Wednesday, August 5, 2015
The story of some controversial White House china
C-SPAN has been airing a series about the First Ladies, and I tuned in one night just in time to learn about Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. All the First Ladies are fascinating subjects, and I was not surprised to learn some new things about Lucy Hayes. She was supportive of veterans and the temperance movement, and as First Lady she oversaw the completion of the Washington Monument. She was also the first First Lady to graduate from college and the first to host a White House Easter Egg Roll. But I must confess that what most fascinated me about Lucy Hayes was the fact she is known for her controversial White House china!
According to Christie Weininger, executive director of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio, “It’s controversial. It was controversial at the time. It remains controversial to this day because of the pattern of the china.” Lucy Hayes loved nature, Weininger said, and she wanted to choose a china pattern with ferns on it. Theodore Davis had been chosen as the artist, and he suggested the china also depict fish, ducks, and other subjects—subjects, it turned out, which weren't considered appropriate for formal china of the day. The First Lady, however, thought the china would be a fine way to familiarize visiting dignitaries with the floral and fauna of the U.S. Apparently, her china selection created quite the ruckus!
Fortunately, that clip from the program is available for viewing online, and if you would like to watch the brief video and see the china for yourself, click here!