Just one example of what etiquette authorities were saying regarding Washington and wives of the President-
Duffey on Washingtonian Etiquette-
WASHINGTON ETIQUETTE AND ETIQUETTE OF FOREIGN COURTS.
CHAPTER I. SOCIAL ETIQUETTE AT WASHINGTON.
The wife of the chief-justice, and not the wife of the President, is the first lady in the land, and takes precedence of all others. She holds receptions and receives calls, but she alone is excluded from all duty of returning calls.
The life of a lady in society at Washington is exceedingly onerous, and more especially so if she be the wife of any official. Next in rank comes the wife of the President.
SOCIAL DUTIES OF THE PRESIDENT.
It is made the duty of the President to give several state dinners and official receptions during each session of Congress. Besides these, there are the general receptions, at which time the White House is open to the public and every citizen of the United States has a recognized right to pay his respects to the President.
On the days of the regular " levees " the doors of the White House are thrown open, and the world is indiscriminately invited to enter them. No " court "-dress is required to make one presentable at this republican court, but every one dresses according to his or her own means, taste or fancy. The fashionable carriage- or walking-dress is seen side by side with the uncouth homespun and homemade of the backwoodsman and his wife.