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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead


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January 09, 2009
For some reason the Historical Center receives many questions concerning the Presidents of the United States, whether the questions deal with the President himself, his family line, his wife and children, or questions about his administration. So, I think that I will begin with the Presidents who have January birthdays and let you know a bit about some interesting things that happened during their terms in office but are lesser known to everyone.

Millard Fillmore, born January 7, 1800, was President from 1850-1853, was a Whig and his home state was New York. Fillmore sent Commodore Perry to Japan, thus leading to the trade between the United States and Japan. In 1851 when the Library of Congress caught fire, Fillmore joined his Cabinet by forming a bucket brigade to put out the fire. When Fillmore took office there were no books in the White House, not even a Bible. His wife started the White House library with $250 given to her for the purchase of books, and also had the first bathtub placed in the White House with running water. During Fillmore’s term, the Fugitive Slave Act caused growing problems between the North and South and Northern abolitionists helped slaves escape through the underground railroad. The “New York Times” was born, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and $65,000,000 worth of gold was found in California.

William McKinley was born January 29, 1843, a Republican from the state of Ohio. He served 1897-1901 as our 25th President and he gained large amounts of land for the United States. The Phillipines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Hawaii became U.S. Territories and the ‘Open Door’ policy gave anyone who wanted to settle in the United States the right to do so. Cubans had revolted against Spanish rule, and the U.S. became involved when the Battleship Maine was blown up in Havana Harbor. This led to the Spanish-American War which lasted about four months. The U.S. population at this point was 76 million, and the first automobile show was held. Casey Jones, the famous engineer was killed in a train wreck. McKinley was the third President to be assassinated when he was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. He was a kind and gentle person usually wearing a red carnation in his buttonhole.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, a Democrat from New York. He served as President from 1933-1945. In 1921 he awoke one day, could not move his legs as he had caught polio. He never regained the use of his legs but while recovering, he wrote a movie script based on the ship “Old Ironsides” which no one in Hollywood would buy. While Governor of New York in 1928, the stock market crashed and the Depression began. Roosevelt worked hard to bring the country out of Depression by forming the Works Progress Administration. The WPA hired men and women to build roads, bridges and dams. He also began the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide jobs for unemployed young men who planted trees, built dams, and fought forest fires. More than two million men served in the CCC during Roosevelt’s terms in office. Eleanor, his wife, became quite interested in politics and she traveled on missions, helped poor children and worked for minority groups. Roosevelt was the first President to appoint a woman to his cabinet. He was the only handicapped President, the only President to be elected for four terms and the first to appear on television. Prohibition ended during Roosevelt’s presidency, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and the United States entered World War II. The first Superman comic was printed, Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Olympics in Germany, and regular television broadcasts began.

Our 37th President was born on January 9, 1913. Richard M. Nixon was a Republican from the State of California who served in the Navy during World War II. An ad appeared in the local newspaper saying that a Congressional candidate with no previous experience was needed…this he answered and was sponsored by the Republicans since he had a military record. Thus, his political career began when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946. Nixon was involved in the biggest presidential scandal ever in 1972 called Watergate. More horrors were discovered in his terms of office and in 1974 the House began impeachment proceedings against Nixon. Before the House could vote on impeachment, Nixon resigned his office, the first and only President to do so. Nixon is also remembered to be friendly with the Soviet Union, he made a trip to China, helped Israel and Egypt stop fighting and helped to end the Vietnam War in 1973. During Nixon’s administration, Apollo 11 astronauts took man’s first walk on the moon and the twenty-sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was approved, it giving 18 year-olds the right to vote. Sixty-five airplanes were hijacked and Bobby Fischer became the first American world chess champion during the Nixon Administration.

I have learned quite a few facts about these Presidents, so I hope that you have also. We, at the Historical Center, wish each of you many blessings for the New Year!








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