Living

A US president spent Christmas on the Coast in 1913. But a Confederate general wasn’t pleased.

The reception at the Dixie White House was Mississippi’s first presidential reception and President Woodrow Wilson’s first public reception since taking office. He and his family vacationed at Pass Christian from Christmas Day 1913 to Jan. 11, 1914.
The reception at the Dixie White House was Mississippi’s first presidential reception and President Woodrow Wilson’s first public reception since taking office. He and his family vacationed at Pass Christian from Christmas Day 1913 to Jan. 11, 1914. Courtesy Paul Jermyn Collection

Many longtime Mississippi Coast residents are probably aware President Woodrow Wilson and his family vacationed at Pass Christian from Christmas Day 1913 to Jan. 11, 1914.

The first family arrived at “Beaulieu,” the beach front home of Alice Herndon, in time for Christmas dinner. The home thereafter would be known as the “Dixie White House.”

This photo was taken in front of the home on Jan. 10, 1914. The occasion was a public reception, a way in which the president showed his appreciation for the way in which his wishes for rest and quite had been respected. A throng of 6,000 people including Confederate veterans to tiny children attended.

They came in automobiles, carriages, traps, farm wagons, saddle horses, trains and crowed trolley cars to shake hands with the president. The president’s daughter, Eleanor, pinned violets on the lapels of Confederate veterans, many of whom wiped tears from their eyes.

But, there was one unreconstructed rebel among them.

A Confederate general from Birmingham, Ala., in his uniform, shook hands with the president and presented him his card. On the reverse side were the words: “If I ever disown, repudiate, or apologize for the cause that Lee fought for, let the lightnings from heaven rend me.” Nonetheless, President Wilson was as gracious to him as to everyone else.

Murella Powell, a local historian, writes Flashback. To submit a photo, please send a description with your name, address and daytime phone number to Flashback, the Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535, or call 896-2424

  Comments