Explore objects and archival materials that feature more than 150 years of Presidential history with a Western Pennsylvania connection.  

The Inauguration
The hard days on the Presidential campaign trail are over and it is time to celebrate! Since 1933, January 20 has been Inauguration Day for American Presidents. Previously, Presidents were sworn into office on March 4, but passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution moved the ceremony to January.  The planning and preparation for this day takes months and includes sending out invitations to the President’s family, friends, special guests, and other politicians.    

An invitation for President Barack Obama's Inauguration in 2009. This was the first time an invitation of this nature, which invited all Americans to view the Inauguration online and the first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, was issued.

It reads "No matter where you will be on Inauguration Day, we invite you to join us as one nation in celebration of this historic moment."

This ticket was likely given to Brown-Forman executives or other company representatives to attend the Inauguration. Brown-Forman owns Korbel Champagne, which was served at this inaugural event, and at the time also owned the Lenox Glass Company, which produced the Inaugural gifts from Congress to the President and Vice President.

Inauguration Day
Inauguration Day is a busy day in Washington D.C., involving the Inaugural ceremony, a luncheon, a parade, and both the official and unofficial balls. Take a look at artifacts from previous Inaugurations, including a dress worn to an Inaugural Ball, a ticket to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1937 Inauguration, and various badges and buttons.  

Benjamin Harrison's inauguration took place on March 4, 1889. Since 1937, Inauguration Day has taken place on January 20.

Badge from Grover Cleveland's second Inauguration as President. Cleveland first served as President from 1885 to 1889, and is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.

Pittsburgher Mary D. Barnes wore this dress to one of Dwight D. Eisenhower's Inaugural Balls. Barnes, an attorney, supported Eisenhower's campaigns.

This program for Bill Clinton's Inauguration Ceremony Program lists the speakers and performers and provides a history of the inauguration.

This color-coded map shows the designated seating and viewing areas for attendees at Bill Clinton's Inauguration Ceremony.

Inauguration Gifts & Presidential Tableware
The Bryce/Lenox companies have been producing china and glass products for the White House and Presidential Inauguration for decades. The following are examples of pieces produced by Lenox that were given to incoming Presidents by Congress at the Inaugural Luncheon or specialty items made for use at the Inauguration, in the White House, and at the Vice President’s residence.      

When Ronald Reagan ran for Governor of California in 1966, he began eating “Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans” to help him give up pipe smoking. After Reagan left the governorship, he continued to receive shipments of Goelitz Mini Gourmet Jelly Beans directly from the company. The company shipped three and a half tons of red, white, and blue Jelly Belly jelly beans to Washington, D. C. for the 1981 Inaugural festivities. Herman Goelitz Candy Company provided the Reagan White House with Jelly Belly jelly beans for all eight years of Reagan’s presidency. The President kept his favorite snack in a cut glass jar, just like this one, on his oval office desk – his favorite Jelly Belly flavor was licorice.

This plate was produced for President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush's 1985 Inauguration. It commemorates this event as the 50th Presidential Inauguration.

These sample pieces of china are made by the Lenox Co. The bowl has a gold seal with an image of the Capitol Building dome and President George H.W. Bush’s signature in gold on the opposite side. The trinket box features an image of the Great Seal of the U.S. on the lid, and inside, text acknowledging the 1989 inauguration as the "Bicentennial" Inaugural.

Lenox Glass Co.'s master cutter Peter O’Rourke drew the grid lines on this bowl in preparation for cutting the design. The finished piece was given by Congress to the President at the lunch following the Inauguration.

Lenox Glass Co. created glass bowls as the gifts from Congress to the President and Vice President to be awarded at the lunch following the Inauguration. Master cutter Peter O’Rourke designed and cut the intricate patterns on the bowls. This glass stand was made to hold President William Jefferson Clinton's Inaugural bowl.

Photograph of President Bill Clinton receiving his Inaugural Gift, a Lenox bowl with an engraved image of the White House. Note the presentation box created for the bowl.

A similiar glass stand supported the bowl presented to Bill Clinton as an Inauguration gift. This image, from the Brown-Forman company newsletter of George W. Bush's gift, illustrates how the bowl looks on the stand .

Photograph of Vice President Al Gore receiving his Inaugural Gift, a glass Lenox bowl with an engraved image of the White House.

Sample Presidential dinner plate, in the “Command Performance” pattern, made by Lenox China, Trenton, N.J., for President Wilson, c. 1920.

This sample has the gold work but not the blue border that distinguished the 1,700 pieces of Lenox China that Mrs. Wilson ordered for use in the White House in 1918.

This image from the Lenox Collection shows the china that the Reagans ordered to replace the set that had been used since Lady Bird Johnson purchased it in 1967.

First Lady Nancy Reagan chose red, her favorite color, for the focal color of the china. Lenox designers even took samples to the White House and viewed them in the dining room under candleight to make sure the tone was just right. The $209,508 cost of the 4,372-piece set initially caused a stir, which President Reagan dubbed the "china crisis." However, since private donations, not federal money, funded the purchase, the criticism quieted. Still, this demonstrates how important public perception can be.

A Lenox design for the Great Seal of the United States featured in the center of the Reagan's china service.

This cobalt and gold sample with the Vice President’s seal in the center would have been used at the Vice President’s official residence in Washington, D.C.

This glass with a wafer stem would have been used at the Vice President’s official residence in Washington, D.C.

A flute glass, finger bowl, and wine glass made by Lenox, Mount Pleasant, Pa.

This glass would have been used at Blair House, the President's guest house in Washington, D.C.

These bud vases were likely made for First Lady Nancy Reagan to give as gifts.

While these may have been produced for use in the White House, Lenox also made glass sold as souvenirs in the White House gift shop.

Presidential Life
The following items document the lives of various U.S. Presidents during their time in office and beyond. These items give a peak into their public lives, including official dinners, appearances, and installing diplomatic officials, as well as their private lives, such as a private letter, a photograph of family members, and personal writings.

Letter from Andrew Jackson to Judge William Wilkins, a prominent politician from Pittsburgh. Here, Jackson asks if Wilkins would be interested in serving as Minister to Russia, which Wilkins accepts and serves from 1834-1835.

Document declaring William Wilkins "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the Court of His Majesty The Emperor of All of the Russias". The document is signed by President Andrew Jackson and Secretary of State John Forsyth. Notice the Great Seal of the U.S. on the document.

A Meissen porcelain tea service painted with scenes of Central European peasants and burgers of the Renaissance, c. 1830 and a Paris porcelain openwork compote with gold gilding, c. 1830 purchased by William Wilkins, U.S. ambassador to Russia, and later Secretary of War under President John Tyler, while in Europe.

This letter was written by James Buchanan to Judge William Wilkins, a longtime friend. Wilkins had apparently asked Buchanan to spend time with him and his wife, but Buchanan's duties as President appear to have hindered this meeting. "I should accept it with all my heart were this possible. The pressure of public affairs, however, so near the meeting of Congress is an insuperable obstacle in the way," he writes.

Menu from a dinner hosted in honor of President and Mrs. McKinley by railroad executive Robert Pitcairn at his Pittsburgh home. Other guests included Pennsylvania Governor Daniel Hastings, George Westinghouse, Philander C. Knox, and Henry Clay Frick and their respective wives. This Tiffany & Co. dinner menu belonged to Adelaide Frick.

Tiffany & Co. menu from a dinner hosted by Attorney General Philander C. Knox on Independence Day 1902 in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt at the Hotel Schenley in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Click the image to explore the menu and see what the President ate for dinner.

This postcard features President Theodore Roosevelt delivering an address during the dedication of Pennsylvania's new State Capitol in 1906, two years after his election in 1904.

This pewter plate, engraved by Pittsburgh artist Tadelus Wastowicz, is based on two political cartoons drawn by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Cyrus "Cy" Hungerford. Wastowicz combined two cartoons of Hungerford's, drawn on August 10 and August 12, 1974, to comment on feelings related to Richard Nixon's resignation and transfer of the Presidency to Gerald Ford.

Letter from Gerald Ford to Cy Hungerford regarding his political cartoons.

In the Public's Eye
Public perception of the President can be fickle. A significant part of the job involves managing dissent or receiving praise, deserved or not, for events, circumstances, and emotions that effect the people or the country. Upon returning to civilian life, the activities of the President are still closely watched and their actions often impact their political legacy. The following materials from the Heinz History Center’s collection show how Presidents were perceived and memorialized during and after their Presidency. 

A poet throughout his life, John Quincy Adams wrote this piece while traveling along the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, Pa from a speaking engagement in Cincinnati, Ohio, 14 years after he left office. The subject is a young Pittsburgh woman whom he met and became friends with while during the course of their trip.

Colorful handkerchief depicting an image of President Rutherford B. Hayes in each of its four corners.

Photograph of Ulysses S. Grant and his family on board the Kearsarge with its crew. This is believed to be taken after Grant left the Presidency and embarked on a two year world tour, which ultimately renewed his popularity after a contentious Presidency.

A souvenir spoon depicting President Grover Cleveland and his wife, Frances Cleveland, and scenes from The Chicago World's Fair, also known as The Columbian Exposition.

This tassel is said to have been cut from President Abraham Lincoln's catafalque, the framework that supported his coffin during the funeral or while lying in state. The tassel represents a physical connection to Lincoln and an intriguing glimpse at public memory.

In Conclusion
President Warren G. Harding once remarked, “My God, this is a hell of a job!” As this unapologetic quote indicates, the American Presidency is not a job for the faint of heart. As of January 20, 2017, only 45 men have occupied this position in the 230 years since the office of the President was created. Each Inauguration Day represents a new era in American history and culture as the government peacefully passes from one elected leader to another. The artifacts and documents shared in this exhibit demonstrate the importance of this position to the creation of an American political identity, how the professional and private lives of the Presidents converge, often inseparably, and how the American public perceives and remembers its leaders.  
Credits: Story

White House Historical Association
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
The Miller Center of Public Affairs
Bunch III, Lonnie G, Spencer R. Crew, Mark G. Hirsch, and Harry R. Rubenstein. "A Glorious Burden: The American Presidency." Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.
“Adams as a Poet,” Library of Congress, accessed January 17, 2017.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile