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Lucretia Garfield, Inaugural Gown

First Lady 1881
Lucretia Garfield wore this oyster satin and lace gown to the 1881 inaugural ball held in the U.S. National Museum building, now known as the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building. As the Washington Post. reported on March 5, 1881, "Mrs. Garfield's [costume] was a reception dress of delicately shaded lavender satin. The train was finished with a small box plaiting of the same material. The heart-shaped corsage was ornamented with white pointe lace, and the elbow sleeves finished with the same trimming." Mrs. Garfield's term as First Lady, was brief, however. On July 2, 1881, her husband, James Garfield, was shot, and for three months he fought a losing battle for his life. "Crete," as he called her, participated in his public memorial services--the first president's widow to do so. She later helped organize and preserve Garfield's papers.

Gift of Mrs. G. Stanley-Brown and the Garfield children, 1921
Lucretia Randolph Garfield (1832-1918)

Learn more!
· Lucretia Rudolph Garfield (1832-1918)
· James A. Garfield, Twentieth President, March-September 1881
· "If the Johnnies Get into Power," James A. Garfield campaign song
· The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden - An NMAH Virtual Exhibition

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