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Memories of the White House: The Home Life of Our Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt (1911)

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"An intimate picture of the domestic side of life at the capital from the time of Lincoln to the close of Roosevelt's regime. It is an informal, chatty narrative." -The Bookseller, 1911 William H. Crook (1839 – 1915) was one of President Abraham Lincoln's bodyguards in 1865. After Lincoln's assassination (while Crook was off duty), he continued to work in the White House "An intimate picture of the domestic side of life at the capital from the time of Lincoln to the close of Roosevelt's regime. It is an informal, chatty narrative." -The Bookseller, 1911 William H. Crook (1839 – 1915) was one of President Abraham Lincoln's bodyguards in 1865. After Lincoln's assassination (while Crook was off duty), he continued to work in the White House for a total of over 50 years, serving 12 presidents. Fifty years of service as a White House employee, through the administration of twelve Presidents, made Colonel Crook one of the most familiar figures of the National Capitol. The assassination of Lincoln and Garfield, various weddings at the White House,the impeachment of President Johnson, were among the events which Colonel Crook recalled in his Memories of the White House. Even during the height of the American Civil War, presidential security was lax. Throngs of people entered the White House every day. "The entrance doors and all the doors on the Pennsylvania side of the mansion were open at all hours of the day and, often, very late into the evening." Lincoln finally gave in to concerns for his safety in November 1864, and was assigned four around-the-clock bodyguards. When one was reassigned as the White House doorkeeper, Crook, then a member of the Washington Police Force and a former Union Army soldier, was selected as his replacement, beginning January 4, 1865. Lincoln's son Tad had a speech impediment and referred to Crook as "Took". When Crook was later drafted, he went to see the President, who arranged to keep his services. On April 14, 1865, Crook began his shift at 8 a.m. He was to have been relieved by John Frederick Parker at 4 p.m., but Parker was several hours late. Lincoln had told Crook that he had been having dreams of himself being assassinated for three straight nights. Crook tried to persuade the President not to attend a performance of the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater that night, or at least allow him to go along as an extra bodyguard, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go. As Lincoln left for the theater, he turned to Crook and said "Goodbye, Crook." Before, Lincoln had always said, "Good night, Crook." Crook later recalled: "It was the first time that he neglected to say ‘Good Night’ to me and it was the only time that he ever said ‘Good-bye’. I thought of it at that moment and, a few hours later, when the news flashed over Washington that he had been shot, his last words were so burned into my being that they can never be forgotten." Crook blamed Parker, who had left his post at the theater without permission. Crook also served as a bodyguard for Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson. It was he who brought the news to the embattled President that he had been acquitted in his impeachment trial in May 1868. When good friend Ulysses S. Grant became President, he appointed Crook "Executive Clerk of the President of the United States" in 1870, and dispersing agent in 1877, the latter the position he would hold for the rest of his career. On January 5, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson and the members of the White House staff celebrated his 50 years of service and presented him with a cane. Crook set his memoirs down on paper in the book Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, Body-Guard to President Lincoln, compiled and edited by Margarita Spalding Gerry. There are actually six covered, from Lincoln to Chester A. Arthur, though James A. Garfield and Arthur are covered in a single chapter.


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"An intimate picture of the domestic side of life at the capital from the time of Lincoln to the close of Roosevelt's regime. It is an informal, chatty narrative." -The Bookseller, 1911 William H. Crook (1839 – 1915) was one of President Abraham Lincoln's bodyguards in 1865. After Lincoln's assassination (while Crook was off duty), he continued to work in the White House "An intimate picture of the domestic side of life at the capital from the time of Lincoln to the close of Roosevelt's regime. It is an informal, chatty narrative." -The Bookseller, 1911 William H. Crook (1839 – 1915) was one of President Abraham Lincoln's bodyguards in 1865. After Lincoln's assassination (while Crook was off duty), he continued to work in the White House for a total of over 50 years, serving 12 presidents. Fifty years of service as a White House employee, through the administration of twelve Presidents, made Colonel Crook one of the most familiar figures of the National Capitol. The assassination of Lincoln and Garfield, various weddings at the White House,the impeachment of President Johnson, were among the events which Colonel Crook recalled in his Memories of the White House. Even during the height of the American Civil War, presidential security was lax. Throngs of people entered the White House every day. "The entrance doors and all the doors on the Pennsylvania side of the mansion were open at all hours of the day and, often, very late into the evening." Lincoln finally gave in to concerns for his safety in November 1864, and was assigned four around-the-clock bodyguards. When one was reassigned as the White House doorkeeper, Crook, then a member of the Washington Police Force and a former Union Army soldier, was selected as his replacement, beginning January 4, 1865. Lincoln's son Tad had a speech impediment and referred to Crook as "Took". When Crook was later drafted, he went to see the President, who arranged to keep his services. On April 14, 1865, Crook began his shift at 8 a.m. He was to have been relieved by John Frederick Parker at 4 p.m., but Parker was several hours late. Lincoln had told Crook that he had been having dreams of himself being assassinated for three straight nights. Crook tried to persuade the President not to attend a performance of the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater that night, or at least allow him to go along as an extra bodyguard, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go. As Lincoln left for the theater, he turned to Crook and said "Goodbye, Crook." Before, Lincoln had always said, "Good night, Crook." Crook later recalled: "It was the first time that he neglected to say ‘Good Night’ to me and it was the only time that he ever said ‘Good-bye’. I thought of it at that moment and, a few hours later, when the news flashed over Washington that he had been shot, his last words were so burned into my being that they can never be forgotten." Crook blamed Parker, who had left his post at the theater without permission. Crook also served as a bodyguard for Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson. It was he who brought the news to the embattled President that he had been acquitted in his impeachment trial in May 1868. When good friend Ulysses S. Grant became President, he appointed Crook "Executive Clerk of the President of the United States" in 1870, and dispersing agent in 1877, the latter the position he would hold for the rest of his career. On January 5, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson and the members of the White House staff celebrated his 50 years of service and presented him with a cane. Crook set his memoirs down on paper in the book Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, Body-Guard to President Lincoln, compiled and edited by Margarita Spalding Gerry. There are actually six covered, from Lincoln to Chester A. Arthur, though James A. Garfield and Arthur are covered in a single chapter.

30 review for Memories of the White House: The Home Life of Our Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt (1911)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Den

    I love to read and get a feel for what the White House was like from the people who worked there. Especially those prior to so many of the problems that have left America's House almost off-limits to those of us who would like to be able to walk in like our ancestors would have been able to do. Many of the things Crook discusses, I have seen in another books. However, time and time again there was a small tidbit that I did not know before. I would recommend this highly. What people do need to reme I love to read and get a feel for what the White House was like from the people who worked there. Especially those prior to so many of the problems that have left America's House almost off-limits to those of us who would like to be able to walk in like our ancestors would have been able to do. Many of the things Crook discusses, I have seen in another books. However, time and time again there was a small tidbit that I did not know before. I would recommend this highly. What people do need to remember this book was written in the early 1900's so the English used may not be the English we know of today.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary Christopher

    Liked the book very much except for all the spacing errors. Book only showed what was happening in and around the White House. Nothing of the problems that were going on nationally or internationally. Would like to see more books like this from Truman to Trump. Reading Backstairs at the White House brings us up to including FDR.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    Delightful This book was very interesting. It gave an insight into the families of the Presidents from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt. I loved his recolitions of the pranks the son of the Presidents did to those of the wives suffering as their husbands died. A wonderful book to read if you are at all interested in the Presidents.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Russell G Edwards

    Crook gives us a straight view of people and officials surrounding out early presidents A wonderful review of early presidents and their families by one who was actually there.an excellent review of those times and people.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Billhotto

    Early days of American capitalism. they were self regulating.. you dealt with your rivals by throwing them in jail, having them beat up and shooting them. So much more civilized now.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Pratt

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gerald O'Rourke

  8. 5 out of 5

    steven a smierciak

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim Sadler

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sue Singleton

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca J. Scott

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert M. Smith

  13. 5 out of 5

    Padmini Aiyer

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tony Pollard

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lou Fragoso

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bill LaMear

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elwood Barr

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ann Wilson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jane Letoha

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Long

  21. 5 out of 5

    Levent Veryeri

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linda S Hruskach

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dav936

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ann C. Flatten

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kerri Townsend

  26. 5 out of 5

    VAN JOHNSON

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane Vezza

  28. 5 out of 5

    Furst Agnes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thomas McCarthy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Shell

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