If you think the office looks smaller than today’s Oval Office, you’re right. Creation of the Oval Office came 11 years after this photo, when President William Howard Taft expanded the permanent structure of the West Wing of the White House in 1909. On the right of the photo is the massive globe map of the world probably most famous from photos with Teddy Roosevelt, who succeeded to the presidency in 1901 when McKinley was assassinated.
People of New York idolized Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant. They gave Grant and his family a home. On June 7, 1865, he spoke at Cooper Union and got a rousing ovation in return.
In the spring of 1865, Grant made an appearance at Cooper Union in New York; the New York Times described the reception for the war hero: “…the enhanced and bewildered multitude trembled with extraordinary delight.”
Looking for details on that speech. Holler if you have some.
So, what are you doing to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson on April 13?
You might visit the Library of Congress, and see Jefferson’s advice to President Obama on a variety of issues, including freedom, labor, kids today, education, and the difficulty of keeping our democratic republic:
Murals by Ezra Winter also decorate the South Reading Room. The theme for these four murals is drawn from Thomas Jefferson’s writings, which are inscribed on the paintings and reflect Jefferson’s thoughts on Freedom, Labor, the Living Generation, Education, and Democratic Government. The characters and costumes depicted are those of Jefferson’s time. A portrait of Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background is in the lunette above the reference desk at the north end of the room; the words in the lower left- had corner explain that THIS ROOM IS DEDICATED TO THOMAS JEFFERSON .
On the left half of the panel on the east wall, Jefferson’s view on Freedom is depicted:
THE GROUND OF LIBERTY IS TO BE GAINED BY INCHES. WE MUST BE CONTENTED TO SECURE WHAT WE CAN GET FROM TIME TO TIME AND ETERNALLY PRESS FORWARD FOR WHAT IS YET TO GET. IT TAKES TIME TO PERSUADE MEN TO DO EVEN WHAT IS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.
Jefferson to Rev. Charles Clay, January 27, 1790
Jefferson’s views on labor, also on the east wall, are taken from his Notes on Virginia:
THOSE WHO LABOR IN THE EARTH ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE OF GOD, IF HE EVER HAD A CHOSEN PEOPLE, WHOSE BREASTS HE HAS MADE THE PECULIAR DEPOSITS FOR SUBSTANTIAL AND GENUINE VIRTUE. IT IS THE FOCUS IN WHICH HE KEEPS ALIVE THAT SACRED FIRE WHICH OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT ESCAPE FROM THE EARTH.
From Notes on Virginia, 1782
On the south wall, the panel over the clock contains a quotation about the Living:
THE EARTH BELONGS ALWAYS TO THE LIVING GENERATION. THEY MAY MANAGE IT THEN AND WHAT PROCEEDS FROM IT AS THEY PLEASE DURING THEIR USUFRUCT. THEY ARE MASTERS TOO OF THEIR OWN PERSONS AND CONSEQUENTLY MAY GOVERN THEM AS THEY PLEASE.
Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789
On the left half of the panel on the west wall, Jefferson’s view of Education is illustrated:
EDUCATE AND INFORM THE MASS OF THE PEOPLE. ENABLE THEM TO SEE THAT IT IS THEIR INTEREST TO PRESERVE PEACE AND ORDER, AND THEY WILL PRESERVE THEM. ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE GENERALLY, AND TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION OF THE BODY AND MIND WILL VANISH LIKE EVIL SPIRITS AT THE DAWN OF DAY.
Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787 (first two sentences);
Jefferson to P.S. Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 18l6 (last sentence).
Jefferson was born April 2, 1843, under the old Julian calendar (O.S., or Old System) — April 13 on the Gregorian calendar, the calendar we use today.
How should we celebrate?
Is there a monument or memorial to Thomas Jefferson in your town? Please tell us about it, and give us a photo if you can, in comments.
- NOAA traces its roots back to Jefferson, helped celebrate in 2007
- Probably not a good idea to try a flash mob dance at the Jefferson Memorial
- You could pay for everything with $2 bills, maybe?
- You’ve seen it on bumper stickers: WWJD? What would Jefferson do? Her Campus Virginia asked Jefferson for advice on a variety of topics; read the (sort of) interview
Thomas Jefferson ascended the the presidency to save the American Revolution, and to celebrate American arts and sciences, his friends and supporters said. The lyrics to be sung at the service at the German Reformed Church reflect those views.
What joyful prospects rise before!
Peace, Arts, and Science hale our shore
. And thro’ the country spread.
Long may these blessings be preserv’d,
And by a virtuous land deserv’d
. With JEFFERSON our head.
1800’s election campaign was a bitter one. Because balloting was not for president and vice president, but instead with the second-leading vote-getter taking the vice presidency, the Electoral College deadlocked on Jefferson and his vice president running mate, Aaron Burr. The election then went to the House of Representatives — the holdover House, dominated by Federalists who supported the vanquished John Adams. The House had great difficulty choosing between Jefferson and Burr, but at length picked Jefferson when Alexander Hamilton pushed his influence, favoring his once-friend Jefferson, and snubbing his enemy and eventual killer, Burr.
The Library of Congress briefly described Jefferson’s inauguration:
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, was the first to be inaugurated in the capital city of Washington, D.C. The ceremonies took place on March 4, 1801, in the Senate wing of the not yet finished Capitol building. Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of office to Jefferson, the first of five presidents-elect he would induct. In his speech Jefferson attempted to assuage the bitter rivalry between the Federalist and Republicans that had culminated in a deadlock election broken by Congress’s election of Jefferson on the 36th ballot. Jefferson remarked: “but every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principles. We are all Republicans. We are all Federalists.” Jefferson’s sentiments notwithstanding, his predecessor, former president John Adams, did not attend the ceremony — the first president to do so.
Mathematicians and scientists celebrate the election of Jefferson as a triumph for reason and science in politics. Jefferson was an accomplished and proud American naturalist, and often turned to scientists for advice on issues. Ironically perhaps, he never did reconcile his belief that rocks could not “fall from the sky,” doubting the provenance of meteoroids; skeptic to the end.
It’s Presidents’ Day on most calendars, though the official U.S. holiday is “Washington’s Birthday.”
Presidents’ Day, or Washington’s Birthday, is celebrated on the third Monday in February. In 2016 this will overlap the period of mourning for Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown half staff to honor Justice Scalia; if your flag pole allows, you should fly your flag at half staff, even on Washington’s Birthday.
You’re already flying your flag today, right? Let’s recapitulate from last year.
Dr. Bumsted reminds us we need to emphasize that the federal holiday is Washington’s Birthday, not a day to honor presidents generically. See the explanation from the U.S. National Archives.
Presidents Day is February 15, 2016 — fly your U.S. flag today.
Oddly enough, some controversy arises from time to time over how to honor President Washington and President Lincoln, and other presidents. Sometimes the controversy simmers over how to honor great Americans — if Lincoln deserves a day, why not FDR? Why not Jefferson? — and sometimes the controversy covers more mundane ground — should the federal government give workers a day off? Should it be on a Monday or Friday to create a three-day weekend to boost tourism? About.com explains the history of the controversy:
Presidents’ Day is intended (for some) to honor all the American presidents, but most significantly George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. According to the Gregorian or “New Style” calendar that is most commonly used today, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But according to the Julian or “Old Style” calendar that was used in England until 1752, his birth date was February 11th. Back in the 1790s, Americans were split – some celebrated his birthday on February 11th and some on February 22nd.
When Abraham Lincoln became president and helped reshape our country, it was believed he, too, should have a special day of recognition. Tricky thing was that Lincoln’s birthday fell on February 12th. Prior to 1968, having two presidential birthdays so close together didn’t seem to bother anyone. February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday to honor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
In 1968, things changed when the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays. They voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington’s Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971, and as a result, Washington’s Birthday holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. But not all Americans were happy with the new law. There was some concern that Washington’s identity would be lost since the third Monday in February would never fall on his actual birthday. There was also an attempt to rename the public holiday “Presidents’ Day”, but the idea didn’t go anywhere since some believed not all presidents deserved a special recognition. [Take THAT you Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore fans!]
Even though Congress had created a uniform federal holiday law, there was not a uniform holiday title agreement among the individual states. Some states, like California, Idaho, Tennessee and Texas chose not to retain the federal holiday title and renamed their state holiday “President’s Day.” From that point forward, the term “Presidents’ Day” became a marketing phenomenon, as advertisers sought to capitalize on the opportunity for three-day or week-long sales.
In 1999, bills were introduced in both the U.S. House (HR-1363) and Senate (S-978) to specify that the legal public holiday once referred to as Washington’s Birthday be “officially” called by that name once again. Both bills died in committees.
Today, President’s Day is well accepted and celebrated. Some communities still observe the original holidays of Washington and Lincoln, and many parks actually stage reenactments and pageants in their honor. The National Park Service also features a number of historic sites and memorials to honor the lives of these two presidents, as well as other important leaders.
Fly your flag, read some history, enjoy the day.
More, Resources, and Related Articles:
- Max Lyons has a great photo of flags at the Washington Monument — but he’s stingy on copyright; go see the photo, maybe buy one
- Enchanted Learning’s classroom activities for Presidents Day
- More history of Presidents Day at SanDiego.com (is that a site of the San Diego Union?)
- Sacramento Bee attempts to make sense of Presidents Day — or is it Washington’s Birthday?
- Geek humor for Presidents Day
- Presidents Day is celebrated throughout the United States (examiner.com)
- The Meaning of Presidents Day (nbcnewyork.com)
- What Is The Real Name of the February Holiday? (usingtherightwords.wordpress.com)
- US Celebrates Presidents’ Day (voanews.com)
- Uncle Sam says it’s not Presidents Day (news.blogs.cnn.com)
- The Learning Network Blog: Happy Presidents’ Day (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Next flag fly dates, for March:
- March 1, Ohio statehood (1803, 17th state)
- March 1, Nebraska statehood (1867, 37th state)
- March 3, Florida (1845, 27th state)
- March 4, Vermont statehood (1791, 14th state)
- March 15, Maine statehood (1820, 23rd state)
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. This event occurs every year.
The venerable Buffalo News offers a quiz on our 13th president, Millard Fillmore, native son of Buffalo.
Happy birthday, Millard Fillmore, born January 7, 1800.
Nice of the Berkshire-Hathaway owned Buffalo News to make such a great tool for teachers, eh?
The Ladies of Mount Vernon maintain George Washington’s home and a couple of farms, and now have an extensive center for teachers, in addition to an extensive library on Washington.
In Springfield, Illinois, a private foundation established the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Neither is part of the National Archives (NARA) presidential libraries programs. NARA operates libraries for Hoover, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George Bush, and NARA will operate the Obama library from the start.
Other presidents are left out in the cold, mostly. There are informal facilities for Teddy Roosevelt, James Garfield, and Woodrow Wilson.
On Millard Fillmore’s birthday, January 7, I am happy to report there is a Millard Fillmore Presidential Library, too.
For some reason, it’s in Cleveland, Ohio.
A promising place for scholarship on our 13th president, perhaps. Photos of Fillmore, previously unknown, have been published by this establishment.
Finally, a place to properly celebrate Millard Fillmore’s 216th birthday anniversary, today!