As nearly every president before him has done -- President George Washington is the exception -- President Donald Trump has begun putting his personal touches on the White House. Of his design choices, a portrait of Andrew Jackson -- the first populist president, and one that oversaw a series of highly controversial policies -- is already drawing ire.
Trump has stated through a spokeswoman that Jackson was “an amazing figure in American history -- very unique [in] so many ways,” notes The New York Times.
“Jackson was the first president who was not a Virginia planter or an Adams from Massachusetts,” added Jon Meacham, who wrote a 2008 biography of Jackson. “The establishment at the time saw his election as a potentially destabilizing democratic moment in what was largely a republican culture.”
But Jackson's brutal Native American removal policy, which includes the Trail of Tears that saw the death of at least 1 in 8 Cherokees forcibly moved from Georgia to Oklahoma, soured the seventh president's legacy. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it would remove the portrait of Jackson from the $20 bill, in favor of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
In a 2015 interview, Trump stated, “If I were elected, I would maybe touch it up a little bit, but the White House is a special place," notes People magazine.
The New York Times reports that Trump and the first lady are indeed redecorating the historic home's private quarters in the residence wing.
“It’s a beautiful residence, it’s very elegant,” the president said. “There’s something very special when you know that Abraham Lincoln slept there ... The Lincoln Bedroom, you know, was his office, and the suite where I’m staying is actually where he slept ... Knowing all of that, it’s different, than, you know, just pure elegance and room size. There’s a lot of history.”