The original White House was neither white, nor referred to as a house. The first President of the United States lived in three houses while President, none of which were the White House, as it was not completed while he was President. The White House was first referred to as the Presidential Palace, later the Presidential house, and finally the White House, after the war of 1812 when British troops attacked and burned the house. When it was rebuilt it was painted white, and the name White House was born.
An Interesting Fact about the White House
When George Washington was deciding where to build it, there was some controversy as to whether it should stand in the North or on the property of the South. Washington finally picked land between the two, and Maryland and Virginia, who were on the border, were happy to donate the land on which the White House now stands, neither north nor South, but in a district, the District of Columbia.
The Oval Office, a Symbol of the Modern Day President
For President Taft, the Oval Office may have symbolized his view of the modern-day president. Taft intended to be the center of his administration, and by creating the Oval Office in the center of the West Wing, he was more involved with the day-to-day operation of his presidency than were his recent predecessors.
What President Taft could not imagine in 1902 when he built the Oval Office was that the office itself would become a symbol of the Presidency. Over the years, Americans developed a sentimental attachment to the Oval Office through memorable images, such as John Kennedy, Jr. peering through the front panel of his father’s desk or President Nixon talking on the phone with astronauts after a successful voyage. Television broadcasts, such as President Reagan’s speech following the Challenger explosion, would leave lasting impressions in the minds of Americans of both the office and its occupant.
The Oval Office became a symbol of strength and reassurance the evening of September 11, 2001, when President George W. Bush delivered comforting words through a televised address from the Oval Office. Less than six months later, President George W. Bush welcomed Afghan Interim Authority Hamid Karzai to the Oval Office. The meeting was a sign of significant progress in the war on terrorism.
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