Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Important State of the Union Addresses in History

Important State of the Union Addresses in History. The History News Network has this nice article on important State of the Union Addresses of past presidents. The featured include President Cleveland, President Monroe, President Wilson, President Truman, President Eisenhower, and President Clinton. It also provides links to related HNN content on the State of the Union Address.

From the Constitiution of the United States of America:

Article 2, Section 3 of the United States Constitution: "[the president] shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Monday, January 30, 2006

US History:Truman and Cold War

US History:Truman and Cold War. This is a chapter on Truman, the end of World War Two, and the beginnings of the Cold War from Wikibooks. This project is described, "Wikibooks is a collection of open content textbooks, manuals, and other texts, with supporting book-based texts that are being collaboratively written. This site is a wiki, meaning that anyone, including you, can edit any book module right now by clicking on the edit this page link that appears in every Wikibooks module. "

From the site:

World War II upset the balance of power by reducing the influence of France and the United Kingdom. The United States and the Soviet Union became the World's only remaining superpowers, and their relations were not exactly friendly. The two nations never actually engaged in military conflict, so the hostilities became known as the Cold War.

The Soviet Union believed that its control of Eastern Europe was vital to its security. As agreed at the Yalta Conference, the World War II Allies divided Germany into four zones, giving one zone each to the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's zone, known as East Germany, was immediately transformed into a Communist state, while the other three zones, West Germany, were not. The city of Berlin, which was surrounded by East Germany, was divided in two parts, between the East and West Germany.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt

First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hey, this guy gave four Inaugural Addresses! This is a copy of the text of the first one which was delivered on March 4th, 1933.

From the site:

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Presidents At War

Presidents At War. The new issue of US News & World Report has a good article on American Presidents and war. It is a good read.

There is also a page that let's visitors match presidents with their comments on war.

From the site:

America is attacked. The president addresses Congress in stirring terms. Senators and representatives, with a few eccentric exceptions, vote for a declaration of war, and the overwhelming majority of the people support the war effort without stint. The president appoints sterling generals and admirals and superintends massive war production. American troops surge to victory, and peace is made.

This is the picture we have of the way America, and American presidents, go to war. It comports with what we think happened in World War I and, especially, in World War II. In this view of U.S. history, American presidents lead the nation only into wars that are forced upon them.

There's only one problem. This picture is almost entirely contrary to the facts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Abraham Lincoln Quotes. President Lincoln was known as a very quotable person. In addition, he lived at a time when events such as the Civil War made for many quotable moments. Here is a list of a few good sites containing collections of Lincoln quotes:

Quotes by Abraham Lincoln

Collection of Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Quotes From Abraham Lincoln

Quoteland - Abraham Lincoln

A couple of my favorites:

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."

"I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot."

"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser - in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Presidents of the United States -- Trivia

Presidents of the United States -- Trivia. This is a nice collection of presidential trivia collected by the Internet Public Library.

Here is their description:

"We get a lot of questions from patrons who are curious about different aspects of the U.S. presidency. These patrons may not be aware of the extensive resource about the presidency that resides right here at the IPL: POTUS: Presidents of the United States. POTUS includes "background information, election results, cabinet members, presidency highlights, and some odd facts on each of the presidents. Links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites are also included to enrich this site." We definitely encourage people interested in the Presidency to use POTUS. (If you want to find information resources beyond POTUS, see IPL’s U.S. Presidents Pathfinder.)"

"We have received some questions about the presidency so frequently, however, that we have decided to include them with their answers below."

I take issue with two of the answers though.

The first is this:

Q: I understand that there was a President of the United States that served for only 24 hours. Do you know anything about this?

A: David Rice Atchison, a mid-19th century Senator from Missouri who, according to RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT and other sources, was president of the U.S. for one day: Sunday, March 4, 1849, between the expiration of James Polk’s term at noon of that day and the official oath of office taken by Zachary Taylor on Monday. The law at that time specified that the President was to be sworn in on March 4th, a date that fell on a Sunday in 1849; but President-elect Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath (Sunday). Atchison had been elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate a couple of days before and was thus technically third in line of succession behind the President and Vice President, of which (arguably) on that day were nonexistent.

My response: David Rice Atchison never took the oath of office on March 4th, 1849 either. It does not matter that he was third in line to the presidency. There was no president on March 4th, 1849 if the basis of this answer is on who took an oath of office to be president.

The second is this:

Q: Which president was not a citizen of the U.S.A. when he died?

A: The one president who was not a U.S. citizen when he died was the 10th President, John Tyler. A native of Virginia, he died in that state on Jan. 18, 1862 as a citizen of the Southern Confederacy.

My response: The Confederacy lost the Civil War. During it's brief existence, it failed to achieve recognition by most of the countries of the world. It was called the Civil War because Americans fought Americans. The USA never recognized the legal right of the CSA to even exist. Tyler may have believed he was not an American citizen when he died but he still was.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thomas Jefferson FAQ

Thomas Jefferson FAQ. Presents a collection of popular questions and answers posted to Web sites on Thomas Jefferson. Each topic has a detailed response.


From 1776 to 1779, Jefferson was a member of the Virginia House ofDelegates. From 1779 to 1781, he was governor of Virginia at a time whenthe state was invaded by the British. His wife died in 1782, and that sameyear he was appointed a commissioner to negotiate peace, but the mission wassuspended. From 1783 to 1784, he served as Virginia delegate in Congress.From 1785 to 1789, he was minister to France.Jefferson faithfully served his country in many capacities during hislifetime, and often to his great financial detriment, since his serviceusually prevented him from properly managing his plantation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Arthur, Chester A - Presidential Exploration

Arthur, Chester A - Presidential Exploration. See a list of Arthur's cabinet appointments and read an analysis of his domestic and foreign policies. It also includes a time-line of key events in his administration.

From the site:

Chester Alan Arthur was born to a Baptist preacher in Fairfield, Vermont. He went to Union College, and became a lawyer. During the Civil War, he served as Quartermaster General of the State of New York. Later, he became Collector of the Port of New York.

Arthur was elected Vice President under President Garfield, and became President when Garfield died. Garfield's assassination seemed to reform Arthur, who suddenly advocated civil service reform, where before he strongly believed in the Spoils System. It is thought that Arthur was willing to go against his party because he knew he would die soon from a kidney disease.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

American Memory - The Last Days of a President: Films of McKinley

American Memory - The Last Days of a President: Films of McKinley. The Library of Congress supplies a collection of downloadable film clips, mostly from the president's final days. Includes a bibliography.

From the site:

The twenty-eight films of this collection are actuality motion pictures from the Paper Print Collection of the Library of Congress. They include footage of President William McKinley at his second inauguration; of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York; of President McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition; and of President McKinley's funeral. The films were produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company from March to November 1901. The company, founded by inventor Thomas Alva Edison, operated from 1893 to 1917.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Inaugural Address of Herbert Hoover

Inaugural Address of Herbert Hoover. This is the speech that President Hoover gave when he was sworn in on March 4th, 1929. As evidenced by the text highlighted below, crime was big on the minds of many Americans at the time.

From the site:

The most malign of all these dangers today is disregard and disobedience of law. Crime is increasing. Confidence in rigid and speedy justice is decreasing. I am not prepared to believe that this indicates any decay in the moral fiber of the American people. I am not prepared to believe that it indicates an impotence of the Federal Government to enforce its laws.

It is only in part due to the additional burdens imposed upon our judicial system by the eighteenth amendment. The problem is much wider than that. Many influences had increasingly complicated and weakened our law enforcement organization long before the adoption of the eighteenth amendment.

To reestablish the vigor and effectiveness of law enforcement we must critically consider the entire Federal machinery of justice, the redistribution of its functions, the simplification of its procedure, the provision of additional special tribunals, the better selection of juries, and the more effective organization of our agencies of investigation and prosecution that justice may be sure and that it may be swift. While the authority of the Federal Government extends to but part of our vast system of national, State, and local justice, yet the standards which the Federal Government establishes have the most profound influence upon the whole structure.

We are fortunate in the ability and integrity of our Federal judges and attorneys. But the system which these officers are called upon to administer is in many respects ill adapted to present-day conditions. Its intricate and involved rules of procedure have become the refuge of both big and little criminals. There is a belief abroad that by invoking technicalities, subterfuge, and delay, the ends of justice may be thwarted by those who can pay the cost.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is Bush Just Following Lincoln's Example?

Is Bush Just Following Lincoln's Example? This is an interesting new article at the History News Network. In it the author examines, "Does President Bush have the constitutional authority, as he claims, to order the warrantless surveillance of suspected al-Qaida agents in the United States? Yes he does, say some, who point to Abraham Lincoln's suspension of writs of habeas corpus during the Civil War to defend their position. Then and now they argue, the commander-in-chief during wartime has an obligation to place national security above Fourth Amendment safeguards that protect the privacy of the individual."

As a whole, I think thie piece is informative and has good points. But it is a bit unbalanced trying to show that Lincoln was OK but Bush is not. Note this quote, "While Lincoln retained his credibility with Congress and the American people, Bush is diminishing his."

Lincoln maintained his credibility with the American people? Many of them, yes. For half the country though he was a dictator who was illegally waging war on the southern states. Lincoln is seen as good now because he won. If he had failed to preserve the Union, he would be seen as a miserable failure today instead.

The same will be seen in the future of Bush. He has a similar divided opinion from Americans today. If he make progress in the War on Terror, a hundred years from now he will be seen as a good president. If he fails, he will be looked upon as another Franlin Pierce. In the meantime, I expect he will continue to invoke the same war powers that Linclon successfully set as a precendent for Presidents when they are leading a nation at war.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

HistoryChannel.com: Impeachment

HistoryChannel.com: Impeachment - Explains how crimes and misdemeanors in the White House are dealt with. Includes detailed information on Watergate and the Starr report.

It also includes links to several related sites:

Alexander Hamilton discusses impeachment in The Federalist No. 65.

James Madison's notes on the impeachment debates at the Constitutional Convention, 1787.

A guide to impeachment.