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Differences of grade among the diplomatic members gives no precedence.
At public ceremonies, to which the government invites the presence of foreign ministers and their families, a convenient seat or station will be provided for them, with any other strangers invited and the families of the national ministers, each taking place as they arrive, and without any precedence.
To maintain the principle of equality, or of pêle mêle, and prevent the growth of precedence out of courtesy, the members of the executive will practice at their own houses, and recommend an adherence to the ancient usage of the country, of gentlemen in mass giving precedence to the ladies in mass, in passing from one apartment where they are assembled into another.
This code of equality was too republican and arbitrary in theory to meet the necessities of the case. The landmarks set by honest pride, to distinguish real inequalities of position, are not so easily obliterated. It is impossible, even, to contravene the established usages of foreign courts, by reversing the relations existing by law, birth, merit, and concession, between foreigners residing here in a representative capacity. The consequence has been that natural distinctions have been maintained, but with some evidence of a disposition on the part of certain classes to deny others rights which they have no grounds to claim themselves. During President Monroe's first term,
there was much excitement in the official coteries upon this subject, which created some hard feeling, as well as many facetious remarks. At the commencement of the session of 1819–20, John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State, addressed a letter on the subject to Daniel D. Tompkins, Vice-President, wherein he stated that he had been informed by Senators “ of a minute of a rule agreed upon, not officially, but privately, by the members of the Senate of the first Congress, that the Senators of the United States paid the first visit to no person except the President of the United States.” He repudiated the claim on the part of the Senators, and expressed his intention to make no first calls as being due from him or his family. The letter caused some severe animadversions upon the writer's aristocratic views of society, but the etiquette of the official circles assumed the forms naturally prescribed by the rank and circumstances of the parties interested. There was, lately, some little dissension and confusion regarding the proper forms, but all parties were consulted, and the nature of their rights carefully considered, with a view to the peculiarities of their residence, number, and legal rank. The code was prepared advisedly, and the vexed question adjusted in the revival and establishment of the old usages and customs, which have been founded upon reason and natural privilege, and which have generally prevailed since the foundation of the government.
At the commencement of Washington's first term of administration, he addressed letters to Messrs. Adams and Hamilton, asking their attention and advice upon certain points of etiquette touching the deportment of the President of the United States. A medium between the requirements of the dignity of the office and republican equality was resolved upon, and has remained the rule.
The President.--Business calls are received at all times and hours, when the President is unengaged. The morn
ing hours are preferred. Special days and evenings are assigned, each season, for calls of respect,—one morning and evening a week being usually assigned for this purpose.
Receptions are held, during the winter season, geneally once a week, between eight and ten o'clock in the evening, at which time guests are expected in full dress, and are presented by the usher.
The President holds public receptions on the first of January and the fourth of July, when the Diplomatic Corps present themselves in court costume, and the officers of the Army and Navy in full uniform. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the government are received between the hours of eleven and twelve, after which, the Diplomatic Corps, officers of the Army and Navy, and civilians en masse.
The President accepts no invitations to dinner, and makes no calls or visits of ceremony; but is at liberty to visit, without ceremony, at his pleasure.
An invitation to dinner at the President's must be accepted, in writing, and a previous engagement cannot take precedence.
The address of the Executive, in conversation, is, Mr. President.
The Vice-President.-A visit from the Vice-President is due the President, on the meeting of Congress. He is entitled to the first visit from all others, which he may return by card or in person.
The Supreme Court. The Judges call upon the President and Vice-President annually, upon the opening of the court, and on the first day of January.
The Cabinet.--Members of the President's Cabinet
call upon the President on New Year's day and the fourth of July. First calls are also due from them, by card or in person, to the Vice-President, Judges of the Supreme Court, Senators, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the meeting of Congress.
The Senate.–Senators call, in person, upon the President and Vice-President, on the meeting of Congress and first day of January; and upon the President on the fourth of July, if Congress is in session. They also call in person or by card, upon the Judges of the Supreme Court, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the meeting of Congress.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives.—The Speaker calls upon the President on the meeting of Congress, first day of January, and the fourth of July, if Congress is in session. The first call is also due from him to the Vice-President, on the meeting of Congress.
The House of Representatives.- Members of the House of Representatives call, in person, upon the President, on the first day of January, and upon the Speaker of the House at the opening of each session. They also call, by card or in person, upon the President on the fourth of July, if Congress is in session, and upon the President, Vice-President, Judges of the Supreme Court, Cabinet officers, Senators, Speaker of the House, and foreign Ministers, soon after the opening of each session of Congress.
Foreign Ministers.—The Diplomatic Corps call upon the President on the first day of January, and upon the Vice-President, Cabinet officers, Judges of the Supreme Court, Senators, and Speaker of the House, by card or in person, on the first opportunity after presenting their
credentials to the President. They also make an annual call of ceremony, by card or in person, upon the VicePresident, Judges of the Supreme Court, Senators, and Speaker of the House, soon after the meeting of Congress.
The Court of Claims.—The Judges of the Court of Claims call, in person, upon the President, on the first of January and the fourth of July. They also make first visits to Cabinet officers, and the Diplomatic Corps, and call, by card or in person, upon the Judges of the Supreme Court, Senators, Speaker and members of the House, soon after the meeting of Congress.
The Families of Officials.—The rules which govern officials are also applicable to their families, in determining the conduct of social intercourse.