February 04, 1837
Andrew Jackson’s BIG Cheese Tasting
The most famous cheese in American history is the subject of this letter. A gift of the dairymen of Oswego County, New York, to Andrew Jackson in 1835, it weighed 1,400 pounds, was four feet in diameter and two feet thick, and arrived at the White House in a cart pulled by twenty-four horses. Deposited in the vestibule, it remained there two years, aging; whereupon Jackson announced that on Washington’s birthday, 1837, at his last big reception before leaving the White House, he would hold a cheese tasting…
I intend to have eaten on the 22nd instant, my large cheese, presented by my friends of the state of N. York - can you… be here & partake of the feast… & any of your friends who may wish to accompany you - it will be my last & only possible day.
On the day of the cheese tasting, Washington closed early and, seemingly, then descended on the White House. The crowds were such that those who could not get in by the front door, entered by the windows. Every possible place was filled, with the widest variety of people: rag-a-muffins mixed with diplomats in full dress. Jackson, looking thin, emaciated and exhausted, left early, and President-elect Van Buren had to take over the handshaking. Within two hours, mercifully, the cheese was devoured. Likewise ravaged was the White House itself: its floor and carpets were demolished, and the mansion reeked of cheddar for months.
But as Jackson readied to leave one mansion, he was also preparing to move into another. His beloved Hermitage, which had burned in 1834, was being refurbished under the supervision of his son and daughter-in-law, and here too he discusses the ordering of furniture and paying of bills. Another thing on his mind was his feet: he also asks Toland for socks and stockings.
Autograph Letter Signed, as President, 3 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Washington, February 4, 1837. To Henry Toland in Philadelphia.
With Free Frank.