Archive for the ‘President’ Tag

My President, 2016   4 comments

It’s nearly over.

To the relief of everyone (right?), this Presidential campaign is nearly over. The Wall Street Journal ran a very interesting article a few days ago, illustrating the extreme views we are exposed to on Facebook that are specifically tailored to either conservatives or liberals. Want to see how the other half gets their “news?” Read this: Blue Feed, Red Feed.

Here’s a Facebook exchange I read from some partisans, under a picture of a defaced yard sign. In this exchange, they deplore a lie from one side only to applaud a lie from the other:

HUMAN # 1: This is getting out of hand. I have a friend from out of state who went to Bible study this morning only to be told if Hillary is elected she will force all of the churches to close. REALLY.

HUMAN # 2: That’s just awful.

HUMAN # 3: Think you might be amused so while trick or treating the boy saw a Trump sign in a neighbor’s yard and asked the presumed home owner why he wanted to own women’s ovaries. I think he (the stupid dude in the neighborhood) was made speechless when an 11 yr old read him the riot act over what he perceived from that sign. Never been prouder of the B!

HUMAN # 2:

This is not a political post. Rather, it’s a post about My President. Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote in 2012 prior to that presidential election:

Let me tell you about my President.

He (ed. note: or she!) is, first and foremost, the defender of the Constitution.  He (or she) swears to protect the Constitution when he (or she) takes the oath of office. He (or she) will do whatever it takes for the United States of America to survive.  To thrive.

He (or she) is the Commander-in-Chief, and directs our armed forces.  Hopefully, he (or she) will use them sparingly.  But he (or she) will use them to protect American interests here and abroad.

He (or she) is the head of one entire branch of our government:  the executive branch.  He (or she) is the face of America to the world.

These days, it seems that he (or she) must be a referee, as he (or she) attempts to balance the odious extremities of both parties and work with the Congress to craft the laws that govern our nation.  Today’s rhetoric is not the most spiteful in our country’s history (Lincoln was denounced as a “military dictator … grasping at the power of a despot,” for example.), but today’s political statements are certainly the most insulting and divisive in the memory of most Americans.

I regret that today’s citizens believe they must speak in an extreme fashion in order to be heard.

I regret that today’s presidential candidates feel they must spin their opponent’s statements and implications into a twisted version of “truth” that has little to do with the original statement’s intent.  And many journalists are eager to feed the monster and escalate the statements even more with screaming headlines proclaiming the other guy (ed. note: candidate) a liar, an idiot … well, you’ve seen the headlines.  They look the same to me, whether you’re reading the Huffington Post or the New York Times, Newsmax or the Drudge Report.

I know that I’ll disagree with our next President on many issues.  That’s not really news:  I disagree with everyone, including myself, sometimes.  Disagreement is not the same thing as discourtesy.  Or defamation.  Or destruction.

I don’t know who’s going to win the election on Tuesday.  But, I can tell you this:  he (or she) will be my President.

I hope you vote tomorrow. And, I hope that no matter who wins, you will be supportive of our President.


My President (2012)

Posted November 7, 2016 by henrymowry in POTUS

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Portraits: Articles of Confederation   Leave a comment

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.

John Hanson - painting attributed to John Hesselius, c. late 1760s

John Hanson – painting attributed to John Hesselius, c. late 1760s

Portrait of Elias Boudinot by Thomas Sully

Portrait of Elias Boudinot by Thomas Sully

Thomas Mifflin

Thomas Mifflin

Richard Henry Lee. Portrait by Charles Willson Peale.

Richard Henry Lee. Portrait by Charles Willson Peale.


Nathaniel Gorman. Portrait by Charles Willson Peale.

Nathaniel Gorman. Portrait by Charles Willson Peale.

Arthur St. Clair - painting by Charles Wilson Peale.

Arthur St. Clair – painting by Charles Wilson Peale.

Cyrus Griffin

Cyrus Griffin

Posted January 29, 2016 by henrymowry in U. S. A.

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Portraits: Woodrow Wilson   7 comments

Woodrow Wilson, 1902Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924)

The 28th President of the United States, 1913 – 1921

AKA: The Phrasemaker, The Schoolmaster

From: Virginia

College: Davidson College (transferred), Princeton University, University of Virginia School of Law (withdrew), Johns Hopkins University (Ph. D.)

Married to: Ellen Axson, 1885 – 1914 (her death), Edith Bolling

Children: Margaret, Jessie, Eleanor

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, Professor, Football Coach, President of Princeton University, Governor of New Jersey

In His Words:

“Adventurers swarmed out of the North, as much the enemies of one race as of the other, to cozen, beguile and use the negroes. The white men were aroused by a mere instinct of self-preservation — until at last there sprung into existence a great Kuklux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

President Woodrow Wilson, seated at desk with his wife, Edith Bolling Galt, standing at his side. First posed picture after Mr. Wilson's stroke partially paralyzed his left side, White House, June 1920. Mrs. Wilson holds a document steady while the President adds his signature.

President Woodrow Wilson, seated at desk with his wife, Edith Bolling Galt, standing at his side. First posed picture after Mr. Wilson’s stroke partially paralyzed his left side, White House, June 1920. Mrs. Wilson holds a document steady while the President adds his signature.

“There are two beings who assess character instantly by looking into the eyes,—dogs and children. If a dog not naturally possessed of the devil will not come to you after he has looked you in the face, you ought to go home and examine your conscience; and if a little child, from any other reason than mere timidity, looks you in the face, and then draws back and will not come to your knee, go home and look deeper yet into your conscience.”

“The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life.”

“America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses.”

“Liberty is its own reward.”

“I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”

“No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation.”

“The only excuse that America can ever have for the assertion of her physical force is that she asserts it in behalf of the interests of humanity.”

“I have long enjoyed the friendship and companionship of Republicans, because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something.”

Not true: Conspiracy theorists love this one.

Wilson allegedly said, after signing the Federal Reserve into existence, “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

HOWEVER, the underlined sentences appear to be a fabrication of the anti-fed movement.  There is no evidence that Wilson wrote, or said, “I am a most unhappy man.  I have unwittingly ruined by country.”

True: Woodrow Wilson is the only President to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.).

Woodrow Wilson was President when World War I began. He tried to keep our country out of the war. Then, when we had to go to war, Wilson said he hoped it would be the “war to end all wars.”

Two of Wilson’s daughters were married in the White House while he was President.

President Wilson was the first President to host a press conference.

His 1913 State of the Union Address was delivered live – he was the first President to do so since Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice in 1801.

Wilson is one of two Presidents to be widowed while in office (President Tyler was the other).

Wilson pushed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 through Congress, effectively throttling anti-war or pro-German opinions. The US Post Office, following the instructions received from the Justice Department, refused to carry any materials deemed critical of the US war effort … 60 newspapers lost their 2nd class mailing rights, and were effectively banned from the US mail.  Freedom of the Press?  Not 100 years ago!

Freedom of Speech?  During the war, criticism of the Democratic Wilson administration became grounds for arrest and imprisonment.

He was the first President to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

President Wilson’s first wife, Ellen Axson, died in the White House during the summer of 1914.  Wilson married again in December 1915, to Edith Bolling Galt  After Wilson suffered a stroke while in office, Edith controlled access to the President, igniting a debate that still remains over how much power she exerted.

In 1920, President Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

He is the only President buried in Washington, DC.

The Official Portrait:  F Graham Cootes painted this 1936 portrait of Woodrow Wilson.  The painting hangs above the Grand Staircase in the White House, along with portraits of other 20th century Presidents. It shows an academic President, with a book in hand.

Woodrow Wilson, Official White House Portrait


Portraits: James Buchanan   Leave a comment

A daguerreotype of James Buchanan

James Buchanan (1791 – 1868)

The 15th President of the United States, 1857 – 1861

AKA: Old Public Functionary

From: Pennsylvania

College: Dickinson College

Married to: never married (the only President to never marry)

Children: none

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, US Congressman, US Senator, Secretary of State, Minister to the United Kingdom

In His Words: “All agree that under the Constitution slavery in the States is beyond the reach of any human power except that of the respective States themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and that the geographical parties to which it has given birth, so much dreaded by the Father of his Country, will speedily become extinct?”

“I am the last President of the United States!”

“Sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.” (said to Abraham Lincoln on the day of his inauguration)

“Liberty must be allowed to work out its natural results; and these will, ere long, astonish the world.”

“What is right and what is practicable are two different things.”

Not true: Historical figures are often appropriated to fulfill a political agenda in today’s society.  Such is the case with Buchanan, who has been called the first gay President.  This allegation is unproven.  Circumstantial evidence is there (He never married!  He liked to gossip!  He lived with another man!).  However, he also had his heart broken by his fiance who died suddenly after breaking the engagement (suicide?).  Lots of questions here, and no definitive answer.  Was he gay?  We don’t know.  Was he heterosexual?  It appears so, though we don’t have the “proof” of a marriage and children. So, for me, I’ll simply say it is unproven that he was gay.  Some additional thoughts are below, under the “More” section.


James Buchanan was born in a log cabin and there were 11 children in his family.

Minnesota, Oregon and Kansas joined the Union during his Presidency.  Unfortunately, 7 states seceded:  South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, George, Louisiana and Texas.

Buchanan is frequently cited as the worst President, since he did not resolve the issue of slavery (just like his predecessors!) and did not prevent the secession of the South.

The Official Portrait: This red, white and blue painting was done by George Peter Alexander Healy in 1859.  So what’s going on with his hair? James Buchanan, Official White House Portrait



New York Times

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Portraits: William McKinley   3 comments

1900 reelection poster celebrates McKinley standing tall on the gold standard with support from soldiers, sailors, businessmen, factory workers and professionals.

1900 reelection poster celebrates McKinley standing tall on the gold standard with support from soldiers, sailors, businessmen, factory workers and professionals.

William McKinley (1843 – 1901)

The 25th President of the United States, 1897 – 1901

AKA: the Napoleon of Protection

From: Ohio

College: Allegheny College, Albany Law School

Married to: Ida Saxton

Children: Katherine, Ida

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: postal clerk, teacher, militiaman, Major in the Union Army, lawyer, prosecuting attorney, US Congressman, Governor,

In His Words:  “Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.”

“War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed.”

“Illiteracy must be banished from the land if we shall attain that high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve.”

“We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny.”

“Without competition we would be clinging to the clumsy antiquated processes of farming and manufacture and the methods of business of long ago, and the twentieth would be no further advanced than the eighteenth century.”

Not true: Some would have you believe that McKinley lied in order for us to attack Cuba, launching the Spanish American War.  However, there simply is no persuasive proof that this is true.

It’s certainly true that McKinley inherited a volatile situation with Spain.  The repressive rule of Spain had led Cuba into open revolt.  Some Americans were fighting alongside the Cubans after Spain put 300,000 Cubans into internment camps.  Americans with Cuban investments pushed the government for action, and eventually McKinley sent the battleship Maine into Havana’s harbor.  And then, on February 15, 1898, the ship blew up, killing 266 US sailors. Americans rallied around the flag, and the US Congress approved McKinley’s request for $50,000,000 in defense spending.  War became inevitable.

But why did the ship blow up?  We’ll never really know.  Certainly in 1898, there were no scientific facts, there was only the actual event of American deaths while trying to quell an armed revolt just 90 miles from our shore.

The initial US Navy investigation blamed a mine that exploded, igniting the ship’s powder magazines.  In 1974, Admiral Rickover had his staff look at the historical records, and they decided there was an internal explosion.  National Geographic conducted another study in 1999 using computer modeling, and they concluded no definitive cause could be proved.  So what happened?  We don’t know.  Did McKinley lie to start a war?  No, but he did react to the ship’s sinking, and took the country into the 100-day Spanish American War

True: Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico all became part of the United States during the McKinley administrations. Cuba and the Philippines were also won in the Spanish American War, but granted independence soon after.

McKinley’s picture is on the $500 bill.

He was the last President to have served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  He enlisted as a private, but ended as a brevet major.

His term as President was a prosperous one for the country.

The Official Portrait: August Benziger painted the official White House Portrait of McKinley.  The President sat for the painting for several mornings at 8am, eventually taking to dictating his correspondence while Benziger sketched away.  Over the course of several sittings, the painter experienced the personality of the President, which came through in the final work. William McKinley, Presidential Portrait

William McKinley


The Spanish American War

You Don’t Know How Voting Works   1 comment

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, center, carries a ballot box containing the 12 Massachusetts electoral votes for Vice President Al Gore during the Electoral College voting at the Statehouse Dec. 18, 2000, in Boston. Is the Electoral College system outdated? Pool Photo/Getty Images

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, center, carries a ballot box containing the 12 Massachusetts electoral votes for Vice President Al Gore during the Electoral College voting at the Statehouse Dec. 18, 2000, in Boston. Pool Photo/Getty Images

Americans don’t really vote for President or Vice President.  We vote for a secret group of “Electors” that participate in a process called the Electoral College.  That’s how it’s mandated in the Constitution, and then revised by the 12th Amendment.  Your vote matters, but you don’t know who you voted for.

You didn’t vote for Obama or Romney.  You did vote for a slate of state electors that you probably have never even heard of — electors that hold the fate of our nation in the palms of their hands.  Here’s how we really elect our President.  And believe me, in our litigious society, it is all about the details.

A 1976 Elector casts her ballot.  New York delivered 41 votes to Jimmy Carter.

A 1976 Elector casts her ballot. New York delivered 41 votes to Jimmy Carter.

1. You don’t vote for the Presidential candidate of your  choice.  Ever.  You do vote for a slate of Electors.

2. The number of Electors for each state is the same number as their Congressional delegation … 1 for each Senator and US Representative.  Washington DC also has 3 electors.

3. Those Electors are selected by a process unique to each state.  In California, the process is different for each party.

4. The Electors cannot be a member of Congress or an employee of the federal government.

5. The Electors are under no federal obligation to vote for the candidate that they are pledged to, though 25 states and Washington, DC do require them to do so.  The other 25 states … electors can vote for anyone they choose, becoming “faithless electors.”

6. The Electors are selected on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November in years divisible by 4 (yes, that’s our election day).  The Electors, in turn, vote on the December Monday following the 2nd Wednesday in each State Capitol (December 17 this year).  They must vote for a President and a Vice President separately, and one of those must not be from their state.  The votes are then sealed.

Note that most states have a “winner take all” structure for awarding their electoral votes, but that is a state decision.  In Maine and Nebraska, the electors are awarded individually to the winner of each congressional district’s votes, with the two extra votes going to the over-all state winner.

The President of the Senate opens each state's votes in front of a joint session of Congress on January 6.

The President of the Senate opens each state’s votes in front of a joint session of Congress on January 6.

7. The President of the Senate then opens and counts the votes in front of both houses of Congress on January 6.

8. If no one receives a majority of votes (270), then the US House of Representatives chooses the President from the Top 3 candidates with each state casting one vote.  If no Vice Presidential candidate receives a majority, then the Senate chooses the Vice President from the Top 2 candidates.

Oddities in the history of the Electoral College:

  • 1800 – an electoral tie, decided amicably in the House
  • 1824 – debatable if the popular vote winner won, especially since not all states even used a popular vote
  • 1876 – amid vote tampering and political machinations, the result seems to not reflect the popular vote
  • 1888 – the clearest 19th century example of the popular vote winner (Democrat Samuel J Tilden) not being the electoral winner (Republican Rutherford B Hayes)
  • 2000 – Gore won a plurality (but not a majority) of the national popular vote by over 540,000.  For the electoral college, however, Florida was a mess with hotly contested recounts over ballots that were allowed, or not allowed, in the official count.  Ultimately, the US Supreme Court ruled that the official count submitted by Florida was in fact their official result, and Bush won the electoral college 271-266 with one faithless elector abstaining.

None of these incidents degraded the legitimacy of the popular vote, nor the electoral college.  Is this because of a better informed populace?  A great election system first implemented in 1804, but still working in spite of World War, economic turmoil and societal upheaval?  Or are we just staying lucky?

The reality is that only swing states are active sites for modern campaigns.

The reality is that only swing states are active sites for modern campaigns.  Here’s how the 2012 election looked in late October.

You’ll see pro and con viewpoints over the next few days, I’m sure.  Here are three key points to remember:

1. The only way the system changes substantially is by constitutional amendment.  That is not an easy thing to do … 3/4 of the states must approve it.  Typically, 2/3 majorities in both the House & Senate are required just to propose it.  That sounds like Washington these days, right?

2. States can change the way they allocate their Electoral votes, but there is currently no groundswell of public opinion for that to happen.  48 states and the District of Columbia all do it the same way: winner take all.

3. It’s worked over 50 times since the 12th amendment passed, through all kinds of societal turmoil.

I believe the bigger issue today is why we continue to have so many varieties of registration, voter identification at the polls and the actual ballots themselves.  I think fixing those issues is much more important than changing the wacky electoral college procedures that we’ve had for over 200 years.

We vote.  The Electors vote.  The President is peacefully inaugurated on January 20.  It has been the American way.

Whatever the alternative systems are that you’re going to read about … there is no proof they will work any better.   So why should we change, exactly?


The Electoral College by William C Kimberling, FEC Office of Election Administration, rev. May 1992

Legal requirements to vote as pledged, by state

The Truly Strange Election of 1836

California electoral law summary

Electoral votes by person in 2012

Portraits: James Madison   2 comments

James Madison (1751 – 1836)James Madison

The 4th President of the United States, 1809 – 1817

AKA: Little Jemmy, His Little Majesty

From: Virginia

College: Princeton University, class of 1771

Married to: Dolley Todd

Children: John (stepson)

Party: Democratic-Republican

Previous Jobs: Virginia state legislator, plantation owner, US Representative, Secretary of State,

In His Words:  “In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

“The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

“Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

Not true: On page 120 of David Barton’s book The Myth of Separation, Barton quotes James Madison as saying:

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.”

In 1994 this quote was cited by Rush Limbaugh, which of course prompted cries that Limbaugh was wrong.  And he was … but only because he was quoting Barton’s book, that was wrong.  Responding to the controversy, the editors of The Papers of James Madison, John Stagg and David Mattern, cited their previous research on the quote: “We did not find anything in our files remotely like the sentiment expressed in the extract you sent us. In addition, the idea is inconsistent with everything we know about Madison’s views on religion and government, views which he expressed time and time again in public and in private.”

True: At only 5′ 4″, he is the shortest person to serve as president.

Best known as “The Father of the Constitution,” Madison is considered the most influential contributor to the US Constitution.  He worked vigorously to see it ratified in his own Virginia and throughout the US.

Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay collaborated to write the Federalist Papers, which were 85 newspaper articles published in New York that explained how the proposed Constitution would work.  These articles were also published in book form and became the road map for the supporters of the Constitution at each state’s ratifying convention.  Clinton Rossiter called the Federalist Papers “the most important work in political science that ever has been written, or is likely ever to be written, in the United States.”

In 1776, he was elected to the Virginia convention that resolved for independence.  He specifically worked to strengthen the clause on religious freedom to proclaim “liberty of conscience for all,” which is a very liberal view.  It certainly does not advocate for a view that is centered on the Ten Commandments.

The Official Portrait: John Vanderlyn was commissioned many famous Americans, including George Washington (for the US House), Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, John C Calhoun and others.  He painted battles and city panoramas, but his commissions barely supported him, as he worked very slowly.  His 1842 commission by Congress to paint The Landing of Columbus produced one of his most famous works, which was later used on five-dollar banknotes and a 2 cent stamp in 1893.

“The portrait of James Madison was commissioned by James Monroe. The face is set above a high-collared black coat between a freely painted cravat and the simple powdered hairstyle favored by Madison.” (extracted from Kloss, William, et al. Art in the White House: A Nation’s Pride. Washington, D.C.: The White House Historical Association, 2008.)

James Madison, Presidential Portrait

James Madison signature

Portraits: Gerald R Ford   Leave a comment

President Ford, first official photo

Gerald R Ford (1913 – 2006)

The 38th President of the United States, 1974 – 1977

AKA: Leslie Lynch King, Jr (his birth name), Jerry, Mr. Nice Guy

From: Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan

College: University of Michigan (class of 1935), Yale Law School (class of 1941)

Betty Ford

Ford’s marriage to Betty was delayed until after his first election to the House, as he was not sure how the voters would feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer.

Married to: Elizabeth Bloomer Warren

Children: Michael Gerard, John Gardner, Steven Meigs, Susan Elizabeth

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: waiter, dishwasher, boxing & football coach, lawyer, US Navy (Lieutenant Commander), US Representative, Vice President

In His Words:

Eagle Scout Gerald Ford, on Right

Eagle Scout Gerald Ford, on Right

“I believe in friendly compromise. I said over in the Senate hearings that truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.”

“If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises… I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman — my dear wife — as I begin this very difficult job.”

“All my children have spoken for themselves since they first learned to speak, and not always with my advance approval, and I expect that to continue in the future.”

“I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your president with your prayers.”

“It is believed that a trial of Richard Nixon, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”

Kinstler painted Ford ten times.  "He wanted me to keep trying," he said.

Kinstler painted Ford ten times. “He wanted me to keep trying,” he said.

“The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?”

“I gave a speech in Omaha. After the speech I went to a reception elsewhere in town. A sweet old lady came up to me, put her gloved hand in mine, and said, ‘I hear you spoke here tonight.’ ‘Oh, it was nothing,’ I replied modestly. ‘Yes,’ the little old lady nodded, ‘that’s what I heard.'”

Not true: On September 8, 1974, Ford gave President Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he committed against the United States while President.  This was extremely controversial.  Critics claimed the pardon must have been some sort of corrupt bargain that had been struck between the two men before Ford was nominated as Vice President. All parties denied that there had been such a deal.  The New York Times called it “a profoundly unwise, divisive and unjust act.”

Ford testified before Congress about the pardon; he was the first sitting President to do so since Abraham Lincoln.

In 2001, Senator Ted Kennedy said that he had opposed the pardon at the time, but in time he had come to the belief that history had proved that Ford had made the correct decision.

True: Ford is the only President who also earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

A star football player at the University of Michigan, Ford helped lead the team to two undefeated seasons and national championships.  Ford became the only future President to tackle a future Heisman Trophy winner in 1934 when he tackled Jay Berwanger, who won the award in 1935.

President Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren Commission, who investigated the assassination of President Kennedy. He was an outspoken proponent of the single-assassin theory.

Ford was the first Vice President confirmed to office under the procedures outlined in the 25th Amendment.  After Agnew’s resignation, Nixon had sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about whom he should choose as a replacement.  House Speaker Carl Albert said, “We gave Nixon no choice but Ford.”

The Official Portrait: Among Everett Raymond Kinstler’s more than 1200 portraits are such well-known personalities as Tony Bennett, Carol Burnett, James Cagney, Betty Ford, Gene Hackman, Katharine Hepburn, Lady Bird Johnson, Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, Gregory Peck, and John Wayne. Others include authors Arthur Miller, Ayn Rand, Tennessee Williams, and Tom Wolfe; Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Harry Blackmun; business and government leaders such as John D. Rockefeller lll, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 6 U.S. Governors, four US Secretaries of State, and the presidents of universities and colleges including Brown, Harvard, Oklahoma, Princeton, Smith, Wellesley, Williams, and Yale.

Kinstler has painted more than 50 cabinet officers, more than any artist in the country’s history. Seven Presidents — Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — have posed for him. His portraits of Ford and Reagan are the official White House portraits.

Gerald Ford, Presidential Portrait

Gerald R Ford Signature

Portraits: Chester Arthur   Leave a comment

This 1881 painting is currently in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

The 21st President of the United States, 1881 – 1885

AKA: Chet, Gentleman Boss, Prince Arthur, The Dude President, Walrus

From: Vermont, New York

College: Union College

Married to: Ellen Herndon

Children: William, Chester, Ellen

Party: Whig, Republican

Previous Jobs: teacher, principal, lawyer,

In His Words:  “I trust the time is nigh when, with the universal assent of civilized people, all international differences shall be determined without resort to arms by the benignant processes of civilization.”

“The office of the Vice-President is a greater honor than I ever dreamed of attaining.”

“Men may die, but the fabric of our free institutions remains unshaken.” – said upon the death of President Garfield.

“I love the autumn.  The crispness in the air, the changing of the leaves, and the changing of my wardrobe to winter-weight wools.”

“Madam, I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody’s damn business.”

Not true: Arthur’s father was born in Ireland, and he moved frequently with his young family.  That led to Chester Arthur’s political opponents starting a rumor that he was foreign born and not eligible to be Vice President in 1880.  The rumors first swirled that he was born in Ireland, and then in Canada … but neither rumor took hold.  Isn’t this all of the proof we need to see that history does repeat itself?

True: Arthur owned at least 80 pairs of pants, which may not be a lot by today’s presidential standards, it was quite the extravagance back then.

His nomination as Vice President was a compromise.  Republicans were fighting between the Stalwarts and the Half-Breeds, with Garfield’s nomination only happening after 36 ballots.  Arthur was the 2nd choice for Vice President.

He refused the duties of the office of President while President Garfield was incapacitated and unable to perform those duties.  The nation was rudderless during the two months of Garfield’s decline.

His nomination was secured due to the sentiment that he would not upset the patronage system that prevailed in the Washington of his day.  In the end, however, he did institute reforms, and his administration was not marred by the scandals that tarred so many of this era.

The Official Portrait: Daniel Huntington painted the official portrait of President Arthur in 1885.  It would prove to be his last significant painting.

Portraits: Franklin Pierce   Leave a comment

Franklin Pierce (1804 – 1869)

The 14th President of the United States, 1853 – 1857

AKA: Young Hickory of the Granite Hills, Handsome Frank (proof that most never saw him!)

From: New Hampshire

College: Bowdoin College, Northampton Law School

Married to: Jane Appleton

Children: Franklin, Frank Robert, Benjamin

Party: Democrat

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, state representative, US Representative, US Senator

In His Words:  “You have summoned me in my weakness. You must sustain me by your strength.”

“Do we not all know that the cause of our casualties is the vicious intermeddling of too many of the citizens of the Northern States with the constitutional rights of the Southern States, cooperating with the discontents of the people of those states? Do we not know that the disregard of the Constitution, and of the security that it affords to the rights of States and of individuals, has been the cause of the calamity which our country is called to undergo? And now, war! war, in its direst shape — war, such as it makes the blood run cold to read of in the history of other nations and of other times — war, on a scale of a million of men in arms — war, horrid as that of barbaric ages, rages in several of the States of the Union, as its more immediate field, and casts the lurid shadow of its death and lamentation athwart the whole expanse, and into every nook and corner of our vast domain.”

“Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.”

Not true: Pierce was branded a coward by some after he passed out and was carried from the battlefield at the Battle of Churubusco, part of the Mexican American War.  Here’s what happened:

In 1847, Pierce was serving in the US Army, and was promoted to Brigadier General.  He took command of the army marching on Mexico City.  During the Battle of Contreras, he was injured when his horse stepped into a crevice, breaking its leg and pinning Pierce underneath.  Contemporary accounts say he was seriously injured, including a sprained knee.

He returned to the battlefield the next day, but had to be tied into the saddle.  His pain proved to be so great, however, that he passed out and had to be carried from the field.  His political opponents branded him a coward.  However, in his memoirs, Ulysses S Grant (who was not a political ally of Pierce’s) said that the negative description was “unfair and unjust.”  He further stated that Pierce was “a gentleman and a man of courage.”

Pierce returned to command and led his brigade in its capture of Mexico City.

True:  Pierce saw much tragedy in his life.  For example, all 3 of his sons died before he was inaugurated as President.

Franklin Pierce was the first President to have a Christmas tree in the White House.  He was also the first to install a bathtub in the White House, which was somewhat controversial, as many people of the time thought taking baths was not healthy and would make you sick.

Pierce gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory, without the aid of notes.

During his administration, bloodshed over the issue of slavery followed the passage of Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and re-opened the question of slavery in the West.  Pierce worked with Senator Stephen A Douglas, who was advocating building a railroad to the west from Chicago, while simultaneously asserting that it was each state’s right to decide the question of slavery in their territory.  Part of that effort resulted in the purchase of what is now the southern part of Arizona and New Mexico for $10,000,000 from Mexico.

Pierce was the only elected President who sought but did not win his party’s nomination for a second term.

The Official Portrait: George Healy painted the official White House portrait of Franklin Pierce in 1858 after an earlier sitting in 1853.  Healy painted most of the presidents in the mid-19th century.