AP History Notes

Posts Tagged ‘president’

The Seal of the President

This article explores who designed the seal of the President:
According to the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency, the modern seal was first defined on October 25, 1945, by President Harry Truman in Executive Order 9646. It depicts an Eagle holding 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch with 13 leaves in the other, surrounded by a ring of 50 stars (Executive Order 10860 added stars for Alaska and Hawaii in 1960) and the words “Seal of the President of the United States.” The words make it official. Otherwise, it’s considered the Presidential Coat-of-Arms; without the stars, it’s basically just the Great Seal of the United States, after which the Presidential Seal is modeled. The seal existed in various iterations before Truman –several can be seen embedded in the architecture and furnishings of the White House–but the 33rd President made a critical alteration to the design: he changed the direction the eagle faced. No longer was the symbolic representation of the United States looking toward the arrows or war, but to the olive branch of peace. Significantly, at the same time, the Department of Defense officially replaced the Department of War. According to Truman biographer David McCullough, the changes were intended to be seen as a symbolic of an nation both on the march yet still dedicated to peace.

The earliest seal was started by Millard Fillmore:
The earliest documented Presidential Seal was conceived by President Millard Fillmore in an 1850 sketch that he then sent to Edward Stabler, a nationally renown seal engraver. To say that Fillmore designed the seal would be a stretch – even to call his conception a “sketch” seems a bit generous. The heavy lifting was definitely done by Stabler….Stabler’s design appropriates the coat-of-arms first used on the obverse side of the Great Seal of the United States – whether or not that’s what Fillmore intended to communicate with his “eagle” sketch, we’ll never know. The Great Seal that inspired Stabler was first commissioned by a committee of our designer forefathers –Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams– during the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

President Barack Obama Officially Begins Second Term

Today at the nation’s capitol, Barack Obama was inaugurated for the second time as President of the United States. The message of his inaugural speech was of coming together to ensure a better future for America. In part he said,

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Former President George H. W. Bush Ill

George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, has been placed in intensive care at a Houston hospital. He is 88 years old. According to reports, he has a persistent fever that the doctors are working to control. Three years ago, Bush made news for skydiving on his 85th birthday. Bush served one term as president from 1989-1992. In later years, he joined with former president Bill Clinton to raise money for individuals who had been struck by natural disasters such as the tsunami in Thailand and Hurricane Katrina.

Congratulations to President Obama

Congratulations to President Obama for winning reelection.  Whoever you voted for (and I’m not sharing who I did, so I don’t want to know who you voted for), let’s hope for four good years. 

President signs bill to facilitate Indian land leases

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/national/president-obama-signs-hearth-law-giving-indian-tribes-more-land-independence
 
President Barack Obama signed a new law today amending a previous act that gives Indian tribes more control of their lands and development. The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act of 2011 amends the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955. HEARTH allows tribes to sign certain surface land leases without getting federal government consent and allows them to handle their own long-term land leasing.
 
The law also allows them to decide on expanding housing and economic development on tribal lands.
Until now, Indian nations had to have decisions approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and that process could take many years.

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. President



It is George H.W. Bush’s 88th birthday – we wish you the best!

In any case, I thought I’d pick a speech to highlight in that mode.  So this is his speech on the end of the Gulf War:
Kuwait is liberated. Iraq’s army is defeated. Our military objectives are met. Kuwait is once more in the hands of Kuwaitis, in control of their own destiny. We share in their joy, a joy tempered only by our compassion for their ordeal.



Tonight the Kuwaiti flag once again flies above the capital of a free and sovereign nation. And the American flag flies above our Embassy.



Seven months ago, America and the world drew a line in the sand. We declared that the aggression against Kuwait would not stand. And tonight, America and the world have kept their word.
This is not a time of euphoria, certainly not a time to gloat. But it is a time of pride: pride in our troops; pride in the friends who stood with us in the crisis; pride in our nation and the people whose strength and resolve made victory quick, decisive, and just. And soon we will open wide our arms to welcome back home to America our magnificent fighting forces.
No one country can claim this victory as its own. It was not only a victory for Kuwait but a victory for all the coalition partners. This is a victory for the United Nations, for all mankind, for the rule of law, and for what is right.

Skydiving President



So did you know that George H.W. Bush usually celebrated his birthday, including his 85th in 2009, by skydiving? But unfortunately President Bush is now unable to walk:
Jeb Bush said his father, 87, is still good mentally, but “he can’t walk… He has to, you know, he’s help by a stroller… That’s hard for a guy that’s been so vital and vigorous in life.”

James Monroe – 5th US President

James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758 to relatively wealthy Virginia planters. However, both of his parents soon died, and he inherited his father’s estate at a young age. Monroe had a distinguished career during the American Revolution. Afterwards, he had a huge political career that included all of the following positions at one time or another:

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The Stalking of a President



This article looks at Charles J. Guiteau’s “stalking” of President Garfield up to shooting him:
Charles J. Guiteau, a mentally unstable 41-year-old lawyer, had stalked Garfield for months before shooting him at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station in Washington on July 2, 1881. Though Guiteau had passed the bar exam and used money from an inheritance to start a law firm in Chicago, he could never bring in much business beyond bill collecting, and he’d gotten in trouble more than once for pocketing what he collected. Turning to politics, Guiteau wrote a speech supporting former president Ulysses S. Grant as the Republican Party’s nominee for the 1880 campaign; when Garfield surprisingly captured the nomination instead, Guiteau revised his speech (mostly by changing references from Grant to Garfield) and delivered it on a few occasions to small audiences. He fell under the delusion that he was responsible for Garfield’s victory over Democrat Winfield Scott Hancock and immediately began pressing the president-elect for an appointment as ambassador to Austria.

“Being about to marry a wealthy and accomplished heiress of this city,” Guiteau wrote Garfield, “we think that together we might represent this nation with dignity and grace. On the principle of first come first served, I have faith that you will give this application favorable consideration.” There was no heiress, however, and Guiteau was down to his last few dollars. He wrote again to ask for a post in Paris, which he said would suit him better. None of his requests were answered—a slight that, Guiteau admitted, “hurt me very badly.” He moved to Washington, where he stayed in hotels and skipped out without paying. He spent most of his days in Lafayette Park, across from the White House. He had already decided to kill the president.

At first, he thought he would do it with dynamite, but then he reconsidered. “I was afraid to handle the stuff, for fear in my inexperience it might explode in my hands, and thus tear me to pieces,” he later admitted. He also feared killing innocent bystanders, which, to him, was “too Russian, too barbarous. No! I wanted it done in an American manner.”

He considered, too, a stiletto, but conceded that the president was too strong to approach with a knife; Garfield “would have crushed the life out of me with a single blow of his fist,” he said. He finally settled on a pistol, where he “could creep up behind him and shoot him in the head, or through the body opposite the heart.”

Guiteau was certain he would be caught: “Of course I would be executed, but what of that, when I should become immortal and be talked of by all generations to come?” He borrowed some cash from a friend and spent $10 on a handsome, short-barreled British Bulldog revolver; he thought it would display well in an exhibit on the president’s assassination. He practiced firing into a fence and concluded he was a better marksman than he had thought.

I have to say that Guiteau’s “defense” makes sense to us now, although, obviously, doesn’t excuse him shooting Garfield: “The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him.” We could say the same thing about McKinley’s…and Harding’s (although no one else (at least proven) was involved in that one)….ah, makes me glad for modern medicine!

Rutherford B. Hayes, Nineteenth President

Rutherford B. Hayes was the nineteenth president of the United States. He only served one term, March 4, 1877 to March 3, 1881. He had strong views on civil service reform that often made him unpopular, as shown by this quote, “I am not liked as a President by the politicians in office, in the press, or in Congress. But I am content to abide the judgment – the sober second thought – of the people.”

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Is Barack Obama the Fourth Best President? Obama Says His Accomplishments Rank Higher Than Those of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson

In what many analysts are calling a stunning display of hubris, President Barack Obama says he would put his record up against any President with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. In an interview with 60 Minutes, the President said: “I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history.”

Obama’s boast is understandably drawing scorn from the blogosphere. After all, the current President of the United States is ranking his accomplishments as greater than those of Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and just about every other President. Obama allows for the “possible exception” of Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ.

Since this blog is focused on the American Revolution and Founding Era, I will withhold commentary on how Obama ranks against Ronald Reagan (who led the USA to victory in the Cold War), Dwight Eisenhower (who gave us the Interstate Highway System), and Teddy Roosevelt (Panama Canal, Great White Fleet, helping end the Russo-Japanese War, etc.). Instead, I will briefly comment on Obama’s claim that his accomplishments rank higher than those of our founding era Presidents, including James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

Ranking the Presidents

First of all, most presidential historians agree that it takes 20 years of separation and reflection before one can even begin to accurately assess a President’s place in history. That means it’s way too early for us to fully grasp George W. Bush’s legacy in American history as well as Bill Clinton’s. And it’s naturally way, way too early to talk about Obama’s legacy. Of course, with some Presidents, a comparison is easy. I have no problem with Obama saying he’s accomplished more than James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, or Franklin Pierce. Such comparisons are easy. But to place himself, at this stage of his presidency, against Madison, Jefferson, Washington, or even John Adams is a bit presumptuous, to say the least.

Comparing Obama With Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison

President Obama led the nation through a massive overhaul of its health care system, ordered the assassination of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, and ended America’s troop presence in Iraq. Additionally, Obama has pushed through several social policy changes popular with his progressive base, such as ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) in the armed forces. Most of Obama’s record is still hotly debated and much of the changes he’s pushed through could be reversed or significantly modified in the next several years.

By contrast, the United States stands pretty solidly on the accomplishments of our founding era Presidents. Madison led the nation successfully (albeit painfully) through the War of 1812. Jefferson gave us the Louisiana Purchase and the first President Adams avoided war with France during a very fragile time for the  United States. And then there’s George Washington, who basically fleshed out the U.S. government that had been but a blueprint on parchment. While Obama may not be impressed with Washington’s accomplishments, the first President created the Cabinet, supported the economic policies of Alexander Hamilton which solidified the nation’s financial health, kept the nation at peace with Great Britain, put down the Whiskey Rebellion, steered the nation toward neutrality in foreign affairs (thus preserving America’s identity as a separate power), and established the two-term precedent for American Presidents.

Of course, I’ve only scratched the surface with our founding era Presidents. In fact, I barely even got into the accomplishments of Madison and Jefferson. For Obama to essentially dismiss them, along with George Washington, shows incredible hubris. And it may show something else that’s even more troubling. For a sitting U.S. President to show such little regard for the American founding era and its iconic heroes like Washington calls into serious question his grasp of the fundamentals of American government and the very heart of our nation’s heritage. Forgive me for being political, but I simply can’t vote for such a President.

Franklin Roosevelt Elected President

On November 8, 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as the 32nd president. America was fighting against the Great Depression and Roosevelt came in with a vision for massive action resulting in the New Deal programs. Roosevelt suffered from polio, but many people did not realize that he was in a wheelchair. He was reelected 3 more times and was the president for most of World War II, dying in office on April 12, 1945 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was definitely one of America’s most influential presidents.

Death of a President



Prologue’s blog recently covered the death of President Garfield, so I thought I’d borrow the idea.

Garfield’s death, like McKinley’s, was slow and his doctors, especially in our modern eyes, were more a problem than a help:
The first doctor on the scene administered brandy and spirits of ammonia, causing the president to promptly vomit. Then D. W. Bliss, a leading Washington doctor, appeared and inserted a metal probe into the wound, turning it slowly, searching for the bullet. The probe became stuck between the shattered fragments of Garfield’s eleventh rib, and was removed only with a great deal of difficulty, causing great pain. Then Bliss inserted his finger into the wound, widening the hole in another unsuccessful probe. It was decided to move Garfield to the White House for further treatment.

Leading doctors of the age flocked to Washington to aid in his recovery, sixteen in all. Most probed the wound with their fingers or dirty instruments. Though the president complained of numbness in the legs and feet, which implied the bullet was lodged near the spinal cord, most thought it was resting in the abdomen. The president’s condition weakened under the oppressive heat and humidity of the Washington summer combined with an onslaught of mosquitoes from a stagnant canal behind the White House. It was decided to move him by train to a cottage on the New Jersey seashore.

Shortly after the move, Garfield’s temperature began to elevate; the doctors reopened the wound and enlarged it hoping to find the bullet. They were unsuccessful. By the time Garfield died on September 19, his doctors had turned a three-inch-deep, harmless wound into a twenty-inch-long contaminated gash stretching from his ribs to his groin and oozing more pus each day. He lingered for eighty days, wasting away from his robust 210 pounds to a mere 130 pounds. The end came on the night of September 19. Clawing at his chest he moaned, “This pain, this pain,” while suffering a major heart attack. The president died a few minutes later.

This is what we have from Garfield’s physician:
At this time, as is known, a simple but painful operation was rendered necessary by the formation of a superficial pus-sac. When, after consultation, I informed the President of the intention to use the knife, he with unfailing cheerfulness replied: ‘Very well; whatever you say is necessary must be done.’ When I handed the bistoury to one of the counsel, with the request that he make the incision. Without an anesthetic, and without a murmur, or a muscular contraction by the patient, the incision was made. He quietly asked the results of the operation, and soon sank into a peaceful slumber. This operation, though simple in itself,

was painful, and the manner in which it was borne by the President in his enfeebled condition was, perhaps, as good an instance as any of the wonderful nervous control which characterized his whole illness. This power of mind over body was also daily exhibited at the dressings of his wound, which were unavoidably painful, and yet invariably borne without indication of discomfort; and also at subsequent operations, always painful.

Dr. Bliss also records his account of Garfield’s death:
At 10:10 I was looking over some of the wonderful productions of the human imagination which each mail brought me, when the faithful Dan suddenly appeared at the door of communication, and said;

‘General Swaim wants you quick!’ He preceded me to the room, took the candle from behind the screen near the door, and raised it so that the light fell full upon the face, so soon to settle in the rigid lines of death. Observing the pallor, the upturned eyes, the gasping respiration, and the total unconsciousness, I, with uplifted hands, exclaimed, ‘My God, Swaim! The President is dying!’ Turning to the servant, I added, ‘Call Mrs. Garfield immediately, and on your return, Doctors Agnew and Hamilton.’ On his way to Mrs. Garfield’s room, he notified Colonel Rockwell, who was the first member of the household in the room. Only a moment elapsed before Mrs. Garfield was present. She exclaimed, ‘Oh! what is the matter?’ I said, ‘Mrs. Garfield, the President is dying.’ Leaning over her husband and fervently kissing his brow, she exclaimed, ‘Oh! Why am I made to suffer this cruel wrong?’

While summoning Mrs. Garfield, I had in vain sought for the pulse at the wrist, next at the carotid artery, and last by placing my ear over the region of the heart. Restoratives, which were always at hand, were instantly resorted to. In almost every conceivable way it was sought to revive the rapidly yielding vital forces. A faint, fluttering pulsation of the heart, gradually fading to indistinctness, alone rewarded my examinations. At last, only moments after the first alarm, at 10:35, I raised my head from the breast of my dead friend and said to the sorrowful group, ‘It is over.’

Noiselessly, one by one, we passed out, leaving the broken-hearted wife alone with her dead husband. Thus she remained for more than an hour, gazing upon the lifeless features, when Colonel Rockwell, fearing the effect upon her health, touched her arm and begged her to retire, which she did.”

Happy 50th Birthday, Mr. President!



President Obama turned 50 today. He is now one of three presidents to turn 50 in office – who were the other two?

So what was Obama’s birthday like?
After spending the morning of his milestone birthday working in the Oval Office, the president headed to the Blue Room of the White House for a celebration with top aides. White House chefs were spotted cooking chicken and burgers on outdoor grills.

Later, Mr Obama was celebrating with family and friends, including some who came in from his hometown of Chicago, in the Rose Garden. The president’s oldest daughter, Malia, also made it home from summer camp in time to celebrate her dad’s 50th.

Even on her husband’s birthday, Michelle Obama couldn’t resist poking fun at his greying hair.

…During a video conference with some of the more than 1000 birthday-theme house parties his supporters held coast-to-coast yesterday, Mr Obama got a serenade from a group in North Carolina, while supporters in Ohio held up signs wishing the president a happy 50th.

The Obama family will cap their birthday celebrations with a weekend trip to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Check out this site for other presidential birthdays. Here’s a fun tidbit on FDR’s birthday:

At one of the 6,000 parties thrown in honor of Franklin Roosevelt’s birthday in 1934, 52 young girls — one for each year of the President’s life — paraded through New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel wearing frothy white satin-and-chiffon gowns topped with hats shaped like triple-tiered birthday cakes. Each carried in her right hand a long pink electric candle. Clumping into the shape of a birthday cake, they held the candles over their heads, switched on their battery-powered flames and sang “Happy Birthday to You.” (Roosevelt also received numerous real cakes among the hundreds of gifts sent to the White House; one, from Los Angeles, weighed 250 lb.)

First Radio President



In 1922, President Harding was the first President to be broadcast on the radio. Harding’s words to a crowd dedicating a memorial to Francis Scott Key in Baltimore were carried on a local radio station. It would be Coolidge who actually gave the first radio address. In 1920, a radio station had reported Harding won, the first time live results were broadcast:
Harding was a technology buff. In 1923, the same year he died in office, Harding recorded a speech on a phonograph that could record and play back sound on wax discs. He was also the first president to have a radio installed in the White House.

Taft did something similar as well. The website gives the comparison that Jackson’s inaugural address was given to 10,000 people, of which only a few could hear him whereas 125,000 heard Harding’s address.

President Garfield Shot

On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was shot two times while waiting for a train at a train station. His assassin, Charles Guiteau, a lawyer whose application to …

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President Harry S Truman authorizes support for the Republic of Korea

In the early morning of 25 June 1950 local time, North Korean forces attacked across the 38th Parallel.  Equipped with Soviet-made tanks, supported by massed artillery fire, the communist offensive quickly drove south through Koesong and toward Uijongbu north of Seoul.  Other attacks pressed against the mainly South Korean defenders all across the frontier to [...]

Grover Cleveland – Only President Married in White House

President Grover Cleveland became the first and only president to marry in the White House on June 2, 1886. After the death of his law partner he became the guardian of his daughter. This relationship eventually changed into one of romance when she became older. For a time, Cleveland allowed the media to believe that his interest was actually in the widow Folsom instead of Frances Folsom the daughter. After this became public knowledge he again toyed with the media as to the location of the upcoming marriage. They did not decide to marry in the White House until the very end. Cleveland and his wife remained devoted to one another until his death.

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Ford for President?



No, not Gerald Ford, but rather Henry Ford! So with Trump in the news, it seems a good time to talk about the movement for Henry Ford for President:
The nation’s leading capitalist emerges as a surprise candidate for president. His political views range from unknown to repulsive to incoherent, but he vaults to the top of early opinion polls. He has that flair, that self-reliance, that je ne sais pas that set him apart in an undistinguished field. The man, of course, is Henry Ford. Long before Donald Trump burst into contention for the Republican nomination, Ford briefly became the most exciting prospect for the presidential election of 1924. Americans find something strangely seductive in imagining our most powerful economic leaders grasping the reins of political power as well. The ill-fated Ford-for-President movement shows why that scenario has remained imaginary….

His forays into politics were less successful. When the First World War broke out in Europe, Ford ardently stated his pacifist convictions. More than that, he sponsored a “Peace Ship” that carried an antiwar delegation to Europe to negotiate a settlement of the conflict. The press heaped ridicule upon the project, and the venture was undone by a variety of mishaps. When the United States finally entered the war, he pledged his support to Woodrow Wilson and the Allied cause. The only formal political campaign that Ford undertook was at Wilson’s urging, a run for U.S. Senate in 1918 that he narrowly lost in his heavily Republican home state.

Despite this inauspicious record, many Americans wanted the great industrialist in the White House. Ford had, without campaigning, won the Republican presidential primary in Michigan back in 1916. His party affiliation was ambiguous, but that did not stop his supporters from preparing for 1924. Ford-for-President clubs sprang up in Michigan and around the nation. A poll by Collier’s magazine in the spring of 1923 had Ford leading all candidates, including the current president, Warren Harding.

Despite his potential, the people’s tycoon had some serious liabilities. Like Trump, he had a weakness for conspiracy theories. Before The Donald’s perplexing sympathy for the birthers was Ford’s perplexing suspicion of the Jews. In his magazine, the auto magnate disseminated a variety of anti-Semitic writings, including the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Indeed, Ford was the only American praised by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. Being an anti-Semite did not necessarily disqualify one from high office during this period of resurgent nativism, but Ford’s enthusiasm along these lines would undoubtedly have been an embarrassment.

The most important obstacle to a Ford presidency, though, turned out to be the man himself. He was a cold, even callous personality. More importantly, unlike Trump, he turned out not to be very interested in running. In fact, he was opposed to the principle of running. “I don’t think any man should run for president,” he opined back in 1916. If the Ford Motor Company needed someone to do an important job, he explained, the company would go out and find the right person. The Ford-for-President crowd took this to mean that he wanted the American people to do the same, to draft him for president without any active participation on his part. He would not play politics or alter his views to court constituencies. He would be the Model T president, right for everyone just as he was. In the end, the American people never did convince him to apply for the job.

Thomas Jefferson – America’s Third President

Thomas Jefferson served first as Vice President under John Adams even though they were of different parties and disagreed over many issues. When Jefferson won the presidency in 1800, the…

Thomas Jefferson – America’s Third President

Thomas Jefferson served first as Vice President under John Adams even though they were of different parties and disagreed over many issues. When Jefferson won the presidency in 1800, the orderly transfer of power was proved that America could survive as a representative democracy. Thomas Jefferson was president for two terms. He has become a popular source of study today and is considered one of America’s most influential presidents.

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Bigfoot for President 2012



Ah, it is almost time for another Presidential Election! In addition to the Presidential primaries and the general election, we will get to enjoy fringe and hoax campaigns. Bigfoot for President 2012 is the first I have seen for the 2012 campaign. I will try to document new ones as I see them here.

A few quotes from the site:

“Political veiws, not a Democrat, and not a Republican, I belong to a brand new party, called: Do the right thing, Or I’ll take your but, Out to the woodshed, and kick it.”

“America deserve’s better, than you, Democrat and Republican’s!!!”

“Well thank-you, for reading about me, I really care, about this great nation, and all of it’s inhabitant’s. That’s why I, Bigfoot am running for President in 2012.”

“And yes Abraham Lincoln, was actually, a clean shaven sasquatch.”

James Madison – Fourth President

On March 16, 1751, James Madison was born in Virginia and grew up at Montpelier which would eventually become his home. Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution

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James Madison – Fourth President

On March 16, 1751, James Madison was born in Virginia and grew up at Montpelier which would eventually become his home. Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution…