird Johnson, while a wreath was laid before the coffin.70
  • Richard M. Nixon, April 27, 1994: Following former President Nixon’s death on April 22, 1994, in New York City, President Bill Clinton announced flags would be lowered to half-staff for thirty days and set aside a national day of mourning for the funeral.71 On Tuesday, April 26, an aircraft that had been used as Air Force One during Nixon’s presidency flew the coffin from New York to California. Upon arrival to El Toro Maine Air Station, a motorcade transported Nixon to his presidential library and birthplace in Yorba Linda, California.72 He lay in repose in the library lobby until the funeral service on the afternoon of April 27, which took place outside on the lawn. Thousands waited in long lines to pay their respects. This was the first presidential funeral since the death of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, and funeral coverage was carried live on all major television networks.73 Many former Nixon administration officials, a foreign diplomatic delegation, and a large congressional delegation attended the funeral service. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the ceremony, alongside former presidents and first ladies: George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, and Gerald Ford and Betty Ford. Reverend Billy Graham presided over the services and Dr. Henry Kissinger, Senate Republican Leader Robert Dole, California Governor Pete Wilson, and President Bill Clinton delivered eulogies. A military band played patriotic hymns, and the ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute and “Taps.”74 Following the funeral, Nixon’s family attended a private burial. He was buried beside his wife, Pat Nixon, who died the year before.75
  • Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004: Following former President Reagan’s death on June 5, 2004, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13343, providing for the closure of government departments and agencies on June 11 in his honor, announced a national day of mourning, and ordered flags lowered to half-staff for a period of thirty days.76 On June 7, the coffin was taken from the funeral home by motorcade to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. A military honor guard brought the casket into the lobby of the library to lie in repose and the family held a brief service. Following the service, some 100,000 people visited the library to pay respects. On June 9, the casket was transported aboard a presidential jet to Andrews Air Force Base. There the coffin was transferred to a hearse and driven toward the Ellipse. Near the White House the hearse stopped, and the casket was transferred to a horse drawn caisson, escorted by military units.77 Upon arrival at the Capitol, “Hail to the Chief” played and a 21-gun salute was fired. The president’s coffin was then positioned atop the Lincoln catafalque. That evening a memorial service took place attended by members of Congress. Another 100,000 people paid their respects as Reagan lay in state. On June 11, the coffin arrived at Washington National Cathedral as a band played “Ruffles and Flourishes” and “Hail to the Chief.” Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, President George W. Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush attended the funeral, and they were joined by Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton; George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush; Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter; and Gerald Ford and Betty Ford. Numerous foreign dignitaries also attended including former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Prince Charles, and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Ronan Tynan sang “Ave Maria” and “Amazing Grace,” and the U.S. Armed Forces Chorus sang several songs.78 Margaret Thatcher, Brian Mulroney, former President George H.W. Bush, and President George W. Bush delivered eulogies.79 Following the ceremony, the casket was transported back to Andrews Air Force Base and returned to California. The burial services took place on the Reagan Presidential Library grounds. It was a private event attended by approximately 700 family and friends of the Reagans, and his children provided eulogies. US Navy F-18 jets flew over in a missing man formation. Reagan’s body was interred into a gravesite known as the Memorial Site, which looks out on the Pacific Ocean and is near a piece of the Berlin Wall.80
  • Gerald R. Ford, January 2, 2007: Following former President Gerald Ford’s death at his California home on December 26, 2006, President George W. Bush announced the lowering of the flag to half-staff for a period of thirty days.81 On December 29, six days of national mourning began in California with a private service for Ford’s family at his church.82 The next day, a presidential jet transported his casket to Andrews Air Force Base where eight military members transferred the casket to the hearse. A military band played “Hail to the Chief” and “America (My Country Tis of thee),” while a 21-gun salute was fired. The cortege proceeded through Washington, D.C., stopping at the World War II Memorial to acknowledge Ford’s service in the war, before proceeding to the U.S. Capitol. His remains lay in state in the Rotunda atop the Lincoln catafalque.83 The state funeral took place at Washington National Cathedral on Tuesday, January 2, 2007. Former First Lady Betty Ford, President George W. Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush attended the funeral along with Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton; George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush; Nancy Reagan; and Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter.84 Eulogies were given by Tom Brokaw, Dr. Henry Kissinger, former President George H.W. Bush, and President George W. Bush. Following the funeral, the coffin was taken back to Andrews Air Force Base and flown to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Ford lay in repose at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum until the following afternoon. On January 3, the casket was transported to Grace Memorial Church for a funeral service. Following this service, the casket was taken back to the Ford Presidential Museum where he was interred in a private ceremony.85
  • George H.W. Bush, December 5, 2018-December 6, 2018: Following former President George H.W. Bush’s death on November 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced the lowering of the flag to half-staff for a period of thirty days and set aside a national day of mourning for December 5.86 On Monday, December 3, the casket was transported from Houston, Texas, to Andrews Air Force Base aboard “Special Airlift Mission 41,” where it was received with a 21- gun salute. Bush lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from Monday, December 3, until Wednesday, December 5 atop the Lincoln catafalque. A motorcade transported the casket to Washington National Cathedral for the state funeral service. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended the ceremony alongside former presidents and first ladies Barack Obama and Michelle Obama; Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton; Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter. George H.W. Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, attended the service and sat with the Bush family.87 The funeral music included “Hymn to the Fallen,” played by the United States Marine Orchestra, and “The Lord’s Prayer” sang by Ronan Tynan. Bush was eulogized by former President George W. Bush, former Senator Alan Simpson, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and presidential historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham. Following the ceremony, the coffin was carried from the church as “Hail to the Chief” played and it was later transported to Houston and taken by motorcade to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church for a public viewing until Thursday, December 6, when another funeral service took place.88 The casket was then taken by a Union Pacific train, painted with an Air Force One color scheme with the number 4141 on it, from Spring to College Station, Texas, the location of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Upon arrival in College Station, the train was greeted by Texas A&M’s marching band playing “Aggie War Hymn.” Another motorcade transported the casket to the Bush Library where the former president was interred next to his wife Barbara and their daughter Robin in a private family service. A missing man formation flyover took place above the library and the flag draped over the coffin was handed to daughter Dorothy Bush Koch.89

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit