Monday, March 31, 2008
One of the segments discusses the Battle of New Orleans, and it is of particular interest to kids because it happened after the formal war was over. One of the narrarators sums up Jackson with the statement that even today people usually love him or they hate him. There are no gray areas with Andrew Jackson.
I think that’s a pretty fair assessment of him. Even without a college degree Jackson had a lifetime of learning on the battlefield. Those experiences, and due to the experiences he had via other life choices, Jackson could be a very formidible foe….even during assassination attempts.
The first attempt on Jackson’s life came at the hands of Robert B. Randolph on May 6, 1833. He was upset that the U.S. Navy had dismissed him for embezzlement. Randolph managed to attack Jackson while the President was aboard the U.S.S. Cygnet. The World Almanac of Presidential Facts explains Jackson was on his way to lay a cornerstone for a monument near the grave of George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington.
Apparently Randolph managed to strike the President before running away. He was followed by several men who were accompanying Jackson including Washington Irving. President Jackson opted to forego formal charges against Randolph.
The second attempt on President Jackson's life occurred on January 30, 1835 when Jackson and several members of his cabinet were attending the funeral of South Carolina Rep. Warren R. Davis at the U.S. Capitol. President Jackson was prevented from walking through the Rotunda by an English immigrant and unemployed house painter by the name of Robert Lawrence who pulled not one but two guns on the President.
Lawrence was only three paces away from the President when he attempted to fire his guns, but they both misfired causing a very loud noise, but no harm to the President. Jackson immediately began to use his cane against Randolph and beat him to the floor.
An article from American Heritage magazine relates:
So when the house painter’s pistols failed, Lawrence found himself dangerously within range of a formidable opponent. Years earlier Jackson had advised a young man on how to wield a cane in combat. He warned that a cane swung at head level was easy to deflect; rather one should “take the stick so [held like a spear] and punch him in the stomach.” He described having once fought a man that way in Tennessee: “Sir, it doubled him up. He fell at my feet, and I stamped on him.” Richard Lawrence later told investigators that he only felt genuine fear when he saw the 67-year-old President charge.
Members of the President’s party including Davy Crockett restrained and disarmed Lawrence.
Lawrence later managed to tell investigators that he blamed Jackson for loosing his job, and referring possibly to the Bank of the United States struggle that took up most of Jackson’s tenure in office, Lawrence stated if Jackson wasn’t around there would be more money for American citizens. Finally, Lawrence dissolved into total insanity claiming to be Richard III of England. This would have been a bit difficult considering King Richard had died in 1485.
The American Heritage article also states:
While Washington’s finest doctors listened to Lawrence claim to be the king of England, the police were testing his majesty’s misfired pistols. They worked perfectly. After watching them drive bullets through an inch-thick wood plank at 30 feet, many shuddered to think what they could have done to Old Hickory. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, who had also once shot at Jackson, reflected that “two pistols—so well loaded, so coolly handled, and which afterward fired with such readiness, force, and precision—missing fire, each in its turn, when leveled eight feet at the President’s heart . . . made a deep impression upon the public feeling, and irresistibly carried many minds to the belief in a superintending Providence.” To his friends, Jackson’s survival could be nothing but the work of a higher power.
Lawrence was judged insane. He was institutionalized and like Randolph he was never prosecuted.
Love him or hate him it would seem President Jackson was indeed protected.
The bronze statue of President Jackson seen with this post is the work of Belle Kinney Scholtz and Leopold F. Scholz. Today you can find it in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in front of the very doorway where Lawrence attempted to assassinate President Andrew Jackson.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Barack Obama in his campaign to be President of the United States of America has brought the issue of race into the forefront of American life. However, this is not the first time this has happened during a presidential campaign. It has occurred several times before including during the elections of 1836 and 1840.
Richard Johnson was the ninth Vice President of the United States. He served under President Martin Van Buren. He was a controversial Vice-President. This was because had he openly acknowledged an Octroon woman (1/8th African American) as his common-law wife. Her name was Julia Chinn. Although she died before his election as Vice-President, it impacted his political career.
Wikipedia notes, "Unlike other leaders who had relationships with their slaves, Johnson was open about his relationship with Chinn, and regarded her as his common law wife. He freely claimed Chinn's two daughters as his own, much to the consternation of some in his constituency. The relationship contributed to his unsuccessful defense of his Senate seat in 1829, but his district immediately returned him to the House."
Chinn died during a Cholera outbreak in 1833. He had two daughters with her and he made sure that each had an education. Both married white men and were allowed to inherit from their father's estate when he died.
Johnson was a hero of the War of 1812. It was widely believed that he killed Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. He used this to his advantage politically and the slogan "Rumpsey Dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh" was repeated often during the 1836 election. However, some Southerners refused to back Johnson as Vice-President. Van Buren carried Virginia in the election but the Virginia electors in the Electoral College refused to vote for Johnson. Wikipedia notes, "Although Virginia had gone for the Democrats, the state's 23 electors refused to vote for Johnson, leaving him one electoral vote short of a majority. For the first time before or since, the Senate was charged with electing the Vice President under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment. The tally was divided strictly along party lines, and Johnson was elected by a 33 to 16 vote. Three senators were absent."
Johnson did not got any more popular during his term as Vice-President. He became such a political liability that Van Buren dumped him as a running mate in the 1840 Presidential Election. Van Buren lost anyway. After leaving office, Johnson struggled to regain a political office. He managed to get elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1850 but he died a mere two weeks into his term.
It is hard to believe that a prominent southerner was elected Vice-President in the 1830s despite having been openly been wed to a woman who was considered a negro at the time. But it happened. The issue of race played a role in two Presidential elections. Richard Johnson is largely forgotten today but he has an important place in American history.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
The book consists of public domain photographs primarily found at the Harvard College Library and the Library of Congress. These are accompanied by text written by Cordery. They are laid out chronologically from Teddy's childhood up until the end of his life.
The Midwest Book Review wrote of the book, "With informative captions by Stacy A. Cordery, Historic Photos of Theodore Roosevelt is a fittingly pictorial biographic presentation of a remarkable man whose political policies, ideas, and influence are still resonating in American culture today. Historic Photos of Theodore Roosevelt is an impressive body of work and a strongly recommended addition to academic and community library reference collections in the areas of 20th century American History, Photography, and Biography."
I can not disagree with this review. This is a very well done book. The selection of pictures and the text by Cordery are excellent. The book does a great job of giving a good outline of Teddy's life in an easy to read and follow pictorial narrative. Some of the photos are better than others but that is to be expected when having to rely on old photos from archives.
Some of the pictures really stood out. On page 10, there is a picture of a really buff Teddy Roosevelt in college. It is hard to believe he was a sickly youth! On page 121, there is a picture of the Roosevelt family leaving the White House in 1909. Alice Roosevelt Longworth was quoted of this event as saying that the family was "expelled from the Garden of Eden." There are also several pictures of Teddy late in life holding grand kids. He looks very happy and proud.
As I received this book at the library, I believe it rightly belongs to Central Michigan University. As such, I will be donating it on Monday. This book will be a good addition to the collection. I believe other libraries would do well to acquire this book. Individuals interested in President Teddy Roosevelt's life or the American Presidency should also consider buying this book.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
You can also see the pictures from this year’s White House egg roll at their website.
Rutherford B. Hayes at the Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
There are several biographies of American Presidents. They are worth taking a look at and comparing with more recent works.
Here is the biography of Rutherford B. Hayes:
HAYES, Rutherford Birchard, president of the United States 1877-81, was born at Delaware, Ohio, Oct. 4, 1822. He was graduated at Kenyon college, in 1842, and was admitted to the bar in 1846. In June, 1861, be entered the army, and there reached the grade of brevet major general. He was a republican congressman 1865-7, and governor of Ohio 1868-70. In 1875 he was again chosen governor, having thus overthrown the "Ohio idea" of paying in paper money that part of the national debt not specifically payable in coin (see OHIO), and the general attention which was attracted by the importance of the contest, and his hardly expected success, gave him the republican nomination for the presidency in 1876. (See DISPUTED ELECTIONS, IV.; ELECTORAL COMMISSION.)
—The peculiar circumstances attending his election, and his immediate withdrawal of military support from the reconstructed governments of South Carolina and Louisiana (see INSURRECTION, II.), left his administration without any very cordial support in congress; and his embarrassment was increased by the sudden rise to the surface of financial questions, on which neither party was ready to finally commit itself. Many administration measures were lost, or carried by democratic votes; the veto of the Bland silver bill, making the depreciated silver dollar a legal tender and directing its continued coinage, was overridden by heavy majorities, Feb. 28, 1878; and it was not until the extra session of 1879 (see RIDERS) that President Hayes found himself fairly supported by his own party's representatives in congress. Nevertheless, his administration was of incalculable advantage to the country, not only as a breathing spell from the almost intolerable violence of party contest, but also in its economic successes. For the final subsidence of the popular wave which for a moment seemed to threaten repudiation in its meaner forms, for the successful refunding of the public debt, for the enormous reductions in the rate and amount of the annual interest paid upon it, almost the entire credit is due to this administration; and the general want of exciting incident, which is sometimes adduced as a proof of its incompetency, is really the strongest proof of its competency and success. Even in the lower aspect of party success the result is the same. During this administration the party held its own for four years, for the first time since the close of the rebellion. From 1868 until 1876, in particular, it had been slowly but surely losing its hold on various states, and the loss was only hastened by the increased vigor of the measures taken to stop it. If the election of 1872 had not been darkened by democratic refusals to vote for Greeley, it would be evident that the republican party had entered every election since 1868 in worse condition than at the preceding election. In 1880, for the first time since 1868, the steady line of loss had been checked, and there was even a slight gain.
—See Howell's Life of Hayes; Howard's Life of Hayes.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I found an amusing blog post on this question. At The Powdered Wig, Matt K. has a list. It includes:
- William Rufus King
- John C. Calhoun
- John C. Breckinridge
- Spiro Agnew
- Aaron Burr
- Dick Cheney
It is interesting to note the President George W. Bush has proclaimed Dick Cheney the best Vice-President ever. And Spiro Agnew and Aaron Burr came close to being President. This is a tough one to call.
Any thoughts on this? This could make for a good poll question in the future.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
George H.W. Bush was the leading vote getter with 41% for the Persian Gulf War. President Kennedy was second with 29% for the Vietnam War. President Clinton was third with 12% for the Kosovo War. Truman polled 9% for the Korean War and Wilson got 6% for World War One.
I could only place five Presidents on the poll. As such, I left FDR off. I hardly think he started World War Two so I think this was a good choice. I am going to get off the war theme and try a different sort of poll question next.
Friday, March 21, 2008
This is part of a larger site called the Authentic History Center. The site notes that it is, "comprised of artifacts and sounds from American popular culture. It was created to teach that the everyday objects in society have authentic historical value and reflect the social consciousness of the era that produced them. Authentic also means conforming to fact, and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief."
Thursday, March 20, 2008
There are several human built directories that have extensive collections of presidential sites selected. As real people and not computer algorithms determine if sites should be included, the results tend to be good. The glory days of Web directories are gone but they can still be mined and enjoyed.
Here are three to check out:
Joeant - Small but well selected list of sites on American Presidents.
Yahoo! - Larger and well populated with tons of subcategories.
Open Directory Project - The ODP is not what it used to be. That is probably because people rarely use directories anymore. However, the category on Presidents is huge and has a lot of good content listed.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Another well known omission is the at the grave of Thomas Jefferson. His tombstone notes, "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia."
The part about being President is notably missing...
Thursday, March 13, 2008
This is rather amusing – you can check out the obituary of James Monroe at this site. It is rather short when you think he was a President! What I found interesting was that inside of talking about Monroe’s life, it described the funeral instead, including the casket! Monroe was first put in a leaden coffin and then that was put into a mahogany coffin with a silver plate with an inscription that read:
Died 4th July 1831
Aged 74 years
Again notice it doesn't even list that he was President.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The American History curriculum that I teach to nine and ten year olds is basically the same course of study students receive in high school. The state assessments include questions that would give most adults a run for their money.
Dealing with students who begin the year thinking Robin Hood fought the American Revolution with help from SpongeBob and Gary the Snail and a belief that woodland creatures often broke into song with Pocohontas because "Disney says so" also makes my job daunting since "the test” is how I’m judged regarding my teaching capabilities.
That being said it is certainly an understatement to say that I love teaching history. History is one subject where small bits of knowledge can be used to review content as well as extend content in order to meet up with future content.
Let’s take John Quincy Adams and one little day in his life as an example. Let’s say we are discussing the presidency of John Quincy Adams and I want to get students to connect with him on the eve of his inauguration. Perhaps I’m attempting to get kids to write a journal entry from the point of view of Adams regarding his thoughts upon taking the nation’s highest office. We’ve talked about the hard fought election of 1824, so students have this as a base of knowledge to formulate their journal entry, but I’d like to take it one step further since past events shape our lives as much as current ones do.
I pull up an image on the classroom screen for student to view. Hands go up. That’s a good sign since they haven’t seen the image for several weeks. Students are able to tell me that the painting they see is John Trumbull’s Battle of Bunker Hill which depicts the death of Dr. Warren. I wrote about it some time ago here. We discuss the importance of the battle and then I bring up the image you see above with this post.
Is it just a big old pile of rocks?
No, it isn’t. The image is the Abigail Adams Cairn. A cairn is a heap of stones set up for a monument, landmark, or tombstone of some kind. With this knowledge students usually decide from the name that Abigail Adams is buried there.
No, she isn’t, but it does mark a particular spot.
It was from that spot where Abigail Adams and a seven year old John Quincy Adams witnessed the burning of Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would seem that even in a seven year old mind John Quincy would understand the importance of what he witnessed that day especially knowing that his father was away at the time serving with the Second Continental Congress.
To help students connect even further to the events John Quincy Adams witnessed that day I add in the fact that Abigail Adams was keeping Dr. Warren’s children on that fateful day he lost his life. Later in the day after receiving word of Dr. Warren’s death, Abigail Adams along with John Quincy and Nabby, Dr. Warren’s oldest child, went up on the hill to view the battle.
Can you imagine their thoughts?
This sentence from from the National Parks Service website for the Adams Family homeplace says, John Quincy Adams was literally a child of the American Revolution. He absorbed in his earliest memories the sense of destiny his parents shared about the United States and dedicated his life to the republic's consolidation and expansion.
It’s only after this point that I bring students forward to the eve of the inauguration of John Quincy Adams and remind them that they are to write a journal entry regarding his feelings upon taking an office held by his father for a country birthed by his father and many other Patriots including Dr. Warren.
If you were writing the entry what would you say?
Monday, March 10, 2008
The first President to avoid his successor was John Adams, after the rather nasty election of 1800:
The night before the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, the lights burned late in the White House. President Adams’ belongings were packed into several wagons, and at four in the morning, President and Mrs. Adams boarded their coach and left the city. President Adams, taking his defeat personally, could not bring himself to attend the festivities attached to his defeat.
The next President was John Quincy Adams, after another bitter election loss, this time to Andrew Jackson:
During the days before the inauguration of Andrew Jackson, wagons were constantly shuttling between the White House and the mansion on Meridian Hill that Adams had rented after he and his wife decided to remain in Washington. During his lame-duck period (between the election and the inauguration of his successor), President Adams and his wife remained in the White House, trying not to notice the continuous celebrations being held to honor Jackson’s victory, and Adams’ defeat. After moving to his rented house on March 3rd, the day before the inauguration, they remained in their mansion. He did not attend or participate in any of the inaugural festivities.
The last one was Andrew Johnson, who was feuding with his successor, Ulysses Grant.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
President Polk came in first for the Mexican War with 47%. President Lincoln was second for the American Civil War with 18%. President Madison and the War of 1812 was a close third with 17%. Coming in as a close fourth was President McKinley and the Spanish-American War.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Anyone can vote for a winner in this contest. The site notes, "We invite readers to take a look at some of the designs we have posted here and to vote for the best one. You can scroll through the designs and choose the one you like the most, then go to the Forum poll and vote (Forums require a free chronicle account.)"
As the entries are from academia, the they are not generally favorable towards Bush. However, what do you expect from this heavily liberal group? If you agree with their political outlook, you will enjoy these. If you disagree with that view, you are used to this by now and can still appreciate the work that went into these. Some are very well done.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
In March 1867 Congress enacted the first Reconstruction Act, with which the eleven former Confederate states had to comply in order to regain Congressional representation. Among the law’s stipulations was a requirement for black manhood suffrage. All but three states conformed, even though the demand for black manhood suffrage was very unpopular among white Southerners. (In 1870 the 15th Amendment would constitutionally oblige Northern states and the three unreconstructed Southern states to provide black manhood suffrage as well.)
This Thomas Nast cartoon alludes to the familiar biblical story of Samson as a way of emphasizing that voting rights (Samson's hair) is the source of societal strength for black men, which Southern Democrats (as Delilah) and their Northern allies seek to keep from them. Like other liberal Republicans, Nast considered political equality as both the foundation and safeguard of economic and cultural advancement.
The armed and dangerous Democratic figures in the left-background are (l-r): Wade Hampton holding a torch aloft; Nathan Bedford Forrest, wearing a Fort Pillow medallion; a squatting Robert E. Lee; presidential nominee Horatio Seymour, with demonically horned hair, wearing a Ku Klux Klan breastplate, and carrying a flag that commemorates slavery, the Confederacy ("lost cause"), the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil War draft riots in New York City, and he Reconstruction race riots in Memphis and New Orleans; vice presidential nominee Frank Blair, also wearing a Ku Klux Klan breastplate; Raphael Semmes; John Hoffman; and a stereotypical Irish-American Catholic in the shadow under Hoffman's arm.
In front of the Democratic politicos, a fire burns symbols of religion (the Bible) and knowledge (books, a scroll, and a globe). The writing on the center wall announcing “The Democratic Barbecue” refers to a typical 19-century political event by which candidates tried to rally public support (here, hypocritically of black men); it also echoes the catch-phrase “the great barbecue,” which signified political corruption. To the right is a statue of President Andrew Johnson as the “Moses” of black Americans, a promise undermined by his veto of Reconstruction legislation. Fittingly, he holds a tablet marked “veto” instead of the Ten Commandments. In the lower-right corner, a satanic copperhead snake (with horns like Seymour) laughs at Samson and his shorn hair.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Let's look at what the article says about FDR's eloquence:
Franklin D. Roosevelt had been governor of New York when he campaigned for the presidency in 1932, but it was his language, especially, that stirred enthusiasm for his candidacy during the hard times of the Great Depression. Roosevelt promised change at the Democratic National Convention: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." His campaign song that year, "Happy Days Are Here Again," accentuated the promise of change.