About That Desk …

 ImagePresident John F. Kennedy works at the Resolute desk
while his son, John Jr., peeks through the open panel (Photo: White House Museum)

May 7, 2014

You have to admit, our new magazine name seems pretty PLU perfect: RESOLUTE not only contains a ready-made Lute; it also perfectly describes one: admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering.

Add in The Desk—and all of a sudden, pretty PLU perfect turns into perfectly perfect.

The Resolute desk has a rich history that reaches back even further than PLU’s—and an equally impressive place of prominence: President Barack Obama, like many presidents before him, uses the Resolute desk in the White House Oval Office.

The desk was built from sturdy timbers salvaged from the British Arctic Exploration ship H.M.S. Resolute, which was abandoned at sea, refurbished by the United States and presented to Queen Victoria in 1856 as a world-changing gesture of peace and goodwill. When the ship was broken up in 1879, Queen Victoria requested several desks. Four were made, and the queen presented the large partners desk to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.

Lots of presidents used the desk in the White House, but it was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy who brought it into the Oval Office. The desk was removed from the White House only once, after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, when it toured with the Kennedy Presidential Library before going on display in the Smithsonian.

President Jimmy Carter brought the desk back to the White House, where presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush also used it. 

Replicas abound—from presidential libraries to independent museums to National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets—but there’s nothing like the original. That goes for desks and magazines.





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