Behind the scenes and events, the men and women who have lived in the Executive Mansion have known the same happiness and frustration, pride and misery that come to all of us.
Every night, the gruff and lonely warrior, Andrew Jackson, performed a tender ritual. After removing the treasured miniature of his dead wife, Rachel, which he carried next to his heart, he would place it on the bedside table near her worn and faded Bible, so that he might see her face first on awakening in the morning.
In another of the family rooms, frail Eliza Johnson, devoted wife of Andrew for 41 years, rocked and sewed as she awaited word of the Senate vote at her husband's impeachment trial. "I knew he'd be acquitted," she said firmly, but with tears in her eyes, to the official who brought the good news. "I knew it."
Fashionable President Arthur, who lived luxuriously in the mansion during his one term in the 1880's, showed another side of his nature when he was alone. Like Jackson, he too was a recent widower and, like the earlier President, Arthur carried on a ritual of remembrance by ordering fresh flowers to be placed daily next to the photograph of his lovely Ellen.
One of the most touching scenes in the history of the great change-overs
that have come to this house occurred in Eleanor Roosevelt's
the second floor, after the death of her husband. Vice President Truman,
summoned to the White House, arrived without knowing of the massive
stroke that had ended the President's life at Warm Springs, Georgia. He
heard the news from Mrs. Roosevelt.