The White House New Year’s Day Reception

Presidential History Blog

earlywashdc An early artistic rendering of Washington DC about the turn of the 19th century.

After two years in New York and ten years in Philadelphia, the capital of the country was moved to Washington at the very end of 1800.

The Dismal Days

Washington DC was just opening for business in late 1800, after a ten-year building process. Designed and built practically from scratch from donated pieces of Virginia and Maryland, the new city was muddy, full of building debris, stray dogs, cats and pigs, unpaved streets, fields of weeds, and huge distances between neighbors.

john-adams John Adams was the first POTUS to open the White House for a public reception on New Year’s Day – in 1801.

President John Adams came to the White House alone. His wife Abigail joined him shortly afterwards, along with John and Esther Breisler, their long-time stewards.

The place was cold and damp, basically unfurnished…

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