THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT "AN INVITATION TO THE WHITE HOUSE" BOOK PARTY RECEPTION The East Room
6:00 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, and good evening. Hillary and I are delighted to welcome all of you here. And I want to especially thank Carter Brown and Carl Anthony, who I will recognize shortly. I also want to thank Neil Horstman, the White House Historical Association, and the White House Curator, Betty Monkman, for their work to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the White House; and to recognize the members of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House for the renovation and the refurbishment which they have made possible.
I hope that you've all had the opportunity to go on the short tour just before we started -- I understand you have -- and to see again what an extraordinary place the American people's house really is.
For two centuries now, the American people have looked at the White House as a symbol of our nation's leadership, strength and continuity; also a symbol of progress and change. The White House wears its history proudly, but is forever growing and changing, along with America. If you think about the history of this room, it's illustrative.
The East Room began life as Abigail Adams' laundry room, when she moved in to the half-finished house in 1801. A few years later, Thomas Jefferson laid out maps and books with Meriwether Lewis to plot the expedition that forever changed the map of America. In this room Abraham Lincoln lay in state. In this room, a century later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.
Hillary and I have had our own opportunities to add to the history of this room. For here we hosted the state dinner for Nelson Mandela, the first President of a free, multiracial South Africa. Appropriately, as we enter the new century, the East Room also hosted the first ever White House cybercast. And just today we held here another in a series of White House conferences, this one on culture and diplomacy. The others have ranged in topics from the new economy to early childhood development in the brain.
Hillary has led the way in meeting our responsibility during these years to preserve and enhance the White House and its collections. As over 1.5 million people come here every year, Hillary has taken extraordinary steps to ensure that they experience the best of our past and the promise of our shared future.
She personally oversaw the restoration of several of the public rooms, and helped to build and diversify the collection of American art. She established the beautiful sculpture garden in the Jackie Kennedy Garden downstairs, and worked with the White House Historical Association to raise a lasting endowment to preserve the White House and its collections. And as we now know, she somehow found the time to chronicle our lives here and how the White House works and makes our lives possible in "An Invitation to the White House."
I hope her book will give millions of our fellow Americans who may never come here a better sense of what is so special about the house, what history tells us about the strength of our nation, and about the remarkable people who actually make this place work, day in and day out, year in and year out.
The history of this house is the history of brave men and women, from John and Abigail Adams, and the men and women who served them, down to the present day. As the White House enters its third century, I hope that all of those who come after us will find, as Hillary and I have, enormous sustenance and strength in the power of this great place.
I must say, it has been an honor to live here, and I can honestly say that there is never a time when the helicopter lands on the South Lawn that I still don't feel the thrill of just being here, of being able to walk in this place, visit the rooms, and re-live, as I have so often, the history of our country and what happened in various places in this grand old house. So I thank you all for that.
Now let me welcome J. Carter Brown, who has been a valued artistic advisor to us, and indeed to every first family since the Kennedy administration. Thank you.
END 6:15 P.M. EST