Demerest Landau

A.T. Demerest No. 951, New York
The Landau is a carriage of German origin, and was first built in the Bavarian town of Landau.  Designed sometime before 1750, it remained a perennial favorite since it was easily converted fro a closed carriage to an open one.  The roof opens in the center and collapses behind each of the two facing seats.  The doors have step covers which guard the steps from being soiled while the doors are closed.  The steps are uncovered as the door is opened.

Industrialization in the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century created new markets for luxury goods.  Wealthier individuals turned to luxury vehicles, many of which were designed to be driven by a coachman, not the owner.  The Landau falls into this class of coachman driven.  American-made vehicles of this class were understated in appearance, with subtle, if not somber, exteriors.  The expression of luxury was reserved for carriage interiors, which were trimmed in silk, satin, and morocco (a fine leather used in carriage trimming, made from goat’s skin and finished without oil or grease) and edged in the finest broadlace.  customers could order optional accessories such as folding vanities, cigar boxes and even vases for fresh-cut flowers.

During the height of the Carriage Era in the United States, approximately 1850 to 1910, coachman- and owner-driven vehicles filled carriage houses in cities and in fashionable summer resorts.  These vehicles were as integral a part of social life as the fashion and the behavior in the etiquette books or social guides of the day.  The size and conformation of the horses, the proportion and finish of carriage, the fit of the harness and the neatness of the coachman’s and the groom’s livery were prescribed as indicators of good taste.

The owners of elegant vehicles delighted in driving in the park, an arena for displaying to onlookers their wealth, status and taste through the fittings of their vehicles and attendants.  New York’s Central Park, for example, built between 1857 and 1876, was designed for carriage driving as much as for the enjoyment of less affluent pedestrians.

The coachman who drove such elegant vehicles was essential to the management of both the vehicles and the horses that contributed to the social status of his employer.  The size, weight and appearance of the coachman and groom were dictated by fashion to fit the proportions of a particular carriage.  The coachman’s conduct had to be exemplary and his work day was often long.  When a carriage was called for at a specific time and the coachman and other stable help would prepare the horses, harness and vehicle and would attire themselves in the appropriate livery.  The coachman was expected to wait long periods of time while his employer paid social visits, shopped or attended dinner parties and balls.

This example was purchased by Stewart Morris and Stewart Morris, Jr.  The interior is black leather, trimmed with broadlace.  It was built by the A.T. Demerest Carriage Company which was started in 1860 by Mr. Demerest, when he was 19 years of age.  He operated the company until his death in 1908.  The Demerest vehicles were of finest quality as exhibited by this carriage.

Benito Juarez, (1806-0872), was President of Mexico from 1861 until his death in 1872.  During the time Archduke Maximillian of Austria was emperor of Mexico, Juarez was a wandering president and his travels took him to El Paso del Norte and Chihuahua.  Between 1863 and 1867, Juarez and his administration moved so frequently that the President’s carriage became known as the “government on wheels.”

The former owner of this Landau was Otto Kittleson, German Consul in Chihuahua.  Juarez lived in Kittleson’s home, as temporary presidential headquarters, until Maximillian was executed and Juarez returned in triumph to Mexico City.  Juarez is known as the great reformer and father of the constitution of Mexico.

A Brief History of the Presidency of Benito Juarez

Mexican President Benito Juarez, known as the president who ruled from a carriage, was forced to leave Mexico City on May 31, 1863 and traveled to Queretaro and then on to Dolores, Guanajuato.

On June 7, the French troops marched into Mexico City.  Benito Juarez moved to San Luis Potosi, where he established his government.

Then, on December 20, Juarez left San Luis Potosi and sent to Saltillo.  He then traveled to Monterrey where he stayed until August 15.  When that city came under attack he traveled to the neighboring states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuilla and arrived in Chihuahua City on October 12, 1864.

Later Juarez received word that a new attack was coming soon upon his government and left Chihuahua on August 5, 1865 for El Paso Del Norte, now known as Ciudad Juarez, which is across the Rio Grande River from El Paso.

Juarez’ term as President of Mexico was coming to an end and, on August 5, he decreed that he would not turn over the office of the President to a new President unless the war was over.

Benito Juarez went back to Chihuahua City and, in January of 1867, he traveled from Chihuahua to Druango to Zacatecas and then to San Luis Potosi.  In Mexico City, Maximillion was taken prisoner and many people tried to plea with Juarez to let him go but Juarez had him tried.  Maximillion then faced a firing squad on June 19, 2867 at 7:15 am.

Onl July 15, 1867, Juarez entered Mexico City with a great victory.  Benito Juarez immediately ordered the presidential elections so the country could move forward and he was re-elected as President.

Benito Juarez died July 19, 1872, and will always be remembered for the speech in which he stated “Between individuals as well as between nations, respect for the rights of others leads to peace.”

From the collection of:

Stewart Morris and Stewart Morris, Jr.
File # A.13 | Catalogue No. SM.LN.ATD. | 12/92, 4/92, 9/92
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