segunda-feira, 11 de novembro de 2013

43. White house history

Welcome to This Is America from VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember.

And I'm Kelly Jean Kelly. This week on our program, we look at the history of the White House, the president’s home in Washington, DC.

When America’s first president, George Washington, entered office1 in 1789, the nation’s capital was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But Washington and other lawmakers2 agreed3 to move the capital south.

In 1790, Washington signed4 an act of Congress to establish5 the federal government in the District of Columbia. The states of Virginia and Maryland donated6 the areas. George Washington and French7 urban planner8 Pierre L’Enfant chose9 the site10 for the new presidential home.

A competition took place11 to find12 a designer. An architect named13 James Hoban from Ireland14 won15 the competition.

He proposed16 a building17 modeled on a wealthy18 man’s house in Dublin. Today, that building—called Leinster House—is where the Irish Parliament19 meets20.

James Hoban originally suggested the house be three stories21. But George Washington changed the design to two stories. He was worried22 the government quarry23 would not have enough stone24 for both25 the president’s house and a building for Congress. 

Work on the house started in 1792. At that time26, the building was called by names such as27 the President’s Palace or the Executive Mansion28. Its walls29 were not yet white30, but grayish31 sandstone32.

George Washington supervised33 the building project. Yet34 he and his wife35, Martha, never lived there. The house was completed long after36 he left office37 in 1797.

America's second president, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail, were the first to live in the new home. They moved38 in on November 1, 1800. The inside39 of the house was still not completed40. Abigail Adams was known41 to have complained about42 the house’s condition.

Perhaps43 luckily44 for her, John and Abigail Adams lived in the president’s house for only four months. John Adams lost re-election45 to Thomas Jefferson that autumn46.

During47 the following48 eight years, Jefferson tried49 to finish work on the home. So did50 the next president, James Madison.

In 1814, British forces invaded Washington. They burned51 the president’s home. President Madison's wife, Dolley, tried to save valuable52 objects from the fire as she fled53.

Some say she rescued54 a painting55 of George Washington. However56, some historians question that story.

One way or another57, the portrait58 survived. It is perhaps one of the most well-known images of George Washington. The picture —painted by Gilbert Stuart — hangs59 in the White House to this day.

Here is British Prime Minister60 David Cameron, talking about the fire61 of 1814.

“So I am a little embarrassed62 as I stand63 here to think that 200 years ago my ancestors64 tried to burn this place down. Now looking around me65 I can see you’ve got the place a little better defended today. You’re clearly not taking any risks with the Brits this time66.”


1. entered office = entrou no cargo
2. lawmakers = legisladores
3. agreed = concordaram
4. signed = assinou
5. establish = estabelecer
6. donated = doaram
7. French = Francês
8. planner = planejador
9. chose = escolheu
10. site = local, lugar
11. took place = aconteceu
12. find = encontrar
13. named = chamado
14. Ireland = Irlanda
15. won = venceu
16. proposed = propôs
17. building = prédio
18. wealthy = rico
19. Irish Parliament = Parlamento Irlandês
20. meets = reune-se
21. stories = andares
22. was worried = estava preocupado
23. quarry = pedreira
24. enough stone = pedra suficiente
25. both = tanto (quanto)
26. At that time = naquela época
27. such as = tal como
28. Mansion = mansão
29. walls = paredes
30. were not yet white = não eram ainda brancas
31. grayish = acinzentado
32. sandstone = arenito
33. supervised = supervisionou
34. Yet = porém
35. wife = esposa
36. long after = muito tempo depois
37. left office = deixou o cargo
38. moved = mudaram-se
39. inside = interior
40. was still not completed = ainda não estava completa
41. known = conhecido(a)
42. have complained about = ter reclamado sobre
43. Perhaps = talvez
44. luckily = felizmente
45. lost re-election = perdeu a reeleição
46. autumn = outono
47. During = durante
48. following = próximos, seguintes
49. tried = tentou
50. So did = assim também fez
51. burned = queimaram
52. valuable = valioso
53. as she fled = enquanto ela fugia
54. rescued = resgatou
55. painting = pintura, quadro
56. However = contudo
57. One way or ranother = de uma forma ou de outra
58. portrait = retrato
59. hangs = esta pendurado (exposto)
60. Prime Minister = Primeiro ministro
61. fire = incendio
62. embarrassed  = envergonhado
63. stand = ficar parado
64. ancestors = antepassados
65. looking around me = olhando ao meu redor

66. This time = Desta vez