A letter from the White House


Stationary from the Executive Mansion (it was still about a decade away from being called the “White Hosue”).

I just never what I’m going find when I open a folder at the Historical Society.  Yesterday, I was still working my way through personal correspondence files, when I saw a letter on stationary that read, “Executive Mansion, Washington.”  A quick examination showed the signature of Caroline Scott Harrison, wife of President Benjamin Harrison.


Caroline Scott Harrison was very interested in history and preservation.  Her husband was inaugurated in 1889, the centennial of Washington’s inauguration, which heightened interest in the early history of the county.  In 1890, Mrs. Harrison was one of the founders of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served at the first President General.

Reflecting her interest in the American Revolution, the letter concerns the purchase of Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge.  The letter was donated to the Historical Society in 1930 by Ellis R. Roberts.  He had apparently offered to contribute funds for the purchase, but in the letter the First Lady explains that the Sons of America had already purchased part of the land.

Caroline Scott Harrison’s official First Lady portrait.

The letter written in October, 1891, and soon after it was written, Mrs. Harrison became ill with tuberculosis.  She eventually passed away from the disease in October, 1892.  Valley Forge became Pennsylvania’s first state park in 1893, and in 1976 that state of Pennsylvania gave it to the National Parks Service.