White House aides work herculean hours for limited pay. To maintain morale, Presidents—like bosses everywhere—sometimes try to augment the paycheck with an occasional gift. Of course, when you’re POTUS, even a holiday tchotchke can be memorable. Some examples:
When he left the White House in 1909, Theodore Roosevelt and his family gave gifts to the residence staff. Chief usher Ike Hoover got a pair of pince-nez eyeglasses that had been worn by Teddy himself.
Franklin Roosevelt regularly gave items to the entire White House staff, including in 1940, when he provided them with a key chain bearing a figurine of FDR’s beloved Scottish terrier, Fala.
Each year, Harry Truman offered his staff presents that corresponded to external events. For Christmas 1948, after he won a surprise election victory, it was a leather bookmark with the words “I would rather have peace in the world than be President.”
In Dwight Eisenhower’s first year, he bestowed on his staff a picture of a painting that the ex-general had made of Abraham Lincoln.
This article appears in the December 2021 issue of Washingtonian.