Who ranks first among U.S. Presidents? This week presidential historians announced their 2017 rankings and the results are listed here. https://www.c-span.org/presidentsurvey2017/?page=overall. Before you view the results, care to guess which president is at the top of the list: George Washington? Abraham Lincoln? Thomas Jefferson? Franklin Roosevelt? Take a look.
Don’t worry if you did not make it to Washington, DC to attend a presidential inaugural ball last month. If and when you do visit the nation’s capital you can see many of the inaugural gowns worn by First Ladies of the United States on display at the Smithsonian American History Museum http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/first-ladies; one of the most popular exhibits in Washington, DC. First Lady Helen Taft (1909) was the first to donate her inaugural gown, and other first ladies have continued the tradition, including the recent addition of First Lady Michelle Obama’s crystal-crusted inaugural gown. Presumably, First Lady Melania Trump’s gown will eventually become part of the collection as well.
President Trump may not be considered a traditionalist, but when it came to wardrobe choices for his inauguration, he wore a shirt and overcoat from the clothier, Brooks Brothers. How are those traditional choices? Presidents all the way back to Lincoln have worn this American brand including Presidents Grant, Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama all took the oath of office wearing Brooks Brothers. In fact, President Obama wore his Brooks Brothers overcoat again at the Trump inauguration.
January 20, 2017 marked a presidential transition at the White House. Many of the followers of My Year with The First Ladies have followed this blog since it began in 2010 during the time I was working for the Obama White House and was introduced to its history and traditions surrounding America's First Families. I became particularly interested in the lives of the women who claimed the title of First Lady, whom I believed at the time, were not receiving enough attention regarding their contributions. To some extent, the tenure of First Lady Michelle Obama shone a spotlight on how First Ladies make a difference in people's lives. Now that the Obamas have departed the White House, the country has a new First Lady, only the second foreign born first lady since Louisa Adams, wife of the 6th President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. Many of you know if you follow this blog that Louisa Adams was not happy in the White House and considered it a prison . It remains to be seen what Melania Trump will make of her time in the White House. My hope is that all of you will continue to follow this blog as the new administration unfolds and history is made. One thing I have learned as I continue to examine presidential and White House history is, regardless of political persuasion, those who occupy the White House do so only on a transitory basis while the White House itself has stood as a symbol of all the promise of Americans for over 200 years.
Inaugurations for President of the United States did not always take place on January 20. Most "regular" presidential inaugurations from 1793 until 1937 happened on March 4. The very first one, however, took place on April 30, 1789 after George Washington traveled (unaccompanied by his wife, Martha) from his Mount Vernon home in Alexandria, Virginia to the first capitol of the United States: New York City. Throughout his journey to New York Washington was greeted by crowds of well-wishers and feted with receptions. The inauguration itself was held outdoors and Washington was the only president (thus far) to kiss the Bible after taking the oath. To top things off, fireworks lit up the night sky. The inaugural ball did not take place that evening, but was postponed until May 7 ,which was probably a disappointment for George Washington, as he loved to dance!
Jacqueline Kennedy's garden, or, as it is sometimes called, the First Lady's Garden is located on the north side of the East Colonnade of the White House not too distant from where the First Lady's office is located. The garden is in the style of a traditional 18th century American garden and its restoration was underway when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was in residence at the White House and dedicated by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in 1965 as Jacqueline Kennedy's Garden. Besides the flowers and boxwood shrubs, the garden also produces many herbs used by the White House chefs.
The East Wing or Children's Garden was created and presented to the White House by President and Mrs. Johnson. The garden is located in a wooded area near the White House tennis courts. The garden has a goldfish pond and an apple tree just right for kids to climb on. The paved walkway has embedded in it hand and foot prints of presidents' children and grandchildren.
Hurry, hurry if you plan to view the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. The bloom timetable has accelerated and now the U.S. Park Service estimates that the peak bloom period is March 18-24, 2016, a full two weeks earlier than predicted. More than 100 years ago, in 1912, First Lady Helen Taft, in her efforts to beautify the swampy terrain surrounding the White House, accepted the gift of cherry trees from the Mayor of Tokyo. Since then millions of tourists have enjoyed the beauty the cherry blossoms bring to spring in the nation's capital.