Category Archives: President

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)

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Harry S. Truman 5.8.13 Thought of the Day

“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”” Harry Truman

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), 1945 – 1953 the...

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), 1945 – 1953 the thirty-third President of the United States Deutsch: Harry S. Truman (1884–1972), 1945 bis 1953 33. Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harry S. Truman was born on this day in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884. today is the 129th anniversary of his birth.

He was the eldest of three children born to John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. Father was a farmer and his family was of modest means. The family moved to Independence Missouri when Harry was six.

When he was eight he began his formal schooling. He liked music and took piano lessons. He also loved to read and enjoyed history. Truman was always interested in politics, and was a page for the Democratic National Convention in 1900. He graduated from Independence High School in 1901.

The Trumans didn’t have the money to send their children to College — Harry Truman is the only US President in the 20th Century with out a college degree — so Harry worked after graduating from high school.

“He worked a variety of jobs after high school, first as a timekeeper for a railroad construction company, and then as a clerk and a bookkeeper at two separate banks in Kansas City. After five years, he returned to farming and joined the National Guard.” [Biography.com]

In 1905 he joined the Missouri Army National Guard. He served in the Guard until 1911. After a few years break he rejoined the Guard to fight in World War One. He served as an Captain in the 129th Field Artillery.

At the end of the War Truman came home to Independence, and married Elizabeth (Bess) Virginia Wallace and opened a haberdashery with his fellow soldier, Edward Jacobson. Although the clothing shop failed his relationship with Jacobson lasted for decades.

“Active in the Democratic Party, Truman was elected a judge of the Jackson County Court (an administrative position) in 1922. He became a Senator in 1934. During World War II he headed the Senate war investigating committee, checking into waste and corruption and saving perhaps as much as 15 billion dollars.” [White House.org]

Franklin Roosevelt choose Truman as his running mate in 1944. Truman served as Vice President less than 12 weeks before Roosevelt died of a massive stroke. Roosevelt had kept him largely in the dark. He didn’t even know about the Manhattan Project.

Presidential portrait of Harry Truman. Officia...

Presidential portrait of Harry Truman. Official Presidential Portrait painted by Greta Kempton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He said when he assumed office “I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me.”

While the war in Europe was winding down — he proclaimed “V-E Day” on his 61st birthday — there seemed no end in sight with the war with Japan.

“An urgent plea to Japan to surrender was rejected. Truman… ordered atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to war work. Two were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japanese surrender quickly followed.” [White House.org]

Post war accomplishments included:

  • Witnessing the signing of the charter of the United Nations
  • Expanding the Social Security system (the Fair Deal),
  • The Truman Doctrine  (aimed at thwarting Soviet aggression)
  • The Marshall Plan (helping to rebuild the European economy)
  • The Berlin Airlift
  • NATO
  • Recognition of Israel
  • Integration of the Armed Forces

Challenges included:

  • Demobilizing the military while maintaining a healthy economy
  • The cold War
  • Labor disputes, especially with the Steel industry
  • Korean War
  • McCarthyism

Truman survived an assassination attempt on November 1, 1950. The first family was staying in Blair House — the White House was undergoing major renovations — when two Puerto Rican nationals attempted to enter the house and shoot him. There was gun battle outside Blair House, resulting in the death of a White House police man and one of the conspirators.

In 1952 he decided not to run for a second term (He has served most of Roosevelt’s’ final term and one full term of his own.) He supported Democrat Adlai Stevenson against Dwight Eisenhower.

He wrote his memoirs back in Independence. He worked to establish a presidential library. He toured the country with Bess in his Chrysler New Yorker.

Harry Truman died at the age of 88 the day after Christmas, 1972.

“My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

English: US Postage stamp: Harry. S. Truman, I...

English: US Postage stamp: Harry. S. Truman, Issue of 1973, 8c (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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,” [Biography.com]

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 Center.org]

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. [Whitehouse.gov]

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.” [Biography.com] 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.”[Whitehouse.gov]

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)


James Buchanan

“What is right and what is practicable are two different things.”– James Buchanan

English: I took photo of James Buchanan in Nat...
English: I took photo of James Buchanan in National Portrait Gallery with Canon camera. Public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Buchanan was born on this day in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, USA in 1791. Today is the 222nd anniversary of his birth.

James Buchanan Log House

Although he was born in a log cabin Buchanan’s family was well to do. His father was a prosperous businessman. His father, James Buchanan, Sr. was a farmer, businessman and merchant, his mother, Elizabeth Speer, was intelligent and well-respected. James was the second of 11 children, 8 of whom lived to adulthood.

Young James attended school in the Mercersberg area, but his father’s business triumphs and his mother’s interest in education dictated better opportunities for the boy. At age sixteen, he entered Dickinson College in Carlisle, seventy miles from home. [the Miller Center.org]

After graduation in 1809 he went to Lancaster, PA, to study Law. He passed the bar in 1812.

Although he was against the War of 1812 (he thought it was unnecessary) He joined the light dragoon unit when the British invaded Maryland and helped defend the city of Baltimore. Although the Battle of Baltimore would later become famous because of Francis Scott Key’s poem The Star Spangled Banner, Buchanan’s unit didn’t see any action.

He returned to Lancaster after the war. At 23 he ran for Pennsylvania House of Representatives and won a seat as a Federalist.

Toward the end of his time in the legislature, Buchanan fell in love with Ann Caroline Coleman. … The young woman’s family opposed the match with Buchanan, however. … Ann Coleman sent him a letter breaking off the engagement. A few days later she died. The Coleman family turned its grief and guilt on the young lawyer and forbade him to attend the funeral. The experience severely shook Buchanan; he vowed he would not marry another, and he never became seriously involved with any other woman for the rest of his life, though he carried on many flirtations. He would be the nation’s first and only bachelor President. [the Miller Center.org]

He threw himself into his work and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820.

He was elected five times to the House of Representatives; then, after an interlude as Minister to Russia, served for a decade in the Senate. He became Polk’s Secretary of State and Pierce’s Minister to Great Britain. [White House.gov]

Being out of the country during a contentious primary season helped Buchanan side step the bloody Slavery debate. “The overseas post enabled Buchanan to be unblemished by the political bloodshed that resulted from the disastrous Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.” [the Miller Center.org]  He became the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 1856. He beat Republican John C. Frémont and took the White House on March 4, 1857 as the 15th president of the United States.

James Buchanan: Fifteenth President of the Uni...
James Buchanan: Fifteenth President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first crisis of his presidency happened when the Supreme Court handed down the Dread Scott Decision…

Asserting that Congress had no constitutional power to deprive persons of their property rights in slaves in the territories. Southerners were delighted, but the decision created a furor in the North. [White House.gov]

More slavery woes were in store in the territory of Kansas. The choice in Bleeding Kansas was between two rival state constitutions, the Free-Soil (anti-slavery settlers) took Topeka as their capital, those who were pro-slavery picked Lecompton as the seat of government. The Free-Soil party was in the majority but the Lecomptons managed (through a number of shady means) to get their platform passed.

Buchanan decided to end the troubles in Kansas by urging the admission of the territory as a slave state. Although he directed his Presidential authority to this goal, he further angered the Republicans and alienated members of his own party. Kansas remained a territory. [Ibid]

By the mid-term elections Buchanan’s political star had fallen and the Republican took the House and Senate. He was the lamest of lame ducks and the government was at a stalemate. In the presidential election of 1860 the Democrats split with Buchanan taking the Southern states and Douglas taking the Northern states.

Consequently, when the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be elected even though his name appeared on no southern ballot. Rather than accept a Republican administration, the southern “fire-eaters” advocated secession…President Buchanan, dismayed and hesitant, denied the legal right of states to secede but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them. He hoped for compromise, but secessionist leaders did not want compromise. [White House.gov]

South Carolina was first to secede (on December 20, 1860.) Six other states joined South Carolina and formed the Confederate States of America. “When Buchanan left office on March 3, 1861, to retire to his estate outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he left the nation on the brink of civil war.” [Biography.com ]

James Buchanan
James Buchanan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He lived out the war at his home, Wheatland, in Lancaster, PA.

Rightly or wrongly, considerable blame for the Civil War fell upon him. His portrait had to be removed from the Capitol to keep vandals from damaging it, and posters captioned “Judas” depicted him with his neck in a hangman’s noose. A wave of second-guessing condemned Buchanan’s actions with regard to Fort Sumter. The Republican press attacked him while absolving the Republican Party and Lincoln from all responsibility for the conflict. Although Buchanan vocally supported the Union cause, many branded him an appeaser of the South and a lover of slavery.  [the Miller Center.org]

He died of respiratory failure in 1868. He 77.


John Tyler 3.29.13 Thought of the Day

“Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette – the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.”–John Tyler

 

English: A portrait of John Tyler located insi...

English: A portrait of John Tyler located inside the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

John Tyler was born on this day near Charles City County, Virginia, USA in 1790. Today is the 223rd anniversary of his birth.

 

Born to a wealthy family on his father’s Greenway plantation. His family had been members of Virginia’s elite since the 17th century. His father, John Tyler, Sr. was a judge who was friends with Thomas Jefferson, served in the Virginia House of Delegates, was Speaker for that House, and was the 15th Governor of Virginia (when John junior was 18.) His mother Mary Armistead Tyler died when he was 7.  The younger John Tyler was the sixth of eight children.

 

Tyler attended William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia. He

 

studied law under private tutors. He began his political career in 1811, when he was elected to the Virginia legislature at age 21. [History.com]

 

He served in the legislature until 1816 when he was elected to the US House of Representatives. He was a strict Constitutionalist and a strong proponent of States Rights. He voted against “nationalist legislation and opposed the Missouri compromise” [WhiteHouse.gov] He didn’t run again in 1820, returning to his private law practice instead.  But by 1823 he was back in the Virginia House of Delegates.

 

 

 

English: An engraving (c. 1826, authorship unk...

 

 

 

In 1825 he was appointed as Governor of Virginia (as Governor he gave the eulogy at Thomas Jefferson’s funeral.) He served as Governor for two terms.

He won a slim majority to US Senate in 1827 as a Democrat, but  his support for President Andrew Jackson was rocky at best. By 1835 he was aligned with Henry Clay’s Whig Party.

 

The Whigs nominated Tyler for Vice President in 1840, hoping for support from southern states’-righters who could not stomach Jacksonian Democracy. The slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” implied flagwaving nationalism plus a dash of southern sectionalism. [WhiteHouse.gov]

 

The “Tippecanoe”  in the campaign slogan was William Henry Harrison who fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The Harrison/Tyler ticket won the election with 53% of popular vote and an electoral vote of 234-60. The Whigs also won control of both the House and Senate. Tyler took the oath of the Vice Presidency, presided over the confirmations of Harrison’s cabinet appointments (as President of the Senate) and after a few days went home to Williamsburg. But then Harrison caught pneumonia and died (the first sitting president to do so) and “Tyler Too” became, suddenly, the 10th President of the United States.

 

The U.S. Constitution was unclear on the matter of presidential succession; however, Tyler moved into the White House and was sworn into office on April 6. At 51 years old, the man dubbed “His Accidency,” was younger than any previous president. (The ambiguity surrounding the order of succession issue was officially clarified with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1967 and states that if the president dies or resigns, the vice president becomes president.) [History.com]

 

John Tyler, tenth President of the United States

John Tyler, tenth President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“His four year term was a shambles…” [Findagrave.com] Unable to follow both his conscience and the Whig’s political agenda he was kicked out of the part. All but one member of his (well, Harrison’s) cabinet resigned. And members of the House tried to have him impeached for misuse of veto power.

 

His Presidency however produced some historic events: The annexation of Texas, a reorganized Navy, The ending of the Seminole war and the signing of a treaty with China. [Findagrave.com]

 

He did not make a bid for a second term in the White House.

He retired to his plantation, Sherwood Forest near Richmond. When the Civil War broke out “Tyler led a compromise movement; failing, he worked to create the Southern Confederacy.” [WhiteHouse.gov] He  was elected to the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress in 1862.  “With the war raging, he was giving a speech in front of the Exchange Hotel when he suffered a stroke and was taken to a room where he died at the age of 71.” [Findagrave.com]

 

Picture of President John Tyler's grave in the...

Picture of President John Tyler’s grave in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


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