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A CHRISTMAS CROSSING

WASHINGTON CROSSES THE DELAWARE TO ATTACK TRENTON


Trenton, New Jersey (JFK+50)  239 years ago this Christmas evening, General George Washington led 2400 American soldiers across the ice-packed Delaware River to attack the Hessian winter camp at Trenton.


The historic crossing began at 11 p.m. and was made at three different locations along the Delaware River.  One of the General’s Continental soldiers, Elisha Bostwick, later wrote…


“I heard his Excellency…encouraging the soldiers…’Keep by your officers.  For God’s sake, keep by your officers!”


General Washington’s rout of the professional German troops hired to fight on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War came on December 26th.


Emanuel Leutze‘s* original painting of “The Crossing,” completed in 1851, was destroyed in a British air raid on Germany during World War II.  Two of Leutze’s other versions remain, one located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the other at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, MN.


*Emanuel Gottieb Leutze (1816-1868) was born in Germany and came to America as a child.  EGL lived in Philadelphia and opened a studio in NYC in 1859.  That year he painted a portrait of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney which hangs today at the Harvard School of Law.  His painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware is, by far, his most famous.


SOURCES


“Washington Crosses the Delaware, 1776,” Eyewitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/


“Washington Crossing the Delaware,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, www.metmuseum.org/

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FDR DIES AT WARM SPRINGS

DEATH COMES TO FDR AT THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE


Warm Springs, Georgia (JFK+50) President Franklin D. Roosevelt died shortly after 1 p.m. 70 years ago today, April 12, 1945, of a cerebral hemorrhage at the Little White House* here in Warm Springs.


The President, while sitting in the living room having his portrait made, suddenly grabbed his head and said…


 “I have a terrific headache”.  


Grace Tully**, FDR’s private secretary was alerted that the President was sick and to call a doctor.  She later wrote…


“I could feel a chill in my heart, a sense that this was something different…I decided to go at once to the President’s cottage.”


When she arrived, two doctors were attending the President in his bedroom. They soon came out with the sad news.

Later, as a procession took FDR’s body from the home, Graham Jackson*** played Going Home and one of FDR’s favorite hymns, Nearer My God To Thee, on his accordion.

*Little White House opened as a museum in 1948.  The portrait that artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff was painting at the time of FDR’s collapse, now titled “The Unfinished Portrait,” is on display here. 

**Grace Tully (1900-1984) was born in Bayonne, NJ.  She was educated at the Grace Institute of NY and served on the staff of NY Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.  In 1941, she replaced Missy LeHand as FDR’s personal secretary.

***Graham W. Jackson, Sr. (1903-1983), a celebrated musician and choral conductor, was born in Portsmouth, VA and served in the US Navy 1942-1945.  GWJ was featured at Atlanta’s Royal Theatre and Bailey’s “81.”

NATIONAL SECURITY MEMORANDUM 328

WHITE HOUSE NSM 328 PUT U.S. FORCES ON THE OFFENSIVE IN VIETNAM 50 YEARS AGO TODAY

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty years ago today, April 6, 1965,  National Security adviser McGeorge Bundy issued, on behalf of President Lyndon B. Johnson, National Security Memorandum 328.


The memo, drafted and signed by Bundy, is titled “Presidential Decisions in Regard to Vietnam,” and was, at the time, labeled TOP SECRET.


Mr. Bundy began by saying that President Johnson had “made the following decisions” on April 1, 1965.


They included a 41 point program of “non-military actions submitted by Ambassador Taylor,” an “urgent exploration of…suggestions for covert…actions submitted by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and a repeat of earlier approval of a 21 point program of military actions,” including an 18,000-20,000 increase in support forces as well as the continuation of Operation Rolling Thunder.


The memo represented a shift in policy in that previously all American military operations in South Vietnam had been defensive in nature.


It is well known that while John F. Kennedy substantially increased America’s commitment to South Vietnam, he did not send U.S. combat troops in the traditional sense. Lyndon B. Johnson did.


Gordon M. Goldstein quotes McGeorge Bundy’s take on the difference in attitude toward Vietnam by the two presidents for which he worked…


“There was a dramatic difference between Kennedy and Johnson on the question of Vietnam.  Kennedy didn’t want to be dumb.  Johnson didn’t want to be a coward.”


McGeorge Bundy served in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as National Security Adviser (1961-1966).


SOURCE


“Lessons in Disaster:  McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam,” by Gordon M. Goldstein, Time Books, 2013.


WORLD WAR II BEGINS

WWII BEGAN 75 YEARS AGO TODAY

Wielun, Poland  (JFK+50) The Second World War began seventy-five years ago today, September 1, 1939, with Germany’s attack on Poland.


The invasion began at 04:40 when Adolf Hitler’s Luftwaffe made a bombing raid on the town of Wielun.


Minutes later, a German battleship opened fire on the Polish military transit depot in Danzig on the Baltic Sea.


At 08:00, German troops marched on MokraAdditional German attacks followed on the northern, southern and western borders of Poland.


Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1941 and

two weeks later the Soviet Union invaded Poland.

 

JFK SAYS HOFFA WANTS TO DOMINATE 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, September 1, 1959, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy had some harsh words for Teamster’s Union president Jimmy Hoffa.


JFK said, during a filming of a television program conducted by Florida Democratic Senator George Smathers,


“Mr. Hoffa wants to dominate everything that moves in this country.”


Senator Kennedy went on to say that Hoffa would try to defeat “certain members of Congress” in the next election.

 

BURR ACQUITTED OF TREASON

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 207 years ago today, September 1, 1807, Aaron Burr, former Vice-President of the United States, was acquitted of plotting to annex parts of Louisiana and Spanish territory in Mexico for the creation of an independent republic.


Mr. Burr was found not guilty because, according to the law, he had not yet engaged in an “overt act” of treason. Afterward, Burr went into exile in Europe but later returned to private life in New York where he died in 1836.

 

 

 
 

 

JFK SENDS CONDOLENCES TO SERVICEMEN’S FAMILIES

JFK SENT CONDOLENCES TO EVERY SERVICEMAN’S FAMILY WHO DIED IN UNIFORM 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On his last day in the White House, Wednesday, November 21, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed condolence letters to the survivors of five American servicemen.

This was the last time JFK would undertake this responsibility, but it certainly was not the first time.

William Manchester writes in “Death of a President, 1963,” that President Kennedy wrote the family of EVERY American who died in uniform during his presidency. 

Manchester adds that if a family replied to JFK’s letter, the widow and children were invited to the White House for a talk in the Rose Garden.

In one of his last letters to the children of a serviceman who gave his life for the United States, the President wrote…

“I want you to know that your father was an outstanding soldier who repeatedly demonstrated his loyalty and devotion to duty.  These fine qualities won for him the respect and admiration of those with whom he served.  

As you grow older you will realize the full importance of the service your father rendered his country in the knowledge that his countrymen are deeply grateful for his contribution to the security of the Nation.

Mrs. Kennedy joins me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to you in the loss of your father.”

 

According to the National Archives, there were 16 American servicemen killed in the Vietnam War in 1961, 53 in 1962 and 122 in 1963.  The total is 191.

While 216 servicemen died in the war in 1964, the numbers dramatically increased over the next few years to a maximum of 16,899 in the year 1968.

The total during LBJ’s years as POTUS from 1964 through 1968 is 36,756.


SOURCES


“Statistical Information about Fatal Casualties of the Vietnam War,” National Archives, www.archives.gov


“The Death of a President, November 1963,” by William Manchester, Harper and Row, New York, 1967.

FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN IN SPACE

FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN IN SPACE 31 YEARS AGO TODAY


Cape Canaveral, Florida (JFK+50) Lt. Col. Guion S. Bluford of the United States Air Force became the 1st African-American to be launched into outer space thirty-one years ago today, August 30, 1983.


Lt. Col Bluford, a mission specialist, was launched with his fellow astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 2:32 a.m.


Bluford earned a PhD in the philosophy of Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Institute of Technology.

 

HOT LINE CONNECTS PENTAGON WITH KREMLIN


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) A hot line between the Pentagon and the Kremlin was activated fifty=one years ago today, August 30, 1963, making John F. Kennedy the 1st POTUS to have access to the new technology.


Earlier in June, the hot line agreement had been signed by representatives of the United States and the Soviet Union.

The White House issued a statement saying the hotline would…


 “help reduce the risk of war occurring by accident or miscalculation.”


The first test message sent over the wires from Washington was: 


“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890.”

 

The New York Times reported that the hot line was…


“a direct outgrowth of the serious delays that developed in diplomatic communications between the 2 capitals during the Cuban Missile Crisis.”


The hot line had the capability of reducing the time to initiate direct communication between the President of the United States and the Premier of the Soviet Union from hours to minutes.


Despite the improvement, however, the process was not exactly what has been depicted in Hollywood.  


If JFK wanted to place a call on the hotline, he first had to call the Pentagon and have operators there type in his message on the teletype machine* that was part of the system.


The President’s message would then be encrypted, fed to a transmitter and sent to the Kremlin. Premier Khrushchev would then receive the message and a reply would be sent following a similar procedure back to the Pentagon.


While JFK was the first president to have access to the hot line, it was actually LBJ who became the first president to use it in 1967 when he was considering sending Air Force jets to the Middle East.


SOURCE


“August 30, 1963/Communications ‘Hot Line’ Connects Soviet and U.S. Heads of State,”  The Learning Network, www.learning.blogs.nytimes.com/



 

 

FIRST SOVIET ATOMIC BOMB

FIRST SOVIET ATOMIC BOMB DETONATED 65 YEARS AGO TODAY

 

Semipalatinsk, USSR (JFK+50) Sixty-five years ago today, August 29, 1949, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics detonated its first atomic bomb.


The detonation took place at a remote test site here in Semipalatinsk.

 

The explosion, rated at 20 kilotons, was roughly equal to that of the Trinity test explosion by the United States.

 

An American spy plane flying off the coast of Siberia picked up evidence of radioactivity from the explosion on September 3.

 

 

ROBERT FROST ON GOODWILL TOUR OF USSR

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-two years ago today, August 29, 1962, New England poet Robert Frost left the United States for a goodwill tour of the USSR sponsored by the State Department.

 

Mr. Frost, who recited a poem at JFK’s Inauguration, gave poetry readings, interviews and lectures while touring the USSR.

 

During the tour, Frost came down with “nervous indigestion” but was still able to meet with Premier Nikita Khrushchev for 90 minutes.  Mr. Frost told Khrushchev…


“A great nation makes great poetry and great poetry makes a nation.”

 

 

HUMPHREY WINS DEMO NOMINATION

 

Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey was nominated by the delegates of the 1968 Democratic National Convention 46 years ago today, August 29, 1968, here in the Windy City.

 

The convention, as well as the Democratic Party, was divided on the Vietnam War.  The Vice-President supported President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s policy in Vietnam while others in the party opposed it.

 

Student protesters let their voices be heard on the streets outside the Convention hall, while Mayor Richard Daley, a Humphrey supporter, used the Chicago police force to attempt to control them.

 

Before becoming LBJs Vice-President in 1965, Humphrey had been a senator from Minnesota since 1948.  Senator Humphrey was an advocate of civil rights, arms control, a nuclear test ban and foreign aid.  

 
Hubert Humphrey Quotes:
 

“Compassion is not weakness and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.”

 

“It was once said that the moral test of government is how government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly, and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

 

 

 

 

 
 

LBJ’S BIRTHDAY

LBJ BORN 106 YEARS AGO 

Stonewall, Texas (JFK+50) The future 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was born 106 years ago, August 27, 1908, here in Stonewall.


Lyndon was the first child of Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr. and Rebekah Baines Johnson.  Samuel Johnson was a farmer and teacher and also served in the Texas House of Representatives.  Rebekah had also been a schoolteacher.


LBJ’s grandfather, Samuel Ealy Johnson, Sr., predicted on the day his grandson was born that Lyndon would one day be a United States Senator.


When he was 5 years old, the family moved to nearby Johnson City, the town named after his grandfather.  After high school, he attended SW Texas State Teachers College located in San Marcos.


Before graduation, LBJ taught in Cortulla, Texas for a year and after graduation was a public speaking and debate teacher at Sam Houston High School in Houston, Texas.

 

*Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) graduated from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1930.  He served as a congressional secretary before being appointed director of the National Youth Administration by FDR in 1935.


LBJ was elected to Congress in 1937 and the US Senate in 1948.  He was Senate Majority leader from 1955-1961, Vice-President 1961-1963 and POTUS 1963-1969.

HOUSE VOTES TO BAN POLL TAX

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 52 years ago today, August 27, 1962, the United States House of Representatives voted for a constitutional amendment which would forbid the poll tax as a prerequisite to vote in federal elections.


At that time, 5 states required a poll tax.  They included Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia.


The vote in favor of the amendment was 295 to 86.


President John F. Kennedy expressed approval for the vote.  The President said…


“This culminates a legislative effort of many years to bring about the end of this artificial bar to the right to vote in some of our states.”

 

 

 


 

GROVER CLEVELAND PARDONS POLYGAMOUS MORMONS

September 25, 2013

GROVER CLEVELAND PARDONS POLYGAMOUS MORMONS

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Grover Cleveland issued a presidential proclamation 119 years ago today, September 25, 1894, granting a pardon to members of the Church of Latter Day Saints who had engaged in polygamous marriages deemed unlawful by the government of the United States.


Marriages between one man and more than one woman was illegal in the United States at that time and remains so to this day.


Four years earlier,  the president of the Church issued a manifesto stating that polygamous marriages would no longer be sanctioned.


Then, in 1893, President Benjamin Harrison issued a conditional pardon to Mormons which required them to remain monogamous.


Having been convinced that Mormons were in compliance with the law, President Cleveland issued his proclamation the following year restoring their property and civil rights previously taken away by the government. 

 The Edmunds-Tucker Act, passed in 1887, had legally dissolved the Church of Latter Day Saints because of the church’s practice, at the time, of polygamy*. The act was repealed in 1978.


*Polygamy is defined as a marriage including more than 2 partners as opposed to monogamy which involves no more than 2 partners.  The only form in which the practice of polygamy is legally recognized, in the countries which allow it, is “polygyny,” where one man takes multiple wives.


If a married individual marries another person while lawfully married it is classified as bigamy.


Image

JFK SPOKE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING 50 YEARS AGO TODAY 


Laramie, Wyoming (JFK+50) 50 years ago today, September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke in the University of Wyoming Field House here in Laramie.


The President said…


“I am…glad to come on this conservation trip and have an opportunity to speak at this distinguished university. 


We are attempting…to develop the talents…which require..education, which will permit us in our time, when the conservation of our resources requires entirely different techniques than were required 50 years ago, when the great conservation movement began under Theodore Roosevelt…and these talents, scientific and social…must be developed at our universities.”


Earlier in the day, President Kennedy spoke at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks after receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree and again upon his arrival at the airport in Cheyenne.


JFK concluded the day speaking at the Yellowstone County Fairgrounds in Billings, Montana where he said…


“The potential of this country is unlimited and there is no action which any of us can take in Washington which gives us greater confidence in the future…than to leave our city…and come west to Wyoming, Montana, California, and recognize that in this golden area…that a great writer from my own State of Massachusetts, (Henry David) Thoreau, was right when he said…


“Eastward I go only by force; Westward I go free.  I must walk towards Oregon and not towards Europe.”


SOURCE


“Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1963,” United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1964.

JFK ISSUED STATEMENT ON BIRMINGHAM CHURCH BOMBING

September 16, 2013


JFK ISSUED STATEMENT ON BIRMINGHAM CHURCH BOMBING 50 YEARS AGO TODAY


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty years ago today, September 16, 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued the following statement in response to the previous day’s bomb explosion at the 16th Street Baptist Church  in Birmingham, Alabama which took the lives of four African-American girls.


“I know I speak on behalf of all Americans in expressing a deep sense of outrage and grief over the killing of the children yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama. 


It is regrettable that public disparagement of law and order has encouraged violence which has fallen on the innocent. 


 If these cruel and tragic events…can only awaken this entire Nation–to a realization of the folly of racial injustice and hatred and violence, then it is not too late for all concerned to unite in steps toward peaceful progress…


Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall* has returned to Birmingham to be of assistance…and bomb specialists of the FBI are there to lend every assistance in the detection of those responsible…


This Nation is committed to a course of domestic justice and tranquility–and I call upon every citizen, white and Negro, North and South, to put passions and prejudices aside and to join in this effort.”

 

Burke Marshall

 

*Burke Marshall (1922-2003) was born in Plainfield, NJ.  He served in the US Army intelligence corps during WWII and received his law degree from Yale in 1951.  


Marshall worked 10 years at the Covington and Burling Washington, D.C. law firm specializing in anti-trust law and was appointed assistant attorney general by RFK in 1961.


From 1961-1964, Burke Marshall was head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.  He died at his home in Newtown, Connecticut.


SOURCE


“Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:  John F. Kennedy, 1963,” United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.



THE MAYFLOWER LEFT ENGLAND SEPT 16, 1620


Plymouth, England (JFK+50) The passenger ship, Mayflower, with 102 passengers on board, departed 393 years ago today, September 16, 1620, bound for Virginia.

 

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
by William Halsall
Pilgrim Hall Musuem (1882)

 

The passenger list included a number of religious dissenters**, who referred to themselves as “Saints,” and entrepreneurs who were known as “Strangers” to the dissenters.


The Separatists were in quest of establishing a new colony in America far from the control of the state Church of England.


The 90 foot wooden ship was blown 500 miles off course during the voyage and landed on Cape Cod on November 21, 1620.


One month later, the Mayflower docked off the coast of what would become Plymouth, Massachusetts.


**Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony referred to his group in his Journal as “pilgrimes,” but the term Pilgrim was not applied to these people until the early 1800s.

 

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