Category Archives: History

Maryland, My Maryland — thoughts on Maryland Day

 

 

The Maryland Flag proudly flying over my abode.

The Maryland Flag proudly flying over my abode.

 

The State of Maryland is 380 years old today.

 

On March 25, 1634 two small ships, The Ark and The Dove,  carrying 140 English settlers landed on St. Clement’s Island in the Potomac River. They’d left Cowes on the English Isle of Wight four months earlier with a charter from King Charles I to settle a new colony in North America (the third English colony in North America.)

 

English: Postage stamps and postal history of ...

English: Postage stamps and postal history of the United States|History of the United States government|American Revolution|Maryland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It was a rough journey. Three days out of port they hit a severe storm and the two ships were separated. The Ark, the larger ship assumed the Dove was lost and …

 

continued its journey, following the European coast south to the Fortunate (now Canary) Islands. From the Canaries, the Ark sailed due west across the Atlantic, touching land at the island of Barbadoes in the West Indies on January 3, 1633/4. There, the ship’s weary travelers stayed three weeks replenishing provisions, and there the Dove reappeared, having weathered the Atlantic voyage alone. At other Caribbean isles they also landed, and then sailed north. They reached Virginia on February 27th, gathered more supplies, and navigated Chesapeake Bay north to the mouth of the Potomac by March 3rd. [maryland.gov]

 

After negotiating with the Native American Conoy tribe the settlers finally landed on Blackistone Island (they renamed it St. Clement’s Island.)  Father Andrew White, a Jesuit priest, said Mass, and the group celebrated a day of thanksgiving. Leonard Calvert, younger brother of Lord Baltimore who had received the Charter from the King, and first governor of the colony erected a large cross.

 

English: View of Commemorative Cross from Blac...

English: View of Commemorative Cross from Blackistone Lighthouse, September 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [This cross is in roughly the same location as Calvert’s Cross, but it, obviously, isn’t the same one that was planted in 1643]

Two days later, on March 27, 1634 the sailed about six miles up the river and established their first permanent settlement on a buff overlooking the St. Mary’s River.  The location had been a Yaocomico village, but the Indians “were more than willing to turn their home over to the Englishmen.” [Maryland.gov “Maryland: At the Beginning”]  When half the Yaocomicos left the English took over their bark huts as temporary dwellings. A “pallizado” (fort) was constructed and the colonist sowed the fields the Indians had already cleared. The countryside and river proved bountiful with game and fish. Relations between the Yaocomicos and the settlers was amicable and fair.

 

the natives supplied the English with corn and fish and were ready to teach them how to make corn bread and hominy, show them what herbs and roots could be used for medicine and dyes and cooperate in other ways. The English, for their part, paid the Indians for their land and supplies and the leaders wrote of the natives with respect.  [Ibid]

 

St. Mary’s City became the capitol of the new colony, and the first Maryland legislative assembly took place the following winter (1634-35). A Court House and Jesuit Church were erected.

St. Mary's City became a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Since then Archeological Digs have uncovered 800 acres of the colonial town and major buildings, like the State House, have been rebuilt.

St. Mary’s City became a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Since then Archeological Digs have uncovered 800 acres of the colonial town and major buildings, like the State House, have been rebuilt.

Maryland Day was created in 1903 to commemorate the landing on St. Clement’s Island. It became a legal holiday in 1916 in the state.

 

More facts about Maryland:

  • Nickname: Old Line State
  • Flower: Black-eyed Susan
  • Tree: White Oak
  • Bird: Baltimore Oriole
  • Sport: Jousting
  • Fish: Rockfish
  • Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Boat: Skipjack
  • Population: 5,828,289 (as of 2011) [Info from Maryland.gov]

 

 

Largest City: Baltimore

Downtown Baltimore City from the Harbor.

Downtown Baltimore City from the Harbor.

 

Capital: Annapolis — Maryland’s capital moved up the Chesapeake Bay in 1694.

Downtown Annapolis. The State House tower is center.

Downtown Annapolis. The State House tower is center.

 

 

 

[All images were taken by me, unless otherwise noted]

 

 

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Theodore Roosevelt 10.27.13 Thought of the Day

President of the United States Theodore Roosev...

President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Deutsch: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten von 1901 bis 1909, Friedensnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was  born on this day in New York City, New York, USA in 1858. Today is the 155th Anniversary of his birth.
He was the second of four children born to Martha “Mittie” and Theodore “Thee” Roosevelt, Sr. The wealthy family lived in a fashionable brownstone in the Gramercy neighborhood of New York.
Young Teddy or “Teedie” was a sickly boy. He had severe asthma and had to sleep propped up on pillows. He was…
homeschooled due to his illnesses and asthma. This gave him the opportunity to nurse his passion for animal life, but by his teens, with the encouragement of his father, whom he revered, Theodore developed a rigorous physical routine that included weightlifting and boxing. [Biography.com]
He was always fascinated by animals. Once, when he was 7,  he saw a dead seal at the market. He managed to get the seal’s head and it became the founding exhibit in the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History”, an institution the boy started with two of his cousins. He took to taxidermy and collected other specimens for the museum.
Teedie collected everything within his reach and range of vision, and begged friends and family to bring him any specimens they found. He even paid other children to collect specimens for him. Yet he generously shared his collection. In 1871, he donated several specimens to another fledgling museum — the American Museum of Natural History, which had been co-founded by his father. [PBS.org]
He was a good student especially in geography, history, biology, French and German. But he did not do as well in Latin, Greek and math.
Roosevelt entered Harvard in 1876. He studied natural history. His father died when Teddy was a sophomore. While the tragedy broke his heart, it also spurred him on to work harder than ever before, both physically and academically.
After graduating magna cum laude in 1880, he enrolled at Columbia Law School and got married to Alice Hathaway Lee of Massachusetts. [Biography.com]
He dropped out of Columbia the following year when he had the chance to run for the New York State Assembly. He won the election…
becoming the youngest to serve in that position. Not long after, Roosevelt was speeding through various public service positions, including captain of the National Guard and minority leader of the New York Assembly. [Ibid]
His meteoric  rise to fame came to a halt on Valentine’s Day 1884. Both Roosevelt’s wife and his beloved mother died on the same day in his house. His wife died of undiagnosed Bright’s disease (kidney failure), his mother or Typhoid Fever. Roosevelt escaped the city and headed west. He worked for two years as a cowboy and rancher in the Dakota Territory before returning to New York.
NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in 1895

NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in 1895 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1886 he ran for unsuccessfully for mayor of New York. He married again, this time to Edith Kermit Carow (a life long friend.)

Roosevelt soon resumed his career trajectory, first as a civil service commissioner, then as a New York City police commissioner and U.S. Navy assistant secretary under President William McKinley…in the Spanish-American War… He organized a volunteer cavalry known as the Rough Riders, which he led in a bold charge up San Juan Hill in the Battle of San Juan Heights, in 1898. A war hero, and nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898.. [Ibid]

He ran with President McKinley on the Republican ticket during the 1900 national elections. They won and McKinley began his second term in the White House. But then an anarchist shot McKinley on September 6, 1901  at the Pan-American Exposition. Although McKinley seemed to recover for a while he eventually died of his injuries and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th, and youngest, President of the United States of America.

As President, Roosevelt held the ideal that the Government should be the great arbiter of the conflicting economic forces in the Nation, especially between capital and labor, guaranteeing justice to each and dispensing favors to none… Roosevelt emerged spectacularly as a “trust buster” by forcing the dissolution of a great railroad combination in the Northwest. Other antitrust suits under the Sherman Act followed….Roosevelt steered the United States more actively into world politics. He liked to quote a favorite proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick. . . . ” [WhiteHouse.gov]

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United St...

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highlights of Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency include:

  • Completed the Panama Canal
  • Won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War.
  • Established (or added to) National Forest and parks for public use.
  • Other conservation projects

He left the White House in 1909 when his friend and former Secretary of War William Howard Taft became President. Roosevelt went on Safari in Africa for two years. When he returned to the States he was unhappy with the job Taft was doing and he decided to run again for office. Since Taft had the Republican ticket, Roosevelt started his own party, the  Bull Moose Party.

While delivering a speech on the campaign trail, Roosevelt was shot in the chest in an assassination attempt by John Nepomuk Schrank. Shockingly, he continued his speech for 90 minutes before seeing a doctor, later chalking up the incident to the hazards of the business. Roosevelt lost to Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 election, in a rather close popular vote. [Biography.com]

Roosevelt retired from politics again. He traveled to South America. He wrote books (25). And when the US entered World War I he volunteered to head a “division for service in France” [Ibid] (Wilson declined.)

Roosevelt died in his sleep on January 6, 1919, at his Long Island estate, Sagamore Hill.

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United St...

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Dwight Eisenhower 10.16.13 Thought of the Day

Here’s another blog I was working on for Monday that I didn’t get finished in time to post. (Sorry Ike)…

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Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait as Pre...

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” — Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower was on October 14 in Denison, Texas, USA in 1890. Monday was the 113 anniversary of his birth.

He was the third of seven sons born to Ida and David Eisenhower. Times were tough and David, who went to college for engineering,  cleaned railway cars to support his growing family.The Eisenhowers moved to Abilene, Kansas when Dwight was a year and half.  Dwight enjoyed his childhood in Abilene and considered it his home town. He played both football and baseball for Abilene High School before he graduated in 1909.

He worked at his family’s Bell Springs Creamery and as a fireman. In 1911 He earned an …

appointment at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where attendance was free of charge. Once again he was a star on the football field, until a series of knee injuries forced him to stop playing. In 1915, Eisenhower proudly graduated from West Point at the top of his class, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. [Biography.com]

While he was stationed in Texas he met Mamie Doud. The two married six months later. During World War One Eisenhower was in charge of Camp Colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

By 1920, he was promoted to major, after having volunteered for the Tanks Corps, in the War Department’s first transcontinental motor convoy, the previous year. [Ibid]

In 1926 he graduated first in his class from Command and General Staff School in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He worked as the chief military aid to General Douglas MacArthur before becoming chief of staff for the Third Army. By 1942 he was a Major General.

In his early Army career, he excelled in staff assignments, serving under Generals John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and Walter Krueger. After Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942; on D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France. [WhiteHouse.gov]

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After V-E day Ike was made military governor of the U.S. Occupied Zone. In 1947 He became president of Columbia University. In 1951 he left that post to become Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In 1952 Eisenhower  ran for President of the United States on the Republican ticket. He won the election  with 442 electoral votes over  Adlai Stevenson’s meager 89 and became the 34th POTUS.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highlights of his presidency include:

  • Reduced Cold War tension with the USSR
  • Orchestrated an armistice that halted the Korean War
  • Started America’s manned Space Exploration
  • Eisenhower Doctrine — a 1957 policy that extended the Truman Doctrine to the countries of the Middle East.  Eisenhower promised military or economic aid to any nation in the area that needed help in resisting communist aggression.
  • Worked toward ending segregation. Desegregated the Armed Forces.

Difficulties:

  • First advisors sent into Vietnam.
  • U-2 Spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union
The Eisenhowers retired to a farm  in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1961.

Eisenhower died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC  on March 28, 1969, he was 78 years old.

Funeral services for Dwight David Eisenhower

Funeral services for Dwight David Eisenhower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


After the Ball is Over…

Just a few pics from the Regency Harvest Ball benefit at Hopkins Homewood House Museum last night.

The Museum , which is open for tours from 11-3:30 Tuesday through Fridays, and from Noon to 3:30 on Weekends, is located on the Hopkins campus at 3400 N Charles Street in Baltimore.  It was built in 1801 by Charles Carroll, Jr. (largely with funds from his father) and cost roughly 4 times the original estimate. But it was worth every penny. This is a gem of a Federal building and it is beautifully kept.

The ball took place at the beautiful Homewood . [Image couratesy: www.constantinos.us]

The ball took place in and behind the beautiful Homewood . [Image courtesy: www.constantinos.us]

I spent most of the evening in the master bedroom  — a lovely room with a four-poster bed and 19″ ceiling — in my role of the girl’s “governess” I took on the added duties of “helping” the guest primp for the festivities. I offered the gentlemen gloves. If they happened not to have come in proper neck attire — shocking! — I offered them a cravat and helped them tie it in period fashion. For the ladies I had fans. [Click here to read my blog on fans] I gave them a quick tutorial on how to open the fan and how to attract a gentleman (or repel a cad).

Besides meeting the guests I very much enjoyed interacting with the “family” as portrayed by members of the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.  Like a good “governess” I helped out where necessary and started my evening by fixing hair and altering costumes at the Factory’s home at St. Mary’s Community Center in Hampden.

Lorraine Imwold  and Shaina Higgins look  out over grounds of Homewood House.

Lorraine Imwold and Shaina Higgins look out over grounds of Homewood House.

Tegan Williams, Brendan Kennedy and Shaina Higgins get into character.

Tegan Williams, Brendan Kennedy and Shaina Higgins get into character.

Ian Blackwell Rogers  and Katharine Vary

Ian Blackwell Rogers and Katharine Vary prepare to go up to the entrance and greet guest.

Chris Ryder portrayed the Butler.

Chris Ryder portrayed the Butler.

 

As the guest finished up their $250 a plate dinner (proceeds benefited the Museum) The Chorégraphie Antique ensemble performed period dances.

IMG_6312

Dancers from Chorégraphie Antique which meets at Goucher performed for the guests. (As a humble governess I kept to my place — well in the back of the assembly. But I still enjoyed the festivities.)

It was quite fun to step back into the Regency / Federal period for the evening. The only question in my mind is… now that we know how wonderful everyone looks in their Regency finery… when will the Factory tackle a Jane Austen drama/comedy? (PLEASE!!!)

Yours, most humbly,

The governess…

IMG_6297

Please note, I was going to authenticity, not glamor.


Fan-tastic — Prepping for the Regency Ball

Period print. [Image courtesy: JHU.edu]

Period print. [Image courtesy: JHU.edu]

When you are a middle-aged, middle class, American woman you don’t get invited to many balls. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve reconciled myself to that small fact of life.  Unlike Emma Woodhouse I don’t scan the mail looking for invitations. However, when Johns Hopkins announced that they would be hosting a  Regency Harvest Ball my heart did a little flutter.

I have my own Regency dress, long gloves, shawl and reticule, if ever there was a ball at which I was destined to dance… this is it. I will be attending with the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory. We’ll be adding period color by portraying real life Federal men and women from the Baltimore area.

I quickly fessed up to the fact that my dress, while authentic down to the material and the covered buttons,  is more  everyday dress and less ball gown. I will definitely be attending in my ” ‘Country’ fashions.” So I’ll be portraying a servant and helping the ladies (those who are spending $250 a ticket for this fundraiser) with their hair in the Fan Room.

This is super awesome [two words I will not be using at the ball] because I love Art of the Fan and doing “costume” hair.

jane austen fan 2008

jane austen fan 2008 (Photo credit: Owen Benson Visuals)

The language of the fan was often the most direct means of communication between a two people. It would be unthinkable for a young woman to come up to a gentleman she didn’t know and engage in conversation. But if she ran her fingers through the ribs of her fan in his direction, and he was perceptive enough to get the cue, he knew she had just said “I want to talk to you.”  Other fan gestures indicated jealousy, love, desire, and attachment to another.

A replica Brise style regency fan found on Etsy.com

A hand painted, wooden replica Brise style regency fan. This fan, which is painted on both sides, can be found for sale on Etsy.com

Silk on Ivory fan from the Victoria and Albert Museum

1820-1830 Silk on Ivory fan from the Victoria and Albert Museum

An assortment of fans found on www.JaneAusten.com http://www.janeausten.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/3-regency-fans.jpg

An assortment of fans found on www.JaneAusten.co.uk


Mahatma Gandhi 10.2.13 Thought of the Day

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems”

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”

Mahatma Gandhi was born on this day in 1869 in Porbandar, India. Today is the 144th anniversary of his birth.

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India. Location unknown. Français : Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), Guide politique et spirituel de l’Inde. Lieu inconnu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Friday Fiction: Last Dance

Thanks to Viewfromtheside.com for this week’s writing prompt of “Dancing”. I came up with (yet another) HAPPY story for you all (not).  So, put your hoop skirts and fingerless gloves on and “enjoy” Last Dance…

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Corn Field 2

Our last dance together was in the church hall of St. Peter and St. Paul’s. It was May 21st, 1861, and Jimmy Bedlow had taken Mary Alice McGee for a wife.

Gabriel wore his Army blues. There were a lot of dark blue uniforms in the congregation when Pastor Lumley pronounced Jimmy and Mary Alice man and wife. Most of the boys of certain age in our town had heeded Mr. Lincoln’s call.

Blue became my young man. It turned Gabe’s hazel eyes a shade more azure, and it made his black hair seem all the more adumbral.

Gabe wasn’t the first to volunteer. He didn’t run after the flag when the band wagon came down main street. He didn’t raise his hand when Captain Haterfield made his rousing recruitment speech at the town square. He’d been thoughtful about the decision. He pondered over what it might mean to his parents — to his Ma, especially. And to me.  But in the end he knew what he had to do and he signed on.

Gabe was a brave, smart young man. He would do alright in this war — which by all accounts would be brief — then he would return home a hero. He would retake his place in his daddy’s law firm and we would be married.

Things were planned out neatly — both by our parents and in our hearts.

Our happily ever after was a well scripted certainty in our young minds.

When the boys mustered at the train station for the ride south Gabe stole a few seconds alone with me for a farewell. I gave him a kiss on his cleanly shaved cheek and a promise that I would wait for him, and pray for him… and that yes, I would marry him when he returned.

I pressed the a 1/6 plate Ferrotype I’d had made specially for him into his hand. He opened the leather case and looked at the small tintype photograph inside. His eyes misted up then.  “My dear Evelina” he whispered in a rough voice that seemed too old for him, “I shall treasure this to my last dying breath.”

Then some one blew a whistle and he was called from my side. I watched him for as long as I could, following his form as he melded with the other men in blue coats and black slouch caps. But then he marched onto the train and I lost sight of him.

The town seemed strangely empty after the militia left. The war had left us with school boys and old men.

The red, white and blue bunting that danced so merrily in the breeze that spring day of the mustering hung stagnant and lifeless on the porches and bandstand. The colors seemed bleached in the hot summer sun.

We heard little from our boys at the front. The mail was painfully slow. The news — even the  intelligence brought to us from the St. Cloud Monitor — was stale before it reached us. So it was near a full week before we heard about the Battle of Bull Run.

That bloody battle took many of our brave boys. The list was hung on the court room door.

The patriotic bunting was replaced by black morning cloth.

But my prayers were answered and Gabe’s name did not appear on the list of  men who had been killed or wounded. He was safe and I quietly rejoiced.

As I did the next April when we heard about Shiloh…

And in June when the Monitor listed the casualties from Seven Pines…

But one day in September when we were making apple butter I felt an odd kind of numbness come over me that I could not explain. Perhaps I was over tired — we were all tired from trying to put up as much food as we could for what was to be another long winter — but it was more than that.

Then 5 days letter the church bell rang mid afternoon and called us to the square. A new piece of paper had been nailed to the court house door and we knew there had been another battle.

On September 17th, 1862 thirty-one of our young men had been among the 2,108 killed  and 9,549 wounded Union soldiers near the creek of Antietam, Maryland.

The numbness I felt days before returned. As I climbed the courthouse steps and joined the scrum of women near the list I knew I would find what I dreaded most. And there in the second column, under Minnesota, half way down was  his name “Gabriel Pulson”.

Faces turned to me as they saw the name and associated it with my own.

A buzzing rang through me as the numbness escalated to full-scale panic. I tried to swallow it down and be brave.  I   KNEW   GABE  WOULD   WANT   ME   TO   BE   BRAVE.  But the buzzing, the numbness, overtook me with a powerful wave of grief and like a child I fainted right there on the courthouse porch.

I had a dream while I lie there.

I was not myself… I was a bird… and I flew low over a cornfield that was a cornfield no more. It was in the process of being destroyed by a great angry army of men… and trampled upon …and shot through until bullets and ears of corn littered the ground.

The bullets were buzzing still. And men would dance from side to side. The lucky ones were able to avoid the deadly leaded bees, the unlucky ones felt the sting and soon fell.

One man two-stepped ungracefully in a circle and fell in front of my dream  self… the bird. Despite the stubble of beard and dirty face I recognized this soldier, and I grew angry that his last dance had been in a cornfield and with out me.

Death came soon for my beloved Gabriel, but he had a brief respite to whisper his prayers. And as he had promised he pulled out my tintype and looked upon me one last time. The glass was broken now and the leather scuffed from wear, but it made him smile in his last moment on this mortal plain. And I… the bird… the girl.. realized he didn’t die alone.

corn field 4


Benjamin Harrison 8.20.13 Thought of the Day

“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.” — Benjamin Harrison

Portrait of the 23rd U.S. president Benjamin H...

Portrait of the 23rd U.S. president Benjamin Harrison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Benjamin Harrison was born on this day in North Bend, Ohio in 1833. Today is the 180th anniversary of his birth.

Benjamin was the second of eight children born to John and Elizabeth Harrison at their farm near Cincinnati, Ohio. He went to school in a one-room schoolhouse as a child. For college he attended Farmer’s College in Cincinnati. He went on to study law at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

He married Caroline Lavinia Scott on October 20, 1853. The moved to Indianapolis, Indiana the following year and he began to practice law. When the Civil War broke out he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 70th Indiana Infantry. Eventually he earned the rank of brigadier general.

Colonel Benjamin Harrison

Colonel Benjamin Harrison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With  his strong political pedigree — which includes

  • a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Harrison V  and
  • his grandfather, the ninth President of the United States, William Henry Harrison

he seemed destined to enter the political arena. He ran for Governor of Indiana in 1872 & 1876.

The Democrats defeated him for Governor of Indiana in 1876 by unfairly stigmatizing him as “Kid Gloves” Harrison. In the 1880’s he served in the United States Senate, where he championed Indians. homesteaders, and Civil War veterans. [Whitehouse.gov]

He was in the Senate from 1881 to 1887. In 1888 he ran against Grover Cleveland for US President. Harrison won all the Northern states except Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri.

English: This image is based off this image fr...

English: This image is based off this image from Wikipedia, which in turn is based off this image from the Commons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cleveland took all the Southern states.  Cleveland actually had 100,000 more popular votes, but Harrison won the Electoral College 233 to 168.

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highlights of the Harrison Administration include:

  • The first Pan American Congress (1899)
  • The Dependent and Disability Pension Act
  • Naval expansion
  • The McKinley Tariff
  • The Sherman Antitrust Act

He was the first President to have his voice captured on a recording when Giuseppe Bettini used a wax phonograph cylinder to record this 36 second clip…

When Harrison entered office there was a significant treasury surplus. He chose to spend it on  internal improvements and on pensions to Civil War veterans, their wives and children.  Harrison, his Republican House and Senate were dubbed “the Billion-Dollar Congress”

English: Harrison portrayed as wasting the sur...

English: Harrison portrayed as wasting the surplus gained under Cleveland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long before the end of the Harrison Administration, the Treasury surplus had evaporated, and prosperity seemed about to disappear as well. Congressional elections in 1890 went stingingly against the Republicans, and party leaders decided to abandon President Harrison although he had cooperated with Congress on party legislation. Nevertheless, his party renominated him in 1892, but he was defeated by Cleveland. [Whitehouse.gov]

Republicans in the West peeled off to join the Populist Party (whose candidate, James Weaver, ran on a platform that included an 8-hour work day, better pensions for veterans and free silver.)

To make matters worse for Harrison his beloved Caroline was loosing her long fought battle against tuberculosis. Harrison’s decision to stay at the ailing Caroline’s side — and not go on the campaign trail — probably didn’t help his campaign bid. Caroline died a mere two weeks before election day.  Cleveland won the election soundly.

Benjamin Harrison, former President of the Uni...

Benjamin Harrison, former President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harrison travelled the country after his defeat, enjoying his role as “dignified elder statesman” [Ibid]. In 1896  at age 62 he married Caroline’s former secretary (and niece) the 37-year-old widow Mrs. Mary Scott Lord Dimmick. It was a bit of a family scandal since his adult children, Russel and Mamie were both older than his new wife. Mary bore Harrison another child, Elizabeth in 1897.

He caught influenza in February of 1901. It worsened to pneumonia and he passed away in March, 1901.

English: US Postage stamp: Benjamin Harrison, ...


Barack Obama 8.4.13 Thought of the Day

“In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?” — Barack Obama

 

The official presidential portrait of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. [Image courtesy: Whitehouse.gov]

The official presidential portrait of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. [Image courtesy: Whitehouse.gov]

Barack H. Obama was born on this day in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. He is 52 years old today.

 

He is the only son of Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. His mother, who grew up in Kansas, was attending the University of Hawaii when she met Obama, Sr, an exchange student from Kenya. When the baby was still an infant, Obama, Sr. moved to Harvard to pursue his Ph.D.. The couple divorced in 1964 and Obama, Sr. moved back to Kenya. Dunham  then married Lolo Soetoro, a student from Indonesia.

 

A year later, the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where Barack’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro Ng, was born. Several incidents in Indonesia left Dunham afraid for her son’s safety and education so, at the age of 10, Barack was sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. His mother and sister later joined them. [Biography.com]

 

Obama grew very close to his maternal grandparents.

 

He was raised with help from his grandfather, who served in Patton’s army, and his grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank. [Whitehouse.gov]

 

 

Stanley Armour Dunham, Ann Dunham, Maya Soetor...

Stanley Armour Dunham, Ann Dunham, Maya Soetoro and Barack Obama, mid 1970s (l to r) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

He attended the prestigious Punahou Academy, graduating in 1979 with academic honors. He went on to study at Occidental College in Los Angeles before transferring to Columbia University in New York. He graduate in 1983 with a degree in political science.

 

After working in the business sector for two years, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked on the South Side as a community organizer for low-income residents in the Roseland and the Altgeld Gardens communities. [Biography.com]

 

He entered Harvard Law School in 1988 eventually becoming the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He also met his former wife Michelle Robinson while his was at Harvard.  He graduated magna cum laude, in 1991 and went back to Chicago to “help lead a voter registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and remain active in his community.” [Whitehouse.gov]

 

His work in the community lead him to public office. He was an Illinois State Senator from 1997-2004 and was an US Senator for that state from 2005-2008.

 

Barack Obama's 2009 presidential inauguration ...

Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inauguration in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

He was elected President of the United States  on November 4, 2009, having won 365 electoral  votes and 52% of the popular vote. He was reelected on November 6, 2012, with 332 365 electoral  votes and 51% of the popular vote.

 

English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

English: Cropped version of File:Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg. The image was cropped at a 3:4 portrait ratio, it was slightly sharpened and the contrast and colors were auto-adjusted in photoshop. This crop, in contrast to the original image, centers the image on Obama’s face and also removes the flag that takes away the focus from the portrait subject. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


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