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John Adams spent the majority of his presidency in Philadelphia, but later occupied the President's House in Washington, D.C., which officially became the new federal city in December 1800. About a month beforehand, President Adams moved into the Executive Mansion on November 1. The house was unfinished, yet habitable, and the president and First Lady Abigail Adams made six rooms comfortable, and had others prepared for official entertaining using furniture shipped from Philadelphia. Congress purchased a full-length portrait of George Washington for $800, the only object remaining in the White House from the Adams administration.

Thomas Jefferson succeeded Adams and moved into a home that was still unfinished. Jefferson spent the majority of a $25,000 appropriation on structural improvements to make the house habitable and purchased items that were utilitarian in nature: crockery ware, kitchen furniture, floor cloths, and window blinds.

Soup Tureen & Stand, Preserves Stand. Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Sèvres, France, 1782. John and Abigail Adams may have acquired this family service for official entertaining while he was American minister to France in 1785.

White House Historical Association

This article was originally published in The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and First Families, 19-26.

Footnotes & Resources

The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and First Families, 26-37

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