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February 28, 2007


Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., former Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy, died today of natural causes at the age of 89 in New York City.

Mr. Schlesinger joined JFK’s presidential campaign in 1960 as a speech writer.

Born on October 15, 1917 in Columbus, Ohio, Schlesinger graduated from Harvard University, where he would later serve as a professor, & won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for his book The Age of Jackson.

He won another Pulitzer for his memoir of the Kennedy White House entitled: A Thousand Days.*

JFK speech writer, Theodore Sorenson, wrote this tribute to Schlesinger in 2007:

“Arthur played many roles in the Kennedy White House:  a counselor who advised, in vain, against the Bay of Pigs, a bridge to the American intellectual & academic community….& to the rising young leaders in the 3rd world & Europe.” 

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote in his introduction to A Thousand Days:

“(President Kennedy) offered young people the faith that individuals can make a difference to history.  The Kennedy generation brought new ideas, hopes, vision, generosity & vitality to the national life.”

JFK loved history & had a special affection for Mr. Schlesinger who wrote:

“If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision & courage.  These things are rarely produced by committees.  Everything that matters in our intellectual & moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind & conscience in a room by himself.”*

*Personal note:  I was honored to attend a speech given by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 

Courtesy of the JFK Library, Boston

February 28, 1961


A letter was sent today from civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to a Special Assistant to the President, attorney Frank D. Reeves.

The letter is accompanied by copies of an article that King wrote which appeared in The Nation.

King writes:

“the powerful things that the President can do in civil rights are through executive orders” & “I know that President Kennedy has a marvelous opportunity & I believe in his good faith on the issue.” 

February 28, 1844


President John Tyler, cruising on the Potomac on the USS Princeton, was fortunate to escape death today when a 12 inch, 27,000 pound cannon, known as “The Peacemaker”, exploded sending shrapnel in all directions.

The President, who was half way up a ladder leading to the upper deck when the explosion occurred, was unhurt.

There were about 400 people on board at the time of the accident including former 1st Lady Dolley Madison.

The cannon had been fired twice, previous to the blast, without incident.

The explosion killed several persons including members of the President’s cabinet & the father of his fiancee.*

*Tyler’s 1st wife, Latitia, had died & he was courting 23 year old, Julia Gardiner.  They would be married on June 26, 1844.

                     Julia Gardiner Tyler

February 28, 1784


John Wesley chartered the 1st Methodist church in the United States today.  

Although an Anglican, Wesley sees the need for a new church in America to replace the Anglican Church which he feels has abandoned Americans after the revolution.*

*John Wesley rode on horseback preaching 2 to 3 times a day.

Wesley Statue in Melbourne, Australia
Photo by Adam Carr (2005)

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