Where does the Vice President live? Prior to 1974 vice presidents were expected to provide their own housing. When Nelson Rockefeller became vice president during the Ford administration, the admiral's quarters at the Naval Observatory in northwest Washington, D.C. became the official residence of the vice president and it has been so ever since.
In the early days of the republic there was no presidential expense allowance for entertaining so presidents often left the White House deeply in debt. As an example, James Monroe's salary was only $25,000 per year but, after serving two terms, he left office $35,000 in debt and spent years trying to get reimbursement for his expenses. Thomas Jefferson left office $24,000 in debt. It was not until the 1920s that Congress agreed to allocate funding for the president's official entertaining. The president now receives, in addition to his salary, a $50,000 annual expense account, plus an additional $19,000 for entertainment. However, the First Family is responsible for all personal expenses, including their food, clothing, toiletries, education, and vacation travel (they pay equivalent of a coach ticket). The White House staff keeps track of everything served to family members and their guests. First Lady Nancy Reagan was shocked when she received the first bill for personal expenses after moving into the White House and wrote in her memoir claiming that "Nobody told us that the President and his wife are charged for every nonofficial meal, as well for such incidentals as dry cleaning and toothpaste."
Today, June 14, is Flag Day in the United States. How much do YOU know about the American flag? Most of us can probably tell someone, if asked, that the stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the Union while the stripes (seven red and six white) represent the 13 original colonies, but here is a trickier question? What do the colors in the flag symbolize? The color red on the flag represents valor and hardiness, white is for innocence and purity, and blue is for vigilance. There is also a proper etiquette for displaying the flag. The flag should be flown only in fair weather. When on display the flag needs to be lighted, either by natural light or another light source, and when the flag is taken down no part of it should touch the ground. See the accompanying article for even more interesting facts about the American flag. Happy Flag Day!
Much is made in the media these days about how Congress is at loggerheads with President Obama and unwilling to cooperate in the business of governing. Such obdurate behavior on the part of Congress is as old as the republic. One only has to look at the administration of one of the founding fathers, James Madison, to see challenges to presidential power. Catherine Allgor writes in her book "A Perfect Union" that Congress was riddled with hostile factions who detested Madison and meant to destroy him. James Sterling Young, in his book "The Washington Community 1800-1828" points out that the day-to-day business of governing fell by the wayside and that the members openly quarrelsome behavior embarrassed the government in the eyes of the world and its own citizens. As a result people lost faith in both government and President Madison.
The month of June is designated as National Rose Month so what better time to talk about the White House Rose Garden. In 1913 First Lady Ellen Wilson replaced an existing Colonial garden with the Rose Garden and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy later added features conforming to the gardens of Presidents Washington and Jefferson. The Rose Garden is just steps away from the Oval Office and, in its present form with a broad lawn and flower borders, it is more of an outdoor stage for media events and press conferences than a garden. (Photo: official White House photographer Pete Souza)
First Lady Barbara Bush, wife of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, and First Lady Ida McKinley, wife of the 25th President, William McKinley, were born on June 8.
Not only do these two women share the same birthday they both suffered the loss of a child. George and Barbara Bush lost their daughter Robin to leukemia at the age of 4 and Ida McKinley lost one daughter shortly after she was born and the McKinleys other daughter died of typhoid fever at age three. Ida McKinley endured an even greater loss when her husband was assassinated at the Pan American Exposition in 1901. His assassination finally prompted formal protection of the President by the Secret Service.
What are the odds that two First Ladies of the United States were born on the same day of the year and those same First Ladies shared the same death date? Sharing a birth date is not all that statistically significant but in a small sampling group such as the First Ladies I would put the odds somewhere around 0.3% that two would have the same birth and death dates. At the least it is an eerie connection across time. Who were these women?
Martha Washington, the first First Lady was born on June 2, 1731 and 90 years later another baby destined to be First Lady was born on June 2, 1861.
Her name was Helen Taft, wife of the 27th President of the United States and Supreme Court Justice, William Howard Taft. Martha Washington died May 22, 1802 and on May 22, 1943 Helen Taft died.
President Thomas Jefferson introduced the American palate to french fries, burnt cream ( creme brulee), ice cream ,and macaroni and cheese. In the case of macaroni it is not clear whether Jefferson actually was the first to introduce macaroni and cheese but he served it both at Monticello and the White House often enough that the dish became very popular. The Library of Congress has preserved Jefferson's macaroni and cheese recipe. Jefferson also had the earliest known recipe for ice cream.
President Jefferson had an African American chef at the White House , Augustus Jackson, who left the White House to open his own ice cream shop in Philadelphia. Mr. Jackson is called the "father of ice cream" because he developed a
process that mixed ice with salt to lower and control the temperature of
ice cream which allowed him to deliver ice cream in tin cans all over
Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Jackson never applied for a patent.