Sunday, March 08, 2009

H.M.S. Resolute desk

The Carter Library Copyright Information: Much of the audiovisual materials, including all White House-produced photographs, motion picture films, and audiotapes, are in the public domain.Resolute desk
JFK Jr. under Resolute deskThis image is a work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office.
The Resolute Desk, made from the timbers of the British ship, the HMS Resolute. Abandoned north of the Arctic Circle in 1854, the HMS Resolute was later found by the crew of an American whaling ship, refitted, and sent to Queen Victoria as a token of goodwill. When the ship was decommissioned in 1879, the British government arranged for a desk to be made from its timbers. It was built by William Evenden, a skilled joiner employed at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Queen Victoria presented it to President Rutherford B. Hayes on 23 November 1880. Every President from President Hayes through President Dwight D. Eisenhower used the desk; it was first placed in the Oval Office in 1961 at the request of President John F. Kennedy.

The desk has twice been modified from the original 1880 version. President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the kneehole be fitted with a panel carved with the Presidential coat-of-arms, to cover up his infirmities. He didn't want people to know he was in a wheelchair. He did not live to see it installed in 1945. President Ronald Reagan requested it be raised on a 2" base to accommodate his 6'2" frame.

A plate on the front of the desk bears the following inscription:

H.M.S. RESOLUTE forming part of the expedition sent in search of SIR JOHN FRANKLIN IN 1852, was abandoned in latitude 74 degrees 41 minutes N longitude 101 degrees 22 minutes W on 15th May 1854. She was discovered and extricated in September 1855 in latitude 67 degrees N by Captain Buddington of the United States Whaler GEORGE HENRY.

The ship was purchased, fitted out and sent to England as a gift to HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA by the PRESIDENT AND PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES as a token of goodwill & friendship. This table was made from her timbers when she was broken up, and is presented by the QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES as a memorial of the courtesy and loving kindness which dictated the offer of the gift of the RESOLUTE.


Anonymous said...

I liked it, you can find more Office Desks from spacify.

William Cavendish said...

For more about the RESOLUTE story read 'HMS RESOLUTE: from the Canadian Arctic to the President's Desk' by Elizabeth Matthews

David said...

For more information on which US Presidents have used the Resolute Desk, go to

Post a Comment