Continued Tour of the President's House

The Oval Office

The Oval Office is where the President does the business of the country--signing bills and Executive Orders and meeting with staff, visitors, and guests. The Oval Office changes with each Administration, as each President brings personal mementos and favorite furniture or artwork, and each makes selections from the White House art collection.

President Clinton chose to use the Resolute Desk, made from the timbers of the British ship, the HMS Resolute. Abandoned north of the Arctic Circle in 1854, the HMS Resolute was later found by the crew of an American whaling ship, refitted, and sent to Queen Victoria as a token of goodwill. When the ship was later dismantled, the desk was made from timbers of the ship, and Queen Victoria gave it to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Every President from President Hayes through President Dwight D. Eisenhower used the desk; it was first placed in the Oval Office in 1961 at the request of President John F. Kennedy.

After being on exhibit for ten years at the Smithsonian Institution, the Resolute was put back into use by President Jimmy Carter. The Resolute was also used in the Oval Office by President Ronald Reagan and for a few months by President George Bush. On January 20, 1993, this historic desk was returned to the Oval Office once again, at the request of President Clinton.

White House History for Kids

Choosing a City

Constructing a Home for the President

The President's House

A Tour of the President's House

Continued Tour of the President's House

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