Category Archives: Patriotic

James Monroe 4.28.13 Thought of the Day

“The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”–James Monroe

James Madison, Hamilton's major collaborator, ...

James Madison, Hamilton’s major collaborator, later President of the United States and “Father of the Constitution” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Monroe was born on this day in Westmoreland County, Virginia, USA in 1758. Today is the 258th anniversary of his birth.
Monroe’s was born to Spence and Elizabeth Monroe a moderately well to do couple of Scottish, Welsh and French Huguenot descent. His father was a planter and carpenter. Elizabeth tutored her children at home, and James didn’t start school until he was 11, when he went to “Campbelltown Academy between 1769 and 1774,” []

In 1774 his father died and Monroe inherited the family’s plantation and slaves.  His mother passed soon after. James and his brothers  be came ward of uncle.  the same  year he entered the College of William and Mary. William and Mary is in Williamsburg, Virginia, which was then the capital of the colony of the State. It was quiet an interesting time to be studying in the city. The Royal Governor  and his family had fled the city, the arsenal and Governor’s Palace had been looted and ‘revolution’ was in the air. Monroe was part of a group of men who raided the Governor’s Palace and liberated its cash of weapons. They used the weapons to form the Williamsburg Militia.

In Winter of 1776 he left school and volunteered with the Continental Army.  He was shot in the shoulder at the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey.  And he fought with distinction throughout the war.

He met Thomas Jefferson during the war, and Monroe studied law under the Virginia statesman when the Revolution drew to a close. After passing the bar he was quickly elected to the Virginia Assembly  (probably through Jefferson’s influence.)

Elected to the Continental Congress in 1783, Monroe worked for expanding the power of Congress, organizing government for the western country, and protecting American navigation on the Mississippi River. [Mille]

He was initially opposed to the ratification of the Constitution and fought to have senators and the President directly elected. He also fought for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights.

As a youthful politician, he joined the anti-Federalists in the Virginia Convention which ratified the Constitution, and in 1790, an advocate of Jeffersonian policies, was elected United States Senator. []

He lost the 1790 race for the US House of Representatives to James Madison, but “was quickly elected by the Virginia legislature as a United States senator.” [] Jefferson, Madision and Monroe joined forces to oppose Federalist policies of Vice President John Adams and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

James Monroe, fifth President of the United States

James Monroe, fifth President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monroe served as Minister to France from 1794-1796 and he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1816 he ran for  president with the blessing of his friend and  outgoing POTUS Madison. He won, becoming the 5th president of the United States. (4 of the first 5 US presidents were from Virginia, Monroe is the last of the “Virginia Dynasty”.)

His term started with a honeymoon dubbed the “Era of Good Feelings.” However, Economic depression and slavery disputes meant that the honeymoon didn’t last long.

The Monroe Doctorine is his legacy in foreign affairs. Foreign powers  must leave the American continents alone and “henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.”[]

During his presidence five states were admitted to the Union: Mississippi (1817), Illinois (1818), Alabama (1819), Main (1820), and Missouri (1821).

Monroe died on the Fourth of July, 1831.

James Monroe County (New York)


Rosa Parks 2.4.13 Thought of the Day

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” –Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks getting fingerprinted after her arrest.

Rosa Parks getting fingerprinted after her arrest. [Image courtesy]

Rosa Louise McCauley was born on this day in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1913. Today is the 100th anniversary of her birth.

Rosa’s father James was a carpenter and her mother Leona was a teacher. Her parents separated when Rosa was 2, and she moved with her mother a little brother Sylvester to Pine Level, Alabama (just outside the capital, Montgomery) to live with her maternal grandparents. He mother taught her to read. The segregated one room school-house she attended seldom had enough desks  or other supplies. At 11 she went to the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, an institution a laboratory school set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes and founded “liberal-minded women from the northern United States. The school’s philosophy of self-worth was …to ‘take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were.'” [] She dropped out of the school to care first for her grandmother then her mother.

At 19 she married Raymond Parks and moved to Montgomery. Raymond encouraged Rosa to finish high school, and she earned her degree in 1933.  The two were active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Raymond had been an active member when they met.) They worked to raise money to help defend the Scottsboro Boys and were members of the Voter’s League. Mrs. Parks managed to get her voter’s card (it took her three tries because of the Jim Crow laws in Montgomery.)

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine Ελληνικά: Φωτογραφία της Rosa Parks με τον Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (περ. 1955.) Español: Fotografía de Rosa Parks con Martin Luther King jr. (aprox. 1955). Français : Photographie Rosa Parks (ca. 1955) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rosa served as the chapter’s youth leader. And in 1944 she became the secretary to NAACP President E.D. Nixon—a post she held until 1957. (She recalls that they needed a secretary, she was the only woman there, and she was too timid to decline.)

“I worked on numerous cases with the NAACP,” Mrs. Parks recalled, “but we did not get the publicity. There were cases of flogging, peonage, murder, and rape. We didn’t seem to have too many successes. It was more a matter of trying to challenge the powers that be, and to let it be known that we did not wish to continue being second-class citizens.” [Rosa Parks quoted on]

On Thursday, December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for “colored” passengers. …As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, “Why don’t you stand up?” to which Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the police and had her arrested. …The police arrested Rosa at the scene and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail. []

Booking photo of Parks

Booking photo of Parks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the day of her trial the NAACP and the Montgomery Improvement Association (with its new leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) organized a Bus Boycott.  The

13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional. …The bus boycott demonstrated the potential for nonviolent mass protest to successfully challenge racial segregation and served as an example for other southern campaigns that followed. In Stride Toward Freedom, King’s 1958 memoir of the boycott, he declared the real meaning of the Montgomery bus boycott to be the power of a growing self-respect to animate the struggle for civil rights. []

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this, … It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.” –Rosa Parks

After her arrest Parks lost her job  as a seamstress in a department store. “her husband was fired after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or their legal case.” [] The couple was unable to find work and eventually they moved to Detroit, Michigan with Rosa’s Mother.

In Michigan Rosa Parks worked U.S. House of Representative John Conyer as a secretary and receptionist. In 1987 she helped found the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development which runs bust tours  to civil rights and Underground Railroad sites for young people.

Rosa Parks receives an award from Bill Clinton.

Rosa Parks receives an award from Bill Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She published a biography, Rosa Parks: My Story and a memoir, Quiet Strength in the 1990s. In 1996 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton.

Rosa Parks died on October 24, 2005 at the age of 93. She was honored by lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.

Today, on the centennial of her birth the US Postal Service is releasing a Forever Stamp with her likeness.

[Image courtesy USPS]

[Image courtesy USPS]

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… and other people would be also free.” –Rosa Parks

Williamsburg (part 3)

Textile 3

[This is part three of my What To Do in Williamsburg Blog for part one go HERE. For part two go HERE. ]

Previous tips included:

  1. Planning your trip in the Fall or Winter to avoid the heat and crowds.
  2. Staying in a Colonial House.
  3. Engaging with the locals.
  4. Visit the Wren Building
  5. Take the Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life Tour & the Behind the Scenes Tour
  6. Visit the De Witt Wallace and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museums

Today we’ll go inside some of Williamsburg’s beautiful houses and get a little spooky after dark.

7. Tour the Governor’s Palace. It is the largest and finest residence in Williamsburg and it is meant to awe, inspire and intimidate all who see it. The moment you walk into the entrance hall lined with fire arms and crossed swords you know the power behind the man who lives here. It was home to seven colonial governors and two elected Virginia governors before Thomas Jefferson moved the Capital further west to Richmond in 1780.

Front gate leading to the Palace.

Front gate leading to the Palace.

Tours, which require a separate ticket, will bring you through the public and private portions of the house.

One of the beds in the Palace.

One of the beds in the Palace.

After your tour explore the vast gardens. Don’t miss the box wood maze. And be sure to climb the pyramid over the ice house. I found the gardens more enchanting than the building itself.

View of the box wood maze taken from the top of the pyramid. This was from our 2010 trip, and it had just snowed.

View of the box wood maze taken from the top of the pyramid. This was from our 2010 trip, and it had just snowed.

There were dozens of hidden treasures.

Window through the garden wall looking out to the canal.

Window through the garden wall looking out to the canal.

Even if you don’t take a formal Palace tour be sure to stop in to see the cellars and the kitchen. It will give you a fascinating glimpse on how they kept this huge home running. The cook, a man, was one of the highest paid and best regarded people in Williamsurg btw.

They made one big meal for the day. What kept was "left over" for breakfast.

They made one big meal for the day. What kept was “left over” for breakfast.

8. Tour the Thomas Everard House. On a prime piece of real estate on the Palace Green is the Thomas Everard House. Everard was an orphan when he arrived in Virginia as an apprentice to Matthew Kemp. Everard trained for seven years as a clerk. Soon after his apprenticeship was finished he was appointed clerk of Elizabeth City County court. Eventually he became the clerk of York county court for 36 years,  Mayor of Williamsburg and held other prestigious post in the city. He purchased the house on the corner of Palace Green and expanded it.

The front of the Everard House faces the Palace Green.

The front of the Everard House faces the Palace Green.

His wife died fairly young but his two daughters, Fanny and Patsy lived with him as they grew up.

One of the girl's bedroom.

One of the girl’s bedroom.

Fanny married Rev. James Horrocks in 1765. He was the rector of Bruton Parish Church and president of Williams and Mary. He was a powerful man in the colony. When Rev. Horrocks died she returned to her father’s house. Sadly she died a year later. Her sister, Patsy lived, there until 1774 when she married.


The house is in a “U” configuration. On the main floor the parlor and dining room face the front. The Parlor is a public room in the house. This multi use room can be set up for music, games or dancing.

Thomas’ bedroom was accessible through the drawling room.

Everett's bedroom

He  had a quieter prospect  of the yard and garden out his window. A back door allowed for special friends to enter his cozy retreat.

Like the Parlor, the Dinning Room also faces the Palace Green. Dining

The door in the back of the dining room led to Thomas’ study. This room was also accessible through a rear door.

Evert's study

The Thomas Everard House is open 9-4 Tue, Wed & Friday.

9. Visit Bassett Hall. Williamsburg would not have been possible without the vision of one man and the generosity of another. The first man was Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin, The second was John D. Rockefeller, Jr.. Goodwin convinced Rockefeller to help him rebuild the Revolutionary City to its Colonial glory. Rockefeller and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

Bassett Hall front

It was their retreat from the outside world. The Rockefellers visited there twice each year. The house and grounds have been restored not to the colonial era, but to the 1930s when the Rockefellers lived there.

Abby filled the rooms with her folk art finds.

The drawing room at Bassett Hall.

Folk art graces the walls at Bassett Hall.

One of her special interest was “School Girl Art.”  A sub set of her Folk Art collection the School Girl Art was literally done by girls who were away at school, usually finishing school in the 19 and 18th centuries.

A sample of School Girl Mourning Art memoralizing some one close to them who has died.

A sample of School Girl Mourning Art. The artist was encouraged to memorialize some one close to them who had died.

The family entertained  the locals — rich and poor– at their dinner table.

Dining rm

Dining Room decorated to Christmas

During the summer guest were often invited to tea in the Tea Room which was in a building overlooking the garden.

Looking back at the house from the garden.

Looking back at the house from the garden.

Bassett Hall is open Wed-Sun 9-5. Don’t miss the informative movie at the beginning of the tour. You’ll learn a lot about the Rockefellers and the re-making of Williamsburg.

10. Get spooky with it. When you visit a 300 + year old city you expect a lot of history, and probably a few ghosts. So join in the fun and take a Ghost tour. We did the Tavern Ghost tour and it was fun (if not very scary.)  Better still participate in the Cry Witch Program at the Capitol.

Capital for cry witch

The Capitol Building at night before the Cry Witch program.

You’ll witness the trial of Grace Sherwood with first person interpreters bringing the transcript and court room drama to life. We don’t know what the actual verdict was, those documents have been lost. So the audience in the courtroom gets to weigh the evidence and decide Grace’s fate.

Tomorrow we finish up with Williamsburg and move up the road to Richmond.

Williamsburg (part 2)

Textile 3

[This is part two of my What To Do in Williamsburg Blog for part one go HERE.]

Yesterday’s tips included:

  1. Planning your trip in the Fall or Winter to avoid the heat and crowds.
  2. Staying in a Colonial House.
  3. Engaging with the locals.

Today we’ll focus on some [FREE] tours.

4. Visit the Wren Building.

The first State House of Virginia was in Jamestown. But it burned down. Then it burned again. And again. And a fourth time. The governor and the citizens of Jamestown thought they’d better look for a better location for their capital. They chose Williamsburg (then known as the Middle Plantation) because the town already had a market, a church — Burton Parish, and a school — William and Mary. The architectural gem of William and Mary is the Wren Building. It sits at the opposite end of Duke of Gloucester Street from the Capitol and it is definitely worth a visit.

English: The front of the Wren Building at the...

English: The front of the Wren Building at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The building began construction in 1695 and was completed in 1699. It is the oldest restored building in Williamsburg. It has suffered three major fires (in 1705, 1859 and 1862) and been rebuilt each time. Between 1928 and 1931 it was restored to its Colonial appearance. Every student at William and Mary has at least one class in the historic Wren Building during their time at the college. The college counts three US presidents among its alumni; Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. Their portraits hang in the Great Hall.

Free tours of the building are available M-F 1-5 when school is in session. Hint: As you climb the steps to the front door look for a patch of darker red brick to your left. You’ll see the initials of some of the school’s earliest residents carved in the bricks.

Wren Building from the William and Mary Campus side. (Photo credit: Bill.)

Wren Building from the William and Mary Campus side. (Photo credit: Bill.)

5.) Take the Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life Tour.   Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin, the pastor at Bruton Church convinced John D. Rockefeller Jr. to join him in a dream of restoring the sleepy little 1920’s country seat back to  the glorious colonial capital it had once been. That took a lot of money, a lot of research and a lot of digging.  There is no better way to learn about how that transformation took place than on the 90 minute Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life tour. Meet members of the staff, learn about how archaeological methods have changed over the years, and see the treasures that await their turn to be cataloged. Tickets are FREE with your Williamsburg Admission Pass, but you must make a reservation prior to the tour.

Glass fragments are sorted by type in drawer in the Archeology labs in Williamsburg.

6.) Another great free tour is the Behind the Scenes tour. This tour takes place at the Bruton Heights School and focuses on preservation techniques (as opposed how the objects are found, put together and cataloged.) You’ll see the studio where educational videos, Emmy Award winning broadcasts and blogs are made…

Film Studio at Williamsburg's  Bruton School facility.

…then go to one of the restoration labs to see work being done on an 18th century item. We visited the Textile Lab where they were restoring some quilts for an upcoming show at the De Witt Wallace Museum.

Over sized quilt being restored at the Textile Lab

Over sized quilt being restored at the Textile Lab
Detail from an over sized quilt being restored at the Textile Lab.

Detail of quilt

6.) Go to the De Witt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. With a substantial permanent exhibit and wonderful traveling exhibits we have never been disappointed by a stop at the twin museums that are accessible through the recreated Public Hospital on Frances Street.

The Frenchman's Map was on display as part of a temporary exhibit on maps and mapmaking. Drawn when the French moved into the city after during the Siege of Yorktown, It is the Rosettastone for Archeologist trying to restore Williamsburg.

The Frenchman’s Map was on display as part of a temporary exhibit on maps and map making. Drawn when the French moved into the city after during the Siege of Yorktown, It is the Rosetta stone for Archeologist trying to restore Williamsburg. The Bodleian Plate, another key to what the Colonial Capital looked like, is also on display.

This is a terrific way to spend a rainy (or cold) afternoon. And if you are traveling with youngsters the Children’s room in the Abby Aldrich Museum is delightful.

Looking up to the past.<br /><br />A young visitor finds both human and equine re-enactors equally fascinating andfriendly on Duke of Gloucester street.

Looking up to the past.
A young visitor finds both human and equine re-enactors equally fascinating and friendly on Duke of Gloucester street.
  • To read my article on Williamsburg: A Winter Escape in 2011’s Mason-Dixon ARRIVE Magazine click HERE and scroll down == it is the third article on the page.

Abigail Adams 11.22.12 Thought of the Day

“We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”
— Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abigail Smith was born on this day in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1744. Today is the 268th anniversary of her birth.

Abigail  was literally born in a church. Her father, Reverend William Smith was the pastor at the North Parish Congregational Church, her mother, Elizabeth Quincy Smith was first cousins to Dorothy Quincy Hancock (John Hancock’s wife). Reverend Smith believed in reason and morality and he imparted those lessons to  his daughters Mary, Elizabeth and Abigail. Her mother home schooled the girls with the aid of her extended family’s libraries. The girls studied English and French literature, philosophy, history, and the Bible. Abigail
“was a keen political observer, prolific writer…” []

Abigail’s third cousin John Adams visited the Smith’s with his friend Richard Cranch. Cranch was engaged to Mary Smith, the eldest Smith sister. Adam’s was just a country lawer, and Abigail’s mother didn’t approve of him as a suitor, but the couple prevailed.

On October 25, 1764 Abigail married John Adams, a Harvard graduate pursuing a law career.  Their marriage was one of mind and heart, producing three sons and two daughters, and lasting for more than half a century. [Ibid]

As a young married couple they lived on the farm John inherited, Braintree. Later they moved to Boston. She stayed in Massachusetts when John went to Philadelphia  to participate in the Continental Congress (1 & 2), travelled abroad as an envoy, and served in elected office.

Abigail struggled alone with wartime shortages, lack of income, and difficult living conditions.  She ran the household, farm, and educated her children.  Abigail’s letters to John were strong, witty and supportive.  The letters, which have been preserved, detail her life during revolutionary times, and describe the many dangers and challenges she faced as our young country fought to become independent.  Most of all, the letters tell of her loneliness without her “dearest friend,” her husband John. [Ibid]

She joined John in Paris in 1784 and travelled with him to England the following year. In 1800 she became the First Lady to preside over the White House as John Adams became the second President of the United States. (The Capitol had recently been moved to Washington DC).

English: "Abigail Smith Adams," oil ...

English: “Abigail Smith Adams,” oil on canvas, by the American artist Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When John Adams lost his bid for a second term he and Abigail moved back to Braintree …”and for 17 years enjoyed the companionship that public life had long denied them.” [Ibid]

Abigail Adams died on October 28, 1818. She was a woman …

often ahead of her time with many of her ideas. She opposed slavery, believed in equal education for boys and girls, and practiced what she learned as a child – the duty of the fortunate is to help those who are less fortunate. [Ibid]


Thought of the Day 11.20.12 Robert F. Kennedy

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”


“People say I am ruthless. I am not ruthless. And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him.”


“I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.”


“Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.”


Robert F. Kennedy


Robert F. Kennedy, Cabinet Room, White House, ...

Robert F. Kennedy, Cabinet Room, White House, Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Robert Francis Kennedy was born on this day in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1925. Today is the 87th anniversary of his birth.


He was the seventh of nine Kennedy children, the third son. The family split their time between New York and their summer home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Bobby attended public schools until 6th grade. He went to a series of private schools including a Benedictine boarding school for boys and Milton Academy.


Shortly before he turned 18 he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve. He participated in the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Harvard and Bates College from 1944 to 1946 and served  on the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr, a destroyer named after his brother, on it’s shakedown cruise  in the Caribbean. He was honorably discharged later that year. He then went on to the University of Virginia Law School.


English: Kennedy brothers; left to right John,...

English: Kennedy brothers; left to right John, Robert, Ted. Česky: Bratři Kennedyové – vlevo John F., uprostřed Robert F. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In 1952 he managed John F. Kennedy’s run for U.S. Senate. His brother won the Senate seat and Robert Kennedy served


briefly on the staff of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Disturbed by McCarthy’s controversial tactics, Kennedy resigned from the staff after six months. He later returned to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations as chief counsel for the Democratic minority, in which capacity he wrote a report condemning McCarthy’s investigation of alleged Communists in the Army. [John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum]


Next he tackled corruption in trade unions as Chief Counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee. His book The Enemy Within details the corruption he confronted with the Teamsters and other unions.


In 1956 he was an aide to Democratic presidential  nominee Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson lost, but the experience was good training. Bobby took the reigns again for his brother’s bid for the presidency against Richard Nixon in 1960. When John Kennedy won he made Bobby the Attorney General.


He fought organized crime  and “became increasingly committed to helping African-Americans win the right to vote.” [Ibid] In a 1961 speech in Georgia he said:


“We will not stand by or be aloof. We will move. I happen to believe that the 1954 [Supreme Court school desegregation] decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law.” [Ibid]


He worked with the administration  to create the Civil Rights Act of 1964.




Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaking to...

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaking to a crowd of African Americans and whites through a megaphone outside the Justice Department; sign for Congress of Racial Equality is prominently displayed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


He was also instrumental in foreign affairs including the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.


John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Robert Kennedy was devastated by the death of his brother and friend. He even felt guilt — had his aggressive pursuit against organized crime and obsession to “get” Castro  some how brought this about? [I won’t even attempt to resolve the myriad of conspiracy theories here. Suffice it to say Bobby was not the same man after the death of his brother.]


He resigned from his post as Attorney General nine months after the assassination and began a run for U.S. Senate. He won the seat.


He climbed Mount Kennedy, a mountain that was named for his brother and the highest peak in Canada that had not be summited, in 1965.


In 1966 he went to South Africa to speak out against the Apartheid government. He dared to ask “Supposed God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?”


As Senator he also spoke out against the Vietnam War, continued to work for Civil Rights and the War on Poverty.


He sought to remedy the problems of poverty through legislation to encourage private industry to locate in poverty-stricken areas, thus creating jobs for the unemployed, and stressed the importance of work over welfare. [John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum]


On March 16, 1968 he declared his bid for the Presidency. His platform was based on racial and economic justice, he was also  anti-war


…he challenged the complacent in American society and sought to bridge the great divides in American life – between the races, between the poor and the affluent, between young and old, between order and dissent. His 1968 campaign brought hope to an American people troubled by discontent and violence at home and war in Vietnam.[Ibid]


When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April of 1968 Kennedy found out about it minutes before he was to give a speech in downtown Indianapolis. He could have gotten back in his limo and let some one else make the announcement to a crowd that was certain to be upset by the news, but he stepped in front of the inner city crowd and gave an impromptu speech calling for reconciliation between the races.



Many other American cities burned after King was killed. But there was no fire in Indianapolis, which heard the words of Robert Kennedy… a well-organized black community kept its calm. It’s hard to overlook the image of one single man, standing on a flatbed truck, who never looked down at the paper in his hand — only at the faces in the crowd. []


Kennedy also fell victim to an assassin’s bullet. He was fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968. He had just won California’s Democratic Primary.


The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial

The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)


[One of my earliest real memories is watching the train that carried Robert Kennedy’s body to its Arlington National Cemetery. My parents had taken us all on a picnic at the the ball field near the train tracks. We weren’t the only family there, there were lots of kids playing and other families on blankets eating cold chicken and potato salad. Then a train rolled through and all the adults stood up and faced the tracks. We kids didn’t need to be hushed. My mother was silently crying. I took her hand and asked her what was going on. As the flag festooned final car passed she whispered “A great American is on that train.”  And then it was over. We packed up the picnics. No one was hungry or wanted to play any more.]

[Do you have a Bobby Kennedy story? Share it with us please.]

Thought of the Day 11.6.12 John Philip Sousa

“Jazz will endure just as long people hear it through their feet instead of their brains.” –John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa, the composer of the song.

John Philip Sousa, the composer of the song. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t think of any one who would make a better Thought of the Day Bio subject on Election Day 2012 than John Philip Sousa. He practically wrote the soundtrack for American patriotism AND he’s got a great mustache. What’s not to like?

He was born on this day in Washington, DC, USA in 1854. Today is the 158th anniversary of his birth.

He started his music career playing the violin, and soon added voice, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn to the mix.  After John Phillip tried to run away to join a circus band, his father, John Antonio Sousa,  “enlisted him in the Marines at age 13 as an apprentice…”[John Philip Sousa] in 1867.

He wrote and published his first composition “Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes” in 1875 and was honorably discharged from the Marines two years later. Sousa “began performing (on violin), touring and eventually conducting theater orchestras. Conducted Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway.” [Ibid] While rehearsing Pinafore he met his wife Jane van Middlesworth Bellis.

In 1880 he returned to the US Marine Band as the Band’s leader, a post he kept for next 12 years.  Sousa conducted

“The President’s Own”, serving under presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur and Harrison. After two successful but limited tours with the Marine Band in 1891 and 1892, promoter David Blakely convinced Sousa to resign and organize a civilian concert band. [Ibid]

Sousa and his newly-formed civilian band, 1893

Sousa and his newly-formed civilian band, 1893 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sousa wrote his own operetta, El Capitan in 1895.

He wrote 136 marches including Semper Fidelis March, King Cotton, Fairest of the Fair, Hands Across the Sea, And Stars and Stripes Forever — which he wrote in 1896. (In 1987 Congress proclaimed it the National March of the United States)

He designed a new type of bass tuba called the sousaphone. The Sousa Band toured throughout the world.

During World War I, Sousa joins the US Naval Reserve at age 62. He is assigned the rank of lieutenant and paid a salary of $1 per month…. After the war, Sousa continued to tour with his band. He championed the cause of music education, received several honorary degrees and fought for composers’ rights, testifying before Congress in 1927 and 1928.[Ibid]

Sousa died at the age of 77 in Reading, Pennsylvania after conducting a rehearsal. Fittingly, the last piece he conducted was Stars and Stripes Forever.

"Stars and Stripes Forever" (sheet m...

“Stars and Stripes Forever” (sheet music) Page 4 of 5 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click HERE for a page with lots of audio clips of Sousa marches.


Thought of the Day 11.3.12 Shirley Chisholm

I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential.

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.

Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.

–Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm, future member of the U.S. Ho...

Shirley Anita St. Hill  was born on this day in Brooklyn, New York, USA in 1924. Today is the 88th anniversary of her birth.
Her parents were recent immigrants to this country. Her father, Charles, was born in British Guiana, her mother, Ruby, was from Barbados. At three Shirley went to live with her Grandmother in Barbados.  She attended Vauxhall Primary School, in Christ Church.
“…I had my early education in the strict, traditional, British-style schools of Barbados. If I speak and write easily now, that early education is the main reason.” [Chisholm in her autobiography Unbought and Unbossed.]
At 10 she came back to the Brooklyn. She attended Girls High School, an integrated and prestigious public prep school in Brooklyn then earned her BA from Brooklyn College. She married Conrad Chisholm, a private investigator in 1949. In 1952 she received her Masters in elementary education from Columbia University.
Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman from New York,...

Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman from New York, looking at list of numbers posted on a wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chisholm spent six years as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center then an addition six-year as consultant to the Division of Day Care before delving in politics.
After a few years in local New York politics Chisholm became the first black Congresswoman in the US House of Representatives in 1969. She served in the House for seven terms.
English: Founding members of the . Standing L-...

English: Founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Chisholm is seated in Orange.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After initially being assigned to the House Forestry Committee, she shocked many by demanding reassignment. She was placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, eventually graduating to the Education and Labor Committee. She became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969. []

In 1972 Chisholm entered the US presidential race as a candidate for the Democratic Party. She ran in 12 primaries and won three (Louisiana, Mississippi and New Jersey, garnering 152 delegates from an ethnically diverse base that spanned social economic backgrounds and the gender divide. She was an advocate for “minority education and employment opportunities, (and) also a vocal opponent of the draft.” [Ibid] She said she ran “in spite of hopeless odds… to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.” She was the…

  • First African-American woman to seek a major party nomination for President of the United States (1972)
  • First woman to have her name placed in nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention
  • First African-American to be on the ballot as a candidate for President []
Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry and Shirley Chisholm a...

Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry and Shirley Chisholm at the Democratic National Convention: Miami Beach, Florida (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

Although she lost the nomination to George McGovern (who lost the election to incumbant Richard Nixon), Chisholm “had brought the voice of the disenfranchised to the forefront.” [Ibid]

Back in Congress she continued to fight for the poor and middle class. She  worked to get domestic workers a minimum wage and to improve opportunities for inner-city residents through better education, health care and social services. She was the author of a 1970 child care bill that was vetoed by President Nixon (he called it Sovietization of American children.)
Congressman Edlophus Towns (left) and his wife...

Congressman Edlophus Towns (left) and his wife, Gwen Towns (right) pose with former Congresswoman and Brooklyn native, Shirley Chisholm (center) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She retired from the House in 1982 and went back to education (with a little politicking on the side.) Shirley Chisholm died on New Years Day 2005 in Ormon Beach, Florida.
She was the author of two books, Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973). []

Thought of the Day 10.31.12 Juliette Gordon Low

If you are a Girl Scout you know who JGLow is. This is one of those bioBlogs that I knew I was going to do weeks before the date. It is my honor to celebrate her birthday.


“Right is right, even if no one else does it.”
Juliette Gordon Low

English: A portrait of Juliette Gordon Low (18...

English: A portrait of Juliette Gordon Low (1887, Edward Hughes) located in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born on this day in Savannah Georgia in 1860. Today is the 152nd anniversary of her birth.

“Daisy” was a beautiful baby with a sweet disposition. She was the second of the Gordon’s six children. The family lived at 10 East Oglethorpe Avenue in a double town house in a wealthy section of town. She had all the advantages of a well to do Southern girl. But she was born on the cusp of the Civil War. Daisy was born in October 1860 and hostilities at Fort Sumter, South Carolina marked the official beginning of the war on April 12th 1861. The Gordon’s was a house divided. Her father was pro-succession and a slave holder, her mother was from the Chicago and an abolitionist.

While Daisy’s father was joining the war efforts on behalf of the South, her maternal relatives were enlisting in the Northern militias. Daisy’s mother struggled with the conflicting feelings of having loved ones on both sides of the war, and often faced wrath from angry neighbors. []

: Juliette Gordon Low Historic District: Wayne...

: Juliette Gordon Low Historic District: Wayne-Gordon House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her father joined the Confederate Army and was away from home for most Daisy’s early life. She didn’t see him for more than a few days at a time. Food shortages in the city meant that even the wealthy Gordons suffered from malnutrition. Savannah’s coastal location meant illnesses like malaria were always a threat.  By 1864 things were looking grim for the Confederacy. General Sherman had taken Atlanta and was marching through Georgia to the sea burning a path in his wake. Savannah was the last city in his way. When the city surrendered Eleanor Kinzie Gordon invited the General, an old friend, to tea.  He brought her letters and packages from her friends and family in Chicago.

He also brought the two older girls, Nelly and Daisy, a gift of rock sugar candy, the first sugar the girls had ever eaten….He often recounted a funny anecdote about the 4-year-old Daisy Gordon. After eating her sugar, she sat on his lap and began to curiously inspect his head. When he asked what she was doing, she told him she had heard him called that ”old Devil Sherman” and she wanted to see his horns. [Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace]

Some say he was so charmed by the little girl and her mother’s hospitality that he spared the city [it probably had more to do with city’s strategic sea port.] Eleanor Gordon packed up her daughters and headed north (under the protection of General Sherman) to her family in Chicago to wait out the rest of the war. (All wives of Southern officers were ordered to leave the city.)

At her grandparents’ home in Illinois, Daisy was exposed to an entirely different way of life…As a result of her maternal grandparents’ influence in the community, Daisy encountered a variety of new people, including many Native Americans… Her interactions with Native Americans gave her an early appreciation of Native American culture, which she would idealize for the rest of her life….By 1865, the family had reunited in Savannah and, thanks to her mother’s efforts to recoup their financial losses in the South, Daisy’s father was able to revitalize Belmont cotton plantation.  []

As a child Daisy learned to sketch, paint and sculpt, write poems, write and act in plays. Daisy loved her pets including dogs and birds. She was a good swimmer and captain of the rowing team. She liked to play tennis. She learned to stand on her head [a trick she repeated annually on her birthday to prove that she could still do it.]

When she was a teen Daisy went to the Virginia Female Institute (now Stuart Hall School) in Staunton, Virginia. Then she went to Mesdemoiselles Charbonniers for finishing school in New York City.

…She was taught the typical social graces of a highborn lady in school—excelling in drawing, piano and speech—she yearned instead to explore, hike, play tennis and ride horses—all activities discouraged by her restrictive finishing schools. Defiant in nature, Daisy was frequently caught breaking the rules.[Ibid]

As a young woman she traveled  in the US and Europe. She spent time in New York trying to make a living painting. She met and married a wealthy English cotton merchant, William Mackay Low on December 21, 1886.  When well-wishers threw the traditional rice at the newlyweds a grain became lodged in Daisy’s ear. The pain became so bad that she went to a doctor to have the rice removed. “When trying to remove the rice, the doctor punctured the eardrum and damaged the nerve-endings resulting in a total loss of hearing in that ear.” [Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace] It was an omen of things to come.

The Lows lived in England and traveled extensively. They spent their summers in England and their winters in the US.

During the Spanish-American War, Juliette came back to America to aid in the war effort. She helped her mother organize a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers returning from Cuba…At the end of the war, Juliette returned to England to a disintegrating marriage. [Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace]

The couple, who had been unable to conceive children had begun to drift apart.

William, who had limitless funds and no restrictions, began spending more and more time apart from his wife, gambling, partying, hunting, and splurging on extravagant toys. Daisy was also gone on frequent trips, searching for cures for her hearing loss. []

One of William Low‘s new hobbies was his mistress, Ms. Anna Bateman. By 1901 he had asked Daisy repeatedly for a divorce, but she refused. At that time a divorce brought shame on all parties involved. But when Daisy returned home from a trip to find Ms. Bateman living in the house and her (Daisy’s) things moved to the servants quarters she gave in. Daisy went to stay with friends and the Lows were legally seperated. Before their final divorce papers could come through William Low died. He left everything to Bateman, Daisy had to go through the embaressment of contesting the will. She eventually got the Savannah Lafayette Ward estate.

Daisy began to look for new purpose in her life. She traveled, this time as far as Egypt and India. In 1911 she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts. She worked with Baden-Powell, his wife Olive, and his sister Agnes in their efforts to create girl’s version of the scouts.

Low started several troops in Scotland and London, for girls of varying income brackets. The effect on the girls’ self-esteem was so striking that Low decided she had to take the program to the United States.  []

So she returned to Savannah and hatched her plans to start the Girl Guides on this side of the Atlantic…

English: Juliette Gordon Low Category:Girl Sco...

English: Juliette Gordon Low Category:Girl Scouts of the USA images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Less than a year later, she… made her historic telephone call to her cousin Nina Pape, saying, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” On March 12, 1912, Juliette Low gathered 18 girls to register the first two patrols of American Girl Guides.  [Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace]

Low used her own money (with contributions from her friends and family) and her considerable energy to forge the new organization. The name of the group was changed to Girl Scouts a year later.

It was her goal to bring girls from all backgrounds together as equals to enjoy the outdoors, to learn new skills and to be ambassadors of peace in the world.

She encouraged girls to prepare not only for traditional homemaking, but also for possible future roles as professional women—in the arts, sciences and business—and for active citizenship outside the home. [Ibid]

She remained friends with the Baden-Powells and “she helped lay the foundation for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.” [Ibid]

In 1923 Daisy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died four years late on January 17, 1927. She was laid to rest at the Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. A Scout to the end, Daisy is burried her Girl Scout uniform.

Girl Scouts is the largest educational organization for girls in the world and has influenced the more than 50 million girls, women and men who have belonged to it. [Ibid]

: Juliette Gordon Low Historic District: Site ...

: Juliette Gordon Low Historic District: Site of first Girl Scout meeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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