A few days ago, when I wrote about the clueless Mexican journalist, I received much feedback, mostly from people incredulous that someone so clueless could find himself in such a position to let the world know how ignorant he is. Of course, I suppose the Mexican journalist could have thought that displaying his willingness to proffer moronic assessments of the situation could net him a job here in the states. . .and I guess it’s marginally better (albeit less exciting) than throwing a shoe. I’m also pretty disappointed in myself in that it took me two days to realize that a shoe-throwing joke would have been the way to go! But perhaps the most interesting (for lack of a better word) reply was from a Canadian, who suggested that as a Canadian, she was perturbed by the fact that Americans are constantly making false assumptions and incorrect statements about Canadians, and so because of that, no American (not one!) had room to talk regarding the ignorance of others. She then went on to mention that because the White House was burned down in the War of 1812 and was then painted white to cover up the scorch marks, we (Americans) owe it to our neighbors of the North (Canadians, duh!) for the fact that the White House is white.
Well, first off, what if I don’t like the fact that the White House is white? What then, Canuck? Should I hold you accountable for the fact that it’s not the Red House, or perhaps the Mauve House? And does it being white make a difference? Would Jimmy Carter have been any more ineffective of a President if he lived in the Pink House (actually, that might have been the only way for that to happen), or would Richard Nixon have been any less crooked residing in the (wait for it) Checkered House? Whatever, Canada, I’ll be thankful to you for other real contributions you’ve made – like Pamela Anderson, Bryan Adams, and curling. Oh wait, never mind. . .Hayden Christensen? NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo
Ok, so now we know, Canada, that I’m not particularly thankful for the White House being white. . .but are you still responsible for it? Well, do you think I would have gone through the trouble of writing this post if the answer was anything other than no???
It turns out that when the initial construction was finished, the porous sandstone walls were sealed with a mixture of lime, rice glue, casein, and lead, which was (surprise!) white in color. As the White House was originally constructed from 1792 – 1800, it seems that the white color actually predates the war (and the fire) by 12 (and 14) years! It is true that it was repainted white after the reconstruction was finished following the war, but let’s face it, that’s just grasping at straws. Are you not going to repaint your house after a fire?
So if it was white years before the war, how about the name? Maybe they just started calling a house that had been white for 14 years “The White House” after burning it down and rebuilding it. You know, to make it more fireproof in case the British come back. Actually, there are a few recorded instances of the building being referred to as “The White House” before 1814. For example, in the spring of 1811, British minister to the US Francis James Jackson wrote that his successor would “act as a sort of political conductor to attract the lightning that may issue from the clouds round the Capitol and the White House at Washington.” Also, on March 18, 1812, a Massachusetts congressman wrote, “There is much trouble at the White House, as we call it, I mean the President’s.”
In fact, the President’s residence didn’t officially become “The White House” until 1901 when Theodore Roosevelt had “White House – Washington” engraved on Presidential stationery. Prior to that, the term “Executive Mansion” was used officially, as seen on this copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
So, Canada, it looks like people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I really don’t care that you just believe any ‘ol myth that strokes your Canadian ego, but I found it exceedingly hilarious for you to pontificate on how ill-informed (all!) Americans are and then toss up a big fat hanging curve like that. What really strikes me as funny is that there are several things that Canada has gotten the shaft on, like Bryan Adams and Celine Dion. Also, it seems that (at least here in the US) the extent to which Canadian forces were involved in D-Day (the invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944) has largely been forgotten. 73,000 US troops landed on D-Day, and (if you’re not Canadian) you might be surprised to find out that 21,500 Canadians took part in the invasion. Spread the news about that!
But don’t worry, Canada. According to the US Articles of Confederation (specifically, Article XI), Canada is pre-approved for admission to the Union! It’s not too late; you can still join the madness. . .