Saturday, March 12, 2016

Washington Etiquette and Precedence

Franklin Pierce and his Cabinet — Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States, became President at a time of seeming tranquility. The United States, by virtue of the Compromise of 1850, seemed to have weathered its sectional storm. By pursuing the recommendations of southern advisers, Pierce — a New England Democrat who saw the abolitionist movement as a fundamental threat to the unity of the nation —hoped to prevent still another outbreak of that storm. But his policies, far from preserving calm, hastened the disruption of the Union.


The New York Commercial, in an article on Etiquette and Precedence, tells its readers what are the rules and regulations observed, in that connection, at Washington : 
The representatives of foreign governments are somewhat punctilious on points of etiquette, and attach considerable importance to the right of the first visit, and to precedence in entering a room or being seated at a table. 
We believe that formerly Senators of the United States on going to Washington for the session, called upon the President and Vice President, and there stopped, received the first call from all others, including Judges of the Supreme Court, Cabinet Ministers, Foreign Representatives, etc... 
The Judges of the Supreme Court now claim the first visit, and consequently precedence of place, for the one necessarily implies the other; and Senators are understood generally to waive the question in favor of the Judges, though Mr. Clay and some of the older Senators are said to have resisted the concession. 
A concession of precedence has also been made in favor of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the grounds that he is next to the Vice President in the line of succession to the Presidency in case of death, resignation, etc... So that the following would seem to be the order of official precedency:
1. President 
2. Vice President 
3. Speaker of the House 
4. Judges of the Supreme Court 
5. Senators 
6. Cabinet and Foreign Ministers
7. House of Representatives 
The Secretary of State, we believe, takes the precedence of the other members of the Cabinet, but we are not sure that the claim is allowed. — 1853

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