Monday, November 1, 2010


"On Saturday afternoon, November 1, 1800, four horses pulled a coach along mud-rutted, stump-stubbled Pennsylvania Avenue and up to an unfinished sandstone mansion, the biggest house in America. Sixty-five-year-old John Adams stepped out and gazed up at his new home, which would be forever known as the White House. His wife and granddaughter, 4-year-old Susanna, arrived two weeks later, having gotten lost in the 'Forest and woods' on the way.
In their new home, they kept close to the fireplaces. The lofty, hardly finished rooms smelled of smoke, damp plaster, sawdust, and paint. Abigail, who didn't want citizens gawking at the First Family's linen drying in the yard, would have laughed to know that her East Room clothesline would become a White House legend.'

I wrote and more than once rewrote this passage for p. 32 of my book The Revolutionary John Adams, published in 2003 (a very different time, publishing-wise) by the National Geographic. Man oh man, I loved working on this book about one of the most fascinating American families, pondering John and Abigail's partnership, their valiant efforts and separations and prickly personalities. I don't at all mean to be turning this here blog into some infomercial, but oh well...
210 years ago today. Golly, imagine settling into that cold barn down in Washington City.

Just imagine - that's what I always do and lemme tell you, it sure as heck makes the reading of history a damned sight more interesting than one might think. And researching? Oh baybee -- do check out and treat yourself to reading William Seale's splendid [two volumes!] history of The President's House

And just imagine - apart from managing the complex affairs of state, mourning the loss of their son Charles, John and Abigail doing their best to settle into that cold barn [the power was out & wouldn't be on for another 80 years or so] down in the hardscrabble beginnings of 'Washington City ' 210 years ago today. Me, I'm going to put on another sweater. Long live the Republic. Vote tomorrow.

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