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Year
1829

Jackson holds “open house” at the White House

On this day in 1829, Andrew Jackson upholds an inaugural tradition begun by Thomas Jefferson and hosts an open house at the White House.

After Jackson’s swearing-in ceremony and address to Congress, the new president returned to the White House to meet and greet a flock of politicians, celebrities and citizens. Very shortly, the crowd swelled to more than 20,000, turning the usually dignified White House into a boisterous mob scene. Some guests stood on furniture in muddy shoes while others rummaged through rooms looking for the president–breaking dishes, crystal and grinding food into the carpet along the way. (White House staff reported the carpets smelled of cheese for months after the party.) In an attempt to draw partygoers out of the building, servants set up washtubs full of juice and whiskey on the White House lawn.

The White House open-house tradition continued until several assassination attempts heightened security concerns. The trend ended in 1885 when Grover Cleveland opted instead to host a parade, which he viewed in safety from a grandstand set up in front of the White House.

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