President Clinton chose to use the Resolute Desk, made from the timbers of the British ship, the HMS Resolute. Abandoned north of the Arctic Circle in 1854, the HMS Resolute was later found by the crew of an American whaling ship, refitted, and sent to Queen Victoria as a token of goodwill. When the ship was later dismantled, the desk was made from timbers of the ship, and Queen Victoria gave it to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Every President from President Hayes through President Dwight D. Eisenhower used the desk; it was first placed in the Oval Office in 1961 at the request of President John F. Kennedy.
After being on exhibit for ten years at the Smithsonian Institution, the
Resolute was put back into use by President Jimmy Carter. The Resolute
was also used in the Oval Office by
President Ronald Reagan and
for a few months by President George
Bush. On January 20, 1993, this historic desk
was returned to the Oval Office once again, at the request of President