Acting White House Hostess. The favorite niece of 15th United States President James Buchanan, she was hostess for her bachelor uncle during his term on the White House from 1857 to 1861. After her parents died her uncle took her and her brother James into his home and raised them both. During the 4 years she lived in the White House her uncle presided over impending sectional crisis that resulted in the Civil War. After the Civil War was over she married Henry Elliott Johnston on January 11, 1866 at her uncle's estate “Wheatland” in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at the age of 36. With her husband she founded the Choir School of Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Washington D.C. and the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children, John Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland (which was prompted by the death of her two young sons). In her will she left a very large collection of art that she acquired from all over the world to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. These pieces of art were the start of the National Art Gallery in Washington D.C. She died at 73 years old from cancer, and was laid to rest next to her husband and their two sons.
Bio by: TM
Henry Elliot Johnston