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White House, formerly Executive Mansion (1810–1901), the main office and also residence the the chairman of the United states at 1600 Pennsylvania path N.W. In Washington, D.C. It is maybe the many famous and easily recognizable home in the world, serving together both the home and workplace of the president and the headquarters that the president’s principal staff members.


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White House, illustration by James Hoban
Drawing the the key of the White home by James Hoban, 1792; in the Maryland historic Society, Baltimore.
Courtesy the the Maryland historical Society, Baltimore

The building’s background begins in 1792, as soon as a windy competition was held to select a design for a presidential residence in the new capital city of Washington. Thomas Jefferson, later the country’s 3rd president (1801–09), making use of the pseudonymous initials “A.Z.,” was amongst those that submitted drawings, however Irish American architect James Hoban winner the commission (and a $500 prize) with his arrangement for a Georgian mansion in the Palladian style. The framework was to have three floors and an ext than 100 rooms and also would be developed in sandstone imported native quarries follow me Aquia Creek in Virginia. The cornerstone to be laid ~ above October 13, 1792. Labourers, including local enslaved people, to be housed in short-lived huts developed on the north next of the premises. They were joined by skilled stonemasons from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1793.

In 1800 the whole federal government was relocated indigenous Philadelphia come Washington. Man Adams, the country’s second president (1797–1801), moved right into the still unfinished presidential mansion top top November 1 and the next night created in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams:


I Pray heaven Bestow the finest of blessing on This House and also All the shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise males ever ascendancy under this Roof.

At the insistence the Pres. Franklin Roosevelt (1933–45), the quotation to be inscribed ~ above the fireplace that the State Dining Room automatically below the portrait that Abraham Lincoln, by George Healy.

When Abigail Adams ultimately arrived in Washington number of days later, she to be disappointed through the insufficient state of the residence. The first lady wrote,

There is no a solitary apartment finished. We have not the the very least fence, yard, or various other convenience outside. I use the an excellent unfinished audience room together a drying room for hanging up the clothes.

The White residence in the 19th century

The mansion quickly ended up being a focal allude of the new federal city and was symbolically attached to the United states Capitol by method of Pennsylvania Avenue. Complying with his inauguration in march 1801, Jefferson became the second president come reside in the executive, management mansion. In keeping with his ardent republicanism, he opened the house to windy visitation each morning, a heritage that was ongoing (during peacetime) by every his successors. He personally drew up landscaping plans and had two earthen mounds set up on the south lawn to remind him that his lovely Virginia Piedmont. Meanwhile, construction continued on the building’s interior, i beg your pardon still short ample staircases and also suffered indigenous a persistently leaky roof. Throughout Jefferson’s tenure, the White house was elegantly furnished in luigi XVI style (known in America as federal style).


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During the war of 1812 the structure was burned by the British, and also Pres. James Madison (1809–17) and also his household were required to flee the city. The Madisons eventually moved right into the adjacent Octagon House, the Washington mansion of man Tayloe, a Virginia plantation owner. Reconstruction and expansion began under Hoban’s direction, yet the structure was not ready for occupancy till 1817, during the administration of Pres. James Monroe (1817–25). Hoban’s reconstruction had the enhancement of east and west terraces top top the main building’s flanks; a semicircular south portico and also a colonnaded north portico were included in the 1820s.


During the 19th century the White House became a prize of American democracy. In the psychic of many Americans, the building was no a “palace” from which the chairman ruled however merely a momentary office and residence native which he offered the world he governed. The White home belonged come the people, no the president, and also the president lived in it just for as long as the people permitted him to stay. The idea that a chairman refusing to leave the White house after shedding an choice or an impeachment trial was unthinkable.

The inauguration that Andrew Jackson (1829–37), the “people’s president,” attracted countless well-wishers come the nation’s capital. As Jackson talk on horseback down Pennsylvania Avenue come the White House, the was surrounding by a frenetic throng that 20,000 people, plenty of of whom attempted to monitor him into the mansion to obtain a much better look at your hero. A contemporary, Margaret Bayer Smith, recounts what occurred next: “The halls were filled with a disorderly rabble…scrambling for the refreshments designed for the drawing room.” when friends that the brand-new president joined eight to defend him native the mob, “china and glass to the amount of numerous thousand dollars were damaged in the battle to get at the ices and cakes, though punch and also other drinkables had actually been brought out in tubs and also buckets to the people.” stated Supreme Court righteousness Joseph Story, “I was glad to escape from the step as quickly as possible.” throughout his management Jackson spent much more than $50,000 refurbishing the residence, consisting of $10,000 top top decorations because that the east Room and much more than $4,000 ~ above a sterling silver dinner and also dessert collection decorated v an American eagle.


In 1842 the visit come the United claims of the English novelist Charles Dickens lugged an official invitation to the White House. After ~ his calls at the White residence door went unanswered, Dickens let himself in and also walked v the mansion native room to room on the lower and also upper floors. Finally coming ~ above a room to fill with almost two dozen people, he to be shocked and also appalled to see countless of castle spitting ~ above the carpet. Dickens later on wrote, “I take it for granted the Presidential housemaids have high wages.” till the polite War, however, most White home servants to be enslaved people. Moreover, the earnings of all White home employees—as well together the expenses for running the White House, including staging official functions—were paid because that by the president. Not until 1909 go Congress administer appropriations to pay White residence servants.

Dickens was not the only foreign visitor to it is in disappointed with the White House. ~ above a trip to Washington just before the polite War, Aleksandr Borisovich Lakier, a Russian nobleman, composed that “the residence of the president…is barely visible behind the trees.” The White House, he said, to be “sufficient because that a private family and also not at all conforming come the expectation of a European.” Subsequent changes to the structure in the 19th century were reasonably minor. The inner was redecorated during various presidential managements and modern-day conveniences were frequently added, including a refrigerator in 1845, gas bright in 1849, and also electric lighting in 1891.

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The White house was the step of mourning after the assassination that Pres. Abraham Lincoln (1861–65). While mary Todd Lincoln lay in she room for five weeks grieving for she husband, countless White home holdings to be looted. Responding to charges that she had actually stolen federal government property once she left the White House, she angrily inventoried every the items she had taken v her, including gifts of quilts and also waxworks indigenous well-wishers.