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White House, previously Executive Mansion (1810–1901), the official office and also residence the the president of the United states at 1600 Pennsylvania way N.W. In Washington, D.C. That is perhaps the many famous and easily recognizable home in the world, serving as both the home and also workplace that the president and also the headquarters that the president’s principal staff members.



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

The building’s history begins in 1792, when a public competition was hosted to select a architecture for a presidential residence in the brand-new capital city of Washington. Cutting board Jefferson, later the country’s third president (1801–09), making use of the pseudonymous initials “A.Z.,” was amongst those who submitted drawings, but Irish American architect James Hoban winner the commission (and a $500 prize) v his setup for a Georgian mansion in the Palladian style. The structure was to have actually three floors and much more than 100 rooms and also would be built in sandstone imported indigenous quarries along Aquia Creek in Virginia. The cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1792. Labourers, consisting of local enslaved people, to be housed in short-term huts built on the north side of the premises. They to be joined by expert stonemasons native Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1793.

In 1800 the whole federal federal government was relocated indigenous Philadelphia come Washington. Man Adams, the country’s 2nd president (1797–1801), moved right into the still unfinished presidential mansion top top November 1 and the next night created in a letter come his wife, Abigail Adams:

I Pray heaven Bestow the finest of blessings on This House and also All that shall hereafter inhabit it. Might none but Honest and Wise men ever rule under this Roof.

At the insistence the Pres. Franklin Roosevelt (1933–45), the quotation was inscribed top top the fireplace that the State Dining Room immediately below the portrait the Abraham Lincoln, by George Healy.

When Abigail Adams lastly arrived in Washington number of days later, she to be disappointed v the inadequate state of the residence. The very first lady wrote,

There is not a solitary apartment finished. We have actually not the least fence, yard, or other convenience outside. I usage the an excellent unfinished audience room as a dry room for hanging up the clothes.

The White home in the 19th century

The mansion quickly ended up being a focal point of the new federal city and also was symbolically attached to the United states Capitol by way of Pennsylvania Avenue. Adhering to his inauguration in march 1801, Jefferson became the 2nd president come reside in the executive mansion. In keeping with his ardent republicanism, he opened the residence to windy visitation every morning, a heritage that was continued (during peacetime) by every his successors. The personally drew up landscaping plans and had two earthen mounds installed on the southern lawn to repeat him that his lover Virginia Piedmont. Meanwhile, construction continued ~ above the building’s interior, i beg your pardon still lacked ample staircases and also suffered native a persistently leaky roof. Throughout Jefferson’s tenure, the White house was elegantly furnished in luigi XVI format (known in America as commonwealth style).


During the war of 1812 the building was burned by the British, and also Pres. James Madison (1809–17) and his family members were forced to flee the city. The Madisons ultimately moved right into the adjacent Octagon House, the Washington mansion of man Tayloe, a Virginia plantation owner. Reconstruction and also expansion began under Hoban’s direction, however the structure was not all set for occupancy till 1817, during the management of Pres. James Monroe (1817–25). Hoban’s reconstruction included the addition of east and west terraces top top the key building’s flanks; a semicircular southern portico and a colonnaded phibìc portico were included in the 1820s.

During the 19th century the White House became a price of American democracy. In the psychic of many Americans, the building was not a “palace” from which the president ruled but merely a short-lived office and residence indigenous which he offered the civilization he governed. The White house belonged to the people, not the president, and the president inhabited it only for as lengthy as the people enabled him to stay. The idea that a chairman refusing to leave the White house after shedding an election or one impeachment trial was unthinkable.

The inauguration the Andrew Jackson (1829–37), the “people’s president,” attracted countless well-wishers to the nation’s capital. Together Jackson speak on horseback down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, that was surrounded by a frenetic throng of 20,000 people, many of whom attempted to follow him into the mansion to acquire a better look at their hero. A contemporary, Margaret Bayer Smith, recounts what occurred next: “The halls were filled v a disorderly rabble…scrambling because that the refreshments designed because that the drawing room.” when friends of the new president joined eight to defend him native the mob, “china and glass to the amount of numerous thousand dollars were damaged in the struggle to get at the ices and also cakes, though punch and other drinkables had actually been brought out in tubs and also buckets to the people.” claimed Supreme Court justice Joseph Story, “I to be glad to escape from the scene as soon as possible.” throughout his administration 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 dessert set decorated through an American eagle.

In 1842 the visit to the United claims of the English novelist Charles Dickens lugged an main invitation come the White House. After ~ his calls at the White residence door went unanswered, Dickens let self in and walked v the mansion native room come room on the lower and upper floors. Finally coming ~ above a room fill with virtually two dozen people, he to be shocked and appalled to see many of lock spitting ~ above the carpet. Dickens later on wrote, “I take it it because that granted the Presidential housemaids have high wages.” till the polite War, however, most White house servants were enslaved people. Moreover, the incomes of all White residence employees—as well as the prices for running the White House, including staging main functions—were paid for by the president. Not till 1909 walk Congress carry out appropriations to salary White house servants.

Dickens was no the only international visitor to it is in disappointed v the White House. Top top a expedition to Washington just prior to the civil War, Aleksandr Borisovich Lakier, a Russian nobleman, created that “the residence of the president…is barely visible behind the trees.” The White House, that said, to be “sufficient for a personal family and also not at all conforming to the expectation of a European.” Subsequent changes to the structure in the 19th century were reasonably minor. The internal was redecorated during various presidential managements and contemporary conveniences were regularly added, consisting of a frozen fridge in 1845, gas lighting in 1849, and electric light in 1891.

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