About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
November 15, 2016


Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m pleased you could join us today, whether you are here in the theater or watching on YouTube.

Today we welcome James Conroy to tell us about his new book, Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime. Our partner in presenting this program is the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, and we thank them for their support.

After the question-and-answer period, Mr. Conroy will sign books outside the shop, one level upstairs.

Before we hear about public and private life in the Civil War White House, I’d like to tell you about two other programs coming up this month.

On Friday, November 18, at noon, we’ll hear from Talmage Boston, whose new book is Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers From the Experts About Our Presidents. Boston interviewed Presidential insiders to get insights about America’s past that can help us better understand our present situation and provide a more informed expectation about our future.

And then on Wednesday, November 30, at noon, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Steve Twomey will tell us about his new book, Countdown to Pearl Harbor: Twelve Days to the Attack.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events in print or online at Archives.gov. There are copies in the lobby—along with a sign-up sheet so you can receive it by regular mail or email. You’ll also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

A few blocks away, at the Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership, you can see a 34-foot-tall tower of books representing the wealth of information published about Abraham Lincoln. The resources behind those thousands of books are preserved in both government archives and private manuscript collections.

In the National Archives alone, we have hundreds of thousands of records pertaining to Lincoln’s administration—from both the military and civilian components of the executive branch as well as from the legislative and judicial branches. Letters, telegrams, treaties, photographs, political cartoons, and maps all document this pivotal and transformational time in our nation’s history.

As President Lincoln was making the decisions documented in those records, the White House teemed with activity. Since its construction, the Executive Mansion has been both family home and hub of government. The wartime White House was filled with friends, aides, officials, and favor-seekers.

The written record left behind by those who walked those halls allow us a glimpse of the day-to-day life for the Lincolns and their associates. Having examined those records, today’s speaker, James Conroy, will guide us through the mansion doors and into the public and private spaces that surrounded Lincoln and his family.

James Conroy is an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and has been a trial lawyer in Boston for more than 30 years. In addition to Lincoln’s White House, he is the author of Our One Common Country: Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865, which was a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for 2014. Conroy served on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, as a House and Senate aide in the 1970s and early 1980s and earned his J.D. degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1982.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome James Conroy.