Kids & Family:Stories for Kids
The Resolute Desk of US Presidents
Sophie (age 7) & Ellie (age 5) tell how Joe Biden and Donald Trump both chose to use the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. They tell the history of the desk that is a symbol of friendship between Britain and America.
They explain how the British went exploring the North West passage in the 1850s. Successive expeditions went badly wrong. Eventually, one of the ships, the HMS Resolute got stuck in the ice. The crew had to abandon the ship. Two years later the ship was discovered. This time by an American ship over 1000 miles away. The ice had melted and the ship had floated away. It was like finding a ghost ship. The Americans took the ship back to America. The ship belonged to them now.
But there were lots of tensions between Britain and America. They had already fought two wars. They were still arguing. But they had so much in common. Many people thought they should be friends rather than arguing all the time. The American government decided to repair the ship and to send her as a present to Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was delighted. It helped Britain and American become friends.
For twenty years HMS Resolute carried on sailing near Britain. Then it got too old. But Queen Victoria remembered she had been a gift from America. She decided to use her timbers to make some desks. One would be gift to the US President and another would be for herself.
The Americans were delighted with the gift. It was placed in the White House. Successive presidents used it in different rooms. When F.D. Roosevelt used it he had a little door installed so that no one could see that he used a wheelchair. Later US presidents rather forgot about the desk. Until John F Kennedy became President. His wife wanted to refurbish the White House. She went exploring around the White House. In a back room she found, under a pile of electrical equipment, the old Resolute Desk. She thought it was beautiful. She brought it out and placed it in the main office in the White House called the Oval Office. Then her children discovered the little door that Roosevelt had installed. A photographer took a photo of them playing while their Dad was on the phone. Suddenly the whole world remembered the Resolute Desk.
Most US Presidents since them have chosen to use the Resolute Desk. Sophie and Ellie reflect on the fact that Joe Biden and Donald Trump did not agree on much. But they did agree on using the Resolute Desk. It is a reminder of great US Presidents of the past as well as being a symbol of historic friendship between Britain and America.
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