Rank has its privilege, and for past Presidents, it offered even more –– “The President may walk where he pleases in the streets of Washington, meeting with no further notice than the tipping of the hat, unless of his own motion be stops to speak with someone.”
The President In Public
It is a point of etiquette, universally observed at the national capital, never to obtrude attentions upon the President when he appears in public. On the street or in any place of amusement in Washington, the President has the undisputed privilege of appearing as any private citizen, he is never stared at unless it is by strangers, and his appearance in a theater is not greeted with any sort of demonstration. The President may walk where he pleases in the streets of Washington, meeting with no further notice than the tipping of the hat, unless of his own motion be stops to speak with someone.
Office seekers and petitioners never venture to approach him on the street. His surest riddance of the importunities of the throng is to go out among them. Sir Julian Pauncefote, speaking of the American customs that had impressed him, remarked that, while a foreigner's first impression might be that the seeming indifference of the public toward the President when he appeared on the street or at the theater was the result of an exaggerated idea of democracy, it must become apparent on closer observation that it was the highest possible tribute of respect and consideration. —San Francisco Argonaut, 1899
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia