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Archive for the month “January, 2013”


January 31, 2013


Cape Canaveral, Florida  (JFK+50) 52 years ago today, January 31, 1961, the United States successfully launched a chimpanzee into space, a first for the American space program.

The chimp, named HAM*, survived the 16 minute 39 second flight with only a bruised nose.

Ham, born in Cameroon, was trained at Holloman Aerospace Medical Center.


Ham the Astrochimp
January 31, 1961
NASA Photo


*Ham (1956-1983) was brought to Miami, Florida in 1959 where he was bought by the USAF & sent to Holloman AFB, New Mexico for space training.

After his successful space flight, Ham lived 17 years at Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo.  He died at the North Carolina Zoo at the age of 26.

Ham was buried at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, NM.


Grave of Ham the Astro-chimp
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Photo by AllenS (2008)


The flight was a complete success exceeding the projected altitude of 115 miles by another 40 & landing 160 miles beyond the landing target.

Ham was trained to push levers when lights on his spacecraft came on.  NASA reported that he completed his tasks well.

The space agency determined that if a chimp could function well in space, then so should human astronauts.

Despite the success of this mission, the United States remained behind the Soviet Union in the space race in the year 1961.

The Soviets had launched two dogs, Belka & Strelka, the previous year & they both orbited the earth & returned home safely.

In December 1961, another American chimpanzee was launched into space while President John F. Kennedy was in the middle of a press conference.

At one point, Press Secretary Pierre Salinger walked to the podium and slipped JFK a note.  The President paused to read it & then said…

“This chimpanzee who was flying in space, took off at 10:08.  He reports that everything is going perfectly & working well.”

This chimp, also born in Cameroon, was named ENOS & he made 2 successful orbits of the earth but the final scheduled orbit was cancelled due to a malfunction in the plumbing system.




Washington, D.C.  (JFK+50) On January 30, 1835, Andrew Jackson was the target of the 1st assassination attempt on a president of the United States.

The President was leaving a funeral service at the Capitol when he was approached by an unemployed house painter named Richard Lawrence.

Lawrence, who had a family history of mental illness, was carrying 2 loaded pistols which were primed & ready to fire.

When the President was within 10 feet, Lawrence fired one of the pistols but while the cap exploded, a bullet did not discharge.

A navy lieutenant accompanying Jackson knocked Lawrence down but the would be assassin pulled out his other pistol & fired it at the President.

The second pistol also misfired.

In the meantime, President Jackson proceeded to beat Richard Lawrence over the head with his hickory cane.


Etching of Assassination Attempt
on President Andrew Jackson


A group of people came to help restrain the shooter including Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee.

Crockett later wrote, “I wanted to see the damnedest villan in the world & now I have seen him.”

As to the reasons why the pistols misfired, Senator Thomas Hart Benton surmised….

“Both weapons later were tested & found to be functional.  At least one newspaper chalked this up to a miracle–but the humidity of the gloomy day most likely played as big a role as providence.”*

*The odds of both pistols misfiring were reported to be 125,000 to 1.

Richard Lawrence, who claimed that he was King Richard III, was prosecuted by Francis Scott Key, best known for the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The jury only took 5 minutes to come back with a “Not Guilty by reason of insanity” verdict.  Lawrence spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum.

President Jackson, who carried a bullet in his chest from an 1806 duel, suspected Whig political enemies were behind the attempt on his life.

Vice-President Martin Van Buren, concerned about his own safety, carried loaded pistols when he visited the Senate.



“The Daily: The History Page, Hard Target Andrew Jackson escapes an assassin’s point blank pistol shots,” by Ruth Graham, January 14, 2012,



The 4 United States presidents who have died at the hands of assassins are, Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1880), William McKinley (1901), & John F. Kennedy (1963).

The United States Secret Service was created by President Lincoln on the day of his assassination, but its original purpose was only for the suppression of counterfeiting US currency.

After the assassination of McKinley, Congress requested the Secret Service provide protection for the President, a duty it assumed in 1902.

The Secret Service has lost only one president, JFK.



January 29, 2013


Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) The only child of President Harry S & Bess Truman, Mary Margaret Truman* (Daniel), died 5 years ago today, on January 29, 2008 at the age of 83.

She died here in Chicago where she had moved from her home in New York City to be closer to her son, Clifton.


Margaret Truman
NARA Photo


Miss Truman, who was born in Independence, Missouri in 1924, earned a B.A. from George Washington University in 1946.

She began a singing career the following year, but was to be given a harsh review by Washington Post critic Paul Hume.

Hume’s review included these words….

“(Miss Truman) cannot sing very well (and)…is flat a good deal of the time.”

The review did not go unnoticed by President Truman who immediately sent a letter to the critic.  

The President wrote…

“Some day I hope to meet you.  When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below.”

 Despite the review, Miss Truman went on to appear on both radio & television.  She also authored several books including mysteries as well as biographies of her mother & father.

After leaving the White House, Margaret Truman once said…

“The only thing I missed about the White House was having a car & driver.” 

*Mary Margaret Truman Daniel (1924-2008) married Clifton Daniel, a NY Times reporter, in 1956.  They had 4 children.  Mr. Daniel served as managing editor of the NY Times from 1964 to 1969.  He died in 2000.


January 24, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) John F. Kennedy, like Theodore & Franklin Roosevelt before him, loved being President of the United States.

When he was once asked what was his favorite song, he answered….“I think “Hail to the Chief” has a nice ring to it.”

So it was only natural that the 35th President would make the SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES a focal point of his administration.


JFK traveled coast to coast & around the world & on the forward sides of AIR FORCE ONE were presidential seals.  

And when the cabin door swung open, there was a smaller presidential seal on the inside.

When JFK gave a televised speech to the nation from the Oval Office, a SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES was shown beforehand.

JFK was the proud owner of a leather bomber jacket with the presidential seal sewn on the front.  The 1st Lady gave him a gold ring with the presidential seal as a birthday gift.

And who could forget the JFK press conferences.

There was, of course, the seal on the podium, but in the State Department Auditorium where his press conferences were held, JFK had an absolutely enormous SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES on the curtain above & behind him.


JFK Press Conference
State Department
November 20, 1962
Photo by Abbie Rowe
JFK Library Image

According to a recent post at Smithsonian.com, the SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES “is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.”

In the same post, however, the question is asked ‘Who designed it?’

The modern presidential seal dates back to Harry S Truman who, in 1945, issued an Executive Order making it official.

The SEAL, however, pre-dates Truman.

Millard Fillmore made a rough sketch for engraver Edward Stabler, but the design is virtually the same as the GREAT SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES which was adopted in 1782.

Rutherford B. Hayes was the 1st chief executive to use the coat of arms on White House invitations & the Resolute Desk which he received from the Queen of England bears the coat of arms. 


According to the JFK Library…

The EAGLE represents the United States & symbolizes the president’s role as head of state…

The ARROWS represent the president’s role as commander-n-chief…

The OLIVE BRANCH represents the president’s role as chief diplomat…

And the 50 STARS represent the states of the union & the president’s role as chief executive & national leader…

In President Truman’s EO 9646, the Eagle’s head was turned to face the olive branch.  This was in keeping with the spirit of changing the name of the Department of War to the Department of Defense & the emphasis of our nation’s preference for peace over war.

Just a month before his death, President Kennedy said:

“The American eagle on the Presidential seal holds in his talons both the olive branch of peace & arrows of military might.

On the ceiling in the (Oval) office…that eagle is facing the arrows…but on the new carpet…reflects a change initiated by (FDR) & implemented by President Truman…that eagle is now facing the olive branch & it is in that spirit…that this nation today is stronger than ever before.”


JFK Speaks at Rice University
September 12, 1962
Photo by Robert Knudsen
JFK Library Image



January 23, 2013


St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Legend Dies at Age 92


Stan Musial
St. Louis Cardinals (1953)


St. Louis, Missouri (JFK+50) When President John F. Kennedy greeted hitting legend Stan “the man” Musial at the 1962 All-Star Game, he said:

“They told me I was too young to be president & you were too old to be playing baseball, but we fooled them.”

The Kennedy Campaign asked Stan Musial to help out in the Midwest where the Republicans were strong.  While other JFK people were booed, Stan Musial was always greeted with cheers.

Before the 1962 All Star Game held in Washington, D.C., Stan & his family visited the President in the Oval Office.

Note:  There is a great AP photo of JFK with the Musials on the occasion.  It is posted on SI.com. We have sent a request to AP for permission to use it, but have, as yet, received no response.

Stanley Frank Musial* died at the age of 93 in Ladue, Missouri on January 19, 2013.

Mr. Musial was indeed a legend of the game, America’s game, baseball.

He was such a force at the plate that longtime Dodger manager Leo Durocher said of him…

“There is only one way to pitch Musial…under the plate.”

And there is not just one, but two statues of Stan Musial outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

One of those statues bears these words…

“Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior.

  Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”

Stan Musial won 7 batting titles, 3 MVP awards & contributed to 3 World Championships for the Cardinals in the 1940s.

William DeWitt, Jr., Cardinals chairman, said…

“Stan…was the greatest player in (our) history & one of the best players in (the game).”

To lend support to Mr. DeWitt’s comment, let us just say that Stan Musial was named to the National League All Star team in every one of the 22 years he played.

And we should add, Musial had 3,630 hits, 1,951 rbis, 1949 runs & 475 home runs.

Stan, who wore the #6, was the 1st Cardinal to have his number retired.

When Mr. Musial was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011, President Obama said…

“Stan remains to this day…a gentleman you’d want your kids to emulate.”


President Obama & Stan Musial
February 15, 2011
Photo by Pete Souza
White House Image


Do you know the story of why Stan Musial is nicknamed “the Man?”

Just in case you don’t….

When Musial would step up to home plate at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Dodger fans would say…

“Here comes that man again!”

Sports writers & broadcasters picked up on that & started referring to Musial as “the man.”

Stan Musial played his last game on September 29, 1963 at Busch Stadium & was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1969.

*Stanley Frank Musial (1920-2013) was born in Donora, Pennsylvania, a small town south of Pittsburgh on the Monongahela River.  The son of Polish immigrants, Stan served in the US Navy in World War II.  After retirement he was President of the Cardinals organization & was appointed physical fitness adviser by LBJ.



“Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial Dies at age 92,” by R. B. Fallstrom, AP. www.hosted.ap.org

“Stan Musial, One of the Game’s Greatest Hitters, Dies at 92,” by Richard Goldstein, Jan 19, 2013, www.nytimes.com

“The Star who Stood Out by Not Standing Out,” by George Vecsey, Jan 20, 2013. www.nytimes.com



January 21, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Barack Obama was sworn into today beginning his 2nd term as the 44th President of the United States & then gave his Inaugural Address in which he said:

“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, & we will seize it–so long as we seize it together.”


Barack Obama
44th President of the United States
December 6, 2012
by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo 


The President first talked about the tradition of the inaugural ceremony.

He said:

“Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.

What makes us exceptional–what makes us Americans–is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than 2 centuries ago–‘We hold these truths self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.'”

Mr. Obama then addressed the challenge our nation faces in his 2nd term.

“We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care & the size of our deficit. 

But we reject the belief that Americans must choose between caring for the generation that built this country & investing in the generation that will build its future.”

The President continued…

“The commitments we make to each other–through Medicare & Medicade & Social Security–these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.

They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risk that make this country great.”

And in ground-breaking fashion, on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, President Obama talked about civil rights for all….

“We…declare today…that all of us are created equal (& it) is the star that guides us still just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls (women’s rights), Selma (African-American rights), & Stonewall* (gay rights)…”

*The Stonewall Riots of July 1969 followed opposition by the gay community of Greenwich Village in NY City to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn.  The incident led to the establishment of gay rights activist groups in the city.

Mr. Obama continued…

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet streets of Newtown** (Connecticut), know that they are cared for & cherished, & always safe from harm.”

**Site of the recent elementary school shootings.

The President expects a tough battle ahead.  He said…

“Progress does not compel us to settle century-long debates about the role of government for all time–but it does require us to act in our time.

Barack Obama concluded his remarks with these words:

“With common effort & common purpose, with passion & dedication, let us answer the call of history & carry into our uncertain future that precious light of freedom.”

President & Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton attended today’s inaugural along with President Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Carter was asked his opinion of the speech by CNN.  He said:

“It was a very progressive speech.  I was impressed with today’s diversity (&)…good spirit.”


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander*** introduced Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during the Inaugural Ceremonies at the Capitol today.


Senator Lamar Alexander
Tennessee (R)

Justice Sotomayor administered the Vice-Presidential Oath of Office to Joe Biden.

In his introduction, Senator Alexander said:

“The late Alex Haley, the author of ‘Roots,’ lived by these 6 words: ‘Find the good & praise it.’  

Today we praise the American tradition of…reaffirming…power.”

***Lamar Alexander is a native of Maryville, located near Knoxville, Tennessee.  He graduated from Vanderbilt University & earned his law degree at New York University School of Law.  

He was Governor of TN  (1979-1987) & Secretary of Education (1991-1993). Alexander has served in the Senate since 2003.


January 20, 2013


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Barack Obama was sworn into today beginning his 2nd term as the 44th President of the United States on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural as the 35th President 52 years ago today.


Barack Obama
44th President of the United States
December 6, 2012
by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo

Today’s ceremony, however, was conducted in the privacy of the Blue Room at the White House to follow the constitutionally mandated requirement that the President be sworn in before noon on January 20th.

Because the date falls on a Sunday this year, the 7th time that has happened since the inaugural date was moved from March 4, the public ceremonies, including the swearing-in & inaugural address at the Capitol followed by the inaugural parade, will be held tomorrow, January 21, 2013.

President Obama, just as was true 4 years ago, was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court.

For this repeat performance, however, Justice Roberts read the oath to the President from prepared notes.

Michelle Obama held the Bible for the ceremony while daughters. Natasha & Malia looked on.

The portraits of 4 Presidents grace the walls of the Blue Room.  They are John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison & John Tyler.

The ceremony was televised live.

Vice President Joe Biden took his Oath of Office at 8:20 this morning.  He was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the 1st Hispanic justice of the Supreme Court.

Between the two ceremonies, the President & Vice President attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.


January 19, 2013


Gadsden, Alabama  (JFK+50) James Hood*, who was one of two African-American students that Governor George Wallace attempted to stop from enrolling at the all-white University of Alabama in 1963, passed away Thursday at the age of 70 here in Gadsden.


Plaque at the University of Alabama
Honoring James Hood
Photo by Ttownfeen (2010)


*James Hood was born in 1942.

Hood, along with Vivian Malone, was accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenback on June 11, 1963 when they were confronted by Governor Wallace at “the school house door.”**

**Vivian Malone died in 2005, Nick Katzenback in 2012.

This confrontation led President Kennedy to federalize the Alabama National Guard which then escorted Mr. Hood & Miss Malone forcing Governor Wallace to step aside after being so ordered by General Henry Graham.***


Governor Wallace & Nicholas Katzenback
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
June 11, 1963
Photo by Warren K. Leffler
US News & World Report
Library of Congress Image


***George Wallace made plans to run against JFK in the Democratic Primaries of 1964 & did so against President Johnson.

This event is considered one of the key moments in the history of the Civil Rights movement.****

James Hood soon transferred to Wayne State University in Michigan where he earned his Bachelors Degree.  He later earned a Masters Degree at Michigan State University.

Dr. Hood was employed by the Madison Area Technical College for 26 years, retiring in 2002. He returned to the University of Alabama where he was awarded his Doctorate in 1997.

****JFK spoke to the nation on TV the evening of June 11, 1963.  He said:

“Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law.”

JFK’s Civil Rights Bill remained “bottled up” in Congress on the day of his assassination, but LBJ, in his 1st address to Congress as president said…

 “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor (JFK’s) memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long.”

Even so, a 54 day filabuster held up passage in the Senate but in a history breaking move, the Senate ended it & both Senate & House passed the CIVIL RIGHTS BILL of 1964.

It outlawed major form of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national & religious minorities & women & ended unequal application of voter requirements & racial segregation in schools, at the workplace & in facilities serving the general public.


“James Hood Dies, Defied Segregation at the University of Alabama,” by Bob Johnson, January 18, 2013.  www.bigstory.ap.org


January 18, 2013


Washington, D.C.  (JFK+50) The Inaugural Ball dated back to George Washington & the tradition was begun under James & Dolley Madison, but President-elect Woodrow Wilson expressed his desire in a letter to William C. Eustis*, Inaugural Committee Chairman, that he “consider the feasibility of omitting the inaugural ball altogether.”

The letter was reported by The Washington Herald in it’s edition dated January 17, 1913 before it had even been received by Mr. Eustis.


The Washington Herald, January 17, 1913, http://www.ghostsofdc.org


The Herald’s article began…

“Woodrow Wilson wishes no inaugural ball to mark his induction into the office of President.  This is made plain in a letter from the President-elect to William Corcoran Eustis, chairman of the Inaugural Committee mailed yesterday.”

Wilson expressed the opinion that “these balls have ceased to be necessary to the enjoyment of the visitors” & the Herald wrote that Wilson wanted simplicity for his inaugural & the balls added “much needless expense.”

The Herald reported that “all plans for (the) March 4 (ball) are halted.”


Woodrow Wilson’s Inaugural, March 4, 1913, AP Photo


The contents of the letter, apparently leaked to the newspaper, was read to Mr. Eustis by a Herald reporter.  Mr. Eustis refused comment until he actually received the letter.

The Herald said that those people responsible for the preparations for the Inaugural ceremonies were “surprised” by the news of the request.

Washington, D.C. had not missed an inaugural ball since 1853 when Franklin Pierce’s was cancelled due to the passing of his son.

Locations for the inaugural ball varied over time but the favorite spot from 1885 to 1909 was the PENSION BUILDING.


President & Mrs. Kennedy
Inaugural Ball
National Guard Armory
January 20, 1961
Photo by Abbie Rowe, NPS


*William Corcoran Eustis (1862-1921) was born in Paris, the grandson of banker William W. Corcoran.   Eustis was a personal secretary to General Pershing in WWI & he married Edith Morton, the daughter of Vice-President Levi P. Morton.


William Corcoran Eustis
Library of Congress Photo






January 17, 2013


Fremont, Ohio (JFK+50) 120 years ago today, January 17, 1893, the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes*, died at his home here in Fremont.


Rutherford B. Hayes
Matthew Brady Photo
Library of Congress Image

Mr. Hayes’, whose wife Lucy was deceased, last words were…“I know that I’m going where Lucy is.”

The cause of death was given as complications of a heart attack.

President Benjamin Harrison signed an Executive Order establishing a 30 day period of mourning beginning the day following Hayes’ death.

President-elect Grover Cleveland & Ohio Governor William McKinley led the procession to Oakwood Cemetery.

Before serving as President, Hayes rose to the rank of Major General in the Civil War & afterward served as a  U.S. Congressman & Governor of Ohio.

Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican, was elected president by a special electoral commission after a disputed election in 1876.

His opponent, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, was 1 vote short of a majority in the electoral college & received more popular votes than Hayes.

The commission, after compromise, awarded Hayes 20 disputed electoral votes, giving him the victory.

He was sworn in on Saturday, March 3, 1877 in the Red Room at the White House.

Hayes entered the White House pledging to serve only 1 term & the Republicans obliged by not renominating him in 1880.

Mr. Hayes first act as President was to end Reconstruction and restore home rule to the Southern states.  He later pushed for civil service reform.

Because his wife would not permit the serving of alcoholic beverages at White House functions, she became known as “Lemonade Lucy.”

*Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) was born in Delaware, Ohio. He graduated from Kenyon College with highest honors in 1838 & Harvard Law School in 1843.  He practiced law in Cincinnati where he met his future wife Lucy.  They married in 1852.  Hayes was wounded in the Battle of South Mountain during the Civil War.  


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) In 1877, the President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, paid a visit to Knoxville.

The President stayed at the LAMAR HOUSE on Gay Street & gave a speech to crowd of citizens from the balcony of the hotel.


President Hayes Speaks
at the Lamar House
Knoxville, Tennessee
Special Collections Online
Item #4302

The Lamar House had been turned into a hospital during the Civil War & it was there in one of the suites that Union General William P. Sanders died from wounds suffered in battle.  

The Union Fort west of the city was named in his honor.

During the 1920s the Lamar House became the Bijou Theater.  John Philip Sousa & his band performed there.

In 1969, the BIJOU was closed but it was renovated & reopened in 2006.


The Bijou
Gay Street
Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by Brian Stansberry (2010)
The Bijou
Gay Street
Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by Brian Stansberry (2010)
The Bijou Theater, Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee, Photo by Brian Stansberry, 2010


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