You’ve seen it: the iconic portrait of the first President, one hand clutching a sword, the other arm outstretched over an ornate table that is artfully mussed. Below this table are a few books: General Orders, American Revolution, and The Constitution and Laws of the United Sates.
You read that right: The country is identified as the United Sates, not the United States.
This masterpiece hangs in the East Room, the luxurious White House salon that holds social events and ceremonies, where the President hosts dignitaries from other countries and honors Americans for their contributions to society. And yet, the country’s name is misspelled.
But that misspelling isn't an accident.
Two hundred years ago, the British set fire to America's fledgling capital during the second year of the War of 1812. Dolley Madison, the first lady at the time, “refused to be rushed" in evacuating the White House, says Anthony Pitch, a tour guide with Washington, D.C. Sightseeing who spoke Tuesday at a White House Historical Association lecture.
“She insisted on staying to save the $800 portrait of Washington,” Pitch said. Some historical accounts claim the first lady ordered workers to “save that picture!”