President Joe Biden officially moved into the White House on Wednesday. He signed 15 executive orders and also added some personal touches to the Oval Office.
The 46th president removed a portrait of Andrew Jackson and added a bust of labor icon and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez behind the Resolute Desk, reports the Washington Post.
The Oval Offices’ new layout includes busts of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy on either side of the fireplace. Other busts in the room include Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks.
Andrew Jackson’s portrait was replaced with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. Trump often identified with Jackson, who created brutal policies against indigenous people. He also participated in the slave trade.
Biden stressed his emphasis on unity with paintings of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, who were fierce rivals. Their paintings hang not far from each other. They are intended “as hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy,” Biden’s office stated.
Across from the Resolute Desk is a portrait of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt like Biden took office amid more than one crisis. Roosevelt was left dealing with the Great Depression and the who, like Biden, took office amid multiple crises, including the Great Depression and the oncoming World War II in Europe.
It is common for a new president to do some rearranging, but Biden’s Oval Office features more historical figures than in the past.
“It was important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America and started to show the landscape of who he is going to be as president,” Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations Ashley Williams stated.
During Trump’s time in the White House, he moved portraits as well but did so in a disrespectful way.
Back in July of 2020, Trump had the official portraits of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton removed from their prominent spots in the White House’s Grand Foyer and hung in a rarely used room.
The former president’s portraits were replaced with Republican presidents who served more than a century ago.
It is a White House tradition for portraits of the most recent American presidents to be given the most prominent placement, in the foyer of the White House so that they are visible to guests.
The portraits hung in the foyer on July 8 when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited the White House. Trump and Obrador stood in the Cross Hall and made comments and the portraits could clearly be seen in the background.
Sometime after the Mexican president’s visit Bush and Clinton’s portraits were removed and hung in the Old Family Dining Room, a small room that is rarely used and is not seen by visitors.
Being in the Old Family Dining Room places the paintings out of Trump’s vantage point in the White House. Where the portraits hung in the foyer Trump saw them on a daily basis. The portraits are now hidden away in a room used to store unused furniture.
Trump refused to hold the official hanging of former President Barack Obama’s portrait. It is not expected to be unveiled for its formal ceremony during Trump’s term. Trump has accused Obama of “unsubstantiated and unspecified crimes,” all of which he has no evidence of. Trump also questioned if Obama was born in the United States.
Trump has criticized both Bush and Clinton. John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor wrote in his tell-all book about his time in the Trump administration that Trump “despised” Bush and Clinton. Trump reportedly referred to Bush as “stupid” and stated that Clinton was a “bad president.”
George W. Bush’s portrait was replaced by a portrait of William McKinley, the 25th president who was assassinated in 1901. Clinton’s portrait was replaced by one of Theodore Roosevelt.