Viewing page 25 of 44

-5-

1836, the present building was begun on the site designated by President Jackson. It was commonly reported that, becoming wearied of the delay in selecting the location, General Jackson planted his cane one morning at the northeast corner of the present site and said "Here, right here, I want the corner-stone laid". And it was laid there, notwithstanding the fact that, when finally completed in 1869, the south wing was interposed between the Capitol and the White House, and thus shut off the vista at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before leaving this subject, I would like to say a word also about the White House. It is so perfect, in proportion and design, that it merits special comment. But what has seemed to me remarkable is that a building, which was planned for a small and struggling nation and situated in what was at that time a backwoods capital, should have proved adequate for the needs of one of the greatest and most powerful nations in the world today. Such things do not come about by accident. It was surely due to the extraordinary foresight of some one, and that person, it is interesting to know, was Washington, himself. Following the adoption of Hoban's plan for the White House, Washington directed that the size of the building be enlarged one-fifth over the original plan, notwithstanding the difficulty of meeting the increased cost involved. The President's reason shows his intensely practical mind. He said "I was led to this idea by considering that a House which would be very proper for a President of the United States for some years to come, might not be considered as corresponding with other circumstances at a more distant period; and, therefore, to avoid the inconvenience which might arise hereafter on that subject, I wished the building to be upon the plan I have mentioned". Washington's views were carried out; and so we owe one more debt to that great man,
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.