In nothing is the difference between the Presidency today and in the nineteenth century more clearly symbolised than in the matter of accessibility. Today the President is closely guarded both for reasons of security and to save him from unreasonable calls on his time, and what is unreasonable is defined pretty strictly. For example, Mr. Walter Hickel, when he was Secretary of the Interior, found it impossible to get an interview with President Nixon on a matter he thought important. He took the desperate step of leaking his views to the press, and was dismissed for his pains.
Such an episode was inconceivable in the nineteenth century. Everyone knows the story of the reception at the White House on New Year's Day, 1863. So many people called to shake hands with Abraham Lincoln on that day, as was their right, that when he went upstairs to sign the Emancipation Proclamation he could hardly hold the pen steady. And everyone also knows the story of the riotous installation of Andrew Jackson in 1829.
It was then considered highly un-republican, indeed dangerously aristocratic, for a President to seclude himself; and Jackson, whose predecessor, John Quincy Adams, and successor, Martin Van Buren, were both ferociously criticised for their airs and graces (Adams's crime was that he had installed a billiards table in the White House) was particularly careful to give no cause for offence.