January 18, 2013
WOODROW WILSON WANTED INAUGURAL BALL CANCELLED 100 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The Inaugural Ball dated back to George Washington & the tradition was begun under James & Dolley Madison, but President-elect Woodrow Wilson expressed his desire in a letter to William C. Eustis*, Inaugural Committee Chairman, that he “consider the feasibility of omitting the inaugural ball altogether.”
The letter was reported by The Washington Herald in it’s edition dated January 17, 1913 before it had even been received by Mr. Eustis.
The Herald’s article began…
“Woodrow Wilson wishes no inaugural ball to mark his induction into the office of President. This is made plain in a letter from the President-elect to William Corcoran Eustis, chairman of the Inaugural Committee mailed yesterday.”
Wilson expressed the opinion that “these balls have ceased to be necessary to the enjoyment of the visitors” & the Herald wrote that Wilson wanted simplicity for his inaugural & the balls added “much needless expense.”
The Herald reported that “all plans for (the) March 4 (ball) are halted.”
The contents of the letter, apparently leaked to the newspaper, was read to Mr. Eustis by a Herald reporter. Mr. Eustis refused comment until he actually received the letter.
The Herald said that those people responsible for the preparations for the Inaugural ceremonies were “surprised” by the news of the request.
Washington, D.C. had not missed an inaugural ball since 1853 when Franklin Pierce’s was cancelled due to the passing of his son.
Locations for the inaugural ball varied over time but the favorite spot from 1885 to 1909 was the PENSION BUILDING.
*William Corcoran Eustis (1862-1921) was born in Paris, the grandson of banker William W. Corcoran. Eustis was a personal secretary to General Pershing in WWI & he married Edith Morton, the daughter of Vice-President Levi P. Morton.