Thomas Jefferson visited Mount Vernon in 1801, shortly after George Washington's death. Jefferson, then Vice President, came to pay a condolence call on Martha Washington. According to historian Don Higginbotham, Mrs. Washington supposedly said later “that, next to the loss of her husband,” Jefferson’s appearance there was “the most painful occurrence of her life.”
Abraham Lincoln supposedly almost visited Mount Vernon. Although the property was considered neutral territory during the Civil War, it is unlikely that Lincoln visited the estate during his presidency. According to John Dahlgren of the Washington Navy Yard, "I advised the President not to land, and remained in the boat with him."
The Civil War Years at Mount Vernon
President Buchanan and the British Prince of Wales visit George Washington’s tomb in October 1860, painting by James Rossiter (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
President James Buchanan planted an elm tree at the northeast comer of the bowling green. A few years later, the brand new Mrs. Grover Cleveland, recently married at a White House ceremony, planted a similar tree at the northwest comer. Sadly, both trees were toppled by a tornado in 1906.
Famous Visits to Washington's Tomb
In 1890, President and Mrs. Benjamin Harrison attended a reception hosted by the Regent and Vice Regents during their annual board meeting. Eight years later, President and Mrs. William McKinley followed suit. The First Lady was so frail, however, that she needed to be carried from room to room in the Mansion.