Friday, November 20, 2015

Gilded Age Etiquette in Washington DC

Ida Saxton McKinley was the wife of the 25th President, William McKinley

"Notwithstanding the mid-Lenten season capital society is extremely busy exchanging courtesies with the newcomers in high places. The latter are beginning to realize the bitter-sweets of their position, for the polite tactics that govern the social side of all things official involve much downright hard work.

An immutable law of local etiquette requires the ladies of official families to see to it that their husband's or father's visiting cards, together with their own, are properly distributed within a given number of days, to everyone of the hundreds who have left addresses in the traditional peck measure of bits of Bristol board which every weekly reception brings. The value of a former residence in Washington, and the experience in its social requirements, which differ from those of any other city, is plainly to be seen in the present administration.

Mrs. McKinley is a charming example of this. She knows the natural interest in the nation's house and the president's wife, and she makes everybody welcome at all times and in the most informal fashion. It is already apparent that the White House will be much more accessible to the general public during this administration than the last. 


There will be a great many more receptions outside the official clique, and the whole mansion beyond the east room will not be so closed and guarded as formerly, as if each visiting stranger were a vandal bent on destruction or theft.

Mrs. Sherman, too. besides her many years as a senator's wife, has filled a position similar to that she now occupies when her husband was secretary of the treasury. The Longs, also the Algers, the Grays, and others in the present topmost circle have spent precious seasons in Washington, and are familiar with its peculiar social usag
es." —Special Correspondence to The Herald. WASHINGTON, D. C, March 30, 1897


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor of Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia