The White House has grown and changed over the years, along with its country, the United States, and the American people. In 1791, the U.S. was a new country with a constitution, a Bill of Rights for its people, and a new president. What the U.S. did not have was a home for its presidents.
President George Washington, after living in three different houses during his presidency, realized that having a presidential residence made sense. Congress agreed and started asking questions like, "What kind of house should we build?" and "Where should we build it?" President Washington took matters into his own hands after living in several houses as the first president. He chose the location of the land and named this area the District of Columbia. A contest for the design of the house was advertised to all Americans in newspapers across the country. An Irish-American architect named James Hoban won the contest. He worked closely with President Washington to create the original design of the White House. They started building the house in October of 1792 and finished it eight years later. President John Adams, the second president, moved into the White House in 1800. Presidents and their families have called the White House home ever since. Two fires, one during the War of 1812 and the other in 1929, badly damaged it. The fire in 1929 caused so much damage that the house was completely redone on the inside. Today's White House still has the same stone walls on the outside. A painting of George Washington is the only thing that survived from inside the house.
Presidents and their families live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC, until the president's term ends. Many notable people have worked in the Oval Office and left their mark on the U.S. and the world. George Washington, a two-term president, set many standards for those who followed him. He did not want to be seen as a king, which was important to the American people who had fought for their independence from a monarchy, so he quit after two terms, and most other presidents did the same until this was made a law in 1951. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, doubled the size of the U.S. with the Louisiana Purchase. He also ended the foreign slave trade.
Abraham Lincoln's presidency, the 16th, occurred during the Civil War. His actions helped the North win the war and eventually ended slavery. President number 26 was Theodore Roosevelt, affectionately known as "Teddy." He had a lot of influence on foreign policy and was a very forward thinker for his time. Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president, guided America through World War I. He won a Nobel Prize for helping to create the League of Nations. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president, held four terms for a total of 12 years! He had a huge positive impact on the events of that time, including the Great Depression, World War II, and creation of the New Deal programs.
Dwight Eisenhower, known as "Ike," brought his experience as a five-star general to the presidential office. The U.S. experienced prosperity during his term in the White House as president number 34. He helped to desegregate schools during Civil Rights movement. President John F. Kennedy, number 35, was the youngest person to be elected president. His term included the Cuban Missile Crisis, Civil Rights Movement, the space race between the U.S. and Russia, and creating the Peace Corps.
Visit the White House
The White House is the ultimate symbol of America. Not only does it represent the people, the presidential office, and the U.S. government, but it is a beautiful home full of American history. It stands as a record of a self-made country that fought for and won its independence. Visiting this landmark would give you some ideas about the importance of that history. An in-person visit would be the best way to experience the White House. If you can't make it there in person, many resources and virtual tours are available online.