Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Coolidge: An American Enigma.

Coolidge: An American Enigma. This is a book review by Florence King. It was published in National Review, August 17, 1998.

From the site:

FINDING that elusive last piece of the puzzle that was Calvin Coolidge has frustrated historians for 75 years. Robert Sobel fares no better than the rest, but he has a knack for digging up obscure quotes that illustrate the unusual scope of the frustration. The best of these comes from a now-forgotten journalist who called Coolidge ''one of the two great enigmas of the first third of the twentieth century, the other being the popularity of the play Abie's Irish Rose.''

Sobel, a professor of business history at Hofstra University, has put together a book that, like Coolidge himself, makes no claim to be other than what it is. He readily admits that he did no original research and has no new revelations to offer, but his familiarity with secondary sources and his expertise in mining them for their most trenchant contributions make Coolidge: An American Enigma both an informative text and a consistently readable story.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Inaugural Address of Rutherford B. Hayes

Inaugural Address of Rutherford B. Hayes. This is the speech President Hayes gave when he was sworn in as President. The election of 1876 had been hotly contested and Hayes won the presidency in a disputed manner. (I wrote about this at http://www.michaellorenzen.com/1876.html ,"The presidential election of 1876 was one of the most bizarre, and controversial, elections in American history. By all appearances, Samuel Tilden won the election. However, some of the returns from the southern states were disputed. The most hotly debated state was Florida. A commission was appointed which included five Supreme Court Justices and ultimately Ohioan Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the next President of the United States of America. ")

From the site:

We have assembled to repeat the public ceremonial, begun by Washington, observed by all my predecessors, and now a time- honored custom, which marks the commencement of a new term of the Presidential office. Called to the duties of this great trust, I proceed, in compliance with usage, to announce some of the leading principles, on the subjects that now chiefly engage the public attention, by which it is my desire to be guided in the discharge of those duties. I shall not undertake to lay down irrevocably principles or measures of administration, but rather to speak of the motives which should animate us, and to suggest certain important ends to be attained in accordance with our institutions and essential to the welfare of our country.

At the outset of the discussions which preceded the recent Presidential election it seemed to me fitting that I should fully make known my sentiments in regard to several of the important questions which then appeared to demand the consideration of the country. Following the example, and in part adopting the language, of one of my predecessors, I wish now, when every motive for misrepresentation has passed away, to repeat what was said before the election, trusting that my countrymen will candidly weigh and understand it, and that they will feel assured that the sentiments declared in accepting the nomination for the Presidency will be the standard of my conduct in the path before me, charged, as I now am, with the grave and difficult task of carrying them out in the practical administration of the Government so far as depends, under the Constitution and laws on the Chief Executive of the nation.

The permanent pacification of the country upon such principles and by such measures as will secure the complete protection of all its citizens in the free enjoyment of all their constitutional rights is now the one subject in our public affairs which all thoughtful and patriotic citizens regard as of supreme importance.

Friday, May 27, 2005

James K. Polk (1795-1849)

James K. Polk(1795-1849). Texas history resource provides an analysis of Polk's impact on the very existence of the state.

From the site:

James K. Polk never set foot in Texas. His impact on Texas and the American West, however, cannot be overestimated. Not only was he instrumental in the annexation of Texas, but the United States achieved its greatest territorial expansion under his presidency.

Born 2 November 1795 in North Carolina, Polk spent much of his youth in central Tennessee. Trained as a lawyer, Polk's interest in politics surfaced at an early age. He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1823.

Fellow Tennessean Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson took such an interest in the young statesman that for years Polk was referred to as "Young Hickory." Under "Old Hickory's" tutelage, Polk served seven consecutive terms in the U. S. House of Representatives. Upon Jackson's urging, Polk ran and was elected Governor of Tennessee in 1839. He then became a darkhorse candidate for president in 1844.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Great Presidential Races

Great Presidential Races. Article examines the memorable elections of American Presidential history including the elections of 1812, 1844, 1912 and 1964. Turn your pop-up blockers on as this site has really annoying advertising.

From the site:

The election of 1812 consisted of a battle between James Madison, and DeWitt Clinton. Madison had represented both Democratic and Republican beliefs, while Clinton was a Federalist.

James Madison was born in Port Conway, Va., on March 16, 1751. A Princeton graduate, he joined the struggle for independence on his return to Virginia in 1771. He had been an active politician in the 1770's and 1780's. He was greatly know for championing the Jefferson reform program, and in the Continental Congress. Madison, in collaboration, had participated greatly in the, Federalist, a paper who's main purpose was to ratify the constitution. Madison first became president in 1809, when he bested Charles C. Pickney. He had led the U.S. in a very unpopular war, in which the U.S. hadn't been prepared for...the War of 1812.

De Witt Clinton was a Federalist, who's main purpose of the election was to get the U.S. out of a war in which he felt was very unnecessary. DeWitt held every major elective office in New York between 1797 and 1828--assemblyman, senator, mayor of New York City, lieutenant governor, and governor. He was a philanthropist and patron of the arts and science and, as canal commissioner, championed construction of the Erie and Champlain canals.

The method in which these candidates received nomination was by the Electoral College, or by King Caucus. The idea of political conventions had not been present at this time. There were no third-party candidates in this election.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Franklin Pierce Bicentennial

Franklin Pierce Bicentennial. Dedicated to the 1804 birth date of President Pierce, the 14th US President, this site features a biography, and a link to his New Hampshire home.

From the site:

This site commemorates the bicentennial of the birth of Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), the 14th President of the United States of America. It is the result of historical and cultural institutions throughout New Hampshire working together to coordinate exhibits, lectures, and other activities to mark the birth of the Granite State’s only U.S. President.

While Franklin Pierce’s memory is far from forgotten, his life is often overlooked or misunderstood. Pierce was a compelling and often contradictory man. He has been described a powerful orator, a faithful friend and a master politician. He is also described as a defender of slavery, a partisan politician, and an ineffective president.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

James Madison Writings and Biography

James Madison Writings and Biography. Site about the founding fathers offers a biography of President Madison, his portraits, and a collection of his writings.

From the site:

The oldest of 10 children and a scion of the planter aristocracy, Madison was born in 1751 at Port Conway, King George County, VA, while his mother was visiting her parents. In a few weeks she journeyed back with her newborn son to Montpelier estate, in Orange County, which became his lifelong home. He received his early education from his mother, from tutors, and at a private school. An excellent scholar though frail and sickly in his youth, in 1771 he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), where he demonstrated special interest in government and the law. But, considering the ministry for a career, he stayed on for a year of postgraduate study in theology.

Back at Montpelier, still undecided on a profession, Madison soon embraced the patriot cause, and state and local politics absorbed much of his time. In 1775 he served on the Orange County committee of safety; the next year at the Virginia convention, which, besides advocating various Revolutionary steps, framed the Virginia constitution; in 1776-77 in the House of Delegates; and in 1778-80 in the Council of State. His ill health precluded any military service.

In 1780 Madison was chosen to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress (1780-83 and 1786-88). Although originally the youngest delegate, he played a major role in the deliberations of that body. Meantime, in the years 1784-86, he had again sat in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was a guiding force behind the Mount Vernon Conference (1785), attended the Annapolis Convention (1786), and was otherwise highly instrumental in the convening of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He had also written extensively about deficiencies in the Articles of Confederation.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Kinderhook Connection

Kinderhook Connection. Long article about President Martin Van Buren which describes his relationship with the town of Kinderhook, New York.

From the site:

Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782, soon after a fragile union of states successfully ended its fight for independence. His parents kept a tavern and, like their Dutch predecessors of 150 years, made a moderate living farming in the Hudson Valley.

Young Martin, possessed of a fine mind and a strong ambition, embarked on a legal career at 14 with an apprenticeship to a local attorney. In 1804 he joined his half-brother's law practice in their home town. Three years later Van Buren married a distant relative and childhood sweetheart, Hannah Hoes.

Meanwhile, he was becoming known as more than a country lawyer. His first appointed post, as a county official, set him on an upward course that led to the highest office in the state, and eventually, the nation.

Early 19th century politics was a whirlwind of boisterous characters and opposing interest groups where a new party system was taking shape. Van Buren artfully positioned himself in the eye of the storm, persistently advocating the principles of the Jeffersonian Republicans, namely states' rights, strict constitutional construction, and civil liberties.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Theodore Roosevelt and the Image of Empire

Theodore Roosevelt and the Image of Empire - Political cartoons published from 1898-1916 show how Roosevelt's advocacy of imperialism and the strenuous life dominated his image after the Spanish-American War.

From the site:

In its "Record of Current Events" column in May of 1898, the American Review of Reviews published a photograph of Theodore Roosevelt with a brief caption saying that he had been commissioned a lieutentant-colonel of cavalry volunteers. The photo is interesting as one of the last distributed through the press before his image was transformed during and after the Spanish-American War.

Roosevelt's fame as a leader of the Rough Riders dominated post-war portrayals, and his April 10, 1899, speech on "The Strenuous Life" seemed to solidify the change in his image. His advocacy of imperialism, war, and the strenuous life were combined in images published after the Spanish-American War. Whether he was shown making a charge up Capitol Hill or engaging in hand-to-hand combat with grizzly bears in Colorado, Theodore Roosevelt was the conquering hero. His image became a personification of American imperialism. This collection shows how that image was developed in political cartoons published from 1898 onward.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Second Inaugural Address of Ulysses S. Grant

Second Inaugural Address of Ulysses S. Grant. This is the speech president Grant delivered when he was sworn in for the second time on March 4th, 1873.

From the site:

I acknowledge before this assemblage, representing, as it does, every section of our country, the obligation I am under to my countrymen for the great honor they have conferred on me by returning me to the highest office within their gift, and the further obligation resting on me to render to them the best services within my power. This I promise, looking forward with the greatest anxiety to the day when I shall be released from responsibilities that at times are almost overwhelming, and from which I have scarcely had a respite since the eventful firing upon Fort Sumter, in April, 1861, to the present day. My services were then tendered and accepted under the first call for troops growing out of that event.

I did not ask for place or position, and was entirely without influence or the acquaintance of persons of influence, but was resolved to perform my part in a struggle threatening the very existence of the nation. I performed a conscientious duty, without asking promotion or command, and without a revengeful feeling toward any section or individual.

Notwithstanding this, throughout the war, and from my candidacy for my present office in 1868 to the close of the last Presidential campaign, I have been the subject of abuse and slander scarcely ever equaled in political history, which to-day I feel that I can afford to disregard in view of your verdict, which I gratefully accept as my vindication.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

State Funeral Processions

State Funeral Processions. Information on some past state funerals given for American Presidents provided the National Parks Service.

From the site:

In addition to the joy of Inaugural Parades, the Avenue has also seen the sorrow of seven Presidential funeral processions, including processions for the four who died by assassination. William Henry Harrison, who had caught a chill during his two hour long inaugural address, died from pneumonia on April 4, 1841, one month after taking office. The first president to die in office, Harrison's body was escorted up the Avenue by twenty-six pallbearers, one for each state. The new president, John Tyler, as well as the Cabinet, the Diplomatic Corps, and fourteen militia companies made up the procession. President Zachary Taylor was the next president to die in office, and his, July 13, 1850, funeral procession stretched for over two miles behind the hearse.

The death of President Abraham Lincoln, on April 15, 1865, shortly after beginning his second term, and just days after Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant, resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of grief nationwide. The first president to die by assassination, Lincoln's body was escorted from the White House to the Capitol on April 19 by a cortege numbering 30,000. Arriving late and unable to take its assigned position, the 22nd Colored Infantry fell in at the head of the procession, while African-American lodge groups brought up its rear. James Garfield, who was shot at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station just off the Avenue on July 2, 1881, died of his wounds ten weeks later while attempting to recover at the New Jersey shore. Returned to Washington by train to that same station, Garfield's body was escorted up the Avenue to the Capitol by a procession that included the new president, Chester Arthur, and former president Grant.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New Orleans and The JFK Assassination

New Orleans and The JFK Assassination - Describes an essay about the New Orleans connection to the JFK assassination. Includes information about Clay Shaw and H. L. Hunt.

From the site:

I am a researcher who has been investigating the JFK assassination for the past several years and working on my essay. My main focus has been on Clay Shaw, Permindex, and the oil - defense industry. My essay "The New Orleans Connection" discusses the connections between certain oil and aerospace executives and people connected to the case. I also cover the relationship between New Orleans and Dallas suspects. In addition, the essay takes a look at the activities of Gen. Edwin Walker and H. L. Hunt. The paper also describes the Watergate and LBJ connections to the JFK assassination. I also cover the activities of associates of Clay Shaw (International Trade Mart manager and director). These include David Ferrie and Guy Banister.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Six Historic Americans: George Washington

Six Historic Americans: George Washington. Article which sets out to prove that Washington was not a Christian communicant and not a believer in the Christian religion. The author concludes with, "These extracts contain no explicit declarations of disbelief in Christianity, but between the lines we can easily read, 'I am not a Christian.' " Although this is an interesting piece, I don't think the author has done anything but cast doubts about what George Washington may or may not have believed. The author did not prove his case.

From the site:

During the presidential campaign of 1880, the Christian Union made the startling admission that, of the nineteen men who, up to that time, had held the office of President of the United States, not one, with the Possible exception of Washington, had ever been a member of a Christian church.

Was Washington a church member? Was he in any sense a Christian? In early life he held a formal adherence to the church of England, serving, for a time, as a vestryman in the parish in which he resided. But this being merely a temporal office did not necessitate his being a communicant, nor even a believer in Christianity. In his maturer age he was connected with no church. Washington, the young Virginia planter, might, perhaps, with some degree of truthfulness, have been called a Christian; Washington, the Soldier, statesman and sage, was not a Christian, but a Deist.

This great man, like most men in public life, was reticent respecting his religious views. This rendered a general knowledge of his real belief impossible, and made it easy for zealous Christians to impose upon the public mind and claim him for their faith. Whatever evidence of his unbelief existed was, as far as possible, suppressed. Enough remains, however, to prompt me to attempt the task of proving the truth of the following propositions:

That Washington was not a Christian communicant.
That he was not a believer in the Christian religion.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Scandal? What Scandal?

Scandal? What Scandal? - Explores the media's lack of investigation into President Bush's appointment of former Iran-Contra "veterans" Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich to key posts. The Iran/Contra Affair was the biggest scandal of the Reagan Presidency.

From the site:

Throughout the summer of 2001, the media were profligate with resources for the Chandra Levy story, excavating every corner of her and Rep. Gary Condit's past to unearth a prurient bounty of personal detail. That level of investigative vigor mighthave exposed far more vital information had it been applied to Bush's appointment of numerous Iran-Contra veterans to key posts.

But with a few admirable exceptions, news stories about Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich have largely relied on past reporting and he-said, she-said soundbites by the usual supporters and critics, rather than in-depth investigations into their complicity in one of the bloodiest scandals of the past 20 years. And their guilt is based not on speculation or gossip, but on hard evidence that they aided torturers and death squads,circumvented Congress and the Constitution, and deceived the American people.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Gilbert Stuart Paints the First Five Presidents

Gilbert Stuart Paints the First Five Presidents. The National Gallery of Art offers an article on the history of these five portraits completed in the early 19th Century.

From the site:

The Gibbs-Coolidge paintings are the only surviving complete set of portraits depicting the first five presidents of the United States. Commissioned by Colonel George Gibbs of Rhode Island, the group was painted in Boston during the last phase of Stuart's career. In 1833, Colonel Gibbs' heirs sold the paintings to Joseph Coolidge of Boston, and the set descended through four generations of the Coolidge family. The suite retains its original Federal frames.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Inauguration Quiz!

Inauguration Quiz! Take a quiz on the subject of past US Presidential inaugurations offered by the National Archives and Records Administration. I got seven of the ten right.

From the site:

At noon on January 20, 2001, the inauguration of President George W. Bush took place. Soon thereafter, documents relating to this event will be permanently held by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Test your knowledge about past Presidential inaugurations in this activity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

First Inaugural Address of Ulysses S. Grant

First Inaugural Address of Ulysses S. Grant. This is the text of the speech given by President Grant after he was sworn in on March 4th, 1869.

From the site:

The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many questions will come before it for settlement in the next four years which preceding Administrations have never had to deal with. In meeting these it is desirable that they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained.

This requires security of person, property, and free religious and political opinion in every part of our common country, without regard to local prejudice. All laws to secure these ends will receive my best efforts for their enforcement.

A great debt has been contracted in securing to us and our posterity the Union. The payment of this, principal and interest, as well as the return to a specie basis as soon as it can be accomplished without material detriment to the debtor class or to the country at large, must be provided for. To protect the national honor, every dollar of Government indebtedness should be paid in gold, unless otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract. Let it be understood that no repudiator of one farthing of our public debt will be trusted in public place, and it will go far toward strengthening a credit which ought to be the best in the world, and will ultimately enable us to replace the debt with bonds bearing less interest than we now pay. To this should be added a faithful collection of the revenue, a strict accountability to the Treasury for every dollar collected, and the greatest practicable retrenchment in expenditure in every department of Government.

Monday, May 09, 2005

U.S. Presidents and the Bible

U.S. Presidents and the Bible. Provides a series of quotes regarding how several US Presidents have viewed the Bible. I don't endorse the general religious theme of this site (bebapitzed.org) but I believe in blogging good content wherever I might find it. And this is a nice list of Presidential quotes.

From the site:

The reverence for God of many of our presidents, coupled with the principles of liberty established in the Holy Bible, has provided the basis upon which the United States has been founded.

It is as true today as it was centuries ago when the psalmist wrote, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 32:12). The nation that honors and reverences God will experience His blessings of protection, provision and peace.

I find it very interesting that while today they talk about separation of church and state, these men who led our country knew none of it. "Whereas today we have a separation of church and state, then there was a union.... Religion, virtue, statehood and citizenship were very much united." --Herb London

The American people are on the whole an industrious lot. Lyman Abbot, a preacher in the 1805, said: "A nation is made great not by its fruitful acres but the men who cultivate them; not by its great forests but by the men who use them; not by its mines but by the men who build and run them. America was a great land when Columbus discovered it. Americans have made it a great nation."

Now hear what American presidents have said about God and the Bible.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Tokens and Treasures

Tokens and Treasures. Information on this National Archives and Records Administration exhibit of selected gifts received by American Presidents beginning with Herbert Hoover in 1929.

From the site:

As the highest representative of the people and government, the President accepts gifts on behalf of the United States of America. The phenomenon, as old as the Presidency itself, grows with each administration: Today a President may receive 15,000 gifts a year. They come from every state in the nation and every country in the world. Gifts from foreign leaders continue a rich diplomatic tradition of exchange between heads of state; those from citizens, both Americans and others, symbolize an inherently democratic exercise - ordinary people freely addressing, in every manner and form, the President of the United States.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Urban Legends Reference Page: George W. Bush

Urban Legends Reference Page: George W. Bush. Rumor control center from snopes.com explores the truth or fiction of stories circulating about the President, supported by explanations and references. I like the color coding of each rumor which indicates if it is proven, false, or can't be determined. Each rumor has a link to documentation on the truth of the rumor.


George W. Bush took a half hour off from glad-handing supporters at a 'thank you' dinner to witness for Christ to a teenage boy. (False)

Recent study proves George W. Bush has the lowest IQ of all presidents of the past fifty years.(False)

President Bush once referred to a reporter as a "major league asshole." (True)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Camp David

Camp David. This is the Wikipedia article which covers the history and current useage of this famous Presidential retreat located in Maryland.

From the site:

The Naval Support Facility Thurmont, popularly known as Camp David, is the rustic 125 acre (0.5 km²) mountain retreat of the President of the United States. Camp David is part of the Catoctin Mountain Park recreational area in Frederick County, Maryland, outside Washington.

Catoctin Mountain Park was originally submarginal land purchased by the U.S. government in 1936, to be developed into a recreational facility. The purpose of the land was to demonstrate how rough terrain and eroded soil could be turned into productive land.

During the New Deal program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Works Progress Administration began the work in the newly created Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area, joined by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939. Camp Misty Mount was first used by the Maryland League for Crippled Children. After the first year (1937), the League moved to a second camp, Camp Greentop, because Camp Misty Mount's terrain was difficult to negotiate in a wheelchair. A third camp, Camp Hi-Catoctin, was completed in the winter of 1938-1939 and was used for three years as a family camp for federal employees.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. Archive of biannual conference and policy volumes by year, president, and issue, in PDF or text document formats. This is a bit hard to use but there is a lot of good public domain historical content here.

From the site:

Public Papers volumes are published approximately twice a year. Volumes covering years prior and subsequent to the ones that are currently available will be added on an incremental basis.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Presidential Trivia for Kids

Presidential Trivia for Kids. Instructs children about trivia related to the Presidents of the United States. Students can answer the questions and find a related art project for a classroom.

From the site:

Kids, here's a game about the Presidents of the United States. If you get the right answer, you will see and one of our art projects. After you have tested yourself on all the questions, go through the questions again and let Professor Bookworm teach you some interesting facts about all the Presidents. Have fun!