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White House, formerly Executive Mansion (1810–1901), the official office & residence of the president of the United States at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. In Washington, D.C. It is perhaps the most famous & easily recognizable house in the world, serving as both the trang chủ and workplace of the president và the headquarters of the president’s principal staff members.


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White House, drawing by James Hoban
Drawing of the elevation of the nhà trắng by James Hoban, 1792; in the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.
Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore

The building’s history begins in 1792, when a public competition was held khổng lồ choose a kiến thiết for a presidential residence in the new capital city of Washington. Thomas Jefferson, later the country’s third president (1801–09), using the pseudonymous initials “A.Z.,” was among those who submitted drawings, but Irish American architect James Hoban won the commission (and a $500 prize) with his plan for a Georgian mansion in the Palladian style. The structure was to lớn have three floors và more than 100 rooms and would be built in sandstone imported from quarries along Aquia Creek in Virginia. The cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1792. Labourers, including local enslaved people, were housed in temporary huts built on the north side of the premises. They were joined by skilled stonemasons from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1793.

In 1800 the entire federal government was relocated from Philadelphia khổng lồ Washington. John Adams, the country’s second president (1797–1801), moved into the still unfinished presidential mansion on November 1 & the next night wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams:

I Pray Heaven Bestow the Best of Blessings on This House & All that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but Honest & Wise Men ever rule under this Roof.

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

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When Abigail Adams finally arrived in Washington several days later, she was disappointed with the inadequate state of the residence. The first lady wrote,

There is not a single apartment finished. We have not the least fence, yard, or other convenience outside. I use the great unfinished audience room as a drying room for hanging up the clothes.

The white house nhà trắng in the 19th century

The mansion quickly became a focal point of the new federal city and was symbolically linked to the United States Capitol by way of Pennsylvania Avenue. Following his inauguration in March 1801, Jefferson became the second president khổng lồ reside in the executive mansion. In keeping with his ardent republicanism, he opened the house to public visitation each morning, a tradition that was continued (during peacetime) by all his successors. He personally drew up landscaping plans và had two earthen mounds installed on the south lawn to remind him of his beloved Virginia Piedmont. Meanwhile, construction continued on the building’s interior, which still lacked ample staircases and suffered from a persistently leaky roof. During Jefferson’s tenure, the white house nhà trắng was elegantly furnished in Louis XVI style (known in America as Federal style).


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During the War of 1812 the building was burned by the British, and Pres. James Madison (1809–17) & his family were forced lớn flee the city. The Madisons eventually moved into the nearby Octagon House, the Washington mansion of John Tayloe, a Virginia plantation owner. Reconstruction and expansion began under Hoban’s direction, but the building was not ready for occupancy until 1817, during the administration of Pres. James Monroe (1817–25). Hoban’s reconstruction included the addition of east & west terraces on the main building’s flanks; a semicircular south portico và a colonnaded north portico were added in the 1820s.


During the 19th century the nhà trắng became a symbol of American democracy. In the minds of most Americans, the building was not a “palace” from which the president ruled but merely a temporary office and residence from which he served the people he governed. The nhà trắng belonged to lớn the people, not the president, và the president occupied it only for as long as the people allowed him to stay. The idea of a president refusing to leave the nhà trắng after losing an election or an impeachment trial was unthinkable.

The inauguration of Andrew Jackson (1829–37), the “people’s president,” attracted thousands of well-wishers to the nation’s capital. As Jackson rode on horseback down Pennsylvania Avenue to lớn the trắng House, he was surrounded by a frenetic throng of 20,000 people, many of whom attempted khổng lồ follow him into the mansion lớn get a better look at their hero. A contemporary, Margaret Bayer Smith, recounts what happened next: “The halls were filled with a disorderly rabble…scrambling for the refreshments designed for the drawing room.” While friends of the new president joined arms to lớn protect him from the mob, “china và glass lớn the amount of several thousand dollars were broken in the struggle to lớn get at the ices & cakes, though punch và other drinkables had been carried out in tubs & buckets lớn the people.” Said Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, “I was glad to escape from the scene as soon as possible.” During his administration Jackson spent more than $50,000 refurbishing the residence, including $10,000 on decorations for the East Room and more than $4,000 on a sterling silver dinner and dessert phối decorated with an American eagle.


In 1842 the visit to lớn the United States of the English novelist Charles Dickens brought an official invitation lớn the white House. After his calls at the white house nhà trắng door went unanswered, Dickens let himself in and walked through the mansion from room to room on the lower & upper floors. Finally coming upon a room filled with nearly two dozen people, he was shocked and appalled khổng lồ see many of them spitting on the carpet. Dickens later wrote, “I take it for granted the Presidential housemaids have high wages.” Until the Civil War, however, most white house servants were enslaved people. Moreover, the wages of all white house employees—as well as the expenses for running the white House, including staging official functions—were paid for by the president. Not until 1909 did Congress provide appropriations to lớn pay white house servants.

Dickens was not the only foreign visitor to be disappointed with the white House. On a trip lớn Washington just before the Civil War, Aleksandr Borisovich Lakier, a Russian nobleman, wrote that “the trang chủ of the president…is barely visible behind the trees.” The trắng House, he said, was “sufficient for a private family and not at all conforming lớn the expectations of a European.” Subsequent changes khổng lồ the building in the 19th century were relatively minor. The interior was redecorated during various presidential administrations & modern conveniences were regularly added, including a refrigerator in 1845, gas lighting in 1849, và electric lighting in 1891.

The white house nhà trắng was the scene of mourning after the assassination of Pres. Abraham Lincoln (1861–65). While Mary Todd Lincoln lay in her room for five weeks grieving for her husband, many white house holdings were looted. Responding khổng lồ charges that she had stolen government property when she left the trắng House, she angrily inventoried all the items she had taken with her, including gifts of quilts và waxworks from well-wishers.

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