Saturday, March 14, 2015

President Lincoln's Cottage

John and I had one more day of sightseeing left before we were to take the train back home.  Our son Dan suggested that we see the cottage since a trip to it would involve only a brief bus ride from his house.
The above picture was taken from the grounds of the cottage and Soldier's Home, which are located about 3 miles north of the Capitol.  In 1851 Senator Jefferson Davis proposed a bill to establish a home for veterans, which passed.  The government then purchased a 256 acre estate for the home.  By 1890 more than 1,000 native born men lived here, in 20007 the number of veterans living here numbered 1,100.  In 1857, in order to build political support for the home, the commissioners began inviting the President and Secretary of War to occupy the Gothic Revival cottage built by the owner of estate in 1842.  This cottage has 34 rooms.
At the time of the Civil War DC was a hubbub of military activity.  Along with the increased population, and sweltering humidity of the area, came diseases as malaria and typhoid fever- which killed Lincoln's son Willie.  The President's wife Mary declared that they were " in need of quiet".   They arrived here in 1862.  All total during the years of his presidency Lincoln spent 13 months at this summer cottage, and it was within this building that he crafted the Emancipation Proclamation.  We learned a lot about Lincoln in the visitor's center on the grounds, as well as in the house which has large video screens displaying additional information.   The house has no artifacts pertaining to Lincoln (other than a replica of the desk on which he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation). Only the walls and bannisters of the house are original.  Lincoln was not the last president to live at the Soldier's Home, Presidents Hayes and Arthur also spent time here.  In 2000 President Clinton designated the home a National Monument and it remains the only official National Monument in DC.
Lincoln frequently was by himself when he rode his horse in DC, which terrified Mary.  He was shot at once, the bullet just knocked his hat off.  A month before he was assassinated in 1865 there was a plan to kidnap him when he rode in from DC, but Lincoln changed his plans and stayed in the city that day.  Another interesting story which we learned regarding our 16th President was that he and Poet Walt Whitman exchanged bows almost daily on the President's commute into town.  Whitman was in DC for government work as well as to serve as a nurse, and lived at an intersection of streets which Lincoln daily crossed.

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