Then he added, “Resolute Desk! This is what he’s resolute about.”
The Resolute Desk is one of the most powerful and heavy — it weighs more than 1,000 pounds — symbols of the American presidency. The desk has been used by almost every U.S. president since Queen Victoria presented it to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.
In the annals of reclaimed wood carpentry, the story of the Resolute Desk is epic.
A plaque attached to it tells its history:
H.M.S. ‘Resolute’, forming part of the expedition sent in search of Sir John Franklin in 1852, was abandoned in Latitude 74º 41′ N. Longitude 101º 22′ W. on 15th May 1854. She was discovered and extricated in September 1855, in Latitude 67º N. by Captain Buddington of the United States Whaler ‘George Henry’. The ship was purchased, fitted out and sent to England, as a gift to Her Majesty Queen Victoria by the President and People of the United States, as a token of goodwill & friendship. This table was made from her timbers when she was broken up, and is presented by the Queen of Great Britain & Ireland, to the President of the United States, as a memorial of the courtesy and loving kindness which dictated the offer of the gift of the “Resolute'.
From 1880 through 1902, the desk was used in the president’s residence on the second floor, according to the White House Historical Association. After Harry S. Truman renovated the White House between 1948 and 1952, the desk was moved to the ground floor Broadcast Room, where President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to the country via radio and TV.
The Resolute Desk was moved to the Oval Office in 1961 by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who discovered it tucked away and forgotten in storage. Her daughter Caroline Kennedy used to play inside the kneehole of the desk and was often photographed there.
Presidents have made history sitting at the desk, planning wars, plotting political strategy and signing bills that have changed the country.
The desk remains an object of fascination for White House history buffs.
In fact, the JFK Library in Boston sells a copy — for $6,999.99.
“This extraordinary Victorian replica boasts letter and file drawers hidden behind doors with metal pulls along with three shallow drawers up top to hold your mighty presidential pen,” the library’s sale listing says. “Sure to be the signature piece in home or office, this stunning work is almost unparalleled among pieces that carry a rich American history.”
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