Cluster of presidents’ birthdays in August

July 22, 2016

If presidents’ birthdays were spread out through the months evenly, we’d be approaching four births per month as we approach 48 presidents (Obama is 44th administration, of 43 presidents; Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, screwing up numbering for all time).

August has just more than its share of presidential births, five. In date order as we go through August:

  • Barack Obama, our 43rd President, was born August 7, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Herbert Hoover, 30th President, was born August 10, 1874, in West Branch, Iowa
  • Bill Clinton, 42nd President, was born August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas
  • Benjamin Harrison, 22nd President, was born August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson, 34th President, was born August 27, 1908, in Stonewall, Texas

Obama will get cards and letters, and network news programs will probably make a light-hearted mention of his birthday. Are the other August presidents celebrated, even in their hometowns?

Barack Obama as an infant. Buzfeed

Barack Obama as an infant. Buzzfeed

Barack Obama, about age two, with his mother.

Barack Obama, about age two, with his mother. Parade Magazine image.

Herbert Hoover as an infant. Difficult to find photos of young Hoover. He was orphaned.

Herbert Hoover as an infant. Difficult to find photos of young Hoover. He was orphaned.

Bill Clinton, about age two. Parade Magazine image.

Bill Clinton, about age two. Parade Magazine image.

 

Lyndon Johnson's birthday is August 27. Even near his birth he looked like the cowboy-hatted president we remember. Image from Readers Digest

Lyndon Johnson’s birthday is August 27. Even near his birth he looked like the cowboy-hatted president we remember. Image from Readers Digest

Photos of Benjamin Harrison as an infant or young child appear to be exceedingly rare.

March and November also feature births of five presidents.

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Happy birthday, Gerald Ford, July 14, 1913

July 14, 2016

Today is the 103rd anniversary of President Gerald Ford‘s birth.

Happy birthday, Mr. President!

Gerald Ford, as an officer in the US Navy in 1945. Wikipedia image in the public domain.

Gerald Ford, as an officer in the US Navy in 1945. Ford left the Navy in 1946, and ran for Congress in 1948. Wikipedia image in the public domain.

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Happy birthday John Quincy Adams, July 11, 1767

July 11, 2016

Today is the 249th anniversary of the birth of the sixth President of the United States (1825-1829), John Quincy Adams. Adams’s father was John Adams, who played key roles in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and establishment of the United States after adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

Quincy Adams is famous for returning to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives after his presidency, for his advocacy for freedom for slaves on a slave ship, and for being probably the first president ever to sit for a photographic portrait — though the sitting wasn’t until 1843, 14 years after he left the presidency.

John Quincy Adams, in Washington, D.C., 1843. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site, this image is a copy of a lost daguerreotype of Adams taken by Philip Haas ca. 1843. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=522048

John Quincy Adams, in Washington, D.C., 1843. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site, this image is a copy of a lost daguerreotype of Adams taken by Philip Haas ca. 1843. Some historians believe it may have been taken as late as 1847. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=522048


June 7, 1898, President William McKinley at his desk

June 7, 2016

Library of Congress description: William McKinley, full-length portrait, seated at desk, facing right, June 7, 1898. Library of Congress image

Library of Congress description: William McKinley, full-length portrait, seated at desk, facing right, June 7, 1898. Library of Congress image

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.


New Yorkers laud Lt. Gen. Grant at Cooper Union, June 7, 1865

June 7, 2016

    Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 20, no. 508 (1865 June 24), p. 209.

Ovation to Lieutenant General Grant at the Cooper Institute, New York, on the evening of June 7 – Grant saluting the audience Digital ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c28383 (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c28383) Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-128383 (b&w film copy neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; Illus. in: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, v. 20, no. 508 (1865 June 24), p. 209.

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.”[3]

Looking for details on that speech. Holler if you have some.


Happy birthday, Thomas Jefferson! Born April 13, 1743

April 13, 2016

Library of Congress's South Reading Room. Mural of Thomas Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background, by Ezra Winter. Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

South Reading Room. Mural of Thomas Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background, by Ezra Winter. Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.; photo by the great photographic historian Carol Highsmith

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).

Usufruct,” the Word of the Day for April 13.

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.

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Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


March 4, 1801: Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration as 3rd president

March 4, 2016

Words to be sung at a service honoring the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson as President. Image from the Treasures of the Library of Congress.

Words to be sung at a service honoring the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson as President. Image from the Treasures of the Library of Congress. (If we only knew the music . . .)

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.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pat’s Blog.


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