Sunday, July 25, 2010

President James Buchanan and First Lady Harriet Lane

President James Buchanan and First Lady Harriet Lane

Chapter 15

President Buchanan requests the honor of your presence at a dinner party given in honor of Crown Prince Albert Edward the Prince of Wales at the President's House tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM.

BJ was excited as she saddled up Dobbin for the journey to the President’s House. She was leaving home long before the dinner party, because she had asked permission to come early to visit with the First Lady. She wanted to find out things she should know about the President and Crown Prince. She hoped she could keep her beautiful dress from getting soiled on the journey there.

“Giddy-up Dobbin, giddy-up," yelled BJ, as they entered the long driveway to the President's House.

The stable boy was there to take Dobbin to the barn.

“Hello my name is BJ and I am here early to visit with the First Lady,” she said, as the doorman answered the door.

“Please come in. Miss Harriet is expecting you in the study.”

“Hello BJ, I am Harriet Lane the President's niece,” she said extending her hand, as BJ arrived at the study.

“Hello Miss Harriet. Thank you so much for meeting with me early. I wanted to get here early enough for you to answer questions about the President and the Prince.”

“Please sit for a awhile, until it is time for the dinner party. What questions would you like to ask?”

“First of all I’d like to ask how the President got the Prince to come here from such a long way?” she asked, as she took her seat.

“Nunc, which is what I call my own uncle, had heard that the Prince was planning a visit to Canada, so he wrote Queen Victoria asking her permission to have him visit the United States.”

“Could you tell me how old he is?”

“He is just 19 and very handsome. Every Washington socialite has been awaiting his arrival.”

“Have you done anything special to plan for his arrival?”

“We have planned two lavish dinner parties. Tonight is a very special one, because Alice Hawthorne will be dedicating her new song ‘Listen to the Mockingbird’ to me. I'm very excited.”

“Oh I’m so happy I will be here for that. I hope she has someone who will sing it tonight. Since we don't have much time I'd like to know as much as you can tell me about the President.”

“I'll start by telling you how generous he is. He has given up his bedroom for the Prince so he will be comfortable while here. Of course the Prince doesn't know that Nunc is sleeping on a cot near his office.”

“Does the Prince plan to do any sightseeing while he is here in the United States?”

“He is staying with the President three nights and Nunc will have a chance to take him to visit the tomb of George Washington at Mount Vernon. And he plans to visit Niagara Falls. He will have a chance to meet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, too. Prayers have been said for him, in Trinity Church in New York. All this has to boost his confidence and self-esteem, especially since he will be King some day. One more thing while we are talking about the Prince, I beat him at a bowling match last night after his arrival.”

“I wished I could have seen that. Now, back to the President. When was he elected and how much longer does he have to serve as President?” asked BJ.

“He was elected in 1857 and has one more year to serve. He had a special structure built to house the inaugural ball. On March 4, 1857 5000 guests enjoyed his inaugural dinner party. The cake was 4 feet high and had a flag for each state in the union.”

“Wow, that sounds like a big cake. How many states are there?”

“There are..." [to be continued]

This is just a portion of chapter 15 of my next children's book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. My first children's history book The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin is available at Amazon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane


The honor of your presence is requested for dining at the President's house with President Franklin Pierce and first Lady Jane tomorrow at 6:00 PM.

BJ was excited as she grasped and saddled up Dobbin. Off they galloped to the Presidents House. As she arrived someone was there to tie Dobbins reins to the hitching post.

"I'll be back to get you soon Dobbin," said BJ, as she knocked on the door using the big brass door knocker.

The butler opened the door and invited her inside.

"Hello, my name is BJ and I'm here for dinner with the president and First Lady."

"Please follow me. Mrs. Pierce will greet you in the hearth room."

On arrival the First Lady stood to greet her. " Hello BJ, I am Jane Pierce. Please sit and we will visit until it is time to dine with the President. Maybe you have questions."

"Thank you, Mrs. Pierce," said BJ, as she sat in a chair near the First Lady.

"Please call me Miss Jane."

"Do you entertain a lot?"

"No BJ, this is very rare for us. On special occasions we have social state dinners. Neither of us is comfortable in those settings. I have heard others complain that the state dinners are too stiff and formal and that the bouquets at each place setting are too large and rigid but, that is what each of the Presidents in the past and future has to deal with. Obviously you can't please everyone. We are anxious to serve out our time and go back home!"

"Do you organize all those social events and duties here at the White House?"

"No BJ, I have assigned someone else to take charge of assigning duties. William Snow and his wife were hired and brought to Washington to be in charge of designating others for house keeping and as caretakers. He was in the hotel business and it was obvious he could take care of our needs here. He also hires the caterers and takes care of the White House accounts."

"Do you have a lot of people at your family dinners?"

"We usually have no more than six present. The president was brought up in a home where they lavishly entertained, but he likes our dinners to be quiet affairs. Our state dinners are held once a week while Congress is in session; with 36 guests present."

"What kind of food is served at your dinners?"

" Our menu varies with food such as, White Mountain rolls, Daniel Webster's chowder, and a longtime friend of the President's. We also have boiled potatoes, fried apple pies, New Hampshire boiled dinner, Apple Pan dowdy, new Hampshire benne seed cookies, and Fannie Daddies."

"What are Fanny Daddies?" asked BJ.

"They are fried clams. In New Hampshire, where we are from, they are inventive about giving them made-up names for their foods, as are most new Englanders. Benne seeds are sesame, which was native to South Carolina, brought there from Africa. It was a favorite plant in Thomas Jefferson's garden. It's interesting to see how, in the history of food, recipes travel from one part of the country to another."

"Tell me about the President."

"Franklin was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire in 1804. He was the grandson of a militia brigade year and son of a governor. He graduated from Bowdain College in 1824 and studied law after graduating. He then entered politics. He is a Democrat and was sent to Congress in 1833, serving two terms in the House and most of a term in the Senate. We married in 1834. My father was a former Bowdain College president. Franklin ran against the Whig Winfield Scott. After serving in the Mexican war his friends in New Hampshire, wanted him to run for Presidential nomination in 1852. He became the 14th President in 1853. In his inaugural address he announced his intentions and proclaimed an era of peace and prosperity. He wanted peace and prosperity at home and good relations with other nations. He wanted an aggressive foreign policy, including expansion of territory, and support for the Compromise of 1850. Slavery was an admitted right; he pointed out, and was recognized by the Constitution."

"What about foreign policy?" asked BJ.

"He wanted to conduct an aggressive foreign policy, but it had a mixed outcome. The younger Americans favored expansion, especially southward. In 1854 success came with the Gadsden Purchase. The United States bought the land from Mexico for $10 million. It pleased Southerners because it straddled the most likely route for a transcontinental railroad, linking the south to in Pacific."

"Now tell me about your state of New Hampshire, Miss Jane."

"After Franklin retires in 1857 we will go back to our home state of New Hampshire. It is beautiful BJ. It was formed in 1623 and was the third of the 13 original colonies. Our motto is 'Live Free or Die.' The Capitol building is in Concord and is surrounded by shady elm trees, even though our state is full of white birch. We also have lots of purple lilacs and purple finches."

"What cities are closest to New Hampshire?"

"New York City and Boston. Our largest city is Manchester. We have 221 towns, which are known for their independency because the towns' people come together for town meetings to elect their officials and vote on town business. We are known for all our granite. The Capitol building was constructed of New Hampshire granite. And we have many places in doubt wilderness to get a Christmas tree."

"Oh, I want to come back at Christmas to search for the perfect tree! Dobbin can pull it in our cart."

"BJ would you like to hear about Charlotte?"

"Who is Charlotte?" asked BJ.

"Charlotte is a..." [to be continued]

This is just a portion of chapter 14 of my next children's history book.

*Historical Notes not in my book:

Photo of Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce became President at a time of apparent tranquility. The United States, by virtue of the Compromise of 1850, seemed to have weathered its sectional storm. By pursuing the recommendations of southern advisers, Pierce--a New Englander--hoped to prevent still another outbreak of that storm. But his policies, far from preserving calm, hastened the disruption of the Union.
Born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, in 1804, Pierce attended Bowdoin College. After graduation he studied law, then entered politics. At 24 he was elected to the New Hampshire legislature; two years later he became its Speaker. During the 1830's he went to Washington, first as a Representative, then as a Senator.
Pierce, after serving in the Mexican War, was proposed by New Hampshire friends for the Presidential nomination in 1852. At the Democratic Convention, the delegates agreed easily enough upon a platform pledging undeviating support of the Compromise of 1850 and hostility to any efforts to agitate the slavery question. But they balloted 48 times and eliminated all the well-known candidates before nominating Pierce, a true "dark horse."
Probably because the Democrats stood more firmly for the Compromise than the Whigs, and because Whig candidate Gen. Winfield Scott was suspect in the South, Pierce won with a narrow margin of popular votes.
Two months before he took office, he and his wife saw their eleven-year-old son killed when their train was wrecked. Grief-stricken, Pierce entered the Presidency nervously exhausted.
In his Inaugural he proclaimed an era of peace and prosperity at home, and vigor in relations with other nations. The United States might have to acquire additional possessions for the sake of its own security, he pointed out, and would not be deterred by "any timid forebodings of evil."
Pierce had only to make gestures toward expansion to excite the wrath of northerners, who accused him of acting as a cat's-paw of Southerners eager to extend slavery into other areas. Therefore he aroused apprehension when he pressured Great Britain to relinquish its special interests along part of the Central American coast, and even more when he tried to persuade Spain to sell Cuba.
But the most violent renewal of the storm stemmed from the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the question of slavery in the West. This measure, the handiwork of Senator Stephen A. Douglas, grew in part out of his desire to promote a railroad from Chicago to California through Nebraska. Already Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, advocate of a southern transcontinental route, had persuaded Pierce to send James Gadsden to Mexico to buy land for a southern railroad. He purchased the area now comprising southern Arizona and part of southern New Mexico for $10,000,000.
Douglas's proposal, to organize western territories through which a railroad might run, caused extreme trouble. Douglas provided in his bills that the residents of the new territories could decide the slavery question for themselves. The result was a rush into Kansas, as southerners and northerners vied for control of the territory. Shooting broke out, and "bleeding Kansas" became a prelude to the Civil War.
By the end of his administration, Pierce could claim "a peaceful condition of things in Kansas." But, to his disappointment, the Democrats refused to renominate him, turning to the less controversial Buchanan. Pierce returned to New Hampshire, leaving his successor to face the rising fury of the sectional whirlwind. He died in 1869.
The Presidential biographies on are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Michael Beschloss and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.
Learn more about Franklin Pierce 's spouse, Jane Means Appleton Pierce.

President Millard Fillmore and First Lady Abigail


BJ was as she approached the road leading to the White House, riding Dobbin her pony.

“I’ll be back to get you soon Dobbin,” she said, as she tied Dobbin to the post.

She knocked at the door with the brass doorknocker. The doorman quickly answered.

“Hello, my name is BJ and Miss Abigail has invited me to see the new library.”

“Please come in, Miss Abigail is waiting in the library,” he said, leading the way upstairs.

“Hello BJ, I'm so happy to have you visit our new library. I am Abigail, the first lady.”

“Hello Miss Abigail, I’m excited to be here to see the new room.”

“Please pull up a chair and we will visit. “I’ve decided to open the library for those who love books. Maybe you have questions, before we look at the different kinds of books here in the new room. The President may join us later, but maybe you have questions for me until then.”

“Oh, I hope the President will have time to visit. I do have some questions. Why did you decide to open a room especially for books?”

“I taught school for seven years when I was in my 20s. Because of my love for reading, I now enjoy discussing political issues with my husband.”

Why did you decide to be a schoolteacher?”

“I needed to earn money because we were poor. My father died when I was an infant and my mother had the job of raising five sons and two daughters. When I was 20 an academy opened in Monravia, New York, which was the nearest town to us. I was really too old, but decided to enroll any way. I studied hard and was soon eligible to become a schoolteacher.”

“When and how did you meet Mr. President?”

“My husband had been working at a textile mill for several years and it closed down. We met while I was still teaching. We became engaged, but knew we couldn't afford to get married, because he was wanting to study law.”

“How long were you engaged?”

“We were engaged for eight long years.”

“Wow! That's a long engagement. When did you finally marry?”

“After working in a law office, he decided to open his own law firm. Then on February 5, 1826 we married.”

“How old were you?”

“I was 28 and he was 26. I worked as a teacher until we decided to have children. We have a son named after his father Millard, and a daughter Mary Abigail. I continued my love for reading books and love discussing political issues with my husband.”

“How did he get interested in politics?”

“Because of his job as a lawyer he became acquainted with many important people in Buffalo, and we moved there. In 1848, when he was 48, he was elected Vice-President of the United States on the Whig party ticket.”

“What is the Whig party?”

At you young age BJ, it would be hard for you to understand. The name actually is a derogatory term. That means it isn't very nice. It originated in Scotland, England, as well as the United States, from members of political parties. It came from the word Whiggamor and meant ‘cattle driver.’ I won't go into that, but you will learn about it when you are older. In the United States the Whig party emerged as one of the two main American political parties; the other one is the Democrats. The elites controlled the voters. The Whig Party in the United States is concerned with promoting internal governments, such as roads, canals, and railroads.”

“That’s really hard for me to figure out, but I will learn about it later. Tell me about how he became President.”

“In 1850 President Zachary Taylor died and that meant my husband would become president, since he was Vice-President at the time.”

“Before Mr. President joins us, I would like to learn as much as I can about you. Do you have many duties as First Lady?”

My health is not good BJ, so I leave a lot of the hostess duties to our daughter Mary, who was 18 when her father became President.”

“Did you train her for the job?

“Mary Abigail is very outgoing and shows much confidence in her duties. I guide her in these duties as much as I can. Years ago I fell and injured my ankle and have not been able to put my weight on it for very long. When I do feel like entertaining, I rest several hours before the function, in order to be able to stand in the long receiving lines.”

“How often do you have receptions..."

* Note: This is a portion of my next children's history book about BJ and her pony Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies.

Thursday, July 8, 2010



As BJ arrived at the President's House, she wondered if the President and First Lady would have time to receive her as a guest today. She had heard that the President's House was always open to visitors.

"I will be back soon to get you Dobbin," she said, as the stable boy took her pony away.

She used the big brass door knocker on the door and soon the doorman appeared.

"Hello, I'm here to visit with the President and First Lady, if they have time to see me."

"Follow me to their daughter's office," he said, leading the way.

As soon as BJ arrived at the office, she reached for the hand of the President's daughter.

"Hello, my name is BJ and I rode my pony Dobbin here today to visit with your father and mother. Would they have time to visit with me?"

"Hello BJ, my name is Betty and I'm the President's daughter. My father is having a cabinet meeting right now, but my mother may be able to see you. I am taking over the duties of First Lady for my mother since she is still unable to do so. Let's go upstairs and find out if she feels like having visitors," she said leading the way. She knocked at her mother's door and asked BJ to wait. She then opened the door for her to come in.

"Hello BJ, my daughter Betty tells me you would like to have a chat today. I am Margaret, but everyone calls me Peggy. Please sit down and we'll have a little chat, because I love to have visitors."

"Thank you Miss Peggy. I'm curious why they call you Peggy and not Margaret?"

"I really don't know why my family called me that. I never asked them. I have been Peggy from a very young age. What would you like to know about our lives?"

"I would like to find out as much as I can about you and the President, but let's start with you first Miss Peggy."

"Okay, I was born Margaret Smith on September 21, 1788. My father led a battalion of militia during the Revolutionary War. I grew up on a plantation along Chesapeake Bay, near the Virginia border."

"How did you meet the President?"

"I met him at my married sister's home. He was 25 at the time and was from Virginia. He served as an Army Lieutenant and we married the following year on June 20, 1810. During the next 15 years I gave birth to 5 daughters and 1 son."

"Have you lived in many places, because of his job?"

"I'll respond to that question, mother? She followed my father, without complaining, from one post to another which had no conveniences. Then when my father became President, she really needed a rest. She actually didn't want him to run for the presidency, and when he did she gave the job of hostess to me."

"Are you married Miss Betty?"

"Yes, I am married to Major W. S. Bliss."

"Miss Peggy do you do any entertaining at all?"

"I entertain when I feel well enough, but just for close family and friends," responded Margaret.

"I'd like to also add that rumors started about my mother when she gave the job of hostess to me. And anytime I can clear up those rumors I do so."

"What were the rumors?" asked BJ.

"Washington has not been kind to my mother. Without bothering to find out details about her illness, they jumped to conclusions and thought she was probably kept from public functions, because she was from a poor back-woods family with no social graces and didn't know how to entertain. They even had her smoking a corn-cob pipe. In truth my mother hates being around smoke. She is from a well-respected Maryland family, who was well-born and well-bred. And, in fact she found it very difficult to live the frontier life, that my father was accustomed to as a soldier," said Betty.

"Does your health allow you to join others at the table, Miss Peggy?"

"Yes, I receive my visitors in this sitting room and then join them for family dinners downstairs. I love conversing with them."

"My mother is a very bright, intelligent woman. I could not have taken on my task of hosting, if it had not been for her teaching me poise, grace, and how to dress, as I was growing up."

"Do you give your daughter any ideas for entertaining?"

"I'll let her answer that," responded Margaret.

Yes, my mother gives me many ideas on entertaining. She is also a first rate housekeeper, who has bought new carpeting and furniture for the President's House."

"I have done a few afternoon teas for Cabinet wives. But, it has become too much for me. I had contracted a fever years ago, which took the lives of three of my sisters. I did not recover completely," said Margaret.

"I'm so sorry about that Miss Peggy. I know you must enjoy your family visits though. Could you tell me a little about the President now?"

"He was born in Virginia. The family moved to Kentucky when he was very young. They had a tobacco plantation outside Louisville. Then when he was in the Army he spent much of his life on the road, traveling from one barrack's post to another."

"Where did he serve most of his time?"

"He served in the Northwest territory in the Florida everglades, but was finally stationed in Louisiana. In between tours of duty he bought a plantation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He spent many happy times there," said Margaret.

"Has he accomplished much since he has been President, and why do you think he wanted to be President?"

"Since he has only been in office less than a year, he hasn't had time to accomplish much. He was the nation's first Mexican war hero, during the Mexican War of 1846-1848. I prayed..." [continued]

This is just a portion of chapter 12 of my next children's history book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. [coming next] My first book was The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin available at Amazon.

Chapter 11: JAMES POLK AND FIRST LADY SARAH of The Presidents and First Ladies



When Friday arrived BJ was so excited as she dressed and saddled up Dobbin.

"Oh Dobbin, I've wanted to meet Tom Thumb for so long, but of course I'm anxious to meet the President and First Lady Sarah, too."

BJ thought the journey there would never end. "Giddy-up, Dobbin, giddy-up she yelled, as they entered the long roadway to the President's House.

"I'll be back soon," said BJ, as she tied Dobbin to the hitching post. She used the big brass door knocker on the front door.

"Hello, my name is BJ and I've been invited for tea and to see Tom Thumb."

"Right this way, BJ. The First Lady is waiting, in the parlor, for you until the President and Tom Thumb arrive."

On entering the parlor the First Lady stood up and reached for BJ's hand. "Hello BJ, I'm Sarah Polk. Please sit while we visit, until the President and Tom Thumb arrive. Perhaps you have questions?"

"Hello Miss Sarah," BJ said, as she took a seat in the chair across from Sarah. "Yes, I have lots of questions that I would like to know about you, the President and Tom Thumb, but tell me about the President first."

"John Polk was born November 2, 1795 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. By the way the L in Polk is silent. He moved to Tennessee with his family in 1806, as a young boy. The area was settled by his grandfather, a land speculator. He graduated with honors in 1818, from the University of North Carolina. He studied law and served in Congress from 1825 to 1839, was Speaker of the House and later Governor of Tennessee."

"He chose to go to college in the state he was born?" asked BJ.

"Yes, he thought that was the best choice for him, because he wanted to study for a legal career."

"What are some of the things he has accomplished?"

"He is known for his foreign policy successes. And he led the Mexica-American War. He has also lowered the tariff and established a treasury system, and was responsible for the second largest expansion of the nation's territory."

"How did he do that?"

"He secured the Oregon Territory, amounting to 285,000 square miles. Then he purchased 525,000 square miles through the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War."

"That seems like a lot of accomplishments. Were there others?"

"Yes, he oversaw the opening of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Smithsonian, the ground breaking for the Washington Monument and the issuance of the first postage stamps in the United States, which was introduced by his Postmaster General Cave Johnson."

"Wow! He's been very busy! What do you think he does best?"

"He has the ability to..."

* Note: This is just a preview of chapter 11 of my next children's history book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. The most fun part of this chapter however is about Tom Thumb, who actually visited them while Polk was President. All the history in these chapters are true and BJ and Dobbin bring it to life with BJ's imaginary tales!

* My challenge has been where to put BJ and Dobbin in the story...

* My first children's history book was, The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin, available at Amazon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chapter 10: JOHN TYLER AND FIRST LADY JULIA of The Presidents and First Ladies



Bj thought Friday would never come, but at last the day had arrived.

"Oh Dobbin this will be so much fun. I've never been to a clambake!" exclaimed BJ, as she clutched her invitation, and galloped away on Dobbin.

Upon arrival on Long Island she followed the arrows leading to the shoreline, just as the invitation had said.

Julia greeted her, as Dobbin came to a halt.

"Hello, my name is Julia Tyler. I'm so glad you could join us today for our clambake. The President will join us later, after he is through with his cabinet meeting. It will take several hours to bake the clams, so he will arrive just in time to dine with us."

"Hello Miss Julia, I am BJ and this is my pony Dobbin. What are those men doing digging that big hole in the ground?" asked BJ, as she climbed off Dobbin.

"They are digging a pit for the clam bake, BJ."

"What all is needed for the clambake?" she asked, as Julia took her hand and led her to the pit.

"The bottom of the pit has to be covered with flat stones with lots of dry wood put over the them. The fire has to be lit well in advance so the stones will be good and hot. Then wet seaweed is spread over the stones. Then add round hard clams, chicken, lobsters, sweet potatoes, bluefish, fresh corn in its husk. But, take the silk off the corn first. Then add anything else you want. Place all of it on top of the seaweed, and cover with more seaweed. Then spread a large canvas over all and steam for several hours."

"That sounds like a lot of work, but I know it will be delicious. Have you ever had a clambake before?" asked BJ.

"Oh yes. Clam-digging has been an American coastal sport since the earliest days of our history. I grew up near here and we had clambakes frequently. Let's sit over here BJ while the servants are baking the clams and I will tell you about some favorite recipes," said Julia, as she took a spot on the grass nearby.

"Another favorite is clam pie, which has a filling of potatoes and hard clams, thickened with a paste made from flour and water." said Julia.

"Is this the best place for clams?"

"Anywhere along the coastline. I grew up on the Eastern shore of Long Island on Gardiner's Island, where there was also huge turtles, that lived in the local ponds. I have a wonderful recipe for torup stew."

"What is torup?" asked BJ.

"It is a turtle. Once the President got a 300 pound turtle as a gift from someone in Key West. Years ago we had a fondness for oyster stew, because oysters were plentiful. I have to tell you an interesting thing about Gardiner's Island caviar, which was from the sturgeon caught there."

"What is caviar and sturgeon?" asked BJ.

"Caviar is fish eggs and sturgeon is fish."

"Now, before the President comes and you ask him questions, I will tell you an interesting thing about Gardiner's Island caviar..."

* Note: This is a portion of chapter 10 of my next book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies, which will be finished soon. My first children's history book is available at Amazon and other book stores.

2 eggs, beaten
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 c. oil
2 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1 c. chopped nuts
2 c. seedless raisins
2 c. quick oats

Do not blend or mix with electric mixer. Put all ingredients in a large bowl, blend well by hand. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.



BJ rode up on Dobbin to listen to the Inauguration Address of President Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States. As the President approached the end of the two hour speech, BJ was impressed as he closed with these words: "Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with the high office, to which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my exhalted station, according to the best of my ability, and I shall enter upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just and generous people."

"Dobbin that was a long speech. I thought it would never end. I want to see if the President will let me go inside, where it is warm so I can ask him some questions," said BJ, as she tied Dobbin to the hitching post, as others did.

"Mr. President, Mr. President, my name is BJ and this is my pony Dobbin. May I come inside where it is warm so I can ask some questions?"

""Of course, my child! Let's get in out of this damp air. I have had a cold and am also chilled."

After they got inside, he took her coat and she followed him to the parlor.

"What are some of your questions, BJ?"

"I want to know as much about your life as you have time to tell me, Mr. President," said BJ, as she took a chair.

"I'll start by telling you that I was born on the Berekely Plantation, in Charles County, Virginia on February 9, 1773. I married Anna Tuthill Symmes on November 25, 1795. We had ten children. I became Governor of the Indiana Territory in 1801 and served twelve years."

"Wow, that's a long time to serve. What were your duties as Governor?"

"My main task was to obtain titles to Indian lands."

"Why did you need titles?"

"So settlers could press forward into the wilderness. The Indians retaliated, but I was responsible for defending the settlement. In the end Tecumseh was killed in the battle of Tippecanoe. That's where my nickname 'old Tip' came from, and the campaign slogan for Vice-President Tyler and me...'Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too.' "

"Who was Tecumseh?"

"He was..." [continued]

A sad ending to chapter 9, of my next children's history book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies.



"Giddy-up Dobbin, giddy-up!" yelled BJ, as they entered the road leading to the President's House.

The stable boy was standing there to greet her, as she rode up on Dobbin.

"Hello, my name is BJ and I am here for a picnic with President Van Buren and First Lady Angelica."

"Hello BJ, please follow me to the stables, where Miss Angelica is waiting to meet you."

Upon arriving at the stables, BJ introduced herself and her pony Dobbin.

"Hello BJ, I'm so happy you and Dobbin could join us today for our picnic. We try to do this as much as we can for the children of our great city. The President will join us later, after his cabinet meeting. I'll tighten these picnic baskets securely to each side of my horse and we'll be on our way."

"Is there anything I can help carry?"

"Yes, I'll strap our water jugs on the side of Dobbin," said Angelica, securing the jugs. "Maybe you'll have questions you would like for me to answer while we're riding."

"That's a good idea," said BJ. "I'd like to know things about you, Miss Angelica. How did you become First Lady."

"I'll start by saying that my cousin Dolley Madison, trained me for the role, after my father-in-law became President. I am married to his oldest son Abraham. I started preparing for this position after my husband and I returned from our honeymoon in Europe. The President and his wife Hannah Hoes, married in 1807. She passed away in 1819 leaving him with four sons to raise. The youngest was about two at the time."

"He's never remarried after all those years?" asked BJ, as they galloped away.

"No, he hasn't and that's why I have the privilege of filling the role of First Lady."

"I"m sure because of all your traveling, and being trained by your cousin Dolley Madison, you were very comfortable when you had your first function here, weren't you?"

"Well you might say I have been a popular hostess because I have employed many of the European style etiquette techniques, in my entertaining. I have to say though that my first state dinner here was very challenging. I was the only lady at the table...trying to be as cheerful as possible. I felt miserable during all that time, because I kept receiving messages to come to the nursery because my baby was crying."

"That must have been terrible that you couldn't get away. Had you had any training before Dolley Madison trained you for the role?"

"I was raised in high-society and was used to that life kind of life. I grew up on Home Place, a South Carolina plantation. My father Colonel Richard Singleton owned it. It had a huge house, formal gardens, stables, with the finest horses and a race track. My sister and I were expert horsewomen."

"Oh, I would love to go riding with you sometime, Miss Angelica!"

"We will do that BJ."

"Tell me about your travels to other countries."

"I have a relative that was the American Ambassador to England, and that gave me many opportunities to meet people, such as Queen Victoria. In Paris I met France's King Louis Phillippe."

"Wow, that sounds exciting! Tell me about your state of South Carolina."

"The history goes back a long time. In the 1500's the Spanish and French tried to settle in the area, but failed. The English settlers built the city of Charleston in 1670. They grew rice and indigo to ship to England."

"What is indigo?"

"It's a plant that makes blue dye. Cotton became South Carolina's top crop after 1800. Cotton farmers used slaves to help grow and harvest cotton. The North was against slavery but the South liked their way of life."

"What happened because of that?" asked BJ.

"South Carolina was the first to leave the Union in 1860. The first battle of the Civil War was because Confederate troops captured Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. After the war South Carolina was a poor state and most farmers worked for a share of the crops they raised. Segregation laws were passed to keep whites and african americans separate. Many left the state because of it. But, after the war things started looking better for them."

"It's good when people understand one another, huh? Could you tell me a little bit about the mountains and the coast?"

"The flat sandy plain has..." [to be cont.]

* Note: This is just a preview of chapter 8 in my next children's history book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. My first children's history book The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin is available at Amazon.

Chapter 7: ANDREW JACKSON AND FIRST LADY EMILY/ The Presidents and First Ladies


BJ opened the invitation from the White House with such excitement.


When the moment came, BJ hurriedly saddled up Dobbin, for the journey to the President'sHouse.

Upon arrival the stable boy was there to take Dobbin to the barn.

"I'll be back soon to get you soon, Dobbin," yelled BJ, as she knocked at the door.

"Hello, my name is BJ and I have come for a one-to-one talk with the President," she said, as the doorman answered the door.

"Right this way, BJ, the President is waiting in his study."

"Hello Mr. President," said BJ, as the study door opened.

"Hello BJ, please sit and we will visit. I have these one-on-one talks once each month, which I think helps the American people to know all the work a President has to accomplish during his term. We sometimes don't have enough time to get all that we want to accomplished, during our short term. What are some questions you would like to ask me, BJ?"

"I'm happy to be here Mr. President. And thank-you for taking the time for these one-to-one meetings. I would like to know about your life and your accomplishments. I have a few questions about the Cherokee Indians but before we get into all the political things, could you first tell me about your wife Rachel?"

"Rachel was the love of my life. She was ill and died in December, 1828 just a few months before my inauguration. She was a warm, loving, and good-hearted woman. An example of how she was loved would be to tell you that there were 10,000 people who attended the outdoor funeral."

"OH my, she must have been loved so much! Then, who is your First Lady?"

"Rachel's niece Emily Donelson, is the First Lady. She has become a capable and popular hostess. She is married to Major Andre' Jackson Donelson, who is my personal secretary. We are all very close."

"Do you have any children?"

"Rachel and I did not have any children of our own, but we adopted a nephew of Rachel's and we named him after me. He will someday inherit our plantation home, in Hermitage."

"Are there any children around for the holidays here at the President'sHouse?'

"Last Christmas the children in Washington were sent notes: THE CHILDREN OF PRESIDENT JACKSON'S FAMILY REQUEST YOU TO JOIN THEM ON CHRISTMAS DAY AT FOUR 0' CLOCK IN A FROLIC IN THE EAST ROOM. They had a wonderful time playing Puss in the Corner, Blind Man's Bluff, and other games. Even Martin Van Buren and Dolley Madison joined in the games. The most fun was the game of snowballs, in the East Room after supper. The snowballs were made of non-combustible starch-coated cotton. They each joined in throwing their snowballs. At the close of the party each child marched around the room blowing kisses with their hands, as they passed me. Dolley Madison said it was a beautiful sight and reminded her of the fairy procession in the Midsummer Night's Dream."

"Oh what a nice memory you will have forever. Since we are talking about entertainment, could you tell me some of your favorite foods, Mr. President?"

"I'm fond of..."

* Note: This is just a preview of chapter 7 of my next book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies... The games played were actual things that happened at that party. This chapter is full of interesting facts, especially about the Cherokee Indians...which is my heritage on my mother's side. I have changed my opinion of him somewhat.

PRESIDENT JOHN QUINCY ADAMS AND FIRST LADY LOUISA of The Presidents and First Ladies written by BJ Riordan


Appearing before BJ's eyes was an invitation to hear the First Lady Louisa Adams play harp and sing, at the President's House in the East Room.

BJ hurriedly dressed for the occasion, when that evening arrived. She then saddled up Dobbin, her pony and off they galloped.

"I'm going to hear Miss Louisa sing and play harp," she yelled at Dobbin, wanting him to hurry.

Upon arrival she tied Dobbin to the hitching post.

"I'll be back to get you soon, Dobbin" said BJ.

She was running late because she could already hear the music inside. The doorman lead her to the East Room, where everyone was already seated on beautiful French furniture. Then everyone stood and applauded when Louisa finished the last song. Because she was late she was the last in the receiving line to greet Louisa. The best thing about being last was that maybe Louisa would have time to answer her many questions about their life.

It was finally her time to greet the First Lady.

"Hello, my name is BJ. I have enjoyed hearing your songs on the harp, but am so sorry that I got here late."

"It's so nice to meet you, BJ. If you would like to visit awhile we could sit. I'm very tired and would enjoy a little time to unwind," said the First Lady.

"This is such a beautiful room. Did you do all the decorating?" asked BJ, as they sat on the French chairs.

"Yes BJ, I did. I love French furniture. This room is the room that my husband's mother Abigail hung her laundry in, because this house wasn't quite finished at the time John Quincy's father became President."

"I would like to know about your lives."

"What things would you like to know, BJ?"

"Tell me about your life before you met the President."

"I was born in London, England. My father Joshua Johnson, was a Maryland businessman. He moved to England early in 1770's, to be the London agent for several well-off relatives. It was there he met and married my mother Catherine Nuff. I was the second child born on February 12, 1775. Then the Revolutionary War broke out and my father moved the family to France. We lived in a large house in the seaport of Nantes. I learned to speak fluent French while there at school. I also was schooled in Greek and English literature. When I was eight the war ended and we moved back to London. My father was appointed by the government there as the first American consul in the British capital. We had many servants because my father became wealthy and my mother never had to do any housework."

"Wow, your mother was very lucky, huh?"

"Yes, she was very fortunate to have so much help. But, they had 8 girls and 1 boy, which made her a very busy mother."

"That's a big family! Tell me how you met the President?"

"In 1795, when I was 20 years old I met John Quincy. At that time he was an American diplomat and his father, John Adams, was Vice-President of the United States."

"How soon after you met him did you marry?"

"After being engaged a year we married at the church near my London home on July 26, 1797, despite his mother Abigail's disapproval. It was years before she changed her mind about me."
"Did you stay in London long?"

"We moved to the German city of Berlin, because of his duties."

"When did you return to America?"

"Three weeks after I gave birth to our first child, George Washington Adams, we moved back to the United States, after he finished serving as minister of Prussia. He..." [to be continued]

* Note: This is a preview of chapter 6 of my next children's history book, BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. My first children's history book, The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin is available at Amazon




On Friday, BJ was excited as she dressed and saddled up Dobbin, her pony.

"Giddy-up, Dobbin, giddy-up," yelled BJ, as they approached the long drive way, leading to the President's House. It looked so different than what she imagined, considering it had burned several years earlier.

"I'll be back to get you Dobbin," said BJ, as she tied him to the hitching post.

The doorman answered BJ's knock at the door, using the big brass door knocker.

"Hello, I am here to have dinner with President and Mrs. Monroe."

"You must be BJ, please come in. Miss Elizabeth is expecting you and will meet you in the parlor, until the President joins you for dinner."

As they entered the parlor, the First Lady stood up and reached for BJ's hand. "Hello BJ, welcome to the President's House. I am Elizabeth, the First Lady."

"May I call you Miss Elizabeth?"

"Yes, of course. Let's sit awhile and visit, until the President joins us. Maybe you have some questions you would like to ask?"

"Yes, I have many things I would like to know, such as, when did you move here?"

"The building was not finished until the fall of 1817, a few months after James had been inaugurated. His inauguration was the first to be outside. They started rebuilding in 1815, after it burned down. A heavy storm came and caused deep cracks in the exterior walls, while it was still smoldering from the fire. It took a long time to fill those cracks before they could continue the construction," said Elizabeth.

"I'd like to know where you both are from?"

"President Monroe is from Virginia and I'm from New York."

"When his term is over where will you retire?"

"We will go to Oak Hill, which is our plantation in Virginia."

"Could you tell me a little about your life here in this big house?"

"I will start by saying that we had 3 children...only 2 survived infancy. We are very close to our girls, Maria and Eliza. Maria was married here in this big house, making her the first to ever get married here. Eliza serves as the official hostess when I am ill. There are many times that I cannot complete my duties as hostess. She and her husband moved in to help out when they are needed."

"In comparing your lives with the previous Presidents and First Ladies, how different are your lives?"

"President Madison and my husband James, were both influenced politically to President Jefferson. But, Jefferson..."

This is a portion of chapter 5, of my next children's history book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. Please leave a comment below, if you would like.

President JAMES MADISON AND FIRST LADY DOLLEY of The Presidents and First Ladies


"This is the place, Dobbin," said BJ, as they stopped in front of a building that had big letters above the door, THE OCTAGON HOUSE. "I'll be back soon to get you Dobbin," she said, as she tied him to the hitching post.

BJ knocked on the door, using the big brass door knocker on the door.

"Hello, my name is BJ and I am here to attend Dolley Madison's Wednesday social."

"She is expecting you BJ, welcome to the Taylor House. Miss Dolley will greet you in the drawing room," said the doorman.

"Oh, isn't this house called the Octagon House?"

"Yes, but most refer to it as The Taylor House," answered the doorman, entering the drawing room.

"Miss Dolley this is BJ."

"Good-afternoon BJ. Please sit and we will have a nice visit before my other guests arrive. Perhaps you have questions for me?"

"I'm so happy to meet you, Miss Dolley. I have some questions about the President but first I'd like to know what your duties are as First Lady, such as how you organize these social events?"

"That's a good question, BJ. I think it's important to be as gracious as I can in greeting and welcoming guests. I want them to feel comfortable, while they are at these functions. I am solely in charge of all the social events for the President's gatherings of political people, and of course my own social gatherings, such as my Wednesday drawing room events, which by the way are informal. But, most of the ladies come to show off their new clothing," said Dolley.

""Do the men attend those social gatherings?"

"Oh yes, the politicians conduct their informal business during the evening, after the candles are lit."

"Do you have entertainment?"

"There are some that attend these gatherings that can play an instrument or sing. And sometimes, if called on, some of those in attendance will entertain during the evening. These social gatherings have come to be known as the Drawing Room events, and go on into the evening."

"Why are you here at the Taylor House and not at the President's House?"

"Haven't you heard that the President's House burned on August 24, 1814. We will live here until President Madison's term is up in 1817. We don't have too much longer to serve, BJ."

"How did it burn?"

"The British descended on Washington and burned several buildings, including the Capitol and the President's House. The fire burned all of the interior and only left the outside of the building."

"What were you doing when it burned?'

"There have been rumors that I..." [to be continued]

This is just a peek inside chapter 4, of my next book, BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin was my first children's history book available at Amazon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010



BJ was excited as she opened the envelope from the President.


When that day arrived BJ dressed and then mounted Dobbin. "Giddy-up Dobbin, giddy-up, we can't be late," BJ yelled, as they entered the long drive at the President's House. Someone was there to tie Dobbin to the hitching post.

"I'll be back to get you soon, Dobbin," said BJ, as she approached the door and knocked.

"Hello, my name is Bj and I am here to have dinner with Mr. President and and his daughter Martha."

"Come in, I will take you to the parlor where Martha is waiting for you, until the President arrives for dinner," said the doorman.

"Hello BJ," said Martha, as they entered the parlor. "I am the President's daughter Martha. Please sit and we'll visit until my father joins us. Maybe you have questions for me?"

"Oh thank-you. Yes, I have lots of questions. First I'd like to know if you live here at the President's House, too?"

"No BJ, since my mother passed away, my father needs someone to take over the job as hostess for social functions. I help out when I can. I have a sister, but she is quite shy. I have 12 children at home who keep me busy."

"Oh my, what happens if you can't be here when he needs you for those occasions?" asked BJ.

"Dolly Madison helps at those times. She is quite the hostess and loves all of those occasions. My father is very lucky to have her. Her husband is James Madison the Secretary of State."

"I'd like to know about your father. Tell me about him."

"There is nothing pretentious about my father, BJ. He is a very simple man and wants others to feel comfortable here in this house. He's been known to show up for dinner in his..."

*This is just a preview of Chapter 3 of BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. If you would like to make a comment please do.



BJ wondered if the new President's House was finished, as she and Dobbin her pony, trotted closer to the house. After tying Dobbin to the hitching post, she followed the noise to the back of the house. There stood a woman chopping wood. "Hello, my name is BJ and I have come to visit Miss Abigail Adams, who has invited me for supper."

"Hello BJ, I am Abigail and have been expecting you. You have caught me as I'm finishing my chores. Please come inside and we'll sit awhile before supper. The President will join us later."

"Don't you have anyone to help with the chores?" asked BJ, as she followed behind her.

"No BJ, we have just moved here from Philadelphia, where the seat of the government was until now. This is the new President's House. The President only has a few months to finish out his term here in The Great Castle, as I call it. We had a charming home in Philadelphia, where the President's House was until now. We were there 3 years and 8 months."

"And because the new house isn't finished yet, you have all the work to do yourself?" asked BJ.

"Yes, I do the cleaning, chop wood and do all the laundry. I also dry the clothes on a line strung across the unfinished East Room. I do all the entertaining for the President's functions. I am planning an elaborate New Year's Day opening of this great house, to the public. The date January 1, 1801, will go down in history. We won't do much entertaining until then, because we have such little time to plan."

"Wow, I'm sure you will have many visitors that day. But, if you have no help, who will help with this celebration?" asked BJ.

"We have many important people that want to bring..."

To be continued in the next children's book BJ & Dobbin Meet the Presidents and First Ladies. Please make a comment below about this portion of chapter 2.

Chapter 1: GEORGE WASHINGTON AND FIRST LADY MARTHA of The Presidents and First Ladies


BJ was excited as she opened the invitation. "Who was it from?" she wondered.


"What had happened to make her invitation late? Would she arrive on time?" she wondered.

She could hardly wait as she dressed and saddled up Dobbin.

"Giddy-up Dobbin, giddy-up," yelled BJ, as Dobbin her pony galloped toward the pearl shop in town. "I hope I have time to talk to the First Lady, before she leaves the shop," yelled BJ to Dobbin.

BJ arrived at the shop just as the shop keeper put the CLOSED sign on the door.

"Oh please may I come in and speak with Martha? I've wanted to meet her for a long, long time."

The shop keeper told BJ that Martha was leaving as soon as she paid for her purchases but suggested she wait outside for her.

It wasn't long before Martha opened the door and started toward her carriage, which was waiting at the front.

"Hello, my name is BJ and this is my pony Dobbin," she said, as she pointed toward Dobbin, at the hitching post. I have wanted to meet you for a long, long time Miss Martha. Would you have time to visit with me?"

"Hello BJ, why don't you and Dobbin follow my carriage back to the President's House, where my cook Samuel Frances, will have hot spiced gingerbread, from my own recipe, and hot tea that just arrived from India. You'll love the gingerbread BJ. It is served every Thursday for George's guests."

"Oh I would love to follow you back to your home for tea and gingerbread. My mom makes gingerbread, but I'll be anxious to try yours," said B,J, as she mounted Dobbin.

It was quite a distance back to the President's House, and she was ready for her delicious snack as they arrived.

Martha told her coachman to tie Dobbin to the hitching post, as she led BJ to the parlor. "Please sit while I get Samuel to serve our tea and gingerbread," said Martha.

BJ waited patiently until Martha arrived with Samuel, who was carrying a beautiful silver tray with fresh tea and hot spiced gingerbread, which filled the room with wonderful aroma.

"Does Samuel have other duties?" asked BJ, as Samuel left the room.

"Besides being our cook, he also organizes the many duties of the other workers in the kitchen."

"Martha would you mind telling me about your life, while we're having our snacks?"

"Please call me Patsy and I'll tell you why, as I tell my story. I was born Martha Dandridge..."

* Note: This is a sneak preview of my next children's history book: BJ & DOBBIN MEET THE PRESIDENTS AND FIRST LADIES. My first children's history book, The Imaginary Journeys of BJ and Dobbin, is available at Amazon and some book stores.

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. molasses
1/2 c. warm milk
2 tbsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. orange rind, grated
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. mace
1/4 c. brandy
3 lg. eggs, well beaten
3 c. plus 1 tbsp. flour
1 c. raisin
1 c. sour cream

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add molasses, milk and spices; beat well. Add the brandy. Alternate adding the flour and beaten eggs on low speed of your electric mixer. Add the juice and rind. Add the baking soda dissolved in warm water; beat well. Flour the raisins with the 1 tablespoon flour held back and fold into the batter. Stir in the sour cream. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Serve with lemon sauce or whipped cream.


3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. granulated sugar
2 c. boiling water
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp. butter

Combine the cornstarch and sugar; add boiling water. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice, rind and butter. Cook briefly. Serve over warm gingerbread. If it seems too thick, add a little more water.