The day after Lincoln’s inauguration, first lady Mary Todd Lincoln summoned a former slave to the White House to query her about dressmaking. The woman, then free and an entrepreneur, was hired as the first black modiste in the White House.
Like Michelle Obama, Mrs. Lincoln was keen on style and fashion, and dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley informed Mrs. Lincoln that her resume included designing dresses and gowns for the fashionable and stylish wives of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
Mrs. Obama will hardly be wearing off-the-rack gowns at either of the official balls on Monday night, but do expect her 2013 dresses to soon join her 2009 gowns and Mrs. Lincoln’s fabulous Keckley-designed purple velvet gown from Lincoln’s second inauguration at the Smithsonian’s first ladies collection.
Of course, there were numerous inaugural-related “firsts,” including the fact that Chief Justice John Marshall administered the first presidential oath of office ever taken in the nation’s capital.
And then there’s “the first among firsts,” George Washington, who was the only Founding Father to free his slaves, is the president who did not live in Washington but is the founding father of the nation’s capital.
He also was a Virginia farmer who grew and promoted the use of marijuana as a soil stabilizer.
Another first: To date he delivered the shortest inaugural address — 135 words.
God and the ancestors, bless America.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at email@example.com