Archive for the ‘POTUS’ Tag

Choosing A President: 1824   1 comment

John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, after losing the popular vote and losing the electoral college vote.

John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, after losing the popular vote and losing the electoral college vote.

It was chaos.

In our 10th Presidential election, no candidate won a majority of the electoral college vote. In such a situation, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution governs what happens next: when no single candidate gets a majority of the electoral college vote, the election of the President is thrown into the House of Representative, who choose from the top 3 electoral candidates in a single vote. That’s exactly what happened 192 years ago.

We think today’s politics are crazy? Here is what happened in 1824:

The # 2 political party, the Federalist Party, had effectively dissolved, leaving only the Democratic-Republican Party standing. The Democratic-Republican Party had in fact won the last 6 elections for President. Unfortunately, in 1824 the Party could not agree on a single candidate, so they fielded what were essentially 4 regional candidates: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H Crawford & Henry Clay.

Andrew Jackson was the popular favorite, and his group would eventually become what we know today as the Democratic Party. John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay represented a group that would become the National Republican Party (which is not the same thing as today’s G.O.P.).

Andrew Jackson “won” the popular vote – though in this era, not all states even had a popular vote. Rather, some states simply empowered their state legislature to decide how their state’s electoral votes should be cast for President!  Jackson did win 99 of the 261 Electoral College votes. That was the largest number won (with John Q Adams 2nd with 84) … so neither of them won a majority of the electoral votes. In this election, they would have had to have 131 votes to win the Presidency outright.

But they didn’t.

Andrew Jackson, the popular vote winner in 1824, but not President until he won again in 1828.

Andrew Jackson, the popular vote winner in 1824, but not President until he won again in 1828.

So, it was up the the House of Representatives to choose the 6th President of the United States. The Speaker of the House was Henry Clay, who finished 4th in the Electoral College vote and thus was excluded from the Top 3 that the House would choose from. Clay endorsed Adams, and that helped to swing the vote to Adams. The final House tally was Adams 87, Jackson 71 and Crawford 54. Adams was the new President, by a margin of 16 votes in the House.

Adams later appointed Clay to become Secretary of State, which was a rumored deal when Clay first endorsed Adams. Neither Adams nor Clay ever confirmed such a deal existed, but the alleged deal became known as the “Corrupt Bargain” in the press. Jackson railed against this supposed backroom deal throughout Adams’ term, and then unseated him as President in the election of 1828.

John Quincy Adams thus joined his father as the only one-term Presidents in the then-short history of our Republic.

History Repeating In 2016?

Let’s pretend the current front runners, Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton, win their parties’ nominations. However, since they both have very large negative ratings, a movement happens to bring another candidate onto the Presidential ballot in November … let’s nominate the most popular Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine (liked by 78% of her constituents!). Collins promises to nominate prominent politicians into her cabinet, perhaps choosing popular Ohio Governor John Kasich or California Governor Jerry Brown as Vice President. Trump & Clinton run a dead heat of a race, and neither wins 270 electoral votes. If Ms. Collins just won her state’s electoral votes – finishing # 3 overall in the electoral vote of the Presidential race – then the House could choose to elect her over both Trump and Clinton.

That’s not my prediction, mind you, but it could happen!


Huffington Post: Doomsday Savior?

Wikipedia: United States Presidential Election, 1824

270ToWin:Presidential Election Of 1824

Portrait: John Quincy Adams

Inauguration: 1857   Leave a comment

Inauguration of James Buchanan, President of the United States, at the east front of the U. S. Capitol, March 4, 1857. First photograph of an inauguration at the Capitol, which was still under construction in 1857. The stone yard in the foreground was covered with boards to provide a platform for the crowd. The life dates of the photographer, John Wood, are unknown, but he was the photographer for the Architect of the Capitol from 1856 to 1861. Mr. Wood then entered the war as a photographer of maps for McClellan.

Inauguration of James Buchanan, President of the United States, at the east front of the U. S. Capitol, March 4, 1857. First photograph of an inauguration at the Capitol, which was still under construction in 1857. The stone yard in the foreground was covered with boards to provide a platform for the crowd. The life dates of the photographer, John Wood, are unknown, but he was the photographer for the Architect of the Capitol from 1856 to 1861. Mr. Wood then entered the war as a photographer of maps for McClellan.

Posted January 26, 2014 by henrymowry in POTUS

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The Whiskey Rebellion   1 comment

Whiskey Rebellion 00

The painting depicts George Washington and his troops near Fort Cumberland, MD, before their march to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Unknown artist, attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer. Circa 1795. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Jefferson was a great President. He opposed the taxation of whiskey. And he had red hair! How could I not be a fan?

It all started in 1791, when the House of Representatives, on a vote of 35 to 21, passed the Excise Whiskey Tax. This legislation was wildly unpopular with farmers and eventually precipitated the “Whisky Rebellion.” Farmers, whose grain crop was a chief ingredient in whiskey, loudly protested the tax.

The year was 1794. US citizens in Pennsylvania had decided that the new government’s decision to tax whiskey was unfair.

In July, a mob of whiskey rebels attacked and destroyed the home of a tax official. The reports are unsure, but it seems that some tax officials were tarred and feathered , and some were ridden out of town on a rail … both of which were “extra-judicial” punishments that were exacted by vigilante mobs, not the fledgling government.

There were published illustrations of this phenomenon, such as the one below. It is important to note that the tar used in such spectacles was not the hot, asphalt-based tar that one might expect. Rather, the tar was pine tar, which can be in liquid form at room temperature. But still … the spectacle sought to punish the focus of the event with humiliation. It’s also true that if you were truly riding a triangular, split rail, then you would be, uh, uncomfortable. Injured, even.

Beware the whiskey tax rebels!

Whiskey Rebellion 02

“Famous whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania”, an illustration from America’s first century: being a popular descriptive portraiture of the one hundred great and memorable events of perpetual interest in the history of our country by R. M. Devens (Springfield, Mass, 1882). From the New York Public Library Digital Gallery; illustrator unknown.

The first US Secretary of the Treasury (1789 – 1795) was Alexander Hamilton, who understood that he needed to create a way for the new republic to pay for itself. One of his solutions was a tax on whiskey.

Pennsylvanians revolted, and an armed rebellion was in the offing. Hamilton advocated the use of military force, which Jefferson passionately opposed. President Washington decided to put the state militias on alert, and then sent in negotiators. When that didn’t help, Washington embraced Hamilton’s view, and sent a force of 13,000 troops – led by Hamilton and Virginia governor Henry Lee – to end the rebellion.

George Washington reviewed the troops at the Carlisle BarracksWhiskey Rebellion 03The final result?

The rebels saw the awesome power of the army, and folded. Ultimately, there were only 2 civilian casualties. Rebellion over.

From The

Not everyone fell in line, though. Albert Gallatin, a Pennsylvania politician who would later become one of Hamilton’s successors as Treasury secretary, called the levy a hypocritical attempt by elites to “tax the common drink of the nation,” even as they continued to enjoy their imported fine wines and brandies. Georgians launched a petition to exempt peach brandy as “necessary of life … in this warm climate.” And Thomas Jefferson, who was known to enjoy a drink, led a successful effort to repeal the tax shortly after he was sworn in as president.


Carlisle Barracks History

Alexander Hamilton: The Whiskey Rebellion

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion, Part II: Enforcing The Wealth Tax

The Daily Reckoning: The Whiskey Rebellion, Part III: Ending The Rebellion

Portraits: George W Bush   Leave a comment

The White House selected Robert Anderson, a Connecticut portraitist and a Yale classmate of the President, to create this painting for the National Portrait Gallery.

The White House selected Robert Anderson, a Connecticut portraitist and a Yale classmate of the President, to create this painting for the National Portrait Gallery.

George Walker Bush (1946 – )

The 43rd President of the United States, 2001 – 2009

AKA: Dubya, W, Bush 43

From: Texas

College: Yale University, Harvard Business School

Married to: Laura Welch

Children: Barbara, Jenna

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, Oil industry entrepreneur, Owner of the Texas Rangers – a Major League Baseball team, Governor of Texas

In His Words: “The protection of America itself will assume a high priority in a new century. Once a strategic afterthought, homeland defense has become an urgent duty. For most of our history, America felt safe behind two great oceans. But with the spread of technology, distance no longer means security.”

“America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens.”

Bush, George W, photo by Eric Draper

White House photo by Eric Draper

“My administration has a job to do and we’re going to do it. We will rid the world of the evil-doers.”

“If the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation and anger and violence for export. And as we saw in the ruins of two towers, no distance on the map will protect our lives and way of life. If the greater Middle East joins the democratic revolution that has reached much of the world, the lives of millions in that region will be bettered, and a trend of conflict and fear will be ended at its source.”

“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

“Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth’s gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.”

“A year ago my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my vice president had shot someone. Ah, those were the good ol’ days.”

“We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

“I suspected there would be a good-size crowd once the word got out about my hanging.” – a statement made at the unveiling of his Official White House Portrait

Not true: There was wide-spread reporting during the Bush administration that he was not intelligent. Mix in a little Texas accent, some verbal miscues and a healthy dose of parody from late night comedians, and that image remains common. Here’s an alternative view from Keith Hennessey, former Bush economic advisor and current Stanford business and law professor. Read it, here.

True: Bush was the first President to have an MBA.

Bush won the 2000 Presidential election by winning 29 states, including Florida. The closeness of the Florida election resulted in  an enduring controversy that ended up in the Supreme Court. They ruled that the use of different standards among Florida’s counties violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This ruling resulted in the machine recount being certified as official, which showed Bush won Florida by 537 votes out of 6 million votes cast. Bush lost the popular vote nationwide, but won the election 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266.

The 9/11 attacks transformed Bush into a wartime President. George H W Bush, his father and the 41st President, said that his son “faced the greatest challenge of any president since Abraham Lincoln.”

Bush formed a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

His most controversial act was the invasion of Iraq, on the belief – supported by his advisors – that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, and posed a grave threat to the United States. Hussein was deposed, but the weapons of mass destruction were not found, which became an enduring crisis.

The war against terrorism focused on the Taliban and its leader, Osama bin Laden. The Taliban was disrupted, but Bush was blamed for not capturing bin Laden.

With America drawn into an extended war against terror, the domestic economy entered the largest recession in the post-WWII economy. This was exacerbated by the housing crisis, fueled by subprime mortgages and the meltdown of the housing industry. The combination of the war and the economic crisis has lead many historians to rank Bush as one of the worst Presidents.

Bush was one of the most popular, and unpopular, Presidents in history. He received the highest recorded Presidential approval ratings in the wake of the 9/11 attack, and one of the lowest approval ratings during the financial crisis in 2008.

The Official Portrait: John Howard Sanden painted the White House Portrait of Bush, which was unveiled in 2012. There’s an excellent article on, link below, that describes the process and interviews both Sanden and Robert Anderson (who painted Bush’s portrait for the National Portrait Gallery).


George W Bush Signature

More Painting The President

Unveiling The Bush Portrait

Portraits: George Washington   1 comment

Portrait by Rembrandt Peale

Portrait by Rembrandt Peale, 1795

George Washington (1732 – 1799)

The 1st President of the United States, 1789 – 1797

AKA: The Father Of His Country, The American Fabius, The American Cincinnatus

From: Virginia

College: None; he did receive a surveyor’s certificate from The College Of William & Mary

Married to: Martha Dandridge Custis

Children: None

Party: None

Previous Jobs: County surveyor, General in the Virginia Militia, Planter, Delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Distiller, President of the Constitutional Convention

In His Words:  “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

“But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”

“Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

The  Athenaeum Portrait was left unfinished by Gilbert Stuart, but it is the image used on the dollar bill.

The Athenaeum Portrait was left unfinished by Gilbert Stuart, but it is the image used on the dollar bill.

“A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.”

“By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was levelling my companions on every side.”

“As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

“It is infinitely better to have a few good men than many indifferent ones.”

“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.”

“Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

Not true: From The Moral Washington:

George Washington’s reputation as a man of moral fortitude reveals more about America’s view of morality than it does about the man himself. Washington was an exceedingly bland heroic leader, embodying an eighteenth-century ideal of republican virtue that emphasized duty, sacrifice and honorable disinterest. Flamboyance and daring were emphatically not required. Washington’s virtue was admirable, but not overly interesting.

Perhaps this is why the most famous example of his fortitude of character is, in fact, just fiction. The story of Washington and the Cherry Tree, a tale which still lingers through probably every grammar school in the U.S., was invented by a parson named Mason Locke Weems in a biography of Washington published directly after his death. Saturated with tales of Washington’s selflessness and honesty, A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits, of General George Washington (1800) and The Life of George Washington, with Curious Anecdotes Laudable to Himself and Exemplary to his Countrymen(1806) supplied the American people with flattering (and often rhyming) renditions of the events that shaped their hero. Weems imagined everything from Washington’s childhood transgression and repentance to his apotheosis when “at the sight of him, even those blessed spirits seem[ed] to feel new raptures” (Weems, 60). According to historian Karal Ann Marling, Weems was struggling to “flesh out a believable and interest ing figure … to humanize Washington” who had been painted as “cold and colorless” in an earlier, poorly selling biography. While it is likely that some readers of the time questioned the authenticity of the tales, Weems’ portraits soared in popularity in the early 1800s.

More than a century later, Weems would be vigorously debunked by a new corps of biographers intent on resurrecting the real truth of Washington’s life. Some favored dismantling the myth wholesale and dismissing it from the record. Others, however, intended to portray the story as apocryphal, but commend its inspirational value anyway. As Marling quotes from a woman who remembered every verse of the story from her days as school, “If the tale isn’t true, it should be. It is too pretty to be classified with the myths” (Marling, 310).

The Washington Family by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha Washington, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels.

The Washington Family by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis (Grandson of Martha), George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis (Granddaughter of Martha), Martha Washington, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels.

True: George Washington had false teeth that were carved from whale bone, rhinoceros ivory and deer antlers. Sources disagree on whether there were wooden teeth made for him. He still had one tooth when he was elected President.

Only George Washington has received 100 percent of the electoral votes, in both his first election in 1789 and his second in 1792.

The first constitution of the USA was titled “Articles of Confederation” and was in force between 1781 and 1788. It created a single house of Congress and no executive – but for one year during this period (1781-2), John Hanson served as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.” Hanson was followed by Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788). George Washington was the first President under the Constitution of June 21, 1788, ratified by 1790.

His first inauguration address was 90 seconds long and consisted of 183 words. The second inaugural address was only 135 words. That was the shortest inaugural address by a president.

George Washington was a passionate reader. He especially liked English books on agriculture. He even read books while riding horseback. His reading speed was not particularly fast, but he was consistent and persistent.

Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee all joined the Union during his Presidency.

He was the only President to not live in Washington, DC … he lived at Mount Vernon, in Virginia.

Washington served 2 terms, and refused to serve a 3rd term. His willingness to walk away from power — when many wanted to make him a king — was one of his most powerful demonstrations of what a President should be.

At one time he was the largest distiller of whiskey in Virginia.

In his will, Washington freed his 300 slaves.

The Official Portrait: Gilbert Charles Stuart painted George Washington many, many times. One of his paintings is unfinished, called The Athenaeum. It is his most celebrated and famous work: this is the image of Washington used on the $1 bill. Stuart and his daughters are known to have made 100+ copies of the painting, which they sold for $100 each.

The Official White House Portrait of Washington is one of four copies of what is called the Landsdowne portrait. It was completed in 1797, and hangs today in the East Room of the White House. (Another version hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.) Congress allocated $800 in 1800 to purchase the portrait for the White House.

During the War of 1812, British troops burned Washington. This painting was saved through the intervention of First Lady Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, a slave owned by President James Madison.

George Washington, Official White House Portrait



Big Mo

The Moral Washington

National Portrait Gallery: The Landsdowne Portrait

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: American’s Love George Washington’s Nose

Portraits: Millard Fillmore   4 comments

Fillmore's portrait by an unidentified artist dates to about the time he retired from the House of Representatives in the early 1840s. National Portrait Gallery

Fillmore’s portrait by an unidentified artist dates to about the time he retired from the House of Representatives in the early 1840s. National Portrait Gallery

Millard Fillmore (1800 – 1874)

The 13th President of the United States, 1850 – 1853

AKA: The Accidental President, The Wool Carder President, The American Louis Philippe

From: New York

College: One of eight US Presidents that did not attend college

Married to: Abigail Powers (1826 – 1853), Caroline Carmichael (1858 – 1874)

Children: Millard, Mary

Party: Anti-Masonic (before 1832), Whig (1832 – 1856), American (1856 – 1860)

Photo by Matthew Brady

Photo by Matthew Brady

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, New York State Assemblyman, New York State Comptroller, Chancellor of the University of Buffalo, US Representative, Vice President

In His Words: “The Government of the United States is a limited Government. It is confined to the exercise of powers expressly granted and such others as may be necessary for carrying those powers into effect; and it is at all times an especial duty to guard against any infringement on the just rights of the States.”

“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.”

“God knows that I detest slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not responsible, and we must endure it, and give it such protection as guaranteed by the Constitution, till we can get rid of it without destroying the last hope of free government in the world.”

Not true: Millard Fillmore did not install the first bathtub in the White House.

A piece authored by HL Mencken was published in the New York Evening Mail on December 28, 1917 — 33 years after Fillmore died! — that credited Fillmore with the plumbing innovation. It was all a hoax, though … but it was a hoax that came to be cited as fact for decades after the piece was published.

Mencken eventually admitted that the article was not true, but not before Millard Fillmore had his reputation besmirched. Poor guy; his reputation wasn’t that good to start with!

True: Millard Fillmore was born in a log cabin, and grew up very poor on the New York frontier, in the Finger Lakes region.

He was apprenticed to a cloth maker at age 15, where he learned to card wool.

He was a compromise candidate when he became the Vice Presidential nominee for Zachary Taylor.

As the Vice President, he of course served as President of the Senate during Taylor’s Presidency. He came to support what is now known as the Compromise of 1850, and he championed its final passage early in his Presidency. That legislation was intended to calm emotions and help strengthen the republic, but in the end it only inflamed divisive passions further. It was composed of five separate bills:

  1. Texas surrendered its claim to New Mexico.
  2. California was admitted to the Union as a free state.
  3. The slave trade in Washington DC was banned (though slavery was not).
  4. New Mexico and Utah were named US territories with no clear ruling about slavery within their borders.
  5. The Fugitive Slave Act required Federal law officers to return runaway slaves to their owners.

Fillmore directed Commodore Perry to travel to Japan and open that nation to trade with the west. Fillmore directed Perry to use the guns on his steamships to persuade Japanese representatives if they refused to allow Perry to present Fillmore’s letter to the Emperor. The threat was not necessary, and trade with Japan became a reality.

Fillmore threatened to use the US Military on three occasions to help enforce domestic law: against Texas, when that state’s militia was about to invade the territory of New Mexico; against South Carolina, when that state was rumored to be near secession; and against a citizen revolt that attempted to lead a coup against Cuba … and failed.

The Whig party would not nominate him as their candidate in 1854. He eventually became a third party candidate representing the racist “Know Nothing” American Party … which he joined perhaps not because of their ideology, but because it was the best political platform available to him at the time. He lost, winning only the state of Maryland, and retired from politics.

He was not a weak President, but is often seen as such, since his actions failed to save the Union and prevent the Civil War. Today, his legacy is as much about what isn’t true as it is what he actually accomplished.

The Official Portrait: Congress commissioned George P. A. Healy to paint six Presidential portraits: John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K Polk, Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore. Fillmore was finished in 1857; the rest were all complete by 1859. At that point, the paintings were then stored in the White House attic, as framing had not been budgeted. It was left to Andrew Johnson to frame and suitably display the paintings after the Civil War.

Millard Fillmore, official White House portrait



Big Mo

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Fillmore Still Dead, Still Misquoted

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Mencken’s Hoax

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Sources on Millard Fillmore

Portraits: Franklin D Roosevelt   6 comments

1933 photo by Elias Goldensky

1933 photo by Elias Goldensky

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

The 32nd President of the United States, 1933 – 1945


From: New York

College: Harvard, Columbia Law School

Married to: Eleanor Roosevelt

Children: Anna, James, Franklin (I), Elliott, Franklin (II), John

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, New York State Senator, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York

In His Words: “Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”

“I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.”

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

“In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.”

“We must be the great arsenal of Democracy.”

“We do not see faith, hope, and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.”

Roosevelt and Fala“These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him – at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars- his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself – such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.”

Not true: Hyde Park on the Hudson, a movie about FDR and his relationship with “Daisy” Suckley, was widely panned as poor history. It misstated the relationship between these two very good friends, and doesn’t portray events in a historically accurate way. For example, the cottage featured in the movie was not actually a surprise to Daisy; rather, she and Roosevelt collaborated on its design. Enjoy the movie if you like … but don’t look to it for history.

True: FDR and his wife called each other “CP,” a term of endearment that was short for “Certain Person.”

Roosevelt was the first President elected with a physical disability.

He was the first person to lose the election as a Vice Presidential candidate, and then win as the Presidential candidate.

A case can be made that Roosevelt was a racist. After the 1936 Olympics, all of the white athletes were invited to the White House. The black athletes, including the 4-gold medal winner Jesse Owens, were never acknowledged by Roosevelt. During the war, he ordered the internment of over 100,000 US citizens of Japanese descent.

FDR built a swimming pool and a movie theater in the White House.

Roosevelt was the first President to appear on television.

Roosevelt’s “New Deal” redefined the role of government in America. The new federal involvement in matters traditionally handled by the private sector was anathema to the conservatives of his day. His engagement in solving America’s economic problems, however, resulted in his election to an unprecedented 4 terms.

FDR worked at improving his reading speed. Eventually, he was able to absorb an entire paragraph at a single glance.

Roosevelt’s White House pet was a black Scottie named “Fala.”

In high school, I learned that FDR’s “New Deal” helped end the Great Depression and fueled the recovery. In college, I learned that the build-up of the war machine is actually what caused the recovery, and the “New Deal” actually had little impact on the economy. My conclusion: Democrats love it, Republicans hate it, and such is the nature of political discourse. It was true in the 70s, and it’s true today. Unfortunately.

The Official Portrait: Frank O Salisbury painted the image of FDR that ultimately became the Official White House Portrait.  The original was painted in 1935, and now hangs in the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. Salisbury made 5 copies, each with slight variations from the original. One of these is in the FDR Library, and the last, painted in 1947, hangs in the White House.

Franklin Roosevelt, Official White House Portrait

Franklin Roosevelt Signature


Freedom From Want

New York Times: Tapping The Inner Dog

Portraits: Grover Cleveland   Leave a comment

The painter of this portrait, Swedish artist Anders Zorn, drew his loose brushwork and preference for natural lighting from French impressionism. Cleveland was quite pleased with Zorn's likeness, declaring to a correspondent, "As for my ugly mug, I think the artist has 'struck it off' in great shape."

The painter of this portrait, Swedish artist Anders Zorn, drew his loose brushwork and preference for natural lighting from French impressionism. Cleveland was quite pleased with Zorn’s likeness, declaring to a correspondent, “As for my ugly mug, I think the artist has ‘struck it off’ in great shape.”

Grover Cleveland (1837 – 1908)

The 22nd President of the United States, 1885 – 1889

The 24th President of the United States, 1893 – 1897

AKA: His Obstinancy,  The Stuffed Prophet, The Elephantine Economist, Uncle Jumbo, The Guardian President

From: New Jersey, New York

College: One of 8 US Presidents that did not attend college

Married to: Frances Folsom

Children: Ruth, Esther, Marion, Richard, Francis

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Clerk, teacher, assistant district attorney, county sheriff, lawyer, Mayor of Buffalo, Governor of New York

In His Words:  “The laboring classes constitute the main part of our population. They should be protected in their efforts peaceably to assert their rights when endangered by aggregated capital, and all statutes on this subject should recognize the care of the State for honest toil, and be framed with a view of improving the condition of the workingman.”

“I have tried so hard to do the right.”

“The wants and needs of the employers and the employed shall alike be subserved and the prosperity of the country, the common heritage of both, be advanced.”

“He mocks the people who proposes that the Government shall protect the rich and that they in turn will care for the laboring poor.”

“The United States, in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened nations, would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standard of honor and morality.”

“What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?”

Not true: Charles Lachman wrote A Secret Life, chronicling the events surrounding a child that may, or may not, have been the product of Grover Cleveland’s so-called date rape of Maria Halpin, a 38-year old sales clerk and mother of 2. This affair was a smarmy sex scandal involving a bachelor … who would later run for governor, and then for President. At the time, newspapers pounced on the scandal, and Cleveland steadfastly clung to “the truth:” that Halpin had affairs with more than one man, including Cleveland’s law partner.  Cleveland took responsibility for the boy … and had the mother committed to an asylum when her drinking became a problem.

What’s true here? We don’t know. But can an author in 2011 really know definitively what happened in 1873? I think not. It is true the scandal was investigated in its day, and that Cleveland won two elections to the highest office in the land after the affair was widely known and investigated while the participants were all still living.

True: He is also the only President to have had his wedding inside the White House. He married his law partner’s ward, 24 years his junior, that he claimed to have fallen in love with when he first saw her as a baby.

Grover Cleveland is the only president to serve 2 terms separated by another President.

Utah was admitted as the 45th state during Cleveland’s Presidency.

He kept a mockingbird and several canaries as pets while President.

Cleveland paid a man $150 to serve in the Civil War in his stead (which was legal at the time).

He believed the President should be the executor of the nation’s laws … and not the creator of public policy. He believed that it was Congress’ job to make the laws, and he sought to avoid that task.

The Official Portrait: Eastman Johnson painted Grover Cleveland’s portrait in 1891; he also painted Benjamin Harrison’s portrait. Those two are the last portraits officially painted for the White House collection in the 19th century.

Grover Cleveland, Official White House Portrait

Grover Cleveland Signature


Big Mo

Portraits: James Monroe   Leave a comment

John Trumbull's Capture of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton shows Monroe wounded.  He took a musket ball in the left shoulder.

John Trumbull’s Capture of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton shows Monroe wounded. He took a musket ball in the left shoulder.

James Monroe (1758 – 1831)

The 5th President of the United States, 1817 – 1825

AKA: The Era of Good Feelings President, The Last Cocked Hat (because he loved the fashion of the last century)

From: Virginia

College: The College of William & Mary

Married to: Elizabeth Kortright

Children: Eliza, James Spence, Maria Hester

Party: Democratic-Republican

Previous Jobs: Planter, Lieutenant in the Continental Army, Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation, US Senator, Minister to France, Minister to the United Kingdom, Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, Secretary of War

In His Words: “The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”

“A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue.”

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze.  Monroe is shown holding the flag.

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze. Monroe is shown holding the flag.

“Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete.”

“Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all — liberty!”

“Preparation for war is a constant stimulus to suspicion and ill will.”

Not true: It’s not true that everyone loved Monroe – though he was an extremely well-liked war hero, statesman and President.  He ran unopposed in 1820 and received every electoral college vote except one, which was cast for John Quincy Adams, his eventual successor.

True: James Monroe died on July 4th – just like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Monroe  was in favor of founding African colonies for the return of free African Americans.  Those colonies would eventually form Liberia.  Its capital, Monrovia, is named in his honor.

Five states were admitted during his Presidency: Mississippi (1817), Illinois (1818), Alabama (1819), Maine (1820), Missouri (1821).

On December 25, 1776, George Washington’s army crossed the Delaware River to attach a Hessian army camped near Trenton, New Jersey.  Lieutenant James Monroe was one of two wounded; he was shot in the shoulder rushing an artillery battery.

The Official Portrait: James Monroe was painted by Samuel F.B. Morse, circa 1819. Better known as the inventor of the electric telegraph, Morse was also the first professor of painting and sculpture for New York University.

James Monroe, official White House Portrait

James Monroe signature


Big Mo

Portraits: Benjamin Harrison   Leave a comment

Benjamin Harrison was 7 years old at the time of his Grandfather William Henry Harrison's inauguration as President, but he did not attend the ceremony.

Benjamin Harrison was 7 years old at the time of his Grandfather William Henry Harrison’s inauguration as President, but he did not attend the ceremony.

Benjamin Harrison (1833 – 1901)

The 23rd President of the United States, 1889 – 1893

AKA: The Front Porch Campaigner, The Human Iceberg

From: Indiana

College: Miami University (of Ohio)

Married to: Caroline Lavinia Scott

Children: Russell Benjamin and Mary “Mamie” Scott Harrison

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, City Attorney, Reporter for the Supreme Court of Indiana, Brigadier General, US Senator

In His Words: “”Come on, boys! We’ve never been licked yet, and we won’t begin now.”  – at the battle of Peach Tree Creek.

“We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.”

“I knew that my staying up would not change the election result if I were defeated, while if elected I had a hard day ahead of me. So I thought a night’s rest was best in any event.”

“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”

Not true: His Great Grandfather was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his Grandfather was President … but Benjamin Harrison was not born into a life of privilege.  He grew up on a farm in Ohio with his father.  His first school was a small log cabin, where he sat on seats made of planks with no backs, and so high that his feet did not touch the floor.  He only attended school in the winter, as in the summer he had to work on the farm.

True: Although he could warmly engage a crowd with his speeches, he was cold and detached when speaking with people on an individual basis.

Benjamin Harrison had the White House wired for electricity, but he and his wife would not touch the switches for fear of electrocution.  The frequently slept with the lights on.

Six new states were admitted to the Union during Harrison’s tenure: North Dakota (1889), South Dakota (1889), Montana (1889), Washington(1889), Idaho (1890) and Wyoming (1890).

Theodore Roosevelt called Harrison “a cold-blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid old psalm-singing Indianapolis politician.”

Harrison was, regretfully, America’s last bearded president.

Sketch of Benjamin HarrisonThe Official Portrait: Eastman Johnson painted the official White House portrait of Benjamin Harrison in 1895. He also painted the official portrait of Grover Cleveland, who both preceded and succeeded Benjamin Harrison as President of the United States.

Johnson was a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and is best known for his portrayals of everyday people.

This charcoal and chalk sketch on paper is owned by the National Portrait Gallery, and is thought to be an early working drawing for the painting that now hangs in the White House.

Benjamin Harrison, Official White House Portrait



Big Mo: Benjamin Harrison