Sitting in the store, watching President Obama (!) walk up Pennsylvania Avenue on the web, it’s hard to think about anything else. What an amazing feeling of kinship with the world. It’s electrifying. Everything really does feel differently. So, even though I want to ramble on and on about what I feel and what I think it all means, I’ll try to stay on point, and the only thing I can think of which is at least kind of on point is the Resolute desk.
The Resolute desk was a present from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford Hayes in 1880. It was made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute, a British ship that had been originally apart of an expedition to the Arctic led by Edward Belcher to search for the lost explorer, Sir John Franklin in the early 1850s. The ship was abandoned by Belcher after being frozen in the Arctic waters, an act that led to his court-martialing for abandoning a seaworthy ship. The summer’s hotter temperatures released the the ship from its’ icy hold, and was later discovered by an American fisherman, James Buddington, who towed it back to the states. In the US, Congress bought the ship from Buddington, refitted it, and presented it to Queen Victoria as a token of peace. The British used the Resolute in their navy for the next 23 years. Once decommissioned, a desk was made from its’ timbers by William Evendon, which was given to the United States as “a memorial of the courtesy and loving kindness which dictated the offer of the gift of the Resolute” as the plate on the front of the desk displays.
Henceforth, the large partner’s desk has often been selected to be the President’s desk. The President, of course, can choose any desk he (or one day she) wishes, but this desk has been chosen by most. In fact, only LBJ, Nixon and Ford have not used it. President Obama will use the desk. Without a doubt, the most famous image of it is this one of JFK and JFK, Jr.
That’s all I got.