Sunday, December 16, 2012

19th C. Washington Societal Etiquette

Circa 1860 illustration of White House (south face) with its first greenhouse 


WASHINGTONIAN SOCIAL ETIQUETTE

 

The wife of the chief-justice, and not the wife of the President, is the first lady in the land, and takes precedence of all others. She holds receptions and receives calls, but she alone is excluded from all duty of returning calls.

The life of a lady in society at Washington is exceedingly onerous, and more especially so if she be the wife of any official.

Next in rank comes the wife of the President.


Social Duties Of The President


It is made the duty of the President to give several state dinners and official receptions during each session of Congress. Besides these, there are the general receptions, at which time the White House is open to the public and every citizen of the United States has a recognized right to pay his respects to the President.


Presidential Receptions


On the days of the regular " levees" the doors of the White House are thrown open, and the world is indiscriminately invited to enter them.

No "court "-dress is required to make one presentable at this republican court, but every one dresses according to his or her own means, taste or fancy. The fashionable carriage- or walking-dress is seen side by side with the uncouth homespun and homemade of the backwoodsman and his wife.

Neither are there any forms and ceremonies to be complied with in gaining admittance to the presidential presence. You enter, an official announces you, and you proceed directly to the President and his lady and pay your respects. They exchange a few words with you, and then you pass on, to make room for the throng that is pressing behind you. You loiter about the rooms for a short time, chatting with acquaintances or watching the shifting panorama of faces, and then you go quietly out, and the levee is ended for you.


Private Call Upon The President


If any one wishes to make a private call upon the President, he will find it necessary to secure the company and influence of some official or special friend of the President. Otherwise, though he will be readily admitted to the White House, he will probably fail in obtaining a personal interview.


Mrs. John Jay, "the First First Lady" ~ John Jay was a New York politician who would become the first chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, a two-term governor of New York, and an influential diplomat abroad.  As the job of President is a temporary position, "the wife of the chief-justice, and not the wife of the President, is the first lady in the land, and takes precedence of all others."

Social Duties Of Cabinet Officers And Their Families


The ladies of the family of a Cabinet officer must hold receptions every Wednesday during the season from two or three o'clock to half-past five. On these occasions the houses must be open to all who choose to call. Refreshments and an extra number of servants are provided. The refreshments for these receptions may be plain, consisting of chocolate, tea, cakes, etc.

Every one who has called and left a card at a Wednesday reception is entitled to two acknowledgments of the call. The first must be a returning of the call by the ladies of the family, who at the same time leave the official card of the minister. The second acknowledgment of the call is an invitation to an evening reception.

The visiting-list of the family of a Cabinet minister cannot contain less than two or three thousand names.

Cabinet officers are also expected to entertain at dinners Senators, Representatives, justices of the Supreme Court, the diplomatic corps, and many other public officers, with the ladies of their families.

The season proper for receptions is from the first of January to the beginning of Lent. The season for dinners lasts until the adjournment of Congress.

The President is not expected to offer refreshments to the crowds who attend his receptions. The Vice-president and Speaker of the House are also freed from the expense of feeding the hungry public.



Social Duties Of Congressmen And Their Families


It is optional with Senators and Representatives, as with all officers except the President and members of the Cabinet, whether they shall "entertain."

There is a vast expense in all this, but that is not all. The labor and fatigue which society imposes upon the ladies of the family of a Cabinet officer are fairly appalling. To stand for hours during receptions at her own house, to stand at a series of entertainments at the houses of others whose invitations courtesy requires should be accepted, and to return in person all the calls made upon her, are a few of the duties of the wife of a high official. It is doubtful if her husband, with the cares of state, leads so really laborious a life.

In Washington society one end of a card turned down denotes a call in person.


From "The Ladies' and Gentlemen's Etiquette, A Complete Manual of the Manners and Dress of American Society" by E. B. Duffey ~ 1877

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Etiquette for Calling Cards and Visiting



VISITING CARDS

HUSBAND AND WIFE. When the wife is calling, 
she can leave cards of the husband and sons if it is impossible for them to do so themselves. 

After an entertainment, cards of the family 
can be left for the host and hostess by either 
the wife or any of the daughters. 



(See Also MR. AND MRS. CARD)

LEAVING IN PERSON. When cards with a message of congratulation are left in person, 

nothing should be written on it.


LEAVING IN PERSON--AFTERNOON TEAS. 
Women leave cards of their male relatives as well as their own, although their names may be announced upon entering the drawing-room.


Guests leave their cards in a receptacle provided, or give them to the servant at the door. 

MEN. A bachelor should not use AT HOME 
cards as a woman does, nor to invite his 
friends, by writing a date and MUSIC AT FOUR 
on his calling card in place of an invitation.

A rare Unger brothers silver, Art Nouveau period calling card tray


MEN--LEAVING IN PERSON. When returning to town after a long absence, a man should leave cards having his address. When calling upon a young woman whose hostess is not known by the man, he should send his card to her. 


At the beginning of a season, a man should 
leave two cards for all those whose entertainments he is in the habit of attending, or on whom he pays social calls. 



These cards may also be mailed. If left in person, there should be one for each member of the family called upon, or only two cards. In the former there should be left one card for the host, one for the hostess, one for the "misses," and one for the rest of the family and their guest. 

Men of leisure should leave their own cards, while business men can have them left by the women of the family. The corner of the card should not be turned down. 

Cards are now left in the hall by the servant 
and the caller is announced. In business calls the card is taken to the person for whom the caller asked.

What if this card had P.C.C. at the bottom? "There has been a difference of opinion, too, on the use of capital letters for P. P. C. on visiting-cards, and R . S. V. P. on cards of invitation. Since the time of the Romans large letters have been used for abbreviations, but America now uses small letters, an innovation distasteful to European eyes." From "All the Year Round"by Charles Dickens, 1882 – P.C.C. stood for the French, 'Pour Prende Conge' or 'To Take Leave' but many Americans used it for 'Presents Parting Compliments' 


When calling, a man should leave a card 
whether the hostess is at home or not. P. P. C. card's may be left in person or sent by mail upon departure from city, or on leaving winter or summer resort. When a man calls upon a young woman whom a hostess is entertaining, he should leave cards for both. When a man calls upon another man, if he is not at home, he should leave a card.


When a man calls on the hostess but not the host he should leave a card for him. If the hostess is out, he should leave two cards--one for each. 

BREAKFASTS, LUNCHEONS, DINNERS. A man 
should leave a card the day after a breakfast, 
luncheon, or dinner for the host and hostess, 
whether the invitation was accepted or not. 
They may also be sent by mail or messenger, 
with an apology for so doing. 

BALLS, SUBSCRIPTION. Shortly after receiving 
an invitation to a subscription ball, a man 
should leave a card for the patroness inviting 
him. 

DEBUTANTE. When calling upon a debutante a man should leave cards for her mother, whether the entertainment was attended or not.

Victorian Era advertisement for calling cards 


ENTERTAINMENT BY MEN. After a man's formal entertainment for men, a man should leave a card within one week, whether the event was attended or not. It can be sent by mail or messenger. 

RECEPTION. When the host and hostess receive 
together, a man should leave one card for both, and if not present at the reception, he should send two cards. 

THEATRE. After a theatre party given by a man, he should call within three days on the woman he escorted or leave his card. 

WEDDING RECEPTION. After a wedding reception a man should leave a card for the host and hostess, and another for the bridal 
couple. If a man has been invited to the church 

but not to the wedding reception, he should 
leave a card for the bride's parents and the
bridal couple, or should mail a card.

Lovely Victorian calling card tray with a bird motif 


SENDING BY MAIL, OR MESSENGER. After an 
entertainment a man should call in person on 
host and hostess, whether the invitation was 
accepted or not. If a card is mailed or sent, it should be accompanied with an apology. 

At the beginning of the season a man should leave cards for all those whose entertainments he is in the habit of attending, or on whom he pays social calls. These cards may also be mailed. If left in person, there should be one for each member of the household or only two cards. In the former case, there should be left one card for the host, one for the hostess, one for the "misses," and one for the rest of the family and the guest. 



If a man is unable to make a formal call upon a debutante and her mother at her debut, he should send his card by mail or messenger. A man may mail his card to a woman engaged to be married, if acquaintance warrants. 



Visitors to town should send cards to every one whom they desire to see. The address should be written on them.

"Ohio Card Company" samples 


AFTERNOON TEA. If a man is unable to be 
present at an afternoon tea, he should send a 
card the same afternoon. 

BREAKFASTS, LUNCHEONS, DINNERS. A man 
should leave a card the day after a breakfast, 
luncheon, or dinner for the host and hostess, 
whether the invitation was accepted or not. 
They may be sent by mail or messenger with 
an apology for so doing. – The Book of Manners

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