HistoryWired About the Program Help Comments Smithsonian Institution
Decoration of the "White House Piano"

Artist Thomas W. Dewing, a member of The Ten, a group of 10 American painters who exhibited together from 1898 to about 1920, continued the national theme when Steinway asked him to oversee the gilding and decoration of the underside of the lid. Although nominally entitling his subject "America Receiving the Nine Muses," Dewing avoided the classical allegories popular with artists of the day. Instead, he decorated the underside of the lid with an arrangement of dancing figures, whose colonial revival gowns also strike a patriotic chord. Dewing's wife, the noted still-life and portrait painter, Maria Oakey Dewing, painted the tendrils of foliage that encircle the case.


Henry Engelhard Steinway

Born in 1797 in Wolfshagen, Germany, Heinrich Engelhardt Steinweg fought--on the winning side--at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Music soothes the savage beast, however, and 20 years later he was running a piano business in the duchy of Brunswick. In 1849 he immigrated to New York with three sons. There, as Henry Engelhard Steinway, he opened a shop in 1853. The firm remained under family ownership until 1972.




Theodore Roosevelt, Twenty-sixth President, 1901-1909

When McKinley was shot, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest ever president of the United States, at the age of forty-two. A popular war hero from the Spanish-American War in which he led the famous Rough Rider Regiment on the charge up Cuba's San Juan Hill, Roosevelt had a reputation for courage, boundless energy, and idealism, which he amply demonstrated as president. Despite his wealthy origins, Roosevelt felt that it was his duty to protect American workers from the power of wealthy business interests. When Pennsylvania coal miners went on strike for higher wages in 1902, Roosevelt supported the workers and threatened to close down the mines unless the owners agreed to negotiate; he brought both sides to Washington, where the miners won many of their demands. A strong believer in racial equality, Roosevelt was the first president to dine with an African American in the White House. His guest was Booker T. Washington, renowned educator and principal of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Roosevelt was unanimously elected to a second term, during which he continued to support workers and average Americans by crusading as a "Trust Buster," against the unfair price-setting practices of big business. He went after railroad corruption with the Elkins Act, endorsed the Pure Food and Drug Act, and encouraged the vigorous lifestyle he and his large family so enjoyed by doubling the number of national parks and adding 150 million acres to the nation's forest reserve. Although Roosevelt was fond of hunting wild game, his refusal to shoot a captured bear cub on a hunting trip in Mississippi inspired the stuffed toy known today as the teddy bear. Roosevelt's mediation of the Russo-Japanese War won him a 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.


Related Images

Close-up of the muses
Close-up of the muses
The "White House Piano"

Start HistoryWired | About the Program | Help | Comments

Smithsonian Institution | Terms of Use | Privacy