Many ties between White House, All Souls

by W. Winston Skinner

Eleanor Roosevelt found a haven where she could lunch with white and black women at All Souls Unitarian.

The historic church also has connections with many other White House residents. Among them are:

• John Quincy Adams was secretary of state when he was a founding member of the church. He later served as president, signing the documents that made the Creek lands, including Coweta County, part of the state of Georgia. John C. Calhoun, who was later vice president, was also a founding member.

William Harris Crawford, a Georgia politician who ran against Adams and Andrew Jackson for president in 1824, contributed to the First Unitarian building fund. Crawford’s great-granddaughter, Mary Knight Perry, married Weyman Liston Carmichael, son of Coweta native and Union City founder Drewry Arthur Carmichael.

• James Monroe, while serving as president, donated $100 to the fund used to purchase a bell for the church.

• Millard Fillmore regularly worshipped at First Unitarian during his presidency.

• Abraham Lincoln attended at least one service while the congregation was meeting at the U.S. Senate chamber.

• Longtime member William Howard Taft and his wife, Nellie, attended the dedication service for the current church in 1924, as did the sitting president, Calvin Coolidge, and his wife, Grace. The Coolidges sat in pew — given in memory of Thomas Jefferson by the Laymen’s League.

• Then-Pres. Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou, attended Taft’s funeral.

• Special services were held at All Souls after the deaths of William McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Frederic A. Delano, FDR’s first cousin, was an active member at All Souls for years and once served as vice president of the American Unitarian Association.

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