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Author Topic: Obama's link to Kent  (Read 3128 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Obama's link to Kent
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2010, 17:55:06 »
Not only, but also.......

The Shipkeeping team at the Dockyard made a pen-holder from scrap timber from Gannet's restoration, which was presented by Gordon Brown to President Obama and now sits on the Resolute Desk.

In return, the President gave Mr Brown a bunch of DVD's (which can't be played in a standard DVD player because they're region 1).
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline bromptonboy

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Obama's link to Kent
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 19:13:13 »
When President Obama signed his first Presidential Order how many people were aware of the unique link to Kent that witnessed the historic act?

The huge Partners Desk at which he sat is known as the Resolute Desk and has a direct link back to Chatham Dockyard. In 1850 Britain sent a naval expedition to the Arctic in search of the lost Franklin expedition. Some of the search ships including HMS Resolution became trapped in the pack ice and after two winters were abandoned by their crews to their supposed fate of being crushed by the ice and sinking. Not so! HMS Resolute defied the ice and was found still trapped by American whalers and recovered to an American port.

Now Britain and the USA had for a period been close to a third war that the USA wished to avoid. So the US Govenment bought HMS Resolute from the whalers and had her fully refitted in a US Navy Yard before sailing her back to Britain as a gift of friendship to Queen Victoria from the people of America. 23 years later when HMS Resolute was broken up in Chatham Dockyard Queen Victoria commissioned the partners desk that now sits in the Oval Office as a gift of friendship back to the people of America. The desk was designed and created by a skilled Dockyard Joiner called William Evenden, most likely in the Joiners Shop that still exists in The Historic Dockyard today.

The desk has been used by every US President since Rutherford Hayes received it in 1880 except Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

William Evenden didn't produce just one piece of significant furniture from the timbers of HMS Resolute but at least three pieces that are known of. Apart from the Resolute Desk, Queen Victoria had two other desks made by him. Both were smaller Ladies Writing Desks. One she presented to the widow of James Grinnell who had financed the search for the Franklin expedition and one she kept for herself. Queen Victoria's desk was used in Buckingham Palace and also on the Royal Yacht. It remains in the Royal collection to this day and is currently on loan to the Royal Navy which has it in Portsmouth. Another bit of 'Chatham Heritage' that Portsmouth has got!

So the 'Special Relationship' as Churchill christened it goes back a lot longer than WW2 to HMS Resolute and the desk that came out of her. The desk has probably borne witness to some of the most important decisions in world history. The US entry into WW1 and WW2, the Lend-Lease scheme of WW2 that saved Britain, the Cuba Missile Crisis, the US entry into Vietnam, both Gulf Wars, and now the first black President of the USA have all occurred while the desk from Chatham was in use by the US President of the time in the Oval Office.


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