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Tag: White House

Fala and Barkers for Britain, 1941

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Fala in the White House Study, Washington, DC, 12/20/1941. (National Archives Identifier 6728526)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Fala in the White House Study, Washington, DC, 12/20/1941. (National Archives Identifier 6728526)

Today’s post commemorates National Dog Day, which celebrates dogs everywhere on August 26. Bow-wow!

Calling all dog lovers—arguably history’s best known Presidential pet was Franklin Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, Murray the Outlaw of Falahill (Fala for short), who was named after FDR’s famous Scottish ancestor, John Murray. He was given to Roosevelt in 1940 as a Christmas gift by his cousin Margaret Suckley. Not long after entering the White House, fame encompassed Fala’s life as he began to appear in political cartoons, news articles, movie shorts, and even FDR’s campaign speeches.

He was beloved by all White House staff, so much so that he was hospitalized after his first few weeks at the White House from being overfed by the kitchen staff. Due to this incident, FDR issued an order to his staff stating that Fala was to be fed by the President alone—talk about royal treatment. Furthermore, Fala was so well known that Secret Service agents called him “The Informer” because, during secret wartime Presidential trips, the dog was instantly recognized while out on his walks.

Fala Photographing the Photographers at the White House, Washington, DC, 04/07/1942. (National Archives Identifier 6728525)

Fala photographing the photographers at the White House, Washington, DC, 04/07/1942. (National Archives Identifier 6728525)

Aside from being President Roosevelt’s right hand man, Fala’s political side was put to good use in … [ Read all ]

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!

Today’s post celebrates the international sporting event that captivates billions of people every four years: the World Cup!

Brazilian icon Pele is one of the world’s most recognized footballers. He is one of the few players to appear in four World Cup finals and the only player to win three World Cup titles (1958, 1962, and 1970).

After he retired from international soccer, Pele dazzled New Yorkers from 1975 to 1977 playing in the North American Soccer League for the New York Cosmos. He’s widely credited with sparking American interest in the beautiful game.

In addition to being the world’s ambassador to football, Pele has been a frequent visitor to the White House.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon hosted Pele and his then-wife Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi. During the visit, the President told Pele “You are the greatest in the world,” and when Pele explained to the President that soccer differed from American football, Nixon replied “Do I know that! The main thing is to use your head.”

President Nixon meeting with Edson "Pele" Arantes do Nascimento, retired professional Brazilian soccer player and Director of the International Soccer Program sponsored by PepsiCo. Pele autographs a soccer ball for President Nixon, 05/08/1973. (National Archives Identifier 194508)

President Nixon meeting with Edson “Pele” Arantes do Nascimento, retired professional Brazilian soccer player and Director of the International Soccer Program sponsored by PepsiCo. Pele autographs a soccer ball for President Nixon, 05/08/1973. (National Archives Identifier 194508)

Two years later, Pele again visited the White House—this time in the Rose Garden. President Gerald Ford took the opportunity … [ Read all ]

State Dinners at the White House

Today’s post comes from the National Archives Office of Presidential Libraries.

King David Kalakaua of Hawaii was the first head of state to be honored with a White House state dinner on December 12, 1874, by President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant. In the years that have followed, state dinners have come to signify the utmost respect for visiting heads of state. Each state dinner is a historic event with the power to cement friendships with allies and foster cooperation.

8_GRF_State-Dinner-invitation-1976

Invitation to the state dinner for President Giscard d’Estaing of France, May17, 1976.

Months of meticulous planning go into a state dinner. The guest of honor’s country, culture, and favored preferences are thoroughly researched. The First Lady often chooses the décor and entertainment to highlight a certain aspect of American culture. Together, these considerations are translated into invitations, menus, guest lists, and entertainment. The results can be a form of diplomatic dialogue between the host and guest cultures.

In 1976, First Lady Betty Ford chose “light” as the theme for the state dinner honoring French President Giscard d’Estaing. The theme was inspired by France’s Bicentennial gift to the United States, a sound and light show staged at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Centerpieces were designed for each table using early American lighting items loaned from the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. These included a … [ Read all ]

A big cheese for the Big Cheese in 1837

In 1836, President Jackson accepted 1,400-pound wheel of cheese from Col. Thomas Meacham, a dairy farmer near Sandy Creek, NY. The cheese was mammoth, and it sat, ripening, in the White House for over a year. Eventually, Jackson invited everyone in Washington, DC, to stop by and help consume the massive wheel. He threw the doors open, and in just two hours, the cheese was gone.

Patent for a cheese press, given to Luke Hale in June, 1838. National Archives.

Patent for a cheese press, given to Luke Hale in June, 1838 (National Archives at Kansas City). This patent shows a cheese press from around the same year as Jackson’s cheese giveaway.

Even members of Congress went crazy for cheese and were absent from their seats. From the Vermont Phoenix, March 3, 1837:

Mr. Alford opposed the motion for a recess. He said it was time, if they intended to do any public business this session, that they forthwith set about it, for they had wasted enough time already.  As for the battle with the great cheese at the White House, he was for leaving it to those whose tastes led them there, and to-morrow they might receive a full account of the killed and slain.  The gentleman from Maine, (Mr Jarvis) could as well finish the speech he was making to the few members present, as not.

Mr. Wise remarked that it was pretty well understood where

[ Read all ]

From the Presidential Libraries: Hanukkah at the White House

Today’s guest post comes from Susan K. Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives.

Among the gifts from heads of state that are in the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is a menorah presented to President Truman by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The menorah dates back to at least 1767, when it was donated to a synagogue in Buergel, Germany.

1.Menorah presented to Harry S. Truman by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel on May 8, 1951.  Currently on display at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MO.

1. Menorah presented to Harry S. Truman by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel on May 8, 1951. Currently on display at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MO.

The menorah was used in the synagogue until 1913, when it was found broken in pieces.  A man by the name of Siegfried Guggenheim asked for the broken pieces and provided a replacement. The Guggenheim family restored the old menorah for their personal use, and brought it to the United States when they immigrated in the 1930s.  Eventually, the menorah was acquired by the Jewish Museum in New York.

When Prime Minister Ben-Gurion visited the United States in 1951, he searched for a suitable gift to give to Harry S. Truman in light of the President’s recognition and support of the State of Israel.  The Jewish Museum suggested the menorah, and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion presented it to Truman on his … [ Read all ]