Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 12:21:23 EST


Subject: Re: White House

Asks Barry Popik -

AMERICA IN SO MANY WORDS has "White House" as the word of the year for 1811.

Is this too early?

The authors of ASMW, duty-bound to their public, humbly offer this excerpt

from the book, so that all may decide for themselves:

1811 White House

The residence of the president of the United States did not start out as

the White House. In the early years of its occupancy by the Adamses and

Jeffersons, it was called the President's House. It took a proclamation by

Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 to officially designate it the White House. . . .

Legend says it got the name White House when it was rebuilt and painted

white after the British burned it in 1814. In fact, it was known as the White

House at least three years earlier. A letter of 1811 mentions a politician who

went "to act as a sort of political conductor to attract the lightning that

may issue from the clouds round the Capitol and the White House at


Source: 1811 citation in W.A. Craigie, _Dictionary of American English on

Historical Principles_, and M.M. Mathews, _Dictionary of Americanisms on

Historical Principles_, s.v. White House.

We have benefited greatly from Barry's sightings and citings, and will make a

note to mention "Palace" in this entry in our next edition.

- Allan Metcalf & David Barnhart