On NOVEMBER 1, 1800, John Adams became the first U.S. President to move into the White House. The following day he wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, in which he composed a beautiful prayer. A portion of John Adams’ prayer was inscribed on the mantelpiece in the State Dining Room by President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
John Adams described himself in 1811: “I have been a church-going animal for seventy-six years from the cradle.”
Beginning with Thomas Jefferson and continuing till after theCivil War, church services were held in the United States
Civil War, church services were held in the United States
Capitol Building. These services were attended by sitting
Presidents, where held each Sunday in the U.S. Capitol
House Chamber, with attendance reaching over 2,000, making it the largest Protestant Sabbath audience in the
nation. After the White House was finished being built, the next building constructed on Lafayette Square was
St. John’s Episcopal Church. James Madison was the first President to worship at St. John’s Episcopal Church,
referred to as “the Church of the Presidents.” His wife, Dolly Madison, was baptized and confirmed there.
The church’s 1,000 lbs. bell was cast by Paul Revere’s son. President John
Tyler paid to have pew 58 assigned to him, which was later renumbered
pew 54. This pew was used by Presidents James Monroe, John Quincy
Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren and William Henry
Harrison, and afterward permanently designated as “the President’s Pew”
as nearly all subsequent President’s worship there at least once.
President Abraham Lincoln joined evening prayer there throughout the Civil
War, sitting in inconspicuous pew near the rear. President Chester Arthur
installed a stained-glass window visible from the White House in honor of his
deceased wife. President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed there on his two
inauguration days. There are other historic Washington, D.C. area churches attended by Presidents:
George Washington attended Christ Church in Alexandria.
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