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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Resolute: The American - British Connection

Resolute describes the tenor of President Barack Obama and of the American people as we enter into a new era with its unique challenges.  Resolute also describes a unique connection that the American and British people share, which I thought appropriate to bring back to light on this first day of the new administration.

The desk in the oval office upon which American Presidents have led and labored since President Hayes in 1880 is a gift of the British people, more specifically from Queen Victoria, fashioned from the timbers of HMS Resolute.

HMS Resolute was one of four Royal Navy ships under the command of Sir Edward Belcher that patrolled the arctic in the early 1850's in search of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin.  Resolute became engulfed in ice and after one year of trying to free the ship, it was abandoned by its crew who walked to other ships outside the ice to sail back to England.

Resolute broke itself free of the ice and was set adrift the following summer.  It was found by an American fishing vessel under the command of James Buddington and towed back to port.  Congress appropriated the ship and spent $40,000 to refurbish it and had it returned to England to be presented to Queen Victoria as a sign of good will between our countries.

Resolute entered back into Royal Navy service until its retirement, at which time Queen Victoria ordered its timbers to be used in part to construct the current Oval Office desk as a gift to the American people and another writing desk for her use at Buckingham Palace.

In the words of Paul Harvey, "Now you know the rest of the story."

Sir Hook the Resolute of Warrick


  1. Hey H.. nice story.. i love stories like that, the prosaic but sometimes more meaningful stuff behind the headlines...

    Barack with his sense of history, ( the Lincoln bible was a master touch ) will surely relish working at that desk , i know i would. I love anything with a history to it, and if i had a room with a need for a big writing desk, its the sort of provenance i'd be looking for.
    Mind you, i'd be feeling that i should be writing something important on it...instead of the shopping list that really would be written on it... and i can imagine the wood sighing and thinking...its come to this...:))

    Sir Dayvd ( written on a flat pack computer desk ) of Oxfordshire

  2. Must have been a pretty small ship if all they could make out it were a couple a desks! (rim shot)

    Okay, I also love these stories.

    I don't own an historical desk -- yet. Maybe the one I work at at home will someday be one!?

    Sir Bowie "ship out-of-shape" of Greenbriar