Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1887 Etiquette and How to Behave

                                    1. Tobacco.

Ladies, in this country, do not use tobacco, so they may skip this section. A large and increasing number of gentlemen may do the same; but if you use tobacco, in any forth, allow
us to whisper a useful hint or two in your ear. Smoking, snuff-taking, and especially chewing, are bad habits at best, and in their coarser forms highly disgusting to pure and refined people, and especially to ladies. You have the same right to smoke, take snuff, and chew that you have to indulge in the luxuries of a filthy skin and soiled garments, but you have no right, in either case, to do violence to the senses and sensibilities of other people by their exhibition in society. Smoke if you will, chew, take snuff (against our earnest advice, however), make yourself generally and particularly disagreeable, but you must suffer the consequences — the social outlawry which must result.

Shall we convert our parlors into tobacco shops, risk the ruin of our carpets and furniture from the random shots of your disgusting saliva, and fill the whole atmosphere of our house with a pungent stench, to the discomfort and disgust of everybody else, merely for the pleasure of your company? We have rights as well as you, one of which is to exclude from our circle all persons whose manners or habits are distasteful to us. You talk of rights. You can not blame others for exercising theirs.

There are degrees here as everywhere else. One may chew a little, smoke an occasional cigar, and take a pinch of snuff now and then, and if he never indulges in these habits in the
presence of others, and is very careful to purify his person before going into company, he may confine the bad effects, which he can not escape, mostly to his own person. But he must not smoke in any parlor, or sitting-room, or dining room, or sleeping chamber, or in the street, and particularly not in the presence of ladies, anywhere.

                                   2. Spitting.

"The use of tobacco has made us a nation of spitters," as some one has truly remarked. Spitting is a private act, and tobacco users are not alone in violating good taste and good manners by hawking and spitting in company. You should never be seen to spit. Use your handkerchief carefully and so as not to be noticed, or, in case of necessity, leave the room.

                              3. Gin and Gentility.

The spirit and tenor of our remarks on tobacco will apply to the use of ardent spirits. The fumes of gin, whisky, and rum are, if possible, worse than the scent of tobacco. They must on no account be brought into[Pg 30] company. If a man (this is another section which women may skip) will make a beast of himself, and fill his blood with liquid poison, he must, if he desires admission into good company, do it either privately or with companions whose senses and appetites are as depraved as his own.

                                4. Onions, etc.

All foods or drinks which taint the breath or cause disagreeable eructations should be avoided by persons going into company. Onions emit so very disagreeable an odor that no truly polite person will eat them when liable to inflict their fumes upon others. Particular care should be
taken to guard against a bad breath from any cause.


                              5. Several Items.

Never pare or scrape your nails, pick your teeth, comb your hair, or perform any of the necessary operations of the toilet in company. All these things should be carefully attended to
in the privacy of your own room. To pick the nose, dig the ears, or scratch the head or any part of the person in company is still worse. Watch yourself carefully, and if you have any such habits, break them up at once. These may seem little things, but they have their weight, and go far in determining the character of the impression we make upon those around us. 

From the book, "How to Behave" 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The White House Etiquette And Precedence of 1908

Big Bird has plenty of cash feathering his nest, but there is no debating it, the rest of the country is not that fortunate!

Regardless of who wins the upcoming Presidential election, we are certain of one thing; Before someone even thinks of running for office, they should not overlook lessons in manners and they need to know what politeness and etiquette mean. That goes for debate moderators as well.  Do they actually know the rules? 

Take a look at this analysis on the VP debate;
Our Vice President was rude, and the rest of the world noticed
Then there was this news byte, after President Obama overwhelmingly was seen as losing the first debate with contender Mitt Romney: President Obama on Wednesday said he was “too polite” in dealing with Mitt Romney at last week’s debate. “I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,” Obama said in a phone interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show.  

We had to scratch our heads and ask ourselves, "Huh?" Too polite... No, that was really not the problem, Mr. President. 
Theodore Roosevelt addresses the crowd on his inauguration day in 1905

With manners in such a sore state these days, it is fun to look back and see in history just what needed to be known about Washingtonian etiquette if one were to run for office before the year 1909.  

 The White House Etiquette And Precedence of 1908


George Washington saw the necessity which would confront his successors, as well as himself, for some plan regulating the etiquette at the White House entertainments, dinners, receptions and the like. Upon consulting Alexander Hamilton, he received from Hamilton the following formal "Code of Procedure," which, with certain broad changes, has governed every President from Washington to Teddy Roosevelt.

1. The President to have a levee once a week for receiving visits ; an hour to be fixed at which it shall be understood that he will appear, and consequently that the visitors are to be previously assembled. The President to remain half an hour, in which time he may converse cursorily on different subjects, with such persons as shall invite his attention, and at the end of that half hour disappear. A mode of introduction through particular officers will be indispensable. No visits to be returned.

2. The President to accept no invitations, and to give formal entertainments only twice or four times a year, the anniversaries of important events in the Revolution. If twice on the day of the Declaration of Independence, and that on the day of the Inauguration of the President, which completed the organization of the Constitution, to be preferred; if four times, the day of the treaty of alliance with France, and that of the definitive treaty with Great Britain to be added. The members of the two houses of the Legislature; principal officers of the Government; foreign ministers, and other distinguished strangers only to be invited. The President on levee days, either by himself or some gentleman of his household to give invitations to family dinners on the days of invitation. Not more than six or eight to be invited at a time, and the matter to be confined essentially to members of the Legislature and other official characters. The President never to remain long at the table.

Washington's Conception of Official Etiquette

Among the records of the social customs of George Washington, as President, in Philadelphia, the following vivid and detailed description is given :

"He devoted an hour every other Tuesday from three to four to visits. He understood himself to be visited as the President of the United States, and not on his own account. He was not to be seen by anybody and everybody ; but required that every one who came should be introduced by his Secretary, or by some gentleman, whom he knew himself. He lived on the south side of Chestnut Street, just below Sixth. The place of reception was the dining-room in the rear, twenty-five or thirty feet in length, including the bow projecting into the garden. Mrs. Washington received her visitors in the two rooms on the second floor.

"At three o'clock, or at any time within a quarter of an hour afterwards, the visitor was conducted to this dining-room, from which all seats had been removed for the time. On entering one saw the tall, manly figure of Washington clad in black velvet; his hair in full dress, powdered and gathered behind in a large silk bag; yellow gloves on his hands; holding a cocked hat with a cockade on it, and the edges adorned with a black feather about an inch deep. He wore knee and shoe buckles; and a long sword, with a finely wrought and polished steel hilt, which appeared at the left hip; the coat worn over the blade, and appearing from under the folds behind. The scabbard was white polished leather.

"He always stood in front of the fireplace, with his face towards the door of entrance. The visitor was conducted to him, and he required to have the name so distinctly pronounced that he could hear it. He had the very uncommon faculty of associating a man's name and personal appearance so durably in his memory as to be able to call any one by name who made him a second visit. He received his visitor with a dignified bow, while his hands were so disposed of as to indicate that the salutation was not to be accompanied with shaking hands. This ceremony never occurred in those visits, even with his most near friends, that no distinction might be made.

"As visitors came in, they formed a circle around the room. At a quarter past three, the door was closed, and the circle was formed for that day. He then began on the right and spoke to each visitor, calling him by name and exchanging a few words with him. When he had completed his circuit, he resumed his first position, and the visitors approached him, in succession, bowed and retired. By four o'clock this ceremony was over.

"On the evenings when Mrs. Washington received visitors, he did not consider himself as visited. He was then as a private gentleman, dressed usually in some colored coat and waistcoat (the only one recollected was brown, with bright buttons), and black on his lower limbs. He had then neither hat nor sword ; he moved about among the company, conversing with one another. He had once a fortnight an official dinner, and select companies on other days. He sat (it is said), at the side, in a central position, Mrs. Washington opposite ; the two. ends were occupied by members of his family, or by per-sonal friends."

Such, then, with modifications, is the basis upon which some of the rules of etiquette are in force in the White House today.

Jefferson's Simple Social Forms

Thomas Jefferson, with his ideas of simplicity, abolished some of the more formal of the rules, stopping entirely the formal weekly receptions, or levees, and the State receptions. Among the quaintest of Mr. Jefferson's rules is the one wherein it is stated that "gentlemen offering their arms to ladies and going in to dinner in any order of rank or honor is prohibited."

The Order of Precedence Today

The order of precedence has always been a source of some embarrassment and a great deal of discussion among those invited to the White House. Among Cabinet Ministers and their wives, and among the foreign diplomats, especially, the question has sometimes caused amusing complications.

In the Roosevelt administration, however, in order to settle this long standing question of precedence that is, the question of who, by reason of rank, shall precede another at White House entertainments the United States Government established a set of rules embracing an "order of precedence" for those in official life, as follows :

The President, the Vice-President, the foreign Ambassadors, the Secretary of State, the foreign envoys and plenipotentiaries, the Chief Justice, the President pro tem, of the Senate (only upon the death of a Vice-President and the  consequent election of a President pro tern. of the Senate does he precede the Speaker of the House) ; Cabinet Secretaries, other than the Secretary of State; Foreign Ministers-resident, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, the Admiral of the Navy, Senators, Governors of States, Representatives in Congress, the Chief of Staff of the Army, Foreign Charges d'Affaires, Major Generals of the Army, Rear Admirals, Foreign Secretaries of Embassy and Legation, Assistant Secretaries of the Executive Departments, Judges of the Court of, Claims, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, District Commissioners, District Court of Appeals, District Supreme Court, Brigadier-Generals, Captains in the Navy, Director of Bureau of American Republics, Army and Navy Officers below army brigadiers and navy captains, Foreign guests in private life, untitled, American guests in private life.

For the wives of the officials named, the order of precedence is precisely the same as in their husbands, thus :

The wife of the President, who is exempt from returning visits.

The wives of Ambassadors in the order of their official recognition. These ladies make the first call upon the wife of the President and the Vice-President, but upon no others.

The wives of envoys plenipotentiary, who should make the initial visits on those ranking above them:
The wife of the Chief Justice.
The wife of the Speaker of the House.
The wives of Cabinet Ministers other than the Secretary of State.
The wives of Foreign Ministers-resident.
The wives of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. The wife of the Admiral of the Navy.
The wives of Senators.
The wives of Governors of States.
The wives of Representatives in Congress; and so on, to the end of the order of procedure as given for the officials.