As nearly every president before him has done — President George Washington is the exception — President Donald Trump has begun putting his personal touches on the White House. Of his design choices, a portrait of Andrew Jackson — the first populist president, and one that oversaw a series of highly controversial policies — is already drawing ire.
Trump has stated through a spokeswoman that Jackson was “an amazing figure in American history — very unique [in] so many ways,” notes The New York Times.
“Jackson was the first president who was not a Virginia planter or an Adams from Massachusetts,” added Jon Meacham, who wrote a 2008 biography of Jackson. “The establishment at the time saw his election as a potentially destabilizing democratic moment in what was largely a republican culture.”
But Jackson’s brutal Native American removal policy, which includes the Trail of Tears that saw the death of at least 1 in 8 Cherokees forcibly moved from Georgia to Oklahoma, soured the seventh president’s legacy. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it would remove the portrait of Jackson from the $20 bill, in favor of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
In a 2015 interview, Trump stated, “If I were elected, I would maybe touch it up a little bit, but the White House is a special place,” notes People magazine.
The New York Times reports that Trump and the first lady are indeed redecorating the historic home’s private quarters in the residence wing.
“It’s a beautiful residence, it’s very elegant,” the president said. “There’s something very special when you know that Abraham Lincoln slept there … The Lincoln Bedroom, you know, was his office, and the suite where I’m staying is actually where he slept … Knowing all of that, it’s different, than, you know, just pure elegance and room size. There’s a lot of history.”
Sources: People, The Hill, The New York Times (2) / Photo credit: The White House/Wikimedia Commons