The same rules of etiquette prevail at state dinners given by the President as at any formal dinner, precedence being given to guests according to official rank and dignity. An invitation by the President must be accepted, and it is admissible to break any other engagement already made; however, it is necessary to explain the cause, in order to avoid giving offense. It is not regarded as discourteous to break an engagement for this reason.
The wife of the President is not under obligation to return calls, though she may visit those whom she wishes to favor with such attentions. Other members of the President’s family may receive and return calls.
NEW-YEAR’S RECEPTIONS AT THE WHITE HOUSE.
As the New-Year’s receptions at the White House are the most ceremonious occasions of the executive mansion, it is the custom of the ladies who attend them to appear in the most elegant toilets suited to a morning reception. Members of foreign legations appear in the court dresses of their respective countries on this occasion, in paying their respects to the President of the United States.
ORDER OF OFFICIAL RANK.
Next in rank to the President come the Chief Justice, the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. These receive first visits from all others. The General of the army and the Admiral of the navy come next in the order of official rank. Members of the House of Representatives call first on all the officials named. The wife of any official is entitled to the same social precedence as her husband. Among officers of the army and navy, the Lieutenant-General corresponds to the Vice-Admiral, the Major-General to Rear-Admiral, Brigadier-General to Commodore, Colonel to Captain in the navy, and so on through the lower grades.
THE CABINET OFFICERS.
The officers of the cabinet, comprising the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, the War, the Navy, the Postmaster-General, the Secretary of the Interior and Attorney-General, expect to receive calls, and as all the officers are of the same rank and dignity, it is only on occasions of State ceremonies that an order of preference is observed, which is as above given. The wives of the cabinet officers, or the ladies of their household, have onerous social duties to perform. They hold receptions every Wednesday during the season, which lasts from the first of January to Lent, when their houses are open to all who choose to favor them with a call, and on these occasions refreshments are served. The ladies of the family are expected to return these calls, at which time they leave the card of the cabinet officer, and an invitation to an evening reception. The cabinet officers are expected to entertain Senators, Representatives, Justices of the Supreme Court, members