In the wake of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, it became clear that Donald Trump would not be the only former president making an exit from the Oval Office.
While it is common for a new administration to do some serious redecorating, Biden appeared to send a message with the removal of a portrait depicting Andrew Jackson, as The Daily Wire reported.
Jackson’s complicated legacy
Reports indicate the Jackson portrait had been replaced with founding father Benjamin Franklin. The decision was subsequently analyzed by historians and pundits, specifically insofar as Trump has sometimes been favorably compared to Jackson.
Known as Old Hickory, Jackson lost his 1824 race against John Quincy Adams, whose victory was confirmed through a controversial process known as “the corrupt bargain.” Nevertheless, Jackson came back four years later and won his first of two terms in the White House.
Jackson has often been regarded as among the nation’s greatest presidents, though his legacy has also been tarnished by his role in displacing Native Americans with the signing of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. In fact, protesters engaged in an unsuccessful effort last year to remove a Jackson statue standing outside the White House.
Trump was a frequent defender of his predecessor, including with a 2016 pronouncement that efforts to replace Jackson on the $20 bill amounted to “pure political correctness.”
He also paid a visit to the seventh president’s homestead, the Hermitage, shortly after taking office.
Other Oval Office updates
In addition to the portrait replacement, Biden also removed a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, leading to some international controversy, while adding a portrait of Churchill’s U.S. contemporary, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Hill reported.
Among the other additions to the Biden White House are busts of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, civil rights icon Rosa Parks, and labor activist Cesar Chavez. A bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. was reportedly moved to another area.
A Biden spokesperson insisted that it “was important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America and started to show the landscape of who he is going to be as president.”
His office went on to describe the addition of portraits depicting Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, whose competing philosophies about federalism helped form the young nation, as a symbol of “how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy.”
A decidedly less consequential Oval Office change, according to reports, was Biden’s decision to remove a button on his desk that Trump had apparently used to summon the White House butler with a glass of Diet Coke.