College of Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)
Jeffrey J. Rogers
James Monroe, President's House, White House, Early American Republic, James Hoban
History | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
Amos, Susan Glen, "James Monroe’s White House: The Genius of Politics and Place" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4032.
This research endeavor has discerned the origins of an enduring American nationalistic distinctiveness perpetuated by President James Monroe’s White House. A careful scholarly examination of Monroe’s White House as a cultural landscape enquires into the genesis of interdependence between place and politics. It also studies the depth of the American people’s ability to embrace, as their own, the symbolism and national vision fashioned in these spaces. The juxtaposition of James Monroe’s election as the first United States president after the War of 1812 with the resurrection of the White House manifested for him an exclusive opportunity, still fraught with perils, to define national identities and interiors for the early republic and its posterity. Early attempts to write about the White House compartmentalized the historical context by architecture, social aspects, executive functions, political power, and biographical literature. Self-imposed confinement in historical discourse prohibits a comprehensive narrative while encouraging the autonomy of places, events, ideals, and people. Interpreting the White House as a cultural landscape illuminates the agency of culture as a force in shaping the visible features within those spaces. Reciprocally, the physical environment retains a central significance as the medium through which human cultures act. Consequently, Monroe’s White House transubstantiated disaffection into a maturing national consciousness. Emphasizing and interpreting primary resources permits the examiner to expose a seemingly mutually exclusive trajectory of James Monroe’s early political career with the White House’s architectural evolution. In contrast, their paths reveal a diminishing parallel. At the point of infinity, the newly elected President Monroe refurbished the interiors and nurtured administrative protocols to foster domestic public and foreign diplomacy while encouraging national respect and integrity for the country.