The Japanese Mission of 1860

The Japanese Mission of 1860

The U.S. and Japan signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in July 1858, and in February 1860 three samurai ambassadors and their entourage of 74 took a U.S. Navy frigate across the Pacific en route to Washington, where they would exchange the treaty’s instruments of ratification with the U.S. State Department.

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Lighting the White House: From Candles to Electric Lights

Lighting the White House: From Candles to Electric Lights

Designed to be lit in the way common to the world at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the President’s House in 1800 had natural light streaming in through windows that stretched 14 feet high and 5 feet across. Over the years, renovations and redecoration have brought increasingly modern methods of lighting to the house, from oil lamps and chandeliers to electricity and solar panels.

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Mrs. Taft and the Cherry Blossoms

Mrs. Taft and the Cherry Blossoms

The plan to plant Japanese cherry trees along Potomac Drive came to fruition with the aid and influence of Mrs. Taft. In 1910 Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo presented the first trees as a “memorial of national friendship between the U.S. and Japan.” On March 27, 1912, Mrs. Taft and the Iwa Chinda, wife of the Vicount Sutemi Chinda, the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two of more than 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin.

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Elizabeth Keckly’s Memoir of the Lincoln White House

Elizabeth Keckly’s Memoir of the Lincoln White House

Called a “literary thunderbolt” and claiming to reveal “interesting if not startling information,” Behind the Scenes, Elizabeth’s Keckly’s 1868 memoir of her life, particularly her time in the White House as a dressmaker for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, produced a storm of controversy and even a parody.

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Building the West Wing

Building the West Wing

William B. Bushong, Chief Historian, White House Historical Association More than one hundred years ago President Theodore Roosevelt transformed the White House home and office of the president. The president’s architects, the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, …

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Noah Brooks and the Lincoln White House

Noah Brooks and the Lincoln White House

Joel D. Treese, Senior Research Associate, White House Historical Association Although President Abraham Lincoln had friends and supporters in the press such as Pennsylvania newspaper editor John Forney; Henry J. Raymond, editor and owner of the New York Times; and …

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Glimpses of the Old Family Dining Room

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William B. Bushong, Chief Historian, White House Historical Association The Family Dining Room on the State Floor of the White House today is used primarily for smaller formal dinners and working lunches. The space, adjacent to the State Dining Room, …

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Unbuilt White Houses of the Nineteenth Century

Unbuilt White Houses of the Nineteenth Century

William B. Bushong, Chief Historian, White House Historical Association Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century, several major proposals were made to alleviate crowding at the White House by erecting a new residence for the president and converting the …

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