Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Calvin Coolidge on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence

Several Presidents have died on July 4th but Calvin Coolidge was the only to actually be born on that day.  No one knew on that day in 1872 that he would grow up to become the 30th President of the United States.  You cannot attribute the strong, silent, and conservative nature of his person and presidency on the date of his birth.  But perhaps he took some inspiration from that auspicious date and informed his character and philosophy with its import.

On July 5, 1926, President Coolidge delivered an address celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  He speaks not only on the ideas of individual freedom that are expressed in the document, but also on the spiritual elements that brought these ideas and movement that led to independence being considered at all.  In addition, he explains that to stay prosperous and free we must as a nation return and cling to the spirituality and morality that led to the founding in the first place.

Take a moment to read this.  His observations at the 150th anniversary are just as valid as they are today on the 236th.

(I first found an excerpt of this speech at Breitbart.com and then researched until I could find the entire document and its background.)

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Calvin Coolidge’s Speech on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – July 5th, 1926, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation. It is to pay our tribute of reverence and respect to those who participated in such a mighty event that we annually observe the fourth day of July. Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgement of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

Although a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human experience is but a short time, yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period. Certainly enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization. They have been in existence long enough to become very well seasoned. They have met, and met successfully, the test of experience.

It is not so much then for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.

It is little wonder that people at home and abroad consider Independence Hall as hallowed ground and revere the Liberty Bell as a sacred relic. That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them. They have long been identified with a great cause. They are the framework of a spiritual event. The world looks upon them, because of their associations of one hundred and fifty years ago, as it looks upon the Holy Land because of what took place there nineteen hundred years ago. Through use for a righteous purpose they have become sanctified.

It is not here necessary to examine in detail the causes which led to the American Revolution. In their immediate occasion they were largely economic. The colonists objected to the navigation laws which interfered with their trade, they denied the power of Parliament to impose taxes which they were obliged to pay, and they therefore resisted the royal governors and the royal forces which were sent to secure obedience to these laws. But the conviction is inescapable that a new civilization had come, a new spirit had arisen on this side of the Atlantic more advanced and more developed in its regard for the rights of the individual than that which characterized the Old World. Life in a new and open country had aspirations which could not be realized in any subordinate position. A separate establishment was ultimately inevitable. It had been decreed by the very laws of human nature. Man everywhere has an unconquerable desire to be the master of his own destiny.

We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

The Continental Congress was not only composed of great men, but it represented a great people. While its members did not fail to exercise a remarkable leadership, they were equally observant of their representative capacity. They were industrious in encouraging their constituents to instruct them to support independence. But until such instructions were given they were inclined to withhold action.

While North Carolina has the honor of first authorizing its delegates to concur with other Colonies in declaring independence, it was quickly followed by South Carolina and Georgia, which also gave general instructions broad enough to include such action. But the first instructions which unconditionally directed its delegates to declare for independence came from the great Commonwealth of Virginia. These were immediately followed by Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while the other Colonies, with the exception of New York, soon adopted a like course.

This obedience of the delegates to the wishes of their constituents, which in some cases caused them to modify their previous positions, is a matter of great significance. It reveals an orderly process of government in the first place; but more than that, it demonstrates that the Declaration of Independence was the result of the seasoned and deliberate thought of the dominant portion of the people of the Colonies. Adopted after long discussion and as the result of the duly authorized expression of the preponderance of public opinion, it did not partake of dark intrigue or hidden conspiracy. It was well advised. It had about it nothing of the lawless and disordered nature of a riotous insurrection. It was maintained on a plane which rises above the ordinary conception of rebellion. It was in no sense a radical movement but took on the dignity of a resistance to illegal usurpations. It was conservative and represented the action of the colonists to maintain their constitutional rights which from time immemorial had been guaranteed to them under the law of the land.

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we can not escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession of territory and the establishment of a new nation. Events of that nature have been taking place since the dawn of history. One empire after another has arisen, only to crumble away as its constituent parts separated from each other and set up independent governments of their own. Such actions long ago became commonplace. They have occurred too often to hold the attention of the world and command the admiration and reverence of humanity. There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be under-estimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people. Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the corner stones of American institutions.

But if these truths to which the declaration refers have not before been adopted in their combined entirety by national authority, it is a fact that they had been long pondered and often expressed in political speculation. It is generally assumed that French thought had some effect upon our public mind during Revolutionary days. This may have been true. But the principles of our declaration had been under discussion in the Colonies for nearly two generations before the advent of the French political philosophy that characterized the middle of the eighteenth century. In fact, they come from an earlier date. A very positive echo of what the Dutch had done in 1581, and what the English were preparing to do, appears in the assertion of the Reverend Thomas Hooker of Connecticut as early as 1638, when he said in a sermon before the General Court that:

“The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.”

“The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance.”

This doctrine found wide acceptance among the nonconformist clergy who later made up the Congregational Church. The great apostle of this movement was the Reverend John Wise, of Massachusetts. He was one of the leaders of the revolt against the royal governor Andros in 1687, for which he suffered imprisonment. He was a liberal in ecclesiastical controversies. He appears to have been familiar with the writings of the political scientist, Samuel Pufendorf, who was born in Saxony in 1632. Wise published a treatise, entitled “The Church’s Quarrel Espoused”, in 1710, which was amplified in another publication in 1717. In it he dealt with the principles of civil government. His works were reprinted in 1772 and have been declared to have been nothing less than a textbook of liberty for our Revolutionary fathers.

While the written word was the foundation, it is apparent that the spoken word was the vehicle for convincing the people. This came with great force and wide range from the successors of Hooker and Wise, It was carried on with a missionary spirit which did not fail to reach the Scotch-Irish of North Carolina, showing its influence by significantly making that Colony the first to give instructions to its delegates looking to independence. This preaching reached the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson, who acknowledged that his “best ideas of democracy” had been secured at church meetings.

That these ideas were prevalent in Virginia is further revealed by the Declaration of Rights, which was prepared by George Mason and presented to the general assembly on May 27, 1776. This document asserted popular sovereignty and inherent natural rights, but confined the doctrine of equality to the assertion that “All men are created equally free and independent.” It can scarcely be imagined that Jefferson was unacquainted with what had been done in his own Commonwealth of Virginia when he took up the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. But these thoughts can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was writing in 1710. He said, “Every man must be acknowledged equal to every man.” Again, “The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, and so forth…”. And again, “For as they have a power every man in his natural state, so upon combination they can and do bequeath this power to others and settle it according as their united discretion shall determine.” And still again, “Democracy is Christ’s government in church and state.” Here was the doctrine of equality, popular sovereignty, and the substance of the theory of inalienable rights clearly asserted by Wise at the opening of the eighteenth century, just as we have the principle of the consent of the governed stated by Hooker as early as 1638.

When we take all these circumstances into consideration, it is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature’s God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. Coming from these sources, having as it did this background, it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say “The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven.”

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times. Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government — the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that “Democracy is Christ’s government.” The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever-broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions. The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.

It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution. It was to establish a free government, which must not be permitted to degenerate into the unrestrained authority of a mere majority or the unbridled weight of a mere influential few. They undertook the balance these interests against each other and provide the three separate independent branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments of the Government, with checks against each other in order that neither one might encroach upon the other. These are our guaranties of liberty. As a result of these methods enterprise has been duly protected from confiscation, the people have been free from oppression, and there has been an ever-broadening and deepening of the humanities of life.

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general. Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Lost and Found – July 5th Edition

What to remember about July 5th…

  • 1775 – Continental Congress adopts “Olive Branch” petition by John Dickinson; appeals for reconciliation with Great Britain
  • 1864 – Union forces win Battle of Paces Ferry near Atlanta
  • 1865 – President Andrew Johnson signs order confirming the sentences given to the conspirators tried for Lincoln’s assassination
  • 1865 – William Booth founds Salvation Army in London, England
  • 1865  U.S. Secret Service is commissioned to suppress counterfeiting
  • 1891  Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum born in Bethel, Connecticut; founder of Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus
  • 1947 – Larry Doby becomes 1st African-American player in baseball’s American League
  • 1950  Israeli Knesset enacts Law of Return granting rights of return, settlement, and citizenship to Jews
  • 1989 – Oliver North sentenced to 3 years jail (suspended), 2 years probation, and a $150,000 fine; conviction overturned on appeal

Lost and Found – June 16th Edition

What to remember about June 16th…

  • 1755  British defeat French at Fort Beausejour during French and indian War; renamed Fort Cumberland
  • 1775  Continental forces begin fortifying Bunker Hill outside Boston
  • 1858  Abraham Lincoln gives “House Divided” speech
  • 1884  1st roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island
  • 1903  Ford Motor Company incorporates
  • 1961  Soviet ballet superstar Rudolf Nureyev defects to the West
  • 1963  1st woman in space, Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova
  • 1979  Muslim Brotherhood murders 32 students and wounds 54 others at military school in Aleppo, Syria
  • 1987  Bernard Goetz acquitted of all but gun possession charges after shooting 4 black youths attempt to rob him in New York subway
  • 2011  Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) announces that he will resign over scandal created by his tweeting sexually suggestive messages explicit photos to numerous women

Lost and Found – June 15th Edition

What to remember about June 15th…

  • 1775  Assembly of Lower Counties of Pennsylvania declares independence from Britain forming state of Delaware
  • 1775  George Washington accepts command of Continental Army
  • 1836  Arkansas admitted to the Union as its 25th state
  • 1863  As General Lee’s Confederates move towards Washington, D.C., President Lincoln calls for 100,000 volunteers to defend the city
  • 1864  Union Army bypasses Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to attack Petersburg; leads to the eventual fall of Richmond
  • 1877  Former slave Henry Ossian Flipper becomes 1st African-American graduate from the United States Military Academy
  • 1916  National charter signed establishing Boy Scouts of America
  • 1917  Congress passes the Espionage Act
  • 1942  Deportation of Jews from Netherlands begins; approximately 101,000 sent to death camps;  Anne Frank will be among them
  • 1944  U.S. forces begin landings for the invasion of Saipan
  • 1994  Ruth Bader Ginsburg sworn in as Supreme Court Justice

Lost and Found – May 30th Edition

What to remember about May 30th…

  • 1806  Future President Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickenson in a duel; the men fought over libelous statements made about Jackson’s wife
  • 1868  Decoration Day is declared to honor Civil War dead; this is the 1st observance of what will become Memorial Day
  • 1909  American musician, songwriter, and band leader Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman is born in Chicago (d. 1986)
  • 1911  Indianapolis 500 race is held for 1st time; Ray Harroun wins out of a field of 40 cars with an average speed of 74.59 miles per hour
  • 1922  Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and former President William Howard Taft dedicates Lincoln Memorial on the Washington Mall
  • 1966  NASA successfully launches Surveyor 1 spacecraft; 1st soft landing of an american probe on an extraterrestrial body
  • 1989  Pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square erect 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue

Lost and Found – May 27th Edition

What to remember about May 27th…

  • 1813  U.S. Army and Navy forces conduct amphibious assault to capture fort and British troops in Battle of Fort George
  • 1863  Maryland Chief Justice Roger Taney issues Ex parte Merryman challenging authority of President Lincoln and the military to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
  • 1935  Supreme Court declares National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional in A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States
  • 1937  After 4 years of construction and the deaths of 11 workers, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco finally opens to the public
  • 1941  3-days after sinking the  HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales, German battleship Bismarck is sunk by Royal Navy off the coast of France
  • 1941  President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces a state of unlimited national emergency in response to military aggression of Nazi Germany
  • 1965  U.S. Navy warships begin bombardment of Viet Cong targets in central South Vietnam
  • 1967  Aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy is launched by widow Jacqueline Kennedy and her daughter Caroline
  • 1972  President Nixon and Soviet President Brezhnev meet in Moscow to sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)agreements
  • 1998  Michael Fortier is sentenced to 12 years $200,000 fine for failing to warn authorities about Oklahoma City Bombing terrorist plot
  • 2005  Thousands of demonstrators gather in Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and the Middle East to protest reported “Quran abuse” by the U.S. military

Lost and Found – May 19th Edition

What to remember about May 19th…

  • 1795 American patriot, physician, and signer of the Declaration of Independence Josiah Bartlett dies in Kingston, New Hampshire (b. 1729)
  • 1795  American entrepreneur and philanthropist Johns Hopkins is born in Maryland (d. 1873); founder of hospitals, universities, and schools
  • 1848  Mexico ratifies Treaty of Hidalgo ending Mexican-American War; United States is ceded most of the Southwest for $15 million
  • 1864  President Lincoln writes to Congress urging that widows and orphans should be treated equally regardless of race
  • 1943  President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill set May 1, 1944 as date for Allied invasion at Normandy; D-Day set in motion
  • 1962  Actress and singer Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday Mr. President” at gala celebrating upcoming 45th birthday of John F. Kennedy
  • 1986  President Reagan signs Firearms Owners Protection Act prohibiting federal government from keeping a registry of firearms owners
  • 1994  Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies at home of cancer (b. 1929); wife of President John F. Kennedy
  • 2001  The 1st Apple stores open their doors; they are located in Tysons Corner, Virginia and the same day in Glendale, California
  • 2011  President Obama gives speech stating that Israel must revert its borders back to the pre-1967 borders to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Molon labe - come and take them (if you can)

Lost and Found – May 18th Edition

What to remember about May 18th…

  • 1783  Tory refugees arrive in Saint John, Nova Scotia (now New Brunswick) after Treaty of Paris ends Revolutionary War in patriot’s favor
  • 1860  Republican Party nominates Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the presidency at convention in Chicago, Illinois
  • 1863  After successfully cutting off the city, Union forces lay siege to Vicksburg, Mississippi; last Confederate stronghold on the river
  • 1896  Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” is constitutional; overturned 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
  • 1917  President Wilson asks for and Congress passes Selective Service Act granting him the power to draft soldiers
  • 1974  Message to Prime Minister Ghandi “Budda has smiled” announces that India has become the worlds sixth nuclear power
  • 1980  Volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helen’s in Washington kills 57 and devastates hundreds of miles of wilderness
  • 1989  Over one million pro-democracy protesters take to streets in Beijing, China; Government response increasingly harsh in coming weeks
  • 1995  Unemployed plumber and Army veteran Shawn Nelson steals an M60 Patton tank from a National Guard armory and takes it on a 23-minute rampage on the streets of San Diego, California
  • 2012  Facebook holds its initial public offering of stock on the NASDAQ

 

Lost and Found – May 4th Edition

What to remember about May 4th…

Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you.)

  • 1776  Rhode Island is 1st colony to declare independence
  • 1863  Though numerically superior, Union Army is forced into retreat after disastrous Battle of Chancellorsville
  • 1864  Union forces leave their winter encampments and cross the Rapidan River in Virginia to begin new phase of the war
  • 1865  President Lincoln is laid to rest in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois; body of son who died 2 years before moved and buried with him
  • 1886  Labor protest and demonstration in Haymarket Square in Chicago ends with 100 wounded and 8 dead after bomb blast and rioting
  • 1932  Notorious mobster Al Capone begins 11-year prison term for tax evasion at federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia
  • 1946  U.S. Marines land on Alcatraz Island to put down prison riot
  • 1961  13 “Freedom Riders” depart Washington, D.C. with plans to challenge segregation as the travel across the southern U.S.
  • 1970  4 anti-war protestors are shot and killed when National Guard troops open fire in response to rock throwing at Kent State University
  • 1979  Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady”, is sworn in as Britain’s 1st female Prime Minister; responsible for dismantling socialism in the country
  • 1982  Argentinian fighters attack HMS Sheffield with sea-skimming missiles; ship is mortally wounded and 20 sailors lose their lives
  • 1989  Former White House aide Oliver North is convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine in Iran-Contra Affair; convictions later overturned
  • 1994  Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat sign a peace accord granting self-rule for Palestinians in Gaza Strip and Jericho

Presidential Trivia – Ulyses S. Grant

Think you know a lot about the President of the United States?  Let us dig down into the dustbin of history and see what we can find.

Our candidate today is:  Ulysses S. Grant (born. Hiram Ulysses Grant), 18th President of the United States

  • Born April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio
  • Died July 23, 1885, Mount McGregor, Saratoga Springs, New York
  • Height: 5’8″
  • Childhood and school activities:  Fishing; riding and breaking horses; worked in his fathers tannery
  • Education:  United States Military Academy at West Point (Nominated by Congressman Thomas L. Hamer, the application mistakenly listed the name “Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio”. Grant opted to let the mistake go and accepted the moniker “U.S. Grant”.)
  • Military Service:  United States Navy 1839-1854, 1861-1869, final rank General of the Army
  • Civilian profession: Soldier, author
  • Married to Julia Boggs Dent (January 26, 1826 – December 14, 1902) at White Haven plantation west of St. Louis, Missouri
  • Children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., Ellen Wrenshall Grant, Jesse Root Grant
  • Political Party – Republican
  • Term of office:  August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
  • At 46 years old, he was the youngest man to that time elected to the presidency.
  • Early in life his political leanings were Democrat.  However, during the Civil War, Grant became and voted Republican.
  • Having received a slave from his father-in-law, Grant freed William Jones in 1859 despite being in need of money.
  • Though rumors of drunkenness dogged his career, Grant actually suffered from debilitating migraines that often left him “hung over” and irritable.
  • Grant’s offer to return to military service after the attack on Ft. Sumter was lost by the War Department until after the Civil War had ended.  He joined the Union army as Colonel of the unruly 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
  • Eschewing pomp and finery, Grant often wore a privates uniform with stars of rank as the only adornment.
  • He accepted the surrender of Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee (whom he had served with in the Mexican-American War) at Appomattox Courthouse.  He allowed Confederate soldiers to retain their personal weapons and horses if they would return home in peace.
  • Grant oversaw ratification of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
  • Grant signed legislation establishing the Department of Justice, the Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) and Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park.
  • During his terms of office, Grant strove to improve the living conditions of Native Americans, repair foreign relations with Great Britain, reconcile differences among the North and South, secure civil rights for all Americans, and annex (unsuccessfully) the Dominican Republic into the United States.
  • Grant is the first of only three Presidents to have graduated from the military academy – Grant (USMA – 1843), Eisenhower (USMA – 1915), Carter (USNA – 1947, accelerated to 1946)
  • Assassination attempts:  Grant had been invited to the performance at Ford’s Theatre with President Lincoln.  However, he declined so that he and his wife could visit their children in New Jersey.  John Wilkes Booth had previously stalked Julia Grant.
  • Grant is the first of only three Presidents to have graduated from the military academy – Grant (USMA – 1843), Eisenhower (USMA – 1915), Carter (USNA – 1947, accelerated to 1946)
  • He is buried beside his wife Julia in the General Grant National Memorial in Riverside Park, New York, New York; the largest mausoleum in North America. There is no “Grant’s Tomb”.
  • Hobbies:  horseback riding – he once received a speeding ticket from a Washington, D.C. police officer that didn’t recognize him
  • Famous quote: “The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of oppression, if they are strong enough, whether by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable.” Personal Memoirs, 1885

President Ulysses S. Grant circa 1876