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The cornerstone is laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington, D.C. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the “White House” because its white-gray Virginia freestone contrasted strikingly with the red brick of nearby buildings.
The city of Washington was created to replace Philadelphia as the nation’s capital because of its geographical position in the center of the existing new republic. The states of Maryland and Virginia ceded land around the Potomac River to form the District of Columbia, and work began on Washington in 1791. French architect Charles L’Enfant designed the area’s radical layout, full of dozens of circles, crisscross avenues, and plentiful parks.
In 1792, work began on the neoclassical White House building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by a construction team comprised of enslaved and freed African Americans and European immigrants. Irish American architect James Hoban oversaw the design and President George Washington chose the site.
On November 1, President John Adams was welcomed into the executive mansion. His wife, Abigail, wrote about their new home: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but wise men ever rule under this roof!”
In 1814, during the War of 1812, the White House was set on fire along with the U.S. Capitol by British soldiers in retaliation for the burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. troops. The burned-out building was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged under the direction of James Hoban, who added east and west terraces to the main building, along with a semicircular south portico and a colonnaded north portico. The smoke-stained stone walls were painted white. Work was completed on the White House in the 1820s.
Major restoration occurred during the administration of President Harry Truman, and Truman lived across the street for several years in Blair House. Since 1995, Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Square has been closed to vehicular traffic for security reasons. Today, more than a million tourists visit the White House annually. It is the oldest federal building in the nation’s capital.
READ MORE: White House: Architect, Facts & Layout
United States Capitol cornerstone laying
The United States Capitol cornerstone laying was the ceremonial placement of the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793. The cornerstone was laid by president of the United States George Washington, assisted by the Grand Master of Maryland Joseph Clark, in a Masonic ritual.
Many of the items of ritual paraphernalia used in the cornerstone ceremony have been repurposed and are currently used for the placement of foundation stones at other important buildings in the greater Washington area. Centennial and bicentennial observances of the U.S. Capitol cornerstone laying were held in 1893 and 1993, respectively, and a tricentennial observance of the ritual has been announced for 2093.
Why Was the White House Built?
Not long after America's first president, George Washington, was inaugurated, the people began to question where he should live. Some believed he should live in the North others said the South. Some said he should live in a grand castle like a king others said a simple house just like everyone else.
After much debate, George Washington as president decided to find land to build a new house and a district. He decided on land near the Potomac River, which bordered both the North and South. He named the land the District of Columbia after Christopher Columbus.
According to the U.S. Senate , the planning of the city took place before it was even built. With no roads, villages, or docks for boats, it would take years before it would be completed. The president decided that the capitol building should be placed on top of a hill at one end of the city, and the president's house on top of a hill at the other end of the city.
Oct. 13, 1792: White House Cornerstone Laid
The untold story of African Americans in the White House from the 18th century to the present, including the presidents who held people in bondage.
On Oct. 13, 1792, the White House cornerstone was laid.
How many students learn in textbooks or tours to D.C. that while the Obamas were the first African American “First Family,” they were not the first African American residents of the White House?
Clarence Lusane’s The Black History of the White House shares the untold stories of some of the people who were enslaved by U.S. presidents, including stories of resistance and escape.
Lusane describes the myriad ways that the White House and the lives of African Americans have been intertwined throughout U.S. history, from the building of the White House to the present day.
Enslaved laborers were likely involved in all aspects of White House “construction, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, plastering, glazing and painting, . . .and shouldered alone the grueling work of sawing logs and stones.” Read more.
Untold History: More Than a Quarter of U.S. Presidents Were Involved in Slavery, Human Trafficking
Clarence Lusane on Democracy Now! on Feb. 17, 2014.
Poem by Clint Smith III
“When you sing that this country was founded on freedom, don’t forget the duet of shackles dragging against the ground my entire life.” This is how poet Clint Smith III begins his letter to past presidents who owned people. In honor of Black History Month, Smith offered his Brief But Spectacular take on the history of racial inequality in the United States. From PBS NewsHour, 2017
Find more resources below.
Presidents and the Enslaved: Helping Students Find the Truth
Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. 7 pages. Rethinking Schools.
How a 5th grade teacher and his students conducted research to answer the question: “Which presidents owned people?” Available in Spanish.
Missing from Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved
Article. By Clarence Lusane. If We Knew Our History Series.
Textbooks erase enslaved African Americans from the White House and the presidency and present a false portrait of our country’s history.
Today in history: The cornerstone of the White House was laid
On Oct. 13, 1792, the cornerstone of the executive mansion, later known as the White House, was laid during a ceremony in the District of Columbia.
In A.D. 54, Roman Emperor Claudius I died, poisoned apparently at the behest of his wife, Agrippina (ag-rih-PEE'-nuh).
In 1775, the United States Navy had its origins as the Continental Congress ordered the construction of a naval fleet.
In 1843, the Jewish organization B'nai B'rith (buh-NAY' brith) was founded in New York City.
In 1932, President Herbert Hoover and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes laid the cornerstone for the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington.
In 1944, during World War II, American troops entered Aachen, Germany.
In 1957, CBS-TV broadcast "The Edsel Show," a one-hour live special starring Bing Crosby designed to promote the new, ill-fated Ford automobile. (It was the first special to use videotape technology to delay the broadcast to the West Coast.)
In 1962, Edward Albee's four-character drama "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" opened on Broadway.
In 1966, actor-singer-dancer Clifton Webb, 76, died in Los Angeles.
In 1972, a Uruguayan chartered flight carrying 45 people crashed in the Andes survivors resorted to feeding off the remains of some of the dead in order to stay alive until they were rescued more than two months later.
In 1981, voters in Egypt participated in a referendum to elect Vice President Hosni Mubarak (HAHS'-nee moo-BAH'-rahk) the new president, one week after the assassination of Anwar Sadat.
In 1999, the Senate rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, with 48 senators voting in favor and 51 against, far short of the 67 needed for ratification. In Boulder, Colorado, the JonBenet Ramsey grand jury was dismissed after 13 months of work with prosecutors saying there wasn't enough evidence to charge anyone in the 6-year-old beauty queen's 1996 slaying.
In 2010, rescuers in Chile using a missile-like escape capsule pulled 33 men one by one to fresh air and freedom 69 days after they were trapped in a collapsed mine a half-mile underground.
White House Cornerstone Laid
The bustling city of Washington, D.C. has not always been as elaborate as it is today nor is it the only city having served as the nation's capital. The United States capital was originally located in Philadelphia. The city of Washington was created to replace Philadelphia as the nation's capital because of its geographical position in the center of the existing new republic.
|President's House, Philadelphia.|
Congress debated on what type of dwelling to build and where to build it. During this time, President Washington actually lived in three houses: the first two in New York City and the third in Philadelphia, PA. President Washington made the decision compromising on a patch of land along the Potomac River.
With today being celebrated as Columbus Day and in some states, Native American Day, it is interesting to note that archaeological evidence indicates Native Americans settled in the area at least 4000 years ago, around the Anacostia River. E arly European exploration of the region took place early in the 17th century, including explorations by Captain John Smith in 1608.
It makes sense to think that the more springs there is the better support you will receive or the more accurately the mattresses will shape to you. The fact is, that a good quality 1000 pocket sprung mattress can be far superior to one that has 2000 or more.
Quick Answer: Most mattresses today cost somewhere between $200 and $1500. However, there are premium mattresses that can cost upwards of $5000 or more, and there are budget mattresses that can cost around $150 or even less. Most people can find a quality mattress in the $1000 price range.
On This Day in History -October 13, 1792
On this day in history, October 13, 1792, George Washington lays the cornerstone of the White House. President John Adams would be the first American president to live in the presidential mansion in Washington DC. Today's White House, however, looks very different than the building that was originally constructed.
After Congress decided to locate the federal capital along the Potomac River in 1790, Pierre Charles L'Enfant was chosen to design a plan for the federal city. Part of the plan included space for a massive mansion, five times the size of the house that was eventually rebuilt.
In 1791, a public request was put out by President George Washington for potential designs for the president's mansion. Irish architect James Hoban's design was eventually chosen. Hoban had designed the Charleston County Courthouse in Charleston, South Carolina, a building Washington had seen when he visited there. Washington liked the courthouse's design and Hoban's plans for the presidential house looked very similar.
On October 13, 1792, Washington laid the cornerstone for the White House. The original home did not have the circular south portico or the northern drive under portico that Americans recognize today. Instead, both the north and south sides of the White House had only a series of eleven windows on 2 floors.
After the White House was burned in 1814 by the British, the building was mostly reconstructed. The familiar rounded south portico was added in 1824 and the north portico in 1830. The White House's West Wing was not added until 1901 by President Teddy Roosevelt for more office space. President William Howard Taft built the first Oval Office there in 1909. The East Wing was first added by President Roosevelt, but has gone through several iterations, including time as a greenhouse and a cloakroom.
The White House was entirely gutted during the administration of President Harry Truman. A steel frame was placed inside the outer walls and all the inner walls were replaced. Today, the White House has six stories, 2 under ground, a ground floor, the State Floor, Second Floor and Third Floor. The entire White House complex also has the East and West Wings for offices, the Blair House for guests and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses more presidential offices.
The First Cornerstone
Contemporary Masonic practice included the laying of an inscribed metal plate along with a cornerstone. Caleb Bentley, a Quaker clockmaker and silversmith who lived in Georgetown not far from Suter's Fountain Inn, where the commissioners held their meetings, made the silver plate for the Capitol ceremony.
The newspaper invitation announcing the cornerstone ceremony was directed to the Masonic fraternity:
The Capitol is in progression—the southeast is yet kept vacant that [the] cornerstone is to be laid with the assistance of the brotherhood [on] the 18th Inst. Those of the craft however dispersed are requested to join the work. The solemnity is expected to equal the occasion.
The ceremony proceedings were reported in an article in The Columbia Mirror and Alexandria Gazette, which remains the only known eyewitness account of the event. Activities began at 10:00 a.m. with the appearance of President Washington and his entourage on the south bank of the Potomac River. Crossing the river with the president was a company of volunteer artillery from Alexandria. The procession joined Masonic lodges from Maryland and Virginia, and all marched two abreast, "with music playing, drums beating, colors flying, and spectators rejoicing," to the site of the Capitol about a mile and a half away. There the procession reformed and Washington, flanked by Joseph Clark (the Grand Master) and Dr. E. C. Dick (the master of the Virginia lodge), stood to the east of a "huge stone" while the others formed a circle west of it. Soon, the engraved plate was delivered and the inscription read:
This South East corner stone, of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge 22, from Alexandria, Virginia.
Thomas Johnson, David Stuart and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners
Joseph Clark, R. W. G. M.—P. T.
James Hoban and Stephan Hallate, Architects
Collen Williamson, M. Mason
The plate was handed to Washington, who stepped down into the foundation trench, laid the plate on the ground, and lowered the cornerstone onto it. With the president were Joseph Clark and three "worshipful masters" bearing the corn, wine, and oil used to consecrate the stone. Chanting accompanied Washington’s ascent from the trench. Clark gave a speech punctuated by numerous volleys from the artillery. Following the formal exercises, a 500 pound ox was barbequed and those in attendance "generally partook, with every abundance of other recreation." By dark, the festivities had ended.
History Decoded: The White House Cornerstone & The Spear of Destiny
Brad Meltzer’s new book, History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, provides fascinating insight into 10 of the greatest conspiracies of all time. From D.B. Cooper to the fate of John Wilkes Booth to Area 51, Brad investigates the claims behind some of the most notorious conspiracies in American history.
After talking about D.B. Cooper, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the conspiracy behind the Confederate gold over the last couple of weeks, Brad joined the radio program this morning to talk about the conspiracy of the White House Cornerstone and the Spear of Destiny.
Brad started with a quick recap of the cornerstone controversy.
“So in 1792, the Freemasons put down the very first piece of the White House in a very elaborate ceremony. What's amazing is 24 hours after they put down this first piece of the White House, it goes missing. No one knows where it is,” Brad said. “For 200 years now, everyone from Harry Truman to Barbara Bush has looked for it. No one found it. No one knows where it is… Everyone says that the free masons took it.”
A self-professed lover of the Freemasons, Brad explained that the conspiracy centers around President Harry Truman, who had pieces of the White House excavated during a renovation and sent to Freemason headquarters around the country.
“They say none of them were the cornerstone. But there's a conspiracy. He sends 50 pieces across the United States to different lodges, and you are telling me he didn't take the cornerstone too,” Brad asked. “No one knows. Did he take that piece out? Did he leave it in there? And the only person who knows is Harry Truman. That's it.”
Brad then moved on to the conspiracy behind the Spear of Destiny.
“The spear of destiny is the spear that pierced Christ's side while he was on the cross,” Brad explained. “Constantine is the great processes the spear. He supposedly becomes Roman emperor, running the empire because of the spear. And Charlemagne had the spear supposedly… All these world leaders have the spear and the power that comes with it. You know who wanted it in World War II? Hitler. If
Adolph Hitler wants it – I want to know what it is.”
The Vatican says it has the original spear. Another museum in Vienna also claims to have the spear. Meanwhile, Brad met a man during his research named Chris Blake, a professional chauffeur and bodyguard, who claims it was his boss who actually had the original.
White House Cornerstone Laid - HISTORY
The White House
An American Treasure
For two hundred years, the White House has stood as a symbol of the Presidency, the United States government, and the American people. Its history, and the history of the nations capital, began when President George Washington signed an Act of Congress in December of 1790 declaring that the federal government would reside in a district "not exceeding ten miles square on the river Potomac." President Washington, together with city planner Pierre LEnfant, chose the site for the new residence, which is now 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As preparations began for the new federal city, a competition was held to find a builder of the "Presidents House." Nine proposals were submitted, and Irish-born architect James Hoban won a gold medal for his practical and handsome design.
Construction began when the first cornerstone was laid in October of 1792. Although President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in. Since that time, each President has made his own changes and additions. The White House is, after all, the Presidents private home. It is also the only private residence of a head of state that is open to the public, free of charge.
The White House has a unique and fascinating history. It survived a fire at the hands of the British in 1814 (during the war of 1812) and another fire in the West Wing in 1929, while Herbert Hoover was President. Throughout much of Harry S. Trumans presidency, the interior of the house, with the exception of the third floor, was completely gutted and renovated while the Trumans lived at Blair House, right across Pennsylvania Avenue. Nonetheless, the exterior stone walls are those first put in place when the White House was constructed two centuries ago.
Presidents can express their individual style in how they decorate some parts of the house and in how they receive the public during their stay. Thomas Jefferson held the first Inaugural open house in 1805. Many of those who attended the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol simply followed him home, where he greeted them in the Blue Room. President Jefferson also opened the house for public tours, and it has remained open, except during wartime, ever since. In addition, he welcomed visitors to annual receptions on New Years Day and on the Fourth of July. In 1829, a horde of 20,000 Inaugural callers forced President Andrew Jackson to flee to the safety of a hotel while, on the lawn, aides filled washtubs with orange juice and whiskey to lure the mob out of the mud-tracked White House.
After Abraham Lincolns presidency, Inaugural crowds became far too large for the White House to accommodate them comfortably. However, not until Grover Clevelands first presidency did this unsafe practice change. He held a presidential review of the troops from a flag-draped grandstand built in front of the White House. This procession evolved into the official Inaugural parade we know today. Receptions on New Years Day and the Fourth of July continued to be held until the early 1930s.
President Clintons open house on January 21, 1993 renewed a venerable White House Inaugural tradition. Two thousand citizens, selected by lottery, were greeted in the Diplomatic Reception Room by President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice President and Mrs. Gore.