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Designed in 1792 by James Hoban, an American of Irish descent; the White House is one of the most recognized structures around the world. The White House is the home of America’s President and established itself as the symbol of the American heritage and people.
Although the first cornerstone of construction was laid in October of 1792, the White House took more than a century to stand out as what it is now. Throughout the years, it went through renovations, restoration, and repair. The White House was invaded, burned down; yet it still shelters the most powerful person on Earth!
However, the question surrounding who labored to build the White House resonates when it comes to discourse at its history. The long-standing debate on the question has been stoked up by First Lady Michelle Obama as she delivered a speech during the first night of Democratic National Convention. I am going to explore whether this has a basis in truth or just a ploy to stoke up racial tension in the US.
Rooted firmly in the popular imagination that a lack of laborers ratified the use of slaves during the construction of the White House. However, the documents, sanctions, and records reveal working force employed for construction purpose was indeed diverse.
Not only were African Americans employed, but immigrant laborers from Ireland, Italy, and Scotland also contributed to the combined efforts for construction of the White House. Given the climate that age had, claiming African Americans employed slaved is an insult to all the diverse workers involved for its construction.
The White House was not solely built by African Americans; claiming they did reveals that you are using the plight of African Americans during that time to further your agenda on dividing the US more racially. Philip Reid, an African American, labor for the construction, was paid an amount per day, which is equivalent to $31 in 2016.
There were slaves during that period of time, but payments given to African Americans reveal that they were not slaves at all, at least in the modern sense of the word. Many historians, therefore, agree with the notion that the White House was built by a rotating labor force comprised of multinational, and multiracial people working in a team-based kind of organization.
White House Timeline, History & Facts
- May 22nd, 1789 – President Washington picked a patch of land in the vicinity of the Potomac River for his residence. He was the only president who did not sleep in the White House.
- October 13, 1792 – consulting with the architect, James Hoban, the first stone was laid.
- 1800 – the first segment of construction completed at a cost of $232,372.
- August 24th, 1814 – the British Troops invaded the White House, and set it on fire.
- October 20th, 1902 – Roosevelt launched a project for repairing, refurbishing, and reconstruction.
- July 12th, 1952 – President Truman remodeled the White House. 62 rooms, 26 halls, and 14 bathrooms were elevated to 100+ bedrooms, 40 halls, and 19 bathrooms.
- May 11th, 1970 – President Nixon commissioned remodeling for a new press briefing room.