Shapell’s Manuscript Foundation & The White House

Certainly, it came as quite a shock to Theodore Roosevelt when, on September 14, 1901, he became the President of the United States. Assuming that President McKinley would recover from his gunshot wounds, Vice President Roosevelt was hiking the highest peak in New York State when he was called back to take the highest office.

The letter that the Shapell Manuscript Foundation has as part of its “Between the Lines” program offers a rare glimpse into Roosevelt’s state of mind and into the future of the presidency at the time.  Writing to a dear friend on the day that he would take office, Roosevelt wrote, “I have about as heavy and painful a task out upon me as can fall to the lot of any man in a civilized country…”

Along with many other changes that Roosevelt would make as President, he would be the first President to call the building in which he resided by its official name – The White House.  The letter featured with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation is written from stationary that had the heading “Executive Mansion” on it.  President Roosevelt, breaking with this traditional, would instigate the new and lasting name for the building, changing the stationery to say “The White House” and starting to call the building by this name.

President Roosevelt would have many “firsts” behind him, as the first President to ride in an automobile and the first to travel outside of the United States.  Here, we see that he was also the first to do away with the stationery and the title “Executive Mansion” and to live, as he should, in “The White House.”

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]