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Washington Society Is Guided by the State Deoartment
gven the President's Wife First Submits List of Guests to f the Proper Official By Hannah Mitchell SOCIAL registers and blue book flourish in Washington, bu' neither is society's court oJ last appeal. That is the De mmrttntxit of Stete. It passes upor ["?^palates ?N dinners and othej ?!lal entertainments at the capital The burden of social responsi ?bt?, of worries over seating guests their proper order, has been liftec L? the beautifully groomed shoul lirs of Washington's society women ?fte blood of deaths in the socia ^arld be upon the State Depart t gnd not upon the faultlessls ?fled heads of Senators' and Su ^eme Court Justices' wives, " ^jjajn 45)0." says Mrs. Blank's ??fiai secretary. ?State Department? Give me Mr \>ok's office. Senator and Mrs ijiank wish to entertain for Lore n??h. Will you make the arrange Busts and let us know as soon as. possible0 Thank you '. Chevy Chas? ?" Great Social Event Lord Dash is coming to Washing ton on some foreign mission oj tdher. Little does it matter to so tjety what his official business, hii tisit will give opportunity for mag nifieence and splendid entertain mtnt Mrs. Blank knows that her dinnei honoring the lord will be the crown jng touch to her social success ir Washington. The State Department approve: the dinner and set* a date. But it< responsibility is not ended. Withir liewdays Mrs. Blank sends in hej list of guests and Mr. Cook's office arranges the order in which they ar< |o be seated. No question can aria B to the taste of the Senator's lady to one can take offense if his plac< does not suit his idea of prominence The State Department has seated th< guests, and its dictum is final. The very lack of rank in society J)? this country has exaggerated th< ?nportance of rank. Precedent! fcave been set by one President an< another. Custom and unwritten lav kave been the causes of many dis? putes. Nearly every Administration brought about new social problems and nearly every President's wif? broke some "precedent" by not fol? lowing exactly the methods of tht lady preceding her. Claims to rank at times grew U inch proportions, disputes otsi precedent waxed so intense that foz years the wise hostess dared not in ?ite certain officers to the same par? ies to which other officials were in ?ted. At one time the ambassadors de landed that they take precedence over the Vice-President. Little cam? of the dispute, however, and the Vice-President remained the second In social as well as official rank ir Washington. 'Uncle Joe" Made Trouble In the McKinley administration e ??spute arose which brought aboul the necessity for an official court ir the matter of social rank. Mr. Can? non, then Speaker of the House oj Representatives, asserted that hi ?he-old take precedence over the Chiei ?nistice. He based his claim upor the fact that he held the third im? portant elective office in the Federa: flwnment. On the other hand, il ffas maintained that the Speaker ?hip was not the third great electiv? ?I? in the country, the man hold ja? the office being simply a regu ?rijr elected Representative elected ? his office by the House itself. The dispute went unsettled until "Hoe time during the Roosevelt ad B?niatration. Care was taken nol ?invite "Uncle Joe" and the Chiei i?!Ce t0 fuRctiona where *??? 7*? be any seeming preference *?*? to one or the other. This **? in the Speaker's autocratic day! ?S?? the office had been shorn oi powers. Xo one cared to chance wending the Speaker. *vl8?ttle this trouble and otheTt flieh were always impending Presi ?? Roosevelt turned the mattei !j!er to the State Department er* haa been an ever increasing ?n<lency of all hostesses to let thai ^artiaent bear the brunt of theii 3?? responsibilities. Wh evolution of this social wort rihhT Stat* DePartment very pos ^ttay be "rank" in the United J^tey at the capital has beer J?**^ ^ried and" almost chaotic jjr Wilson administration. Dur 3K** *" the formality and raucl ?gj* gayety ceased. The White ?g?J occupied with war and the mP* Problems of the times, gave ^* attention to the lighter side. ,*VJ>clety women at the capital ?* their talents toward war re? ft ?Si Bupplementary war work. k U?Z. WaSQ,t qtlite "the thing' eJf^aln too lavishly, and, ?to ?JJJ?? at W?*ahlngton was at a ^?w. The President's absence after the war and his long illness . have prolonged the hiatus of society . affairs at the White House. - However, the rock foundation upon which is built all the compli? cated structure of Washington so [ ciety remained firm throughout th? war. This foundation is the callinj system. The Calling System And this system, infallible as r ? ' has been proved in the years of it ; growth, is different from the cour i tesy found in other cities of thi | country. Rules of army and navj ' ? society are similar. The newcomer ? make the first calls, and the womei ; whose husbands hold the lowest of 11 fices are expected to pay their re I spects to the ladies of higher "rank. Little Mrs. New Congressma: ! sees Washington as the mecca o 1 all her social ambitions. Out i ' _?_?__?5!!S!_?___ <g7 ciM?-Ds**"r?r*o*t o.ev. * ? Iowa or Kansas she "ranks" the | other ladies of her set by virtue of j her husband's election. Many of " ; them put on their best gloves and 1 ? newest hats to pay her calls and ? | revel in envy at the broad field she J j is about to enter, where her talents will have their proper scope. There 5 isn't a woman among them who isn't sure that she herself would be equal ' to the situation. Every boy baby born in these United States is a potential Presi? dent. And just as surely every girl woultj make a social leader, given the chance* What is more, the con? fidence in her ability to shine in social circles never diminishes, what 1 ever her environment and education. 3 Every American woman knows i that she has it in her to be a great social leader, preferably in Wash 1 ington. When she reaches her mecca? little Mrs. New Congressman is met with a formidable situation. In the 1 first place she finds that she isn't ' really Mrs. Congressman at all, that 1 she is Mrs. Representative, and a very small one of more than four | hundred other Mrs. Representatives * at that. k Her Heavy Duties The first duty-Mn her social life I is colossal. She is expected to call . on all the wives of Representa ? tives who have been in Congress > j longer than her husband, upon the -1 wives of all the Senators, of the * j Justices of the Supreme Court, upon I* j the Cabinet officers' wives and nu j merous others. Besides that, she II must be at home to any transient - i visitors from her home state and be . prepared to take part in affairs of ? j the home state society and of the > delegation, else she may injure her . husband's chances with his constitu i ency. i | The first equipment foy Mrs. Rep _ resentative's attack should be a new > ly and well stocked cardcase. Not every new Repr?asentative's , wife, indeed very few of them, has . a social secretary. She must in . form herself as best she can as to , what is expected of her. If she sits f j back as she did at home, waiting for ; I the other women to make advances, : she will spend many weary after? noons over a lonely tea table wait : ing for limousines that never come. . On the other hand, if she shows too [ much aggressiveness, if she does not. seem to humble herself to some de i gree, her career will be brief ana i surely just as lonely. Calling cards in hand, the new i Representative's wife must study the i new Congressional directory. Hav I ing decided where she will first pay ? her respects, it would be a blunder . to start out with a mixed list of I Senators' wives, Supreme Court - justices' wives and Cabinet mem . bers' wives, expecting to call upon ' them all the same day. The families - of each office have their especial i days at home?the wives of the Su ? preme Court justices on Monday, those of the Representatives on Tuesday, Cabinet officers' wives on Wednesday, Senators' wives Thurs? day, and the diplomatic corps on Friday. Saturday the Washington ians are at home. ? - Now, just about the time little Mrs. New Representative learns the first part of the social catechism a few of the important lights in the firmament change their ways, and she has to unlearn the laws, at least in their relation to these ladies. Washington Gets a Shock A short time ago the wives o? three of the Cabinet officers made a move which shook the very depth? of the calling system. The increast of departmental work and the new members of Washington societj brought in by war missions and nev bureaus and departments brough the situation to a head. Mrs. Robert Lansing, wife of th< then Secretary of State ; Mrs. Davi< Houston, wife of the former Secre tary of Agriculture, and Mrs Franklin K. Lane, wife of the for mer Secretary of the Interior, me the society reporters of Washing ton newspapers. These Cabine ladies are reported as saying tha the number of calls expected o them had grown until it had bt come a burden unbearable. The announced unofficially that the; would thereafter not return calls es ?ept in their own departments. On of the Cabinet ladies, in giving a iiiea as to the size to which he calling list had grown under the ol system, said that one afternoon sh received visits and cards from more than 1,000 women. Each of these entailed a return courtesy, which was more of an undertaking than she could or would assume. The radical move made by Mrs. Lansing, Mrs. Houston and Mrs. Lane, all of whom are very popular personally, has not been followed tr any extent by other leaders. It would be risking a good deal for a woman whose husband expects to come up again for public office t? ex? periment with Washington custom too far. Something of an idea as to the proportions reached by social duties can be gained from the statistics of these Cabinet ladies' obligations. They average between 500 and 1,000 calls. To classify and simplify their duties, most of the women tn Wash? ington have- adopted a system of bookkeeping. Mrs. Roosevelt's so? cial secretary developed this system of books which has been adopted. They are made 9a order One book lists "Invitations Re? ceived." In it is entered each invi? tation, the time it was received, whether accepted or declined and then, later, the time and way in which it was returned. Lists All Guests Another of these books is for "In? vitations Issued." Each dinner or reception is entered, with the com? plete list of guests, the date and manner in which the invitation was sent'' and the acceptance or regrets of the person invited. The third of the books on social accounting keeps track of the call? ing list of the family. Calls re? ceived are listed and checked as they are returned. One division of the book lists the persons to be called upon according to their days in the week. The fourth book is for calls made The social secretary or the lady oi the house herself makes out lists for certain days of calls she is to make. Before ordering her car the Wash? ington society woman is armed with he names and addresses of women 1upon. whom she is to call, and when ' she ~ returns from the afternoon's I duties she checks up those that .-have been paid. J ' TheSe books check and double ' check one another in such a way that by the end of the year no loose ends are left, no courtesies have been., ?rgotten unintentionally. Shaiies of Martha Washington! What are we coming to in our later social days? Bookkeeping and the State Department! Well, the first "first lady" strove for simplicity and democracy, but even she was auto? cratic. The evolution of Washing? ton society has followed the evolu? tion of . many other factors in American life. From simplicity and without law to regulate the nicer details it has developed along effi? cient business lines. Social customs have done e right? about since the days of Martha Washington. She returned calls, and the rules made by George Washing ton himself required that the first visits should be made by residents upon newcomers. The practice of many leaders of capital society of driving up in their limousines and sending the chauf? feur in to leave cards is reminiscent of Martha Washington to some ex? tent. When she started out in her coach and four to make calls of state a runner went ahead and, knocking loudly at the homes of those to be honored, announced that Mrs. Wash ? ington was coming. | Martha Washington's Plan In her manner of receiving in New York and Philadelphia (the resi ! dence in Washington had not yet j been completed) Martha Washington ! followed the drawing room custom ? of Queen Charlotte. The guests ?_?t,-, were arranged standing against the walls, and the President's wife marched the rounds and said a kind word to each. When the fathers of our country dreamed of democracy they over? looked for a time the social side. The question of what was "correct" came up almost immediately. Prob? ably the great men were reminded of it by their wives. During these chaotic days our foreseeing Washington realized that some rules and just regulations had to be formed, lest the dignity of the republic be found trailing in the dust. He saw that it was'necessary to found a rank without violating the Constitution, which prohibits Congress and the states from grant? ing any title of nobility. Of so much importance did he consider this subject that he addressed let? ters to Messrs. Adams and Hamil? ton asking their attention and ad? vice upon certain points of etiquette touching the deportment of the President of the United States. After mature reflection the three wise men, Messrs. Washington, Adams and Hamilton, fixed upon certain rules which were afterward indorsed by Thomas Jefferson. The rules included the following: "In order to bring the members of society together in the first instance, the custom of this country was es? tablished that residents shall pay the first visit to strangers', and among strangers, first comers to late comers, foreign and domestic, the character of stranger ceasing after the first visit. To this rule there is a single exception?foreign ministers, from necessity of making themselves known, pay the first visit to the Cabinet ministers, which is re? turned." Another point that George Wash? ington made which has been com? pletely done away with is that "al persons, of whatever office, wher brought together in society are per fectly equal, equal whether foreigr or domestic, titled or untitled, ir or out of office. "The families of foreign minister arriving at the seat of governmen receive the first visit from those o: the national ministers, as well a from all other residents." Business of Diplomats Society seems to be the principa business of many of the diplomat, corps. The formal dinner give once a year for these gentlemen an their families is perhaps the mo? gorgeous thing in American society Full dress from all countries pr< vails. In rank the ambassado "A man, just a little below God, according to the "Alphabet of Diplomat," who has been in th country the longest takes preced? ence. Decorations, "the balm of a rvz. , woes," are much in evidence. This S is the crowning dinner of the many i which are labeled "the surest road J to success" and etiquette, "the Ten i Commandments," reigns, almost to j the point of oppression. "There seems to be no end of card leaving," said one weary diplo? mat's wife, "and card receiving, | and a list of rules of etiquette as i long as your arm. I never knew of i anything so confusing. "I try to remember things I must j do and the things I must not do. i How many cold shower baths of re > proval have I already naceived ; how many unruly things I have done !" To go back to the rules of George Washington : "Members of the legislator? and judiciary, independent of this offices, have a right, as str?ngen, to re? ceive the first visit. "Difference of grade among- diplo? matic members gives no preference. [Nowadays difference in grade and in length of service are noted.] "At publie ceremonies, to which the government invites the presence of foreign ministers and their fam? ilies, a convenient seat will be pro i vided for them With any other stran Cabinet Member's Office Fixes the Date and Arranges Seat? ing at the Dinner Table gers invited and the families of na? tional ministers, each taking place as they arrive, and without preced? ence." Aristocratic Tastes "From time to time these severe republican rules have been dis? cussed and ameliorized to suit the growing aristocratic taste of the | modern American Republic," Is th? j final remark upon George Washing ! ton's rules. Mrs. Adams was the first Presi* ! dent's wife to live in the Whit? | House. She brought about ordei ?there, moving in in 1801. The for mal etiquette established by Mrs Washington was carried on by Mrs I Adams. Jeffersonian democracy in th. host's position at the White House however, tried to manipulate with out the "republican court" of th? ?,-. ? first two administrations. President j Jefferson opened the executive man I sion to every one freely at first with j out ceremony. His daughters re? ceived for him, and Mrs. Dolly MadU son, a great friend of Mr. Jefferson ! and his daughters, added her charm to their social affairs. President Jefferson could not ignore the need for rules which Washington had found imperative. The long time spent in France had given him a taste for the ?sthetic niceties of Parisian society, and Jef? ferson was actually the author of the canon of official etiquette hand? ed down for many years. One Undisputed Point From the beginning it has been accepted that the wife of the Presi? dent of the United States is the first lady of the land. The ever clashing dicta as to social precedence where legally no precedence is | recognized leave not even this un ? questioned. An old book, copyright j ed in 1881, whose author is anony i mous, says that "the wife of the j Chief Justice is the first lady of the ) land." Of course, this never has , been accepted by any one, but it ! shows that even the highest social ' position in the land is not fixed be? yond question. In the administration of John i Quincy Adams the uncertainty con j cerning rank and custom caused so ,' much discussion and dissension that \ President Adams called a Cabinet meeting to decide something definite j concerning social precedence. Prob | ably all of the wives of these men l instructed their husbands before I hand, and no compromise upon the ? varying opinions was possible with I out consulting the ladies themselves. i Anyway, the meeting accomplished nothing. At another time it was suggested : that a congress of women be held to j make laws pertaining to American social rank, but this was never called. The manner of selecting the delegates probably could not be , chosen or decided. Visits Became Irksome The growth of the government, ; its recognition by foreign powers ! and the increase in representatives from the states and territories as the country increased geographical? ly began to complicate the social situation more and more. The cus? tom of paying visits was becoming more and more of an irksome task Mrs Monroe first limited the num ber of calls she could make. Mrs Adams refused to make distinction! and said that it was the duty of th? President's wife to visit all stranger! or none. It thus became the practice fo: the President's wife not to call, t custom which holds to this day. An< gradually, with this as the keynote Washington society turned itsel about from the Washingtoniai rules. The newcomers and persons in the smallest offices owe first calls to those who have been in Washing? ton for a longer time and who hold higher offices. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson does not receive calls, in the ordinary sense of the expression. Women wishing to pay their respects to the present "first lady" call at the White House and leave their cards. Later they may write to Mrs. Wilson's social secretary that they wish to meet her. At intervals Mrs. Wilson gives informal teas for about thirty women, which are known as alto? gether charming affairs. This is her manner of receiving calls. Has Her Own Way It is rumored that Mrs. Wilson does not let the State Department dictate absolutely in the seating of her dinner guests, as she is supposed to do. Of course, the list of guests for each function goes through the bands of Mr. Cook's office in per? fectly good form. But if, when she receives the seating arrangement, she finds that Mr. Brown, who she particularly wanted to meet Mrs. Smith, is seated at the other end of the table, she, according to report, simply changes their cards. Cer? tainly a few discreet changes of this kind would not detract from the pleasure of the dinner. And when it is the "first lady" who takes the responsibility, who shall question? Before the State Department took up the society women's burden a set of rules was adopted in Wash , ington society known as the Code. It is said that all branches of gov? ernment were appealed to in the compilation of this document. But whether President Monroe or some other dignitary of those days was the author the writer has no means of knowing. These are the rules: "The President?Business calls are received at all times and hours when the President is unengaged. The morning hours are preferred. Spe? cial days and evenings are assigned , eac-h season for calls of respect ? one morning and one evening a week being assigned for this purpose. "Receptions are held during the winter, season, generally once a week, between 8 and 10 o'clock In the evening, at which time the guests are expected to be in full dress and are presented by the usher. "The President holds publie re? ceptions on January 1 and July 4. when the diplomatic corps present themselves in court costume, and the officers of the army and navy In full uniform. The executive, legislative and judicial branches of the govern? ment are received between the hours of 11 and 12; after which the diplo? matic corps, officers of the army and navy and civilians en masse. "The President accepts no invita? tions to dinner and makes no calls or visits of ceremony; but is at lib? erty to visit, without ceremony, at his pleasure. An invitation to din? ner to the President must be ac? cepted in writing and a previous en? gagement cannot take precedence. "The address of the Executive ia conversation is Mr. President. "The Vice-President?A visit from the Vice-President is due to the Pres? ident on the meeting of Congress. He is entitled to the first vleit, from all others, which he may return by card or in person." Vice-President and Mrs. Marshall are perhaps the most universally popular persons in official life to? day. They do the dining out for the President, and their popularity adds to the number of dinners they attend in their own right, Mrs. Marshall and the Queen The foreign visitors to this coun? try in the last year have been re? ceived and entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Marshall. It was commented in Washington that while the Que? of the Belgians was a visitor at otui capital she and Mr*. Marshall wer< inseparable. And speaking of the Belgian viai tors brings to mind the story of th< young prince. Of course, this stor; is simply another Washingtoi rumor. It is said that the younj man was taken very sick at one o the dinners given for the roya family in Washington. He emba? rassed his parents by becoming s ill that he had to leave the party. Later it was discovered that h had recovered amazingly end tha the medicine had been e runawa; trip to the St Mark's Caf? with sev eral young people and several hour of dancing. Emily Edson Briggs, for years correspondent in Washington, ?ay that the relation of this Code t Washington social life is the sam as that of the Constitution to ti country.