Flashback: On His First Day in Office, Biden Removed Integral Artifacts, Other Items from White House


On his first day as president, Joe Biden redecorated the Oval Office and removed military flags and the portrait of Andrew Jackson that had been displayed in former President Donald Trump’s office.

Flags from the different branches of the military were previously displayed behind the Resolute Desk, The Washington Post reported on Jan. 21, 2021.

They were replaced with an American flag and a flag with a presidential seal.

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The portrait of Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, had been selected by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was influenced by historian Walter Russell Mead’s writings about the “Jacksonian” tradition in American foreign policy, Politico reported in 2018.

Trump and Jackson both ran as populists, and Trump even visited Jackson’s Tennessee home after his inauguration, which led to a public outcry that Trump saw Jackson as a role model.

The Post reported that Jackson had kept slaves and signed the Indian Removal Act, which forced Native Americans to relocate and led to approximately 4,000 Cherokees dying on what has become known as the Trail of Tears.

The portrait of Jackson was criticized by some after it served as a backdrop for Trump as he honored Navajo code talkers in November 2017.

Mead, however, said that in order to understand Trump’s presidency, people needed to first understand Jackson.

“The Steve Bannon side of the Trump presidency remains very Jacksonian. Bannon isn’t in the White House, and he’s not welcome I think, but his influence is still felt,” Mead told Politico.

“Trump’s base remains Jacksonian. And Trump knows how to play to this base,” the historian continued.

“So even as Trump has kind of adjusted in some ways to the necessities of the Washington establishment and, you know, ‘Well, you can’t just completely reinvent American foreign policy,’ he continues to orient in this way.”

The Post reported that Biden had also removed a bust of Winston Churchill that had been reinstalled during Trump’s administration.

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The bust had been lent to former President George W. Bush by Great Britain, but it was returned after former President Barack Obama was elected.

Biden did keep the gold drapes that had hung in his predecessor’s office — as well as former President Bill Clinton’s office — and the Resolute Desk that has been used by many past presidents.

Biden’s Oval Office centers around a portrait of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrat who instituted the New Deal during the Great Depression.

There are also paired paintings of former President Thomas Jefferson and former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who were known for their frequent disagreements.

The paintings were hung together as “hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy,” Biden’s office told The Post.

Other notable additions to the office include busts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and left-wing activist Cesar Chavez.

“This Oval is an Oval for Day One,” Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations Ashley Williams said.

“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.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith