Political Headlines April 4, 2013: Scott Brown Won’t Rule Out New Hampshire Senate Bid in 2014 Midterm Elections

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Scott Brown Won’t Rule Out New Hampshire Senate Bid

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-4-13

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown told reporters Thursday night that he is not ruling out a run for Senate in the neighboring state of New Hampshire in 2014.

Asked whether he is considering a challenge to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Brown said he is still “recharging the batteries” but noted, “I’m not going to rule out anything right now,” according to an audio recording of the former senator’s remarks to reporters….READ MORE

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Full Text Obama Presidency April 4, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speeches at DCCC Events in San Francisco, California

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at a DCCC Event — San Francisco, CA

Source: WH, 4-4-13

Private Residence
San Francisco, California

8:24 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Well, first of all, let me thank Ann and Gordon for once again extending such gracious hospitality to all of us. I was reminded that I was first here in 2008, when I was running the first time, and I had much less gray hair. (Laughter.) But they were kind to me then and have been kind to me since, and I appreciate very much their friendship and support.

I want to acknowledge Steve Israel, who is here and has an often thankless, extraordinarily difficult but critically important job, and he’s done so with good humor and boundless energy. And so please give Congressman Steve Israel a big round of applause. (Applause.)

And of course I’m here because your neighbor told me I needed to be here. (Laughter.) And I am here because there are very few people in public office who I am more fond of and respectful than the person who just introduced me, Nancy Pelosi. She is thoughtful, she’s visionary, she’s as tough as nails. (Laughter.) She is practical. She never lets ideology cloud her judgment. She’s constantly motivated by how do we create a country that is more just, more fair, more dynamic. She knows why she’s in public life. It’s connected to her values — the values that she grew up with, the values that she’s raised her kids, and now spoils her grandkids with. (Laughter.) And I’m just so proud to call her a friend.

And I am here because I won my last election, but I’m here because my job is not simply to occupy the Oval Office. My job is to make sure we move the country forward, and I think we can best do that if Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House once again. (Applause.)

Nancy used a word that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these days. And that’s the word “citizenship.” I talked about it at the inauguration speech. I talked about it at the State of the Union speech. I actually talked about it at the convention, my acceptance speech. And the reason I care about the word so much is because there are times in today’s busy world, the media chatter, where there’s a government over here somewhere, and then there’s people and ordinary life and the private sector, and all that stuff is over there. And somehow the notion is that these two things are separate.

And some of the folks who most adamantly insist that government is something alien and distant are the same folks who claim the mantle of the Founders and believe that their views best represent the original intentions of those who fought for and formed this country.

And yet, when I read the Declaration of Independence, when I read the Constitution, when I look at all the great documents and laws that have been passed that built this country up, what I see is this central idea that citizenship means we are the government — the government of and by and for the people — which means we have responsibilities that extend beyond voting or even writing a check.

It speaks to rights, but it also speaks to responsibilities and obligations. It suggests that we are responsible for ourselves, and our families, and our neighborhoods, and our cities, and our farmlands, and our neighbors, and our nation, and future generations. And so we don’t just think about “us,” we think about “we, the people.” That’s the idea that motivated me to get into public service in the first place. That’s what I think has always been at the heart of America.

And the reason that we’ve been able to make significant progress over the last four years and couple months is because a lot of you have believed it, too. That’s how I got elected in 2008. That’s how Nancy Pelosi became Speaker in 2006. That’s the reason that we were able to yank an economy on the verge of depression and get it back on track to growth and job creation. That’s the reason that we were able to pass a health care law that is already helping millions of people, and will help millions more when it is fully implemented next year. (Applause.)
That’s the reason we’ve been able to put people back to work building roads and bridges and water systems and new park trails all across this country. That’s the reason that we were able to double fuel efficiency standards on cars, begin the process of reducing carbons and making our economy more energy-efficient, and doubling the amount of clean energy that we’re producing through wind and solar and other renewables.
It’s the reason that we’ve been able slowly to nurse the housing market back to health. That is the reason that we’ve been able to keep this country safe while still being true to our values and principles of rule of law.

That is the reason why we’ve been able to help millions of kids all across this country go to college who couldn’t otherwise afford it. We’ve started to reform schools at the K-12 level.

We were able to do all this because you believed in citizenship. And the reason I ran for another term was because I think we’ve got more work to do. And the reason that Nancy wants to be Speaker again is because she thinks we have more work to do. (Applause.) I assure you that she does not like being away from her grandkids. (Laughter.) She could be doing a lot of other stuff. Steve makes enormous sacrifices. He’s got to travel all across the country raising money constantly and recruiting candidates. He’d love to be home. But we think we’ve got more work to do.

Now, this year, we have a window. Just completed one election. We would like to see some governing done in Washington before the next election starts. (Laughter.) And so we’ve got this opportunity that we need to seize to initiate serious gun safety legislation, reduce gun violence — (applause) — to make sure that we finally get a comprehensive immigration reform done, because we are a nation of laws but we are also a nation of immigrants, and those two things are not incompatible. (Applause.)

We have more work to do to make sure that we stabilize our finances in a way that still allows us to make investments in critical infrastructure and basic research. Somebody mentioned to me they heard my speech about the new BRAIN Initiative that we’ve put forward; just an entire sweeping horizon of possibilities when it comes to — (applause) — curing Alzheimer’s, and curing Parkinson’s, and so many diseases, but also just allowing us to do things that we couldn’t even imagine a year ago, two years ago. Now we’re on the threshold of cracking a code that could open up endless possibilities.

Now, in order to do that, we’ve got to be able to pass laws. There are some things I can do administratively, a lot of stuff that we can do administratively, but a lot of stuff we’ve got to do legislatively. Right now we’re constrained by what we get done. And I have said publicly and I will say it to this room once again that I believe that Republicans love their kids and their country as much as we do, and there are a whole bunch of folks out there who I believe actually want to cooperate with us but feel constrained right now because of their own politics.

I’m looking and probing for every crack and possible opportunity to join in a bipartisan fashion to solve these problems, because I think most of the problems out there are ones that, at least historically, have garnered support from Democrats and Republicans, and that’s — there is nothing inherently Democratic about building roads or funding research or looking out for the environment. It used to be a great bipartisan set of ideas.

And so my hope is, is that we can get some governing done this year, and I know that Nancy feels the same way. By the way, she’s already worked with her caucus to deliver votes on things that aren’t necessarily politically advantageous but are the right thing to do. She did it as Speaker, and she’s done it as Democratic Leader in the House. So we want to get this — we just want to get stuff done.

And I won’t say — I won’t speak for Nancy here, I will speak for myself. I would love nothing better than an effective, loyal opposition that is willing to meet us halfway and move the country forward — because that’s what the American people are looking for. The economy is growing but there is still a lot of folks out there who are struggling; still way too many people who are unemployed; people who haven’t seen a raise in a decade; people whose homes are still underwater; people who when they see $4-a-gallon gas know that that is money that’s coming straight out of their pockets or their retirement funds and is going to be very hard to make up. And they’re hoping that we can do some governing. And that’s what I intend to do this year, and the year after that and the year after that.

But I would be dishonest if I didn’t say that it would be a whole lot easier to govern if I had Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. (Laughter and applause.) Because here are the stakes — I actually think we’ve got a great chance of getting immigration reform done. I think we have a good chance of getting serious gun safety legislation done. But if we’re going to move forward on some of the other things I talked about in the State of the Union — making sure that we’ve got early childhood education for every child in America so that they can (inaudible.) (Applause.)

If we’re going to deal with the $2 trillion of deferred maintenance we’ve got in terms of infrastructure — not just roads and bridges, but a smart grid that can connect up clean energy to our cities and make sure that we continue to reduce not only existing loads of renewable energy, but also discovering those breakthroughs that are going to make all the difference down the future, then I’m going to need some more help in Congress.

If we’re going to deal with climate change in a serious way, then we’ve got to have folks in Congress — even when it’s not politically convenient — to talk about it and advocate for it, and break out of this notion that somehow there’s a contradiction between us being good stewards of the environment and us growing this economy. They are not a contradiction. We can grow this economy fast and faster if we are seizing the opportunities of the future and not just looking at the energy sources of the past. We’re going to need some help.

I’m going to need some help if we are going to continue to make progress in assuring that every young person in this country has a chance to go to college and that they can afford it. I’m going to need some help if we’re going to make sure that simple stuff — what should be simple — that everybody in America right now can refinance their homes. We could put $3,000 a year into the pockets of every single American just by passing a law in Congress that, by the way, Mitt Romney’s key economic advisor, chief economic advisor says was a good idea. For some reason, we still can’t get it through the Congress — 3,000 bucks. It’s like free money for families who right now are struggling. Think about what they could do with it, and what that will do in terms of boosting our growth. I need some help.

And my hope is, is that we’re going to see more and more Republicans who say, you know what, I didn’t come here just to fight the President or demonize Nancy Pelosi, I came here to get some stuff done. And they will be greeted with great enthusiasm by me and I think by Nancy, if we could get some more stuff done right now. But, realistically, I could get a whole lot more done if Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. (Applause.)

So let me just close by saying this. And I know that Nancy’s people will have a chance to answer some more specific questions about their game plan, all the great candidates they’ve recruited, the significant financial burden that will have to be bent in order to help elect these candidates.

But let me close by saying this, go back to where I started this notion of citizenship. People ask me, does it feel different now in your second term than it did in your first? It does. Look, I would hope I’m better at my job now than I was when I first came in. I’ve got some nicks, bruises to prove that I’ve been to this rodeo before. Hopefully, I’m making better decisions and our team is better organized, and we know what works and what doesn’t, what some of the pitfalls are.

But the main difference really is a sense of perspective and realization that nothing worthwhile happens in six months or a year. It happens over decades. It happens over generations, that the story of America has been us steadily, through fits and starts, expanding opportunity, creating a more perfect union, seizing the promise of the future, fighting off some of our own worst impulses. And that any one of us, our job is not to do it by ourselves or get it all done in one year or one term or even necessarily in our lifetimes, but our job is to make sure that we’re pressing and pushing so that the whole country, over time, is moving in the right direction.

We did a screening of the Jackie — there’s a new movie about Jackie Robinson called “42,” which I usually don’t plug movies, but I strongly recommend people take their kids and their grandkids to see this. A lot of people don’t necessarily remember the story of Jackie Robinson or if they it’s sort of vague. His widow, Rachel Robinson was there. She’s 90 years old and gorgeous. And in the theater at the White House, I thanked her. I thanked the people who made the film, just for reminding me in very visceral terms that in her lifetime, she saw her husband being the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, and now she’s sitting there with me, in the White House. That’s a long time — 70 years. On the other hand, that’s a blink of an eye in terms of human history. And that required Branch Rickey, it required Jackie Robinson, and then it required —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Chandler. The commissioner, Happy Chandler.

THE PRESIDENT: — and it just — it required a succession of people making tough choices, but the right choice. And then slowly things changed. A culture transformed itself.

I was just in another house here in, very close by. A wonderful young woman, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile was performing. And she was with her wife — just got married I guess the day that I announced that I supported same-sex marriage. And she’s a young woman, and I’m assuming she’s thinking about all the people who were fighting the good fight not just in Stonewall, but well before that.

And so generation after generation, we just plug away, and sometimes we make progress and sometimes it feels like we’re not making progress. We just stay at it and stay at it. And then suddenly there’s a breakthrough, and the entire culture shifts.

And that’s what citizenship means. That’s why it’s so important, because it’s not going to happen all at once. And all of us have to carry the burden of moving things forward.

So I hope that when you hear from Nancy and Steve, I hope that all of you understand this is not just a one-off, this is not just checking this off the list. You’ve got to stay with them. And it’ll be frustrating, it’ll be slow, and there will be times where you lose hope, and there will be times where you won’t be mad at Nancy, but there will certainly be times where you’re mad at me. (Laughter.)

But if you stay with it, if you and your neighbors and your friends and your children and your grandchildren, if they maintain that sense that this is our government not somebody else’s, and we can change it, then I’ve got great optimism for the future of this country and for the future of citizens in America.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

END
8:48 P.M. PDT

 

Remarks by the President at a DCCC Event — San Francisco, CA

Source: WH, 4-4-13

Private Residence
San Francisco, California

6:53 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Well, first of all, I want to thank Tom and Kat for opening up this spectacular home. They were bragging about the view — (laughter) — but Secret Service wasn’t going to let me look at the view. But I’m now in my second term, so I can — (laughter) — so I called an audible, and I went out there, and it is spectacular. And they were all apologetic. They said, well, you can’t see the bridge. (Laughter.) I said, it’s okay, I can see the Pacific Ocean; that’s pretty good. (Laughter.) So I was perfectly satisfied with the view, and I could not be more grateful and thankful to them for hosting us here tonight. So give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

I want to thank Brandi Carlile for singing the — (applause) — there she is. Now, I just — the reason I know Brandi is because the White House photographer, Pete Souza, was a fan of Brandi’s before the rest of the world knew Brandi, and followed her around everywhere. He didn’t stalk her, he was just — (laughter) — he was a fan. And so Pete Souza gets credit, before Jimmy Fallon or anybody else, for Brandi Carlile being discovered, at least by me. (Laughter.) But we’re so grateful for her participating here tonight.

The main reason we’re here is actually not me. The main reason we’re here is because we have got a fearless leader who happens to be your neighbor, who day in, day out is fighting the good fight on every single issue that matters in terms of making this a more equitable, more prosperous, more generous, more competitive nation. And she has been an extraordinary friend of mine, but more importantly, she’s a friend to working families all across the country each and every day. I could not be prouder of her, and I expect that she is going to be once again the Speaker of the House — Nancy Pelosi. Love Nancy. (Applause.)

And Nancy wouldn’t be — I think would be the first to say that she could not do what she does if it weren’t for her extraordinary members. Right now, her chief rebounder, assist person, handyman — (laughter) — the guy who is making this enormous effort work is Steve Israel. So we want to thank Congressman Steve Israel. (Applause.) And we’ve got three other members here today. Mike Honda — where’s Mike? There he is in the back. (Applause.) Jared Huffman. Jared is right there. (Applause.) And Eric Swalwell. There he is. (Applause.)

All right, now, first of all, Tom used that analogy I think two days after I went two for twenty at — (laughter) — at the Easter Egg Roll, guarded by a number of 6-year-olds. (Laughter.) So clearly I have not been playing enough basketball for anybody to want to use that analogy. But what I think is absolutely true is that the way I have always thought about politics, I know the way Nancy thinks about politics, is that we are a team. And when I say “we,” I’m not simply referring to the people in Washington.

If you noticed, during my inauguration address and my State of the Union, I talked about citizenship; I talked about what it means to be a citizen. And the notion of citizenship is not simply a matter of voting, it’s not simply a matter of writing a check to a candidate who you like. The notion of citizenship is that all of us have obligations to this nation, to our fellow citizens, and to future generations, and that each and every day we are tested and asked to participate in ways large and small to push that boulder up the hill a little bit, and to make sure that when our time here has passed, we can say, America is stronger, it’s more prosperous, and opportunity is available to every single American.

That’s not just my job, it’s not just Nancy’s job — it’s your job, as well. And the fact that all of you are here is an indicator that you take this notion of citizenship seriously. And because you do, Nancy and I, and Steve and others, we’ve had an opportunity over these last four years and a couple of months to make some extraordinary changes in this country.

We were able to yank an economy that was on the verge of a depression out of depression. And although we’re not all the way back, the economy has stabilized, our financial markets have stabilized, housing is beginning to come back, and families are starting to feel a little more hopeful about their prospects for the future.

Because of you, because of our team, we have been able to assure that people who already have health insurance have better health insurance; that they’ve got preventive care, they’ve got contraceptive care; that insurance companies can’t drop them for no good reason; that young people can stay on their parent’s plan until they’re 26. And by next year, we’ll know that 35 million people, most of whom work, are never again going to have to say to themselves that because of a preexisting condition or simply a lack of money, that they end up bankrupt or end up in an emergency room when they or their family members get sick. That happened because of all of you. (Applause.)

Because of you, we were able to make sure that serving your country didn’t depend on who you loved, and as a consequence of some of those changes, we’re now starting to see a extraordinary transformation in our culture that assures that the LGBT community has full and equal citizenship in this country. (Applause.) That happened because of you.

Because of you, roads have been built that needed repair, and people were put back to work. Because of you, research has happened that is looking to cure everything from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s to juvenile diabetes. Because of you, we’re actually seeing genuine improvement in our schools, and states all across the country — including very red states — have embarked on a reform agenda that makes certain that our kids can compete in this new global economy.

Because of you, millions of young people have health insurance — they have health insurance but are also able to afford college, and couldn’t afford it before. And because of you, despite a very aggressive agenda on the other side to block action, we’ve been able to double fuel efficiency standards on cars. We’ve been able to take mercury out of our air. We have been able to reduce carbon emissions in this country and have made not only this a healthier place to live, but have also begun to address in a serious way one of the biggest challenges of our time, and that is the challenge of climate change. That all happened because of you. (Applause.)

But here is the thing: We’ve got a lot more work to do. That’s why I ran for a second term. The plane is nice — (laughter) — but the truth is, is that being in the bubble drives me crazy. So if I didn’t think I was actually going to get something done, I wouldn’t have run.

Nancy has gorgeous grandchildren. And if it weren’t for the fact that we have more work to do, I’m sure that she wouldn’t be going after the speakership again. The reason we do so, and the reason you’re here, is because we know we can do so much more to make this country what it can be.

Now, over the next couple of months, we’ve got a couple of issues: gun control. (Applause.) I just came from Denver, where the issue of gun violence is something that has haunted families for way too long, and it is possible for us to create common-sense gun safety measures that respect the traditions of gun ownership in this country and hunters and sportsmen, but also make sure that we don’t have another 20 children in a classroom gunned down by a semiautomatic weapon — by a fully automatic weapon in that case, sadly.

Immigration reform is something that I believe that we can get done over the next couple of months. It’s interesting how clarifying to the mind Democrats getting 70 percent of the Latino vote was in suggesting that maybe we needed to get — finally fix a broken immigration system, and making sure that we’re both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

But even if we’re able to get those two things done — and I’m hopeful that we do over the next couple of months — we’re going to have some big challenges. We still have to rebuild this country. We’ve got about $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance. We could be putting back to work Americans all across this country not just rebuilding roads and bridges, but building state-of-the-art schools and a smart grid that would make sure that we’re wasting less energy, and link cities that are using energy with wind farms in the Dakotas and in the plains of Colorado.

We’ve got still more work to do to make college more affordable. We’re going to have a lot more work to do to make sure that hard work pays off, which is why passing a minimum wage increase is so important — because there are a lot of families out there, even who have jobs, who are having a tough time each and every day.

And something that I know is near and dear to Tom and Kat’s hearts, and to Nancy’s — we’ve got more work to do in terms of dealing with climate change and making sure that we’ve got an economy that is energy-efficient, that is productive, that is cutting-edge, and thinks about not just the energy sources of the past, but also the energy promise of the future.

And the thing that I’m going to have to try to work to persuade the American people a little more convincingly on is this notion that there’s a contradiction between our economy and our environment is just a false choice — that if we invest now, we will create jobs, we will create entire new industries; other countries will be looking to catch up, they will be looking to import what we do. We will set the standard, and everybody else will have to adapt.

But — and I mentioned this to Tom and Kat and a few folks right before I came out here — the politics of this are tough. Because if you haven’t seen a raise in a decade; if your house is still $25,000, $30,000 underwater; if you’re just happy that you’ve still got that factor job that is powered by cheap energy; if every time you go to fill up your old car because you can’t afford to buy a new one, and you certainly can’t afford to buy a Prius, you’re spending 40 bucks that you don’t have, which means that you may not be able to save for retirement — you may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your number-one concern. And if people think, well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by. You’re thinking about what’s right in front of you, which is how do I fill up my gas tank and how do I feed my family.

And so part of what we’re going to have to do is to marry a genuine, passionate concern about middle-class families and everybody who is trying to get into the middle class to show them that we’re working just as hard for them as we are for our environmental agenda, and that we can bridge these things in a way that advances the causes of both. And that’s going to take some work.

But the most important thing that it’s going to take is people in Washington who are willing to speak truth to power, are willing to take some risks politically, are willing to get a little bit out ahead of the curve — not two miles ahead of the curve, but just a little bit ahead of it. And that’s why your presence here is so important.

Look, my intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can, because we can’t have perpetual campaigns. And so I mean what I say. I am looking to find areas of common ground with Republicans every single day. I want to make sure that we’re working together to stabilize our finances. And I think actually that we can come up with a fiscal deal that instead of lurching from crisis to crisis every three months, we lay the groundwork for long-term growth — controlling our deficits, controlling our debt, but also making sure we can invest in our future. I want to get an immigration deal done. I want to find some common-sense gun safety legislation that we can get done. And I do believe that there are well-meaning Republicans out there who care about their kids just as passionately as we do.

Despite all the rhetoric on television, I actually believe that Americans have a lot more in common than our political rhetoric would give us credit for. But having said all that, I know Nancy Pelosi. I’ve seen her courage. I know that she is willing to do the right thing, even when it’s not politically popular. And I want her once again as a fully empowered partner for us to be able to move our agenda forward.

And so I’m going to expect that you guys are fighting for issues, helping to move public opinion; engaging in organizing and engaging in advocacy and public policy work — all the stuff that — and I’m looking around this room, it’s full of do-gooders here — all the stuff you do. But I also want to make sure that you are paying attention to what can we do to support the prospect of Nancy Pelosi being Speaker once again.

If we do that, then I’m confident that not only can we deliver on this profound issue of climate change, not only can we make sure that clean energy is the norm here in America, but I also think that we can give America that sense of confidence and forward movement that’s always been our hallmark that characterizes who we are. To do that, I’m going to need you and Nancy is going to need you.

And so I hope that this is not the end of your involvement. I hope it is the beginning. If, in fact, all the energy that’s represented in this room is fully deployed, then I feel pretty good about Malia and Sasha, I feel pretty good about these young people right here. They’re smarter than we are. If we hand off the kind of America that we should be handing off to them, I promise you they will take it to ever greater heights.

All right, thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

END
7:12 P.M. PDT

History Buzz April 5, 2013: History Doyen Robert Remini Dies at 91

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Robert Remini, 91, acclaimed history professor, dies

Source: Chicago Tribune, 4-5-13

Robert Remini, an award-winning biographer and political historian, was named historian of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 and asked to pen a narrative history of the body. His book, “The House: The History of the House of Representatives,” was published the next year…READ MORE

The following is a reprint of Robert Remini’s History Doyen profiled I edited while I was an Assistant Editor at the History News Network (HNN). Robert Remini’s profile was the inaugural profile for the History Doyens series I edited, and was first published January 20, 2006 .  

History Doyens: Robert V. Remini

Edited & Compiled by Bonnie K. Goodman

What They’re Famous For

Robert V. Remini is professor emeritus of history and the humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Robert V. Remini  JPGHe is currently at work on a narrative history of the U.S. House of Representatives, and has been named House Historian. Remini has written a three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson, the third volume of the series, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845 won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1984. He is also the author of biographies of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, as well as a dozen other books on Jacksonian America, and is considered the most preeminent scholar on Andrew Jackson and his times.

Personal Anecdote

To a very large extent my career as an historian, such as it is, was determined by events over which I had little control. For example, when I graduated from college I fully intended to become a lawyer. Not because I was intrigued by the law but because it seemed like a worthy profession then for a child of the Great Depression. Fortunately World War II came along and I found myself aboard a ship plying the Atlantic and reading histories of the United States. I even read all nine volumes of Henry Adams’s History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and I loved every page. After three years in the service I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life reading and writing and teaching history. I got so worked up that I even had the audacity of writing an article and submitting it for publication to the American Historical Association. It wasn’t a very good article and was based solely on secondary sources. Graciously, the AHA rejected it, but it was not many years later when they did publish an article I wrote.

So as soon as I was discharged I enrolled in the graduate school of Columbia University and began my newly discovered career. I was particularly anxious to study 20th century, urban, New York, political history. I’m not sure why, except that I was born and raised a New Yorker, as were both my parents. I signed up for an MA seminar conducted by Richard Hofstadter. He had arrived at Columbia about the same time I did. The class was packed with about 40 students, most of them returning veterans. Can you imagine a seminar of 40? I don’t think I ever said a word in the seminar. I just enjoyed every word Hofstadter spoke, for he spoke like he wrote, in complete sentences and paragraphs, every one a delight to hear. I wrote my master’s essay on John Purroy Mitchel, the reform mayor of New York City just prior to World War I and fully intended to continue with this topic for my doctorate.

Then one day Hofstadter approached me and suggested that I consider doing my PhD dissertation on Martin Van Buren since the Mitchel papers were locked up for 50 years which would prevent any further work on that topic. It seems that Columbia had received a grant that would permit the University to purchase microfilm copies of presidential papers held in the Library of Congress and the library people at Columbia were anxious to begin with copies of the Van Buren papers. Apparently the grant also stipulated that a graduate student begin working on them after their arrival. Now Van Buren was a New Yorker, said Hofstadter, and an important political figure. Granted he was not urban or twentieth century, but if I accepted his suggestion it would mean that I could do my basic research at Columbia and not have to travel to Washington or any other remote repository. Now if you think a graduate student cannot be influenced by such a proposal you are very mistaken.

I was gratified that Hofstadter had suggested me for this work and I agreed to switch to the nineteenth century. I did my doctoral dissertation on the early political career of Martin Van Buren under the direction of Dumas Malone, since Hofstadter did not give a PhD seminar at that time. That dissertation when published as a book argued that Van Buren was central to the formation of the Democratic party and the revival of the two party system. I fully expected to continue that work and write a full biography of Van Buren but Andrew Jackson intervened and changed all my plans. But that’s another and longer story.

Quotes

By Robert V. Remini

  • At length one sovereign artist found the language to express what Andrew Jackson had meant to his generation. In Moby Dick, Herman Melvile paid everlasting tribute to the fallen hero:“Men may seem detestable… but man, in ideal, is so noble and so sparkling… that over any ignomininous blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes…. But this august dignity I treat of, is not the dignity of kings and robes, but that abounding dignity which has no robed investiture. Thou shall see it shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike; that democratic dignity which, on all hands, radiates without end from God; Himself! The great God absolute! The centre and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!The Course  of American Democracy, 1833-1845 JPG “If, then, to meanest mariners, and renegades ands castaways, I shall hereafter ascribe high qualities, though dark; weave round them tragic graces;…if I shall touch that workman’s arm, with some etheral light…then against all moral critics bear me out in it, thou just Spirit of Equality, which hast spread one royal mantle of humanity over all my kind! Bear me out in it, thou great democratic God!…Thou who didst pick up Andrew Jackson from the pebbles; who didst hurl him upon a warhorse; who didst thunder him higher than a throne! Thou who, in all Thy mighty earthly marchings, ever cullest Thy selectest champions from the kingly commons; bear me out in it, O God!”To such an invocation of Jackson on behalf of the democratic ideal, one can only say, Amen, O God, Amen. — Robert Remini in the conclusion of “Andrew Jackson : The Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845″
  • I have been invited to speak on Heroes of History, a subject about which it is very easy for professional historians to be cynical. And that is a great mistake because there are a great many genuine heroes in American history, starting at the very beginning and coming down to the present. I am thinking in particular of the heroes of 9/11, the astronauts of the space ship, Columbia, and the soldiers who fought and are fighting in Iraq.The question immediately arises as to what constitutes heroism. How can a hero be defined? Each person will have his or her own definition, but to me heroes are those who have performed extraordinary sacrifices for the benefit of others, and most especially for their country.This past year I was fortunate to be invited by the Library of Congress to undertake the writing of the history of the United States House of Representatives. I will start with the First Congress and continue to the present 108th. In researching and writing that book, I have been amazed by what the members of the First Congress accomplished, not only by the fact that they were mostly “ordinary” men, most of whom are obscure today, but how through heroic efforts they breathed life into the Constitution and helped create a republic that has not only survived, but prospered to an extraordinary extent. — Robert V. Remini “Ordinary heroes: Founders of our republic,” July 2003
  • The House really needs somebody who can remind them of all of the great traditions, the history of the institution. This is how you come to really love the place, by knowing more about it and how it evolved. — Robert Remini on his commission by the Library of Congress to write history of the House.

About Robert V. Remini

  • “Robert Remini, the Jackson biographer who has also turned out works on John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, said that only recently had he realized that he’s never written history, just biographies. Even his newest project, a history of the Congress, is really a “series of biographies.” He said he finds it easy to write. It’s the rewriting that’s hard. ‘I was trained by Jesuits and you were rewarded if you did good and punished if you did bad. I decided that I had to write nine pages a day. And if I did I got a martini. If not, I didn’t. Now I take a martini whether I’ve written or not’ (laughter). Remini, who by now had the crowd in stitches, said there’s one chief advantage of biographies. ‘For one thing there’s a beginning and an end. He dies.’ — Rick Shenkman in HNN’s “Reporter’s Notebook: Highlights from the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association”
  • “The appointment of professor Robert Remini to the House Historian position is a magnificent choice. From my experience as House Historian, I know that the Representatives themselves and the public at large, not to mention historians in particular, believe that the person with the title of historian should be someone who has devoted his life to history, not to the study of politics and political institutions. In Robert Remini the House not only has a Historian, but a great historian. In fact, Remini is one of our greatest living American historians. He is one of the legends. He is author of a monumental biography of Andrew Jackson, and for years has been widely considered our most accomplished Jackson scholar. Furthermore, Remini has written numerous books on the Jackson period and on the fundamental issues and questions of American history. He is beyond question superbly qualified to be Historian of the House of Representatives.” — Christina Jeffrey, Visiting Professor of Politics, Coastal Carolina University in Roll Call
  • “In introducing his magisterial biography of Daniel Webster, Robert Remini laments the creeping historical illiteracy that threatens to engulf Webster and his contemporaries. All the more reason, then, to be grateful to Professor Remini, the nation’s leading Jacksonian scholar, for reminding us of a time when eminent historians still wrote for the general educated reader. Remini’s research is impeccable, his storytelling on a par with his outsized subject. And what a story he has to tell.” — Richard Norton Smith on “Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time”
  • “With this book, Robert V. Remini has completed his trio of biographies of the great political leaders of the Middle Period: Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and now Daniel Webster. Remini seems never to have met an anecdote he didn’t like. Alas, a good many of dubious authenticity found their way into this volume. The story of how Webster demanded an apology from the eminent lawyer William Pinckney for insulting him during arguments before the Supreme Court, for example, does not ring true. ‘Now I am here to say to you, once for all, that you must ask my pardon, and go into court tomorrow morning and repeat the apology,’ Webster supposedly told Pinckney, ‘or else either you or I will go out of this room in a different condition from that in which we entered it,’ at which Pinckney ‘trembled like an aspen leaf.’ It also seems hard to believe that after Webster’s notable reply to Hayne, another Southern senator said to him, ‘Mr. Webster, I think you had better die now, and rest your fame on that speech,’ whereupon Hayne himself declared: ‘You ought not to die: a man who can make such speeches as that ought never to die.’ Still, such tales enrich the narrative, and perhaps they illustrate a deeper truth. This life of Black Dan the Godlike Daniel is undoubtedly the fullest and the best that we will have for a long time to come.” — James McPherson, Princeton University on “Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time”

Basic Facts

Teaching Positions: University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, Chicago, professor of history, 1965-91, research professor of humanities, 1985-91, professor of history emeritus and research professor of humanities emeritus, 1991–; chairman of department, 1965-66 and 1967-71, director of Institute for the Humanities, 1981-87.
Wofford College, 1998.
University of Notre Dame, 1995-96.
Robert V.  Remini JPG Douglas Southall Freeman Professor of History, University of Richmond, 1992.
Jilin University of Technology, China, 1986.
Fordham University, New York City, instructor, 1947-51, assistant professor, 1951-59, associate professor of American history, 1959-65.
Visiting lecturer, Columbia University, 1959-60.

Area of Research: 19th century U.S. History; Presidential History; American statesmen; including John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Martin Van Buren and Henry Clay. He is especially well known for his works about Andrew Jackson and Jacksonian America.

Education: Fordham University, B.S., 1943; Columbia University, M.A., 1947, Ph.D., 1951.

Major Publications:

Sole Author:

  • Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party, (Columbia University Press, 1959).
  • The Election of Andrew Jackson, (Lippincott, 1963).
  • Andrew Jackson, (Twayne, 1966).
  • Andrew Jackson and the Bank War: A Study in the Growth of Presidential Power, (Norton, 1968).
  • The Revolutionary Age of Andrew Jackson, (Harper, 1977).
  • Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767-1821, (Harper, 1977).
  • Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832, (Harper, 1981).
  • Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845, (Harper, 1984).
  • The Life of Andrew Jackson (includes 1767-1821, 1822-1832, and 1833-1845), Harper, 1988, published as Andrew Jackson, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).
  • The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays in Democracy, Indian Removal and Slavery, (Louisiana State University Press, 1988).
  • The Jacksonian Era, (Harlan Davidson, 1989), second edition, 1997).
  • The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays on Democracy, Indian Removal and Slavery (Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures in Southern History), (Louisiana State University Press, 1990)
  • Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union, (Norton, 1991).
  • Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time ,(Norton, 1997), also published as Daniel Webster: A Conservative in a Democratic Age, (Norton, 1997).
  • The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory, (Viking, 1999).
  • Andrew Jackson & His Indian Wars, (Viking, 2001).
  • John Quincy Adams, (Times Books, 2002).
  • Joseph Smith, (Viking, 2002).
  • The House : The History of the House of Representatives, (Collins, May 2006)

Editor, Contributor, Joint Author:

  • (Editor and author of introduction and notes) Dixon Ryan Fox, The Decline of Aristocracy in the Politics of New York, 1801-1840, (Harper, 1965).
  • (Editor and author of introduction and notes) James Parton, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson, (Harper, 1966).
  • (Contributor) Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Fred L. Israel, editors, History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-1968, Volume I, (McGraw, 1971).
  • (Editor) The Age of Jackson, (University of South Carolina Press, 1972).
  • (With James I. Clark) Freedom’s Frontiers: The Story of The American People, Benzinger (Beverly Hills, CA), 1975.
  • (With Clark) We the People: A History of the United States, Glencoe (Beverly Hills, CA), 1975.
  • (Compiler with Edwin A. Miles) The Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson, (AHM, 1979).
  • (With Robert O. Rupp) Andrew Jackson: A Bibliography, (Meckler, 1991).
  • (Author of historical overview) Sara Day, editor, Gathering History: The Marian S. Carson Collection of Americana, (Library of Congress, 1999).
  • (With Fred W. Beuttler, Melvin G. Holli), University of Illinois at Chicago (The College History Series), (Arcadia Publishing, 2000)
  • Consulting editor, The Papers of Andrew Jackson.
  • Additionally, Contributor to Encyclopaedia Britannica, and to professional journals. Member of editorial board, Journal of American History, 1969-72.

Awards:

  • The Freedom Award, The U.S. Capitol Historical Society (2004), Remini was honored for his lifelong work in historical scholarship and his current efforts in writing a narrative history of the House of Representatives.
  • the American Historical Association’s Award for Scholarly Distinction
  • Commissioned aide-de-camp and Tennessee Colonel by governor of Tennessee, 1992.
  • Society of Midland Authors Award, 1992, for Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union; commissioned Kentucky Colonel by governor of Kentucky, 1992.
  • Honorary degrees from Governor’s State University, 1989, Eastern Kentucky University, 1992, and Fordham University, 1993.
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation Award.
  • Carl Sandburg Award, 1989, for The Life of Andrew Jackson.
  • University Scholar Award, University of Illinois, 1986.
  • Friends of Literature Award, 1985.
  • National Book Award in nonfiction, 1984, for Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845.
  • Guggenheim fellow, 1978-79.
  • Huntington Library fellowship, 1978.
  • Friends of American Writers Award of Merit, 1977.
  • Encaenia Award, Fordham University, 1963.
  • Grant-in-aid, American Council of Learned Societies, 1960, and American Philosophical Society, 1964.

Additional Info: In May 2005 named House historian.
In September 2002 named Distinguished Visiting Scholar of American History in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress; Remini will research and write a narrative history of the U.S. House of Representatives. (The project was authorized by Congress in 1999 under the House Awareness and Preservation Act (P.L. 106-99))
Remini is a much sought after speaker and is hailed for his ability to make history “come alive.”
Honorary historian of Thirteen-Fifty Foundation.
Remini was named to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
Remini has served as a review board member for the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1974.
He was selected by President George Bush in 1991 to speak at the White House as part of the Presidential Lecture Series on the Presidency and has been invited by President George W. Bush as well.
Special editor, Crowell-Collier Educational Corp.
Military service: U.S. Navy, 1943-46; became lieutenant.

Political Headlines April 4, 2013: President Barack Obama at California Fundraiser: Enacting Gun Laws Is ‘Tougher’ Than Immigration Reform

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Enacting Gun Laws Is ‘Tougher’ Than Immigration Reform

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-4-13

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

Rounding out his two-day fundraising swing in California on Thursday, President Obama told donors that passing new gun measures will be a “tougher” process than achieving immigration reform.

“I am very optimistic that we get immigration reform done in the next few months.  And the reason I’m optimistic is because people spoke out through the ballot box, and that’s breaking gridlock,” Obama told about 30 donors gathered at a fundraiser in Atherton, Calif., Thursday. “It’s going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see, particularly after the tragedy in Newtown.  But I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 4, 2013: President Barack Obama Calls Californian Kamala Harris ‘Best-Looking’ Attorney General

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Calls Californian Kamala Harris ‘Best-Looking’ Attorney General

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-4-13 

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for TheWrap

President Obama assessed the beauty of California’s attorney general Kamala Harris, calling her “the best-looking attorney general,” during remarks at a fundraiser in Atherton, Calif.

“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake.  She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country — Kamala Harris is here.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 4, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speeches at DNC Events in Atherton, California — Calls Kamala Harris ‘Best-Looking’ Attorney General

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at a DNC Event — Atherton, CA

Source: WH, 4-4-13

Private Residence
Atherton, California

12:12 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) It is good to be back in California.

AUDIENCE: It’s good to have you! (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Somebody said — somebody told me, they were in the photo line, they said, we’re glad you could join our state. (Laughter.) They made it sound like a health club or something. (Laughter.) But I appreciate that you allowed me to join — (laughter) — because it is obviously a spectacular place and we’ve got so many good friends here, and some of you I see out there worked tirelessly dating back to when people could not pronounce my name. (Laughter.) And so I’m grateful to all of you.

First of all, though, I want to give a special acknowledgement to John and Marcia for the incredible job they’ve done and their great hospitality. Thank you so much. (Applause.) And I must say that if you had a cute baby competition, their granddaughter would have to be an entry. (Laughter.) And I got to say, I might have to pick her, because she is adorable and did not drool on my suit when I grabbed her. (Laughter.) So I’m grateful. I’m grateful to her for that.

We’ve got some elected officials who are doing incredible work — great friends. First of all, somebody who works tirelessly on behalf of California every day, but also works on behalf of working people and makes sure that we’ve got a more inclusive America — a good friend of mine, somebody who you guys should be very proud of, Congressman Mike Honda is here. Where is Mike? (Applause.) He is around here somewhere. There he is. Yes, I mean, he’s not like a real tall guy, but he’s a great guy. (Laughter.)

Second of all, you have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country — Kamala Harris is here. (Applause.) It’s true. Come on. (Laughter.) And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years.

And, finally, somebody who is not yet probably as well known on the national scene but is certainly well known in all of us who worked on my campaign this last time out. He did incredible work, could not have been more effective, and has now taken on what can sometimes be a thankless job of being the DNC finance chair — Henry Muñoz is here. Can everybody please give Henry Muñoz a big round of applause. (Applause.)

So my election is over and you thought you wouldn’t have to see me again at these fundraisers. (Laughter.) And a close friend of mine, Abner Mikva, who was White House counsel — he was a long-time congressman from the Chicago area — he used to say that being friends with a politician is like perpetually having a child in college. (Laughter.) It’s like every few months you have to write this check and you’re thinking when is it going to be over. With elected officials, it’s never over.

But the reason I’m here is not for me. The reason I’m here is because the country still needs you. We have, as John indicated, done some work that I’m very, very proud of over the last four years. We took an economy that was about to go into a great depression and we were able to yank it out and put us back on a path towards growth and putting people back to work. We were able to make sure that in the process we rebuilt roads and bridges and a smarter infrastructure all across the country; and invested in clean energy; and made sure that schools got the kinds of Internet connections that they needed; and invested in basic science and research — all of which will pay dividends for years and years to come.

We said that in a country as wealthy as ours, nobody should go bankrupt just because they got sick. And, already, millions of people are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. And, by next year, we will know that millions of people all across the country who previously did not have health insurance will have it, including folks with preexisting conditions, which will make everybody a little bit more secure. (Applause.)

We expanded access to college by expanding our student loan programs. We are in the process of reforming our schools to make sure that every child gets a fair shot in life. We ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” — laying the groundwork to make sure that this was a country where you were treated fairly and equally no matter who you love. (Applause.)

We expanded national service. We doubled fuel efficiency on cars. We doubled the production of wind and solar energy. We made sure that the Violence Against Women Act was resigned and that it provided even greater protection for women all across this country. (Applause.) We ended one war, as promised. We’re in the process of ending another, and at the same time have been able to keep the American people safe.
And so I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done. But we’ve got a lot more work to do. We all know that. This country is the greatest nation on Earth, but it can be even greater. And my main message here today is that America’s greatness will not result simply from who you elect to office; it’s going to depend on you, as citizens, and how badly you want it.

During the State of the Union speech, as well as my inauguration speech, I talked about citizenship. And this is a word that I spend a lot of time thinking about these days, partly because my background, my orientation, I came into politics believing that politics works best when people are involved. I’ve never believed that more than I do now, in my second term as President, that the idea of citizenship is not just that you vote, it’s not just that you write a check where you can to support a candidate. It’s this notion, fundamental to who we are, that we have responsibilities to ourselves and our families, but we also have obligations to our neighborhood, our community, our cities, our states, and ultimately the nation and the next generation.

And the only way that this country moves forward is when we, the people, collectively, make it our business to meet the challenges of our time. And we know what those challenges are. And we know we’ve got to do better.

Now, in the next couple of months, we’ve got the opportunity to make some very significant changes. Number one, I believe that we can get comprehensive immigration reform passed — (applause) — and that is going to mean that America can continue to be a nation of laws, but also a nation of immigrants, and attract the best and the brightest from all around the world. And if we push hard and we stay focused, we’ve got the opportunity to get this done over the next couple of months.

I believe that we have a chance to, after 30 years, frankly, of doing almost nothing, to reduce gun violence in our society. (Applause.) And it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough, but I think we’ve got a chance to get some stuff done on that.

Now, one of the things that I want to be very clear on is that this year, next year, and for the next four years that I’m in office, I am always going to be seeking, wherever I can, bipartisan solutions. And I intend to continue to reach out to Republicans because I genuinely believe that the politics that you see in Washington isn’t representative of America; that most people actually have common sense, and most folks think cooperation and occasional compromise is part of life. And I also think that we have to govern, not simply politick.

And so, whether it’s on immigration reform or the budget or any of these issues, I will continue to do everything I can to reach out to my friends on the other side of the aisle. And look, I believe that they love their kids and this country just as much as we do, and although we may have some very fundamental disagreements about how to get there, I don’t think we’ve got a disagreement about what we need to be as a nation.

Having said that, though, there are still some really big arguments that we’re having in Washington, and I believe that Democrats represent those values that will best advance the interests of middle-class families and everybody who is willing to work hard to get into the middle class; that will grow this economy in a broad-based way, and that will lay the foundation for prosperity for generations to come.

And you believe that, too. That’s why you’re here. In order for us to do that, you’re going to have to stay involved. Think about some of the things I spoke about during the State of the Union address: making sure that every child in America has outstanding, high-quality, early childhood education. We know that there’s nothing more important to a child’s success than those early years. And if we do that right, not only are we going to see better performance in our schools, we’re going to see better performance in our economy. And we can do it. We can afford to do it.

But in order for us to make that happen, we’re going to have to have an active, motivated, Democratic national party. People here in this area care deeply about issues of energy and climate change. And I think that the science is indisputable, and this is an obligation we owe to future generations. And as I said, we’ve already done a lot to reduce our carbon footprint and to make our economy more energy efficient. But if we’re going to do more, then we’ve got to make sure that we’re active and involved, and helping to educate our friends and our neighbors and our coworkers about why this is important and why there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth; that, in fact, if we do this right, the energy sources of the future, the clean energy sources of the future can be an engine for economic growth for decades and decades to come.

When it comes to our economy — making sure that we’re investing in basic research and science. This is the epicenter of innovation in this nation. Some of you saw, a couple of days ago, I announced a new BRAIN Initiative that will allow us to crack the code and map — (applause) — what this incredible gray matter between our ears, one of the greatest mysteries there is, what’s causing things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and to not just provide cures but also to help generate entire new industries that can put people to work in this region and around the country.

In order for us to make sure that we’re investing sufficiently in basic science and research, you’re going to have to be involved. You have to push. You can’t just wait for it to happen, because there are going to be competing interests and folks who want to spend those resources in a different way.

When it comes to our budget, I actually think that we can stabilize our finances, reduce our debt, reduce our deficit in a prudent, balanced way. But we’ve got the other side insisting that somehow we can cut our way to prosperity. I disagree with that. I will take that case to the American people. But for me to be successful in resolving that argument in a way that allows us to keep growing and keep investing, I’m going to need your help.

Making sure that we’re providing ladders of opportunity in communities all across the country that have been left behind — and, in some cases, have been behind for decades — so that we’re not just investing in education, but also making sure that we’re providing transportation assistance and tax credits so that impoverished communities can be part of this global economy. That will make us all stronger. I can’t do that unless I have your help.

And for us to continue to make progress so that this is a society that is more just and more equal and more inclusive — we’ve made remarkable progress over these last few years, but that’s not because of what started in Washington, it’s because of what happened in communities all across the country.

I was mentioning to people I had a chance to see an early screening of this new movie called “42”; it’s about Jackie Robinson. And I look around the room — young people — (laughter) — kind of vaguely know, yes, Jackie Robinson — (laughter) — first African American baseball player. His widow was there, Rachel Robinson, who’s gorgeous and 90, but looks better than I do — (laughter) — and could not be more gracious.

And to sit there in a movie theater watching what happened in her lifetime, and to know that because of the decisions and courage of Jackie Robison and Branch Rickey, and all the other path breakers, that we now have a country that is fairer and better for it is a reminder of how change happens in this country. It doesn’t happen all at once. It doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. It doesn’t happen because a President gives a speech. It happens because a whole bunch of people out there, day in and day out, are making choices and decisions about whether we’re going to be fair or less fair; whether we’re going to be generous or less generous; whether we are going to be inclusive or less inclusive. And that changing of our hearts and our minds ultimately translates itself into politics, but it begins with citizens. It begins with you.

And if the Democratic Party stands for anything, then it has to stand for that basic proposition that not only do we want an economy where if you work hard, you can make it if you try — no matter where you come from, what you look like, who you love — but also that the way to get there is by giving everybody a voice and making sure everybody is involved and everybody is included. If we stand for anything as Democrats, that’s got to be what we stand for.

And so the DNC is an important part of that overall process. And the fact that you are here, the fact that John and Marcia were willing to open up their home like this gives me confidence that, in fact, we will be able to sustain these efforts. And it has to be sustained beyond elections. You can’t just wait until a presidential election to do this. It’s all those days in between that are going to determine whether or not we bring about the changes that we so desperately believe in.

So to all of you, I want to say thank you. But understand this is just a beginning, it’s not an end. You are going to be called on to do more work. You are going to be called on to get more engaged and more involved. And if you ever have any doubts as to why you’re doing it, then you have to look at John and Marcia’s grandbaby, or that young man who’s falling asleep because I’ve been talking too long. (Laughter.) And you will remember that, ultimately, the only thing that matters is whether or not we’re leaving behind a country that’s a little bit better than the one we founded for them. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why I do what I do — for Malia and Sasha, and all the Malias and Sashas out there, I want to make sure we’re doing right by them.

All right, thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) God bless you. Thank you.

END
12:31 P.M. PDT

 

Remarks by the President at a DNC Event — Atherton, CA

Source: WH, 4-4-13

Private Residence
Atherton, California

10:28 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Well, it is wonderful to see all of you. This is an intimate group. What I want to do is mostly have a conversation. But, first of all, obviously I want to thank Liz and Mark for their incredible hospitality. We couldn’t be more appreciative. And I want to thank all of you for being here today.

A lot of you — in fact, almost everybody here I’ve known, have supported me. Some of you were involved in my first campaign when nobody could pronounce my name. (Laughter.) And you stuck with me through thick and thin, and I just want to say how much I appreciate all of you for taking the time.

Some people have been asking me — well, what’s different about the second term? And I say, well, for one thing, I’m not raising money for myself, and that’s good. (Laughter.) For another thing, the girls are getting old enough now where they don’t want to spend time with us on the weekends. (Laughter.) They have sleepovers and parties and sports, and all that stuff. I don’t know if you guys are doing the same thing to your parents, but it’s starting to happen.

But I think the most important thing is that when you don’t have another race to run, all you’re really thinking about it is how do I leave a legacy, not simply for the next President, but for the next generation that makes America stronger; that helps assure our children can compete with an ever-changing world; that we are solving what I think is one of the core challenges we face as a generation, and that is making sure that we have a strong, growing middle class and ladders of opportunity for everybody who is willing to work to get into that middle class; that we continue to be innovative; that we address some of our core environmental challenges, particularly climate change, to make sure that the planet we leave behind is one that our children can thrive in.

So you end up taking the long view on things. And you also feel a great urgency because you know you don’t have a lot of time. And so the main message I want to deliver here today is that I could not be prouder of the track record that we’ve put together over the last four years and two months, whether it was saving an economy from a great depression; doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars; expanding access to college for the millions of young people; making sure that nobody in this country has to go bankrupt because they get sick; re-upping the law preventing violence against women; making sure that we have the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which I think has laid the groundwork for further progress when it comes to LGBT rights.

On so many issues, we’ve made progress. But we’ve got so much more work to do. And I laid out what that vision might look like during both the inauguration speech and in the State of the Union. I want to make sure that we’ve got the best education system in the world and that starts young. And so we’ve given all the research that we have. Expanding our investment in childhood education can make all the difference in the world, and will pay enormous dividends for a very, very long time.

I want to make sure that we’re rebuilding this country, our infrastructure. We’ve got $2 trillion in deferred maintenance. We could be putting people back to work right now, and not only improving our current economic growth, but laying the foundation for economic growth for many years to come. Many of you are aware that I am a big proponent of investments in science and research, and obviously, this entire region has thrived precisely because it has been the epicenter of innovation. And that requires us putting money into research in biomedicine, in nanoscience. Our recent initiative around the brain and being able to map that and crack the code potentially not only can help us cure things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but can generate entire new industries and put people back to work and be the next great challenge for the American economy.

And I believe that we’ve got to get a handle on our energy policy so that we are growing and we are productive, but we are not simply investing in the energy sources of the past; we’re also investing in the energy sources of the future. We’ve doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars, but we’ve also had a chance to double our production in solar and wind and biofuels. We can continue to make progress on that front. We can continue to make sure that electric cars and other new technologies for transportation are built here in the United States of America and not someplace else.

We can make sure that our buildings, our schools, our hospitals are more efficient. If we were able to achieve the same efficiencies that Japan already has achieved using existing technologies, we’d cut our power utilization by 15, 20 percent — which would have enormous ramifications in bringing down our carbon footprint.

And we can do all this without spending massive amounts of money. The truth is, is that our fiscal situation has improved significantly since I first came into office, but we still have a long way to go. The way for us to do it intelligently is the kind of balanced approach I’ve talked about in the past: making sure that everybody is doing their fair share; making sure that those of us in this room and, frankly, in this whole town probably — (laughter) — recognizes the incredible blessings that we’ve been given and make sure that we’re willing to invest back in the next generation, and also making sure that our money is wisely spent.

We still waste money in all kinds of things that don’t work, and we have the capacity to shift those dollars into things that do work and that will grow our economy. And we can reduce our deficit, stabilize our debt, and do so without sacrificing the kinds of investments that are going to be required to grow.

Now, the last point I’ll make is just politics. Our policies, the ones that we prevented — or the ones that we’ve presented, traditionally, would be considered pretty bipartisan. There’s nothing particularly Democratic about road building or basic science or environmental protection. Teddy Roosevelt started the conservation movement. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, was pretty big on building infrastructure and investing in things like science and research.

Unfortunately, we continue to still have some of that gridlock in Washington. Part of it is fed by changes in information and communications that amplify conflict and extremes as opposed to trying to bring people together. I know it’s a great source of frustration for the American people. I assure you it’s a source of frustration for me as well. (Laughter.)

But what I believed when I was running for this office back in 2007-2008, what I believed when I was running for a second term is what I still believe now — and that is this country is not as divided as our politics would suggest. And the only way we break through this gridlock is when people’s voices are heard and people are engaged and involved. I am very optimistic that we get immigration reform done in the next few months. And the reason I’m optimistic is because people spoke out through the ballot box, and that’s breaking gridlock.

It’s going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see, particularly after the tragedy in Newtown. But I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved.

And so, on every front, on every issue that all of you care about, making sure that we can provide good information to the American people, engage them, inform them; make sure that they are embracing a form of citizenship that goes beyond just voting, but involves understanding what’s at stake and talking to their neighbors, talking to their coworkers, talking to their friends, writing to their members of Congress, getting organized, getting mobilized — all that ends up being really the critical ingredient and the constant dynamic change and improvement that has characterized this country for so long.

And your involvement with the DNC helps us do that. It will help us register voters. It will help us make sure that they understand what’s at stake in all of these issues. It’s hugely important. It’s not always glamorous. It’s not always sexy. But it’s really what ends up driving our ability to make policy and to deliver for the young people who are here today.

So, again, I want to thank Liz and Mark for making this spectacular home available to us. And I want to thank all of you for not only what you’ve done in the past on my behalf, but more importantly what you’re continuing to do on behalf of this country as a whole.

Thank you, so much. I appreciate it. (Applause.)

END
10:39 A.M. PDT

On This Day in History April 4, 1968… 45th Anniversary: Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:

OTDH

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

On This Day in History April 4, 1968… 45th Anniversary: Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel a day after giving the speech ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ to striking sanitation workers.

PHOTO: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his last public appearance at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968.  The following day King was assassinated on his motel balcony.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his last public appearance at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968. The following day King was assassinated on his motel balcony. (Charles Kelly/AP Photo)

The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

Source: ABC News (blog), 4-4-13

Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed by James Earl Ray at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., 45 years ago, on April 4, 1968….READ MORE

Tributes mark 45 years since Martin Luther King’s assassination

Source: 7Online.com,. 4-4-13 

Thursday marks the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assasination in Tennessee. The civil rights leader was shot on April 4, 1968, while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis….READ MORE

Forty-Five Years Ago: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Source: New Yorker (blog), 4-4-13

On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered one of his most famous speeches, “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top….READ MORE

Walter Cronkite’s CBS News Coverage of MLK’s Death

Source: CBS News

Cronkite covers the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader and Nobel Prize Winner. Dr. King was killed in April 4, 1968 in Memphis….VIEW VIDEO

Martin Luther King’s Final Speech: ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ — The Full Text

Source: ABC News, 4-4-13

By The Rev. MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr., MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 3, 1968

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there.

I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but “fear itself.” But I wouldn’t stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.”

Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”

And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.

And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember — I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world.

And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying — We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we’ve got to keep attention on that. That’s always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn’t get around to that.

Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be — and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God’s children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. And we’ve got to say to the nation: We know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory. We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don’t know what to do. I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.”

Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn’t stop us.

And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we’d go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we’d just go on singing “Over my head I see freedom in the air.” And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take ’em off,” and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.”

And every now and then we’d get in jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we’ve got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.

Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we’re going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there.

But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It’s a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, “When God speaks who can but prophesy?” Again with Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,” and he’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.”

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he’s been to jail for struggling; he’s been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit.

But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren’t concerned about anything but themselves. And I’m always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively — that means all of us together — collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that?

After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned.

Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy — what is the other bread? — Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain.

We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town — downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something that we don’t do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.”

Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end.

Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base…. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side.

They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem — or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.”

That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.”

And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you. You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up.

The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said, “Yes.” And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, your drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital.

They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply,

“Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.”

And she said,

“While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”

And I want to say tonight — I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.

If I had sneezed — If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.

I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.

And they were telling me –. Now, it doesn’t matter, now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us.

The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

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