Barack Obama and the White House

Discussion in 'Congress' started by Navy1960, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. Navy1960
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    Navy1960 Senior Member

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    While I have made no secret of my lack of support for Barack Obama for the office of President of the United States, should he prevail his election would be an historic moment in the history of this nation and the White House. I thought at this time I would post some of the long history of that great house to show how weaved in the web of it's long history are many African Americans.

    Construction on the President’s House began in 1792 in Washington, D.C., a new capital situated in sparsely settled region far from a major population center. The decision to place the capital on land ceded by two slave states–Virginia and Maryland–ultimately influenced the acquisition of laborers to construct its public buildings. The D.C. commissioners, charged by Congress with building the new city under the direction of the president, initially planned to import workers from Europe to meet their labor needs.
    However, response to recruitment was dismal and soon they turned to African Americans – slave and free – to provide the bulk of labor that built the White House, the United States Capitol, and other early government buildings. A major concern in the construction of the new public buildings in this remote location was the acquisition of building materials, such as stone, lumber, bricks, hardware, and nails. Black quarrymen, sawyers, brickmakers, and carpenters fashioned raw materials into the products used to erect the White House. Master stonemason, Collen Williamson, trained slaves on the spot at the government’s quarry at Aquia, Virginia. There slaves
    quarried and cut the rough stone that was later dressed and laid by Scottish stonecutters to erect the walls of the President’s House. Sawyers listed on government payrolls, such as "Jerry", "Jess", "Charles", "Len", "Dick", "Bill" and "Jim" undoubtedly were slaves leased from their masters. Free and slave blacks burnt bricks used to line the stone walls in temporary ricks on the President’s House grounds. Often working seven days a week
    during the high construction summer months alongside white workers and artisans, black laborers proved vital to the work force that created both the White House and U.S. Capitol.

    The White House is a large structure and from its earliest days domestic operations have demanded a general manager. For this purpose President Thomas Jefferson, through his two administrations, relied heavily on his French steward Etienne Lemaire. There were two other white servants, Julien, a French chef, and Joseph Dougherty, an Irish coachman. The remainder of Jefferson’s regular household staff, which numbered a
    dozen, included slaves from Monticello. Even under the best management this was a The White House Historical Association - Timelines 2
    small staff. However, in the early years the president paid his household personally. The domestic "offices" and servants’ quarters were located in the rooms of the basement. Kitchen staff, directly under the Entrance Hall, cooked busily all day providing food for servants, staff, and any guests who might be visiting. Jefferson’s style of living was
    simpler than that of many rich citizens along the eastern seaboard. His one concession to grandeur was to dress his menservants in livery, knee breeches, and gilt or steel-buttoned blue coats with crimson trimmings and lace edging. Although Jefferson wrote his daughter that he preferred white servants so that he could dismiss them when they misbehaved, he did care for his slaves. When a sickly child was born at the President’s
    House (11 months after Jefferson’s own grandson, James Madison Randolph) to slaves Fanny and Eddy in 1806, he provided for thethe nursing care of the baby and mother. Sadly, the child died before its second birthday.
    http://www.whitehousehistory.org/05/subs/images_print/05_c.pdf

    While I realize that is rather long and if you take the time to read it, you will understand, that Barack Obama even though I cannot support his election will in one respect if elected finally bring full circle the meaning to the words "The Peoples House" to that grand old building we all call the White House.
     
  2. The Paperboy
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    The Paperboy Times Square

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    :clap2:

    Just wish he were a conservative!
     
  3. Navy1960
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    Navy1960 Senior Member

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    The African American staff, and other servants, who lived at the President’s House, most often had rooms in the basement. Open at ground level on the south, the basement (referred to as the ground floor today) had windows on the north facing a deep areaway that was entirely hidden from view. Visitors on the public tour of the White House walk through the long cross-hall of this space with rooms opening to the sides. Today the
    rooms are used as a Library, China Room, offices, and the formal oval Diplomatic Reception Room. However, this vaulted corridor once accessed a great kitchen 40 feet long with large fireplaces at each end, a family kitchen, an oval servants hall, the steward’s quarters, storage and work rooms, and the servants’ bedrooms.

    History is an amazing thing and I wonder how much of it is lost , but still as I stated before the election of Barack Obama will in one respect validate and close a circle long open. So much of the contributions of many Americans are lost of all colors in the pages of history and thats a real shame.
     
  4. random3434
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    random3434 Senior Member

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    Why do you think that is Navy?
     
  5. Navy1960
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    Navy1960 Senior Member

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    It's actually very simple Echo, because history is often written by people who wish you to see it through their eye's. Other times, it is lost to promote an ideal of one kind or another. Still other times, it is simply lost due to apathy on the part of people that we entrust to teach it. So in that case, it is never passed on from one generation to the next. Let me give you an example, no dount most people have never heard of the names of Ira Bong or Dorrie Miller, but yet they know who John Wayne was, or Shaq. It's a matter of what we as a society choose to accept to teach. If you ask a young person about WWII most of them cannot even tell you what year it was and think Ben Afflack was shooting down planes at Pearl Harbor. So is it any wonder then that history can get lost sometimes.
     
  6. random3434
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    random3434 Senior Member

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    So true, so true.

    My dad instilled a great love of history in me, he loved reading about the Civil War and WW2. Thus, when he got finished with a book, I would borrow it, and found myself fasinated with the USA's history through time. We also used to visit the old Civil War Battlegrounds on vacation, I loved it!

    I would choose biographies of famous Americans over pop lit as a kid at the library, I loved reading about "real" people!
     
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  7. Navy1960
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    Navy1960 Senior Member

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    It is amazing what you learn about people when you read isn't it? It makes these names seem real rather than just names. I have tried to teach my own daughter to read as much as possible about history, because of the old adage, where you've been will point the direction to where you are going.
     

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