Friday, April 18, 2014

Wilson's Letter to the Pope

You can read Wilson's reply to a letter by the Pope in 1917:
To His Holiness Benedictus XV, Pope:

In acknowledgment of the communication of Your Holiness to the belligerent peoples, dated August 1, 1917, the President of the United States requests me to transmit the following reply:

Every heart that has not been blinded and hardened by this terrible war must be touched by this moving appeal of His Holiness the Pope, must feel the dignity and force of the humane and generous motives which prompted it, and must fervently wish that we might take the path of peace he so persuasively points out. But it would be folly to take it if it does not in fact lead to the goal he proposes. Our response must be based upon the stern facts and upon nothing else. It is not a mere cessation of arms he desires; it is a stable and enduring peace. This agony must not be gone through with again, and it must be a matter of very sober judgment that will insure us against it.

His Holiness in substance proposes that we return to the status quo ante bellum, and that then there be a general condonation, disarmament, and a concert of nations based upon an acceptance of the principle of arbitration; that by a similar concert freedom of the seas be established; and that the territorial claims of France and Italy, the perplexing problems of the Balkan States, and the restitution of Poland be left to such conciliatory adjustments as may be possible in the new temper of such a peace, due regard being paid to the aspirations of the peoples whose political fortunes and affiliations will be involved.

It is manifest that no part of this program can be successfully carried out unless the restitution of the status quo ante furnishes a firm and satisfactory basis for it. The object of this war is to deliver the free peoples of the world from the menace and the actual power of a vast military establishment controlled by an irresponsible government which, having secretly planned to dominate the world, proceeded to carry the plan out without regard either to the sacred obligations of treaty or the long-established practices and long-cherished principles of international action and honor; which chose its own time for the war; delivered its blow fiercely and suddenly; stopped at no barrier either of law or of mercy; swept a whole continent within the tide of bloodпїЅnot the blood of soldiers only, but the blood of innocent women and children also and of the helpless poor; and now stands balked but not defeated, the enemy of four-fifths of the world. This power is not the German people. It is the ruthless master of the German people. It is no business of ours how that great people came under its control or submitted with temporary zest to the domination of its purpose; but it is our business to see to it that the history of the rest of the world is no longer left to its handling.

To deal with such a power by way of peace upon the plan proposed by His Holiness the Pope would, so far as we can see, involve a recuperation of its strength and a renewal of its policy; would make it necessary to create a permanent hostile combination of nations against the German people who are its instruments; and would result in abandoning the newborn Russia to the intrigue, the manifold subtle interference, and the certain counter-revolution which would be attempted by all the malign influences to which the German Government has of late accustomed the world. Can peace be based upon a restitution of its power or upon any word of honor it could pledge in a treaty of settlement and accommodation?

Responsible statesmen must now everywhere see, if they never saw before, that no peace can rest securely upon political or economic restrictions meant to benefit some nations and cripple or embarrass others, upon vindictive action of any sort, or any kind of revenge or deliberate injury. The American people have suffered intolerable wrongs at the hands of the Imperial German Government, but they desire no reprisal upon the German people who have themselves suffered all things in this war which they did not choose. They believe that peace should rest upon the rights of peoples, not the rights of GovernmentsпїЅthe rights of peoples great or small, weak or powerfulпїЅtheir equal right to freedom and security and self-government and to a participation upon fair terms in the economic opportunities of the world, the German people of course included if they will accept equality and not seek domination.

The test, therefore, of every plan of peace is this: Is it based upon the faith of all the peoples involved or merely upon the word of an ambitious and intriguing government on the one hand and of a group of free peoples on the other? This is a test which goes to the root of the matter; and it is the test which must be applied.

The purposes of the United States in this war are known to the whole world, to every people to whom the truth has been permitted to come. They do not need to be stated again. We seek no material advantage of any kind. We believe that the intolerable wrongs done in this war by the furious and brutal power of the Imperial German Government ought to be repaired, but not at the expense of the sovereignty of any peopleпїЅrather a vindication of the sovereignty both of those that are weak and of those that are strong. Punitive damages, the dismemberment of empires, the establishment of selfish and exclusive economic leagues, we deem inexpedient and in the end worse than futile, no proper basis for a peace of any kind, least of all for an enduring peace. That must be based upon justice and fairness and the common rights of mankind.

We cannot take the word of the present rulers of Germany as a guaranty of anything that is to endure, unless explicitly supported by such conclusive evidence of the will and purpose of the German people themselves as the other peoples of the world would be justified in accepting. Without such guaranties treaties of settlement, agreements for disarmament, covenants to set up arbitration in the place of force, territorial adjustments, reconstitutions of small nations, if made with the German Government, no man, no nation could now depend on. We must await some new evidence of the purposes of the great peoples of the central powers. God grant it may be given soon and in a way to restore the confidence of all peoples everywhere in the faith of nations and the possibility of a covenanted peace.
Robert Lansing,
Secretary of State of the United States of America
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

JFK's Harvard Application

This is a fun little thing - you can read JFK's Harvard application online!  Thoughts on this essay:
Business Insider dismisses the essay for being five sentences long (I'm not sure how much more he could have written given the space) and implies that his answer wasn't carefully considered. That's probably true—Kennedy's grades show that he wasn't an especially good student in high school, and there's not much evidence that he took his education seriously at this point in his life. Plus, as Gawker points out, Kennedy wrote nearly exactly the same essay for his Princeton application.

Still, Kennedy's essay shows a profound, if implicit, understanding of the primary value of attending an elite school: status and personal connections, rather than mastery of academic skills and knowledge. Notice that he only makes one mention of the education he'd receive at Harvard—a passing reference to the school's superior "liberal education." The rest of the paragraph focuses on the the non-academic benefits: having a "better background," sharing the same alma mater with his dad, and enjoying the "enviable distinction" of being a Harvard Man.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Funeral Photos?

Two new photos of Lincoln's funeral procession might have been found:
Paul Taylor, 60, of Columbia, a retired federal government accountant, believes the scene is on Broadway, outside New York’s historic Grace Church.

The day is Tuesday, April 25, 1865, 11 days after Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.
 
And the crowd is waiting for, and then seems to be paying homage before, a horse-drawn hearse, whose motion makes it appear as a black blur as it passes by in the second picture.
If Taylor is right, scholars say he has identified rare photos of Lincoln’s marathon funeral rites, as well as images that show mourners honoring the slain chief executive.
 
Plus, it appears that the photographs were taken from an upper window of the studio of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, which was across the street from the church.
 
“It’s a big deal,” said Richard Sloan, an expert on the Lincoln funeral ceremonies in New York.
 
“What makes it even a bigger deal is to be able to study the people. Even though you can’t see faces that well, just studying the people tells a story.”
 
Sloan added, “It’s as if you’re there, and you can see the mood.”
 
Many people, including children, are in their Sunday best. A few look up at the camera. Flowers are in bloom. But there is no levity.
 
Sloan said he is convinced that the pictures show the funeral scenes: “There’s no doubt about it.”
 
But experts at the Archives caution that although the theory sounds good, there could be other explanations, and no way to prove it conclusively.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Lincoln's son and College

So we all worry about college entrance exams, but imagine you are Lincoln's son.  In 1859, Robert Todd Lincoln failed his entrance exams to Harvard and had to go to Phillips Exeter Academy to improve his academics.

So what happens to Robert?
Robert Todd was accepted into Harvard in 1861, his father now in the White House and the country embroiled in war. At school, he was an average student with an active social life. But he rarely got letters like the one his father wrote to Latham. "I do not possess a single letter written by my father," the president's son said later. "When I was in college he was, of course, too much occupied to be writing me, except very rarely; and it never occurred to me then to keep those letters." 

The thing that "too much occupied" President Lincoln was, of course, the Civil War—not the best time for Robert Todd to be sending home mediocre grade reports. 

Despite all the heartache over admissions, the young Lincoln became a Harvard graduate in 1864, proving that even college rejections aren't the end of the world.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Nixon and the FBI

Did you know that Nixon applied for to be a FBI agent?  I can actually see him in the FBI, I have to say....anyway, check out this cool interactive view at his application!
“It is a nice window into a moment in Richard Nixon’s life that people probably don’t think about,” says Jennifer Johnson, the exhibition’s curator. “He has just finished law school, and like everyone, he is clearly trying to figure out what he wants to do.”

As the story goes, Nixon attended a lecture by an FBI special agent while studying at Duke. Just before he graduated with his law degree in June, 1937, he formally applied to the bureau. He was contacted for an interview, which he did in July of that year, and completed a physical exam at the request of J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI. But, after that, it was radio silence. He never received a response.

On June 11, 1954, the then-Vice President Richard Nixon spoke at the FBI National Academy’s graduation. Hoover actually introduced him, saying that he took special pleasure in doing so, because Nixon had once applied to the bureau. “Having already embarked upon the practice of law, the FBI’s loss ultimately became the country’s gain,” remarked Hoover. Nixon, in a later address to the academy, said, “he never heard anything from that application.”

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ida's tiara

Ida McKinley's tiara was featured on Pawn Stars.  The McKinley museum is trying to raise the money to bring the tiara back home to Canton:
Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum has started a fund-raising campaign to purchase the diamond-crusted tiara from “Pawn Stars” celebrity Rick Harrison for the amount he purchased it — $43,000 — from a Canton family.


“We knew it existed. We borrowed it twice to display at special events,” said Kimberly Kenney, curator at the McKinley museum. “It came down through Ida’s sister’s family. When we borrowed it, it belonged to a woman who was a great-great-neice of Ida’s. She passed away and it was her family that sold it.”