Lincoln-era memoir

Full text of Elizabeth Keckley’s 1868 memoir Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. There doesn’t seem to be much description of the White House itself, but there is an awful lot of this sort of thing:

Mrs. Lincoln was especially severe on Mr. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State. She but rarely lost an opportunity to say an unkind word of him.

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4 thoughts on “Lincoln-era memoir

  1. I love the book, it is way too bad that we don’t have more info on Lincoln’s private quarters. Too bad that Brady or others did not photograph their private quarters. I know we have some written info, would love to see the Lincoln bed during the Lincoln day ..

  2. Wow. I couldn’t stop reading. Thanks for giving this to us.
    One question – The author refers to the “Guests’ Room” (see page 189) –
    “I asked and received permission to go into the Guests’ Room, where the body of the President lay in state (further)…I could not help recalling the day on which I had seen little Willie lying in his coffin where the body of his father now lay”.
    Is this reference to the East Room? She does say he was embalmed in the Green Room, and Mary never entered that room again, but I’m not sure what the “Guests’ Room” is.

    I loved reading this. Thanks again.

  3. Wow. I couldn’t stop reading. Thanks for giving this to us.
    One question – The author refers to the “Guests’ Room” (see page 189) –
    “I asked and received permission to go into the Guests’ Room, where the body of the President lay in state (further)…I could not help recalling the day on which I had seen little Willie lying in his coffin where the body of his father now lay”.
    Is this reference to the East Room? She does say he was embalmed in the Green Room, and Mary never entered that room again, but I’m not sure what the “Guests’ Room” is.

    I loved reading this. Thanks again.

  4. My understanding is that this refers to the northwest suite, now the president’s private dining room, which was the guest room at the time, and housed the Lincoln Bed. I suppose there was a private viewing of the president’s body in that room before it was put on the catafalque in the East Room.

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