Archives For Leadergies

Biographies of leaders.

Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804, in Hillsboro, New Hampshire to Benjamin and Anna Kendrick Pierce. His father was an American Revolution hero who was elected twice as the governor of New Hampshire. His mother had eight children and made raising them her top priority.

Franklin received his education first at Hillsborough Center and then at the Hancock Academy. When he turned 15, he enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and excelled at public speaking.  He enjoyed the social life at Bowdoin and his schoolwork took second priority, he became last in his class. He began to apply himself and graduated in 1824 as one of the top students in his class.

In 1826 he entered Northampton Law School in Massachusetts and did his apprenticeship under Governor Levi Woodbury and Judge Edmund Parker. He was accepted by the bar in 1827 and began his practice in Concord, New Hampshire.

In 1829, at just 24 years old, Franklin was elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature. With the aid of his father, who was elected governor, Franklin was selected as the Speaker of the House. Both Franklin and his father were supporters of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the War of 1812 and rejoiced when “Old Hickory” was elected President in 1828.

In the 1830s, Franklin was sent to Washington as a state representative. Despite his rapid ascent in the world of politics, Franklin soon found his life in Washington both tedious and lonesome. Politicians lived in shabby boardinghouses and drinking quickly became a problem for Franklin whose drunken escapades were the talk of the town.

In 1834 he married a shy religious woman named Jane Means Appleton, the daughter of Jesse Appleton, who had been President of Bowdoin College.  Jane supported the temperance movement and disliked the Washington lifestyle even more than Franklin did. Nevertheless, a year after the couple’s first of three sons were born, Franklin accepted his election to the U.S. Senate.

During his two terms in the House of Representatives and one term in the Senate from 1837 to 1842, the young and handsome Pierce became a popular figure in Washington, though he had little influence compared to other prominent Democrats. Often in ill health, Jane was unhappy with life in Washington, and in 1842 Franklin gave up his Senate seat on his wife’s request and joined the temperance movement, while focusing on his law practice.

Courts of law during this time were a form of entertainment, and Franklin was a star. Citizens fought for a place in his courtrooms, and he seldom disappointed them. Franklin was a master at assessing a jury and then appealing to its emotions, he took high-profile cases and consequently his fame spread.

When the Mexican-American War began, Pierce became a private, helping to recruit men for the New Hampshire Volunteers. In 1847, Franklin, by then a brigadier general, led an expedition to invade the Mexican shores of Veracruz under General Winfield Scott.

When the Mexican government was still unwilling to give into America’s demands, Franklin and Scott headed to Mexico City. Although they achieved two victories there, Franklin injured his leg when he was thrown from his horse, crushing his leg. He passed out from the pain and some of the men under his command began to break ranks and flee. Some soldiers, perhaps resentful of a political general like Franklin, began referring to him behind his back as “Fainting Frank.” The unfair allegations later followed him into presidential politics. Franklin returned home to New Hampshire when the war ended. His résumé now included a war record and the title “Brigadier General Franklin Pierce.”

In the 1852 presidential elections the Democratic Party found itself in a stalemate over electing the presidential candidate. Franklin’s name was recommended, which was unanimously accepted by the delegates on June 5.  Before the convention, Franklin had assured her that he was not seeking the nomination; she fainted when she received the news that he had accepted it. She accused her husband of lying to her about his political aspirations and was disgusted by his candidacy and did not welcome the prospect of returning to Washington.

Unlike his rival, Franklin did no campaigning whatsoever, which probably helped his cause. Although few candidates for the presidency during this period in American history did any campaigning. One newspaper called it the most “ludicrous, ridiculous, and uninteresting presidential campaign.” Franklin won the election easily in which nearly 70 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots. Scott carried only four states in the Electoral College, losing even in his native Virginia.

At the time he was elected president in 1852, 47-year-old Franklin became the youngest man in history to win that office. A steadfast supporter of President Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, he was dubbed “Young Hickory” in an allusion to Jackson’s famous nickname, “Old Hickory.”

Two months before he took office, Franklin and his family were in a train wreck on the way from Boston to Concord. Though Franklin and his wife were barely injured, their 11-year-old son, Bennie, was killed. He was the third of their sons to die before reaching adulthood and Jane never fully recovered from the loss. Somber and pious, she had opposed her husband’s candidacy and would serve few of her social duties in the White House. She was the most unhappy First Lady in American history and to White House visitors she seemed like a sad ghost. Social functions were almost unheard of during the first half of the Pierce administration, and one official noted in his diary that “everything in that mansion seems cold and cheerless.”

He took over the presidential post on March 4, 1853, mourning for his beloved son’s loss greatly affected his performance as the President. While Franklin took the inaugural oath, his wife huddled in a hotel room, writing apologetic letters to her dead son. He is the only president who took his inauguration oath by keeping his hand on the law book, instead of the Bible.

Once in office, Pierce faced the question of Kansas’ and Nebraska’s slavery status. When he agreed to sign the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, it turned Kansas into a battleground for the country’s conflict over slavery. Franklin’s handling of the affair caused his democratic supporters to abandon him during the 1856 presidential election, in favor of his successor, James Buchanan.

In the end, Franklin’s belief in a limited role for the federal government, combined with his accommodation of and submission to powerful proslavery interests within the Democratic Party, made him largely ineffective as a leader. By the time he left office, the nation had moved closer to civil war, and the situation would only grow worse under Buchanan, another northerner with southern sympathies.

His presidential term ended on March 4, 1857, he went into retirement and spent about two years traveling with his wife. After his return to the U.S., he was once again offered the presidential candidacy in 1860 and then a third time in 1864, both of which he refused.

Jane Pierce died at her sister’s home in Andover, Massachusetts on December 2, 1863. Franklin took his wife home to Concord, New Hampshire to lie beside their sons, Frank Robert and Benjamin (Franklin Jr.’s resting place is unknown). Franklin spoke often of going and watering the flowers “on the sacred spot”.

During the Civil War, he was vocal about his point-of-view as a Northerner, with a more typically Southern view of slavery. He was also outspoken in his opposition to the nation’s new president, Abraham Lincoln. Franklin’s unpopular view garnered him several enemies among his fellow Northerners. When Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, an angry mob surrounded Franklin’s home. Only a final display of the old lawyer’s once-famed oratorical skills kept his house in one piece, he gave a speech urging the crowd to disperse peacefully, and they did.

Nearing the end of his life and fading quickly into obscurity, Franklin took up drinking again. He died on October 8, 1869 at the age of 64, in Concord, New Hampshire from cirrhosis of the liver.

He was buried in the Old North Cemetery of Concord, right next to his wife and sons.


Franklin Pierce Quotes

“Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.”

“With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined.”

“The dangers of a concentration of all power in the general government of a confederacy so vast as ours are too obvious to be disregarded.”

“Defense was the name of the game, … This is a big win for the program — a huge win. We were knocking on the door last year and we thought we could get it going this year.”

“A Republic without parties is a complete anomaly. The histories of all popular governments show absurd is the idea of their attempting to exist without parties.”

“It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence.”

“I never justify, sustain, or in any way or to any extent uphold this cruel, heartless, aimless unnecessary war.”

“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can untie in a common objective and sustain common principles.”

“I can express no better hope for my country than that the kind Providence which smiled upon our fathers may enable their children to preserve the blessings they have inherited.”

“The constitutionality and propriety of the Federal Government assuming to enter into a novel and vast field of legislation, namely, that of providing for the care and support of all those … who by any form of calamity become fit objects of public philanthropy. … I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States. To do so would, in my judgment, be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive of the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”

“But let not the foundation of our hope rest upon man’s wisdom. It will not be sufficient that sectional prejudices find no place in the public deliberations. It will not be sufficient that the rash counsels of human passion are rejected. It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence.”

“If your past is limited, your future is boundless.”

“The founders of the Republic dealt with things as they were presented to them, in a spirit of self-sacrificing Patriotism and as time has proved, with a comprehensive wisdom which it will always be safe for us to consult.”

“The dangers of a concentration of all power in the general government of a confederacy so vast as ours are too obvious to be disregarded.”

“I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity.”

“Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.”

“I speak of the war as fruitless; for it is clear that, prosecuted upon the basis of the proclamations of September 22d and September 24th, 1862, prosecuted, as I must understand these proclamations, to say nothing of the kindred blood which has followed, upon the theory of emancipation, devastation, subjugation, it cannot fail to be fruitless in everything except the harvest of woe which it is ripening for what was once the peerless republic.”

“I find the remark, “Tis distance lends enchantment to the view” is no less true of the political than of the natural world.”

“A Republic without parties is a complete anomaly. The histories of all popular governments show absurd is the idea of their attempting to exist without parties.”

“You have summoned me in my weakness. You must sustain me in your strength.”

“With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined.”

“READILY and, I trust, feelingly acknowledge the duty incumbent on us all . . . to provide for those who, in the mysterious order of Providence, are subject to want and to disease of body or mind; but I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States . . . .”

“In a body [like Congress] where there are more than one hundred talking lawyers, you can make no calculation upon the termination of any debate.”

“The revenue of the country, levied almost insensibly to the taxpayer, goes on from year to year, increasing beyond either the interests or the prospective wants of the Government.”

“In expressing briefly my views upon an important subject which has recently agitated the nation…, I fervently hope that the question is at rest and that no sectional or ambitious or fanatical excitement may again threaten the durability of our institutions.”

“After the White House what is there to do but drink?”

“There’s nothing left . . . but to get drunk.”


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James Garfield was born on November 19, 1831, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio to Abram and Eliza Garfield. He was the youngest of five children whose father, a wrestler, died when he was an infant. He grew up in poverty and had a difficult childhood that was further complicated by his mother’s second marriage which ended in divorce.

James was an avid reader of adventure novels and wanted to become a sailor. The closest he came to sailing the seas was when he worked as a crewman on the Ohio and Erie Canals, although he was forced to return home after six weeks due to becoming ill with malaria.

James mother gave him her life savings of $17 to help him to get an education. “I took the money,” James later wrote, “as well as the advice.” He attended smaller schools in the area until he was accepted to the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, which he attended from 1851 to 1854. He supported himself as a part-time teacher, a carpenter, and even a janitor through college.

He then went to Williams College and graduated in 1856. He returned to the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute as a professor of ancient languages and became the president of the college within a year.

In November 1858 James married Lucretia Rudolph, a former classmate. The couple would have seven children with four sons and a daughter living to maturity. Lucretia devoted herself to raising their five children, all of whom grew up to have distinguished careers.

Both James and Lucretia were devout members of a relatively new Protestant denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). James was once a practicing Preacher and was eventually given the nickname of, ‘The Preacher President.’

By this time James became interested in politics and began studying law and was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1859, he was admitted to the bar in 1861. He spent long stretches away from home building his political career and during the first five years of his marriage he spent a total of about five months with Lucretia.

The American Civil War broke out in 1861 and James helped recruit the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and became its colonel. In 1862 he successfully led a brigade at Middle Creek, Kentucky, against Confederate troops. At 31, James became a brigadier general and two years later a major general of volunteers.

He continued with his political career and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1862. President Lincoln persuaded him to resign his commission stating it was easier to find major generals than to obtain effective Republicans for Congress. James repeatedly won re-election for 18 years and served on a number of important congressional committees and became the leading Republican in the House.

His career was not without its challenges and James had an extramarital affair in the 1860s with Lucia Calhoun, a woman in New York. He admitted the affair to his wife and it nearly destroyed their marriage and James sought Lucretia’s forgiveness. James was also accused, but was never found guilty, of accepting bribes in the Crédit Mobilier scandal of 1872.

He served nine terms in the House of Representatives until he was expectantly chosen as the Republican presidential nominee to run for the 1880 presidential election. During the 1880 presidential convention James was campaigning for his friend and fellow Republican John Sherman. The Republican Party was split between the Stalwarts and the Half-Breeds and couldn’t agree upon the two current candidates. In a surprise move the delegates chose James as the party’s dark horse presidential nominee.

James faced the Democrat General Winfield Scott Hancock in the election. He had his campaign biography written by author Horatio Alger and spent most of his campaigning conducting “front porch talks” on the veranda of his farm in Mentor, Ohio where citizens came to see and speak to him. James was also the first president to campaign in multiple languages and often spoke in German with German-Americans.

James received help from the New York political boss Roscoe Conkling, whom he agreed to consult with on party appointments. By a margin of only 10,000 popular votes, James defeated General Hancock and was inaugurated as the President of the United States on March 4, 1881, with Chester A. Arthur as the Vice President.

James became the first president who was left handed and could write legibly with both hands. He could also write fluent Greek with one hand and Latin with the other. To stay in shape and build muscles, James liked to juggle Indian clubs, a popular exercise device using clubs shaped like bowling pins that were swung in patterns as part of an exercise routine.

A strong advocate of racial equality, James was committed to civil rights and strongly opposed slavery. He believed the federal government should implement a universal education system for the emancipation of blacks. He also appointed several former slaves, including Frederick Douglass, to prominent government positions.

James never got the chance to make his plans a reality when on July 2, 1881 at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C., he was shot in the back, only 200 days after becoming president. The assassin, Charles Julius Guiteau was an emotionally disturbed man who had failed to get an appointment in the Garfield administration.

Despite Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, presidents still did not have personal guards or any kind of protection, and could walk through the streets of the capital like any other citizen.

Mortally wounded, James laid in the White House for weeks with his doctor trying to find the bullet lodged in his body. Alexander Graham Bell tried unsuccessfully to find the bullet with a metal detector he designed. The machine kept malfunctioning, apparently due to the metal framework of the bed James laid in. At this time most doctors did not yet believe in germ theory, and James’s wound were never cleaned and infection set in. He was given morphine every day along with a diet of brandy and rich foods. When James became unable to keep the food down, his doctor fed him beef bouillon, warmed milk, egg yolk, and opium rectally.

On September 6, 1881 volunteers laid railroad tracks up to the White House and James was taken to the New Jersey seaside, his weight went from 210 to 130 pounds since he was shot. On September 19, with Lucretia by his side, James died from widespread septic poisoning and internal hemorrhaging from a rip in his splenic artery, he was only 49 years old.

He was buried in Cleveland Ohio. His spine, showing the bullet hole, has been preserved and is kept by the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C.. Charles Julius Guiteau was convicted of murder and hung on June 30, 1882.

The James A. Garfield Monument was dedicated to him in Washington in 1887.

Lucretia lived comfortably for another 36 years on a $350,000 trust fund raised for her and the Garfield children by financier Cyrus W. Field. She led a strictly private, but busy and comfortable life, active in preserving the records of her husband’s career. She created a wing to her home that became a presidential library of his papers.

She died at her home in South Pasadena, California on March 14, 1918. Her casket was placed with her husband in the James A. Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

James A. Garfield Quotes

“If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.”

“If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it’s the best possible substitute for it.”

“Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.”

“Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.”

“A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck.”

“Ideas control the world.”

“The President is the last person in the world to know what the people really want and think.”

“All free governments are managed by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.”

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

“Poverty is uncomfortable; but nine times out of ten the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim.”

“He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation”

“A brave man is a man who dares to look the Devil in the face and tell him he is a Devil”

“I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came”

“Territory is but the body of a nation. The people who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul, its spirit, its life.”

“Things don’t turn up in this world until somebody turns them up.”

“I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not a fool, which is a matter of no small difficulty.”

“I mean to make myself a man, and if I succeed in that, I shall succeed in everything else.”

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.”

“Justice and goodwill will outlast passion”

“The civil service can never be placed on a satisfactory basis until it is regulated by law.”

“If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.”

“Ideas are the great warriors of the world, and a war that has no idea behind it, is simply a brutality.”

“Fellow-citizens: God reigns, and the Government at Washington lives!”

“Suicide is not a remedy.”

“Right reason is stronger than force.”

“A law is not a law without coercion behind it.”

“A university is a student on one end of a pine log and Mark Hopkins (president of Williams College) on the other.”


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American Experience-Murder Of A President

William Howard Taft was born on September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was one of six children of Louisa Maria Torrey and Alphonso Taft, who served under President Ulysses S. Grant as both secretary of war and attorney general, and as an ambassador under President Chester A. Arthur. William was raised in a large and stimulating family and was close to his five siblings, two half-brothers by his father’s first marriage and two brothers and a sister born to his mother. The family identified with the Unitarian Church and his father was a sensible, kind, gentle, and highly “Victorian” man who kept his emotions under rigid control.

William lived in constant fear of not meeting his parents’ expectations, no matter how well he performed, he was seeked their approval. He was an active child who took dancing lessons and loved baseball, he was a good second baseman and a power hitter. William studied at Woodward High School, a private school in Cincinnati and graduated in 1874.

After graduating from high school he went to the University of Cincinnati Law School and worked part time as a courthouse reporter for the Cincinnati Commercial. While in college, William earned the nickname “Big Lub” due to his size, he was almost 6 feet tall and weighed more than 240 pounds. William passed his bar exams and was admitted to the Ohio State Bar Association in 1880. Mainly due to his father’s political connections, William became assistant prosecutor of Hamilton County, Ohio.

William met a friend of his sister at a sledding party, Helen “Nellie” Herron, was the daughter of another prominent local lawyer and Republican Party activist. She accepted William’s proposal for marriage because she saw him as being able to fulfill her hope of a life in national politics. Her father had taken Nellie to the White House for President and Mrs. Hayes’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and young Nellie was so captivated that she vowed to one day be First Lady. They got married at her parents’ home in Cincinnati on June 19, 1886, he was twenty-eight and she was twenty-five. In 1911, she would celebrate her own silver wedding anniversary at the White House, filling the mansion with nearly 4,000 guests.

In 1887 William was appointed judge of the Cincinnati Superior Court setting him on course to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a position he aspired to at the beginning of his career. In 1890 he became the youngest appointee as U.S. Solicitor General by President Benjamin Harrison (the third highest position in the Department of Justice). He moved his family to Washington for two years and to Nellie’s delight they met Theodore and Edith Roosevelt and William became a close friend to Mr. Roosevelt.

Against Nellie’s wishes, in 1892 William accepted appointment as a judge of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with jurisdiction over Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He also served as a professor of law and dean of the University of Cincinnati Law School from 1896 to 1900.

With the victory of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Islands had become a U.S. protectorate in 1898. President William McKinley called William to Washington and tasked him with setting up a civilian government in the Philippines. Nellie urged him to take the job and the two traveled with their three children to the islands where they lived like royalty for the next several years.

William immediately clashed with the military governor, General Arthur MacArthur (the father of General Douglas MacArthur of World War II and Korean War fame). William viewed the military control of the islands as too brutal and unsympathetic to the islanders and obtained McArthur’s removal, William drafted the Island’s constitution which included a Bill of Rights that was nearly identical to the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He established a civil service system, a judicial system, English-language public schools, a transportation network, and health care facilities. He negotiated with the Vatican in Rome to purchase 390,000 acres of church property in the Philippines for $7.5 million and distributed the land by way of low-cost mortgages to tens of thousands of Filipino peasants.

William turned down President Roosevelt’s offer of a Supreme Court appointment twice while in the Philippines so he could finish his work in the Islands. He was loved and supported by many Filipino residents for his evenhanded governance. In his view the Filipinos were not able to govern themselves yet and believed it would take years before they could. The Philippines did not achieve self-rule and independence until 1946.

Back in Washington, D.C. by 1904, William became President Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary of war and chief agent, confidant, and troubleshooter in foreign affairs. William supervised the construction of the Panama Canal and made several voyages around the world for the President.

Concerned about how his weight affected his health and ability to serve he wrote to English physician and diet expert Nathaniel E. Yorke-Davies for advice in December 1905. He suffered from symptoms of restless sleep and indigestion that resulted from his excessive weight and wrote, “no real gentleman weighs more than 300 pounds.” He hired Yorke-Davies to create a weight loss plan for him and would continue his correspondence with the doctor for over ten years providing him with details of what he ate, how often he exercised, and even how frequently he had bowel movements.

He traveled so often and had a huge travel expenses that the press began questioning the expense, especially since he almost always took Nellie and at least one or two of his children. Roosevelt asked William to have his travel funded by his wealthy brother, Charles, who was already paying for much of William’s living expenses in Washington, D.C.. Charles had married a wealthy Ohio heiress and gave William 1,000 shares of Cleveland Gas Company stock, which added $8,000 a year to his income. Always eager to help his brother, Charles paid for the majority of William’s travel expenses.

By 1907 President Roosevelt had decided that William should be his successor and offered him the choice to serve as either president or chief justice. William chose his life’s goal to become chief justice, but after a meeting between Nellie and Roosevelt, he was swayed into running for president instead. A decision Roosevelt would later regret.

At his wife’s urging William to lose weight he retreated to the golf course at a resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. He stayed there for much of the next three months with the intention to drop thirty pounds off his 300 pound plus weight for the campaign fight ahead.

William disliked the campaign and commented that it was, “one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life.” His campaign depended upon Roosevelt for speech making, advice, and energy and journalists joked that William was just a substitute for Roosevelt. One columnist explained that T.A.F.T. stood for “Take Advice From Theodore.”

William won 321 electoral votes to his opponent’s 162 and 7,675,320 (51.6 percent) of the popular vote.

Toy manufacturers where worried that America’s Teddy Bear mania would evaporate after Roosevelt’s last term so they started producing stuffed “Billy Possums”, named in Taft’s honor. In January 1909, the president-elect was honored at a banquet in Atlanta and William requested the main course of “possum and taters,” a pile of sweet potatoes topped with an 18-pound whole cooked opossum. When William finished the entire meal he was presented with a small plush opossum. Fortunately the Billy Possum never became more popular then the teddy bear.

He assumed the office of president on March 4, 1909 and started the job that he never wanted to have, but he wanted to please his wife Nellie. William was the first president to have a presidential automobile and converted the White House stables into garages, he was the first to occupy the Oval Office. He was also the first president to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game in 1910 when the Washington Senators played the Philadelphia Athletics, the tradition continues today. He was the first President to play golf, even though some people thought that golf playing was indecent if not immoral and his critics said he should spend less time playing golf and more time at work in the White House. It caused a golf boom in the nation, doubling the number of players on public courses.

Along with all of his “firsts,” William was the last American president to have facial hair and to keep a cow at the White House to provide fresh milk, her name was Pauline.

Nellie also left her mark during William’s presidency, she initiated the planting of thousands of cherry trees along the avenues and banks of the Tidal Basin that where given to the United States by Japan, changing the face of Washington, D.C. each spring. Nellie was also the first First Lady to publish her memoirs, to own and drive a car, to support women’s suffrage, to smoke cigarettes, and the first First Lady to successfully lobby for safety standards in federal workplaces.

William’s 300 plus pounds offended some people and amused others. Although some claim the story to be false, William became stuck in the presidential bath tub, requiring six men to pull him free. The nation’s press had a field day and they made jokes like, “Taft was the most polite man in Washington. One day he gave up his seat on a streetcar to three women.” He suffered from sleep apnea and was seen snoozing at meetings, operas, funerals, and especially church services.

William’s misunderstandings about big business, and his approach to tariff proposals on goods entering the United States, resulted in the Payne-Aldrich Act and frustrated both supporters and opponents of the policy. He was also accused of failing to carry out Roosevelt’s conservation policies, which caused problems within the Republican Party, causing them to lose the majority in Congress in the midterm elections. This alienated many liberal Republicans, including his friend and ally, Theodore Roosevelt, who would become his opponent during the 1912 Presidential campaign.

After four years in the White House, William agreed to run for a second term, mainly because he wanted to defend himself against Roosevelt’s attacks on him as a traitor to reform. During the Republican National Convention Nellie sat in a front-row seat so she could stare down the presenters to discourage them to speak badly about her husband and soften their anti-Taft rhetoric. It was too hard to demean someone whose spouse was sitting right in front of them.

The primary elections showed Roosevelt to be the people’s clear choice. But due to political maneuvering, William received 561 votes to Roosevelt’s 187. Having lost the nomination, Roosevelt and his followers formed the Progressive Party, which was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party. This fractured the Republican Party which ultimately led to the Democrat Woodrow Wilson to defeat William in the November election with 435 electoral votes to 88 for Roosevelt and 8 for William. William and Roosevelt eventually reconciled their differences.

Taft left office on March 4, 1913 and in less than a year he dropped his weight to about 270 pounds by giving up bread, potatoes, pork, and liquor, it encouraged him to take a trip to Alaska. He commented, “I can truthfully say that I never felt any younger in all my life.” Although he did start to use a cane made out of petrified wood.

William taught at Yale University Law School until the summer of 1921 when President Warren Harding appointed him chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. William achieved his lifelong goal and is the only president to hold a seat on the Supreme Court. William served as chief justice until his death in 1930 and administered the oath of office to fellow conservatives Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

On March 8, 1930, William died from complications of heart disease, high blood pressure, and inflammation of the bladder. His funeral was the first presidential funeral broadcasted on the radio and he was the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The only other president buried there is John F. Kennedy. Nellie lived for another thirteen years and died in Washington, D.C. on May 22, 1943 and is buried next to her husband.

Two of their three children, Robert Alphonso and Helen Herron, attended college during the White House years with Robert graduating from Yale in 1910 and Harvard Law School in 1913. He became one of the most distinguished and powerful senators of the twentieth century, earning the nickname “Mr. Republican.” Robert’s son, William Howard Taft IV went on to accomplish various executive duties for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Helen earned her doctorate in history from Yale in 1917 and became a Dean and professor of history at Bryn Mawr College until 1941, and taught history until she retired in 1957. The youngest sibling, Charles Phelps eventually served as Mayor of Cincinnati.


“Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”

“Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”

“Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.”

“The world is not going to be saved by legislation.”

“Politics, when I am in it, it makes me sick.”

“No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”

“Enthusiasm for a cause sometimes warps judgment”

“It is important, of course, that controversies be settled right, but there are many civil questions which arise between individuals in which it is not so important the controversy be settled one way or another as that it be settled. Of course a settlement of a controversy on a fundamentally wrong principle of law is greatly to be deplored, but there must of necessity be many rules governing the relations between members of the same society that are more important in that their establishment creates a known rule of action than that they proceed on one principle or another. Delay works always for the man with the longest purse.”

“There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and that will attempt to defeat a man because of his religious beliefs. Such a society is like a cockroach — it thrives in the dark. So do those who combine for such an end.”

“As the Republican platforms says, the welfare of the farmer is vital to that of the whole country.”

“Politics makes me sick.”

“The President can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced to some specific grant of power . . . in the Federal Constitution or in an act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof. There is no undefined residuum of power which he can exercise because it seems to him to be in the public interest.”

“I have come to the conclusion that the major part of the work of a President is to increase the gate receipts of expositions and fairs and bring tourists to town.”

“Failure to accord credit to anyone for what he may have done is a great weakness in any man”

“If this humor be the safety of our race, then it is due largely to the infusion into the American people of the Irish brain.”

“The President cannot make clouds to rain and cannot make the corn to grow, he cannot make business good; although when these things occur, political parties do claim some credit for the good things that have happened in this way”

“Anti-Semitism is a noxious weed that should be cut out. It has no place in America.”

“The diplomacy of the present administration has sought to respond to modern ideas of commercial intercourse. This policy has been characterized as substituting dollars for bullets. It is one that appeals alike to idealistic humanitarian sentiments, to the dictates of sound policy and strategy, and to legitimate commercial aims.”

“We live in a stage of politics, where legislators seem to regard the passage of laws as much more important than the results of their enforcement.”

“I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe”

“Socialism proposes no adequate substitute for the motive of enlightened selfishness that to-day is at the basis of all human labor and effort, enterprise and new activity.”

“[George] Washington intended this to be a Federal city, and it is a Federal city, and it tingles down to the feet of every man, whether he comes from Washington State, or Los Angeles, or Texas, when he comes and walks these city streets and begins to feel that this is my city; I own a part of this Capital, and I envy for the time being those who are able to spend their time here. I quite admit that there are defects in the system of government by which Congress is bound to look after the government of the District of Columbia. It could not be otherwise under such a system, but I submit to the judgment of history that the result vindicates the foresight of the fathers.”

“A government is for the benefit of all the people. . . .”

“We, as Unitarians, may feel that the world is coming our way.”

“Nobody ever drops in for the evening.”

“I think I might as well give up being a candidate. There are so many people in the country who don’t like me.”

“I love judges, and I love courts. They are my ideals, that typify on earth what we shall meet hereafter in heaven under a just God.”

“As a people, we have the problem of making our forests outlast this generation, or iron outlast this century, and our coal the next; not merely as a matter of convenience or comfort, but as a matter of stern necessity.”

“We are all imperfect. We can not expect perfect government.”

“A system in which we may have an enforced rest from legislation for two years is not bad.”

“I am afraid I am a constant disappointment to my party. The fact of the matter is, the longer I am president the less of a party man I seem to become.”

“I am president now, and tired of being kicked around.”

“Don’t sit up nights thinking about making me president for that will never come and I have no ambition in that direction. Any party which would nominate me would make a great mistake.”

“Substantial progress toward better things can rarely be taken without developing new evils requiring new remedies.”

“I’ll be damned if I am not getting tired of this. It seems to be the profession of a President simply to hear other people talk.”

“In the public interest, therefore, it is better that we lose the services of the exceptions who are good Judges after they are seventy and avoid the presence on the Bench of men who are not able to keep up with the work, or to perform it satisfactorily.”

“I am in favor of helping the prosperity of all countries because, when we are all prosperous, the trade with each becomes more valuable to the other.”

“Presidents may go to the seashore or to the mountains. Cabinet officers may go about the country explaining how fortunate the country is in having such an administration, but the machinery at Washington continues to operate under the army of faithful non-commissioned officers, and the great mass of governmental business is uninterrupted.”

“Don’t worry over what the newspapers say. I don’t. Why should anyone else? I told the truth to the newspaper correspondents – but when you tell the truth to them they are at sea.”

“The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress”

“One cannot always be sure of the truth of what one hears if he happens to be President of the United States.”

“I don’t remember that I ever was President.”

“I hate to use the patronage as a club unless I have to.”

“. . . one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life.”

“There is only one thing I want to say about Ohio that has a political tinge, and that is that I think a mistake has been made of recent years in Ohio in failing to continue as our representatives the same people term after term. I do not need to tell a Washington audience, among whom there are certainly some who have been interested in legislation, that length of service in the House and in the Senate is what gives influence.”

“I feel certain that he would not recognize a generous impulse if he met it on the street.”

“The trouble with me is that I like to talk too much.”

“I am delighted to learn that the dastardly attack was unsuccessful. The resort to violence is out of place in our 20th century civilization.”

“The cheerful loser is a sort of winner.”


William Howard Taft

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15 Wonderful William Howard Taft Facts

10 Interesting Facts About William Taft


The William Howard Taft Presidency

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The Life and Times of William Howard Taft Two Volume Set 


#27 William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft | 60-Second Presidents | PBS

President William Howard Taft Mini Documentary

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

Former U.S. President William Howard Taft’s funeral in Washington DC. HD Stock Footage

Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was born on August 27, 1908 in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River near the town of Johnson City which was named after his family. Lyndon was the first child of Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., and Rebekah Baines Johnson. He was pure Texan and his family included some of the earliest settlers of the Lone Star State. They had been cattlemen, cotton farmers, and soldiers for the Confederacy.  Lyndon’s father was a rancher and part-time politician, but ran into financial difficulty and lost the family farm causing Lyndon to experience poverty when he was growing up.

At the age of four, Lyndon began running to the nearby one-room “Junction School” daily to play with his cousins at recess. His mother persuaded the teacher, Miss Kathryn Deadrich, to take him as a pupil and he would sit in his teacher’s lap and recite his lessons. His school term was cut short by whooping cough.

The Johnson’s abandoned the farm in 1913 and moved to Johnson City. The family house, while comfortable by the standards of the rural South at the time, had neither electricity nor indoor plumbing. Lyndon, like his father, wanted more for his future and when he was twelve, he told classmates, “You know, someday I’m going to be president of the United States.” Later in life, Lyndon would remember: “When I was fourteen years old I decided I was not going to be the victim of a system which would allow the price of a commodity like cotton to drop from forty cents to six cents and destroy the homes of people like my own family.”

Lyndon was president of his six-member senior class but struggled in school, he managed to graduate from Johnson City High School on May 24, 1924 when he was fifteen.  Although his parents saved money to send Lyndon to summer courses at Southwest Texas State Teachers College, wasn’t allowed into the college.

Lyndon bought a car and along with five friends drove to California where he worked odd jobs to include his cousin’s law office. Lyndon hitchhiked back to Texas and worked on a road crew, he started to drink and get into fights which eventually led to his arrest. In 1927, he started to pursue a teaching career and enrolled in the Southwest Texas State Teachers College. He earned money as a janitor and as an office helper.

He dropped out of school for a year to serve as principal and teach fifth, sixth, and seventh grades at a Mexican-American school in the south Texas town of Cotulla. This firsthand look at the effects of poverty and discrimination made a deep impression on Lyndon and sparked a lifelong desire to find solutions to these problems.

Lyndon graduated with a Bachelor’s degree on August 19, 1930 and worked briefly at the high school, in Pearsall, Texas. He then took a job teaching public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston, with his debate team winning the district championship.

Lyndon helped Richard Kleberg, a friend of his father, in some local campaigns. When he was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1931 he asked Lyndon to be his secretary in Washington.  He held the job for over three years and learned how Congress worked and began to meet influential people and learned about the political process. In 1933, he was elected speaker of the “Little Congress,” an organization of congressional workers.

He returned to Texas in 1934 to visit his family and met a twenty-one-year-old woman named Claudia Alta Taylor, a member of a wealthy East Texas family. Lyndon decided almost instantly that she should be his wife and after just a couple of months of courting they were married on November 17, 1934 in San Antonio. Claudia, was known to her friends as “Lady Bird,” a nickname given to her by her nanny, was a recent graduate of the University of Texas, where she finished near the top of her class. She was a source of stability in Lyndon’s life as well as a shrewd judge of people. They would eventually have two daughters, Lynda Bird (1944-) and Luci Baines (1947-) making everyone in the Johnson family having the same initials, even the family dog was named Little Beagle Johnson.

Lyndon resigned as Secretary to Representative Kleberg in July 1935 to accept President Roosevelt’s appointment as the Texas Director of the National Youth Administration (NYA), a federal program aimed at helping young people find jobs or volunteer work during the Great Depression. He was the youngest state director at 26 years old.

James Buchanan, the congressman in his home district died in 1937. Lyndon used Claudia’s inheritance and her increasing assets of a local radio station she recently purchased to win the election against nine other candidates, he was just twenty-eight years old.

In Congress, Lyndon worked hard for rural electrification, public housing, and eliminating government waste and was appointed to the House Committee on Naval Affairs at the request of President Roosevelt. He would eventually be re-elected five times, he was also the first member of Congress to volunteer for active duty in the military when the United States entered World War II.

On June 21, 1940, he was appointed Lieutenant Commander in the U. S. Naval Reserve and reported for active duty in December 1941. Lyndon served on a tour of the South Pacific and flew one combat mission where his plane was forced to turn back due to mechanical difficulty, but he managed to receive a Silver Star medal for his participation. President Roosevelt ordered all members of Congress in the armed forces to return to their offices and Lyndon was released from active duty on July 16, 1942. Observing wartime industrial and technological trends, Lyndon invested and became well-to-do for the first time. Lady Bird, meanwhile, gave birth to their two daughters, one born in 1944 and another three years later.

When one of Texas’s two U.S. senators died in 1941, Lyndon seemed certain to inherit the job, but the former radio star-turned-governor, W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel entered the race late and won by 1,311 votes. When Senator W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel left office in 1948 Lyndon faced former Governor Coke Stevenson for the Democratic ticket.  Lyndon won the primary by 87 votes but faced speculations of voter fraud. He became the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat. In the general election on November 2, he earned the nickname “Landslide Lyndon” when he defeated the Republican Jack Porter and was elected to the U. S. Senate.

At the age of 44 Lyndon became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. His ability to work productively with Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and unite his party behind important legislation made him a powerful figure in Washington. Lyndon would gather information on his fellow legislators, and knew where each of them stood on political issues. In order to gain their support he would give them the “Johnson Treatment,” where he would lean toward his prey, and tower over them speaking softly, flattering, swearing, and even bribing them, until he won their vote.

His aggressive work habits resulted in him suffering a massive heart attack on July 2 1955, he wasn’t even fifty years old yet.  He returned to the LBJ Ranch to recuperate, he quit smoking, lost weight, and when he returned to Washington in December, delegated more of his work.

Always wanting to be more influential he was thrilled to be the first legislator in Washington with a car phone. When Everett Dirksen, Republican Minority Leader and a friendly rival, also acquired one, he telephoned Lyndon’s limo to say that he was calling from his new car phone. Lyndon replied, “Can you hold on a minute, Ev? My other phone is ringing.”

Lyndon turned his sights on the presidency but in 1960 he was out-campaigned for the Democratic Party’s nomination by his Senate colleague, John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massachusetts. Kennedy announced his candidacy early and spent large sums of money on his campaign. Lyndon was hoping that Kennedy’s youth and Catholicism would prevent him from winning, but it never did.

Kennedy realized that he could not win the election without the support of traditional Southern Democrats, so he offered Lyndon the vice presidency and he accepted. With Lyndon’s support Kennedy won the election against the Republican candidate Richard Nixon, it was the closest presidential race of the century. After Lyndon won the election to the vice presidency one of his secretaries recalls that he “looked as if he’d lost his last friend on earth…I don’t think I ever saw a more unhappy man.”

Lyndon was also re-elected to his third term in the United States Senate and on January 3, 1961 he took the oath of office for the full six-year term in the Senate and immediately resigned. On January 20, Lyndon took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States.

On April 20 President Kennedy sent Lyndon a memorandum asking him to research the space program to determine if going to the moon and back with a man before the Soviet Union could be achieved. He responded back on April 28, that a manned moon trip was possible by 1966 or 1967 and on May 25, President Kennedy announced to Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”

Lyndon regarded most of his assignments as busy work, and he was convinced that the President was ignoring him. He envied President Kennedy’s handsome appearance, his upper class reputation and charm. Despite Johnson’s physically imposing presence, he suffered from deep-seated feelings of inferiority and he frequently said, it was his curse to have come from “the wrong part of the country.”

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while traveling in a motorcade in Dallas Texas with his wife Jackie sitting by his side. Lyndon was only two cars behind Kennedy when the shots rang out. Just a few hours later, Lyndon was sworn in as the 36th president aboard Air Force One on its return flight back to Washington, D.C., both his wife and Jacklyn Kennedy, still in her blood stained dress, stood by his side. Two weeks later, the Johnson’s moved into the White House. One adviser never forgot the image of a mover packing Kennedy’s trademark rocking chair while another carried in Lyndon’s cowboy saddle.

The day after Kennedy’s burial Lyndon reversed Kennedy’s order to pull out of Vietnam thus beginning the War in Vietnam and giving the military industrial complex what it wanted, billions in defense spending.

He kept Kennedy’s cabinet and top aides, telling them that he and the nation needed them to provide continuity. Within days, Lyndon grasped the reins of government and obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging at the time of his death, a tax cut and a new civil rights bill which was signed into law on July 2, 1964.

On August 2, 1964 the Vietnam conflict escalated when North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. August 4, a second North Vietnamese PT boat attack was reported on the USS Maddox and her escort, the USS C. Turner Joy. Lyndon ordered retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam and on August 7, with only two dissenting votes in the Senate and none in the House, Congress passed the Southeast Asia Resolution. It allowed Lyndon to take “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”

Lyndon begin his campaigning for the 1964 Presidential election around the theme of building a “Great Society.” He said, “The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.” On August 26, he was nominated for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, with Hubert Humphrey as the Vice President.

On November 3, 1964 Lyndon was elected President of the United States against Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. He received 61 percent of the votes and had the widest popular margin in American history, more than 15,000,000 votes.

Lyndon introduced new reforms that he believed would build a Great Society for all Americans. He created the Medicare and Medicaid programs to provide federal health insurance for elderly and poor Americans. He also introduced measures to improve education, preventing crime and reducing air and water pollution. His vision for a Great Society for all Americans improved the lives of millions of Americans and contributed to economic growth and prosperity.

Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson believed her chief duty was to help her “husband do his job,” she significantly expanded the role of the First Lady. She was the first First Lady to have a staff director and press secretary and she actively pursued her own agenda, including environmental beautification.

In 1965, black demonstrators in Alabama, marching for voting rights were attacked by police dogs and beaten bloody in scenes that appeared on national television. Lyndon seized the opportunity to propose the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law was passed by Congress and black voter turnout tripled within four years, almost equaling white turnouts throughout the South. Lyndon also nominated Thurgood Marshall, a civil rights lawyer and great-grandson of a slave to serve as the first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court. Lyndon said, “It was the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man and the right place.”

The increased civil rights racial tensions resulted in race riots throughout the country and federal troops were deployed in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Detroit. In the summer of 1968, Martin Luther King Jr., one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, was gunned down by a lone assassin in Memphis Tennessee.

Lyndon addressed the inequality in education issues when he signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It supplied money to colleges to fund certain students and projects, included federal aid for elementary and secondary education, provided services for poorer districts, and Catholic parochial schools. He signed the bill at the one-room schoolhouse that he had attended as a child near Stonewall, Texas with the teacher whose lap Lyndon sat on as a four-year-old.

The situation in South Vietnam deteriorated and Lyndon increased U. S. military forces in Vietnam from 75,000 men to 125,000. He said he would order further military increases as they were needed, committing the United States to major combat in Vietnam. Like the three presidents before him, Lyndon was determined to prevent North Vietnamese Communists from taking over the United States supported government of South Vietnam. He believed that America’s national security depended on containing the spread of communism around the world.

Public support begin to deteriorate for the war when American casualties increased and by the end of 1967 amounted to nearly 500 causalities a week and was more than 500,000 by the end of 1968. The financial cost of the war was reaching $25 billion in 1967, which diverted money from Lyndon’s Great Society programs and it began to fuel inflation.


“You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.”

 “I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in” About Edgar J Hoover

“I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling rejected by the American people. I’m tired of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the war.”

“It is the excitement of becoming – always becoming, trying, probing, falling, resting, and trying again- but always trying and always gaining…”

“Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.”

“The CIA is made up of boys whose families sent them to Princeton but wouldn’t let them into the family brokerage business.”

“We have entered an age in which education is not just a luxury permitting some men an advantage over others. It has become a necessity without which a person is defenseless in this complex, industrialized society. … We have truly entered the century of the educated man.”

“When things haven’t gone well for you, call in a secretary or a staff man and chew him out. You will sleep better and they will appreciate the attention.”

“A rioter with a Molotov cocktail in his hands is not fighting for civil rights any more than a Klansman with a sheet on his back and mask on his face. They are both more or less what the law declares them lawbreakers, destroyers of constitutional rights and liberties and ultimately destroyers of a free America.”

“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read President Can’t Swim.”

“War is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in the world.”

“We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.”

“Every child must be encouraged to get as much education as he has the ability to take. We want this not only for his sake but for the nations sake. Nothing matters more to the future of our country: not military preparedness for armed might is worthless if we lack the brain power to build a world of peace; not our productive economy for we cannot sustain growth without trained manpower; not our democratic system of government for freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant.”

“In this age when there can be no losers in peace and no victors in war, we must recognize the obligation to match national strength with national restraint.”

“The noblest search is the search for excellence.”

“Organized crime constitutes nothing less than a guerilla war against society.”

 “Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.”

“We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. … It is time now to write the next chapter-and to write it in the books of law.”

“A man can take a little bourbon without getting drunk, but if you hold his mouth open and pour in a quart, he’s going to get sick on it.”

“Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose.”

“What we won when all of our people united … must not be lost in suspicion and distrust and selfishness and politics. … Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as president.”

“As it was 189 years ago, so today the cause of America is a revolutionary cause. And I am proud this morning to salute you as fellow revolutionaries. Neither you nor I are willing to accept the tyranny of poverty, nor the dictatorship of ignorance, nor the despotism of ill health, nor the oppression of bias and prejudice and bigotry. We want change. We want progress. We want it both abroad and at home and we aim to get it.”

“Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty.”

“America has not always been kind to its artists and scholars. Somehow the scientists always seem to get the penthouse while the arts and humanities get the basement.”

“The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands.”

“I’d rather give my life than be afraid to give it.”

“I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” About the Great Society plan.

“I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help-and God’s.”

“If you let a bully come in your front yard, he’ll be on your porch the next day and the day after that he’ll rape your wife in your own bed.” (On appeasement)

“Our numbers have increased in Vietnam because the aggression of others has increased in Vietnam. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation.”

“Presidents quickly realize that while a single act might destroy the world they live in, no one single decision can make life suddenly better or can turn history around for good.”

“I knew from the start if I left a woman I really loved — the Great Society — in order to fight that bitch of a war in Vietnam then I would lose everything at home. My hopes my dreams.”

“Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.”

“Jerry Ford is so dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.”

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them, we’ll lose the filibuster and there’ll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.”

“Jack was out kissing babies while I was out passing bills. Someone had to tend the store.”

“Every man has a right to a Saturday night bath.”

“I believe, with abiding conviction, that this people-nurtured by their deep faith, tutored by their hard lessons, moved by their high aspirations-have the will to meet the trials that these times impose.”

“I don’t believe I’ll ever get credit for anything I do in foreign affairs, no matter how successful it is, because I didn’t go to Harvard.”

“There can no longer be anyone too poor to vote.”

“To conclude that women are unfitted to the task of our historic society seems to me the equivalent of closing male eyes to female facts.”

“When I was a boy … we didn’t wake up with Vietnam and have Cyprus for lunch and the Congo for dinner.”

“I believe that the essence of government lies with unceasing concern for the welfare and dignity and decency and innate integrity of life for every individual. I don’t like to say this and wish I didn’t have to add these words to make it clear but I will regardless of color, creed, ancestry, sex or age.”

“They call upon us to supply American boys to do the job that Asian boys should do.”

“I report to you that our country is challenged at home and abroad that it is our will that is being tried and not our strength our sense of purpose and not our ability to achieve a better America.”

“It is the common failing of totalitarian regimes that they cannot really understand the nature of our democracy. They mistake dissent for disloyalty. They mistake restlessness for a rejection of policy. They mistake a few committees for a country. They misjudge individual speeches for public policy.” (Answering North Vietnamese charge that US could not endure)

“I won’t have you electioneering on my doorstep. Every time you get in trouble in Parliament you run over here with your shirttail hanging out.” (To Prime Minister Harold Wilson)

“A compassionate government keeps faith with the trust of the people and cherishes the future of their children.”

“All that Hubert needs over there is a gal to answer the phone and a pencil with an eraser on it.”

“America is not merely a nation but a nation of nations.”

“Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth and, in the arsenal of truth, there is no greater weapon than fact.”

“I believe the destiny of your generation-and your nation-is a rendezvous with excellence.”

“I greet you as the shapers of American society.”

“I seldom think of politics more than 18 hours a day.”

“I want to make a policy statement. I am unabashedly in favor of women.” (On appointing 10 women to top government positions)

“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.”

“Light at the end of the tunnel we don’t even have a tunnel we don’t even know where the tunnel is.”

“Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country: to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. Because all Americans just must have the right to vote. And we are going to give them that right. All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship regardless of race. And they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.”

“Our purpose in Vietnam is to prevent the success of aggression. It is not conquest, it is not empire, it is not foreign bases, it is not domination. It is, simply put, just to prevent the forceful conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam.”

“The American city should be a collection of communities where every member has a right to belong. It should be a place where every man feels safe on his streets and in the house of his friends. It should be a place where each individual’s dignity and self-respect is strengthened by the respect and affection of his neighbors. It should be a place where each of us can find the satisfaction and warmth which comes from being a member of the community of man. This is what man sought at the dawn of civilization. It is what we seek today.”

“The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.”

“The hungry world cannot be fed until and unless the growth of its resources and the growth of its population come into balance. Each man and woman-and each nation –must make decisions of conscience and policy in the face of this great problem.”

“The Negro says, ‘Now.’ Others say, ‘Never.’ The voice of responsible Americans … says, ‘Together.’ There is no other way.”

“There are plenty of recommendations on how to get out of trouble cheaply and fast. Most of them come down to this Deny your responsibility.”

“This administration here and now declares unconditional war on poverty.”

“We Americans know-although others appear to forget-the risk of spreading conflict. We still seek no wider war.” (On ordering retaliatory action against North Vietnam)

“We have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.”


Lyndon B. Johnson

How LBJ Saved the Civil Rights Act

Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero. But also a racist.

Lyndon B. Johnson: The President’s Inaugural Address

How Lyndon B. Johnson Spent Election Day 1964

The History Place – Great Speeches Collection: Lyndon B. Johnson

LBJ killed JFK

Fun Facts on Lyndon B. Johnson

6 of LBJ’s Favorite Things

44 Obscure Facts You Didn’t Know About U.S. Presidents

Famous quotes by Lyndon B. Johnson: 


Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream: The Most Revealing Portrait of a President and Presidential Power Ever Written

The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years

Lyndon B. Johnson: The American Presidents Series: The 36th President, 1963-1969

Flawed Giant: Lyndon B. Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 1st Edition

LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream

Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President

Lyndon B. Johnson: A Memoir

The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1)


LBJ Foundation


LBJ: The 36th President of the United States

President Lyndon B Johnson Biography

How Did LBJ Make His Money? The Disturbing Story of His Political Rise and Corruption (1990)

The LBJ-RFK Relationship – Why Did JFK Choose Johnson? Robert Caro Part 1 (2012)

Did LBJ Kill JFK? The Conspiracy to Murder President Kennedy (2013)


Benjamin Harrison was born on August 20, 1833 in North Bend, Ohio on a farm by the Ohio River. His father was John Scott Harrison, a member of the United States House, and his mother was Elizabeth Ramsey Irwin Harrison. He was the second of eight children in his family.

The Harrisons were among the First Families of Virginia, with roots stretching back to Jamestown. Ben’s great-grandfather was Colonel Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison (“Old Tippecanoe”) was the ninth President of the United States, and his father, John Scott Harrison, served as a congressman.

As a child, he hunted, fished, hauled wood, tended livestock, and studied at home with private tutors.  He also attended school in a one-room schoolhouse and in 1847, attended the Farmer’s College, a prep school in Cincinnati for two years.  He transferred to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and graduated near the top of his class in 1852.

After completing college he studied law as a legal apprentice in the Cincinnati law office of Storer & Gwynne. He later moved to Indianapolis to begin practicing law and became a crier for the Federal Court in Indianapolis.

On October 20, 1853, he married his college sweetheart Caroline Lavinia Scott, he was a twenty and she was twenty-one years old music teacher. The couple was blessed with two children; Russell Benjamin Harrison, born in 1854, and Mary “Mamie” Scott Harrison, born in 1858.

Ben joined the new Republican Party and campaigned in 1856 for its first presidential nominee, John C. Fremont. In 1857, he entered politics himself and was elected as the Indianapolis City Attorney. Later he served as secretary of the Republican State Central Committee and campaigned for the presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He was also the state reporter for the Supreme Court of Indiana, summarizing and supervising the publication of the court’s official opinions.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Ben joined the Union Army as a lieutenant in the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, he would attain the rank of brevet brigadier general by 1865. He served under Major General William T. Sherman in the Atlanta campaign and was among the first of the Union forces to march into the city upon its surrender.

After the Civil War he was Colonel of the 70th Volunteer Infantry and became a pillar of Indianapolis. He resumed his law practice and worked as a court reporter. He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for governor of Indiana in 1872, but won the Republican nomination in 1876.The Democrats defeated him for Governor by branding him as “Kid Gloves” Harrison. Ben was nicknamed “kid gloves,” because he wore goat-skin gloves, allegedly to protect himself from infection.

By 1880 he became involved in national politics and led the Indiana delegation to the Republican National Convention. From 1881 to 1887, he served as a U.S. senator and championed Indians, homesteaders, and Civil War veterans. Ben broke with his party to oppose the controversial Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and when the Indiana state legislature came under Democratic control in 1887, he declined to return to the Senate.

Ben announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, declaring himself a “living and rejuvenated Republican.” The words “Rejuvenated Republicanism” became the slogan of his presidential campaign and he was nominated for President at the 1888 Republican Convention. He was only 5 feet, 6 inches tall so Democrats called him “Little Ben”, Republicans responded that he was big enough to wear the hat of his grandfather, “Old Tippecanoe,” William Henry Harrison who was elected as the ninth president of the United States in 1840, but died of pneumonia only one month after he took office.

The two candidates did not personally campaign, President Cleveland made only one appearance and Ben limited his speeches to front porch receptions in Indianapolis for selected delegations and press reporters. In the Presidential election, Ben received 100,000 fewer popular votes than Cleveland, but received 233 Electoral votes to Cleveland’s 168. He took oath as the 23rd President of United States of America on March 4, 1889 and became the only grandson to become President whose grandfather had been a President.

Ben developed a stiff and formal personality and his own staff privately spoke of him as “the human iceberg.” Although stiff and formal with acquaintances, Ben opened up with his family. He spent as little time as possible in the office, usually working until noon. He loved to play with his grandchildren, many of whom had moved into the White House with their parents, Russell Benjamin Harrison and Mary Scott McKee. The children were allowed to keep as many pets as they wanted, including a goat whom they named Old Whiskers. In one situation Ben was seen chasing the goat down Pennsylvania Avenue with his three grandchildren.

First Lady Caroline Harrison was appalled at the living conditions in the White House stating that it was cramped, shabby, and overrun with rats. She used ferrets to combat the rats, bought new curtains and furniture, renovated the kitchen, laid new floors, and installed private baths, a new heating system and electric lighting installed by Edison General Electric Company. However, Ben and Caroline wouldn’t touch the light switches for fear of being electrocuted and often went to bed with the lights on. Ben also used a different Edison invention when he became the first president to have his voice preserved in a thirty-six second speech recorded on a wax phonograph cylinder.

At first Ben supported large corporations but when powerful entities like John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust started to eliminate competition, set monopoly rates and prices, he supported the bipartison antimonopoly legislation. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was the first federal law to regulate giant corporations. Today, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 remains an operational law.

Congress appropriated a billion dollars during Ben’s administration, angering many Americans who saw Ben and his fellow Republicans as too supportive of wealthy interests. The treasury had a surplus at the beginning of Ben’s administration, but the incorporation of soldiers’ pensions and business subsidies evaporated the budget surplus. Ben also advocated for the expansion of the U.S. Navy and forest conservation, authorizing America’s first forest reserve located in Yellowstone, Wyoming.

Ben supported bills that promoted voting rights of African Americans in the South, but could not get them through Congress. He appointed Frederick Douglass, the most famous African American of the day, as ambassador to Haiti.

Over the four years of Ben’s term in office, more states were admitted into the Union than during any previous presidential administration: North Dakota and South Dakota (November 2, 1889), Montana (November 8, 1889), Washington (November 11, 1889), Idaho (July 3, 1890), and Wyoming (July 10, 1890). When Ben signed the proclamations admitting North and South Dakota to the Union he ordered the papers to be shuffled due to a rivalry between the two states, the names where hidden from him while signing so there would be no argument over which he signed first. However, since North Dakota is before South Dakota alphabetically, its proclamation was printed first in the Statutes At Large, thus North Dakota has always been considered the 39th state.

The Republican Party re-nominated Ben as their Presidential candidate in 1892, but due to Caroline becoming seriously ill he chose not to campaign and remained by her side. In respect for Ben and his dying wife Grover Cleveland didn’t campaign either, letting both parties to lead the campaign trail. Caroline died in October 1892 from tuberculosis and two weeks later Ben lost to Cleveland by an electoral vote of 145 to 277, the most decisive victory in 20 years.

Prior to leaving office, an American-led coup toppled Queen Liliuokalani in the Hawaiian Islands in February 1893. Ben submitted a treaty of annexation before the Senate due to his interest in establishing a naval base at Pearl Harbor. Democrats blocked it for the remainder of Ben’s term and President Cleveland later withdrew it. Hawaii wouldn’t become a state until August 21, 1959.

When Harrison lost the election to Cleveland he told his family that he felt like he had been freed from prison. He was the last Civil War general to serve as president of the United States. He returned to his legal practice in Indiana and wrote several books including ‘This Country of Ours’ (1897) and ‘Views of an Ex-President’ (1901). He served on the Board of Trustees of Purdue University from July 1895 until he passed away. A campus dormitory was named after him in 1966. He also spent time in San Francisco, California to teach at Stanford University.

On April 6, 1896, Ben married the niece of his late wife, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick, who was 37 years old, 25 years younger than Ben. Ben’s grown children from his first marriage disapproved of the marriage to a relative 25 years his junior and did not attend the wedding, which only consisted of about three dozen guests. The couple had one child together, a daughter named Elizabeth.

Ben became a respected elder statesman and acclaimed public speaker. He died of pneumonia on March 13, 1901, in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of 67. He was buried next to his first wife at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis and left the bulk of his estate, valued at about $400,000, to his second wife and their four-year-old daughter.

Mary went on to establish The Benjamin Harrison Memorial Home in Indianapolis. She and Elizabeth traveled to Europe and returned upon the outbreak of World War I. She died in New York City on January 5, 1948 from asthma and is buried next to Ben and his first wife at the Crown Hill Cemetery.


“Great lives never go out; they go on.”

“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”

“We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.”

“Prayer steadies one when he is walking in slippery places – even if things asked for are not given.”

“I am thorough believer in the American test of character. He will not build high who does not build for himself.”

“No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor.”

“I knew that my staying up would not change the election result if I were defeated, while if elected I had a hard day ahead of me. So I thought a night’s rest was best in any event.”

“God forbid that the day should ever come when, in the American mind, the thought of man as a consumer shall submerge the old American thought of man as a creature of God, endowed with unalienable rights.”

“I cannot always sympathize with that demand which we hear so frequently for cheap things. Things may be too cheap. They are too cheap when the man or woman who produces them upon the farm or the man or woman who produces them in the factory does not get out of them living wages with a margin for old age and for a dowry for the incidents that are to follow. I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth or shapes it into a garment will starve in the process.”

“The bud of victory is always in the truth.”

“Sir, I wish to understand the true principles of the Government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

“Lincoln had faith in time, and time has justified his faith.”

“There never has been a time in our history when work was so abundant or when wages were as high, whether measured by the currency in which they are paid or by their power to supply the necessaries and comforts of life.”

“Will it not be wise to allow the friendship between nations to rest upon deep and permanent things? Irritations of the cuticle must not be confounded with heart failure.”

“The disfranchisement of a single legal elector by fraud or intimidation is a crime too grave to be regarded lightly.”

“The indiscriminate denunciation of the rich is mischievous…. No poor man was ever made richer or happier by it. It is quite as illogical to despise a man because he is rich as because he is poor. Not what a man has, but what he is, settles his class. We can not right matters by taking from one what he has honestly acquired to bestow upon another what he has not earned.”

“That one flag encircles us with its folds today, the unrivaled object of our loyal love.”

“If you take out of your statutes, your constitution, your family life all that is taken from the Sacred Book, what would there be left to bind society together?”

“I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.”

“If the educated and influential classes in a community either practice or connive at the systematic violation of laws that seem to them to cross their convenience, what can they expect when the lesson that convenience or a supposed class interest is a sufficient cause for lawlessness has been well learned by the ignorant classes?”

“Have you not learned that not stocks or bonds or stately houses, or products of the mill or field are our country? It is a spiritual thought that is in our minds.”

“The evil works from a bad center both ways. It demoralizes those who practice it and destroys the faith of those who suffer by it in the efficiency of the law as a safe protector.”

“It is often easier to assemble armies than it is to assemble army revenues.”

“I’d rather have a bullet inside of me than to be living in constant dread of one.”

“When and under what conditions is the black man to have a free ballot? When is he in fact to have those full civil rights which have so long been his in law?”

“There is no constitutional or legal requirement that the President shall take the oath of office in the presence of the People but there is so manifest an appropriateness in the public induction to office of the chief executive officer of the nation that from the beginning of the Government the people to whose service the official oath consecrates the officer, have been called to witness the solemn ceremonial.”

“I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry. When we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.”


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William Jefferson Blythe IV was born on August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas to his recently widowed mother Virginia Cassidy Blythe. His father was a traveling salesman who died three months earlier in a traffic accident. His mother, a vivacious and fun-loving free spirit moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to complete two years of nursing school. She left Bill with her parents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy, who had a small grocery business. His grandparents were strict disciplinarians who instilled in him the importance of a good education. Bill recalled, “My grandparents had a lot to do with my early commitment to learning. They taught me to count and read. I was reading little books when I was 3.”

Bill’s mother came home from nursing college in 1950 and eventually married Roger Clinton, co-owner of an auto dealership in Hot Spring, Arkansas. Bill assumed his stepfather’s name but didn’t officially change it until after he turned fourteen as a sign of accepting his stepfather. His only sibling, Roger Clinton Jr., was born in 1956.

Although his parents or his grandparents were not religious, Bill became a devoted Baptist. While his mother went to the racetracks on Sunday, Bill attended church. He woke himself up, put on his best dress clothes and walked half a mile to Park Place Baptist Church to attend services alone. He was drawn to the gospel music performed at his church and began playing the saxophone.

Bill grew increasingly disturbed by his stepfather’s drinking and abusive behavior toward his mother and younger half-brother. At the age of 14, already standing more than 6 feet tall, Bill told his stepfather, “If you want them, you’ll have to go through me.” The abuse stopped, but his stepfather’s drinking didn’t, Bill’s mother divorced him in 1962, but remarried him shortly afterwards.

Bill attended Hot Springs High School, a segregated all-white school. The principal, Johnnie Mae Mackey, focused on producing students devoted to public service and she developed a strong bond with Bill. He excelled as a student and as a saxophone player and played in a jazz trio known as the “Three Blind Mice,” he was considered the best jazz saxophonist in the city.

As a high school student and delegate to the American Legion Boys Nation, on July 24, 1963 Bill met President John F. Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden and is photographed shaking Kennedy’s hand. On the same trip, Bill met another of his political heroes, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright. Bill said, “Fulbright I admired to no end … He had a real impact on my wanting to be a citizen of the world.” The Kennedy handshake left Bill determined to fulfill his mother’s prediction that he would someday be President of the United States. She did see her son become president before her death in 1994 of cancer.

Another significant event in his life was when he heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have A Dream” in 1963. Bill said it changed the way he looked at life and he started to think what he wanted to do with his life and that was to work with and for other people.

After graduating from Hot Springs High School in 1964, Bill attended Georgetown University to study international affairs and covered his expenses through scholarships and part-time jobs. He immediately thrust himself into university politics, serving as the president of his freshman and sophomore classes. Bill lost the election for student body president during his junior year because his classmates found him “too political,” and viewed him as an outsider from backwoods Arkansas. Bill began working as a clerk for the Foreign Relations Committee under Senator Fulbright, who was a critic of the Vietnam War. Bill came to share Fulbright’s view that the war was both immoral and contrary to the United States’ best interests.

Bill graduated from Georgetown University and in 1968 won a Rhodes Scholarship to study for two years at Oxford University in England. However, shortly after he arrived in England he received his draft notice and was forced to return to Arkansas. Senator Fulbright’s office and Governor Winthrop Rockefeller managed to persuade the admissions staff of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) program at the University of Arkansas Law School to accept Bill. Instead of attending law school that fall, he returned to Oxford.

Eventually Bill felt guilty about his decision to avoid the draft and resubmitted his name to the draft board. He received a high enough lottery number and would not have to serve in Vietnam. Bill sent a letter to the director of the Arkansas ROTC program thanking him for “saving” him from the draft, explaining that he still loved his country, but disapproved of the war.

Upon the completion of his Rhodes Scholarship, Bill entered Yale Law School where he met Hillary Rodham, a young woman who shared his political ambitions. They graduated from Yale in 1973 and married two years later on October 11, 1975.

After graduating from Yale Bill began teaching at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Law School and in 1974 challenged Republican incumbent John Paul Hammerschmidt for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bill lost the race, and two years later he was elected as the states attorney general. In 1978, at the age of 32, he became the Governor of Arkansas, one of the youngest governors in American history.

Bill and Hillary’s only child, Chelsea, was born on February 27, 1980. They named her after the popular 1960’s song, “Chelsea Morning,” by Joni Mitchell. They insisted that they would try to raise Chelsea outside the glare of media attention. She frequently traveled with her parents and eventually graduated from Stanford University.

Bill made several mistakes as the Arkansas governor, he served his first two-year term before losing to Frank White. Bill was devastated but refused to let it put an end to his political career. He worked for two years at a Little Rock law firm and in 1982 ran for another term as governor.

He admitted his past mistakes and voters gave him a second chance, this time Bill would hold onto the job for four consecutive terms. Bill advocated educational reform and appointed Hillary to lead a committee to draft higher standards for Arkansas schools. The education reforms positively impacted the schools, which experienced a decrease in dropout rates and an increase in college-entrance exam test scores. He also promoted welfare reforms and appointed more African Americans to state boards, commissions, and agency posts than all of his predecessors combined.

From 1986 to 1987 Bill served as the chairman of the National Governors Association, and became involved in the Democratic Leadership Council. Bill had an opportunity to announce himself as an obvious future presidential candidate at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, but he delivered an excruciatingly long and boring nomination speech for Michael Dukakis. In a skillful bit of political damage control, he quickly made fun of his disastrous speech on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

During his fifth term as governor of Arkansas, on October 3, 1991, Bill announced his intention to run for president. During his campaign he faced accusations of draft dodging during the Vietnam War and claims of an extramarital affair. Although he said he had smoked marajuana as a college student, he added that he “didn’t inhale,” which struck his critics as disingenuous. Most voters seemed unconcerned with his private life or his stand on a war that had ended about two decades ago. Both Bill and Hillary appeared on the television program “60 Minutes” to quell the controversy, Bill admitted that he had harmed his marriage and Hillary defended her husband and his work.

Bill and his running mate, Tennessee’s Senator Albert Gore Jr., then 44, represented a new generation in American political leadership. For the first time in 12 years both the White House and Congress were held by the same party. But that political edge was brief due to the Republicans controlling both houses of Congress in 1994.

Bill received 43 percent of the popular vote and more than twice the number of Electoral College votes than George H.W. Bush. Independent candidate Ross Perot drew support from both parties, winning approximately 19 percent of the popular vote but no electoral votes.

Bill was inaugurated in January 20, 1993 at the age of 46, making him the third-youngest president in history up to that time. Two days later he signed orders overturning the Reagan and Bush era restrictions on abortions. Ultimately Bill appointed a number of women and minorities to key government posts, including Janet Reno who became the first female U.S. attorney general, and Madeleine Albright, who was sworn in as the first female U.S. secretary of state. He appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, the second female justice in the court’s history.

After disputes over whether to allow homosexuals to serve in the military, Bill proposed a “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise with military leaders on July 19, 1993. The policy allowed homosexuals to serve in the military if they do not reveal their homosexuality and refrain from homosexual conduct.

Bill’s 1993 economic package passed without a single Republican vote in either chamber of Congress, they predicted that it would result in economic chaos. His economic policy lowered the deficit from $290 billion in 1992 to $203 billion by 1994 and by 1999, the booming economy generated a surplus of $124 billion.

In 1994, Bill signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act providing an additional 100,000 policemen and increased the death penalty to fifty other crimes. Finally, before the year ended, Bill, along with the presidents of four other nations signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to eradicate and abolish 9,000 nuclear warheads.

But on Bill’s personal life an investigation started to review the Clintons’ real-estate investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation. In May 1994 Paula Jones filed a civil lawsuit against Bill alleging that he made sexual advances toward her in 1991 when he was governor of Arkansas, it was later dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge.

On December 16, 1995, the federal government was shut down when the Republican majority Congress was trying to force Bill to sign their proposed budget, Bill vetoed the Republican budget. Three-quarters of a million federal workers were caught in the middle of this political fight just before Christmas, leaving them to wonder if they would be paid during the holiday season. Angry Americans, faced with locked government offices and closed national parks, blamed the Republicans, forcing them to back down and pass a temporary measure to reopen the government on January 5, 1996. They finally agreed on a compromise to the federal budget on April 26, 1996.

Bill ran for re-election in 1996 and defeated U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas by a margin of 379-159 electoral votes and 49.2 percent of the popular vote to Dole’s 40.7 percent of the vote. Ross Perot also ran for president and only received 8.4 percent of the popular vote. Bill’s victory marked the first time since Franklin Roosevelt that a Democrat was elected to a second presidential term. Republicans continued to control the House and Senate.

Bill was sworn in to his second term of office on January 20, 1997, the United States economy was healthy, unemployment was low and the nation experienced a major technology boom and the rise of the Internet. But Bill was marred by scandals and on December 19, 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached him for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with a sexual relationship he had with White House intern Monica Lewinsky between late 1995 and early 1997. According to a Secret Service officer, Bill had at least three affairs during his tenure in the White House. In addition to Monica Lewinsky, Bill ‘entertained’ Vice President Walter Mondale’s daughter, Eleanor Mondale, at the time a T.V. journalist, as well as an unnamed receptionist. It sounds like his role model President John F. Kennedy, who was also known to have a number of affairs while in office.

The investigation leading up to Bills impeachment proceedings was led by Kenneth Starr who left no stone unturned in both Bill and Hillary’s professional and personal lives. He subpoenaed the First Lady to testify about lost billing records from the Rose law firm that mysteriously turned up in the residence area of the White House. Personal or business associates of the Clintons, past and present members of the President’s political staff and administration, and just about anyone who might have knowledge of their private and public actions were subject to subpoena as witnesses to be questioned.

Starr expanded the investigations to include not just the President’s financial affairs but also his sexual behavior. Starr’s investigators questioned Bill under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky. Bill publicly denied the Lewinsky allegations, saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Starr was convinced that Bill had lied in trying to cover up the affair and had instructed others to lie on his behalf.

On December 16, 1998 Bill became the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The first president was Andrew Johnson (1808-75) who was impeached in 1868 and later acquitted. Bill was charged with lying under oath and many Senators saw the charges as “low” and tawdry actions involving private matters, not “high crimes and misdemeanors” amounting to offenses against the state. It became immediately clear that the Senate would not produce a two-thirds majority vote to convict Bill and remove him from office. On February 12, 1999, the U.S. Senate acquitted Bill of the charges and he remained in office for the remainder of his term.

Toward the end of his second term Bill became the first president who was married to a U.S. Senator when Hillary was elected to represent New York state in the U.S. Senate. Al Gore lost his run for president to the Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush

On Bill’s last day in office, January 20, 2001, he issued 140 presidential pardons, including his half-brother, Roger Clinton Jr., who was serving time in prison for cocaine possession. The most controversial pardon was the international fugitive Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a prominent Democratic fundraiser.

Bill left office dogged by charges of scandal that had become common during his time in the White House. His greatest accomplishment as president was leading the nation to a period of strong economic prosperity. While he was in office, the nation enjoyed the lowest unemployment rates in recent times, the lowest inflation rate in decades, the highest home-ownership rates in its history and a surplus budget. His successor, George W. Bush, reversed the nation’s fiscal position, from one of exceptional surpluses to one of exceptional deficits.

Bill offered his own evaluation of his presidency in his memoirs when he wrote, “I judge my presidency primarily in terms of its impact on people’s lives. That is how I kept score: all the millions of people with new jobs, new homes and college aid; the people who left welfare for work; the families helped by the family leave law; the people living in safer neighborhoods—all those people have stories, and they’re better ones now.”

After Bill left the White House, he moved to Chappaqua, New York, the home-base of Hillary’s political administration. Bill keeps an office in New York City and maintains an active speaking schedule and published his memoir “My Life,” in 2004. He is actively involved in issues of public concern through the Clinton Presidential Foundation, later renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The foundation works to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change. He also oversaw the creation of his presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas which opened on November 18, 2004.

Bill joined former President George H.W. Bush three times, after the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008, and with President George W. Bush in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. In December 2005 Bill and President George H.W. Bush were named ABC News’ people of the year for their relief efforts from the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Bill played an active role in Hillary’s failed 2008 presidential bid and afterward he helped with Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign. He also showed his support for President Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in his speech stating that President Obama was “cool on the outside, but who burns for America on the inside.”

In November 2013, Bill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians. Recipients of the medal are chosen for their “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

On September 26, 2014, Bill became a grandfather when Chelsea gave birth to Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky. His second grandchild, Aidan Clinton Mezvinsky, was born on June 18, 2016.

Hillary Clinton became the official Democratic nominee for the American presidency in May 2016, becoming the first woman in the United States to win a major political party’s presidential nomination.

Bill is considered as one of America’s most important leaders of today. In spite of the controversies connected to him, he was able to revive his image and maintained his popularity as a political figure and continues to be one of the most astute political analysts within the Democratic Party. He has been selected as “Man of the Year” twice by Time Magazine.

Who knows, he may soon be known as the First Gentleman.


“Every time we pray our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered, not sometimes, but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don’t pray more.”

“Everybody counts, everybody deserves a chance, everybody has a responsible role to play and we all do better when we work together.”

“Sometimes I feel like a fire hydrant looking at a pack of dogs.”

“We’re doing 60 Minutes because we’re too old for “”Survivor”” and “”Star Search.”

“You know the one thing that’s wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say.”

“When our memories outweigh our dreams, we have grown old.”

“We’ve got the power, we’ve got the juice. We should do the job.”

“You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president.”

“When we make college more affordable, we make the American dream more achievable.”

“We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

“Today, many companies are reporting that their number one constraint on growth is the inability to hire workers with the necessary skills.”

“Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.”

“Part of our essential humanity is paying respect to what God gave us and what will be here a long time after we’re gone.”

“In today’s knowledge-based economy, what you earn depends on what you learn. Jobs in the information technology sector, for example, pay 85 percent more than the private sector average.”

“In the new economy, information, education, and motivation are everything.”

“I like the job. That’s what I’ll miss the most… I’m not sure anybody ever liked this as much as I’ve liked it.”

“I don’t believe you can find any evidence of the fact that I have changed government policy solely because of a contribution.”

“I believe I’m a better authority than anybody else in America on my own wife. I have never known a person with a stronger sense of right and wrong in my life ever.”

“Today we can declare: Government is not the problem, and government is not the solution. We, the American people, we are the solution.”

“There is nothing more precious to a parent than a child, and nothing more important to our future than the safety of all our children.”

“Taxing less and spending more… it’s fun in the short run, but it’s a recipe for disaster”

“We are living in a world, where what we earn is a function of what we learn..”

“You live in a country that makes it harder to raise children than any other country in the world. You vote for me and I’ll give you family values.”

“We need to help younger people recognize their own capacity to do good, and help them discover the rewards of generosity.”

“That depends on what your definition of “is” is”

“For too long we’ve been told about “us” and “them.” Each and every election we see a new slate of arguments and ads telling us that “they” are the problem, not “us.” But there can be no “them” in America. There’s only us.”

“We don’t need a constitutional amendment for kids to pray.”

“Though we march to the music of our time, our mission is timeless”

“Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t turn back.”

“We need not just a new generation of leadership but a new gender of leadership”

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America”

“By lifting the weakest, poorest among us, we lift the rest of us as well.”

“I like that about the Republicans; the evidence does not faze them, they are not bothered at all by the facts.”

“Global poverty is a powder keg that could be ignited by our indifference.”

“We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs.”

“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”

“Big things are expected of us, and nothing big ever came of being small.”

“For too long we’ve been told about “”us”” and “”them.”” Each and every election we see a new slate of arguments and ads telling us that “”they”” are the problem, not “”us.”” But there can be no “”them”” in America. There’s only us.”

“I did not have sexual relationship with that woman!”

“My doctor ordered me to shut up, which will make every American happy.”

“The American people are concerned, and rightfully so. Americans should never have to worry that their employers are looking at the medicines they take, or the ailments they’ve had.”

“I think we all ought to be questioning all the time and learning and growing. And I think that’s what we need, but it’s not my deal, I don’t think.”

“As the father of Earth Day…He inspired us to remember that the stewardship of our natural resources is the stewardship of the American Dream.”

“The man knows how to build a crowd.” 


Bill Clinton

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Herbert Clark Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa, he was the first United States president to be born west of the Mississippi River. His father, Jesse Clark Hoover (1846-80), worked as a blacksmith and his mother, Hulda Minthorn Hoover (1848-84), was a teacher, a seamstress and recorded minister in the Society of Friends (Quakers). Herbert was the second of three children in a family who valued honesty, industriousness and simplicity. He enjoyed fishing in the local creek and working in his father’s blacksmith shop.  His father suffered a heart attack and died when Herbert was six years old and three years later his mother passed away from pneumonia, orphaning Herbert, his older brother Theodore, and little sister Mary.

The children were passed between relatives for a few years with Herbert eventually living with his uncle, Dr. John Minthorn, in Oregon. Having lost both his parents at an early age and then living with relatives, resulted in young Herbert to be shy, sensitive, introverted, and somewhat suspicious.

Herbert left school at 15 and worked as an office helper for Minthorn’s Oregon Land Company. In the evenings he attended the Capital Business College and applied for the newly established Leland Stanford Junior University in California to become an engineer. Unfortunately he failed the school’s entrance exam, but a professor noticed he had potential and Herbert was accepted into Stanford’s inaugural 1891 class.

He served as class treasurer and managed the school baseball and football teams. To pay his tuition, Herbert worked as a clerk in the registration office and showed entrepreneurial skills by starting a student laundry service. He majored in geology and met his future wife, Lou Henry (1874-1944), in geology lab, she was the sole female geology major at Stanford.

After majoring in geology at Stanford and graduating in 1895, Herbert struggled to find a job as a surveyor and went to work pushing ore carts at a gold mine near Nevada City, California. He moved to Australia to work as a mining engineer. As he prepared to move to China Herbert cabled Lou to propose marriage, she accepted by return wire.

On February 10, 1899, Herbert and Lou Henry were married, the couple had two sons, Herbert (1903-69) and Allan Henry (1907-93). The day after their wedding the couple set sail for Tientsin, China, where they got caught in the Boxer Rebellion. Lou strapped on a revolver for self-defense, ignored flying bullets and helped nurse wounded Western diplomats and soldiers. By the time the couple returned home to America in 1917, Lou had learned to shoot a gun and had mastered eight languages. Herbert and Lou worked alongside in Australia, Russia, Mandalay, England and France. By the time their youngest son Allan turned three he had traveled around the world three times.

Herbert become a giant in his field and he opened his own mining consulting business in 1908. His consulting firm eventually employed 175,000 people in offices located in England, France, Russia, San Francisco and New York City. He soon became known as the “Great Engineer,” and became a multi-millionaire in his early thirties.

By 1914 he had accumulated a personal fortune around $4 million (about $95 million in today’s money), but he wanted more than wealth and World War I provided him with an opportunity for public service. One week before Herbert celebrated his 40th birthday in London, Germany declared war on France. The American Consul General asked for Herbert’s help in getting stranded tourists home.In six weeks his committee helped 120,000 Americans return to the United States. He then started to serve as chairman of the American Relief Committee in London and organized to feed starving masses in occupied Belgium, at great risk to his own life. Herbert even pooled his money with several wealthy friends to organize the Committee for the Relief of Belgium, raising millions of dollars for food and medicine to help desperate Belgians.

During this time Herbert read, and was influenced by, an autobiography of Andrew White, who had assembled a vast collection of documents pertaining to the French Revolution. He realized that he was in a unique position to collect information about the Great War. It was this idea that would lead him to develop the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, becoming the largest private repository of documents on twentieth-century political history.

The United States entered the war in 1917 and Herbert was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to lead the newly created U.S. Food Administration. He succeeded in cutting consumption of foods needed overseas, avoided rationing at home, and kept the Allies fed. Herbert became a household name during the war with Americans knowing that the verb “to Hooverize” meant the rationing of household materials.

After World War I ended, Herbert lead the European Relief and Rehabilitation Administration which channeled 34 million tons of American food, clothing, and supplies to war-torn Europe. He earned worldwide acclaim for his humanitarian efforts, as well as thousands of appreciative letters from people across Europe who benefited from the free meals known as “Hoover lunches.”

Pursuing his vision of a Great War repository he pledged $50,000 to Stanford University in 1919. The collection grew and in 1922 was renamed the Hoover War Library. By 1926, it was legitimately described as the largest library in the world dealing with the Great War and by 1929 contained 1.4 million items. The Hoover Tower, reaching a height of 285 feet, was completed in 1941, the fiftieth anniversary of Stanford University.

Herbert and his family had returned to his alma mater in 1920 and built a house on campus. Shortly after President-Elect Warren Harding recruited Herbert to become secretary of commerce, he continued his service under President Coolidge.

Herbert’s reputation peaked in 1927 when he took charge of relief efforts following disastrous floods along the Mississippi River. When Coolidge announced he would not seek reelection, Herbert became the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Herbert ran a risk-free campaign, making only seven well-crafted radio speeches to the nation; he never even mentioned his opponent Al Smith by name. The Republicans portrayed Herbert as an efficient engineer in an era of technology, he was even the first person to appear on a long-distance TV broadcast. He was a successful self-made man, a skilled administrator in a new corporate world of international markets, and a businessman with a vision for economic growth that would, in the words of one GOP campaign circular, put “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

Religion and Prohibition quickly emerged as the most volatile and energizing issues in the campaign. No Catholic had ever been elected President, a by-product of the long history of American anti-Catholic sentiment. Vicious rumors and openly hateful anti-Catholic rhetoric hit Smith hard in the months leading up to Election Day. Numerous Protestant preachers in rural areas delivered Sunday sermons warning their flocks that a vote for Smith was a vote for the Devil. Smith’s anti-Prohibition politics, dubbing him “Alcoholic” Smith, spreading rumors about his own addiction and linking him with moral decline.

Herbert won 58.2 percent of the popular vote compared to Smith’s 40.9 percent. The Electoral College tally was even more uneven, 444 to 87. His election seemed to ensure prosperity and he declared in his inaugural address, “I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.” He was the first president to have a telephone on his desk and to hire an executive staff. His wife Lou was the perfect White House hostess. She started to catalog the White House antiques and restored furniture which she paid for herself. The Girl Scouts were her chief interest, and she served as their president. True to form, Herbert tried to keep his own family shielded from public view.

On October 24, 1929, only seven months after Herbert took office, a drop in the value of the U.S. stock market sent the economy spiraling downward and signaled the start of the Great Depression. Banks and businesses failed and unemployment soared. It was a national crisis with no precedent, and Herbert was vilified.

Between 1929 and 1933, 5,000 American banks collapsed, one in four farms went into foreclosure, and an average of 100,000 jobs vanished each week. By 1932, over 12 million Americans, nearly one-quarter of the workforce, was unemployed. For tens of millions, it was a time of panic and poverty, hunger and hopelessness. Many people were forced to wait in bread lines for food and to live in squalid shantytowns known as “Hoovervilles.”

Herbert tried a number of programs to stimulate the economy, and a few of them became key components of later relief efforts. However, Herbert’s response to the crisis was constrained by his conservative political philosophy. He opposed federal intervention in the economy or the construction of a welfare state, he believed that voluntarism and individual effort would solve the country’s economic woes. He believed in a limited role for government and worried that excessive federal intervention posed a threat to capitalism and individualism. Accordingly, Herbert vetoed several bills that would have provided direct relief to struggling Americans. He explained in his 1930 State of the Union address, “Prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public Treasury.”

In an effort to help war veterans Herbert signed the bill founding the Department of Veterans Affairs on July 21, 1930. He also signed a law on March 3, 1931 that made the 1814 poem by Francis Scott Key, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as America’s national anthem.

Herbert would not provide direct federal relief to the unemployed, he promoted indirect relief through public works projects and loans to the states. He presented to Congress a program asking for creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to aid business. He also supported helping farmers facing mortgage foreclosures, banking reform, a loan to states for feeding the unemployed, expansion of public works. His programs proved inadequate and the number of unemployed workers increased from seven million in 1931 to eleven million in 1933.

Herbert won passage of the Boulder Canyon Project Act, which mandated the construction of a massive dam (later named the Hoover Dam) to provide power for public utilities in California. He also placed nearly two million acres of federal land in the national forest reserve, demonstrating his belief in the conservation of national resources.

Herbert would relax doing one of his favorite hobbies, fishing. He built a fishing camp in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with $120,000 of his own money. He would bring congressmen and economic advisers to the cabin and held front-porch conferences. Herbert said, “I have discovered that even the work of the government can be improved by leisurely discussions out under the trees.”

At the White House Herbert adapted a game of medicine ball he had first played during a Latin American journey. For thirty minutes each day, seven days a week, Herbert and his “Medicine Ball Cabinet” heaved a six-pound medicine ball back and forth over a volleyball net. The game was scored exactly like tennis, and played in a similar fashion. It was a game that burned three times as many calories as tennis and six times that of golf as the players tried to throw a six pound ball over an eight foot high net.

The Depression reshaped American family life, birth rates dropped along with divorce rates, couples simply split up rather than going through legal channels for a costly divorce. The average annual family income dropped by 35 percent between Herbert’s inaugural speech and his retirement from office, from $2,300 to $1,500.

The word “Hooverize,” which in 1917 carried positive images in the public mind, had undergone a similar transformation and by 1932, “Hooverville” represented the dirty shacks in which the unemployed and homeless lived, with “Hoover Flags,” denoting the turned-out pockets of men’s trousers as they stood in bread lines. All the things about Hoover that had sounded positive during the 1920s became negative in 1932. Words like “rationalize,” “efficiency,” and “technocrat” spoke of heartlessness and a cold-minded concern with an industrial process that had devastated the nation.

Will Rogers summed up the mood of a nation when he joked, “If someone bit an apple and found a worm in it, Hoover would get the blame.” Comedians told the story of Herbert asking the treasury secretary for a nickel so he could call a friend and the treasury secretary replying, “Here, take a dime and call all your friends.”

Generous to a fault, Herbert was one of two American Presidents to give away his salary (John F. Kennedy was the other). He anonymously donated $25,000 a year to aid victims of the depression and raised $500,000 toward the 1930 White House Conference on Child Health and Welfare.

“The Great Engineer” shied away from the emotional aspects of modern, mass leadership. In the spring of 1932, three Detroit children hitchhiked to Washington to get their father out of jail. Herbert was deeply moved and ordered the father released immediately, yet he refused to let the press be informed or the children exploited for his personal political advantage. From hero to scapegoat, Herbert’s failure to dramatize himself was his greatest strength as a humanitarian and his greatest flaw as a politician.

The most politically damaging event of Herbert’s presidency was the Bonus March, staged by World War I veterans in 1932. Several years earlier, Congress had passed the Soldiers’ Bonus Act, which granted veterans Adjusted Compensation Certificates, payable in 1945. In May 1932, the “Bonus Army,” with more than 17,000 desperate veterans, gathered in Washington to force passage of the bill. Herbert had already made generous provisions for veterans and felt that the bill was a huge expense that wouldn’t help the countries neediest, veterans’ benefits already took up 25 percent of the 1932 federal budget. In July, the Bonus Bill was defeated in the Senate, the government offered to pay the fare home for each of the veterans who had traveled to Washington.

Thousands accepted the offer, but thousands more remained encamped across the Potomac from central Washington in a ramshackle shantytown. Herbert secretly ordered that its members be given tents, cots, army rations, and medical care. Although the Bonus Army had behaved remarkably peacefully, the police were called in to evict the veterans. A riot broke out and Herbert ordered that federal troops be dispatched to contain the veterans. The commanding general, Douglas MacArthur, did much more than “contain” the veterans, he ordered the use of tear gas, tanks, and bayonets, and commanded soldiers to set fire to the veterans’ shacks. Several veterans and even an infant were killed in the chaos. Herbert never publicly criticized the general for his excessive conduct, and thus the American people blamed Herbert as well as MacArthur.

Upon hearing the news, the Democratic presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt told a friend, “Well, this elects me.” By the time of the 1932 presidential election, Herbert had become a deeply unpopular, even reviled, figure across much of the country. He carried only six states and was soundly defeated by Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt, the governor of New York. The Great Depression officially became Roosevelt’s problem in March 1933, he promised to enact progressive reforms and economic relief programs that he called “A New Deal,” for the American people.

“Democracy is a harsh employer,” Herbert said when recalling his 1932 defeat. Rejected by his countrymen, Herbert departed Washington in March 1933, his once bright reputation in shambles and his career in public service apparently at an end. The Roosevelt era was, for Herbert, his own purgatory, during which the former President was forced to defend himself against charges that he had somehow caused the Great Depression or done little to combat it.

Defeated and still a relatively youthful man, the fifty-eight-year-old former President and his family moved to their home in Palo Alto, California. Herbert emerged as a critic of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. He wrote about his conservative political views and warning about the dangers of investing too much power in the federal government. His books, ‘The Challenge to Liberty’ and the eight-volume ‘Addresses Upon the American Road,’ attacked Roosevelt’s government policies.

Herbert traveled extensively in his post-presidential years and in 1938 he met with Adolf Hitler. The former U.S. President dressed down the German dictator, irritated at Hitler’s shouting in their private audience. Herbert opposed U.S. entry into the European conflict that broke out in 1939 after Germany attacked Poland. Although when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, he changed his mind. He opposed the use of the atomic bomb on Japan, he wrote to a friend in August 1945, “The only difference between this and the use of poison gas is the fear of retaliation. We alone have the bomb.”

Herbert’s organizational and humanitarian skills where once again needed and President Roosevelt put aside his personal antipathy towards his predecessor and supported Herbert’s appointment to chair an international relief organization for Poland, Finland, and Belgium. Herbert was unsuccessful in getting food relief to nations occupied by the Nazis.

In 1944, after returning from an afternoon concert, First Lady Lou Hoover died of a heart attack at the couple’s suite in New York’s Waldorf Towers. She was a skilled linguist who was distinguished by her prematurely white hair, she shunned cosmetics, jewelry and frilly clothes.

In 1945 President Roosevelt died while still in office making Vice President Harry Truman President. In May 1945, President Truman invited America’s only living former President to visit him at the White House. “I would be most happy to talk over the European food situation with you,” wrote Truman. “Also it would be a pleasure for me to become acquainted with you.” It was the start of an improbable, yet historic friendship between two men who formed perhaps the oddest couple in American politics. Early in 1946 Herbert served as the coordinator of the Food Supply for World Famine and the 71 year old Herbert visited 38 nations in an effort to beg, borrow, and cajole enough food to avert mass starvation among victims of World War II.

Herbert returned to public service in the 1950s, serving on commissions aimed at increasing government efficiency for presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Herbert’s attention returned to Iowa late in the 1950s when he agreed to allow friends and associates construct a “presidential library” near the site of his birthplace. Herbert insisted that the building be modest in size in accordance with scale of the other buildings in the community. The former president made his last visit to Iowa on August 10, 1962 to dedicate the building to the American people.

The former President continued to advise Presidents of both parties into his eighties. A reporter who dropped by Herbert’s home at the Waldorf Towers in New York City, in 1960 could hardly believe that Herbert worked eight to twelve hours each day. After all, said the journalist, the former President was nearly 86 years old. “Yes,”replied one of his secretaries, “but he doesn’t know that.” With his unending series of books, articles, speeches, and other public appearances, Herbert reinvented the ex-presidency. Long before his death he had regained much of his countrymen’s esteem and became the nation’s respected elder statesman.

Herbert Hoover died on October 20, 1964 in New York, NY at the age of ninety from colon cancer. More than 75,000 people attended the funeral service. On October 29, the body of Herbert was interred in a simple grave beside his wife Lou on an Iowa hill overlooking the cottage where he was born.

In a final demonstration of Quaker simplicity, his tombstone carries no presidential seal, no inscription of any kind, simply the name Herbert Hoover and the dates 1874–1964. It is a deliberately understated comment on a highly dramatic life that impacted millions of people.


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“Whatever doubt there may be as to the quality or purpose of our free speech we certainly have ample volumes in production.”

“We must not be misled by the claim that the source of all wisdom is in the government.”

“The durability of free speech and free press rests on the simple concept that it search for the truth and tell the truth.”

“The imperative need of this nation at all times is the leadership of Uncommon Men or Women.”

“No great question will ever be settled in dollars and cents. Great questions must be settled on moral grounds and the tests of what makes free men.”

“Truth alone can stand the guns of criticism.”

“No public man can be just a little crooked. There is no such thing as a no-man’s land between honesty and dishonesty.”

“The budget should be balanced not by more taxes, but by reduction of follies.”

“We are now speeding down the road of wasteful spending and debt, and unless we can escape we will be smashed in inflation.”

“Freedom requires that government keep the channels of competition and opportunity open, prevent monopolies, economic abuse and domination.”

“There is no more cruel illusion than that war makes a people richer.”

“We cannot change ideas in the minds of men and races with machine guns or battle ships.”

“One of the primary necessities of the world for the maintenance of peace is the elimination of the frictions which arise from competitive armament.”

“Truly every generation discovers the world all new again and knows it can improve it.”

“The advancement of knowledge must be translated into increasing health and education for the children.”

“Every generation has the right to build its own world out of the materials of the past, cemented by the hopes of the future.”

“Children are the most wholesome part of the race, the sweetest, for they are the freshest from the hand of god.”

“National character cannot be built by law. It is the sum of the moral fiber of its individuals.”

“Many women are now holding posts of grave responsibility in city and country and state and nation, and their number must be greatly increased.”

“It is obvious that while science is struggling to bring Heaven to earth some men are using its materials in the construction of Hell.”

“Next to religion, baseball has had a greater impact on our American way of life than any other American institution.”

On Engineering

“It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.

The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned…

On the other hand, unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope. No doubt as years go by the people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts hs name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other people’s money . . . But the engineer himself looks back at the the unending stream of goodness which flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants.”

On Fishing

“Tis the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on the blue water.

It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week.

And it is discipline in the equality of men, for all men are equal before fish.”

 What Is A Boy?

“You can absolutely rely on a boy if you know what to expect.

A boy is Nature’s answer to false belief that there is no such thing as perpetual motion. A boy can run like a deer, swim like a fish, climb like a squirrel, balk like a mule, bellow like a bull, eat like a pig, or act like a jackass, according to climatic conditions.

The world is so full of boys that it’s impossible to touch off a fire cracker, strike up a band, or pitch a ball without collecting a thousand of them. Boys are no ornamental; they’re useful. If it were not for boys, the newspapers would go undelivered and unread and a hundred thousand picture shows would go bankrupt.

The boy is a natural spectator; he watches parades, fires, fights, football games, automobiles and planes with equal fervor. However, he will not watch a clock. A boy is a piece of skin stretched over an appetite. However, he eats only when he’s awake. Boys imitate their Dads in spite of all efforts to teach them good manners. Boys are very durable. A boy if not washed too often and if kept in a cool quiet place after each accident, will survive broken bones, hornets nests, swimming holes and five helpings of pie.

Boys love to trade things. They’ll trade fish hooks, marbles, broken knives and snakes for anything that is priceless or worthless.”

The 44th President of the United States was not only the first African-American president, he was also the first to be born outside the continental United States. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 to Barack Obama, Sr., and Ann Dunham. Barack Sr. and Ann meet while attending the University of Hawaii and got married on February 2, 1961, with Ann being three months pregnant at eighteen years old. Barack Sr. was a student from Kenya attending college under a scholarship, but unknown to Ann, he had left behind a wife and two children.

Back in 1961 interracial marriage in the U.S. was rare and in some states illegal, so the couple settled in Honolulu. After Barack Obama Jr. was born Ann Dunham dropped out of college, completing only one semester. In 1963 Barack Sr. received a scholarship to Harvard University and moved to Boston, Massachusetts, leaving behind Ann and Barack Jr.. They would get divorced a year later and Barack Jr. and his father would never have a close relationship.

With the help of her parents to watch Barack, Ann returned to college and eventually meet a foreign student from Indonesia, Lolo Soetoro. They married in 1967 and moved to Indonesia, where Barack would live from six to ten years old. The house they lived in had no stable electricity and the streets in their neighborhood were not paved. Barack experienced poverty, beggars, and children dying from illnesses. He kept a pet ape called Tata, dogs were actually eaten, so Barack ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshoppers.  He attended Catholic and Muslim schools and would later recall, “I was raised as an Indonesian child and a Hawaiian child and as a black child and as a white child. And so what I benefited from is a multiplicity of cultures that all fed me.”

Ann started to be afraid for her son’s safety and education so, at the age of 10, Barack was sent back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents in their two bedroom apartment. Shortly after Ann divorced her husband and returned to Hawaii with Barack’s half-sister. She started to study cultural anthropology at the university and would later return to Indonesia to do field research. Barack’s separation from his mother had a tremendous impact on him.

He never built a strong bond with his grandfather, a World War II veteran who served under General Patton. Though, with the help of his grandparents, Barack got a scholarship to a prestigious prep school in Honolulu. He was one of a few black students at the school and his classmates regard him as ‘the black kid from Indonesia’. Even though Barack’s parents and grandparents were nonbelievers, he went to religion based schools. With his paternal father remarried and back in Kenya and a difficult relationship with his white grandfather, Barack didn’t seem to have a solid male role model.

Like most kids his age he liked to collect Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics. While in high school, Barack joined the basketball team and was given the nickname “Barry O’Bomber” where he favored a left-handed double pump shot. During his senior year they captured the state championship. He didn’t feel like he fit in so he drank beer, smoked marijuana and tried cocaine. He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop and now can’t stand ice cream. Today his favorite drink is black forest berry iced tea, and he doesn’t drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol.

Barack spent his first year of college at Occidental College in Los Angeles and transferred to Columbia University in New York at the end of his sophomore year. He became a disciplined student and started to study race and social injustice.

In 1981 Barack Obama Sr. was involved in a car accident and died at the age of 46. Barack Jr. had only briefly visited with his father once when he was in high school and he didn’t appear to have any feelings toward him. When he was 26, Barack traveled to Kenya and meet his grandmother and half siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. The trip helped Barack realize the struggles his father had went through.

After graduation, Barack decided to pursue a career as a community organizer to confront the issues of race and poverty. He started a job in Chicago with a group called, Developing Communities Project, and began to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants. He successfully completed several projects, including school reform, hazardous waste cleanup and establishing a job training center.

Barack was baptized a Christian in 1988. Describing his religious conversion, he wrote, “I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”

Barack is accepted to and entered Harvard Law School in 1988, like many young Americans he uses student loans to pay his tuition and doesn’t pay them off until 2 years before becoming president.

In 1989 he joined the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin as a summer associate. A young lawyer, Michelle Robinson, was assigned to be his adviser and the couple began dating. He returned to Harvard in the fall and they begin a long distance relationship.

Barack’s fame almost came when he applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar, but was rejected by the all-female committee. Instead, his fame came from being elected the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review in February 1990. His election drew widespread media attention and Random House gave him a publishing contract to write a book about race relations. His first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance was published in 1995. It’s mostly a personal memoir focusing on his struggle to come to terms with his identity as a black man raised by whites in the absence of his father. The audiobook version, narrated by Barack, received a Grammy Award for best spoken word album in 2006.

In 1991 Barack graduated from Harvard and returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer with the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School between 1992 and 2004.

On October 10, 1992, Barack and Michelle Robinson (born January 17, 1964) got married and moved to Kenwood, they would eventually have two daughters, Malia (born 1998) and Sasha (born 2001).

He helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign as the director of Illinois Project Vote, an organization focused on registering minority voters. Barack registers approximately 100,000 new voters, primarily in the African-American community.

Barack was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, a position he was reelected to until 2004. He worked to draft legislation on ethics, expand health care services and early childhood education programs for the poor. As chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee he worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases after a number of death-row inmates were found to be innocent.

Barack made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. He created a campaign committee in 2002 to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and won the Illinois primary with 53 percent of the vote. His Democratic rival, Blair Hull, had the lead until he dropped out when domestic abuse allegations against him surfaced.

In the general election, Barack faced Republican candidate Jack Ryan, but Ryan withdrew from the race due to the public disclosure of unsubstantiated sexual deviancy allegations by his ex-wife. The Illinois Republican Party replaces Ryan with Alan Keyes, a former ambassador who challenges Barack’s Christianity and blackness.

On July 7, 2004, the 42 year old Barack delivered the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. His inspiring speech is the defining moment in Barack’s political career and it earns him worldwide recognition. He received 70% of the vote and is elected for the U.S. Senate on November 2, 2004, making him the nation’s fifth African-American Senator.

Sworn into office on January 3, 2005, he starts his U.S. Senate career by partnering with fellow Senators to expand efforts to destroy weapons of mass destruction in Eastern Europe and Russia, and to create a website to track all federal spending. Barack also spoke out for victims of Hurricane Katrina, pushed for alternative energy development and championed improved veterans’ benefits.

He published his second book in October 2006, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, it discussed Barack’s vision for the future of America, which became talking points for his 2008 presidential campaign. The book hit #1 on both the New York Times and best-seller lists.

On February 10, 2007 Barack announced his presidential candidacy in front of the Old State House in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln had given his famous “house divided” speech in 1858. His campaign relied heavily on the Internet and mobilized a massive grassroots organization of volunteers and donors. He defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in the primaries on June 3, 2008, the day after his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died of cancer.

Hillary Clinton gave her full support to Barack during his campaign, leading him to defeat Republican presidential nominee John McCain with 52.9 percent of the vote. His running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, became vice president.

On January 20, 2009 Barack was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. The Obamas were accompanied to Washington by Michelle’s mother, Marian Shields Robinson, whom they invited to live with them in the White House, she was the only surviving parent of either Barack or Michelle. Barack was given the code name “Renegade” by his Secret Service handlers, I’m not sure if he received the nickname for his political views, or for continuing to smoke cigarettes after he promised Michelle he’d quit after becoming president.

During his inauguration speech, Barack summarized the United States situation by saying, “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.” When he assumed office, he inherited a global economic recession, two ongoing foreign wars and the lowest-ever international favorability rating for the United States. He was determined to help American citizens through the nation’s current domestic difficulties. “We don’t quit. I don’t quit,” he said. “Let’s seize this moment to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.”

Barack quickly began attempting to foster support for his economic stimulus package, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He also created a new climate in international politics and had a vision of a world free from nuclear arms, which won him the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, 2009. The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

During Barack’s first State of the Union address on January 27, 2010 he outlined the challenges of the economy, proposed a fee for larger banks, and announced a possible freeze on government spending in the following fiscal year. He also challenged politicians to stop thinking of re-election and start making positive changes. Two months later, on March 23, he signed the health care law known as the Affordable Care Act, foes dub it as “Obamacare.” Barack continues to receive opposition with claims that it violates the Constitution.

In 2011, Barack signed a repeal of the military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevented openly gay troops from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. He also approved U.S. participation in NATO airstrikes to support rebels fighting against the forces of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, and in May he gave the approval for the U.S. Navy SEALs covert operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Barack’s job approval ratings were dangerously low (roughly 40 percent) when he entered the 2012 election year, but he didn’t have to fight for his party’s nomination. The Republicans were struggling to choose their nominee with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney winning the nomination over House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

He was re-elected for his second term on November 6, 2012, receiving nearly five million more votes than Romney and capturing more than 60 percent of the Electoral College.

On December 14, 2012, the United States endured one of its most tragic school shootings to date when 20 children and six adults were shot to death at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Barack delivered a speech at the vigil for the victims and stressd the need to make schools safer while alluding to stricter gun-control measures. Barack stated. “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens—from law enforcement, to mental-health professionals, to parents and educators—in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like these as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?”

Barack began his second term on January 21, 2013 and his inauguration was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Barack called the nation to action on such issues as climate change, health care and marriage equality.

With Osama Bin Laden out of power, a new terrorist force was emerging in Iraq and Syria called the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) later changing to ISIS, reflecting the new goal of territorial ownership of all of Iraq and the Levant (Syria and Lebanon). Closer to home, the Boston Marathon bombing terrorist attack happened on April 15, 2013. Barack joined former President George W. Bush in Africa in July 2013 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of al-Qaeda’s first attack on American targets, making the event the first meeting between two U.S. presidents on foreign soil in commemoration of an act of terrorism.

In August 2014, Obama ordered the first airstrikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), which had seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria and conducted high-profile beheadings of foreign hostages. The following month, the U.S. launched its first attacks on ISIS targets in Syria, although the President pledged to keep combat troops out of the conflict. Several Arab countries joined in the airstrikes against the extremist Islamic militant group. “The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force,” Barack said in a speech to the United Nations. “So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”

Barack flexed his presidential power in December 2014 by moving to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. The policy change came after the exchange of American citizen Alan Gross and another unnamed American intelligence agent for three Cuban spies. In a speech at the White House, Barack explained that the dramatic shift in Cuban policy would “create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.” He announced plans “to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information to and from Cuba,” but the long-standing U.S. economic embargo on Cuba remained in effect. Economic embargo’s can only be removed with the approval of Congress and a number of politicians have spoken out against Barack’s new Cuba policies.

Barack became the first president to voice support for same-sex marriage in May 2012 and on June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an earlier 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country, ruling that same-sex marriage bans in several states were constitutional.

Entering his final year as President of the United States, Barack announced in early January 2016 that he was introducing a new series of executive orders related to gun control. He shed tears as he called on Congress and the gun lobby to work with him to make the country safer citing examples such as the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. He faces opposition from members of both the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as gun advocacy groups such as the NRA. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, most Americans favor some kind of stricter regulations of gun sales.

Barack became the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1928 when he made the three-day visit to the island with Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha, letting him put his Spanish to use. Following their first conversation at the Palace of the Revolution, Castro and Barack held a joint press conference acknowledged the complexities between the two nations but sharing optimism about the future.

Barack has been consulting with a wide range of formal and informal advisers about life after the presidency, which will begin when he is just 55 years old. Barack has said that he and his family will remain in Washington until Sasha finishes high school in 2019. Malia has decided to attend Harvard University starting in the fall of 2017, after she takes a year off between graduating from high school and starting college. It’ll be interesting to see if Barack becomes an architect, since that was his choice for an occupation if he were not a politician. Like most past presidents I’m sure he’ll continue to write books. He and Michelle made $4.2 million in one year, with most of the income coming from book sales.



“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” 
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” 
“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.” 
“Yes We Can!” 
“We are the change we have been waiting for.”
“In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.” 
“I’m inspired by the people I meet in my travels–hearing their stories, seeing the hardships they overcome, their fundamental optimism and decency. I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.”
“In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” 
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” 
“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America.”
“We don’t ask you to believe in our ability to bring change, rather, we ask you to believe in yours.”
“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.” 
“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children — all of our children — a better world. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.” 
“Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.” 
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.”
“It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” 
“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” 
“Our stories may be singular, but our destination is shared.” 
“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.”
“More than a building that houses books and data, the library has always been a window to a larger world–a place where we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward. . . . .
Libraries remind us that truth isn’t about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information. Because even as we’re the most religious of people, America’s innovative genius has always been preserved because we also have a deep faith in facts.
And so the moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold into a library, we’ve changed their lives forever, and for the better. This is an enormous force for good.” 
“While we breathe, we will hope.”
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our Democracy; Tonight is your answer.” 
“Change we need” 
“You can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you.” 
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” 
“A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.” 
“Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up” 
“A nation that can’t control its energy sources can’t control its future.” 
“Change is never easy, but always possible.”
“The American story has never been about things coming easy. It has been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard. About rejecting panicked division for purposeful unity. About seeing a mountaintop from the deepest valley. That is why we remember that some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American came from a president who took office in a time of turmoil: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“We may not be able to stop evil in the world, but how we treat one another is entirely up to us.” 
“Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom.” 
“It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”
“We will outstretch the hand if you unclench your fist.” 
“I wonder, sometimes, whether men and women in fact are capable of learning from history–whether we progress from one stage to the next in an upward course or whether we just ride the cycles of boom and bust, war and peace, ascent and decline.”
“You know, sometimes I’ll go to an 8th-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just 8th grade … An 8th-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!” 
“You might be locked in a world not of your own making, her eyes said, but you still have a claim on how it is shaped. You still have responsibilities.” 
“There is no excuse for not trying.”
“What Washington Needs is Adult Supervision.” 
“Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness. No one deserves to be bullied.” 
“At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better” 
“But you see, a rich country like America can perhaps afford to be stupid.” 
“We may come from different places and have different stories, but we share common hopes, and one very American dream.” 
“Hope — Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us…A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.” 
“Each path to knowledge involves different rules and these rules are not interchangeable.” 
“I think perhaps education doesn’t do us much good unless it is mixed with sweat.” 
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.” 
“The best anti-poverty program is a world-class education.” 
“That’s what the leadership was teaching me, day by day: that the self-interest I was supposed to be looking for extended well beyond the immediacy of issues, that beneath the small talk and sketchy biographies and received opinions, people carried with them some central explanation of themselves. Stories full of terror and wonder, studded with events that still haunted or inspired them. Sacred stories. ” 
“This shit would be really interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.” 
“Words do inspire. ” 
“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.” 
“To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.” 
“It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.” 
“Make a way out of no way” 
“There’s nobody to guide through the process of becoming a man… to explain to them the meaning of manhood. And that’s a recipe for disaster.” 
“We cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself…” 
“At the end of the day, the circumstances of your life– what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home–none of that is an excuse… where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No ones written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write you own destiny. You make your own future.” 
 “And it’s safe to assume that those in power would think longer and harder about launching a war if they envisioned their own sons and daughters in harm’s way.” 
“We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”
“Although the principle of equality has always been self-evident, it has never been self-executing.”
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost; a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.” 
“Reading is important. If you know how to read then the whole world opens up to you”
“When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that, in our democracy, government is us.” 
“All this marked them as vaguely liberal, although their ideas would never congeal into anything like a firm ideology; in this, too, they were American.” 
“We are a people of improbable hope.” 
“This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.”


Barack Obama

Barack Obama: The 50 facts you might not know

What Are Some Facts About Barack Obama?

Obama’s Numbers (January 2015 Update)

Obama’s First 100 Days: 10 Achievements You Didn’t Know About


By Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters

Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s Plan to Renew America’s Promise

The Inaugural Address, 2009: Together with Abraham Lincoln’s First and Second Inaugural Addresses and The Gettysburg Address and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance

Yes, We Can! A Salute To Children From President Obama’s Victory Speech

Our Enduring Spirit: President Barack Obama’s First Words to America

President Barack Obama: Change Has Come To America. His Words – His Promises

By Other Authors

Barack Obama in His Own Words

The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Barack Obama: The Story

Who Is Barack Obama? (Who Was…?)

The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama

The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House

Michelle Obama: A Life


Obama Makes History

“Obama out:” President Barack Obama’s hilarious final White House correspondents’ dinner speech

The Speech that Made Obama President

Barack Obama – Becoming Barack


On July 14, 1913 Leslie Lynch King, Jr. is born in Omaha, Nebraska to Leslie and Dorothy King. Leslie’s mother left her abusive relationship on July 30, 1913 and took her two-week old son to her parents’ house in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Leslie’s mother divorced his father December 19, 1913 and married Gerald R. Ford on February 1, 1917. Gerald was a successful paint salesman who adopted her young son. They began calling her son Gerald R. Ford, Jr., although his name was not legally changed until December 3, 1935. Gerald Ford was commonly known as Jerry, and he always signed his name as Jerry Ford. Jerry was not even aware of the existence of his biological father until he was 12. He grow up in a close knit family with three younger brothers, Thomas, Richard, and James.

Jerry attended elementary school at Madison Elementary in Grand Rapids, MI. and on his twelfth birthday he joined the local Boy Scout Troop. In November 1927 he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and is the only U.S. President to have been an Eagle Scout. He respected the Boy Scouts so much that an honor guard of about 400 Eagle Scouts stood watch during his funeral procession.

Jerry attended South High School in Grand Rapids and excelled at football, being named to the “All-City” and “All-State” teams. He also worked at his father’s paint and varnish factory and a local hamburger stand.

His closeness to his stepfather was deepened after a brief encounter with his father when he was 17 years old.  While he was waiting on tables a patron in the restaurant stared at him and then told him, “Leslie, I’m your father.” He was stunned and in an interview decades later recalled with bitterness, “It was shocking, in that he would intrude on a happy family life after he had neglected my mother and me by his refusal to pay what the court ordered him to pay as child support.” His father never paid the monthly child support ordered by the court but Mr. King’s father paid the money his son owed until the elder Mr. King died.

In 1931 Jerry attended the University of Michigan and joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and became a member of Michigamua, an esteemed senior honor society. Jerry also played center on the football team and was named the Wolverine’s Most Valuable Player in 1934. He remained devoted to Wolverine’s football all his life, often asking the Naval band to play his team’s fight song instead of “Hail to the Chief” before state events.

He received offers to pley professional football from the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Instead of taking up a professional football career he chose to take a position as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach at Yale, hoping to attend law school there. Yale officials initially denied him admission to the law school, but admitted him in the spring of 1938.

While at Yale, Jerry met Phyllis Brown, a blond, beautiful model who was a student attending Connecticut College for Women, they even appeared in a photograph spread in the March 12, 1940 Look Magazine. The two shared a zest for life and fell in love. The romance ended when Jerry returned to Grand Rapids to practice law and Brown stayed in New York to continue her modeling career.

When Jerry wasn’t hanging out with models and playing football in college he volunteered for Wendell Wilkie’s presidential campaign and attended the 1940 Republican Convention. A year later, he graduated from Yale Law School in the top 25 percent of his class, while still completing his coaching duties.

Jerry returned to Grand Rapids in May 1941 and opened a law firm with college friend Philip Buchen. He also become active in local politics helping to launch a reform group opposed to the Republican political machine of Frank D. McKay.

When the United States entered World War II, Jerry volunteered for the Navy and was assigned to Annapolis, Maryland as a physical training instructor. After Annapolis he became a physical fitness instructor at a pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

After a number of requests to be assigned to combat duty he was eventually reassigned as the athletic director and gunnery division officer onboard the USS MONTEREY.  He sees combat action in the Pacific Theater but the worse battle was on December 18, 1944 when his ship was hit by typhoon Cobra. Jerry was almost swept off the deck of the Monterey to his death, over 300 of his fellow sailors lost their lives to the typhoon.

He survived the typhoon but the Monterey was declared unfit for service. Jerry was reassigned to the Athletic Department at the Navy Pre-flight School at St. Mary’s College in California. He was honorably discharged from active duty in the United States Navy in February 1946.

Jerry returned to Grand Rapids and worked at the law firm of Butterfield, Keeney, and Amberg. He became active in many civic affairs and charities including chapters of the Red Cross, the American Legion, and the VFW. He also resumed his involvement in reforming Grand Rapids politics.

Mutual friends introduced Jerry to Elizabeth (Betty) Bloomer Warren in August 1947. Betty was a former model and dancer and a recent divorcee who had returned home to Grand Rapids. She worked as a department store fashion coordinator and taught dance to handicapped children.

On June 14, 1948 Jerry announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. House of Representatives, he defeated Bartel Jonkman, on September 14, 1948 in the Republican primary.

A month later, on October 15, 1948, Jerry and Betty Bloomer Warren became married at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids. The marriage was postponed until just before the election because Jerry wasn’t sure how his marriage to “a divorced ex-dancer” would affect his campaign. As it turned out, the public loved Betty, she was a strong and interesting woman who was open about her love for Jerry and he was never shy about expressing his affection for his wife, either. They eventually had four children: Michael, John, Steven and Susan.

Their brief honeymoon was in Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan-Northwestern football game, and then they drive to Michigan to attend a rally for Republican Presidential candidate Thomas Dewey.

On November 2, 1948 Jerry was elected to his first term as a U.S. Congressman from Grand Rapids and serves in the House of Representatives from January 3, 1949 to December 6, 1973. He was reelected twelve times, each time with more than 60% of the vote.

He earned a reputation as a friendly, honest, loyal and hardworking Republican. He earned a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversaw all government spending. He also helped to organize the “Chowder and Marching Club” of young Republican Congressmen with fellow House member Richard Nixon. He served on the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the following year Jerry became the House Minority Leader, the third most powerful Republican.

Jerry continued to be reelected throughout the sixties and told his family and friends that he likely would stand for election in 1974, hopefully win, and then retire from Congress in 1977.

Political colleague Richard Nixon is reelected as president in 1972. A national nightmare would begin when on June 17, 1972 five burglars where arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C..

Spiro Agnew resigned the office of Vice President in 1973, pleading no contest to a charge of accepting bribes and income tax evasion. President Nixon telephoned Jerry at home and offered the vice presidency to him and he was sworn in on December 6, 1973. Jerry’s main political goal was to become the Speaker of the House, but instead he became the Vice President and the Speaker of the Senate, a position he wouldn’t hold very long.

Jerry traveled more than 130,000 miles to support President Nixon saying that he was not involved in the Watergate scandal.  In a later interview when referring to the belief that Nixon wasn’t involved in Watergate he said “I believed what I was told, so my whole conduct as vice president was predicated on that personal trust.”

Although his support for President Nixon ended on August 6, 1974. President Nixon assembled his Cabinet at the White House and declared that he would not resign. Jerry was seated on the opposite side of the table and told Nixon, “I no longer can publicly defend you.” It was, for Jerry, a loyal friend of the president, one of the most difficult things he had ever done, he later told an interviewer, “with the development of the evidence, I had no other choice.”

On August 8, Nixon announced his resignation in a televised address to the American people. The next day, Jerry became President of the United States, the first person ever to occupy that office who had not been sent there by the electorate.

When Jerry took the oath of office on August 9, 1974, he declared, “I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances…. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.” He continued to say, “I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots. … I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it.”

Jerry inherited an administration plagued by a war in Southeast Asia, rising inflation, and fears of energy shortages. He faced many difficult decisions including replacing Nixon’s staff and restoring the credibility of the presidency. His first priority was to bring inflation under control, declaring it “public enemy number one.” One of his first unpopular decisions was when he named Nelson A. Rockefeller as his selection for Vice President. Many Republicans believed that he should’ve selected George H.W. Bush.

The next unpopular decision, and on that possibly cost him the 1976 reelection was on September 8, 1974 when Jerry pardoned Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed as President. The surprise announcement stunned the country and his approval rating dropped. Millions of Americans wanted to see the disgraced former president brought to justice. Some believed that Nixon made a deal with Jerry that if he made him Vice President and if he had to resign he would pardon him.  Jerry had to testify to Congress why he made this decision and insisted that the nation’s future hinged on ending the ordeal of Watergate and beginning the process of healing. In his 1979 autobiography he said that if Mr. Nixon been required to face indictment and trial that, “all of the healing process that I thought was so essential would have been much more difficult to achieve.”

Jerry wasn’t only going dealing with extensive criticism for pardoning Nixon, His wife Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery three weeks later.

In his first State of the Union Address on January 15, 1975, Jerry announced bluntly that “the state of the Union is not good. Millions of Americans are out of work. Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more. Prices are too high, and sales are too slow.” To remedy these problems, Jerry proposed tax cuts for American families and businesses, and strongly advocated for the reduction of government spending.

On April 28, 1975 Jerry ordered the emergency evacuation of American personnel and high-risk South Vietnamese nationals from Vietnam due to communist forces taking over Saigon. The following month Communist Cambodia seized a U.S. merchant ship and Jerry ordered Marines to rescue the ship’s crew. The civilians are safely recovered but many Marines died. It appeared that communism was spreading.

But even with everything going on Jerry formally announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976.

Jerry’s future was almost ended on September 5, 1975 when he was in Sacramento, California and Charles Manson follower, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, attempted to assassinate him. If that wasn’t enough, on September 22, Sara Jane Moore, a woman with ties to leftwing radical groups, attempted to assassinate him in San Francisco. Both Moore and Fromme were given life sentences.

As President, Jerry still found time to relax, he enjoyed fishing, golfing, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and taking the family on skiing trips to Vail, Colorado. He was in excellent health and was certainly one of the most athletic of all the nation’s Presidents. The family had Golden Retriever named Liberty, who had pups at the White House, they kept one and named her Misty. Jerry’s daughter Susan held her senior prom in the East room of the White House and the self-admitting pot smoking son Jack made headlines by bringing a former member of the Beatles, George Harrison, to the White House.

On August 19, 1976 Jerry is nominated at the Republican Convention over former California Governor Ronald Reagan. He selects Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate. The Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter is already winning public opinion polls and in September they engaged in the first presidential candidate debate since the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960.

On November 3, 1976 Jerry loses the Presidential election to Jimmy Carter of Georgia. Jerry received 39,147,793 votes compared to Carter’s 40,830,763 votes.

During his final State of the Union Address on January 12, 1977, Jerry tells Congress and the American People, “I can report that the state of the union is good. There is room for improvement, as always, but today we have a more perfect Union than when my stewardship began.”

On January 20, 1977 Carter is sworn in as the 39th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Carter states, “For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.”

Jerry retired to Rancho Mirage, California but he did return to the White House on March 24, 1977 to meet with President Carter in the Oval Office. They meet for an hour and a half discussing a range of national and international issues.

In his post-presidential years, Jerry wrote a number of books, including an account of his presidency, A Time to Heal (1979), and Humor and the Presidency (1987). Always very athletic, Jerry continued to enjoy the game of golf and spending time at Val Colorado skiing.

In the fall 1979 Jerry did consider another run for the Presidency in the 1980 election. He officially took himself out of consideration on March 16, 1980 when he stated “…America needs a new President. I have determined that I can best help that cause by not being a candidate for President, which might further divide my party.”There was even consideration with him running with Ronald Reagan as the Vice Presidential nominee.

On April 27, 1981 Jerry dedicated his Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan and then on September 18, he dedicated his Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Betty Ford struggled with alcohol and pain killer addiction and founded The Betty Ford Center which was opened on October 3, 1982. In November 18, 1991, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush and a Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

Throughout Jerry’s post presidency he represents the United States in a number of international issues and stayed active in supporting future republican presidential nominees. On August 11, 1999 Jerry is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, the nation’s highest civilian award. On May 21, 2001 The John F. Kennedy Foundation presented Jerry with the Profiles in Courage Award for putting the nation’s interest above his own political future for pardoning Richard Nixon.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) established the “NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award” in October 2003. The award honors an individual who had provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics on a continuous basis over the course of their career. Three years later the NCAA named Jerry as the fourteenth most-influential student-athlete of the last 100 years.

On December 26, 2006 Jerry died at his California home at 93 years old. At the time of his death, he was America’s oldest ex-president.

Funeral services were first held at St. Margaret’s Church in Palm Desert, California on December 30, 2006.  Then on January 2, 2007 services were held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. with final services held on January 3 at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jerry is interred on the grounds of his Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Jerry may not be remembered for sweeping changes during his presidency, which was probably the last thing the country needed at the time. His calm, forgiving presence was perhaps the best thing and while his decision to pardon Nixon was unpopular at the time, it helped put the nation back on the road to recovery.

Following her husband’s death, Betty continued to live in Rancho Mirage but poor health and increasing frailty largely curtailed her public life. She died of natural causes on July 8, 2011, at the age of 93. She is buried next to her husband at the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids Michigan.


“Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time”!

“He [Gerald R. Ford, Sr.] and Mother had three rules: tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time—and woe unto any of us who violated those rules.”

“I am not a saint, and I am sure I have done things I might have done better or differently, or not at all.  I have also left undone things that I should have done.  But I believe and hope that I have been honest with myself and with others, that I have been faithful to my friends and fair to my opponents, and that I have tried my very best to make this great Government work for the good of all Americans.”

“I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.”

“I promise my fellow citizens only this: To uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and…to do the very best that I can for America.”

“I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it . . . I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government, but civilization itself.  That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad.  In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.  My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.  Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a Government of laws and not of men.  Here the people rule.”

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

“This Congress, unless it has changed, I am confident, will be my working partner as well as my most constructive critic.  I am not asking for conformity.  I am dedicated to the two-party system, and you know which party I belong to.  I do not want a honeymoon with you.  I want a good marriage.”

“As we are a nation under God, so I am sworn to uphold our laws with the help of God.  And I have sought such guidance and searched my own conscience with special diligence to determine the right thing for me to do with respect to my predecessor in this place, Richard Nixon, and his loyal wife and family.  Theirs is an American tragedy in which we all have played a part.  It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it.  I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”

“Desertion in time of war is a major, serious offense; failure to respond to the country’s call for duty is also a serious offense.  Reconciliation among our people does not require that these acts be condoned.  Yet, reconciliation calls for an act of mercy to bind the Nation’s wounds and to heal the scars of divisiveness.”

“We are bound together by the most powerful of all ties, our fervent love for freedom and independence, which knows no homeland but the human heart.”

“History will judge this Conference not by what we say here today, but by what we do tomorrow – not by the promises we make, but by the promises we keep.”

“As we continue our American adventure…all our heroes and heroines of war and peace send us this single, urgent message: though prosperity is a good thing, though compassionate charity is a good thing, though institutional reform is a good thing, a nation survives only so long as the spirit of sacrifice and self-discipline is strong within its people.  Independence has to be defended as well as declared; freedom is always worth fighting for; and liberty ultimately belongs only to those willing to suffer for it.”

“The world is ever conscious of what Americans are doing, for better or for worse, because the United States today remains that most successful realization of humanity’s universal hope.  The world may or may not follow, but we lead because our whole history says we must.  Liberty is for all men and women as a matter of equal and unalienable right.  The establishment of justice and peace abroad will in large measure depend upon the peace and justice we create here in our own country, for we still show the way.”

“Remember that none of us are more than caretakers of this great country.  Remember that the more freedom you give to others, the more you will have for yourself.  Remember that without law there can be no liberty.  And remember, as well, the rich treasures you brought from whence you came, and let us share your pride in them.”

“To me, the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency were not prizes to be won, but a duty to be done.”

“I am a loyal Wolverine. When they lose in football, basketball, or anything I still get darn disappointed.”

“Some people equate civility with weakness and compromise with surrender. I strongly disagree. I come by my political pragmatism the hard way, for my generation paid a very heavy price in resistance to the century we had of some extremists — to the dictators, the utopians, the social engineers who are forever condemning the human race for being all too human.”

“I have always believed that most people are mostly good, most of the time.  I have never mistaken moderation for weakness, nor civility for surrender.  As far as I’m concerned, there are no enemies in politics–just temporary opponents who might vote with you on the next Roll Call.”

“. . . The ultimate test of leadership is not the polls you take, but the risks you take.  In the short run, some risks prove overwhelming.  Political courage can be self-defeating.  But the greatest defeat of all would be to live without courage, for that would hardly be living at all.”


Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Gerald Ford, 38th President, Dies at 93

61 – Proclamation 4311 – Granting Pardon to Richard Nixon

Timeline of President Ford’s Life and Career

10 Facts About Gerald Ford

Gerald R. Ford – Facts and Favorites

Fun Facts on Gerald Ford


By Gerald Ford

A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford

Greater Grand Rapids : City that Works

Humor and the Presidency

Conversation with Gerald Ford: Thoughts on Economics and Politics in the 1980’s (Studies in political and social processes)

Toward a Healthy Economy (The Francis Boyer Lectures on Public Policy)

The Vladivostok negotiations and other events (IGCC policy papers)

Selected speeches

Seminar in Economic Policy With Gerald R. Ford (Studies in Economic Policy)


Other Authors

Gerald R. Ford: An Honorable Life

Gerald R. Ford (The American Presidents Series: The 38th President, 1974-1977)

31 Days: Gerald Ford, the Nixon Pardon and A Government in Crisis

Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford

Time and Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment With History

The Education of Gerald Ford

The Last of the President’s Men

Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford

Biography – Gerald R. Ford: Healing the Presidency

Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s


Swearing in Ceremony of Gerald R. Ford as 38th President of the United States, August 9. 1974

Gerald Ford Interview- Pardoning Nixon (Merv Griffin Show 1979)

A Time to Heal: Gerald Ford’s America

Jimmy Carter – Gerald Ford Presidential Candidates Debate #2 (1976)

Time and Chance: Gerald R. Ford’s Appointment with History

President Gerald Ford on Larry King 6-8-2004 Full Hour

The U.S. Navy’s Newest Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

Gerald Ford – Assassination Attempts (02)

Gerald Ford assassination attempts – Doug Wead

Funeral of Gerald R. Ford Grand Rapids.

John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts on July 11, 1767. He was the first President who was the son of a President, George W. Bush being the other one. John Quincy, in many respects, paralleled the career as well as the temperament and viewpoints of one of the country’s founding fathers and his own father John Adams. He watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from the top of Penn’s Hill with his mother. He regularly saw soldiers passing through his hometown. The Revolutionary War was not some distant event but an immediate and frightening reality, especially since his father was one of the revolutionaries that signed the Declaration of Independence, not only putting himself in danger, but also his family.

His early years were spent living between Braintree and Boston. Some references state that John Quincy came from Quincy Massachusetts but Quincy didn’t became a city until 1888 when it split off from Braintree. The town was named after Colonel John Quincy, maternal grandfather of Abigail Adams and after whom John Quincy Adams was named. His doting father and affectionate mother taught him mathematics, languages, and the classics. His father was absent from his childhood more often than he was present, leaving much of the raising and educating of the children to Abigail.

His father groomed his son to become president of the new nation and from 1778 to 1779 eleven year old John Quincy traveled with his father to France where he served as a diplomatic envoy. John Quincy would spend a total of seven years traveling with his father to Paris, the Netherlands, and St. Petersburg, with shorter visits to England, Sweden, and Prussia. His first formal schooling was at the Passy Academy outside of Paris where studied of Benjamin Franklin’s grandsons.  As secretary to his father in Europe, he became an accomplished linguist, his father called him “the greatest traveler of his age.”

In 1780 Charles and John Quincy accompanied their father to the Netherlands to negotiate a loan. Charles was unhappy in Europe and went home after a year and a half. John Quincy’s education was interrupted when the U.S. emissary to St. Petersburg, Francis Dana, asked that he accompany him as a translator and personal secretary. A year later, John Quincy traveled alone for five months from St. Petersburg to The Hague, to rejoin his father. When he returned to America in 1785, John Quincy enrolled in Harvard College and completed a Bachelor Degree in Arts in two years.

In 1787 he started to study law and fell deeply in love with a young woman he met in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The romance lasted for several months before his mother persuaded him to put off marriage until he could support a wife. John Quincy respected his mother’s opinion and the couple eventually parted ways, which he always regretted.

John Quincy earned his Master of Art degree from Harvard in 1790 and passed the Massachusetts bar exam. He was admitted to the bar 1791 and started practicing law in Boston. As a new, young lawyer, he had difficulty attracting paying clients, even with his father being the vice president of the United States. John Quincy wrote articles in support of the Washington administration and finally, in 1794, President George Washington, aware of his fluency in French and Dutch, appointed him minister to the Netherlands.

After his father was elected president in 1796 he made John Quincy minister to Prussia where he meet Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of Joshua Johnson, an American merchant who had married an Englishwoman. John Quincy first meet her when she was only four. Louisa had grown into a pretty 22-year-old woman and John Quincy was a 30-year-old diplomat and the son of the President of the United States. John Quincy’s parents initially objected, they did not think it wise for a future President to have a foreign-born wife but this time against his parent’s opinion, they became married on July 26, 1797. The couple had four children, a daughter that didn’t reach her first birthday, George Washington Adams, who died at age 28 of apparent suicide, John Adams II died at age 31 from alcoholism. The surviving son, Charles Francis Adams, became a congressman from Massachusetts and ambassador to Britain during the Civil War.

After John Adams lost the presidency to Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Jefferson recalled John Quincy from Europe, he returned to Boston and reopened his law practice. The following year he was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate, and in 1803 the state legislature chose him to serve in the U.S. Senate. John Quincy was known as a member of the Federalist Party but once he was in Washington he voted against the Federalist Party line on several issues. The Federalist-controlled Massachusetts state legislature was infuriated by John Quincy’s pro-Jeffersonian conduct and expressed their displeasure by appointing his successor a year before his term was complete. John Quincy resigned his Senate seat in June 1808 and returned to Harvard, where he became a professor.

President James Madison called Adams back into diplomatic service in 1809 and appointed him ambassador to the Russian court of Czar Alexander I. While in St. Petersburg, John Quincy observed Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and later the withdrawal of the French army. War broke out between the United States and Britain, and in 1814 Madison called John Quincy to Belgium to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. John Quincy then began serving (like his father before him) as U.S. minister to Great Britain and later his son, Charles Francis Adams, would hold the same post during the American Civil War.

President James Monroe appointed John Quincy as the Secretary of State for two consecutive terms, from 1817-1824. While in this position he arranged with England for the joint occupation of the Oregon country, helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine, negotiated U.S. fishing rights off the Canadian coast, established the present U.S.-Canadian border from Minnesota to the Rockies, and achieved the transfer of Spanish Florida to the United States in the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. Within the State Department, he appointed staff on the basis of merit and left behind a highly efficient diplomatic service with clear accountability procedures and a system of regularized correspondence in place.

In the political tradition of the early 19th century, Adams as Secretary of State was considered the political heir to the Presidency. But the old ways of choosing a President were changing in 1824 to a populace vote. When he entered the race for the presidency he faced a handicap, he was widely respected, but was less widely liked and the southern states objected him because he opposed slavery.

John Quincy entered a five-way race for the presidency with two other members of Monroe’s cabinet–Secretary of War John C. Calhoun and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford–along with Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, and the military hero General Andrew Jackson. John Quincy carried the New England states, most of New York and a few districts elsewhere, but finished behind Jackson who won in both the electoral and popular votes. However, no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, and the election was decided by the House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, gave his support to Adams, who would later name Clay as the secretary of state. Andrew Jackson’s supporters claimed that this was a “corrupt bargain,” and Jackson himself resigned from the Senate declaring that he would win the next presidential election. He didn’t like to lose, especially when he won both the popular and electoral votes and didn’t become president because he didn’t accept Henry Clays offer before he went to John Quincy.

After the contested presidential election, John Quincy was elected the sixth President of the United States. As President, he rose precisely at five A.M. (4:15 in the summers), made his own fire, read his Bible, and then took a morning walk or a swim in the Potomac. In a study conducted in 2008, a fitness chain concluded that he was the fittest president in American history, thanks to his habit of walking more than three miles daily and swimming in the Potomac River. Once he was swimming naked and Journalist Anne Royall stole his clothes and wouldn’t return them until she was given an interview. Besides swimming, he enjoyed shooting billiards (he installed the first billiard table in the White House), reading, observing nature, domesticating wild plants, walking, horseback riding, attending the theater, and partaking of fine wines. He even owned a pet alligator which he kept in the East Room of the White House, it was given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette.

But he didn’t spend much time with his wife Louisa, except for breakfast and an occasional dinner, during which they both read papers and rarely talked. They often went for weeks without much communication and by his second year in office, they began taking separate summer vacations.

John Quincy faced continuous hostility from the Jacksonians in Congress, which explains his few accomplishments while in the White House. The Erie Canal was completed while he was in office, linking the Great Lakes to East Coast and enabling a flow of products to Eastern markets. He also sought to provide Native Americans with territory in the West, but this also failed to find support in Congress.

Not only did he have what appeared to be an unsuccessful presidency, his father died on July 4th, 1826 when he was president, the man he continually tried to impress. Maybe the “corrupt bargain” scandal was too much for his father to see him go through.

John Quincy and Andrew Jackson didn’t personally campaign in 1828, but their political followers organized rallies, parades, and demonstrations. In the press, the personal attacks reached a level of cruelty and misrepresentation. Jackson was accused of multiple murders (he was in a number of pistol duels), of extreme personal violence, and having lived in sin with his wife, Rachel, who herself was attacked as a bigamist since they got married before her divorce was finalized. John Quincy, on the other hand, was attacked for his legalistic attitudes, for his foreign-born wife, and for reportedly having procured young American virgins for the Russian czar as the primary achievement of his diplomatic career. John Quincy’s critics referred to him as “His Excellency” while Jackson came under attack as an ill-mannered, barely civilized, backwoods Indian killer.

The branding of Jackson’s wife as an “American Jezebel” and convicted adulteress backfired as an election strategy, voters didn’t approve of humiliating a woman who had lived for 40 years as the devoted wife of General Jackson. To many Americans, Jackson’s duels, brawls, executions, and unauthorized ventures represented the victory of what was right and good over John Quincy’s stiff-minded and narrowly construed principles. The attacks simply enhanced Jackson’s image as an authentic American hero who fought “heathen savages” and was one of the main generals in the War of 1812, especially winning the final battle in New Orleans.

John Quincy’s elitist attitude and his disliked contact with ordinary people had said, “If the country wants my services, she must ask for them.” He refused to campaign for his own re-election because he felt that political office should be a matter of service and not a popularity contest.

It was the first campaign in history to extensively use election materials such as campaign buttons, slogans, posters, tokens, flasks, snuffboxes, medallions, thread boxes, matchboxes, mugs, and fabric images. Almost all of these campaign trinkets depicted some aspect of the candidate’s popular image. Jackson’s status as a war hero and frontiersman played far better with the public than John Quincy’s stiff-looking elder statesman stance.

The campaign turned out more than twice the number of voters who had cast ballots in 1824. Jackson won the election by a landslide, and by a wide margin of 95 electoral votes. John Quincy carried New England, Delaware, part of Maryland, New Jersey, and sixteen of New York’s electoral votes, nine states in all. Jackson carried the remaining fifteen states of the South, Northwest, mid-Atlantic, and West. John Quincy became the second president in U.S. history to fail to win a second term, the first being his own father in 1800.

After his defeat by Andrew Jackson in 1828, John Quincy refused to attend the new president’s inauguration, just like his father when he boycotted Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801. He returned to Massachusetts, expecting to spend the remainder of his life enjoying his farm and his books but unexpectedly, the Plymouth district elected him to the House of Representatives in 1830. He would serve as a powerful leader for nine consecutive terms until the end of his life in 1848.

As one of the House’s most articulate and forceful spokesmen against slavery, John Quincy earned the nickname of “Old Man Eloquent.” Whenever he speak silence would sweep over the chamber as congressmen turned their attention to the former President. In 1841, John Quincy argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court to win freedom for slave mutineers aboard the Spanish ship Amistad. The court ruled that the mutineers were free men because international slave trade was illegal under British and U.S. law.

Keeping in character with his devotion to education and the sciences, he oversaw the donation of James Smithson of England, who willed $500,000 to the United States for the creation of an institution dedicated to knowledge, later called the Smithsonian Institution. In 1843, at the age of seventy-six, he also traveled to Cincinnati to oversee the laying of the cornerstone of the Cincinnati Observatory.

On February 21, 1848, John Quincy suffered a stroke on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol building discussing a matter he strongly opposed. He subsequently slipped into a coma after uttering these last words: “This is the end of earth. But I am content.” John Quincy died on February 23 and for two days mourners filed by his open casket in one of the House committee room. He was eventually interred next to his parents, John and Abigail Adams, beneath the First Congregational Church in Quincy Massachusetts. He left his 8,500-volume library and personal papers, as well as his home and lands, to his only surviving son, Charles Francis Adams. He divided the remainder of his estate between his wife, daughter-in-law Mary Catherine Hellen Adams (widow of his second son John Adams II), and granddaughter Mary Louisa Adams.

Many historians consider him to be the most learned person ever to have served as President He kept a diary most of his life that the biographer Fred Kaplan calls “the most valuable firsthand account of an American life and events from the last decades of the 18th century to the threshold of the Civil War.” He started his diary in 1779 when he was 12 years old and continued writing in it until his death, it consisted of 51 volumes with more than 14,000 pages. His diary reflected that he suffered from depression most of his life.

He was the first president to have his photograph taken the date was April 13, 1843. In 1970 someone had purchased a daguerreotype photograph of John Quincy at an antique store for fifty cents, it was later purchased for an undisclosed four digit sum and donated to a museum.


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”

“The will of the people is the source and the happiness of the people the end of all legitimate government upon earth.”

“From the experience of the past we derive instructive lessons for the future.”

“In unfolding to my countrymen the principles by which I shall be governed in the fulfillment of those duties my first resort will be to that Constitution which I shall swear to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and defend. That revered instrument enumerates the powers and prescribes the duties of the Executive Magistrate, and in its first words declares the purposes to which these and the whole action of the Government instituted by it should be invariably and sacredly devoted–to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to the people of this Union in their successive generations. Since the adoption of this social compact one of these generations has passed away. It is the work of our forefathers. Administered by some of the most eminent men who contributed to its formation, through a most eventful period in the annals of the world, and through all the vicissitudes of peace and war incidental to the condition of associated man, it has not disappointed the hopes and aspirations of those illustrious benefactors of their age and nation. It has promoted the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all; it has to an extent far beyond the ordinary lot of humanity secured the freedom and happiness of this people. We now receive it as a precious inheritance from those to whom we are indebted for its establishment, doubly bound by the examples which they have left us and by the blessings which we have enjoyed as the fruits of their labors to transmit the same unimpaired to the succeeding generation.”

“The best guarantee against the abuse of power consists in the freedom, the purity, and the frequency of popular elections.”

“Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

“I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong.”

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

“All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.”

“America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet on her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world; she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit…. Her glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.”

“The Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth … it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before.”

“Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round, till not a slave shall on this earth be found.”

“To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is … the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs life itself and enlarges the sphere of existence.”

“The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this — it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the precepts of Christianity.”

“Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation.”

“The radical principle of all commercial intercourse between independent nations is the mutual interest of both parties. It is the vital spirit of trade itself; nor can it be reconciled to the nature of man or to the primary laws of human society that any traffic should long be willingly pursued of which all the advantages are on one side and all the burdens on the other. Treaties of commerce have been found by experience to be among the most effective instruments for promoting peace and harmony between nations whose interests, exclusively considered on either side, are brought into frequent collisions by competition. In framing such treaties it is the duty of each party not simply to urge with unyielding pertinacity that which suits its own interest, but to concede liberally to that which is adapted to the interest of the other.”

“The origin of the political relations between the United States and France is coeval with the first years of our independence. The memory of it is interwoven with that of our arduous struggle for national existence. Weakened as it has occasionally been since that time, it can by us never be forgotten, and we should hail with exultation the moment which should indicate a recollection equally friendly in spirit on the part of France.”

“Of the two great political parties which have divided the opinions and feelings of our country, the candid and the just will now admit that both have contributed splendid talents, spotless integrity, ardent patriotism, and disinterested sacrifices to the formation and administration of this Government, and that both have required a liberal indulgence for a portion of human infirmity and error.”

“My wants are many, and, if told, would muster many a score; and were each wish a mint of gold, I still would want for more.”



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John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit

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John Quincy Adams

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Amistad: The Best of John Quincy Adams

Who is the Real John Quincy Adams? Biography, Education, Quotes (1998)

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#06 John Quincy Adams