Lincoln’s White House

President Lincoln's carriage, Brewster & Company, 1861
Charles F. Gunther Collection, 1920.238

Abraham Lincoln entered the White House with little experience at the national level but he appointed an experienced team of leaders to his cabinet. They included his chief rivals for the Republican nomination, Senator William H. Seward of New York as secretary of state, Senator Salmon P. Chase of Ohio as secretary of the treasury, and Edward Bates of Missouri as attorney general. Additional appointments included Simon Cameron as secretary of war, who Lincoln later replaced with Edwin M. Stanton. In addition, Lincoln’s personal secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, provided loyal support.

Throughout the war, Lincoln lived at the White House with his family, consisting of his wife, Mary Todd, and two of their three sons, William (Willie) and Thomas (Tad).  Their eldest son, Robert, was away most of the time, studying at Harvard University. Early in the administration, scandal erupted over Mary’s lavish spending on White House redecorating and entertaining, while Willie’s tragic death on February 20, 1862, sent both parents into deep mourning from which Mary never fully recovered.