Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy play a historic function during the Kennedy administration—in restoring the White House, supporting the arts, fostering historic preservation, and serving together a traveling ambassador.

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In January 1960, Senator man F. Kennedy of Massachusetts announced his candidacy because that the presidency of the unified States, launching 11 months of cross-country campaigning. A couple of weeks right into the campaign, Jacqueline Kennedy became pregnant through their 2nd child, and her physicians instructed she to stay at home. Over there she answered project mail, taped TV commercials, offered interviews and wrote "Campaign Wife," a syndicated tower carried across the nation.

Celebration that a Kennedy election win was adhered to just weeks later on by solemn event of the bear of john Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. At period 31, Jacqueline Kennedy came to be the third youngest an initial lady in US background and the an initial to it is in the mother of one infant since the revolve of the century. Though she identified her significant roles as "to take treatment of the president" and also raise her children, she would certainly go ~ above to do her own lasting point out as an initial lady.

In the White House

Jacqueline Kennedy had an initial visited the White residence as a tourist through her mother and also sister in 1941. She to be dismayed to view so few historical furnishings top top display and frustrated by the absence of a booklet to inform visitors around the background of the an excellent house. 20 years later, as very first lady, she search to change things and also make the White house "the many perfect residence in the joined States."

Before she husband"s inauguration, Mrs. Kennedy checked out the White house as the guest of very first Lady Mamie Eisenhower. Disappointed v its appearance, Mrs. Kennedy described the White home as "that dreary Maison Blanche." Calling that an "18th-century house," she believed that it should be furnished v antiques in the style of previous presidents. The was, she thought, a museum that must reflect the artistic background of the joined States.

Restoration, no Decoration

"All these people come to watch the White House and they see virtually nothing the dates ago before 1948," Mrs. Kennedy said in a September 1, 1961 interview with Hugh Sidey of Life magazine. "Everything in the White home must have actually a factor for gift there. It would be sacrilege simply to "redecorate" it -- a word i hate. It have to be restored -- and also that has actually nothing to carry out with decoration. That is a question of scholarship."

Mrs. Kennedy"s passion for history guided and also informed her occupational in the White House. She want to share she knowledge and also excitement around the past with all Americans, particularly children. She understood that to a child, American background can regularly be a dry and also dull affair, and she saw a visit come the President"s residence as a opportunity to spark each child"s attention in the civilization who made the country what that is today.

An historical Hunt

Mrs. Kennedy easily learned that many White house furnishings that the past were maintained in government storage facilities throughout Washington, DC. Presidential family members had preserved some pieces when they left the White House; others had actually been marketed at public auctions in the 19th century.

Her goal to be to reclaim the state rooms the the White house to reflect the artistic and also architectural history of the presidential mansion. In ~ a month the becoming first lady, she created a White residence Fine arts Committee made up of specialists in historical preservation and also decorative arts.


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Mrs. Kennedy and her committee located plenty of pieces that furniture and also artwork that had actually been own by presidents, had actually been part of the White residence collection, or exemplified the duration portrayed in the different rooms. They likewise persuaded plenty of owners of historic furnishings to donate them to the White House.

Most important among their finds were items that had belonged come Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Madison. Mrs. Kennedy personally went v each White house storage room unearthing forgotten pieces. She then had them restored and went back to places of prominence.

She began with the reconstruction of the Oval Office. Amongst the pieces of furniture she discovered in the White home was a desk made from the timbers that the British sailing ship HMS Resolute, presented by Queen Victoria in 1878 to chairman Rutherford B. Hayes. Mrs. Kennedy had it dusted off and moved right into the Oval Office whereby it continues to be today. An exact replica that the desk can be uncovered in the Kennedy Library and Museum"s Oval Office exhibit. 

The White House historical Association

To protect against the politically controversial usage of windy money for this work, Mrs. Kennedy established the White House historic Association, which would publish the first official White house guidebook in 1962. All revenues from the revenue of the guidebook come the millions that toured the White residence would be used to fund the repair project and also to acquisition the furnishings and also other historical materials situated by the well Arts Committee.

Together v the recently appointed White residence curator, she authorized the guidebook"s text, decided which photographs would be featured, and designed the layout. Within ten month of publication, 500,000 duplicates were sold. The White House: An historical Guide continues to support the work-related of the White House historic Association.

The White home on TV

With her project close to completion, Mrs. Kennedy agreed to conduct a televised tour of the executive, management Mansion because that CBS tv on February 14, 1962. A record audience of 56 million viewers tuned in to hear the very first lady as she guided them with the White House and also its newly revitalized rooms. The White House, she said, was not just a ar for the president to work and also live, but likewise as a location for every American who went to Washington, DC, a showcase because that art and also culture, and a location of nationwide pride.

The tourism was so well received that the Academy of tv Arts and Sciences forgive Mrs. Kennedy one honorary Emmy award for her achievement.

Historic Preservation

Mrs. Kennedy"s understand in historical preservation went beyond the White residence walls. She asked her friend, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, to redesign the president"s rose Garden. She envisioned the garden as a natural sanctuary and retreat just outside the Oval Office and an ideal space for greeting special travellers and large groups.


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In 1962, Mrs. Kennedy learned the the historic dwellings that lined Lafayette Square throughout the street from the White residence were scheduled for demolition to do room for large government office buildings. She personally intervened and commissioned a new plan that maintained the historic identity of the renowned square. The duration town dwellings were sheathed in red brick and also the brand-new office structures placed behind them.

Mrs. Kennedy also promoted the reconstruction of Pennsylvania Avenue, the main thoroughfare that linked the White house to Capitol Hill, and supported development of a national cultural complex, i m sorry eventually ended up being the Kennedy facility for the Performing arts in Washington, DC.

Her interest in conservation extended beyond the unified States and also included she involvement in the rescue that the ancient Egyptian temples at Abu Simbel, which were threatened by the floodwaters created by the Aswan Dam. Her enthusiasm for historic preservation added to its cultivation influence throughout the country and magnified Americans" understanding and also appreciation of your heritage.

A Champion of the Arts

Mrs. Kennedy was also a patriot. Prefer President Kennedy, she believed that American civilization had come the age. With each other they commemorated American arts and letters and also encouraged american to take it pride in your artistic, as well as their political, heritage. They provided diplomatic occasions at home and also abroad come express core national values; come celebrate American history, culture, and achievement; and also to improve the function of the arts in national life.

As first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy plan elegant state occasions, transforming the White house into a showcase for social and pundit achievement. Authors, scientists, artists, musicians and also actors mingled v politicians, diplomats, and also statesmen. In the eastern Room, she had actually a portable stage constructed for musical and also dramatic performances, including a series of concerts because that young people. V these activities and others, Mrs. Kennedy motivated a new public regard for the arts. In the people of fashion, Mrs. Kennedy came to be a trendsetter. She taste influenced designers, magazines, newspapers, and also the public.

Traveling Ambassador


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Mrs. Kennedy"s interest in the societies of various other countries and also her fluency in languages made her a famous ambassador about the world. She accompanied she husband on trips to France, Austria, the unified Kingdom, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Columbia and additionally traveled as an initial lady come Italy, Pakistan, and India.

Mrs. Kennedy speak French fluently. The extraordinarily warmth reception she received on a visit come Paris in may 1961 motivated President Kennedy to remark, "I execute not think the altogether inappropriate to present myself... I am the male who attach Jacqueline Kennedy come Paris, and also I have delighted in it."

After the White House

On November 22, 1963 john F. Kennedy to be assassinated in Dallas and Jacqueline Kennedy ended up being a widow at age 34. She plan the president"s state funeral, which was watched by millions around the people who common her grief and admired she courage and also dignity.

Soon after chairman Kennedy"s death, she started the occupational to build the man F. Kennedy Library, which would commemorate she husband"s life. She chose then-unknown architect I.M. Pei to design the library and also decided ~ above a striking place overlooking Boston Harbor.

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In 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. After ~ his fatality in 1975, she carried out a effective career in publishing. On might 19, 1994, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died in her brand-new York City home. She was laid come rest next to President Kennedy in Arlington national Cemetery exterior Washington, DC.