Of all the things we know about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural—it was the occasion in which he laid out his "with malice toward none, with charity for all" vision of Reconstruction—a little known side note is that, at the reception following his inauguration, Lincoln chose to serve his guests Mumm champagne. I gleaned this fact at an event last Wednesday evening at Lincoln’s Cottage, the National Trust’s newest Historic Site, at which, appropriately, the champagne being served was none other than Mumm.
The Cottage is being unveiled after a years-long, $17 million makeover that restored it to the look-and-feel it had when Lincoln and his family spent time there during his presidency.
If you’re expecting Versailles, or even the relative splendor of the White House, think again. Though quite large, the home is modestly appointed, and the spare furnishings placed intermittently throughout—a few chairs, some books, a checkerboard table—speak to a man seeking a bit of solitude amidst simple things. The Lincoln family transported furniture between the Cottage and the White House each season, a practice that probably encouraged them to pack lightly and furnish sparingly. A Washington Post article last week noted that Lincoln breakfasted at the Cottage on an egg and coffee before setting off on his daily commute to the White House, and after spending an evening there, that Spartan meal seems perfectly suited both to Lincoln and to the elegantly simple Cottage itself.
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