Wednesday, February 3, 2016

White House Etiquette, 1897

Mrs. Grover Cleveland experimented with the White House protocol.

Precedence and Protocol 
of Being the U.S. President's Wife
in the 1890s

When the President and his wife drive out, the President sits on the right hand and his wife on the left, says the Illustrated AmericanIf there are others in the carriage, whether ladies or gentlemen, they must sit with their backs to the horses. 
When Mrs. Cleveland was first married she tried the experiment of placing her mother opposite the President and herself in the Presidential landau, but the people laughed at it so immoderately and professed to think Mrs. Folsom (as she was then) to be the maid, that it was speedily dropped. When the President's wife drives alone, she sits in the right-hand corner — the place of honor. 
The lady of the White House cannot set foot within those splendid houses in Washington whose flagstaffs mark the foreign embassy or legation. She could not go without the President, and as an embassy or legation is technically a part of the country it represents, the President could not go — so that she never sees the inside of a diplomatic house as long as she presides at the executive mansion. 
The President dines only at Cabinet houses and his wife cannot dine anywhere without him. President Arthur dined with Judges of the Supreme Court and with Senators, but as he had no wife, the whole system was very much simplified for him. 
The President's wife may, if she chooses, go to luncheons where there are no gentlemen, or to teas, both being regarded as strictly informal, but the danger of giving offense by accepting one invitation and declining another is so great, that it is seldom or never risked. — The San Francisco Call, 1897


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