In 1862 Congress authorized the expenditure of $1,000 to illuminate public buildings in Washington, D.C. on the evening of February 22nd in commemoration of George Washington’s Birthday. However, members of the cabinet requested that those plans for the public buildings be called off out of respect for President Lincoln in his “affliction”. 150 years ago today William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln died, possibly of typhoid fever.
From The New-York Times February 22, 1862:
NEWS FROM WASHINGTON.; Sympathy of Congress for the President and his Family. …
WASHINGTON, Friday, Feb. 21.
The funeral of the President’s son will take place next Monday.
The following was addressed to the Senate and House of Representatives, but Congress adjourned before it was transmitted to them:
The President of the United States was last evening plunged into affliction by the death of a beloved child. The Heads of Departments, in consideration of this distressing event, have thought it would be agreeable to Congress, and to the American people, that the official and private buildings occupied by them, should not be illuminated in the evening of the 22d inst. (Signed)
WM. H. SEWARD, S.P. CHASE,
E.M. STANTON, GIDEON WELLES,
EDWARD BATES, M. BLAIR.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 1862.
The Cabinet held their meeting at the State Department. The public buildings will not therefore be illuminated, the arrangements for that purpose being suspended.