Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Excerpt From a Letter Thanking Nicholas G. Morgan, Sr., for a Plate Originally Part of the Lincoln Dinner Service.

March 06, 1965

THE WHITE HOUSE today acquired a Lincoln dinner plate which has been missing since the days of President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Haviland china dish is the gift of Nicholas G. Morgan, Sr., an 80-year-old attorney of Salt Lake City and a former secretary of William Howard Taft when he was Secretary of War.

President Johnson received the plate in the mail today and in a letter of acknowledgment to Mr. Morgan said:

"The story you tell of the way that the china found its way into your hands is an interesting one and it is a generous act indeed for you to return it to the White House so that all of us now, and in future generations, can enjoy it.

"It would be most appropriate for it to be replaced in the collection on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's Second Inauguration and that is being done today.

"Mrs. Johnson joins me in warm appreciation for making possible this restoration of part of our national heritage. We are particularly pleased that you are doing this in connection with that fine gentleman, President David O. McKay."

Mr. Morgan wrote President Johnson last week, enclosing a photograph of a three-shelf china cabinet in the White House, displaying the Haviland china of the Lincoln Administration.

"You will note," wrote Mr. Morgan to the President, "that in the lower, left-hand corner on the bottom shelf, that a plate is missing. I have that plate."

He explained how the china piece came into his possession. During Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, Mr. Morgan's uncle, James Morgan, who for many years was editor of the Boston Globe, was visiting the White House and commented on the beauty of the dishes, adding: "My wife certainly would be thrilled to own one of those plates."

President Roosevelt, wrote Mr. Morgan, stepped over to the cabinet, took out a plate from the lower left-hand corner, and presented it to Mr. Morgan.

"After Uncle James' death," said Mr. Morgan, "his widow, Aunt Helen, presented the plate to me and now, President Johnson, I am sending to you by mail the long lost Lincoln dinner plate. This is the result of your kindness to our beloved President David O. McKay."

The distinctive features of the Lincoln dishes, imported from the Haviland firm at Liraoges, France, are the deep borders of royal purple and the inset of the American Eagle, wings spread and resting on the U.S. Shield.

Note: The reference to President David O. McKay was to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Excerpt From a Letter Thanking Nicholas G. Morgan, Sr., for a Plate Originally Part of the Lincoln Dinner Service. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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