How Jeff Davis Gave Abe Lincoln a Summer Retreat
by Erin Carlson Mast
For decades after the first U.S. wars, the military urged Congress to fund services for a growing population of disabled veterans. Notably, Major Robert Anderson, veteran of the Black Hawk war and son of a Revolutionary War veteran campaigned throughout the 1840s for a place to care for veterans. General Winfield Scott challenged the War Department and Congress by depositing $100,000 of tribute from the Mexican American War into an account “to the credit of the Army Asylum.” Despite their efforts, it wasn’t until Jefferson Davis, Democratic Senator from Mississippi—later the president of the Confederacy—introduced a bill in January 1851, that the long-awaited “Military Asylum” was established on March 3, 1851.
Ten years later, Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States. Continuing a tradition that began with President Buchanan, the Soldiers’ Home invited President Lincoln and his family to reside at the Home during the hot season in Washington.
Ms. Erin Mast is the curator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.