Friday, September 28, 2007

Poll: Who was the best recent First Lady?

The poll for the question "Who was the best recent First Lady?" has closed. Hillary Clinton won with 48%. Barbara Bush came in second with 24% while Nancy Reagan was third with 14%. Laura Bush finished last with 12%.

Thanks to all who voted. And thanks to Jennie for suggesting this question.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Constitutional Afterthought

Edward Larson asks "Was Dick Cheney's Self-Serving Claim to be Part of Congress Really Laughable?" in an article for HNN.

Larson starts with the recent actions of the Vice President:
Commentators and comedians have ridiculed Vice President Dick Cheney for invoking executive privilege to deny one set of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee while, at the same time, asserting that his office is not part of the executive branch so as to deny another set to the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives. As a historian, though, I admire the Vice President’s chutzpah.

But he goes on to say that:
Rather than being laughably ridiculous, his seemingly conflicting and transparently self-serving claims on these matters have at least enough historical support to qualify as artful dodges rather than baseless evasions.

Laron explains the Vice Presidency was an effort by the founding fathers to create a national candidate rather than having electors just vote for the person from that state. To give the Vice President something to do, they stuck him in Senate. So originally the Vice Presidency was a legistlative post and not much else - backing up Cheney's claim:
As the first Vice President, John Adams tried to make the most of the job but was thwarted at every turn. Despite Adams’s overtures, President George Washington never included the Vice President in his administration and viewed him as an officer of the Senate. Senators, however, quickly tired of hearing the Vice President speak on legislation that he could not vote on, and soon passed a rule prohibiting him from participating in floor debate. Venting his frustrations, the able and opinionated Adams denounced the Vice Presidency as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived” – but he stayed on for a second term in hopes of succeeding Washington.

By 1796, when Washington announced his decision to not seek a third term, two national partisan factions had formed in response to bitter divisions over domestic and foreign policy. Adams received the support of one; Thomas Jefferson of the other. When Adams narrowly won, he sought to bridge the growing partisan divide by offering Jefferson, as Vice President, a cabinet-level role in the new administration. Fearing his views could never prevail, Jefferson declined. Instead, he used his position as Vice President to lead the opposition. “The Constitution will know me only as a member of a legislative body,” Jefferson wrote to his closest partisan confidant, James Madison, shortly after the 1796 election. Up to this point, history supports Cheney’s claim that the Vice Presidency is a legislative post, albeit largely a make-work one, but stands against his claim of executive privilege.

But the election of 1800 changed this to the concept we know today - electing "teams" because of the emergence of political parties and the Vice President a de facto member of the exeutive branch - also backing Cheney's claim.

Now the Vice President still has an independent position, but it is difficult for them to use:
Of course, Vice Presidents still held an independent Constitutional position and could assert their independence at their own peril. Vice President John Calhoun famously did so in 1832 over the issue of states nullifying national laws, and faced the wrath of President Andrew Jackson, who privately threatened to hang him for treason. Over a century later, Vice President John Nance Garner ran against his “boss,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for their party’s 1940 presidential nomination. In acting as they did, clearly neither Calhoun nor Garner represented the administration. In contrast, other Vice Presidents have served as a part of the Executive Branch in virtually everything they did – think of Walter Mondale’s role in the Carter Administration, for example.

Larson's conclusion?
In short, the Vice Presidency is a curious post. History and the Constitution suggest that it is both a legislative office and, at least after the 12th Amendment, part of the executive branch. It all depends what the Vice President is doing. In his Constitutional role of presiding over the Senate – which today may involve little more than voting in the case of a tie and sitting beside the Speaker of the House during joint sessions of Congress – Cheney serves in the legislative branch. When functioning as a member of the cabinet and a presidential advisor, Cheney is not fulfilling any legislative duties envisioned under the Constitution. Executive privilege may apply, but with it should come the responsibilities of an executive branch official.

For more information on the Vice Presidents check out my earlier post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TR and the 1902 Coal Strike

Strikes are on my mind (looks like the nationwide GM strike (first in over 30 years) ended today after less than a week), so I thought discussing TR's involvement in the 1902 anthracite coal strike was appropriate.

In October of 1902, TR faced a possible coal famine and so took unprecedented action to summon the leaders to him. From the DOL's site we learn how unprecedented this was:
This meeting marked the turn of the U.S. Government from strikebreaker to peacemaker in industrial disputes. In the 19th century, presidents, if they acted at all, tended to side with employers. Andrew Jackson became a strikebreaker in 1834 when he sent troops to the construction sites of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.3 War Department employees operated the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad during the Civil War .4 In the violent rail strikes of 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes sent troops to prevent obstruction of the mails.5 Grover Cleveland used soldiers to break the Pullman strike of 1894.6

Roosevelt was a president who believed in intervention, unlike his predecessor (William McKinley):
President Roosevelt was an activist who itched to enter the fray. On June 8, 1902, he asked his Commissioner of Labor, Carroll D. Wright, to investigate the strike and report back to him. Wright avoided going to the coalfields because he felt that as the President's representative his "presence there would do more harm than good." Instead, he headed for New York City, where he interviewed presidents of coal roads, independent mine operators, financiers, mine foremen, and superintendents. He also heard the miners' side from John Mitchell, whom he summoned to New York. Wright worked assiduously, and within 12 days, he sent by special courier to the President a substantial report accompanied by tables and statistics's.18

As the strike continued, TR wanted to intervene, but his attorney general (Philander Knox) told him he had no authority to do so:
President Roosevelt was in a quandary. "There is literally nothing . . . the national government has any power to do," he complained to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts. "I am at wit's end how to proceed."26 Lodge too was worried. He did not understand the folly of the operators which would cause great suffering and probably defeat the Republican party.27As winter neared and coal prices soared, Roosevelt feared "the untold misery . . . with the certainty of riots which might develop into social war." Although the President agreed with his advisers that he had no legal right, he determined to bring both sides together and see whether he could bring about an agreement. 28

TR's meeting didn't go as planned as the operators refused to deal with the union leaders. Nothing was working and TR was ready to call in the army to assure coal production. The Secretary of War, Elihu Root, got help from J.P. Morgan and managed to set up a deal that both sides could live with:
Roosevelt's Secretary of War, Elihu Root, was worried about the course of events. He had been a distinguished corporate lawyer and was a friend of banker J. P. Morgan. Root told Roosevelt that he would like to mediate in a way which would not commit the President. On October 9, he enlisted Morgan's influence in a proposal whereby the miners would go back to work while a commission considered the issues. Although this was an oft-made proposal, Root added a face-saving wrinkle. Each company and its own employees would present their differences to the commission. This would spare the operators from dealing directly with the miners' union and show the public that the coal industry would arbitrate with its workers.43

Morgan asked Root to come to New York. On October 11, 1902, the two men met for 5 hours on Morgan's yacht, the Corsair, allegedly because newspaper reporters could not bother them there. They drafted an arbitration proposal. The mine operators, fearful of rising public hostility and under pressure from Morgan, accepted the Root-Morgan recommendation provided that they could set ground rules. On October 13, Root and Morgan brought their arbitration proposal to Roosevelt, who then made it public.44

With this the commission was set up to fairly deal with the situation:
More important than the incredible maneuvering in the selection of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission was the overriding fact that finally miners and operators alike agreed that all disputed issues should be submitted to arbitration. Both sides also agreed to abide by the findings of the commission. "The child is born," wrote Carroll Wright, "and I trust will prove a vigorous ... member of society."48

The commissioners started by inspecting the coal fields and then settled in to listen to testimony:
The commissioners, after their inspection tour, met for nearly 3 months. Five-hundred fifty-eight witnesses appeared, including 240 for the striking miners, 153 for nonunion mineworkers, and 154 for the operators. The Commission itself requested the appearance of 11 witnesses. The testimony ran to 10,047 legal-sized pages in addition to other exhibits. John Mitchell played a prominent role in presenting the case for the miners. George Baer made the closing arguments for the coal operators, while Clarence Darrow closed for the workers.

What did the commision find?
Although the commissioners heard some evidence of terrible conditions, they concluded that the "moving spectacle of horrors" represented only a small number of cases. By and large, social conditions in mine communities were found to be good, and miners were judged as only partly justified in their claim that annual earnings were not sufficient "to maintain an American standard of living."

The Commission's findings seemed to split the differences between mineworkers and mine owners. The miners asked for 20-percent wage increases, and most were given a 10-percent increase. The miners had asked for an 8-hour day and were awarded a 9-hour day instead of the standard 10 hours then prevailing.52 The operators refused to recognize the United Mine Workers union. But Mitchell believed that he had won de facto recognition and wrote that the "most important feature of the award" was the creation of a six-man arbitration board to settle disputes that could not be worked out with mine officials. The employees selected three members and the employers three members.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

President Clinton as King Kong?

It seems every year, crazy leaders of antagonistic countries come to the United Nations and make outrageous speeches. President George W. Bush got hit last year by Venezualean President Hugo Chávez who called him a devil. This year, Iranian President and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad railed against "selfish and incompetent" powers that have "obedience to Satan." I guess Bush and the USA is somewhat diabolical in his view.

This has all happened before. In 1950, according to the International Times Tribune, Wu Xiuquan, a Chinese representative, denounced the Truman administration effort to promote Taiwan, saying, "This is a preposterous farce, unworthy of refutation, in which Truman makes a mockery of Truman himself."

This same article noted, "Castro, in 1960 managed to insult two future American presidents at the same time. He described John F. Kennedy as 'a millionaire, illiterate and ignorant' and warned delegates against construing the comment as favoring Richard M. Nixon. 'As far as we're concerned,' he said, 'the two of them lack, should I say, political brains.' "

Probably the most entertaining UN babble came from Cuban foreign minister Roberto Robaina in 1996. He said of President Clinton, "We are facing a King Kong escaped from its cage, destroying and smashing without orientation or control."

Clinton as King Kong? Does that make Hillary Clinton Fay Wray?

Just wait until next year. I am sure that some nut who also happens to be a world leader will entertain the world with a rambling speech denouncing the President. And the year after that. And the following year. It does not matter who the president is and what party he or she will come from. The UN just seems to attract nutty anti-American speeches.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nixon and the Imaginary “Jewish Cabal”

Kenneth J. Hughes, Jr.’s article discusses new transcripts collection that has just been published from the Nixon tapes by the Miller Center. This is a list on the Miller Center’s website that pulls out the various conspiracy theories of Richard Nixon.

Hughes starts with the situation:
In July 1971, dogged by rising unemployment and inflation, Nixon imagined the existence of a “Jewish cabal” involving Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur F. Burns and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The President had expected favorable press coverage on July 2, 1971, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced a big drop in the unemployment rate from 6.2 to 5.6 percent. When Nixon learned that the front-page of Washington’s Evening Star said, “The Labor Department warned that the dip might have been caused by a statistical quirk,” he ordered an investigation to find out who was responsible, saying, “He’s got to be fired.”

According to Hughes, it was a statistical quirk and Nixon knew it. It had to do with students looking for jobs and was part of the Labor Department’s annual adjustment. Hughes reports that Nixon was told about this:
…when Office of Management and Budget Director George P. Shultz informed the President of the drop in unemployment two days earlier, he’d described it, in these exact words, as “a statistical quirk.”

Not only was this known, but it had happened the year before – this was nothing new, but it “made no difference to Nixon, who focused his wrath on the assistant commissioner of labor statistics, Harold Goldstein.” Nixon already wanted to dispose of Goldstein, so this was just fodder.

White House Political Operative Charles W. “Chuck” Colson suggested a reorganization of the BLS and to put in a “politican” for Goldstein:
Nixon agreed and summoned Shultz and Labor Secretary James D. Hodgson into his office. “I want them to do it even-handed. And they’re not doing it that way,” Nixon said. “Every [press] release has been loaded against us. And deliberately.” The President asked for a plan.

Alone with Colson, Nixon asks if BLS was all Jews and begins to plot. He turns this into a hunt for Jewish "disloyalty":
Later, alone with Colson, Nixon said, “Well, listen, are they all Jews over there?”
“Every one of them,” Colson said. “Well, a couple of exceptions.”
“See my point?”
“You know goddamn well they’re out to kill us.”
Before lunch, Nixon gave his chief of staff an order. “Now, point: [White House Personnel Director Frederic V.] Malek is not Jewish.”
“No,” H.R. “Bob” Haldeman said.
“All right, I want a look at any sensitive areas around where Jews are involved, Bob. See, the Jews are all through the government, and we have got to get in those areas. We’ve got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish . . . do you understand?
“I sure do.”
“The government is full of Jews,” Nixon said. “Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? You have a [White House Consultant Leonard] Garment and a [National Security Adviser Henry A.] Kissinger and, frankly, a [White House Speechwriter William L.] Safire, and, by God, they’re exceptions. But, Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you.”


Now while Nixon was talking about not trusting Jews, Hughes says that was the Jews who couldn’t trust Nixon – he was turning on them. He had decided that a “Jewish cabal” and it included the Fed chairman. Now, point in fact, Nixon had appointed Burns and Burns was actually conspring with someone – Nixon! But Nixon was not happy with Burns:
But the Fed chairman had incurred his patron’s displeasure. Nixon had wanted a conservative economist at the Fed, but grew angry when he got one. As unemployment rose to politically harmful levels, Nixon wanted the Fed to follow an “easy money” policy that would reduce interest rates, lowering the cost to business of borrowing money, expanding operations and hiring more employees. Burns, however, warned that this would fuel inflation. On the morning of Nixon’s “Jewish cabal” comment, the Times had run this front-page headline: “Burns Says Inflation Curb Is Making Scant Progress.”

What happened?
Burns got smeared, but Goldstein got forced out. “Harold Goldstein will be moved to a routine, non-sensitive post in another part of BLS,” Malek reported to Haldeman on Sept. 8, 1971. “He has been told of this and will move quietly when the reorganization is announced.

Hughes ends with this thought:
Typically, when Richard Nixon told himself people were conspiring against him, it meant he was about to conspire against them.

What I find interesting about this article is the wonderful information we are able to continually get from primary sources!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Taft National Park


The yellow is authentic.
I visited the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati last weekend. This is his boyhood home, not the home of he and Nellie. This house was bought by his father, Alphonso, and his second wife, Louise Taft (this was Taft's mother in case you were wondering). The Tafts bought the house in 1851 (WHT was born in 1857) two acres (there is NOT still two acres here in downtown) for $10,000. After Alphonso's death, Louise rented it out and then eventually sold it and it was turned into apartments. The National Parks Service eventually came to own it and had to restore the entire building, which included removing an additional story to put the widow's walk back on.

This museum includes a video and several exhibits plus the house tour. There are actually only a few rooms restored to look like the original Taft house and then a museum with exhibits on the top floor. There isn't a lot here, but the NPS has done a nice job with what they have. There is also a lot in this museum on the entire Taft family and their descendants - not surprising considering they are still a power on Ohio (the previous governor of Ohio was Robert Taft II).

The website also offers curriculum materials for teachers. The Taft family believed strongly in education and all the boys received excellent educations and most law degrees. Taft was not only President, but Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He and his father were both Secretaries of War and several of his brothers and their families also ended up in politics.

Some things to remember if you visit:
  • The museum is open 7 days a week, but does close at 4 PM each day so make sure to plan to be there early.
  • The museum is actually FREE (yes, really!).
  • These are guided tours that start every 1/2 hour, but then you have as much time as you want to go through the exhibits.
  • The parking lot is quite small, so you might need to find alternative places to park if the museum is busy that day. The museum itself is very easy to find and there is a sign on the freeway.
  • This museum actually allows unrestricted use of photography (which made me, the archivist, cringe and know I would never actually take an interior picture), so bring your camera if you want.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Giving Gifts

This week I have a two-year-old to shop for. I haven’t done that for some time as my children are in their 20s and teens and my youngest nephew is fast approaching his upper elementary years. I don’t even know what’s trendy right now for toddlers. I believe we are going to go towards books and Dora the Explorer, however. I love the giving, I adore the shopping, but actually getting the right thing….that’s the part that drives me insane.

You can go back pretty far in history and find that government leaders have been exchanging gifts as far back as ancient times. This week’s wordless image at History Is Elementary was a gift of state. It is customary when heads of state visit they exchange some sort of gift. These visits are arranged by the Department of State, and there is a method of protocol that is strictly adhered to during the entire visit.

The office of the Chief of Protocol arranges and coordinates all state visits as well as visits our president makes abroad. The cermonial division of the Office of Protocol is responsible for the appropriate selection of gifts to be given by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and their respective spouses to foreign dignitaries.

Information regarding the handling of gifts and their legal status can be found here.

An article from the New York Times relates Abraham Lincoln, who did not have to disclose any gifts he received, was inaugurated in a suit that was provided to him as a gift. Among the many other things he received was a John Hancock autograph and several potions and laxitives. Yes, that’s right….laxitives. He turned down, however, a herd of elephants from the king of Siam.

Tokens and Treasures connects to some explanations regarding some very interesting gifts presented to U.S. Presidents all the way back to Hoover.

The particular piece of jewelry I shared for the wordless image this week is an auquamarine and diamond brooch given by His Excellency Arthur da Costa e Silva, President-elect of Brazil at the end of January, 1967 during a state visit to Washington D.C. You can see the toasts given at the official state dinner for President Johnson and President-elect Silva here.

The brooch can be seen on exhibit along with many of the state gift items presented to the President of the United States during the Johnson Administration. The two-inch long auquamarine is tear-dropped in shape and is set in platinum. It can also be worn as a pendant. Nine diamonds are found on each side leading up to five brilliant cut diamonds topped with four baguettes set at angles. Mrs. Johnson wore the piece of jewelry during the remainder of her husband’s term in office.

*the first image with this post is from the official state dinner for the Republic of India and is courtesy of the White House
*the pendant image is courtesy of the Archival Research Catalog of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Poll: Which of these former Presidents would you hate see the most as President again if he came back from the dead?

The poll for "Which of these former Presidents would you hate see the most as President again if he came back from the dead?" has closed. The winner (or loser depending on how you see it) was James Buchanan with 35%. The second place finisher was Warren G. Harding with 26%. Richard Nixon was a close third with 23% while Franklin Pierce came in last with 14%.

Thanks to all who participated in this poll.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

President Grant Comedy

Mindless President Grant Fun? You decide. The description reads, "Star sightings are an everyday occurrence in Los Angeles. But catching a glimpse of a dead Civil War-era president working as a bar-back is definitely cause for a double take - or another drink."

Monday, September 17, 2007

David Rice Atchison - Never the President

There is an annoying bit of presidential "trivia" that keeps coming up when I am surfing online. Namely, it is the myth that a Senator from Missouri (David Rice Atchison) was President of the United States for one day on March 4th, 1849.

The claim is that Atchison technically was President of the United States as President James Polk's term expired at midnight, March 3rd. President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn into office on a Sunday, March 4th. Taylor's Vice Presidential running mate, Millard Fillmore, likewise was also not inaugurated. The theory then goes then that as President Pro Tempore, under the presidential succession law in place at the time, Atchison was President on March 4th.

Alas, the theory makes no sense. This is just bad history. 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 debate is on who took an oath of office to be president. Either there was no President on this day or Zachary Taylor was technically President even though he had yet to have taken the oath.

Atchison himself kept this in perspective although he believed he may have been President. He wrote:

"It was in this way: Polk went out of office on the 3d of March 1849, on Saturday at 12 noon. The next day, the 4th, occurring on Sunday, Gen. Taylor was not inaugurated. He was not inaugurated till Monday, the 5th, at 12 noon. It was then canvassed among Senators whether there was an interregnum (a time during which a country lacks a government). It was plain that there was either an interregnum or I was the President of the United States being chairman of the Senate, having succeeded Judge Mangum of North Carolina. The judge waked me up at 3 o'clock in the morning and said jocularly that as I was President of the United States he wanted me to appoint him as secretary of state. I made no pretense to the office, but if I was entitled in it I had one boast to make, that not a woman or a child shed a tear on account of my removing any one from office during my incumbency of the place. A great many such questions are liable to arise under our form of government." (September 1872 issue of the Plattsburg Lever.)

This is a bit of bad history that annoys me. However, I guess it is harmless. It is kind of like saying Texas is not legally part of the United States because technically a Joint Resolution of Congress can not be used to annex territory under international law. Read the Legal status of Texas article at Wikipedia if you want to see how some have fun with de jure (technically) versus de facto (in reality). Maybe Atchison was the only de jure President of the United States who was not also de facto? Kind of meaningless but good for unproductive history debates I guess.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Poll: If these former Presidents were on the ballot in 2008, who would you vote for?

The poll for the question "If these former Presidents were on the ballot in 2008, who would you vote for?" has closed. FDR won with 30% followed by President Lincoln with 23%. Ronald Reagan polled 20% while Teddy Roosevelt got 13% and George Washington got 11%.

This was a very close poll. I guess since no one got over 50% we should have a run off between Lincoln and FDR to see who would win? Thanks to all who voted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Was Grant a Drunk?

Edward Longacre asks this question in his article on Grant. He writes:
That Grant drank occasionally while on duty is a matter of record, as is the fact that on more than a few occasions he drank until intoxicated, stuporous, and violently ill. More difficult to gauge is whether this habit hampered his ability to command or (as some observers contend) propelled him toward military success even as it marked him as a failure in civilian life.

He goes on to assess the type of Grant’s drinking:
Grant did not fit the stereotype of the falling-down drunk. He drank at irregular intervals, in varying quantities, and with differing results. At times he imbibed moderately, with little or no noticeable effect, and he was capable of refusing a drink, explaining that alcohol brought him nothing but trouble. Even so, he was, in the clinical sense of the term, an alcoholic. On more than a few occasions he drank long and hard, unable to stop short of unconsciousness or some form of intervention -- the outbreak of attention-demanding military operations, or the ability of relatives or staff officers to limit his access to liquor.

Longacre says that Grant’s drinking actually resembles binge drinking. He also appeared to be able to control it at times:
Although historians continue to debate the extent and the effectiveness of his efforts, Grant’s adjutant general, John A. Rawlins, a zealous cold-water man from Grant’s home state of Illinois, strove to cover up his boss’s indiscretions and swear him to abstinence. Grant appears to have given in to his urge to imbibe only on those occasions when Rawlins was not on hand to ensure his sobriety. Nor did Grant drink when Julia and the children visited him in the field, rescuing him from lassitude and loneliness.

His final conclusion was that alcohol didn’t detract from Grant’s Civil War performance:
Given the high visibility his position attracted after 1861, Grant’s dependence on alcohol might well have threatened his continuance in command. Instead, through a combination of factors -- his determination to abstain when military operations were in progress; a moral strength based on religious values that has escaped the notice of many historians; and the support of relatives, subordinates, and political backers, chief among them Abraham Lincoln -- Grant persevered to play a critical role in ending America’s costliest war and restoring the Republic.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Theodore Roosevelt: The Plunger

When I taught fifth grade history, students and I made the mad dash for our April finish line covering Reconstruction and ending with the present day. Sometimes I miss teaching such great events as World War I, the Depression Era, and World War II.

When we reached the point where President McKinley is assassinated and Theodore Roosevelt rises to power I share the picture I used several days ago for a wordless image….the one where a very young Roosevelt witnessed the Lincoln funeral procession as it moved through New York City. I also share with students Roosevelt's Georgia roots.

However, students in my fifth grade classroom didn’t meet President Roosevelt for the first time following the McKinley assassination. They met him head on during the Spanish American War. At that time I began my lesson with a plunger. Yes, a real honest-to-goodness, plumber with his pants ridin’ low, plunger. I would ask students to identify what I was holding in my hand and most of them could tell me it was a plunger. They could also tell me some fairly colorful stories regarding how and why a plunger had been used at their house. At any rate I used the plunger to illustrate Theodore Roosevelt’s character.

He always plunged in head on. I enjoyed teaching about Roosevelt because his contribution to our historical events held the interest of students and motivated them to learn further on their own. Theodore Roosevelt had a larger than life personality, larger than life presidency, and a larger than life career outside of the White House.

David C. Whitney in his book American President said, “He did not wait for history to make him great, but plunged ahead doing what he felt was right for the nation and the world.” While it is true that we can sit back now and make judgements regarding Roosevelt’s actions you cannot deny that he didn’t shrink back or second guess himself….he simply plunged ahead.

Following his inauguration President Roosevelt was very interested in improving life for all Americans. He said, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”

As president Roosevelt made various diverse appointments in order to reflect the mixture of races, religions, and nationalities in the United States. Catholics, Southern white Democrats, Jews, and Negro Southern Republicans were appointed to various offices.

In October, 1901, one month after being sworn in President Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to meet with him at the White House. President Roosevelt greatly admired Booker T. Washington, author of the popular book Up From Slavery which told of his rise from a nine-year-old slave to a great teacher and founder of the first Negro college for teachers. Washington had done what few Negroes had done by 1901, and he was just one of many writers that Roosevelt invited to the White House because he found them so interesting.

The main reason for the meeting with Booker T. Washington was President Roosevelt wanted to gather data regarding upcoming appointments he wished to make involving Negroes. Their discussion ran long and President Roosevelt invited Mr. Washington to break bread with him so that they could continue their discussion.

In 1901 it was one thing to invite Booker T. Washington to the White House and meet with him. It was an entirely different matter altogether to actually have him to dine in the White House. Southern newspapers went wild with accusations. They accused Roosevelt of planning to place Negroes in control of Southern whites dredging up memories of Reconstruction. Other papers condemed the dinner stating that Roosevelt was simply fishing for black votes. The Memphis Scrimitar said Roosevelt committed “the most damnable outrage ever perpetrated by any citizen of the United States when he invited a n…. to dine with him at the White House." There was even a division of opinion in the North regarding the propriety of the President’s actions, however it was not as rabid as the Southern response. The image posted above is actually a political cartoon that was published at the time.

President Roosevelt did not respond publically to the firestorm of criticism, however, he was very surprised by the reaction in that his invitation to dinner was totally unpremeditated. In a letter to Albion W. Tourgee dated November 8, 1901 President Roosevelt stated "...and the very fact that I had a moments qualm on inviting him because of his color made me ashamed of myself and made me hasten to send the invitation….I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent, but of one thing I am sure, and that is that inasmuch as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away, the only wise and honorable, and Christian thing to do is treat each white man and each black man strictly on his merits as a man giving him no more and no less than he shows himself worthy to have."

President Roosevelt got the message loud and clear from his mother’s beloved homeland and he never repeated the error again during his time in office not wanting to offend half of the voting population in the United States. He also wrote “I do not intend to offend the prejudices of anyone else, but neither do I intend to allow their prejudices to make me false to my prejudices.”

One of the things I find so interesting about this entire interlude during Roosevelt presidency is the fact that Reconstruction had been over for approximately twenty-four years. This amount of time to my particular students seems like eons since they are only ten years old. Even though I attempt to show students the failures of Reconstruction----it was not a true time of creating bridges between the races in the South---- most don’t understand it at the time. Most believe the war was over, the slaves were free, Reconstruction occurred, and when the Federal soldiers went home in 1877 all was well. Seems like after twenty-four years people could forgive and forget, huh? Students see in this sliver of President Roosevelt’s term in office that Southerners weren’t so easy to forgive and forget. Unerstanding this helps them later to understand that Civil Rights was not merely a thing of the 1960s involving Dr. King, but had real roots leading back in time.

I also find this time period in Roosevelt’s presidency interesting because he faced his Southern roots dead on and unfortunately there isn’t much in the several tomes on his life about the influence the South had on his formative years even though they are all several inches thick. One story I did run across told about a man approaching Roosevelt while he was still in college in order to return to him property of the Bulloch family that had been taken by Union officers as they camped in and around Bulloch Hall.

President Roosevelt visited a few Southern cities in October, 1904, three years after the Booker T. Washington dinner. He made the trek to his maternal family’s home in Roswell, Georgia. Due to his background it is fitting that he was the first sitting United States president to visit the South since the end of the War Between the States besides President Lincoln’s trip to Richmond, Virginia a few days after the surrender.

At Bulloch Hall he spoke as follows:

"It has been my very great good fortune to have the right to claim my blood is half Southern and half Northern, and I would deny the right of any man here to feel a greater pride in the deeds of every Southerner than I feel. Of all the children, the brothers and sisters of my mother who were born and brought up in that house on the hill there, my two uncles afterward entered the Confederate service and served with the Confederate Navy.

"One, the younger man, served on the Alabama as the youngest officer aboard her. He was captain of one of her broadside 32-pounders in her final fight, and when at the very end the Alabama was sinking and the Kearsarge passed under her stern and came up along the side that had not been engaged hitherto, my uncle, Irvine Bulloch, shifted his gun from one side to the other and fired the two last shots fired from the Alabama. James Dunwoody Bulloch was an admiral in the Confederate service. ...

"Men and women, don't you think I have the ancestral right to claim a proud kinship with those who showed their devotion to duty as they saw the duty, whether they wore the grey or whether they wore the blue? All Americans who are worthy the name feel an equal pride in the valor of those who fought on one side or the other, provided only that each did with all his strength and soul and mind his duty as it was given to him to see his duty."

The picture above was taken on the steps of Bulloch Hall during Roosevelt's visit and was published in the local paper.

Invaribly every year I’ll have several students ask me about honoring Confederate dead and recognizing ancestors that may have fought for the South. Are they and their families wrong to do this? Should it be done at all? First of all I tell them it’s not up to me, and my opinion doesn’t matter. These are decisions for their family to make. Then I like to share with them President Roosevelt’s speech to show how he reconciled his own southern roots.

Sources: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Morris), Theodore Rex (Morris), Theodore Roosevelt: A Life (Miller), The Last Romantic (Brands), The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (Jeffers), The Lion’s Pride (Renehan), The Roosevelt Women (Caroli)

Air Force One

The Reagan Library has Air Force One on display so you can tour it (the one retired in 1998, not the current one), because, "Upon leaving office, President Reagan stated that one day he hoped he would be able to share Air Force One with the American people by placing it at his Presidential Library."

The site gives some facts on the plane, like usage stats for each president who used it:
Nixon: 30 missions, 104,925 miles, 213 hours, 140 sorties
Ford: 55 missions, 177,452 miles, 372 hours, 205 sorties
Carter: 86 missions, 284,009 miles, 545 hours, 312 sorties
Reagan: 211 missions, 631,640 miles, 1288 hours, 580 sorties
H.W. Bush: 57 missions, 110,823 miles, 362 hours, 190 sorties
Clinton: 5 missions, 5,247 miles, 11 hours, 11 sorties
W. Bush: 1 mission, 334 miles, 1.9 hours, 2 sorties

Friday, September 07, 2007

LBJ, the Campaign of 1964 and Civil Rights

People today applaud Lyndon Johnson’s support of the Civil Rights Act, but in 1964 it was considered a major issue for his presidential campaign – and not in a good way. Jeremy Mayer discusses this topic in an article for Prologue. He writes in his introduction that “the election of 1964 is considered by many to be the most racially polarized presidential contest in modern American history.”

Although it might seem that Barry Goldwater would use race to help him win the election, Mayer argues that both candidates looked to avoid race as an issue, but for different reasons:
Yet what has been missed in previous analyses of 1964 is how assiduously both Goldwater and Johnson worked to take race off the agenda. Johnson believed that if the election became a referendum on civil rights, he might lose. Goldwater believed that history would judge him harshly if his campaign blatantly exploited the racial hatred of whites.

The article goes on to say that this election shaped the politics we know today:
Still, despite these efforts, the racial implications of the 1964 campaign would linger for decades. The first Southerner to occupy the White House for more than a hundred years lost the heart of his region, signaling the dawn of an era of Republican dominance of the South in presidential politics. The first man of Jewish descent to run on a major ticket 3 would lead the Republican Party into a monochromatic whiteness from which it has not yet recovered. After 1964, Democrats could take the black vote for granted as the GOP became the party through which whites expressed their unease over black progress. The contest between Johnson and Goldwater shaped American racial politics for the next thirty-six years.

While Goldwater’s campaign ended up centered against civil rights and playing to racists, he never supported the race riots:
…when the two men met briefly at the White House, even Johnson was forced to concede that Goldwater gave little evidence of playing to the white backlash:
He came in, just wanted to tell me . . . that he was a half-Jew, and that he didn't want to do anything that would contribute to any riots or disorders or bring about any violence, because of his ancestry he was aware of the problems that existed in that field and he didn't want to say anything that would make them any worse . . . thought he could have used it, I thought their intent was to use the White House as some kind of launching pad.
In this and other discussions of his brief meeting with Goldwater, the surprise in Johnson's voice is evident, particularly when compared to the suspicion and venom in his earlier discussions of Goldwater's putative motives. The two men issued a joint statement to the press, foreswearing the use of the riots for political gain, helping to remove the riots from the campaign discourse.

Johnson tried to deal with the Southern backlash voters during his campaign:
Johnson chose to confront his co-regionalists. Johnson calculated that an appeal to Southern gentility would take the sting off of opposition to black progress and sent his Alabama-born wife, Lady Bird, on a train tour of the South. Even so, Lady Bird faced counter-demonstrators and animosity during her tour, including mocking signs demanding "Black Bird Go Home."

On everything but race, Johnson led Goldwater in the polls. He was the incumbent and the US population was fairly happy:
Of all of Johnson's perceived vulnerabilities, an internal memorandum lists only one that could not be spun as a racial issue, the taint of corruption surrounding Johnson. The few other issues that were tilting toward Goldwater were all more or less amenable to a racial characterization in 1964 America: civil rights, juvenile delinquency, welfare cheating, crime and violence generally, and unnecessary government spending.

Yet, Goldwater was hesitant to play the race card and avoided several opportunities to exploit this weakness. This stems from both Goldwater himself and the Republican Party:
Goldwater's reluctance to use racial fear-mongering may have also stemmed from Republican leaders who put increasing pressure on him to relent on civil rights. During the convention, Governor William Scranton had penned an angry public letter that attacked Goldwater for his "irresponsibility" on racial matters. A number of Republicans were also unhappy that Goldwater did not immediately reject an endorsement from the Grand Dragon of Alabama's KKK. Former President Eisenhower convened a conference of leading Republicans in August, at which Goldwater promised to uphold the existing civil rights laws if elected. By the start of the general election season, then, Goldwater had promised two Presidents that he would moderate his rhetoric in areas that touched on race.

Johnson’s victory in 1964 was a landslide, but Goldwater and the Republicans took the South, all the states where the African-American population was the highest. Mayer writes that there is no explanation for Goldwater’s victories in these states except for race as Goldwater was otherwise an unpopular candidate.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Tradition of Presidenital Transport: Lockheed Martin and Bell Aircraft

American Presidents have flown a lot since the 20th century. One company (Lockheed Martin and Bell Aircraft) has provided much of the air transport. A Tradition of Presidential Transport: Lockheed Martin and Bell Aircraft has some details. The site notes, "Lockheed Martin first provided Presidential transport as far back as 1953 with two C-121 Constellation aircraft used by President Eisenhower. Bell Helicopter also has a long tradition providing and supporting Presidential aircraft dating to the first helicopter ride for a Commander-in-Chief in 1957 - a Bell H-13J Ranger. The Rangers were replaced by larger Sikorsky aircraft with more power and space for the President. Today, it is again time to replace the current Marine One helicopter fleet with the larger and more powerful US101 - for a true Oval Office in the Sky."

Here are some excerpts from the page:

1953: Presidential pilot Col. William G. Draper selected a C-121A Lockheed Constellation to transport the newly inaugurated President Eisenhower. Dubbed Columbine II, the four-engine aircraft was a military version of the famed Lockheed 749 airliner, recognized as one of the most beautiful commercial airliners of the piston-engine era.

1957: On July 13, President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first Chief Executive to fly in a helicopter when he took off from the White House lawn in a Bell H-13J (a three-seat 47J Ranger) as part of Operation Alert, an emergency evacuation exercise. (Picture above.)

1960s-1980s: The Air Force's 89th Military Airlift Wing flew six Lockheed VC-140B light transport jets for special government and White House airlifts. Designed by Lockheed's celebrated Skunk Works in the late 1950s, the four-engine aircraft carried eight VIP passengers in a supplementary role to the President's 707 aircraft, and flew Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan.

1982-Present: Lockheed Martin designed and built upgraded avionics systems for the VH-3D and VH-60N Marine One aircraft, which it continues to support today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Poll: Who is the most well-known First Lady?

The poll for the question "Who is the most well-known First Lady?" has closed. Jacqueline Kennedy won with 50% of the vote. Eleanor Roosevelt came in second with 25%. Hillary Clinton and Martha Washington came in with single digits.

If Hillary wins in 2008, there will be no denying that she will wind up as the most well-known First Lady in the future...

Thanks to all who participated in the poll. Thanks also to Jennie for suggesting this question.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Wilson's War Message

Woodrow Wilson is know more for his actions to keep the US out of the First World War and then his efforts to create the League of Nations, than his actual leadership during the war. So as something a little different, here is Wilson's War Message to Congress:

Gentlemen of the Congress:

I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.

On the 3d of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean. That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the Imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe-conduct through the proscribed areas by the German Government itself and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle.

I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the at tempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up, with meagre enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view, at least, of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded. This minimum of right the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world. I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of noncombatants, men, women, and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people can not be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.

It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.

When I addressed the Congress on the 26th of February last, I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable. Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea. It is common prudence in such circumstances, grim necessity indeed, to endeavour to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all. The German Government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defense of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be. Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual; it is likely only to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents. There is one choice we can not make, we are incapable of making: we will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are no common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.

With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it, and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.

What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable cooperation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with Germany, and, as incident to that, the extension to those governments of the most liberal financial credits, in order that our resources may so far as possible be added to theirs. It will involve the organization and mobilization of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant and yet the most economical and efficient way possible. It will involve the immediate full equipment of the Navy in all respects but particularly in supplying it with the best means of dealing with the enemy's submarines. It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States already provided for by law in case of war at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service, and also the authorization of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training. It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the Government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained by the present generation, by well conceived taxation....

While we do these things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear, and make very clear to all the world what our motives and our objects are. My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and normal course by the unhappy events of the last two months, and I do not believe that the thought of the nation has been altered or clouded by them I have exactly the same things in mind now that I had in mind when I addressed the Senate on the 22d of January last; the same that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the 3d of February and on the 26th of February. Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up amongst the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth ensure the observance of those principles. Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances. We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states.

We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their Government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellow men as pawns and tools. Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbour states with spies or set the course of intrigue to bring about some critical posture of affairs which will give them an opportunity to strike and make conquest. Such designs can be successfully worked out only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions. Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class. They are happily impossible where public opinion commands and insists upon full information concerning all the nation's affairs.

A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honour, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plottings of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart. Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honour steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.

Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia? Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude towards life. The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character, or purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice, and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a league of honour.

One of the things that has served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of counsel, our peace within and without our industries and our commerce. Indeed it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began; and it is unhappily not a matter of conjecture but a fact proved in our courts of justice that the intrigues which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction of official agents of the Imperial Government accredited to the Government of the United States. Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people towards us (who were, no doubt, as ignorant of them as we ourselves were), but only in the selfish designs of a Government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing. But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that Government entertains no real friendship for us and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience. That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted [Zimmermann] note to the German Minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence.

We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Just because we fight without rancour and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.

I have said nothing of the governments allied with the Imperial Government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honour. The Austro-Hungarian Government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified endorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the Imperial German Government, and it has therefore not been possible for this Government to receive Count Tarnowski, the Ambassador recently accredited to this Government by the Imperial and Royal Government of Austria-Hungary; but that Government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.

It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity towards a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck. We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early reestablishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us -- however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present government through all these bitter months because of that friendship -- exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible. We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions towards the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy, who live amongst us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it towards all who are in fact loyal to their neighbours and to the Government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose. If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression; but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there and without countenance except from a lawless and malignant few.

It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

New History Carnival

History Carnival LVI is up at Walking the Berkshires - go check this out for some new blogs to read!