Who Said It? (8/31/2014-Labor Day edition)

 

Abraham Lincoln (November 1863) Photo by Alexander Gardner

Abraham Lincoln (November 1863) Photo by Alexander Gardner

Abraham Lincoln, “First Annual Message to Congress” (“State of the Union”) December 3, 1861

 

It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.

Source and Complete text: Abraham Lincoln: First Annual Message,” December 3, 1861. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Read more about Lincoln, his life and administration and the Civil War in Don’t Know Much About® History, Don’t Know Much About® the Civil War and Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents

Don't Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

 

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Pop Quiz: What Union general freed the slaves in Missouri in 1861?

Answer; John Charles Frémont (1813-1890)

This image was uploaded as a donation by the Brooklyn Museum, and is considered to have no known copyright restrictions by the institutions of the Brooklyn Museum.

General John Charles Frémont circa 1857 by Charles Loring Elliot (Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

On August 30, 1861, General Frémont issued an order that declared Missuori under martial law and freed slaves in the state. President Lincoln was not pleased and ordered Frémont to rescind the order.

“In August 1861, Congress authorized the confiscation of slaves used to aid the rebellion in the First Confiscation Act. On the 30th of that month, Union General Fremont issued a proclamation freeing all slaves in Missouri that belonged to secessionists. In aletter dated September 11, Lincoln ordered Fremont to change his proclamation to conform to the First Confiscation Act. The letter was widely published in the newspapers, and Lincoln received many letters condemning his decision and expressing support for Fremont.”

Source: Library of Congress

Read Lincoln’s response to Frémont here.

Once one of America’s most famous men, Frémont was known as the “Pathfinder,” for helping chart the way west to California.During the Mexican War, he helped establish California as a republic and then was its military governor and later first U.S. Senator,  Married to Jessie Benton, the daughter of one of the Senate’s most powerful men, Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, he became the first Republican candidate for president in 1856. When the war broke out, he was named a Major General and in August, issued his controversial edict.

Read more about the Frémonts and their extraordinary lives in A Nation Rising.

The paperback edition of A Nation Rising

Why Labor Day? Check out this Ted-Ed animated video

“Why do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day?”

This new Ted-Edd animated video explains the history of the holiday and why it still matters today.

You can also view it on YouTube:

 

 

Read more about the period of labor unrest in Don’t Know Much About® History.

Don't Know Much About History (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition)

Don’t Know Much About History (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition)

 

Pop Quiz: Who was the first member of Congress to enlist after Pearl Harbor?

Answer: Lyndon B. Johnson, who joined the Navy immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Lyndon B. Johnson (March 1964) (Photo: Arnold Newman, WHite House Press Office)

Lyndon B. Johnson (March 1964)
(Photo: Arnold Newman, White House Press Office)

“When the United States entered World War II, Johnson became the first member of Congress to enlist in the armed services, becoming a lieutenant commander in the Navy. His military service abruptly ended, however, when President Roosevelt ordered that members of Congress choose between serving in uniform or in Congress. Johnson resigned his active commission and returned to Capitol Hill.”

Source: United States Senate Historical Office

Lyndon B. Johnson as Navy Commander (Photo Credit: Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum)

Lyndon B. Johnson as Navy Commander-December 1941 (Photo Credit: LBJ Library and Museum)

Lyndon. B. Johnson was born on August 27, 1908. 

Eight future presidents served during World War II. The others are: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Jimmy Carter was at the Naval Academy during the war, graduating in 1946.

Read more about Johnson’s life and administration in Don’t Know Much About History  and Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents.

 

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

 

Don’t Know Much About® Benjamin Harrison

Born on August 20, 1833, the 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.

Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States. 1889-1893 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States. 1889-1893 (Circa 1896; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

The grandson of the 9th President, William Henry Harrison –the first President to die in office– and great-grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, namesake Benjamin Harrison V. Harrison was born in North Bend, Ohio, on the farm that his grandfather had given to his father. An attorney , he volunteered to serve when the Civil War broke out and commanded a regiment of volunteers that saw heavy fighting in Georgia during Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” He was promoted to brigadier general, and was one of the string of Ohio-born Civil War veterans who became president (Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and McKinley are the others.)

Harrison won one of the most controversial elections in history, defeating incumbent Grover Cleveland in 1888 despite losing the popular vote in an election tainted by accusations of ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities.

“I could not name my own Cabinet. They had sold out every place to pay the election expenses.” –William Henry Harrison, following his election (Source: Paul Boller, Jr., Presidential Campaigns)

In 1892, Cleveland defeated Harrison and returned to the White House he had left four years earlier.

Fast Facts–

*Seen as cold and aloof, he was known as the “White House Iceberg.”

*In 1889,  the Indian Appropriation Act opened up millions of acres of territory, once Indian land, and led to the settlement of Oklahoma and later the Dakotas. The following land rush led to heightened warfare between native nations and the federal government. The death of Native American leader Sitting Bull and the massacre of hundreds of Sioux at Wounded Knee (December 29, 1890), both took place during Harrison’s term.

*In part because of that land rush, more states were admitted under Harrison than under any president since Washington: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington in 1889; Idaho and Wyoming in 1890.

*Electric lights were installed in the White House during  Harrison’s term. And in 1891, the White House got its first Christmas tree. Harrison also liked to dress as Santa Claus for his grandchildren.

*Harrison’s first wife, Caroline Scott Harrison, died of tuberculosis in the White House just weeks before Harrison lost his bid for reelection. He later married Mary Dimmick, the niece of his first wife.

 

Read more about Harrison and his administration in Don’t Know Much About® History and Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents.

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Bill Clinton, born August 19, 1946

Born on August 19, 1946,  William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States.

William Jefferson Clintonm 42nd President of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1993-2001)

Born in Hope, Arkansas, a few months after his father died, Bill Clinton wanted to be president from a very early age. As a boy he was obsessed with politics, and met John F. Kennedy at the White House as part of the “Boy’s Nation” program in 1963. In 1978, he became the youngest governor in the nation and Arkansas history.

President Clinton is also the answer to this week’s Who Said It Quiz.

Fast Facts

*Clinton is the only President who was a Rhodes Scholar.

*He and Vice President Al Gore were the first president and vice president from the Baby Boom Generation. Clinton was the third youngest president after Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

*Clinton’s 1997 inaugural ceremony was the first broadcast live on the Internet.

To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. This beautiful Capital, like every capital since the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way. Americans deserve better. And in this city today there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of you here: Let us resolve to reform our politics so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our Government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called bold, persistent experimentation, a Government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays. Let us give this Capital back to the people to whom it belongs.

William J. Clinton: “Inaugural Address,” January 20, 1993. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

*The second president to be impeached. Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice related to testimony given under oath in a sexual harassment suit. The Senate, in a largely party-line vote, acquitted him.

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Hillary Clinton sworn in as U.S. Senator from New York with Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Al Gore. (January 3, 2001 Photo Courtesy of the Clinton Presidential Library.)

*His wife, Hillary Clinton, was the first first lady to ever run for public office, becoming U.S. Senator from New York. After campaigning for the presidency in 2008, she lost the nomination to Barack Obama, who then selected Hillary Clinton as his first secretary of state.

Despite the controversies over his relationship with a White House intern and other women, Bill Clinton left office with high public approval ratings, a balanced budget and twenty-two million jobs created in eight years –growth spurred by the technology revolution and a housing boom. The American people seemed willing to accept Bill Clinton for what he had done in his private affairs and separate that from his public performance.

Whether that relationship carries over to a place beside his wife as first woman to be elected president is one of the fascinating questions of our time.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is located in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Read more about the life and administration of Bill Clinton in Don’t Know Much About® History and Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents. 

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Who Said It? (8/17/2014)

 William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

President William Jefferson Clinton “Remarks to the Convocation of the Church of God in Christ” Memphis, Tenn. (November 13, 1993)

 

Under the leadership of the First Lady, we have produced a comprehensive plan to guarantee health care security to all Americans. How can we expect the American people to work and to live with all the changes in a global economy, where the average 18-year-old will change work seven times in a lifetime, unless we can simply say we have joined the ranks of all the other advanced countries in the world; you can have decent health care that’s always there, that can never be taken away? It is time we did that, long past time. I ask you to help us achieve that.

But we have so much more to do. You and I know that most people are still working harder for the same or lower wages, that many people are afraid that their job will go away. We have to provide the education and training our people need, not just for our children but for our adults, too. If we cannot close this country up to the forces of change sweeping throughout the world, we have to at least guarantee people the security of being employable. They have to be able to get a new job if they’re going to have to get a new job. We don’t do that today, and we must, and we intend to proceed until that is done.

Source: Miller Center/University of Virginia

The 42nd President of the United States, William J. Clinton was born on August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas.

The Clinton health care plan to provide coverage to all Americans became the center of a controversy over the reach of the program and the involvement of First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton.

The legislation flamed out, done in by Congressional objections and an intense advertising campaign mounted by the health insurance industry. One year after this speech was delivered, the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and Senate for the first time in 40 years. In 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.

Read more about Clinton’s life and presidential administration in Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

“In Depth” on Book TV with Kenneth C. Davis

On November 4, 2012, New York Times Bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis sat down for a comprehensive three-hour interview with C-Span’s Book TV.

The interview, which included questions from callers and via e-mail, covered Davis’ career as a writer spanning more than 20 years. In the interview, he discussed his approach to writing history in such books as Don’t Know Much About® History. He also described his background, growing up in Mt. Vernon, New York, how he became a writer, and his early work, including his first book, Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America, which discussed the rise of the paperback publishing industry and the impact of books on American society.

Davis also described the success of his “Don’t Know Much About®” series, with its emphasis on making history both accessible and entertaining while connecting the past to the present.

Watch the video here.

Friday Pop Quiz: Who was US President when the Panama Canal opened?

1914 Gatun Trial Lockage (Photo Courtesy of Panama Canal History Museum)

1914 Gatun Trial Lockage (Photo Courtesy of Panama Canal History Museum)

Answer: Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson 28th POTUS(1918) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Thomas Woodrow Wilson 28th POTUS (1918) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The Panama Canal opened officially on  August 15, 1914. The planned festivities were largely cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I a few weeks earlier, and Wilson did not attend the ceremony.

“The 10-year endeavor cost $375 million and 5,609 lives, and to many it became the new symbol of American imperial power.” Scott Bomboy, “After 100 Years, Panama Canal Still Symbolizes Executive Power”

While the Canal opened during Wilson’s first term, its creation was largely the result of Theodore Roosevelt’s  efforts, as he described it to a group in 1911.

“The Panama Canal would not have been started if I had not taken hold of it, because if I had followed the traditional or conservative method I should have submitted an admirable state paper occupying a couple of hundred pages detailing all of the facts to Congress and asking Congress’ consideration of it,” he said. “In that case there would have been a number of excellent speeches made on the subject in Congress; the debate would be proceeding at this moment with great spirit and the beginning of work on the canal would be 50 years in the future. Fortunately the crisis came at a period when I could act unhampered. Accordingly, I took the Isthmus, started the canal and then left Congress not to debate the canal, but to debate me.” –Theodore Roosevelt in 1911 (Source: “After 100 Years, Panama Canal Still Symbolizes Executive Power”  National Constitution Center (August 15, 2014)

Here is an animation demonstrating how the locks in the canal work from PBS “American Experience: TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt”

The Panama Canal History Museum has a large collection of photographs and documents about the canal.

Don’t Know Much About “V-J Day”

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square., 08/14/1945. Credit: National Archives.

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square., 08/14/1945. Credit: National Archives.

“I have received this afternoon a message from the Japanese Government…”

President Harry Truman, News Conference (August 14, 1945) Complete Transcript from Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

At 7 PM on August 14, 1945, President Truman told reporters gathered in the White House that Japan had surrendered. The War in the Pacific was over.

Pres. Truman Announces Japan's Surrender (Photo Credit National Archives)

Pres. Truman Announces Japan’s Surrender (Photo Credit National Archives)

 

For more images and information see this post from the National Archives.