History Nuggets: A dark 1862 Christmas in the Lincoln White House

When life becomes complicated…holidays and celebrations become difficult and thorny…for instance…Christmas during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

During these hard times, the Lincoln White House left no record of Christmas trees in the halls or parties, other than a family Christmas dinner in 1861 when they were all together.  President Lincoln served the people, met his presidential responsibilities…attended to the needs of war…he and his First Lady directed their energies…spending countless hours in the military hospitals administering to the wounded…writing letters for injured soldiers to send home to loved ones…such unselfish devotion to a divided nation left little time for holiday festivities.

Additional sorrow and mourning entered the White House when third son, Willie, died in February 1862.  Imagine…the White House doors and windows still shrouded in black, black arm bands…stark black attire during that Christmas combined with a civil war.  Lincoln told Tad, his youngest son, “I want to give him all the toys I did not have and all the toys that I would have given the boy that went away”.… referring to 11 year old Willie and his short sweet life.

War deeply influences our lives and our cultural legacy…look for the next History Nugget: “1863 Santa Claus drawn political and choosing sides”

Inspiring photo of William Wallace Lincoln by Pinterest

History Nuggets: An orphan boy who never heard of Santa Claus became President

“On Christmas Eve in 1835, President Andrew Jackson and the White House children embarked upon a carriage ride, delivering gifts to former First Lady Dolly Madison and Vice President Martin Van Buren.  During the ride one of the children asked the President if he thought Santa would visit the White House. Mr. Jackson replied that they would have to wait and see and told the children of a boy he once knew who had never heard of Christmas or Santa Claus and who had never owned a single toy. The boy, he told them, never knew his father and then his mother died.  After her death, he had no friends and no place to live. Jackson and the children then visited an orphanage and delivered the remaining gifts in the carriage to its residents. Years later, one of the children, Mary Donelson, realized that the boy the president spoke of had been Jackson himself.” Jackson was a complicated man who came from lonely and troubled beginnings…who grew to cherish Christmas and share the joy of light and hope.

Inspirational photo by Pexels.