Monday, June 21, 2010
Some facts about the 26th President:
----Vice-President Roosevelt became President after William McKinley was assassinated. He was sworn in at the age of 42, the youngest of any U.S. President so far.
--Roosevelt attempted to move the Republican Party in the direction of Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses. As an outdoorsman and naturalist, he promoted the conservation movement. On the world stage, Roosevelt's policies were characterized by his slogan, "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Roosevelt was the force behind the completion of the Panama Canal; he sent out the Great White Fleet to display American power, and he negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
--Roosevelt declined to run for a second term, but grew so upset at his annointed successor, William Taft, that he formed his own political party, the Bull Moose (or Progressive) Party, to use to run against Taft in the 1912 election. Roosevelt became the only third party candidate to take 2nd place in a Presidential election, beating Taft but not Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson.
--While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating both his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket.
Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he wasn't coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."
Afterwards, probes and x-ray showed that the bullet had traversed three inches of tissue and lodged in Roosevelt's chest muscle, and it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in place. Roosevelt carried it with him for the rest of his life.
--To date, Roosevelt remains the only U.S. President that actor Tom Berenger has portrayed in his storied film and television career.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Did You Know?
--Jimmy Carter was the first U.S. President to be born in a hospital. He was also the first U.S. President to be interviewed by Playboy magazine. Coincidence?
--He has written twenty-one books, which I believe makes him the most prolific author of all U.S. Presidents.
--Was one of only four Presidents who never had the chance to appoint a nominee for the Supreme Court (this could have been avoided if he had simply had Justice Potter Stewart poisoned, to use one example).
--His father, James Earl Carter, engineered a special salve made from an exotic peanut blend and coated young Jimmy's chest with it every night before bedtime. This led to the development of various unexpected super-powers (super-strength, hyper-reflexes, infra-vision, and mind blasts).
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Fun Facts about the 19th U.S. President, Rutherford B Hayes:
1) Hayes was not expected to win the Presidential election of 1876, and was described by one political journalist as "a third rate non-entity, whose only recommendation is that he is obnoxious to no one." However, Hayes won the Presidency by a single electoral vote (he lost the popular vote by roughly 250,000).
To decide the results of the election peacefully, the two houses of Congress set up the bi-partisan Electoral Commission to investigate and decide the winner. The Commission consisted of 15 members: five from the House, five from the Senate and five from the Supreme Court. The Commission consisted of 7 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and Justice David Davis, an Independent. After his election to the Senate, Davis resigned his seat on the Court and on the Commission. Joseph P. Bradley, a Supreme Court Justice, replaced him. Bradley was a Republican and the commission voted 8 to 7 – along party lines – to award Hayes all the contested electoral votes.
Because of the nature of his election, Democrats often referred to Hayes as "Rutherfraud B. Hayes". And then, most likely, snorted derisively.
2) Hayes was the first President to take the oath of office inside the White House.
3) During the Hayes administration "Jim Crow" laws spread around the country that prevented African Americans from voting. Hayes was reluctant to redeploy federal troops to enforce the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The withdrawal of federal troops within the first two months of the Hayes Presidency is considered by many historians as "the great betrayal" to African Americans. Without federal protection for them, segregation of public accommodations and white supremacy in politics was permitted in many states throughout the country.
4) Rutherford B. Hayes was actually a living ghost, and could only maintain corporeal form through sheer willpower.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
"The mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the fire house. The dim light of one in the morning, the moonlight from the open sky framed through the great window, touched here and there on the brass and copper and the steel of the faintly trembling beast. Light flickered on bits of ruby glass and on sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils of the creature that quivered gently, its eight legs spidered under it on rubber padded paws.
Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house areaway. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentle paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine."--Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451