Linking the discussions of slavery, empire and the built environment in Scotland with other sites brings focus to one of the most famous and iconic buildings in the world – The White House in Washington D.C., U.S.A. While considering the role of Scots in its construction, we can also consider the role that neoclassical architecture and urban design had in perpetuating the narratives of white supremacy, and how this occurred through global networks established through the transatlantic slave trade.


Scots who built the White House

A number of skilled Scottish stonemasons were engaged in the construction of the White House in Washington D.C. Historic Environment Scotland explored how the skills honed in constructing the neoclassical Edinburgh New Town honed the skills of masons commissioned to oversee the quarrying, and craft the stonework of this iconic building.

The White House and Slavery

Professor Mabel O. Wilson of Columbia University was invited earlier this year to give the Eduard F. Sekler keynote at the Society of Architectural Historians annual conference. In this, she discusses the role and depiction of enslaved people who were involved in the construction of the White House, and the legacies of neoclassical architecture and urban design of the White House, and the Washington Mall in representing white supremacy and oppression in the United States of America.

Mabel O. Wilson

Eduard F. Seckler Talk, Society of Architectural Historians Keynote Speech, 2020