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Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy President's Day

For Presidents Day I'll share a final post from my trip I took in January to the Presidential Museums.

Everywhere Katrina and I went on this trip we kept learning new things about our past presidents, even ones whose museums we weren't visiting.  Their names and deeds cropped up everywhere from podcasts we were listening to on historical events to the crossword puzzle book I picked up in one of the gift shops.  Here are a few facts we didn't know that I found interesting and maybe you will too!

John Adams 

John Adams, our first Vice President and second President, died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson which was July 4th of 1826, 50 years to the day after Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence!  That one was definitely the strangest one we came across.

Thomas Jefferson
Photo via <a href="">Good Free Photos</a>

  • Our third U.S. President had some profound things to say over the years, but he did not believe that women should be involved in politics, saying he hoped they were "contented to soothe and calm the minds of their husbands returning ruffled from political debate."  No one's perfect, I guess!
  • Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia which was the first university not centered around religion.  Of course it has been added to the list of places to visit, Sherry has posted beautiful pictures of it in the past!
  • What is the "Jefferson Bible"?  Follow this link to find out.  You can even buy a copy if you are intrigued. You'll also get a quick synopsis of "deism" which was a belief system of the time.

Abraham Lincoln 
  • Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election to become our 16th President despite his name being absent from the ballot of several states.   
  • He was the first Republican president, the party was founded by anti-slavery activists, modernists, ex-Whigs, and ex-Free Soilers in 1854, the Republicans dominated politics nationally and in the majority of northern States for most of the period between 1860 and 1932. The first public meeting of the general "anti-Nebraska" movement where the name "Republican" was suggested for a new anti-slavery party was held on March 20, 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. The name was partly chosen to pay homage to Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party.

Here's something both Katrina and I were surprised about: not all of our U.S. Presidents were married or had wives as First Ladies while in office!  We learned this while viewing portrait of the Presidents and their First Ladies at the LBJ museum.

  1. Thomas Jefferson and his wife had most of their children die in childhood, and his wife died at the age of 33 four months after the birth of their last child.  He had his daughter Martha who he was very close to after his wife's death as First Lady.
  2. Jackson's wife died shortly after his election and the duties fell to her niece.
  3. VanBuren's wife died 18 years before he was elected, so his daughter-in-law filled the role.
  4. John Tyler, President 1841-1844, had a wife named Letitia who died in 1842; he remarried in 1844. 
  5. James Buchanan, elected in 1857, was the only unmarried president to stay single his whole life.  The job of First Lady went to his niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, who assumed the role of White House hostess and used her proximity to power to champion several social causes.
  6. President Arthur's wife died of pneumonia 19 months before he became president when James Garfield was assassinated. 
  7. The last bachelor elected to the White House was Grover Cleveland in 1886, but he married in his first term. Grover Cleveland, President 1885-89 and 93-97, bachelor upon taking office, married 1886 (the only one to have the actual wedding take place in the White House) 
  8. Woodrow Wilson, President 1913-1921 remarried during his term in 1915, one year after the death of his first wife.

Herbert Hoover

  • In 1931 President Herbert Hoover signed an act making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem.
  • Hoover took office in 1929, when the very concept of "illegal immigration" was fairly new. For most of its previous history, the U.S. had encouraged immigration and threw up few legal barriers. The first permanent quotas on immigration had been put in place by the Immigration Act of 1924. And even that law did not apply to Mexico, or to any other country in the Western Hemisphere, because the U.S. didn’t want to alienate its neighbors, and needed Mexican laborers to help with the harvest. It did completely exclude immigrants from Asia, however, and set limits on immigration from Europe.  Hoover appointed the commission that brought abuses of the deportation system to light, and that the descriptions of a "Mexican repatriation" during the Depression don’t put the blame exclusively, or even predominately, on federal officials. They also cite actions by state and local officials, "job denials" by private employers, and pressure by labor unions. For more on this topic go to this link.

Theodore Roosevelt
  • On October 14, 1912, an unemployed saloon keeper shot presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt outside a Milwaukee hotel. Rather than being rushed to the hospital, Roosevelt insisted on delivering his scheduled 90-minute speech.  It's a great story, click this link for more details!
  • Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to call the official residence the White House.  He was also the first to be called "Mr. President".  His predecessors were called "Your Excellency" or "Your Honor".
  • He also sailed his presidential yacht on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and after strenuous walks along the Potomac, the president on occasion would shed all his clothes and take a plunge in the river to cool off.  This guy was monumentally cool, I can't wait to visit one of his historical sites and learn everything I can!
Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a painter.
  • He added the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. 
Richard Nixon signed Title X into law here is a quote from his statement:  I called for a national commitment to provide adequate family planning services within the next 5 years to all those who want them but cannot afford them. It was clear that the domestic family planning services supported by the Federal Government were not adequate to provide information and services to all who want them on a voluntary basis.

To implement this national commitment, I asked for expanded research in contraceptive development and the behavioral sciences, reorganization of family planning service activities within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and legislation which would help the Department to implement this important program by providing broader and more precise legislative authority and a clearer source of financial support. The National Center for Family Planning Services was established in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare shortly after my message.

Ronald Reagan
  • As president of the Screen Actors Guild he testified about entertainers he thought were communist sympathizers during the Red Scare.
  • He won a record 525 electoral votes for a second term against Democrat Walter Mondale.
  • In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The holiday, first commemorated in 1986, is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to the civil rights leader’s January 15 birthday.

In relation to current events, the road to affordable health care for our citizens has been longer than most folks may realize.  Take a look at this display from the LBJ Museum.  I was surprised to learn it was George W. Bush who signed the prescription drug benefit for Medicare!

And it was LBJ who signed the Immigration and Nationalization Act of 1965.  I am horrified that immigration legislation is being attempted to be used as a means of discrimination again.  But I am also thrilled that so many citizens have stepped up and made it known that it won't be tolerated, from marches to the small acts ordinary folks are doing when they see discrimination in everyday life.  Democracy in action, spread a little of it yourself this Presidents Day if you can!

1 comment:

  1. You've learned a lot, and I know virtually nothing about your presidents, though I do recognize most names.