On an isolates stretch of road on foggy, summer nights of the full moon, people on a nightly stroll see an unusual sight. They see a tall man with a top hat and a pedestrian with a beard bowing toward one another and perhaps even engaging in conversation. As they get closer, they disappear into the mists.
This takes place near the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement home. It had originally been established as the Soldiers’ Home by the government in 1851 as a retirement home for enlisted military veterans. The cottage had been built in Gothic Revival Style, by George Washington Riggs, the founder of the Riggs National Bank, built the cottage I in Gothic Revival Style in 1842-1843. The surrounding 251 acres stood on the third highest pint in Washington to catch a breeze. James Buchanan had been the first president to use a collage there as summer home followed by Abraham Lincoln and then by Rutherford B. Hayes and Chester A. Arthur. Lincoln lived there during the summers of 1862, 1863, and 1864 to escape both the physical and political heart of the nation’s capital. Nevertheless, Lincoln met with politicians, bureaucrats, and advisors there on occasion as well as spending time writing a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation there..
In 1863, Walt Whitman, the Poet, who served as a nurse, then lived nearby who often saw the president riding to and from his daily commute from the home to the White House and vice versa. He wrote in The New York Times, “Mr. LINCOLN generally rides a good-sized easy-going gray horse, is dressed in plain black, somewhat rusty and dusty; wears a black stiff hat, and looks about as ordinary in attire, &c., as the commonest man…I saw very plainly the President’s dark brown face, with the deep cut lines, the eyes, &c., always to me with a deep latent sadness in the expression.” Whitman quoted this article in his 1876 book Memoranda During the War, adding the phrase: “We have got so that we always exchange bows, and very cordial ones. (Wikipedia)
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