Biden makes symbolic changes to Oval Office reflecting goals as president

MICHELLE STODDART and ADIA ROBINSON
·2 min read

Not long after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump had a portrait of the populist and controversial President Andrew Jackson placed prominently in the Oval Office, looking down as he held photo ops, signed sweeping executive orders and sparred with reporters.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks with Navajo Code Talkers during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 27, 2017. A painting of President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, is seen in the foreground (Susan Walsh/AP)
PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks with Navajo Code Talkers during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Nov. 27, 2017. A painting of President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, is seen in the foreground (Susan Walsh/AP)

But that painting of Jackson has been replaced.

Now, next to President Joe Biden as he sits at the Resolute desk is a portrait of one of America's founders, Benjamin Franklin.

PHOTO: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. New carpeting and drapes are some of the pictured changes. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. New carpeting and drapes are some of the pictured changes. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Other symbolic changes Biden has made include adding busts of labor organizer and Latino civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, as well as portraits of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

PHOTO: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C., including a painting of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the mantle of the fireplace. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C., including a painting of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the mantle of the fireplace. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO:A sculpted bust of Rosa Parks, foreground, and Abraham Lincoln, right, are seen displayed on a table during an early preview of the redesigned Oval Office awaiting President Joseph Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.  ( Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
PHOTO:A sculpted bust of Rosa Parks, foreground, and Abraham Lincoln, right, are seen displayed on a table during an early preview of the redesigned Oval Office awaiting President Joseph Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021. ( Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

"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," Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office operations, told the Washington Post.

The busts of King and Kennedy, who Biden on the campaign trail called his political heroes, are in his direct view on either side of the Oval Office fireplace.

The Chavez bust sits among photos of Biden’s family, including one of his beloved late son, Beau, on a table behind him.

PHOTO: Photos of President Joe Biden's family and a A bust of Latino American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez are displayed behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office just hours after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Photos of President Joe Biden's family and a A bust of Latino American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez are displayed behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office just hours after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Chavez’ son, Paul Chavez, told the Associated Press that when he agreed to lend the bust to the president, he didn't know where it would end up. Seeing it placed so noticeably behind Biden, Chavez said, "we’re still smiling cheek to cheek."

Franklin's portrait is said to be a nod to his respect for science.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

A large portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who also came into office during a time of economic hardship during the Great Depression, hangs right across the room as Biden sits at the Resolute desk.

Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington also look on from the Oval Office walls.

Biden paired the portraits of Jefferson and Hamilton, his office told the Washington Post as "hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy."

PHOTO: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.  (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Alexander Hamilton as a former president. He was a founding father and the first treasury secretary of the United States. The article has been updated.

Biden makes symbolic changes to Oval Office reflecting goals as president originally appeared on abcnews.go.com