The Floating White House

The Floating White House

Presidential yachts sail now on a sea of memories, long sleek ships that were once symbols of the presidency, tools of diplomacy, centers of hospitality, and breezy salt-air retreats from the steamy heat of a Washington summer. But for nearly a century, presidents looking for an easy escape from the strains and tensions of the White House found one on the deck of a government yacht.

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A Transatlantic Journey: Sandham Symes in America and Canada, 1841

A Transatlantic Journey: Sandham Symes in America and Canada, 1841

Sandham Symes appears to have been a fascinating character. He embodied a keen sense of adventure, travelling widely and experiencing new situations. When Symes reached Washington in early June of 1841, he managed to depict four iconic scenes of American political life, some of which were in their early stages of development, with the Treasury Department building still under construction at the time.

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Japanese State Dinners

Japanese State Dinners

Following the close of World War II, Japan and the United States developed a close alliance and strategic and trade partnerships. Beginning with Gerald R. Ford in November 1974, seven U.S. presidents have made journeys to Japan, and the Japanese heads of state and government have also visited the White House.

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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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