THE STATUE OF LIBERTY
Ever since 1886, when her great torch was lifted into place 305 feet above Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the colossal statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” has symbolized America for millions of eager newcomers. Many wept as they neared the American shore, recalling all they had left behind and apprehensive about what they might find in the new land. But with their first glimpse of the statue, one Italian immigrant recalled, they were “steadied… by the concreteness of the symbol of America’s freedom, and they dried their tears”.
The statue was the work of Alsatian sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and was intended to commemorate both a century of amity between France and the United States and the concept of political freedom shared by the two nations.
The book that Liberty holds in her left hand symbolizes the Declaration of Independence. The main figure is attached to an iron framework designed
by Gustave Eiffel, builder of France’s Eiffel Tower.
The statue was paid for by French contributors; American schoolchildren participated in a nationwide drive to raise funds for the pedestal. On a tablet within are inscribed the last five lines of a sonnet, “The New Colossus”, by Emma Lazarus, herself an immigrant:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
THE WHITE HOUSE
The White House, the official residence of the President, stands in tree-shaded grounds (18 acres) on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue. The main building has 6 floors, with the East Terrace leading to the East Wing, a 3-story building used for offices and as an entrance for official events. The West Terrace contains offices and leads to the Executive Office.
The White House was designed by James Hoban, an Irish-born architect. President Washington chose the site which was included in the plan of the Federal City prepared by Major Pierre L’Enfant.
The cornerstone of the Executive Mansion, as it was originally known, was laid on October 13, 1792, 300 years after the landing of Columbus. President Washington was not present and never lived in the house. It was John Adams, the second President (1797-1801), who arrived in the new Capital City to take up his residence in the White House. On his second evening in its damp, unfinished rooms, he wrote to his wife, “Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.
The President’s home was the earliest of all government buildings in the District of Columbia. Compared to the huge, glittering palaces used by European and Asian rulers at the time it was built, the White House is a simple, almost unpretentious dwelling place.
On August 24, 1814, during Madison’s administration (1809 – 1817), the British troops entered Washington and set fire to the White House. By December 1817, James Hoban had completed rebuilding the Executive Mansion, and President Monroe (1817 – 1825) moved in.
The British were indirectly responsible for the name “White House”. Since the marks of the fire were clearly seen on the sandstone walls, they had to be obliterated by being painted white. But the house remained the “Executive Mansion” until the administration of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), when the words “White House” appeared and the term became official.