“Politics was on nearly everyone’s mind in early October.” Believe it or not, this is not a recent Washington Post headline. Instead, this sentence – taken from Lincoln’s Sanctuary, Matthew Pinsker’s book about the Cottage – references October 1862, the Lincoln family’s first October in residence here. You’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere in Washington, DC more beautiful in the fall than the Soldiers’ Home grounds, but as this was no vacation home for the first family, it’s unlikely they were preoccupied by the change in seasons. The hard work of the War continued.
Just one week after issuing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln left the Soldiers’ Home and made a pivotal visit to General George McClellan at Antietam. As Pinsker noted, Lincoln was increasingly worried about McClellan and his opposition to extreme measures against slavery. On October 1, Lincoln made his way to McClellan’s headquarters with the express purpose of urging the General to take the offensive.
Meanwhile, back at the Soldiers’ Home, Mary Lincoln was engaged in some politicking of her own. While her husband was away, she wrote to a newspaper publisher to express her belief that, “from all parties, a cry for a ‘change of Cabinet’ comes.”
It’s also not much of a stretch to imagine that politics is on nearly everyone’s mind this early October. A former President was recently indicted, the 2024 election is on the horizon, and Congress narrowly avoided an immediate government shutdown this past weekend.
For more than 160 years, the Cottage has served as the backdrop for critical conversations about politics, the Civil War and Emancipation – at first for the Lincolns and now for the thousands of visitors who come here each year. And while this week feels a bit too warm for October – today’s high in DC is 81! — soon, the trees that shape our view from the Cottage veranda down to the dome atop the US Capitol will turn bright orange and yellow, just as they have before and since October 1862.
If you are seeking new perspectives or time in reflection with family, we hope to see you here at the Cottage this month.
CEO & Executive Director
President Lincoln’s Cottage
2024 Homecoming was our favorite one yet! We had over 1200 attendees, two face painters, three preservation crafts, three ponies, one miniature cow at our petting zoo, nearly 200 runners, and one amazing day!
A huge thank you to our event sponsors: The National Trust for Historic Preservation; National Trust Insurance Services, LLC; DP Solutions: EJF Real Estate Services, and our friends at AlphaGraphics.
Photos by Natasha Lamalle.
Did you know October is National Go-on-a-Field-Trip Month? It’s a thing! Honor it by letting an educator in your life know about our in-person and virtual offerings. We are delighted to serve thousands of students each year.
Check out the brochure here.
Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.