Indoor personal hygiene options were at a relatively early stage when Abraham Lincoln lived in the White House. While sources contend that Millard Fillmore was the first U.S. President to enjoy indoor plumbing while residing in the White House from 1850 to 1853, a 1989 article about White House plumbing in Plumbing and Mechanical magazine reports that Lincoln may have been “the first President of the United States to splash his way to cleanliness in a White House bathtub, the first tub having been installed during his presidency.”
This is precisely the kind of thing that I like to see and learn about when I see a historical film of any kind. What did everything smell like back then? How well did contraptions work? What kind of soaps, perfumes, bath towels and scented fragrances did they use? Did bathrooms have absorbent floor mats or did water just collect in pools on the marble or hard-tiled floors? Did the toilets function fairly well for the most part or were there issues? Did general stores sell rounded rolls of toilet paper like they do today, etc.?
This is what I want, partly, from Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. Not just toilet and bathtub information but various hints of the quality and texture of life in the 1860s. Imagine how amazing it would be if Spielberg had decided to present the film in Smellovision or Aroma-rama, then we’d have an idea of what the White House might have actually smelled like from time to time. Think of the transportation!
Will we get this kind of thing from Lincoln? Of course not. Will there be even a fragmentary amount of quality-of-life information? Doubtful. You know Spielberg. Half the time he was shooting Lincoln he was probably preparing for Robopocalypse.