May 15, 1933 and many other occasions
The Roosevelts made many visits to Mount Vernon.
1. The President and First Lady were invited to tea at Mount Vernon during the annual Council Meeting in 1933, and the couple said that he might accompany the First Lady. According to the Council Minutes, however, he was not able to come that day. (May 15, 1933). Despite this reference, we do have photographs dated 1932 & 1933, which show the President arriving at the West Front door at Mount Vernon.
2. In the list of “Floral Tributes” placed at the Tomb on February 22, 1934, there is a reference to a wreath, which appears to have been placed there by President & Mrs. Roosevelt (the language in other years indicates that the wreath was placed there “for” or “from” the President and his wife).
3. Both President and Mrs. Roosevelt came to tea on Thursday, May 14, 1936. They were received in the mansion by the Regent and Vice Regents; tea was served in the Family Dining Room, while the President sat on the piazza. The visit described as “a very interesting and delightful occasion, long to be remembered by those who participate in it; a very beautiful afternoon.” It was said that the “President looked very well and engaged in conversation with various Vice-Regents.”
4. As in 1934 (see #2, above), it appears that President and Mrs. Roosevelt may have personally brought a wreath to the tomb on February 22, 1937. The President’s log for that day shows that from 3:50PM-5:25PM, he “motored” down to Mount Vernon with two aides, but does not mention his wife.
5. On March 31, 1937, Lord Tweedsmuir, the Governor General of Canada, and Lady Tweedsmuir arrived at Mount Vernon by yacht, where they were met by President and Mrs. Roosevelt. The President’s log for the day shows that he and Mrs. Roosevelt were at Mount Vernon that day in the afternoon.
6. In June of 1937, President Roosevelt brought Prime Minister of Belgium and Mrs. Zeeland to Mount Vernon by boat. He stayed on board, while the guests toured Mount Vernon with Mr. James Roosevelt [his son] & two White House Naval Aides. The Premier laid a wreath at the Tomb.
7. The President was asked to speak at Mount Vernon on April 14, 1939, as part of the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the U.S. Constitution: “On April 14th the programme [sic] was simple and dignified. Your Regent was asked to speak a few words of welcome. The Director General of the United States Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission read the notification to General Washington by Charles Thompson [sic], together with Washington’s reply. The President delivered an address which concentrated upon the period commemorated and dwelt upon the character of Washington and his home at Mount Vernon. Music was contributed by Mr. Conrad Thibault of the Metropolitan Opera Company. The Vice-Regents for Tennessee, New York, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Delaware were here to assist in acting as hostesses. To adopt a phrase from the Gazette of the United States of April 14, 1789, “no accident cast the smallest cloud upon the retrospect.”
8. On May 5, 1939, President and Mrs. Roosevelt came to Mount Vernon with President and Mrs. Somoza of Nicaragua, the Somoza’s daughter, and “both aides.”
9. On June 9, 1939, the Roosevelts brought the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain to Mount Vernon. Here is a description of that occasion:
“The roll of distinguished visitors for the year is of course headed by the visit on June 9, 1939, of their Majesties, the King and Queen of Great Britain. One hundred and fifty-six years after the American colonies achieved their independence from the rule of George III, his direct descendant, George VI, came to us in cordial friendship to lay a wreath upon the sarcophagus of the victorious commander of the American revolutionary forces. It was an impressive and historic moment in the annals of Mount Vernon. The grounds were closed to the public on the day of the visit until after the departure of their Majesties and no visitors were admitted except the Vice-Regents and their guests. Newspaper representatives and photographers were here in impressive numbers and a large detachment of secret service men. Great responsibility was felt for the safe conduct of the royal visitors and all details were discussed and planned in cooperation with the State Department.
“Their Majesties came to Mount Vernon on the President’s yacht accompanies by the President of the United States and Mrs. Roosevelt, members of the President’s Cabinet and their wives, officials of the British Embassy, and other distinguished guests. The party was met at the boat landing by your Regent and the Superintendent [Charles Cecil Wall] and proceeded at once to the tomb, where King George deposited a wreath in impressive silence. After this ceremony the Vice-Regents hastened to the Mansion, where the presentations were to take place, while the rest of the party strolled up the hill, trying to forget that the thermometer stood at over 90 [degrees]. After the presentation of the twenty-four Vice-Regents present the royal visitors and their party were escorted through the Mansion and gardens. Both their Majesties were appreciative and responsive and apparently sincerely interested in that which had been done at Mount Vernon. The King evinced a special interest in the names of the states as they were mentioned in presenting the Vice-Regents and commented upon the difficulty of giving both the name and the state of each Vice-Regent correctly. The Queen’s kindly request to have Reith, our Scotch [sic] gardener, presented was an incident which illustrated their gracious interest and courtesy. The only confusion which occurred during the visit was caused by the over-zealousness of some of the secret service men. The visitors returned to Washington by motor seemingly happy in spite of the extreme heat and formal clothing. A pictorial record of this eventful day will by shown you.” At some point, the King was presented with a set of The Diaries of George Washington, which was received “with special gratitude and appreciation.”
10. Three years later, on January 1, 1942, the President brought British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to see Washington’s Tomb. [Note: The Annual Report gives the date of the Churchill/Roosevelt visit as January 1, 1942, while the photograph is marked January 8, 1942] (Illustrations).
11. On August 6, 1942, President Roosevelt brought Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands to Washington’s Tomb.
12. The following year (1943), on Washington’s birthday, the President and First Lady returned with Madame Chiang Kai-Chek.
13. Several months later, the President accompanied Mrs. Churchill and her daughter to Mount Vernon in September 1943.