An incoming US President must make many decisions. Amongst others, which desk they will sit at. Today’s Presidents have six to choose from.
The Resolute Desk, used by Rosevelt, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump was a gift to President Hayes from Queen Victoria in 1880. HMS Resolute, the barque-rigged ship from which the desk is made, had a much more substantial political role many years earlier.
Found adrift in the Davis Strait by an American whaler after she had been abandoned by her Royal Navy commander, HMS Resolute was sailed to New London in 1854.
The salvage of Resolute in one of the wilder parts of the Atlantic Ocean coincided with tensions between America and Britain having gone beyond breaking point. President Franklin Pierce had recently ceased relations with Britain sent its diplomats home. In a bold move, Virginia senator James Murray Mason proposed a bill to buy Resolute and send her back to Britain as a sign of good will in the hope of peace between the two countries. The ship arrived in Cowes in 1856 and was presented to Queen Victoria, a diplomatic move that helped ease tensions between America and Britain significantly.
When the ship was eventually broken in Chatham Dockyard, Queen Victoria ordered a desk be made from her English Oak and presented to the US President as a symbol of enduring friendship between the two countries.