Named after HMS Resolute, a mid-19th-century barque-rigged ship of the British Royal Navy, specially outfitted for Arctic exploration. In August 1853, hopelessly caught in arctic ice, there was no choice but for the crew to abandon ship, striking out across the ice pack in search of their supply ships. Most of them made it despite egregious hardship, straggling into Beechey Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, between May and August, of the following year.
The American whale ship George Henry discovered Resolute drifting in the ice pack on September 10, 1855, 1,200 miles from her last known position. Senator James Mason of Virginia presented a bill in Congress to fix up the Resolute and give her back to her Majesty Queen Victoria’s government, as a token of friendship between the two nations. HMS Resolute served in the British navy until being retired and broken up in 1879. The British government ordered a desk to be made from the English oak of the ship’s timbers, and in 1880, the British government presented President Rutherford B. Hayes the gift. A token of gratitude for the return of the HMS Resolute, 24 years earlier. It now sits as pride of place in the Oval Office as the desk of the US president.