• President Ulysses S. Grant’s Inaugural Procession Was Filled With Darkies, Colored Zouaves And A Chance To Shake Andrew Johnson’s Hand

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    Grace White (c. 1844-1903) was the daughter of Ashton Stoodely Hall White [c. 1819-1902], a native of New Hampshire who moved to Washington, DC, in the early 1840s to serve in the Treasury Department of the U.S. Land Office for a time and for many years as Clerk, Secretary, and Chief of the Division of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior.

    4 pp, 5 x 8, ALS, March 6, 1869, Washington, DC,  She writes, in small part, “...The city is filled with strangers, and I walked down the Avenue the evening before the 4th just to see the crowd, which was immense. On the 4th of March I went with my friend Mrs. Chestney to see the procession. Her husband’s place of business is on the Avenue and we had a nice big window all to ourselves, where we could sit comfortably and see everything there was to be seen. Of course three fourths of the procession were darkies, black ‘boys in blue; there was one company of colored Zouaves but all the rest of the Negroes wore their everyday clothes with the addition of blue caps and capes. That part of the procession I most enjoyed seeing were our own Marines, a company from Albany, and the Pennsylvania Grays, those three divisions marched beautifully, and were all splendid looking men, the Artillery and the Firemen also looked very well. General Grant rode in an open carriage and I had a very good look at him.

    “The Ball came off not-withstanding the commotion about it, and was a very brilliant affair. About a dozen persons went from here and some of them did not get home until five o’clock in the morning. There was a tremendous crowd of course and a great many people did not get a taste of the supper. None of us went although Father had a ticket given him and Mother and I had an invitation. I am not fond of balls and if I were – I wouldn’t have gone because it was Lent. I did go to one Levee [a moment to meet those in charge], the one next to the last for I wanted to shake hands once at least with dear old ‘Andy’ and he looked so great and noble I could have kissed him. I had a great mind to tell Mr. Johnson that it was the first Levee I had ever attended, and I only went that once for the sake of shaking hands with him, but I was too diffident and did not say anything.

    “...Gov. Cox of Ohio is to be Secretary of the Interior. I hope he will not turn Father out of office for is he does I don’t know what will become of us all. Mother went to bid Mr. Browning, our former secretary, good bye and they both cried. I wish he was still to be secretary for I think he is the nicest one we have ever had...”

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