OTD in History… August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford Sworn in as president after Richard Nixon resigns

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OTD in History… August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford Sworn in as president after Richard Nixon resigns

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as president after Richard Nixon resigns over impending impeachment because of his involvement in the Watergate break-in scandal cover-up. With impeachment from Congress certain, Nixon did the unprecedented, on the evening of August 8, he announced to the American public that he would be resigning effective at noon the next day. On August 9, Vice President Ford would assume the presidency under unprecedented terms prescribed in the 25th Amendment on presidential succession, the first to do so without the American public ever having elected him, and serving the shortest time, 2 years and 164 days.

Ford was the only president to have never been elected even to the vice presidency. Nixon appointed Ford after Spiro T. Agnew resigned less than a year before. Ford assumed the vice presidency on December 6, 1973, after Agnew resigned because he was charged with “tax evasion and money laundering” for accepting bribes as the governor of Maryland. Congressional leaders advised Nixon he should choose the then-House Minority Leader the much-liked Gerald Ford as vice president to which Nixon obliged. Nixon nominated Ford on October 12, on November 27, the Senate confirmed him with a vote of 92 to 3, with three Democrats opposing, while the House confirmed Ford on December 6, 1973, with a vote of 387 to 35.

On August 1, 1974, Nixon’s Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, gave Ford a warning about the “smoking gun” Oval Office tape that could end Nixon’s presidency. Ford later recounted, “Al Haig asked to come over and see me to tell me that there would be a new tape released on a Monday, and he said the evidence in there was devastating and there would probably be either an impeachment or a resignation. And he said, ‘I’m just warning you that you’ve got to be prepared, that things might change dramatically and you could become President.’ And I said, ‘Betty, I don’t think we’re ever going to live in the vice president’s house.’”

The morning of August 9, was emotional for Nixon. In his last hours as president, he delivered a farewell address at 9 am to his cabinet and staff in the East Room, where Ford was also present. Nixon tendered his resignation at 11:35 am to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Gerald and Betty Ford escorted the Nixons to the helicopter before Ford officially assumed office. Technically, Ford became president a minute later but he only took the oath of office five minutes after noon, once Nixon and his family left the White House to return to San Clemente, California. Chief Justice Warren Burger administered Ford the oath of office in the East Room of the White House at 12:05 pm.

Immediately afterward, Ford delivered a short 850-word inaugural address, written Counselor to President Robert T. Hartmann, and discussed the “extraordinary circumstances” that led him to the presidency. Ford expressed:

“I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many… If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman — my dear wife, Betty — as I begin this very difficult job… My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over… Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.”

Ford was the ninth Vice President to take office unexpectedly, the first and only because of a resignation, whereas the rest were due to unexpected death, by illness or assassination. Ford’s presidency was also the shortest of any president “who did not die in office,” having only served 895 days. On September 8, 1974, Ford took the unpopular initiative of granting a “full free and absolute pardon” to Nixon for any offenses he “has committed or may have committed.”

Historian David McCullough claims Ford was “a very good president” because of the pardon. McCullough remarked, “I think Gerald Ford is one of the most interesting stories in the whole history of the presidency. He made one of the bravest decisions ever as president. From one of the worst moments in presidential history — Nixon’s resignation — came one that many now consider the finest.” The move the most likely cost him any chance of election in the 1976 presidential election but it closed the chapter on Watergate for the nation allowing it to go forward and heal. As historian Jon Meacham described it “an act of political courage that truly healed the country.”

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Brinkley, Douglas. Gerald R. Ford. New York: Times Books, 2007.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Remarks on Taking the Oath of Office

August 9, 1974

Mr. Chief Justice, my dear friends, my fellow Americans:

The oath that I have taken is the same oath that was taken by George Washington and by every President under the Constitution. But I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances never before experienced by Americans. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.

Therefore, I feel it is my first duty to make an unprecedented compact with my countrymen. Not an inaugural address, not a fireside chat, not a campaign speech–just a little straight talk among friends. And I intend it to be the first of many.

I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.

If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman–my dear wife–as I begin this very difficult job.

I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.

Thomas Jefferson said the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. And down the years, Abraham Lincoln renewed this American article of faith asking, “Is there any better way or equal hope in the world?”

I intend, on Monday next, to request of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate the privilege of appearing before the Congress to share with my former colleagues and with you, the American people, my views on the priority business of the Nation and to solicit your views and their views. And may I say to the Speaker and the others, if I could meet with you right after these remarks, I would appreciate it.

Even though this is late in an election year, there is no way we can go forward except together and no way anybody can win except by serving the people’s urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We must go forward now together.

To the peoples and the governments of all friendly nations, and I hope that could encompass the whole world, I pledge an uninterrupted and sincere search for peace. America will remain strong and united, but its strength will remain dedicated to the safety and sanity of the entire family of man, as well as to our own precious freedom.

I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad.

In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.
My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.

As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.

In the beginning, I asked you to pray for me. Before closing, I ask again your prayers, for Richard Nixon and for his family. May our former President, who brought peace to millions, find it for himself. May God bless and comfort his wonderful wife and daughters, whose love and loyalty will forever be a shining legacy to all who bear the lonely burdens of the White House.

I can only guess at those burdens, although I have witnessed at close hand the tragedies that befell three Presidents and the lesser trials of others.

With all the strength and all the good sense I have gained from life, with all the confidence my family, my friends, and my dedicated staff impart to me, and with the good will of countless Americans I have encountered in recent visits to 40 States, I now solemnly reaffirm my promise I made to you last December 6: to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best I can for America.

God helping me, I will not let you down.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House following administration of the oath of office by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. The oath of office and the President’s remarks were broadcast live on radio and television.

The White House announced that Richard Nixon’s letter of resignation as 37th President of the United States was tendered to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in his White House office by Assistant to the President Alexander M. Haig, Jr., at 11:35 a.m.

Gerald R. Ford: “Remarks on Taking the Oath of Office,” August 9, 1974. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4409.

 

OTD in History… August 8, 1968, Republican Party nominates Richard Nixon for President

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OTD in History… August 8, 1968, Republican Party nominates Richard Nixon for President

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 8, 1968, The Republican Party nominates Richard M. Nixon for President at their convention in Miami Beach, Florida, and Nixon delivers his acceptance speech.This was the second time the Republican Party chose Nixon as their nominee, the first was in 1960, where then-Vice President Nixon went up against then-Senator John F. Kennedy and lost by a slim margin. In 1968, Nixon rehabilitated his image into a new Nixon devising a Southern strategy to win over the Southern states who were disenchanted with the Democratic Party and President Lyndon Johnson over his racial policies. Nixon’s campaign focused on the escalating Vietnam War and law and order issues.

Nixon chose as his running mate Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew. They would go on to beat narrowly Democratic nominee and Vice President Hubert Humphrey largely because of opposition to the growing Vietnam War. Although they would be reelected in 1972, neither Nixon nor Agnew would complete their terms. Agnew resigned after being charged with tax evasion and political corruption in 1973. While six years to the day after his nomination Nixon would become the first president to resign from office over his impending impeachment over the Watergate scandal.

In the primaries, Michigan Governor George Romney was the early front-runner. He faced opposition over being a Mormon and his support for the Vietnam War. Romney claimed, he “originally supported Johnson’s Vietnam policy because he had been “brainwashed” by government briefing officers.” Romney withdrew in February 1968 because of public ridicule over his Vietnam flap, and the public’s fear of his religion.

Since his 1962 defeat for the California governorship, Richard Nixon gained support and friendships with Republican Party leaders. In the 1966-midterm elections, Nixon campaigned successfully for Republican candidates. In 1968, Nixon became the front-runner winning all the early primaries. Nelson Rockefeller announced in a March 1968 press conference he would not run for the nomination. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Rockefeller changed his mind announced his candidacy. California Governor Ronald Reagan was the conservative candidate, until April 1968, he did not commit to running beyond a favorite son campaign. Rockefeller and Reagan entered the race too late, and could not compete with Nixon, who accumulated enough delegate support to clinch the nomination on the first ballot.

At the Republican National Convention held August 5–8, 1968, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts became the first African-American Senator elected as convention temporary chairman. Nixon won the nomination on the first ballot against Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan. Nixon amassed 692 votes, to Rockefeller’s 277 and 182 votes for Reagan. Nixon chose Governor Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland, an unknown eliciting the response of “Spiro Who?” as his running mate, Nixon chose him to appeal to the Border States and Deep South. Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy’s (president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) the Poor People’s Campaign demonstrated outside the convention hall.

In his acceptance speech, Nixon emphasized the bad state the country was in under the Democrats. Nixon expressed, “When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in Vietnam with no end in sight, when the richest nation in the world can’t manage its own economy, when the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented racial violence, when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home, then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America”.

Nixon also mentioned the silent majority voting bloc he was appealing to in his campaign. Nixon stated, “It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult of the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators…. They’re good people. They’re decent people; they work and they save and they pay their taxes and they care…. And this I say, this I say to you tonight, is the real voice of America. In this year 1968, this is the message it will broadcast to America and to the world.”

Nixon faced competition in the general election from Alabama Governor George Wallace, his greatest competition for Southern votes; Wallace was also running on integration and law and order issues. Until September 25, Nixon led and Humphrey trailed in the polls. Then Humphrey broke with Johnson on Vietnam and announced he support of Vietnam bombing halt. Humphrey became the peace candidate, which increased anti-war Democrat and liberal support for Humphrey after the announcement, allowing Humphrey to close in on Nixon at the polls.

In October, President Johnson was attempting to reach an agreement with the North Vietnamese in the Paris peace talks. This would allow him to halt the bombing, which would salvage Humphrey’s campaign. Nixon realized that Johnson was attempting to use the power of the presidency to help Humphrey, and accused him of doing so on October 25. Johnson denounced such claims as “ugly and unfair.” Five days before the election on October 31, however, President Johnson announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam. The bombing halt allowed many people to conclude that the end of the war might be approaching, putting Humphrey in a favorable position. Humphrey went up in the polls, however, when the South Vietnamese government indicated it would not negotiate, Humphrey’s numbers slid again.

Nixon would go on to win a narrow victory over Humphrey with the popular vote, 31,783,783 and 43.42 percent of the vote to Humphrey’s 31,271,839 and 42.72 percent of the vote. The Electoral College votes would be more decisive 301 for Nixon and 191 for Humphrey. The Democrats, however, retained control of both houses in Congress. Despite the split results and the lack of resolution for many of the central campaign issues, historian Lewis Gould in his book 1968: The Election That Changed America, argues “In fact, the 1968 election proved to be a watershed event in American politics.”

Gould explains the reason, claiming, “Republicans used the skills they brought to Nixon’s campaign to create an ascendancy in presidential politics. Democrats, divided and torn after 1968, emerged as only crippled challengers for the White House in the 1970s and 1980s. Bitterness over racial issues and discord on the Vietnam War continued to shape national affairs. The events of 1968 changed the way Americans felt about politics and their leaders. An erosion of confidence in American institutions began that has not yet reached a conclusion.” (Gould, 8)

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Gould, Lewis L. 1968: The Election That Changed America. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida

August 8, 1968

Mr. Chairman, delegates to this convention, my fellow Americans.

Sixteen years ago I stood before this Convention to accept your nomination as the running mate of one of the greatest Americans of our time—or of any time—Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eight years ago, I had the highest honor of accepting your nomination for President of the United States.

Tonight, I again proudly accept that nomination for President of the United States.

But I have news for you. This time there is a difference.

This time we are going to win.

We’re going to win for a number of reasons: first a personal one. General Eisenhower, as you know, lies critically ill in the Walter Reed Hospital tonight. I have talked, however, with Mrs. Eisenhower on the telephone. She tells me that his heart is with us. And she says that there is nothing that he lives more for and there is nothing that would lift him more than for us to win in November and I say let’s win this one for Ike!

We are going to win because this great Convention has demonstrated to the nation that the Republican Party has the leadership, the platform and the purpose that America needs.

We are going to win because you have nominated as my running mate a statesman of the first rank who will be a great campaigner and one who is fully qualified to undertake the new responsibilities that I shall give to the next Vice President of the United States.

And he is a man who fully shares my conviction and yours, that after a period of forty years when power has gone from the cities and the states to the government in Washington, D.C., it’s time to have power go back from Washington to the states and to the cities of this country all over America.

We are going to win because at a time that America cries out for the unity that this Administration has destroyed, the Republican Party—after a spirited contest for its nomination for President and for Vice President— stands united before the nation tonight.

I congratulate Governor Reagan. I congratulate Governor Rockefeller. I congratulate Governor Romney. I congratulate all those who have made the hard fight that they have for this nomination. And I know that you will all fight even harder for the great victory our party is going to win in November because we’re going to be together in that election campaign.

And a party that can unite itself will unite America.

My fellow Americans, most important—we are going to win because our cause is right.

We make history tonight—not for ourselves but for the ages.

The choice we make in 1968 will determine not only the future of America but the future of peace and freedom in the world for the last third of the Twentieth Century.

And the question that we answer tonight: can America meet this great challenge?

For a few moments, let us look at America, let us listen to America to find the answer to that question.

As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame.

We hear sirens in the night.

We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad.

We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home.

And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish.

Did we come all this way for this?

Did American boys die in Normandy, and Korea, and in Valley Forge for this?

Listen to the answer to those questions.

It is another voice. It is the quiet voice in the tumult and the shouting.

It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans—the non-shouters; the non-demonstrators.

They are not racists or sick; they are not guilty of the crime that plagues the land.

They are black and they are white—they’re native born and foreign born —they’re young and they’re old.

They work in America’s factories.

They run America’s businesses.

They serve in government.

They provide most of the soldiers who died to keep us free.

They give drive to the spirit of America.

They give lift to the American Dream.

They give steel to the backbone of America.

They are good people, they are decent people; they work, and they save, and they pay their taxes, and they care.

Like Theodore Roosevelt, they know that this country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it is a good place for all of us to live in.

This I say to you tonight is the real voice of America. In this year 1968, this is the message it will broadcast to America and to the world.

Let’s never forget that despite her faults, America is a great nation.

And America is great because her people are great.

With Winston Churchill, we say: “We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies because we are made of sugar candy.”

America is in trouble today not because her people have failed but because her leaders have failed.

And what America needs are leaders to match the greatness of her people.

And this great group of Americans, the forgotten Americans, and others know that the great; question Americans must answer by their votes in November is this: Whether we shall continue for four more years the policies of the last five years.

And this is their answer and this is my answer to that question.

When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in a war in Vietnam with no end in sight;

When the richest nation in the world can’t manage its own economy;

When the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented lawlessness;

When a nation that has been known for a century for equality of opportunity is tom by unprecedented racial violence;

And when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home without fear of a hostile demonstration—then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America.

My fellow Americans, tonight I accept the challenge and the commitment to provide that new leadership for America.

And I ask you to accept it with me.

And let us accept this challenge not as a grim duty but as an exciting adventure in which we are privileged to help a great nation realize its destiny.

And let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth—to see it like it is, and tell it like it is—to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth —that’s what we will do.

We’ve had enough of big promises and little action.

The time has come for honest government in the United States of America.

And so tonight I do not promise the millennium in the morning.

I don’t promise that we can eradicate poverty, and end discrimination, eliminate all danger of war in the space of four, or even eight years. But, I do promise action—a new policy for peace abroad; a new policy for peace and progress and justice at home.

Look at our problems abroad. Do you realize that we face the stark truth that we are worse off in every area of the world tonight than we were when President Eisenhower left office eight years ago. That’s the record. And there is only one answer to such a record of failure and that is a complete housecleaning of those responsible for the failures of that record. The answer is a complete re-appraisal of America’s policies in every section of the world.

We shall begin with Vietnam.

We all hope in this room that there is a chance that current negotiations may bring an honorable end to that war. And we will say nothing during this campaign that might destroy that chance.

But if the war is not ended when the people choose in November, the choice will be clear. Here it is.

For four years this Administration has had at its disposal the greatest military and economic advantage that one nation has ever had over another in any war in history.

For four years, America’s fighting men have set a record for courage and sacrifice unsurpassed in our history.

For four years, this Administration has had the support of the Loyal Opposition for the objective of seeking an honorable end to the struggle.

Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively.

And if after all of this time and all of this sacrifice and all of this support there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership—not tied to the mistakes and the policies of the past. That is what we offer to America.

And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there—we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams.

All of America’s peace-keeping institutions and all of America’s foreign commitments must be re-appraised. Over the past twenty-five years, America has provided more than one hundred and fifty billion dollars in foreign aid to nations abroad.

In Korea and now again in Vietnam, the United States furnished most of the money, most of the arms; most of the men to help the people of those countries defend themselves against aggression.

Now we are a rich country. We are a strong nation. We are a populous nation. But there are two hundred million Americans and there are two billion people that live in the Free World.

And I say the time has come for other nations in the Free World to bear their fair share of the burden of defending peace and freedom around this world.

What I call for is not a new isolationism. It is a new internationalism in which America enlists its allies and its friends around the world in those struggles in which their interest is as great as ours.

And now to the leaders of the Communist world, we say: After an era of confrontation, the time has come for an era of negotiation.

Where the world’s super powers are concerned, there is no acceptable alternative to peaceful negotiation.

Because this will be a period of negotiation, we shall restore the strength of America so that we shall always negotiate from strength and never from weakness.

And as we seek peace through negotiation, let our goals be made clear:

We do not seek domination over any other country.

We believe deeply in our ideas, but we believe they should travel on their own power and not on the power of our arms.

We shall never be belligerent but we shall be as firm in defending our system as they are in expanding theirs.

We believe this should be an era of peaceful competition, not only in the productivity of our factories but in the quality of our ideas.

We extend the hand of friendship to all people, to the Russian people, to the Chinese people, to all people in the world.

And we shall work toward the goal of an open world—open skies, open cities, open hearts, open minds.

The next eight years, my friends, this period in which we are entering, I think we will have the greatest opportunity for world peace but also face the greatest danger of world war of any time in our history.

I believe we must have peace. I believe that we can have peace, but I do not underestimate the difficulty of this task. Because you see the art of preserving peace is greater than that of waging war and much more demanding. But I am proud to have served in an Administration which ended one war and kept the nation out of other wars for eight years. And it is that kind of experience and it is that kind of leadership that America needs today, and that we will give to America with your help.

And as we commit to new policies for America tonight, let us make one further pledge:

For five years hardly a day has gone by when we haven’t read or heard a report of the American flag being spit on; an embassy being stoned; a library being burned; or an ambassador being insulted some place in the world. And each incident reduced respect for the United States until the ultimate insult inevitably occurred.

And I say to you tonight that when respect for the United States of America falls so low that a fourth-rate military power, like North Korea, will seize an American naval vessel on the high seas, it is time for new leadership to restore respect for the United States of America.

My friends, America is a great nation.

And it is time we started to act like a great nation around the world. It is ironic to note when we were a small nation—weak militarily and poor economically—America was respected. And the reason was that America stood for something more powerful than military strength or economic wealth.

The American Revolution was a shining example of freedom in action which caught the imagination of the world.

Today, too often, America is an example to be avoided and not followed.

A nation that can’t keep the peace at home won’t be trusted to keep the peace abroad.

A President who isn’t treated with respect at home will not be treated with respect abroad.

A nation which can’t manage its own economy can’t tell others how to manage theirs.

If we are to restore prestige and respect for America abroad, the place to begin is at home in the United States of America.

My friends, we live in an age of revolution in America and in die world. And to find the answers to our problems, let us turn to a revolution, a revolution that will never grow old. The world’s greatest continuing revolution, the American Revolution.

The American Revolution was and is dedicated to progress, but our founders recognized that the first requisite of progress is order.

Now, there is no quarrel between progress and order—because neither can exist without the other.

So let us have order in America—not the order that suppresses dissent and discourages change but the order which guarantees the right to dissent and provides the basis for peaceful change.

And tonight, it is time for some honest talk about the problem of order in the United States.

Let us always respect, as I do, our courts and those who serve on them. But let us also recognize that some of our courts in their decisions have gone too far in weakening the peace forces as against the criminal forces in this country and we must act to restore that balance.

Let those who have the responsibility to enforce our laws and our judges who have the responsibility to interpret them be dedicated to the great principles of civil rights.

But let them also recognize that the first civil right of every American is to be free from domestic violence, and that right must be guaranteed in this country.

And if we are to restore order and respect for law in this country there is one place we are going to begin. We are going to have a new Attorney General of the United States of America.

I pledge to you that our new Attorney General will be directed by the President of the United States to launch a war against organized crime in this country.

I pledge to you that the new Attorney General of the United States will be an active belligerent against the loan sharks and the numbers racketeers that rob the urban poor in our cities.

I pledge to you that the new Attorney General will open a new front against the filth peddlers and the narcotics peddlers who are corrupting the lives of the children of this country.

Because, my friends, let this message come through clear from what I say tonight. Time is running out for the merchants of crime and corruption in American society.

The wave of crime is not going to be the wave of the future in the United States of America.

We shall re-establish freedom from fear in America so that America can take the lead in re-establishing freedom from fear in the world.

And to those who say that law and order is the code word for racism, there and here is a reply:

Our goal is justice for every American.

If we are to have respect for law in America, we must have laws that deserve respect.

Just as we cannot have progress without order, we cannot have order without progress, and so, as we commit to order tonight, let us commit to progress.

And this brings me to the clearest choice among the great issues of this campaign.

For the past five years we have been deluged by government programs for the unemployed; programs for the cities; programs for the poor. And we have reaped from these programs an ugly harvest of frustration, violence and failure across the land.

And now our opponents will be offering more of the same—more billions for government jobs, government housing, government welfare.

I say it is time to quit pouring billions of dollars into programs that have failed in the United States of America.

To put it bluntly, we are on the wrong road—and it’s time to take a new road, to progress.

Again, we turn to the American Revolution for our answer.

The war on poverty didn’t begin five years ago in this country. It began when this country began. It’s been the most successful war on poverty in the history of nations. There is more wealth in America today, more broadly shared, than in any nation in the world.

We are a great nation. And we must never forget how we became great.

America is a great nation today not because of what government did for people—but because of what people did for themselves over a hundred- ninety years in this country.

So it is time to apply the lessons of the American Revolution to our present problem.

Let us increase the wealth of America so that we can provide more generously for the aged; and for the needy; and for all those who cannot help themselves.

But for those who are able to help themselves—what we need are not more millions on welfare rolls—but more millions on payrolls in the United States of America.

Instead of government jobs, and government housing, and government welfare, let government use its tax and credit policies to enlist in this battle the greatest engine of progress ever developed in the history of man—American private enterprise.

Let us enlist in this great cause the millions of Americans in volunteer organizations who will bring a dedication to this task that no amount of money could ever buy.

And let us build bridges, my friends, build bridges to human dignity across that gulf that separates black America from white America.

Black Americans, no more than white Americans, they do not want more government programs which perpetuate dependency.

They don’t want to be a colony in a nation.

They want the pride, and the self-respect, and the dignity that can only come if they have an equal chance to own their own homes, to own their own businesses, to be managers and executives as well as workers, to have a piece of the action in the exciting ventures of private enterprise.

I pledge to you tonight that we shall have new programs which will provide that equal chance.

We make great history tonight.

We do not fire a shot heard ’round the world but we shall light the lamp of hope in millions of homes across this land in which there is no hope today.

And that great light shining out from America will again become a beacon of hope for all those in the world who seek freedom and opportunity.

My fellow Americans, I believe that historians will recall that 1968 marked the beginning of the American generation in world history.

Just to be alive in America, just to be alive at this time is an experience unparalleled in history. Here is where the action is. Think.

Thirty-two years from now most Americans living today will celebrate a new year that comes once in a thousand years.

Eight years from now, in the second term of the next President, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution.

And by our decision in this election, we, all of us here, all of you listening on television and radio, we will determine what kind of nation America will be on its 200th birthday; we will determine what kind of a world America will live in in the year 2000.

This is the kind of a day I see for America on that glorious Fourth— eight years from now.

I see a day when Americans are once again proud of their flag. When once again at home and abroad, it is honored as the world’s greatest symbol of liberty and justice.

I see a day when the President of the United States is respected and his office is honored because it is worthy of respect and worthy of honor.

I see a day when every child in this land, regardless of his background, has a chance for the best education our wisdom and schools can provide, and an equal chance to go just as high as his talents will take him.

I see a day when life in rural America attracts people to the country, rather than driving them away.

I see a day when we can look back on massive breakthroughs in solving the problems of slums and pollution and traffic which are choking our cities to death.

I see a day when our senior citizens and millions of others can plan for the future with the assurance that their government is not going to rob them of their savings by destroying the value of their dollars.

I see a day when we will again have freedom from fear in America and freedom from fear in the world.

I see a day when our nation is at peace and the world is at peace and everyone on earth—those who hope, those who aspire, those who crave liberty—will look to America as the shining example of hopes realized and dreams achieved.

My fellow Americans, this is the cause I ask you to vote for. This is the cause I ask you to work for. This is the cause I ask you to commit to—not just for victory in November but beyond that to a new Administration.

Because the time when one man or a few leaders could save America is gone. We need tonight nothing less than the total commitment and the total mobilization of the American people if we are to succeed.

Government can pass laws. But respect for law can come only from people who take the law into their hearts and their minds—and not into their hands.

Government can provide opportunity. But opportunity means nothing unless people are prepared to seize it.

A President can ask for reconciliation in the racial conflict that divides Americans. But reconciliation comes only from the hearts of people.

And tonight, therefore, as we make this commitment, let us look into our hearts and let us look down into the faces of our children.

Is there anything in the world that should stand in their way?

None of the old hatreds mean anything when we look down into the faces of our children.

In their faces is our hope, our love, and our courage.

Tonight, I see the face of a child.

He lives in a great city. He is black. Or he is white. He is Mexican, Italian, Polish. None of that matters. What matters, he’s an American child.

That child in that great city is more important than any politician’s promise. He is America. He is a poet. He is a scientist, he is a great teacher, he is a proud craftsman. He is everything we ever hoped to be and everything we dare to dream to be.

He sleeps the sleep of childhood and he dreams the dreams of a child.

And yet when he awakens, he awakens to a living nightmare of poverty, neglect and despair.

He fails in school.

He ends up on welfare.

For him the American system is one that feeds his stomach and starves his soul. It breaks his heart. And in the end it may take his life on some distant battlefield.

To millions of children in this rich land, this is their prospect of the future.

But this is only part of what I see in America.

I see another child tonight.

He hears the train go by at night and he dreams of faraway places where he’d like to go.

It seems like an impossible dream.

But he is helped on his journey through life.

A father who had to go to work before he finished the sixth grade, sacrificed everything he had so that his sons could go to college.

A gentle, Quaker mother, with a passionate concern for peace, quietly wept when he went to war but she understood why he had to go.

A great teacher, a remarkable football coach, an inspirational minister encouraged him on his way.

A courageous wife and loyal children stood by him in victory and also defeat.

And in his chosen profession of politics, first there were scores, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally millions worked for his success.

And tonight he stands before you—nominated for President of the United States of America.

You can see why I believe so deeply in the American Dream.

For most of us the American Revolution has been won; the American Dream has come true.

And what I ask you to do tonight is to help me make that dream come true for millions to whom it’s an impossible dream today.

One hundred and eight years ago, the newly elected President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, left Springfield, Illinois, never to return again. He spoke to his friends gathered at the railroad station. Listen to his words:

“Today I leave you. I go to assume a greater task than devolved on General Washington. The great God which helped him must help me. Without that great assistance, I will surely fail. With it, I cannot fail.”

Abraham Lincoln lost his life but he did not fail.

The next President of the United States will face challenges which in some ways will be greater than those of Washington or Lincoln. Because for the first time in our nation’s history, an American President will face not only the problem of restoring peace abroad but of restoring peace at home.

Without God’s help and your help, we will surely fail; but with God’s help and your help, we shall surely succeed.

My fellow Americans, the long dark night for America is about to end.

The time has come for us to leave the valley of despair and climb the mountain so that we may see the glory of the dawn—a new day for America, and a new dawn for peace and freedom in the world.

 

Richard Nixon: “Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida,” August 8, 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25968.

OTD in History… August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announces he will resign from the presidency over impending Watergate impeachment

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OTD in History… August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announces he will resign from the presidency over impending Watergate impeachment

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 8, 1974, the 37th President Richard Nixon in a televised address announces to the American public that he is resigning the presidency as of noon on August 9, because of lack of support in upcoming impeachment proceedings Congress was taking against him over his role in covering up the Watergate break-in scandal. To avoid the House of Representatives’ impeachment trial, Nixon decided to become the first president to resign from the office, when he did on August 9, 1974, over two years after the Watergate burglary began the president’s descent into a cover-up that consumed his presidency and launched the nation into a Constitutional Crisis.

Nixon already made his decision to resign on August 7, after a meeting with Republican Congressional leaders, who said because of the “Smoking Gun” Oval Office tape recording, Nixon did not have enough Congressional support to survive impeachment, something the president had been relying on. In his address from the Oval Office, Nixon acknowledged to the public, “By taking this action. I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.” The next day just before noon, Nixon left the White House one last time as president. Upon boarding a helicopter on the White House lawn, Nixon gave a victory salute before leaving almost six-years to the day; the Republican Party nominated him for president in 1968. A minute after Nixon departed Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in becoming the 38th president.

In the early morning hours of July 17, 1972five burglars were caughtwiretapping and stealing documents from the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex beginning the Watergate scandal. All were associated with Nixon’s reelection campaign, the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) after the police discovered the committee’s phone number in the belongings. The burglars first bugged the DNC in May, and they were returning after the wiretapping did not work properly to fix it.

From the minute, President Nixon first found out about the burglary, he and members of his White House staff and cabinet went down the road of creating an elaborate cover-up to hide the president’s involvement. Nixon and his advisors decided to have the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interfere in the FBI investigation and on August 1, Nixon ensured that hush money was given to the intruders, saying, “Well…they have to be paid. That’s all there is to that. They have to be paid.” In August, Nixon delivered a speech assuring the American voters neither he nor the White House was involved in the Watergate break-in. With the public assured, the story faded into the background and Nixon won his reelection bid against George McGovern in a landslide.

Just days after Nixon’s inauguration on January 30, 1973, five of the Watergate burglars and conspirators pled guilty at the president’s request two more were found guilty. When burglar James McCord claimed a letter that the burglars were forced to keep quiet, and perjury was committed at the Watergate trial Judge John Sirica began to be suspicious of a wider conspiracy.

Outside, the investigation continued, two young Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were set on uncovering the president and White House’s involved, and a source within only referred to as Deep Throat, help them unravel the conspiracy. The reporting was the basis of their Pulitzer Prize-winning book all the President’s Men and then revealing the Final Days. In 2005, Bernstein and Woodward announced that W. Mark Felt, a former associate director of the FBI was their source after his death.

Soon Nixon’s aides began to turn on each other and the president. Former president assistant and CREEP deputy director Jeb Stuart Magruder was one of the first turn against the White House claiming White House counsel John Dean and Former Attorney General John Mitchell were responsible for a cover-up. The Nixon’s cover-up began to crumble with Dean’s suspicion of the president and a possible recording system. Each time the trail led closer Nixon would fire and force the resignation of his aides, on April 30, advisers H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resigned but Dean was fired.

At the same time, the Senate formed the Watergate Committee chaired by Senator Sam Ervin, D-NC, to investigate the mounting evidence of a conspiracy and the Justice Department tapped a Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox to investigate. The Senate’s televised testimony captured the nation which began on May 18. On June 28, Dean’s testimony might have been the most damning revealing a possible recording system in place in the West Wing, accusing Attorney General John Mitchell of authorizing the Watergate break-in and top White House advisors John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman were aware of the plan, while Nixon knew of the cover-up from almost the start. Soon after on July 13, Alexander Butterfield, the former presidential appointments secretary confirms Dean, testifying that Nixon has been recording his conversations since 1971.

The news of the tapes prompts Nixon to order the system disconnected but by July 23, the Senate Watergate Committee was demanding copies of the tapes. The tapes were Nixon’s downfall. Nixon and his lawyers tried to evade the Senate’s subpoena citing executive privilege eventually offering transcripts. The Saturday Night Massacre on October 23, was a turning point, where Nixon fired Cox, and Attorney General Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned after refusing to comply with Nixon’s orders to fire the special prosecutor. Solicitor General Robert Bork finally fired Cox and appointed a new Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski to take over the investigation.

Afterward, Congress began earnestly talking impeachment, with 84 House representatives “co-sponsoring 17 resolutions” for impeachment. Even as Nixon declared on November 17, “I’m not a crook,” to the press, the evidence mounted against him, contradicted it. Nixon finally agreed to comply partially with the subpoena but an 18-minute gap in one of the tapes only added to questions about his involvement.

By 1974, Congress was well on its way to Impeaching the president, the first time in over 100 years. On February 6, the House passed H.Res. 803, the resolution allowed the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there were grounds to impeach the president. The House Judiciary Committee chaired by Peter W. Rodino ordered an impeachment inquiry, that included the hiring of 34 counsel with a total staff of 44 lawyers, and 100 overall, the inquiry took eight months. On April 11, the Judiciary Committee again demanded in a subpoena that Nixon had over the actual tapes, 42 with conversations possibly relating to Watergate, while Jaworski subpoenaed 69 more tapes. On April 29, Nixon released a version of the tape transcripts to the public, with redactions for expletives, and where he claimed were for national security reasons.

In March and April, the DC Grand Jury wind down their indictments of in the Watergate case indicting the Watergate seven among them, top aides John N. Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman, and John D.Ehrlichman, including naming Nixon an “unindicted co-conspirator.” In total 69 were indicted and 48 found guilty in association with the Watergate burglary and cover-up.

On May 9, 1974, the Judiciary Committee began its impeachment hearings, only the brief opening was televised the remaining two months were closed-door sessions. The emphasis was whether the president had obstructed justice. On July 9, the committee released their version of Nixon’s tapes “restoring” some of the “damaging “conversations that were deleted, based on testimony, and on July 12 they released all their evidence 3,888 pages.

On July 24, the committee resumed televising the hearings, allowing Americans to see “six days of 13 hours-per-day coverage,” this included Texas Democrat Barbara Jordan’s notable speech on July 25, supporting Nixon’s impeachment. One by one, the nation heard from Democrats and Republicans supporting impeachment, however, Nixon supporters claimed there was still not enough “specificity.”

The American public supported impeachment according to two new polls from July 1974. A Harris poll showed 53 percent of Americans supported impeachment, and 47 percent believed the Senate should convict Nixon, with 34 percent claiming he should be acquitted, and according to Gallup Nixon only had a 24 percent favorability rating. The polls, however, were released before Nixon complied and released the tapes and the “Smoking Gun” from June 23, 1972, proved he was behind the cover-up.

On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommends that President Richard Nixon is impeached with obstruction of justice the first of eventually three articles of impeachment. The decision came three days after the Supreme Court ruled on July 24, in the United States v. Nixon against the president stating he would have to hand over to the Federal Court the missing White House Tapes recordings his conversations in the West Wing. The Judiciary Committee would decide on two more articles of impeachment in the coming days, on July 29 for abuse of power and contempt of Congress on July 30.

On July 27, the House Judiciary Committee recommended the first article of impeachment for obstruction of justice. Article I passed with a vote of 27 to 11, with 21 Democrats and 6 Republicans voting in favor and 11 Republicans opposing:

On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

On July 29, the House Judiciary Committee recommended the second article of impeachment for abuse of power. Article II passed with a vote of 28 to 10, with 21 Democrats and 7 Republicans voting in favor and 10 Republicans opposing:

[Nixon] repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies.

On July 30, the House Judiciary Committee recommended the third article of impeachment for contempt of Congress, with 19 Democrats and 2 Republicans voting in favor and 2 Democrats and 15 Republicans opposing:

[Nixon] failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on April 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas.

According to estimates with the Democratic majorities, the House would have impeached Nixon with 300 votes, and the Senate would have convicted him receiving the 60 votes necessary. Nixon would lose most of his support because of the July 24 Supreme Court ruling ordering Nixon to comply with the subpoenas. On July 30, Nixon hands over the tapes to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. On August 5, the “Smoking Gun” is made public, the previously unreleased tape of a June 23, 1972, conversation between Nixon and Haldeman in the Oval Office devising a plan to have the CIA obstruct the FBI’s investigation into the Watergate burglary was finally made public among other recordings.

The tape proved that Nixon was part of the cover-up, and he lost the Republicans, who were supporting him in the Judiciary Committee, they now were intending to support Article I, the Obstruction of Justice charge. Most importantly, Nixon lost the support of California Rep. Charles E. Wiggins, who said, “The facts then known to me have now changed… These facts standing alone are legally sufficient in my opinion to sustain at least one count against the President of conspiracy to obstruct justice.”

On August 7, Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., U.S. House Minority Leader John Rhodes, R-Ariz., and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, R-Pa met with Nixon in the Oval Office, telling him he basically has no support in Congress, would be impeached and convicted. Certain, he would eventually be removed from office. Goldwater later wrote, Nixon “knew beyond any doubt that one way or another his presidency was finished.” Rather than face certain impeachment and removal from office, Nixon decided to control the situation.

On August 8, Nixon spoke to the nation the last time, announcing his decision to resign effective at noon EST on August 9, 1974. Nixon announced in his address, “To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”

Many historians see Watergate as the nation’s worst political scandal while clearly placing the blame on Nixon for the downfall of his presidency. Preeminent Watergate historian Stanley I. Kutler in his book The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon argued that Nixon was “at the center of Watergate,” and “The wars of Watergate are rooted in the lifelong personality of Richard Nixon. Kutler concludes, The Watergate scandal “consumed and convulsed the nation and tested the constitutional and political system as it had not been tested since the Civil War.” (Kutler, 616) London Times Washington Bureau Chief Fred Emery in his book Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon called Watergate “a self-destruct tragedy for Richard Nixon.” Emery determines that Watergate “was a pattern of malfeasance by him and his men that led to the damning — and bipartisan — vote in Congress.” (Emery, xii)

Historian Joan Hoff in her revisionist history, Nixon Reconsidered, viewed Nixon’s presidency as “more than Watergate,” and “Watergate more than Nixon.” Hoff believes the scandal was a product of the times, concluding, “Watergate was a disaster waiting to happen, given the decline in political ethics and practices during the Cold War.” (Hoff, 341) While historian Allan Lichtman notes Watergate “was a widespread conspiracy. Several dozen people went to jail, including other very high officials of the [Nixon] campaign and of the Nixon administration. So a lot of people who should have known much better got sucked into this terrible scandal and it is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions because in many ways Richard Nixon did a lot for the country.”

On August 9, Nixon left the White House flashing V for victory signs before boarding Marine One and becoming the first president to resign from the office. At the same time, Vice President Gerald Ford took the oath of office, and declared, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.” A month later, Ford pardoned Nixon, and in time, Nixon’s image rehabilitated but the stain of Watergate remained on the nation and Nixon.

SOURCES & READ MORE

Emery, Fred. Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon. London: Pimlico, 1995.

Genovese, Michael A. The Watergate Crisis. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Hoff, Joan. Nixon Reconsidered. New York: BasicBooks, 1998.

Kutler, Stanley I. The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon. New York: Norton, 1992.

Kutler, Stanley I. Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes. London: Touchstone, 1999.

Small, Melvin. A Companion to Richard M. Nixon. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2011.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

244 – Address to the Nation Announcing Decision To Resign the Office of President of the United States

August 8, 1974

Good evening:

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish, whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interests of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter, I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation will require.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interests of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.

As I recall the high hopes for America with which we began this second term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 2 1/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Vice President Ford, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands.

In passing this office to the Vice President, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Americans.

As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.

By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong–and some were wrong–they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months–to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right–I will be eternally grateful for your support.

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new President succeed for the benefit of all Americans.

I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your President for the past 5 1/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Congress, and the people.

But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Congress and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.

We have ended America’s longest war, but in the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Americans, by the people of all nations, not only that we ended one war but that we prevented future wars.

We have unlocked the doors that for a quarter of a century stood between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

We must now ensure that the one quarter of the world’s people who live in the People’s Republic of China will be and remain not our enemies, but our friends.

In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.

Together with the Soviet Union, we have made the crucial breakthroughs that have begun the process of limiting nuclear arms. But we must set as our goal not just limiting but reducing and, finally, destroying these terrible weapons so that they cannot destroy civilization and so that the threat of nuclear war will no longer hang over the world and the people.

We have opened the new relation with the Soviet Union. We must continue to develop and expand that new relationship so that the two strongest nations of the world will live together in cooperation, rather than confrontation.

Around the world in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East-there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this Earth can at last look forward in their children’s time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.

Here in America, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world’s standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal, not only of more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every American and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.

For more than a quarter of a century in public life, I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I pledge to you tonight that as long as I have a breath of life in my body, I shall continue in that spirit. I shall continue to work for the great causes to which I have been dedicated throughout my years as a Congressman, a Senator, Vice President, and President, the cause of peace, not just for America but among all nations-prosperity, justice, and opportunity for all of our people.

There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.

When I first took the oath of office as President 5 1/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment: to “consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations.”

I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of America but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.

This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Presidency. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Presidency.

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.

 

Note: The President spoke at 9:01 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. The address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.

Prior to delivering the address, the President met separately with a group of bipartisan Congressional leaders in his office at the Old Executive Office Building and a group of more than 40 Members of Congress in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

On August 7, 1974, Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater and Representative John J. Rhodes met with the President in the Oval Office at the White House. The White House released a transcript of their news briefing on the meeting on the same day. The briefing is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 10, p. 1010).

Richard Nixon: “Address to the Nation Announcing Decision To Resign the Office of President of the United States,” August 8, 1974. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4324.

 

OTD in History… August 7, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt nominated for a third term as president by the Bull Moose Party

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OTD in History… August 7, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt nominated for a third term as president by the Bull Moose Party

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 7, 1912, the Progressive Party nominates former President Theodore Roosevelt for president, the party of disgruntled Republicans known as the Bull Moose Party nominated the former 26th president of the United States, (1901 to 1909) in objection to the nomination of President William Howard Taft for a second term. Taft had been Roosevelt’s hand picked successor but he was not living up to progressive standards and Roosevelt’s legacy. Roosevelt left office in 1909, popular and refusing to run for a third term. After returning from a trip to Africa in 1910, Roosevelt broke with Taft. In 1912, he actively sought the Republican nomination, from then as historian Paul F. Boller indicates, “T.R. dominated the 1912 contest.” Never has a loser in a presidential election upstage the winner as Roosevelt did with his third-party run. Roosevelt was the only third-party nominee to show better than a major party nominee coming in second, with the Republicans and Taft in third.

The 1912 presidential campaign was the first time the primary system of contest were used to choose delegates for the conventions. The Republicans chose 362 delegates from 14 states, however, the primary votes were not honored for the presidential nomination process. For the Republicans Robert M. La Follette, Sr was the first who challenged William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. La Follette maintained some momentum and early wins in North Dakota and his home state Wisconsin.

In February 1912, Roosevelt decided to run for the nomination, announcing, “My hat is in the ring! The fight is on and I am stripped to the buff!” When Roosevelt entered, the race progressives abandoned La Follette to support Roosevelt. Roosevelt was still popular and his New Nationalism platform promised “social welfare, direct democracy, and federal regulation of business.” (Boller, 192) Roosevelt won the most delegates and elections in the new Presidential preference primaries. In response to changing his mind about a third term, Roosevelt responded, “My position on the third term is perfectly simple. I said I would not accept a nomination for a third term under any circumstances, meaning, of course, a third consecutive term. . . .”

The competition, especially from Roosevelt, forced Taft to stump, campaign for the Republican nomination, the first time in history a sitting president would have to resort to campaigning. Taft explained at the time, “Whether I win or lose is not the important thing. I am in this fight to perform a great public duty the duty of keeping Theodore Roosevelt out of the White House.”

Roosevelt was the big winner of the new primary system, winning nine Republican Presidential primaries with 278 delegates, in comparison, La Follette won 36 and Taft won 48, however, the pledges were not binding at the convention. At first, the Republicans thought both Taft and Roosevelt should drop out in favor of a compromise candidate, Roosevelt responded, “I’ll name the compromise candidate. He’ll be me. I’ll name the compromise platform. It will be our platform.”

At the Republican National Convention in June, in Chicago, Illinois, with “Old Guard” support Taft gathered enough delegates to secure the nomination and shut out Roosevelt on the first ballot. At the convention, Roosevelt challenged the delegates’ credentials and tried to woo Southern black delegates to vote for him. Southern delegates supported Taft by a margin of 5–1. Taft also secured the Alabama, Arizona, and California delegates even though Roosevelt won the states by close margins. Convention chairman Elihu Root, Roosevelt’s former ally, proposed the convention re-nominate President Taft and Vice President James S. Sherman

On June 22, 1912, Roosevelt asked his supporters to abstain from voting and leave the convention, with Taft’s nomination certain, they did, and with Roosevelt’s agreement, they formed a new third party, the Progressive Party. Supporters included “social workers, reformers, intellectuals, feminists, Republican insurgents, disgruntled politicians, and businessmen.” (Boller, 192)

At the new party’s convention in August in Chicago, they nominated Theodore Roosevelt and Senator Hiram Johnson of California for Vice President. They adopted a radical progressive platform, which they called instead, a “Covenant with the People,” the Square Deal, which consisted of the “direct election of U.S. senators, woman suffrage, reduction of the tariff, and many social reforms.”

Roosevelt gave a speech declaring, “I hope we shall win. . . . But win, or lose, we shall not falter. . . . Our cause is based on the eternal principle of righteousness; and even though we who now lead may for the time fail, in the end, the cause itself shall triumph. . . . We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.” The party became popularly known as the “Bull Moose Party” after Roosevelt told reporters, “I’m feeling like a Bull Moose!”

On October 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roosevelt shot by a mad saloonkeeper and anarchist, John F. Schrank, who supposedly opposed Roosevelt running for a third term. The bullet went through Roosevelt’s 50-page copy of his speech in his jacket and his steel eyeglass case before it lodged in his chest. Roosevelt nevertheless delivered his speech, expressing, “I am going to ask you to be very quiet and I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet there is where the bullet went through — and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so, that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.” Roosevelt went on to speak for 84 minutes.

On Election Day November 5, Roosevelt lost to liberal and Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, who had been the President of Princeton University. Wilson won in a landslide, with 435 Electoral College votes, winning 40 states; Roosevelt won 88 and 6 six states, while Taft won just two states with 8 Electoral college votes. Roosevelt did far better when it came to the popular vote, Wilson won 41.9 percent (6,283,019); Roosevelt, 27.4 percent (4,119,507) and

Taft 23.2 percent (3,484,956). (Boller, 196) Roosevelt, could have won had the Republican Party not fractured but because it did, Roosevelt became a powerful third-party candidate who affected the outcome of the election, leaving Taft in third place, after becoming the first incumbent to campaign then mostly giving up in the general election. Wilson won because he was more to the left that Roosevelt, taking his progressivism a step further each time.

Historian James Chance in his book, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft, and Debs The Election that Changed the Country, declared, “The year 1912 constitutes a defining moment in American history” and “the 1912 presidential campaign tackled the central question of America’s exceptional destiny.” (19) Chance also notes, “Had the charismatic Roosevelt received the Republican nomination, he almost surely would have won. He, far more than Taft, was in tune with the progressive spirit of the time. The Republican Party, in his hands, would likely have become a party of domestic reform and internationalist realism in foreign affairs. With his heroic virtues and condemnation of materialism, Roosevelt represents the road not taken by American conservatism.” (Chance, 16–17)

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Boller, Paul F. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs the Election That Changed the Country. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Cowan, Geoffrey. Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

OTD in History… August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law

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OTD in History… August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, the law would prevent the federal government, the states or local areas from imposing any restrictions, which would prevent anybody from voting. The Voting Rights Act combined with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, were meant to guarantee equal and voting rights to African-Americans, who were long relegated to segregation and denied the right to vote guaranteed to them in the fifteenth amendment ratified in 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment promised the guarantee to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” but the South’ Jim Crow laws found ways to circumvent the amendment for nearly a hundred years. Johnson signed the bill surrounded by Civil Rights leaders after an arduous journey imperiled by Southern Democrats, whose constituents long opposed equality for African Americans with racial prejudices alive from the post-Civil War period.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 aimed to reduce inequality for African Americans it did not address the problems with voting. In the South especially, restrictions were meant to prevent African Americans from being registered to vote including difficult literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses and other tricks and bureaucratic excuses, just to deny them the vote. Johnson and the Democrats’ landslide victory in the 1964 election gave him the mandate to create legislation dealing with the voting issue. Still, he was weary the public would not be supportive so soon after the Civil Rights Act and concerned Southern Democrats would block it and his Great Society social program.

On Sunday, March 7, Bloody Sunday would turn the tide. There Martin Luther King, Jr. and others were peacefully marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, ended up being brutally beaten by the police and state troopers, which led to one death. Despite it, all King believed and said at the march, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” The images on television were enough for Johnson to sway the public and Congress on legislation. The moment was now.

On March 15, President Johnson delivered one his best speeches the Voting Rights Address to Congress, where he spoke of the need for the legislation. Johnson used the moment to his favor, expressing “At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.” Johnson ordered his Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to draft “the goddamndest, toughest voting rights act that you can.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-Ill.) introduced the bill, 64 senators co-sponsored it, 44 Democrats and 20 Republican co-sponsors. In the Senate floor debate on April 22, Dirksen defended the bill saying “legislation is needed if the unequivocal mandate of the Fifteenth Amendment … is to be enforced and made effective and if the Declaration of Independence is to be made truly meaningful.” While Senator and segregationalist Strom Thurmond (R-SC) said, it would lead to “despotism and tyranny.”

The Voting Rights Act, known as the “Dirksenbach” bill for its primary authors first passed the Senate on May 26, with a vote of 77–19 (Democrats 47–16, Republicans 30–2), all Southern Democrats opposed the bill. The bill passed in the House of Representative on July 9 with a vote of 333–85, Democrats 221–61, and Republicans 112–24, again with Southern Democrats opposing. When the bill went to conference, the biggest difference was the House bill not outlawing poll taxes; a compromise in the bill outlawed them. The House approved the revised bill, on August 3 with a vote of 328–74 (Democrats 217–54, Republicans 111–20). The next day on August 4 the Senate approved the bill 79–18 vote (Democrats 49–17, Republicans 30–1).

On August 6, Johnson signed the bill into law at Statuary Hall in the Capitol building. In attendance were dignitaries including those that helped make landmarks in the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks, who refused to sit at the back of the bus starting the Montgomery bus boycott was there. Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall, whom Johnson had just appointed, and had successfully argued in 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was there. Charles Evers, brother of Medgar Evers killed in 1963 the NAACP’s field secretary, a position Charles later assumed attended. John Doar, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, who “helped shaped the act” attended. John Lewis, who was the face of the violence of the Selma March, he fought for voting rights in the state even before Martin Luther King, Jr., and he was badly injured on Bloody Sunday. King also attended, for the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, this was the second legislative victory. King said at the Lincoln Memorial in May 1957. “So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably have the right to vote I do not possess myself.”

Johnson chose the day because it was symbolic. As historian Gary May in his book Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy recounted, “On that day in 1861, President Lincoln had signed the Confiscation Act, freeing all slaves who were being used to aid the Confederacy; that act was a precursor to the Emancipation Proclamation, which liberated the rebel states’ remaining slaves.” (May 19) President Johnson ensured the visual was also there as he delivered a televised speech, with the backdrop of two busts of Lincoln, and was John Trumbull’s painting of George Washington, the Surrender of Cornwallis. (May 19)

In his speech, Johnson declared, “Today, we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds. . . . The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” The president, however, signed the bill in the President’s room, he gave the first pen to Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the second to Senator Everett M. Dirksen, and the third to Senator Robert Kennedy. Johnson also gave one to Rev. King, and told him “his work was now done, that the time for protest was over.” (May, 20) Afterward, Johnson hosted the Civil rights Leaders at the White House.

Historian Gary May indicates, “The Voting Rights Act transformed American democracy and in many ways was the last act of emancipation, a process Abraham Lincoln began in 1863.” President Johnson believed it was but the Voting Rights Act was a work in progress, opening the doors to voting, however, African Americans might still have to fight but now with the means in the courts. Through the years, the act would see provisions added evolving for the better. The Voting Rights Act’s greatest victory was Election Day 2008, where 65 percent of African American voters and an overwhelmingly 96 percent of them voted in the first African American President history, Barack Obama.

SOURCES

May, Gary. Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy. New York, N.Y: Basic Books, 2013.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Remarks in the Capitol Rotunda at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act.

August 6, 1965

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:

Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield. Yet to seize the meaning of this day, we must recall darker times.

Three and a half centuries ago the first Negroes arrived at Jamestown. They did not arrive in brave ships in search of a home for freedom. They did not mingle fear and joy, in expectation that in this New World anything would be possible to a man strong enough to reach for it.

They came in darkness and they came in chains.

And today we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds. Today the Negro story and the American story fuse and blend.

And let us remember that it was not always so. The stories of our Nation and of the American Negro are like two great rivers. Welling up from that tiny Jamestown spring they flow through the centuries along divided channels.

When pioneers subdued a continent to the need of man, they did not tame it for the Negro. When the Liberty Bell rang out in Philadelphia, it did not toll for the Negro. When Andrew Jackson threw open the doors of democracy, they did not open for the Negro.

It was only at Appomattox, a century ago, that an American victory was also a Negro victory. And the two rivers–one shining with promise, the other dark-stained with oppression–began to move toward one another.

THE PROMISE KEPT

Yet, for almost a century the promise of that day was not fulfilled. Today is a towering and certain mark that, in this generation, that promise will be kept. In our time the two currents will finally mingle and rush as one great stream across the uncertain and the marvelous years of the America that is yet to come.

This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny.

In 1957, as the leader of the majority in the United States Senate, speaking in support of legislation to guarantee the right of all men to vote, I said, “This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies.”

Last year I said, “Until every qualified person regardless of . . . the color of his skin has the right, unquestioned and unrestrained, to go in and cast his ballot in every precinct in this great land of ours, I am not going to be satisfied.”

Immediately after the election I directed the Attorney General to explore, as rapidly as possible, the ways to ensure the right to vote.

And then last March, with the outrage of Selma still fresh, I came down to this Capitol one evening and asked the Congress and the people for swift and for sweeping action to guarantee to every man and woman the right to vote. In less than 48 hours I sent the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the Congress. In little more than 4 months the Congress, with overwhelming majorities, enacted one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.

THE WAITING IS GONE

The Members of the Congress, and the many private citizens, who worked to shape and pass this bill will share a place of honor in our history for this one act alone.

There were those who said this is an old injustice, and there is no need to hurry. But 95 years have passed since the 15th amendment gave all Negroes the right to vote.

And the time for waiting is gone.

There were those who said smaller and more gradual measures should be tried. But they had been tried. For years and years they had been tried, and tried, and tried, and they had failed, and failed, and failed.

And the time for failure is gone.

There were those who said that this is a many-sided and very complex problem. But however viewed, the denial of the right to vote is still a deadly wrong.

And the time for injustice has gone.

This law covers many pages. But the heart of the act is plain. Wherever, by clear and objective standards, States and counties are using regulations, or laws, or tests to deny the right to vote, then they will be struck down. If it is clear that State officials still intend to discriminate, then Federal examiners will be sent in to register all eligible voters. When the prospect of discrimination is gone, the examiners will be immediately withdrawn.

And, under this act, if any county anywhere in this Nation does not want Federal intervention it need only open its polling places to all of its people.

THE GOVERNMENT ACTS

This good Congress, the 89th Congress, acted swiftly in passing this act. I intend to act with equal dispatch in enforcing this act.

And tomorrow at 1 p.m., the Attorney General has been directed to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the poll tax in the State of Mississippi. This will begin the legal process which, I confidently believe, will very soon prohibit any State from requiring the payment of money in order to exercise the right to vote.

And also by tomorrow the Justice Department, through publication in the Federal Register, will have officially certified the States where discrimination exists.

I have, in addition, requested the Department of Justice to work all through this weekend so that on Monday morning next, they can designate many counties where past experience clearly shows that Federal action is necessary and required. And by Tuesday morning, trained Federal examiners will be at work registering eligible men and women in 10 to 15 counties.

And on that same day, next Tuesday, additional poll tax suits will be filed in the States of Texas, Alabama, and Virginia.

And I pledge you that we will not delay, or we will not hesitate, or we will not turn aside until Americans of every race and color and origin in this country have the same right as all others to share in the process of democracy.

So, through this act, and its enforcement, an important instrument of freedom passes into the hands of millions of our citizens. But that instrument must be used. Presidents and Congresses, laws and lawsuits can open the doors to the polling places and open the doors to the wondrous rewards which await the wise use of the ballot.

THE VOTE BECOMES JUSTICE

But only the individual Negro, and all others who have been denied the right to vote, can really walk through those doors, and can use that right, and can transform the vote into an instrument of justice and fulfillment.

So, let me now say to every Negro in this country: You must register. You must vote. You must learn, so your choice advances your interest and the interest of our beloved Nation. Your future, and your children’s future, depend upon it, and I don’t believe that you are going to let them down.

This act is not only a victory for Negro leadership. This act is a great challenge to that leadership. It is a challenge which cannot be met simply by protests and demonstrations. It means that dedicated leaders must work around the clock to teach people their rights and their responsibilities and to lead them to exercise those rights and to fulfill those responsibilities and those duties to their country.

If you do this, then you will find, as others have found before you, that the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.

THE LAST OF THE BARRIERS TUMBLE

Today what is perhaps the last of the legal barriers is tumbling. There will be many actions and many difficulties before the rights woven into law are also woven into the fabric of our Nation. But the struggle for equality must now move toward a different battlefield.

It is nothing less than granting every American Negro his freedom to enter the mainstream of American life: not the conformity that blurs enriching differences of culture and tradition, but rather the opportunity that gives each a chance to choose.

For centuries of oppression and hatred have already taken their painful toll. It can be seen throughout our land in men without skills, in children without fathers, in families that are imprisoned in slums and in poverty.

RIGHTS ARE NOT ENOUGH

For it is not enough just to give men rights. They must be able to use those rights in their personal pursuit of happiness. The wounds and the weaknesses, the outward walls and the inward scars which diminish achievement are the work of American society. We must all now help to end them–help to end them through expanding programs already devised and through new ones to search out and forever end the special handicaps of those who are black in a Nation that happens to be mostly white.

So, it is for this purpose–to fulfill the rights that we now secure–that I have already called a White House conference to meet here in the Nation’s Capital this fall.

So, we will move step by step–often painfully but, I think, with clear vision–along the path toward American freedom.

It is difficult to fight for freedom. But I also know how difficult it can be to bend long years of habit and custom to grant it. There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion. But there is always room for understanding toward those who see the old ways crumbling. And to them today I say simply this: It must come. It is right that it should come. And when it has, you will find that a burden has been lifted from your shoulders, too.

It is not just a question of guilt, although there is that. It is that men cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it.

DIGNITY IS NOT JUST A WORD

The central fact of American civilization–one so hard for others to understand–is that freedom and justice and the dignity of man are not just words to us. We believe in them. Under all the growth and the tumult and abundance, we believe. And so, as long as some among us are oppressed–and we are part of that oppression–it must blunt our faith and sap the strength of our high purpose.

Thus, this is a victory for the freedom of the American Negro. But it is also a victory for the freedom of the American Nation. And every family across this great, entire, searching land will live stronger in liberty, will live more splendid in expectation, and will be prouder to be American because of the act that you have passed that I will sign today.

Thank you.


Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the Rotunda at the Capitol, prior to signing the bill. In his opening words he referred to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and Representative John W. McCormack of Massachusetts, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

As enacted, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is Public Law 89-110 (79 Stat. 437).

Reports to the President on the implementation of the act, prepared by the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, were made public by the White House on August 5, August 14, and August 21. They are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 1, pp. 51, 92, 125).

The determinations of the Attorney General are printed in the Federal Register of August 7 and August 10, 1965 (30 F.R. 9897, 9970).

Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks in the Capitol Rotunda at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act.,” August 6, 1965. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=27140.

OTD in History… August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fires striking air traffic controllers

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OTD in History… August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fires striking air traffic controllers

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firingthe 11,359 air-traffic controllers who ignored his order to return to work after illegal striking two days before, causing the cancellation of thousands of flights. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization or PATCO’s nearly 13,000 members went on strike on August 3, after the government refused to give them a $10,000 raise and shorten their workweek from five to four days, a request of $770 million. The government counter offer only included a package of $40 million, generous but not enough according to PATCO. The strike on August 3, paralyzed air travel, with 7,000 flights canceled. Reagan gave PATCO strikers an ultimatum, return to work within 48 hours or be fired.

Robert E. Poli, the president of PATCO had the union endorsed Reagan as the Republican presidential nominee in the 1980 election. Now a federal judge found Poli in contempt for the strike, fining him $1,000 and the union a million each day of the strike, the rate based on a Congressional law passed in 1955 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1971. Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis suggested to Reagan that he fired the air traffic controllers, and on August 5, Reagan did just that. Reagan later recognized the significance of his action early in his administration calling it “an important juncture for our new administration. I think it convinced people who might have thought otherwise that I meant what I said.” (Cannon, 438) Reagan banned the strikers for life, while the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified the union just two months later on October 22.

Historian Joseph A. McCartin and author of “Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America, argues, “Ronald Reagan not only transformed his presidency but also shaped the world of the modern workplace.” McCartin claims the move “polarized our politics in ways that prevent us from addressing the root of our economic troubles: the continuing stagnation of incomes despite rising corporate profits and worker productivity.” Reagan’s decisive move would both alter the influence of labor unions stripping them of their bargaining power and showed the Soviet Union his strong leadership establishing him as a force to be reckoned with in the Cold War.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

McCartin, Joseph A. Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. New York: Public Affairs, 2000.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Air Traffic Controllers Strike

August 3, 1981

The President. This morning at 7 a.m. the union representing those who man America’s air traffic control facilities called a strike. This was the culmination of 7 months of negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration and the union. At one point in these negotiations agreement was reached and signed by both sides, granting a $40 million increase in salaries and benefits. This is twice what other government employees can expect. It was granted in recognition of the difficulties inherent in the work these people perform. Now, however, the union demands are 17 times what had been agreed to—$681 million. This would impose a tax burden on their fellow citizens which is unacceptable.

I would like to thank the supervisors and controllers who are on the job today, helping to get the nation’s air system operating safely. In the New York area, for example, four supervisors were scheduled to report for work, and 17 additionally volunteered. At National Airport a traffic controller told a newsperson he had resigned from the union and reported to work because, “How can I ask my kids to obey the law if I don’t?” This is a great tribute to America.

Let me make one thing plain. I respect the right of workers in the private sector to strike. Indeed, as president of my own union, I led the first strike ever called by that union. I guess I’m maybe the first one to ever hold this office who is a lifetime member of an AFL-CIO union. But we cannot compare labor-management relations in the private sector with government. Government cannot close down the assembly line. It has to provide without interruption the protective services which are government’s reason for being.

It was in recognition of this that the Congress passed a law forbidding strikes by government employees against the public safety. Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit, when they accepted their jobs: “I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.”

It is for this reason that I must tell those who fail to report for duty this morning they are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.

Q. Mr. President, are you going to order any union members who violate the law to go to jail?

The President. Well, I have some people around here, and maybe I should refer that question to the Attorney General.

Q. Do you think that they should go to jail, Mr. President, anybody who violates this law?

The President. I told you what I think should be done. They’re terminated.

The Attorney General. Well, as the President has said, striking under these circumstances constitutes a violation of the law, and we intend to initiate in appropriate cases criminal proceedings against those who have violated the law.

Q. How quickly will you initiate criminal proceedings, Mr. Attorney General?

The Attorney General. We will initiate those proceedings as soon as we can. Q. Today?

The Attorney General. The process will be underway probably by noon today.

Q. Are you going to try and fine the union $1 million per day?

The Attorney General. Well, that’s the prerogative of the court. In the event that any individuals are found guilty of contempt of a court order, the penalty for that, of course, is imposed by the court.

Q. How much more is the government prepared to offer the union?

The Secretary of Transportation. We think we had a very satisfactory offer on the table. It’s twice what other Government employees are going to get—11.4 percent. Their demands were so unreasonable there was no spot to negotiate, when you’re talking to somebody 17 times away from where you presently are. We do not plan to increase our offer to the union.

Q. Under no circumstances?

The Secretary of Transportation. As far as I’m concerned, under no circumstance.

Q. Will you continue to meet with them? The Secretary of Transportation. We will not meet with the union as long as they’re on strike. When they’re off of strike, and assuming that they are not decertified, we will meet with the union and try to negotiate a satisfactory contract.

Q. Do you have any idea how it’s going at the airports around the country?

The Secretary of Transportation. Relatively, it’s going quite well. We’re operating somewhat in excess of 50 percent capacity. We could increase that. We have determined, until we feel we’re in total control of the system, that we will not increase that. Also, as you probably know, we have some rather severe weather in the Midwest, and our first priority is safety.

Q. What can you tell us about possible decertification of the union and impoundment of its strike funds?

The Secretary of Transportation. There has been a court action to impound the strike fund of $3.5 million. We are going before the National Labor Relations Authority this morning and ask for decertification of the union.

Q. When you say that you’re not going to increase your offer, are you referring to the original offer or the last offer which you’ve made? Is that still valid?

The Secretary of Transportation. The last offer we made in present value was exactly the same as the first offer. Mr. Poli 1asked me about 11 o’clock last evening if he could phase the increase in over a period of time. For that reason, we phased it in over a longer period of time. It would have given him a larger increase in terms of where he would be when the next negotiations started, but in present value it was the $40 million originally on the table.

1 Robert Poli, president, Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.

Q. Mr. Attorney General, in seeking criminal action against the union leaders, will you seek to put them in jail if they do not order these people back to work?

The Attorney General. Well, we will seek whatever penalty is appropriate under the circumstances in each individual case.

Q. Do you think that is an appropriate circumstance?

The Attorney General. It is certainly one of the penalties that is provided for in the law, and in appropriate cases, we could very well seek that penalty.

Q. What’s appropriate?

The Attorney General. Well, that depends upon the fact of each case.

Q. What makes the difference?

Q. Can I go back to my “fine” question? How much would you like to see the union fined every day?

The Attorney General. Well, there’s no way to answer that question. We would just have to wait until we get into court, see what the circumstances are, and determine what position we would take in the various cases under the facts as they develop.

Q. But you won’t go to court and ask the court for a specific amount?

The Attorney General. Well, I’m sure we will when we reach that point, but there’s no way to pick a figure now.

Q. Mr. President, will you delay your trip to California or cancel it if the strike is still on later this week?

The President. If any situation should arise that would require my presence here, naturally I will do that. So, that will be a decision that awaits what’s going to happen. May I just—because I have to be back in there for another appointment—may I just say one thing on top of this? With all this talk of penalties and everything else, I hope that you’ll emphasize, again, the possibility of termination, because I believe that there are a great many of those people—and they’re fine people—who have been swept up in this and probably have not really considered the result—the fact that they had taken an oath, the fact that this is now in violation of the law, as that one supervisor referred to with regard to his children. And I am hoping that they will in a sense remove themselves from the lawbreaker situation by returning to their posts.

I have no way to know whether this had been conveyed to them by their union leaders, who had been informed that this would be the result of a strike.

Q. Your deadline is 7 o’clock Wednesday morning for them to return to work? The President. Forty-eight hours.

The Secretary of Transportation. It’s 11 o’clock Wednesday morning.

Q. Mr. President, why have you taken such strong action as your first action? Why not some lesser action at this point?

The President. What lesser action can there be? The law is very explicit. They are violating the law. And as I say, we called this to the attention of their leadership. Whether this was conveyed to the membership before they voted to strike, I don’t know. But this is one of the reasons why there can be no further negotiation while this situation continues. You can’t sit and negotiate with a union that’s in violation of the law.

The Secretary of Transportation. And their oath.
The President. And their oath.

Q. Are you more likely to proceed in the criminal direction toward the leadership than the rank and file, Mr. President?

The President. Well, that again is not for me to answer.

Q. Mr. Secretary, what can you tell us about the possible use of military air controllers—how many, how quickly can they get on the job?
The Secretary of Transportation. In answer to the previous question, we will move both civil and criminal, probably more civil than criminal, and we now have papers in the U.S. attorneys’ offices, under the Attorney General, in about 20 locations around the country where would be involved two or three principal people.

As far as the military personnel are concerned, they are going to fundamentally be backup to the supervisory personnel. We had 150 on the job, supposedly, about a half-hour ago. We’re going to increase that to somewhere between 700 and 850.

Q. Mr. Secretary, are you ready to hire other people should these other people not return?

The Secretary of Transportation. Yes, we will, and we hope we do not reach that point. Again as the President said, we’re hoping these people come back to work. They do a fine job. If that does not take place, we have a training school, as you know. We will be advertising. We have a number of applicants right now. There’s a waiting list in terms of people that want to be controllers, and we’ll start retraining and reorganize the entire FAA traffic controller group.

Q. Just to clarify, is your deadline 7 a.m. Wednesday or 11 o’clock?

The Secretary of Transportation. It’s 11 a.m. Wednesday. The President said 48 hours, and that would be 48 hours.

Q. If you actually fire these people, won’t it put your air traffic control system in a hole for years to come, since you can’t just cook up a controller in—[inaudible]?

The Secretary of Transportation. That obviously depends on how many return to work. Right now we’re able to operate the system. In some areas, we’ve been very gratified by the support we’ve received. In other areas, we’ve been disappointed. And until I see the numbers, there’s no way I can answer that question.

Q. Mr. Lewis, did you tell the union leadership when you were talking to them that their members would be fired if they went out on strike?

The Secretary of Transportation. I told Mr. Poll yesterday that the President gave me three instructions in terms of the firmness of the negotiations: one is there would be no amnesty; the second there would be no negotiations during the strike; and third is that if they went on strike, these people would no longer be government employees.

Q. Mr. Secretary, you said no negotiations. What about informal meetings of any kind with Mr. Poli?

The Secretary of Transportation. We will have no meetings until the strike is terminated with the union.

Q. Have you served Poli at this point? Has he been served by the Attorney General?

The Attorney General. In the civil action that was filed this morning, the service was made on the attorney for the union, and the court has determined that that was appropriate service on all of the officers of the union.

Q. My previous question about whether you’re going to take a harder line on the leadership than rank and file in terms of any criminal prosecution, can you give us an answer on that?

The Attorney General. No, I can’t answer that except to say that each case will be investigated on its own merits, and action will be taken as appropriate in each of those cases.

Q. Mr. Lewis, do you know how many applications for controller jobs you have on file now?

The Secretary of Transportation. I do not know. I’m going to check when I get back. I am aware there’s a waiting list, and I do not have the figure. If you care to have that, you can call our office, and we’ll tell you. Also, we’ll be advertising and recruiting people for this job if necessary.

Q. Mr. Secretary, how long are you prepared to hold out if there’s a partial but not complete strike?

The Secretary of Transportation. I think the President made it very clear that as of 48 hours from now, if the people are not back on the job, they will not be government employees at any time in the future.

Q. How long are you prepared to run the air controller system—[ inaudible]?

The Secretary of Transportation. For years, if we have to.

Q. How long does it take to train a new controller, from the waiting list?

The Secretary of Transportation. It varies; it depends on the type of center they’re going to be in. For someone to start in the system and work through the more minor office types of control situations till they get to, let’s say, a Chicago or a Washington National, it takes about 3 years. So in this case, what we’ll have to do if some of the major metropolitan areas are shut down or a considerable portion is shut down, we’ll be bringing people in from other areas that are qualified and then start bringing people through the training schools in the smaller cities and smaller airports.

Q. Mr. Secretary, have you definitely made your final offer to the union?

The Secretary of Transportation. Yes, we have.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The President read the statement to reporters at 10:55 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

APP Note: In the “Public Papers of the Presidents” series, this document is titled, “Statement and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Air Traffic Controllers Strike.” It was re-titled to reflect the fact that the president read a prepared written statement.

 

OTD in History… August 4, 1944, Anne Frank and her family are captured by the Nazis

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OTD in History… August 4, 1944, Anne Frank and her family are captured by the Nazis

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Anne Frank in 1941. Source: Anne Frank Fonds

On this day in history August 4, 1944, the Nazi Gestapo captured Anne Frankand her family, and fellow Jews, the van Pels family and Fritz Pfeiffer all of whom were hiding at Otto Frank’s office building 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam in a Secret Annex above the offices. After 10 a.m. in the morning on August 4, SS-Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer of “the Sicherheitsdienst” and some Dutch police collaborators two of which are known, Willem Grootendorst and Gezinus Gringhuis stormed into the annex directly through the bookcase that hides the entryway, they stayed two hours. It has longed been believed the Franks had been tipped off by a source informed the Nazis police there were Jews hiding there.

The Gestapo forced the Franks and vans Pels to hand over all their valuables, and the Gestapo turned over everything within the annex, including throwing out Otto Frank’s briefcase containing Anne’s diary from the time she was turned thirteen through their hiding. Additionally, they arrested two of the Christians, Victor Kugler, and Johannes Kleiman, who had been taking care of the Franks, and sent them to Amersfoort penal camp. The other two, Otto’s secretary Miep Gies and typist Bep Voskuijl, who helped the Franks were questioned but not arrested. On August 5, Gies went back to the annex, where she found Anne’s diary, the notebooks and pages she added to it and the Franks family albums, and hide them.

There started Anne’s journey through the Nazi concentration camps, that, she, her sister Margot and her mother Edith would never survive. Their mother died at Auschwitz while Anne and Margot died in Bergen-Belsen barely two months before the camp was liberated. Only her father survived. Miep Gies returned Anne’s diaries to him after the war ended, he edited Anne’s diary and had it published, he chose passages from Anne’s original and edited versions of her diaries. After his death, the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (Rijks Instituut voor Oorlogs documentatie (RIOD) published the full version of her diaries, finally giving a complete depiction of Anne and the events of those two years in hiding through her eyes. The diary was a real-time glimpse of Jewish survival and hiding in Nazi-occupied Europe. As Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg said of Anne’s diary, “One voice speaks for six million — the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl.” Although Anne left a trail of her life in the secret annex in her diary, questions remain as to who really betrayed the family and when she died.

Anne Frank was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, she had an older sister Margot Betti, four years older, the family was liberal Jews. With Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the Franks moved Amsterdam, Netherlands, Otto first, then Edith and the children. There they established a routine, Otto worked at Opekta Works, a company that extracted pectin, and they lived in an apartment in Merwedeplein (Merwede Square) in Rivierenbuurt, Amsterdam. In 1938, Otto established a second company Pectacon, which sold “herbs, pickling salts, and mixed spices.” Both girls went to mixed schools, Margot to public schools and Anne to a Montessori school.

Life would change for the Franks again, unsettling them once more, in May 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. They instituted “discriminatory laws” against the Jewish population, including “mandatory registration and segregation.” Anne and Margot would have to attend the Jewish school, the Jewish Lyceum, secondary school. Otto had to transfer his business to Christians to avoid the Nazis confiscating them. He transferred Pectacon to Johannes Kleiman, and then it is was liquidated with assets transferred to Gies and Company operated by Jan Gies. Otto Frank tried in vain to acquire visas for the family to immigrate first to the United States in 1938 and then Cuba in 1941, but the US consulate closed in the interim with the Nazi invasion, and the whole application was lost, while the Cuban application was granted only for Otto in December 1941.

Anne’s father bought her a small red-and-white-plaid autograph book she wanted for her thirteenth birthday on June 12, 1942, which she immediately started to use as a diary recording her last month of freedom. On July 5, the SS called up Margot then sixteen to report for a work camp. Otto Frank was planning to hide the family and he intended they go into hiding on July 16, 1942. Margot’s call up from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) forced the family to make their move quicker than anticipated.

On Monday, July 6, 1942, the family left their apartment in disarray, with a note implying they fled to Switzerland. Anne left neighbor and friend Toosje Kupers some of her prized possessions including the family cat, Moortje. They walked to the “Opekta offices on the Prinsengracht,” where they hid in a three-floor space called the Achterhuis, “Secret Annex,” which was later concealed by a heavy large bookcase. Four Christian employees Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Bep Voskuijl, and Miep Gies knew about the Franks hiding and helped them with food and supplies. In addition, Gies husband Jan knew and Voskuijl’s father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl, who also helped.

A week later on July 13, another family joined the Franks the van Pels, which included Hermann and Auguste and their sixteen-year-old son Peter. In November a friend of the van Pels, a dentist also from Germany Fritz Pfeffer, would be the join them in the annex. After hearing that the Netherlands wanted people to write diaries recounting the war for publication after the war, Anne began editing her diary and writing with focus. Anne took it seriously because she wanted to become a writer and journalist.

In her diary, Anne recounted in detail not only her feeling and thoughts but also the daily lives and tensions of living in a small space with little food available. She gave aliases to the van Pels and Pfeffer, calling them van Daan and Alfred Dussel respectively. Anne shared a room with Pfeffer and she had the most tensions and clashes with him, portraying him the most negatively in her diary than anyone else. She recounted her difficult relationship with her mother and sister, which she became closer to in the two years, and her blossoming romance with Peter.

Although the two years were difficult in tight quarters and never seeing the outside or anyone else, their nightmare began on August 4, 1944, when the Gestapo charged into the annex. To the Nazis, the Franks were considered criminals for not replying to the notice for Margot in 1942, and for hiding. From the annex, the Franks van Pels and Pfeffer were taken to Huis van Bewaring (House of Detention), a prison on the Weteringschans. They then spent a month in Westerbork transit camp and because they were branded as criminals, the Franks were sentenced to hard labor in the Punishment Barracks.

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Franks’ capture was who betrayed them? The Anne Frank House and even police investigations have never been able to pinpoint who betrayed the family. Gerard Kremer recently wrote a book, The Backyard of the Secret Annex giving the latest theory. Kremer’s father, Gerard Kremer, Sr. was the janitor at a building behind the Prinsengracht building. Kremer claims Ans van Dijk, who collaborated with the Nazis after her 1943 arrest helped capture 145 Jews, was the one responsible, she was executed in 1948. Kramer claims his father said he overheard van Dijk speaking with the Nazis about the building where the Franks were hiding. A spokesperson for Anne Frank House, the museum of the building and the secret annex, claims, “Ans van Dijk was included as a potential traitor in this study. We have not been able to find evidence for this theory, nor for other betrayal theories.”

Another book published in 2015, written by Flemish journalist Jeroen de Bruyn and Joop van Wijk, the typist Bep Voskuijl’s “youngest son” claims Bep’s younger sister Nelly was the one who notified the Nazis about the Franks. The book is entitled, Bep Voskuijl, het zwijgen voorbij: een biografie van de jongste helper van het Achterhuis (Bep Voskuijl, the Silence is Over: A Biography of the Youngest Helper of the Secret Annex). Van Wijk states that Nelly did not like that Bep and her father helped the Jewish families, while older sister Diny and her fiancé Bertus Hulsman remember Nelly calling the Gestapo on the day the Franks were captured. Nelly was a known Nazi collaborator, and the SS Officer Karl Silberbauer was noted as saying, the informant had “the voice of a young woman.”

The Anne Frank House did a study in 2016 reexamining the day of the Franks arrest, looking at previously unavailable sources. The study refuted both claims; instead, concluding an investigation into ration card fraud or activities in the company was the most probable reason, which led the Gestapo to the secret annex because the police unit dealt primarily with economic crimes. The report listed some of the possibilities. Otto Frank was certain someone had betrayed his family, and he reserved his greatest suspicion for Willem van Maaren, a new warehouse worker, who replaced the trusted Johan Voskuijl, who had built the bookcase hiding the room. There was, however, no evidence implicating van Maaren, except Frank and those that helped the families were suspicious of him, he was the only one ever questioned by the police and judiciary.

Historians have different opinions. Melissa Müller, the author of Anne Frank: The Biography, believes Lena Hartog, “the wife of another warehouseman” could have been behind the betrayal. Carol Ann Lee that author of The Hidden Life of Otto Frank thought Dutch National Socialist Tonny Ahlers could have betrayed them, while David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom of The Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies do not believe Van Maaren, Hartog, or Ahlers were involved.

According to the Anne Frank House, the closest possibility was related to illegal ration cards, they used Anne’s diary as evidence. From March 10, 1944, onward, Anne wrote about a “B” and “D”, most probably salesmen Martin Brouwer and Pieter Daatzelaar, saying, “B. and D. have been caught, so we have no coupons . . .” On March 22, she wrote, “B. & D. have been let out of prison.” As the Anne Frank House concludes, “The possibility of betrayal has of course not been entirely ruled out by this, nor has any relationship between the ration coupon fraud and the arrest been proven. Further research into the day-to-day activities at Otto Frank’s company and what else was happening in and around the premises could potentially provide more information. This article is a first step in thinking more broadly about the raid on the Secret Annex. Hopefully, it will also inspire other researchers to pursue new leads. Clearly, the last word about that fateful summer day in 1944 has not yet been said.”

Luck was not with the Franks, they left Westerbork on the last train taking Jews to the concentration camps. The Franks, van Pels, and Pfeffer were sent to Auschwitz, and the Franks were separated, only Edith, Margot and Anne stayed together. In October 1944, the Frank women were supposed to be transferred to “Liebau labor camp in Upper Silesia” but Anne had scabies, her mother and sister stayed behind and their fate was sealed. On October 28, the Nazis were forced to abandon Auschwitz, as the allies were closing in, they selected Margot and Anne to go to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp but their mother had to stay behind were she died. Bergen-Belson was a death trap of disease and by February the Frank sisters were battling typhus and died either at the end of February or March, another mystery left unsolved.

With the publication of her diary, Anne Frank became immortalized forever, the teenage Jewish victim of the Holocaust. Her father commented in his memoirs, “For me, it was a revelation … I had no idea of the depth of her thoughts and feelings … She had kept all these feelings to herself.” Anne’s story was first published in the original Dutch in 1947 as Het Achterhuis, The Secret Annex and in the United States in 1952 as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been translated in 60 different languages all over the world selling more 30 million copies; it has been made into stage plays, a Hollywood movie, and taught in school. Melissa Müller in Anne Frank: The Biography wrote of her legacy, “Over the past sixty years, Anne Frank has become a universal symbol of the oppressed in a world of violence and tyranny.” (Mueller, 13) Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi explained, “One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way; if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live.”

Anne Frank’s legacy is even more important now as Holocaust survivors are dying out. Speaking to NBC News this past spring Holocaust survivor Sonia Klein, 92, pondered, “We are not here forever. Most of us are up in years, and if we’re not going to tell what happened, who will?” A recent study by “Schoen Consulting and commissioned by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany” determined the Americans are uneducated and ignorant about the Holocaust, 11 percent of all Americans have never heard of the Holocaust, the number is more devastating among millennials, where one fifth have never heard of the worst genocide in history.

Even if Americans know about the Holocaust, Americans do not know the facts, a third of all Americans and 41 percent of millennials do not realize that 6 million Jews perished and 12 million people in total. Klein expressed, “It’s a must for people to remember, once we are gone they must not be forgotten.” She worries “Unless you know what happened, you don’t understand what never again means.” Despite what Müller wrote about Anne’s diary being considered “often, though only secondarily, as a document of the Holocaust,” it should not, it has to be remembered for what it is primarily, about the Holocaust, because in no other circumstance, would Anne Frank have lived and died as she did. We have to have to educate, remember, read and learn the stories of the Holocaust, not just Anne Frank’s to keep Holocaust victims and survivors’ memory alive and history from ever repeating itself.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Amir, Ruth, Pnina Rosenberg, and Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl.

Hackensack Salem Press Amenia, NY Grey House Publishing, 2017.

Frank, Anne, Otto Frank, and Mirjam Pressler. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. London: Penguin, 2012.

Müller, Melissa, Rita Kimber, and Robert Kimber. Anne Frank: The Biography, Updated and Expanded with New Material. New York, N.Y. Picador, 2014.

Lee, Carol A. The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. 2006.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in Judaic Studies at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

OTD in History… August 4, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaims US will remain neutral in World War I

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OTD in History… August 4, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaims US will remain neutral in World War I

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 4, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signs a proclamation of American neutrality with the European countries which had just declared war days earlier on July 28. Wilson repeated that the US will remain “impartial in thought as well as in action” in his address to Congresson August 19. Americans supported Wilson’s “policy of neutrality” and keeping the country out of the European war. Neutrality, however, would become more difficult in February 1915 as Germany declared “unrestricted submarine warfare against all ships.” The US was destined to be affected by Germany’s assault by sea, as they traded the most with Great Britain and would continue to do during the so-called period of neutrality.

Germany increasingly attacked US ships trading with and traveling to Great Britain and those with American passengers aboard. In February 1915, Germany hit the William P. Frye, an American ship carrying grain to Britain. The most notable case, however, was the ship the Lusitania hit on May 7, 1915, off the coast Ireland, where 1,198 died including 128 Americans. The British owned ship was traveling with nearly two thousand passengers from New York to Liverpool. Germany claimed they were justified as the ship contained 173 tons of ammunition, but the outcry led to an apology and cessation of the submarine warfare.

Historian M. Ryan Floyd in his book Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914 — December 1915 argues neutrality was a “paradox created by Wilson’s idealistic aim to bring the belligerents to the peace table and his pragmatic goal of buttressing the US economy between August 1914 and December 1915. During this formative period, the quandary created by his effort to pursue both visionary and pragmatic objectives made his agenda untenable and convinced him to intentionally violate American neutrality.” (Floyd, 9)

Wilson won reelection in 1916, based on his neutrality policy of keeping America out of the war but that pledge did not last long. In 1917, Germany resumed submarine warfare sinking four American ships in March. Historian Robert w. Tucker notes in his book Woodrow Wilson and the Great War: Reconsidering America’s Neutrality, 1914–1917 “America’s journey from neutrality to war to a failed peace is largely the story of Woodrow Wilson’s journey from neutrality to war to a failed peace.” (Tucker, 21)

Seeing negotiating peace was impossible, Wilson finally took a stand. On April 2, 1917, Wilson asked in a Joint Address to Congress that they declare war deeming it his “constitutional duty” and they obliged, finally the US would enter the war on the side of the allies. Only with the infusion of soldiers and armaments would tip the balance in the allies favor against the Central Powers ending what the world believed then was the war to end all wars.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Floyd, M R. Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914-December 1915. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Tucker, Robert W. Woodrow Wilson and the Great War: Reconsidering America’s Neutrality, 1914–1917. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

President Wilson’s Declaration of Neutrality

Woodrow Wilson, Message to Congress, 63rd Cong., 2d Sess., Senate Doc. No. 566 (Washington, 1914), pp. 3-4.


The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what American citizens say and do. Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned. The spirit of the nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what individuals and society and those gathered in public meetings do and say, upon what newspapers and magazines contain, upon what ministers utter in their pulpits, and men proclaim as their opinions upon the street.

The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honor and affection to think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion if not in action.

Such divisions amongst us would be fatal to our peace of mind and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and accommodation, not as a partisan, but as a friend.

I venture, therefore, my fellow countrymen, to speak a solemn word of warning to you against that deepest, most subtle, most essential breach of neutrality which may spring out of partisanship, out of passionately taking sides. The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men’s souls. We must be impartial in thought, as well as action, must put a curb upon our sentiments, as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another.

OTD in History… August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers accuses Alger Hiss of being a Communist

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OTD in History… August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers accuses Alger Hiss of being a Communist

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Whittaker Chambers giving his HUAC testimony. Source: New York Times

On this day in history, August 3, 1948, former Communist turned FBI informant Whittaker Chambers accuses former State Department official Alger Hiss of having been a Communist in his testimony in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and then Congressman Richard M. Nixon. Although Hiss would be convicted of perjury two-years later, he would fight the rest of his life against the accusation. After the fall of the Soviet Union, historians have been able to gain access to archives and documents and conclude that Hiss probably was a Communist spy.

At the time, however, the Chambers-Hiss accusation was one of the most notorious coming out of the HUAC anti-Communist crusade. The investigations by the FBI, Director J. Edgar Hoover, the HUAC and later Senator Joseph McCarthy amounted to the blacklist and convictions of many supposed Communists in politics and the entertainment industry amounted then to a witch-hunt. Freshman Congressman Nixon would build a name for himself in HUAC and his red hunting pursuit of Hiss, by 1952, he would on the Republican ticket as the nominee for Vice President.

In 1948, rehabilitated Communist Chambers was an editor at TIME magazine but in the 1930s he had been a member of the Communist Party, however, with the start of the House of Representatives investigations into Communists in the late 1930s, Chambers left the Communist Party and became a Communist informant. With the HUAC investigations in the late 1940s, Chambers as an informant was called as a witness after accusing Hiss of being a Communist.

Hiss was a New Deal Democrat, who worked in the Justice Department in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, then the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) legal team, an investigator and legal assistant to the Nye Committee. In 1936, hiss moved to the State Department, first as an assistant to Assistant Secretary of State Francis B. Sayre, then “an assistant to Stanley Hornbeck, a special adviser to Cordell Hull on Far Eastern affairs.” In 1944, Hiss served as Director of the Office of Special Political Affairs on post-war plans, and intentional organizations and attended the big three Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. In 1946, Hiss left government to serve as the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In an editorial in TIME, Chambers accused Hiss of having belonged with his in “an underground organization of the United States Communist Party,” the “Ware group,” led by agriculturalist Harold Ware, who wanted to make an agricultural uprising in the cotton industry. Chambers claimed, “The purpose of this group at that time was not primarily espionage. Its original purpose was the Communist infiltration of the American government. But espionage was certainly one of its eventual objectives.” Chambers accused eight members in total. By making it about espionage, the only illegal crime Chambers ensured it relevant to HUAC who was trying to prove the Democratic administrations of Roosevelt and then Harry Truman were soft on Communists.

Hiss was on the radar since 1939, when accusations against him started circulating. Nixon received information from former Central Intelligence Agency, CIA Director Allen Dulles and Roman Catholic Priest John Francis Cronin implicating Hiss. Cronin was the author of “The Problem Of American Communism In 1945”, where he declared, “In the State Department, the most influential Communist has been Alger Hiss.” Nixon made it his mission to go after Hiss, and the House made Nixon the chair of the HUAC subcommittee responsible for investigating Hiss, and he was figured prominently in questioning Chambers on August 3 and then Hiss on August 5 and during their subcommittee testimonies.

On August 3, Chambers gave his testimony in the Cannon Caucus Room in front of the HUAC naming Hiss a Communist. Both Chambers and Hiss alleged the other was lying, Committee Chairman J. Parnell Thomas of New Jersey told the two, “certainly one of you will be tried for perjury.” Only after Chambers declared on Meet the Press that Hiss was a Communist and Hiss filed a libel suit did Chambers accuse Hiss of being a spy as well.

On November 17, 1948, Chambers produced evidence, retyped State Department documents from the “November and December 1937 arrest and disappearance in Moscow of a Latvian-born man and his wife, an American citizen” the documents mostly dated from 1938 and included handwritten notes by Hiss. Chambers claimed Hiss wanted them sent to the Soviets. The documents became known as the Baltimore Papers. Additionally, On December 2, 1948, Chambers led investigators to his Maryland farm and “microfilmed copies of classified State Department documents” from 1938 in a hollowed out pumpkin. Collectively HUAC referred to all the documents as the “Pumpkin Papers,” they were enough evidence to charge Hiss with perjury. After two trials the first with a hung jury, Hiss was found guilty of two counts of perjury in January 1950, sentenced to five concurrent years, Hiss only served 44 months in prison.

Historian Tim Weiner writing, in his book Enemies: A History of the FBI argues the turning point was when Chambers upped his accusation from Communist to Communist spy. Weiner notes, “This was a crucial point. Infiltration and invisible political influence were immoral, but arguably not illegal. Espionage was treason, traditionally punishable by death. The distinction was not lost on the cleverest member of HUAC, Congressman Richard Nixon…. He had been studying the FBI’s files for five months, courtesy of J. Edgar Hoover. Nixon launched his political career in hot pursuit of Hiss and the alleged secret Communists of the New Deal.”

Nixon was able to make a public name for himself as a combatant of Communism, he parlayed this into being Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate in 1952 and then Vice President, in 1960 to the Republican Presidential nomination and finally in 1968 to win the presidency. The Hiss conviction helped fuel the anti-Communist investigations in government. Just two weeks afterward on February 9, Senator Joseph McCarthy delivered his Wheeling Speech. McCarthy famously alleged, “The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205 — a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” The speech catapulted McCarthy to head a Senate investigation in Communists infiltrating the government leading to his McCarthyism reign of terror in the early 1950s. By 1954, the Senate censured McCarthy, and the Communist hysteria finally died down.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Summers, Anthony, and Robbyn Swan. The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. New York: Penguin, 2001.

Tanenhaus, Sam. Whittaker Chambers: A Biography. New York: Random House, 1997.

Weiner, Tim. Enemies: A History of the FBI. New York: Random House, 2012.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

OTD in History… August 2, 1776, Second Continental Congress delegates sign the Declaration of Independence

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OTD in History… August 2, 1776, Second Continental Congress delegates sign the Declaration of Independence

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 2, 1776, the delegates of the second Continental Congress sign a printed copy of the Declaration of Independence ratified on July 4. On this day, the majority of the 56 Congressional delegates signed their names to an enlarged copy of the Declaration of Independence. For order, they signed by geographic area from the Northern states down to the South. President of the Congress, John Hancock’s signature was in the middle followed underneath by the five rows of signatures, which according to the History Channel, “began with Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire and ending with George Walton of Georgia.” As the Constitution Center indicates, “August 2, 1776, is one of the most important but least celebrated days in American history.”

Fewer delegates were present at the Congress on August 2 than the July 4 ratification 45 to 49 respectively, Generals George Washington, John Sullivan, James Clinton and Christopher Gadsden and Virginia Governor Patrick Henry were absent on that day and could not sign. While, not all the delegates were excited to sign the document, “John Dickinson of Pennsylvania and James Duane, Robert Livingston and John Jay of New York refused to sign, New York was the most reluctant state to endorse independence, they were among seven delegates present at the ratification, who did not sign the declaration. Although, “Carter Braxton of Virginia; Robert Morris of Pennsylvania; George Reed of Delaware; and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina,” opposed the Declaration of independence but signed the document “to give the impression of a unanimous Congress.” Among the delegates who signed the declaration after August 2, were Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean, Matthew Thornton, and the seven additional delegates added to the convention after July 4.

The movement towards independence began in earnest in late 1775, when reconciliation with Britain seemed impossible with a banning of trade with the colonies. Benjamin Franklin started hinting of independence to France in December 1775. Independence talk reached a fever pitch when Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense in April 1776 arguing for independence. By June, the Continental Congress first brought a vote for independence finally doing so at the start of July. On July 2, the second Continental Congress meeting in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia voted to sever ties with Great Britain’s monarchy and declare the 13 colonies independent; they ratified their vote on July 4, the day the nation celebrates American Independence each year.

In June 1776, Virginian Richard Henry Lee introduced the resolution which 12 of colonies voted in favor to “dissolved the connection” with Britain, with only New York abstaining. (McCullough, 150) Lee first introduced the resolution on June 7, but New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were not willing to break with Britain at that point. On June 11, Congress appointed a five-member committee to draft a declaration of independence and causes for separating from Britain, consisting of “John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia,” with Jefferson designated to write the document.

Jefferson decided the document needed to convince the colonists of the need for independence and fighting in the revolution. He stated that government is a social contract with its citizens to protect their rights, “the natural rights of life, liberty, and property, for populist reasons Jefferson replaced to the “pursuit of happiness.” He derived the natural rights argument from political philosopher John Locke, who used in 1668, during Britain’s Glorious Revolution. Jefferson indicated when the government fails to fulfill the contract; it is “self-evident” that the people can break from the government.

The preamble’s most famous line was “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Most of the document, however, was a list of grievances to King George III justifying independence and the Revolutionary War. Historians Frank W. Thackeray and John E. Findling in their book Events that changed the world in the eighteenth century noted, “The Declaration of Independence is deservedly famous in American history. One would hardly expect to find in it an unbiased resume of grievances; it was meant as propaganda aimed at the undecided both in America and abroad, especially the French.” (Thackeray and Findling 98)

Congress reviewed the document’s final draft on June 28, and on July 1, the Congress took up the vote for independence again, however, they needed an unanimous vote, and waited for the next day, July 2, to vote. Jefferson submitted his revision to what was the Declaration of Independence, and the Congress ratified and published it on July 4 as a Dunlap Broadside officially severing ties with Britain and declaring independence. The Congress had printer John Dunlap make 200 copies of the Declaration. On July 8, Colonel John Nixon of Philadelphia read the document “to the public for the first time in Independence Square.” On July 19, the Congress ordered the Declaration engrossed and inscribed by all members of the Continental Congress, and most signed the copy on August 2.

Although independence leader John Adams of Massachusetts originally thought July 2, the day Congress voted for independence would be celebrated writing, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” the day Congress adopted the Declaration, July 4, remains the official day celebrated for the past 242 years. Adams wrote to his wife Abigail of the vote on July 3, “Yesterday, the greatest question was decided, whichever was decided in America, and a greater question perhaps, never was or will be decided among men.” Adams also predicted Americans would continue celebrating the date, “I am apt to believe that [Independence Day] will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” However, the date Adams referred to was July 2.

The declaration of Independence’s purpose was practical but its impact far greater not only to the then newly formed United States of America but for other nations looking for a Democratic ideal. Historian Joseph J. Ellis in his book American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic identified the significance of Jefferson’s first sentence. Ellis analyzed, “We can say with considerable confidence that these were destined to become the most potent and consequential words in American history, perhaps in modern history. They became the political fountainhead for all the liberal reforms that would seep out and over the nation, and eventually much of the world.” (Ellis, 56) On January 18, 1777, printer Mary Katherine Goddard of Baltimore printed out the final official copy of the signed Declaration of Independence was printed, it was the first time the delegates names who signed were made public.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Ellis, Joseph J. American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic. New York: Vintage Books, 2008.

McCullough, David. 1776. London: Allen Lane/Penguin Books, 2006.

Thackeray, Frank W. Events That Changed the World in the Eighteenth Century. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

OTD in History… August 1–8, 1943, the Japanese attack John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 boat

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OTD in History… August 1–8, 1943, the Japanese attack John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 boat

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history August 1–8, 1943, during World War II the Japanese attack Lieutenant John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 boat, slitting it in two. As captain of the ship, Kennedy brought the surviving crew members to safety and helped get word to the American base to save them. Kennedy’s role made him a hero back in the United States, not just because of family connections, but spite of them. Kennedy became the example of equality of classes in the military. His newfound hero status helped launch his political career after the war, where he won a seat in Congress in 1946, in less than 14 years he would rise to the Senate and then the presidency. When asked about his hero status, Kennedy would say, “It was involuntary. They sank my boat.”

Originally, in 1941, the military refused Kennedy entry into the navy because of his health problems, stemming from an old college football injury. His father former Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, however, used his influence “to get” his son “into the navy.” At first, Kennedy worked in the Office of Naval Intelligence. In 1942, after completing the Naval Reserve Officers Training School and Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center, Kennedy was assigned to be a captain of a “PT (motorized torpedo) boat” in the Pacific theater of the war.

As part of The Battle of Blackett Strait the Japanese bombed the PT base at Rendova Island, while the Americans made an unsuccessful attempt to attack Tokyo Express and the Japanese Destroyers escorting it to bring supplies to Kolombangara Island. Afterward, Kennedy’s PT-109 was one of the boats left out to patrol the waters near Blackett Strait, “south of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.” On the moonless dark night of August 2 at around 2:30 a.m. Japan’s Amaqiri attacked Kennedy’s PT-109, in barely a minute from Kennedy first sighting the Amaqiri, the destroyer broke the PT-109 in half.

In the attack, two of the crew died, 11 survived buy was left clinging to the wreckage hull, with one badly injured, engineer Patrick McMahon. Kennedy and two others swam out to bring those thrown from the boat back to the hull. Kennedy and the 10 crewmen clung to the hull for nine hours but as it was about to sink decided they should try to swim to a small island that was visible which was either “Bird or Plum Pudding Island,” just south of Ferguson Passage, used often by the PTs. Kennedy tied the wounded to him and clenching the ties in his mouth, while “McMahon floated on his back.” The swim took five hours until they reached the Island. (Dallek)

Kennedy hoped maybe American PTs might be in the Ferguson Passage and went out almost immediately after they reached the island to scout the area. Kennedy reached there within an hour and stayed a while, the naval commanders believed that no one survived the PT-109 attack, and shifted their course to the Vella Gulf. Kennedy was sick from the swimming and lack of sleep and could not go out again on August 3 sending out another crew member to swim to the passage.

On August 4, they swam to nearby Olasana Island looking for food but found none. On August 5, Kennedy and crew member Barney Ross swam to another nearby island Nauru Island, which was close to Ferguson Passage. There they found “a one-man canoe, a fifty-five-gallon drum of freshwater, and some crackers and candy,” left by the Japanese. Kennedy took the canoe and supplies back to the crew, while Ross remained. There two native islanders found the men and were taking care of them.

Kennedy returned to Nauru Island on August 6, he carved into a coconut shell the message, “Nauru Is. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need small boat. Kennedy.” Kennedy gave it to the two natives, that night him and Ross went out to the passage again looking for help. On August 7, eight natives returned to Nauru Island giving Kennedy and Ross a letter from a New Zealand Infantry Lieutenant Allied coastwatcher, Lt. A. Reginald Evans, who was working with the US military on New Georgia. The letter read; “I strongly advise you to come with these natives to me. Meanwhile, I shall be in radio communication with your authorities at Rendova and we can finalize plan to collect balance of your party.” (Dallek) Late evening they took Kennedy to Gomu, Evan’s camp. Instead, of directly saving the crew, they picked up Kennedy at his request to guide PT 157 and PT 171 to the surviving crew on Olasana, where the rescued were taken to Renova early morning on August 8.

At home, Kennedy was hailed as a hero, John Hersey told Kennedy and the PT-109 story to the public in the New York Times and Reader’s Digest, it was front page on the Boston Globe. Kennedy was given the option to go home, instead, he chose to remain and fight for those he lost. Kennedy took a week off for fatigue and to heal the wounds to his feet and he returned to active duty on August 16. Later he would be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart. For all the press that the incident brought Kennedy, including a Hollywood take on PT-109, Kennedy never saw himself as a hero. According to Robert Dallek in his biography An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963, “Jack himself viewed his emergence as an American hero with wry humor and becoming modesty.” (Dallek) The combination of the modest hero, however, only added to the Kennedy mystique that became Camelot.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. Boston, Mass: Little, Brown and Co, 2003.

Doyle, William. PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy. New York, NY: William Morrow, 2015.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

We are living in the #MeToo blacklist era and it has to stop

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EDUCATION

We are living in the #MeToo blacklist era and it has to stop

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Hebrew Union College Professor Steven M. Cohen is accused of sexual misconduct, now the#MeToo movement is trying to discredit is academic work as sexist. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The #MeToo and political correctness movements have descended into a modern day witch hunt, with the twenty-teens are paralleling the late 1940s and 1950s. The forties and fifties was when the smell of communism was enough to blacklist any public figure and McCarthyism reigned supreme, as Republican Senator Joe McCarthy, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover’s anti-Communism unleashed a reign of terror on the political world, the entertainment industry and anyone else in their way. Now with the #MeToo movement any accusation of sexual harassment or impropriety, or racist overtones also puts one on a blacklist. Since this movement began in the fall of 2017, we have seen powerful men fall faster than the loose leaves of the season. The movement expanded to any distasteful social media post that fails the standards of political correctness loses jobs and careers. Recent articles are even questioning whether the #MeToo movement has gone too far.

Although Jewish men have been at the forefront and listed as some of the worst offenders in Hollywood, to mention the correlation was to be branded an anti-Semite even if one is a Jew. As Jewish women were accusing men within the Jewish philanthropic world of misconduct, one was not allowed to talk about it; I know I was refused publication of an article on the topic. All this changed with the scandal surrounding Hebrew Union College Professor; Sociologist and Jewish Demographic doyen Steven M. Cohen, who is now facing accusations from eight women for sexual harassment and misconduct. Similar to the other #MeToo exposés, the New York Jewish Week published the big reveal on July 19, 2018, in an article entitled, “Harassment Allegations Mount Against Leading Jewish Sociologist” the subtitled claimed, “Women academics cite long pattern of sexual improprieties at the hands of Steven M. Cohen, who has expressed ‘remorse’ for his actions.”

Instead of denials, Cohen decided to admit his behavior, saying in his statement, “I recognize that there is a pattern here. It’s one that speaks to my inappropriate behavior for which I take full responsibility. I am deeply apologetic to the women whom I have hurt by my words or my actions. I have undertaken a critical and painful examination of my behavior. In consultation with clergy, therapists and professional experts, I am engaged in a process of education, recognition, remorse, and repair. I don’t know how long this teshuva process will take. But I am committed to making the changes that are necessary to avoid recurrences in the future and, when the time is right, seek to apologize directly to, and ask forgiveness from, those I have unintentionally hurt.” Professionals and academics believe genuine repentance and apologies to their victims might rehabilitate and save #MeToo offenders rather than just write them off forever.

Subsequently, Cohen resigned from his position as Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at Stanford University. The Jewish College paper, New Voices removed Cohen from their board. He has been removed from speaking at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies summer program at Brandeis University, and as a keynote speaker at the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) annual conference. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion launched on July 2, a Title IX investigation against him. Like most men accused in the era of #MeToo, his career and credibility are now almost non-existent.

Cohen had a monopoly on the study of Jewish demographics. He was the lead consultant on the often quoted and influential 2013 Pew Research Center survey on American Jewry. The survey’s most glaring conclusion was assimilation and rising intermarriage rates were rampant. The community was identifying less religiously as Jews and intermarriage rates soaring near 60 percent for the millennial generation, with a majority not choosing to raise their children religiously as Jews. Cohen’s frequent studies often looked at the same theme of Jewish continuity, assimilation, intermarriage, and Jewish identification.

Now three historians and professors, Kate Rosenblatt and Ronit Stahl and Lila Corwin Berman are making the connection between Cohen’s actions against women and linking it to wider sexism by the leaders of the Jewish community, who they say just created a Jewish continuity crisis to control women’s lives and their most personal choices. Rosenblatt, Stahl and Corwin Berman are arguing a wider conspiracy in their Forward article, “How Jewish Academia Created A #MeToo Disaster.” They claim, “We cannot hold an entire culture responsible for the misdeeds of an individual. Nor can we allow that individual’s unacceptable behavior to blind us to the shortcomings of a patriarchal power structure that enabled his work and worldview to set the American Jewish communal agenda. It’s time to acknowledge that a communal obsession with sex and statistics has created pernicious and damaging norms.” In their article all they are doing is manufacturing a plot that Jewish academia just created a crisis as a way to keep Jewish women in their place, linking the rise of the intermarriage crisis with the rise of feminism.

Cultural critic and playwright Rokhl Kafrissen took their argument one step further in her Forward response article “How A #MeToo Scandal Proved What We Already Know: ‘Jewish Continuity’ Is Sexist.” Kafrissen is making the connection between Cohen’s actions against women and linking it to wider sexism in his academic work, making an assumption that his conclusions on intermarriage were a way to control all Jewish women. Kafrissen writes, “These allegations compel us to ask how deeply are Cohen’s sexist attitudes and allegedly abusive behaviors embodied in his work?… These latest accusations force us to reckon with the darker, even more problematic, gendered aspects of Cohen’s continuity-driven agenda.” To Kafrissen “It becomes very hard to disentangle the sexism of the alleged abuse from the patriarchal agenda Cohen spent decades pushing.”

Jewish continuity is not barbaric and neither should we discredit Cohen’s academic work because of it. Former State Department Speechwriter, Melissa Langsam Braunstein in her response in the Forward, entitled, “Jewish Continuity Isn’t Sexist — It’s Necessary” sees Cohen’s only problem as the way he treated women. Being rational, Langsam Braunstein argues, “Cohen’s promoting Jewish continuity or in-marriage doesn’t mean that his research data was inherently flawed, or that Jewish continuity isn’t vital. Unlike other major world religions, Jews don’t proselytize. So, by definition, Jewish adults (primarily mothers, but also fathers if we include patrilineal descent) need to procreate if we want to continue to exist. And personally, I’m a fan of survival.” With a high-powered job, Langsam Braunstein sees the importance of Jews inmarrying and having children, and the problem with millennials opting out.

Rosenblatt, Stahl and Corwin Berman and Kafrissen’s arguments reek of assumptions and conspiracy theories. As historians and academics, they know better than to make assumptions, leaping hypothetically to presume that the study of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage was only based on a political and social motivation and agenda, rather than a genuine academic inquiry based on facts. It is a baseless argument to make without proof, if their students would hand them in papers with such flimsy arguments they would fail them. While Kafrissen presuming to know what motivated Cohen in his mind with his particular research area is beyond the realm of reason. Admitting his guilt, the only presumption one can make is like other the accused men of the #MeToo movement Cohen enjoyed his position of power, over his female co-workers and colleagues. A professor of mine once said there are two sides to an individual the public and private, Cohen was on the personal side a harasser and on the public side a leading academic.

Rosenblatt, Stahl and Corwin Berman and Kafrissen’s conclusions are the anti-Communist movement and McCarthyism at it is worst, where a possible connection to a movement meant that those accused were trying to infiltrate Communist ideology into every facet of their work. This was point was used particularly against Hollywood screenwriters. Cohen’s studies and work have always been more than just him; he often worked with a partner or in a team, associated and sanctioned by universities, think tanks, Jewish organizations and trusted sources like the Pew Research Center, and his work appeared in every major Jewish publication. Cohen’s conclusions were not assumptions or twisting words or text for meaning but based on statistical information and social science research methodology. To ignore his work is to claim that everyone involved and working on those studies lacked any academic or professional integrity.

A former graduate student assistant of Cohens’ finds it a far stretch to question the integrity of Cohen’s academic work. In the New York Jewish Week response article, “Don’t Dismiss Steven Cohen’s Research” Michelle Shain declares, “Studying fertility is a feminist and a Jewish enterprise.” According to Shain, “There are those who have started declaring Steven’s body of work treif, who want to excise his books from our libraries and purge his insights from Jewish communal discourse. His research on marriage and fertility has come under particularly heavy fire. The idea that studying family formation patterns is sexist, exploitative, patriarchal or misogynistic is simply ludicrous.” Shain concludes there is no correlation to Cohen’s personal behavior and research area, writing, “Helping the Jewish community understand the contemporary context for childbearing is a noble goal that is in no way consistent with sexual predation.”

Just last week, as the Cohen scandal broke, the Knesset passed the Nationality, Jewish-State Law and Conservative Rabbi Dov Haiyun was detained for questioning over a marriage he performed outside of the Orthodox auspices. The loudest objections were coming from liberal American Jewry. I wrote an article for the Times of Israel Blogs entitled, “Outrage, our Jewish community of contradictions” linking the reaction to liberalism and the problems with assimilation and intermarriage, while comparing the highly different makeup of American and Israeli Jewry. I concluded the “outrage” by American Jewry was because it offended their increasing irreligious lifestyle, and that Israel was right to defend Judaism and Jewish continuity because, who else will since American Jewry has lost their religious guidance.

My article relied heavily on Cohen’s work, yet I caved while mentioning his studies I never mentioned his name, changing my choice of quotes just to avoid the controversy, afraid his burgeoning scandal taints anyone who mentions him in any positive light. I was wrong, just as Rosenblatt, Stahl and Corwin Berman and Kafrissen are for different reasons. Liberal Jewry are trying to justify their behavior too. intermarriage is halachatically wrong according to Orthodox Judaism, but Rosenblatt, Stahl and Corwin Berman and Kafrissen are making an illusion to Orthodox as the problem and the threat to Jewish continuity a personal assault of feminism and women’s rights, a political football of liberal versus conservatism rather than good for our entire religion and people. We are Jews, Jewish continuity is part of our belief system, it is one the key messages in a Jewish education, in the day schools, summer camps and even dare I say Birthright Israel, were all studies by Brandeis University’s Leonard Saxe examine success by how much more involved alumni are with Judaism, continuity, and Israel. Take the continuity out of Judaism, and what is there left? Are we self-destructing a 5,000-year-old religious position for political correctness, liberalism and social inclusion for all?

I think it is empowering to have religious convictions but secular goals. I have done graduate work in Jewish studies, where I studied strong Jewish women left on a home front to combat an enemy some using any means possible, some assimilated, few intermarried, and most did not. This was not in the twentieth century, but the nineteenth deep in the American Civil War, where Jewish women in the Confederate South, often a militant tone to survive against the encroachment of the Northern Yankee soldier. Eugenia Phillips was the epitome of the nineteenth-century feminist, she married a fellow Jew, had nine children, yet stood up to Union General Benjamin the Beast Butler. Jewish history is filled is strong feminists, who did not compromise their religion.

The #MeToo movement has blurred the professional and personal to the extreme, not too long away liberals were the most ardent defenders of separating the two. This year marked the twentieth anniversary of then-President Bill Clinton’s near fall from grace and the presidency over his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who was at that time in her early twenties. The story consumed his presidency for a full calendar year, still, the public supported him and his numbers barely dipped in the polls at the height of the scandal, and the Democrats gained seats in the 1998-midterm elections unprecedented in a president’s last half of his term. By the time, the House of Representatives conducted their impeachment trial public support for Clinton was at a high. Although the Senate acquitted Clinton, he became the only the second president impeached in American history.

At the time, the investigation into the president was considered a witch hunt by the Republican majority with a conservative agenda, as First Lady Hillary Clinton claimed: “a right-wing conspiracy” trying to destroy the popular president and what he did in private. Defender extraordinaire, attorney and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz even coined the term with a book, “Sexual McCarthyism.” Now the tables have turned and it is the Democrats and liberals in charge of the witch hunt. Recently, in light of the #MeToo movement, there has been a reconsideration of Clinton’s conduct, even his former defenders in the Democratic Party now believe he should have resigned from the presidency for his conduct. Clinton’s comments on a book tour this spring did not help the matter, his defiant claim that he does not need to apologize to Lewinsky led to a backlash, which prompted Clinton to backtrack on his comments.

Liberals are now taking any transgression and looking to eradicate that entire person’s work. Should we stop watching every movie produced by accused rapist Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax films or stop reading, looking and mentioning any other artist’s work, creation, writing, every academic’s studies, or any business or political accomplishments because of their personal behavior? Similar to the way liberals want to eradicate and destroy every Confederate monument and wipe out every pro-slavery persona in American history. One by one, we are banishing the talents of this past century, a finger point, a tweet, a smell of any wrongdoing and gone. Like Roseanne, who make a career of insensitive foul-mouthed comedy, a seemingly racist tweet, and everyone forgets she ever created her successful show; now she no longer exists. Just this past week Disney is repeating their anti-Communist past firing director James Gunn from working on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 because of his past offensive social media posts.

I am not defending anyone’s behavior, but it is going too far, when will it stop, when we boycott everything and everyone that we find offensive? I do not condone Cohen’s behavior neither do I have any sympathy for his fall. I have my #MeToo story from university filled with harassment and intimidation, I have experienced how Jewish males in academia and in superior positions have functioned as gatekeepers, altering my career for the worse with roadblocks, degradation and instilling self-doubt of my abilities. I have experienced in my personal and professional relationships being used to further a man’s career, and there is still one man that constantly pilfers from my writing knowing he can get away it with because of his standing and no one will dare accuse him of plagiarism. Should I too be looking to rid the academic and professional world of these men because of their harassment? That is the #MeToo philosophy everyone is living by now.

We cannot, however, boycott everyone that has wronged, we cannot blacklist everyone and everything that offends; we have to separate the consequences of microaggressions and real aggression. Tarana Burke, who originally created the #MeToo movement before actress Alyssa Milano’s October 2017 tweet believes the movement has gone too far and too wide and should go back to its original purpose. The Atlantic wrote on July 4 in an article entitled, “Is #MeToo Too Big?” claiming, “Burke, the movement’s founder, wants it to return to its original — and specific — purpose: to serve as a counter to sexual violence.”

Author and academic Joanna Williams believes the movement and feminism have gone too far in their actions. Speaking to Canadian CBC News in January, Williams pointed out the negatives. William said, “I think bringing back an age where we have curfews and chaperones and restrictions and single-sex accommodation and an environment where women and men don’t feel comfortable to flirt, to talk to each other, to engage in all kinds of relationships … you know, I think there’s so much that women could potentially lose here.” Williams worries about a “clumsy flirtation” leading to a “black mark” on men. There is more on the line than to be concerned about mere reputation and the end of flirting. As with everything that is overdone, women are risking losing their credibility.

The movement is starting to feel a backlash, and when the men fight back, it all seems like back where women started. In the 1950s, McCarthy fell because his inquiry went too far, creating too much of a hysteria, causing too much damage with a mere accusation. Playwright Arthur Miller inspired by the witch hunt blacklisting his fellow writers and fear of being accused with the lot wrote the play “The Crucible” based on the original American witch hunt in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts. Miller presented the past to give the public a perspective and reality check they needed. We are supposed to learn from history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Americans and American Jewry need a history lesson respectively, that there repercussions to mass hysteria and finger-pointing, and reintroduce themselves to the importance that Judaism is rooted in its history and traditions unless by the time they get the reality check they have had erased it all.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in Judaic Studies at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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