Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #37 - "You Won't Have Nixon to Kick Around Anymore"

Richard Nixon is one of two individuals that ran 5 times for federal office nationally, the only thing all the States vote on together, a presidential ticket. Just like Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for high office 5 times (once in 1920 for V.P. on the losing ticket of James Cox and Franklin Roosevelt and four times successfully as POTUS), Nixon did too, sort of.

The Democratic ticket in 1920, James Cox of Ohio and Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York. They're for peace, progress and prosperity, almost like the Republicans in 1960.

Here's a picture of Cox and FDR walking at a campaign event in 1920.

Richard Nixon's "For Peace and Prosperity Vote Straight Republican" 1960 campaign button. Something familiar. For War and Failure Vote Gay Republican, an unused button from another time.

On Nixon's first attempt at high office in 1952 he won and that's because the top of the ticket was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man that saved Europe from the Nazis. The pick of Richard Nixon as vice president is comparable to future picks. Ike represented the internationalists and right of center Republicans. At the age of 39, Nixon's youth countered Ike's grandfatherly image. Nixon was openly anti-communist but not on the level of the disgraceful Joe McCarthy. While Ike didn't really care who became vice president, the party did and balanced the ticket, or Ike, with Nixon. Ike was getting pressure to kick Nixon off the ticket after a political fund run by financial backers to Nixon came to light. Nixon had not done anything illegal, but to clear his name and reputation Nixon went on television and revealed how modestly he and his wife Pat and their two daughters lived in 1952. Nixon also revealed that a gift from Texas, "a little cocker spaniel dog" that Tricia, the 6-year old, named Checkers. The speech, the most viewed thing on television up to that point, the birth of Ricky Ricardo Junior on I Love Lucy a few months later will become the most watched thing on television up to that point. Everyone loved Dick Nixon after that. (His mother preferred Richard to Dick). Especially Eisenhower, who kept him on the ticket and the two went on to easy victory against Adlai Stevenson (that's right, the grandson to the 23rd VPOTUS, Adlai Stevenson, to the 24th POTUS Grover Cleveland's third vice presidential running mate, but second vice president, from 1893-1897) of Illinois and John Sparkman of Alabama.

A candid shot of the GOP Republican nominee for vice president, Senator Richard Nixon of California and his dog Checkers, in 1952.

Vice President Nixon had an office in the Old Executive Office Building, which would later be renamed the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Nixon would be part of cabinet meetings and because of the 1947 National Security Act, like his predecessor Alben Barkley he too would be part of the National Security Council and maintain Secret Service protection. President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in September 1955, a year before the next Presidential Election, as well as two months before Marty McFly's arrival from the year 1985. This put Nixon a heartbeat away from the presidency like never before. Ike survived and was encouraged by his doctors that a second term would help the president's health. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Ike however wasn't encouraging Nixon off the ticket, but that's what he really wanted. President Eisenhower left the decision up to Vice President Nixon whether he should remain on the ticket or not. In private Ike never told Nixon to get off the ticket or that he wants him replaced, he just hoped Nixon would get the hint so Ike's decision in 1952 to accept him as the party's vice presidential nominee wasn't a wrong decision. If Nixon stepped down as VPOTUS, it would be the first vice presidential switch since Vice President Henry A. Wallace was dumped for the less-liberal Harry Truman in 1944. In that similar situation, the party wouldn't renominate the left leaning liberal Wallace for fear he'll be president if or when FDR dies before 1949, the end year of the 4th term. Except it wasn't the party's decision or Ike's since he left it up to Nixon to decide. Nixon knew if he was replaced that vice president might be president before the Republican's convention in 1960 or would be the frontrunner for the nomination if Ike makes it to 1961. Nixon chose to remain on the ticket and Ike accepted his (both Ike and Nixon) decision.

TIME magazine featured the winning ticket for the 1956 Presidential Election, the reelection of Dwight D. Eisenhower as the 34th POTUS and Richard Nixon as the 36th VPOTUS.

Like his first time on the national ticket, Nixon's second time was winner with President Eisenhower at the top of the ticket in 1956. Eisenhower ran against the Democrat's 1952 nominee Adlai Stevenson again but instead of Alabama's Sparkman the Democrat's chose Estes Kefauver of Tennessee for the second spot. Nixon's reelection as vice president was the first since John Nance Garner and Franklin Roosevelt won reelection in 1936, the difference here is Vice President Nixon was the incumbent and natural front-runner since for the first time since the passage of the 22nd Amendment, which limited the president to two terms. Ike was limited, unlike living former president Harry S. Truman, who was in office when the Amendment was written so thus he was not effected. He chose not to run in 1952 for a second term of his own which would also be a third term since he finished off FDR's fourth term. So for a third time Nixon was on a national ticket, but this time he was at the top of the ticket in 1960. This time without Ike and just like reelection in 1956 no real words of support from the POTUS.

The last time an incumbent vice president won the presidency was in 1836, when one term vice president Martin Van Buren followed two term president Andrew Jackson. Nixon will be the first two-term incumbent to try since John Adams in 1796 after two-terms as VPOTUS under George Washington. Vice President Nixon's one hundred year-ago counter-part, 14th Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge, was the Southern Democrat's choice for president against the Republican's Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. Breckinridge came in third in the popular votes but second in the Electoral College which in the post-12th Amendment U.S. that means nothing. Although Nixon and Breckinridge had to announce their opponent's victory as presiding officer of a Joint-Session of Congress. Nixon faced a close race and some would say stolen election against Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The 2000 election was closer, but this was up there in very very very very (multiple verys means it's very important) very close terms. Vice President Nixon chose not to contest the outcome, something no candidate had done until Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election.

The two presidential candidates from the two major political parties in the United States, Democrat John F. Kennedy, senator from Massachusetts and Republican Richard Nixon, vice president of the United States and from the great State of California.

Nixon's reaction to the news that he lost the 1960 Presidential Election, but not really.

So Nixon lost in 1960. What was a young former vice president supposed to do with his future? His one hundred year-ago counterpart, Breckinridge is the youngest to be elected VPOTUS at 36. What did former vice president Breckinridge do? Well he served in the U.S. Senate in 1861 and resigned in support of the Confederate States of America. So he was labeled a traitor. Former Vice President Nixon went on to run for governor of his home State of California and lost to the incumbent governor Pat Brown. Governor Brown would be defeated in 1966 by future POTUS, number 40, Ronald Reagan. The press labeled Nixon's loss the end of his political career, while the former vice president told the press they "won't have Nixon to kick around anymore".

The next national election wouldn't be until 1964 and before the assassination of JFK Nixon knew nobody was going to defeat him in his reelection bid. Just as he was sure of Kennedy's success in 1964 had he had the chance, the same was true about President Lyndon Johnson as an opponent in '64. Johnson would win a landslide election, which would be repeated 8 years later and slightly better by Nixon. So the former vice president chose not run in 1964 and let Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Nelson Rockefeller of New York vie for the nomination, two different wings conservative and moderates. The conservatives won in 1964 and lost as well in the General Election.

A photo from July of 1968 before the Republicans nominate the former vice president, Richard Nixon talks with President Lyndon B. Johnson, in I guess, the Cabinet Room. 7 years prior in 1961, Nixon was the outgoing VPOTUS (#36) and LBJ was the incoming VPOTUS (#37), six months after this photo LBJ will be the outgoing POTUS (#36) and Nixon will be the incoming POTUS (#37).

By 1968, Nixon was ready to get back in the game of politics. The Democratic Party was torn over the Vietnam War. President Johnson chose not to seek reelection after facing challenges from the left, like Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. With LBJ out of the running, this let Vice President Hubert Humphrey run for the nomination. In the end the Democrats went with Humphrey, after Senator Kennedy's assassination during the primaries. The Republicans went with the former vice president, so the 1968 election was the first time there was an incumbent vice president running against a former vice president and the former vice president won, also a first. Nixon won his 4th national election and his second national election as the Republican Nominee. The 1968 election was just as close as Nixon's 1960 run.

"Nixon's the One" was his 1968 campaign slogan.

Nixon's 5th an last run for national office would be his reelection as president in 1972. He would run simply as "the President". Nixon was again, like Ike, limited to two terms. Nixon and Spiro Agnew would easily win reelection against Democrat George McGovern. While Nixon's reelection would be one of the nation's largest, the events that would bring Nixon's presidency to an end long before January 20, 1977. The cover-up of the Watergate break-in was taking place and Nixon's order of cover-up his downfall. Once evidence surfaced, or the smoking gun, Nixon faced impeachment by the House of Representatives. The Articles of Impeachment, two of them, were written and voted on by the House Judiciary Committee. Republican National Committee Chair George H.W. Bush, the future POTUS, wrote to Nixon telling him to resign. Republicans in the Senate led by Senator Goldwater, warned the President that if the impeachment made it to trial in the Senate, that he would not survive. Nixon chose to resign the office in August 1974, the first and only president to resign. The presidential ticket elected in 1972 would resign before 1977, as Vice President Agnew resigned in 1973 for reasons not associated with Watergate but from his time as Governor of Maryland. The 25th Amendment was passed in 1967 and did not allow for there to be a vacancy in the vice presidency, so for the first time Nixon appointed a vice president in 1973. Gerald Ford was the Republican Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, known as a guy loved by everyone on Capitol Hill. Ford was also someone with no connection to Watergate. With Nixon's resignation, Ford became the 38th POTUS and the first never to have run for either the vice presidency or presidency.

TIME magazine's post-1972 Presidential Election issue with a mention of the landslide.

Nixon would return to his home State of California. President Ford would pardon Nixon a month later, leading some to believe a deal was made between the two. But no such deal has ever been discovered or proven. Ford believed nation needed to move on and that pardoning Nixon would stop the press from constantly asking questions related to the break-in and cover-up. Nixon would rehabilitate his political image until his death in 1994. Nixon could never run again for national office, and since Nixon, Bush 41 has run on a national ticket four times, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992. Bush won 3 of the 4. Just like FDR, Nixon won 4 of the 5, but one big difference outside of term-limits on the presidency, Nixon won his home State of California in all 5 of his national run.

President Nixon, with the First Family, gives a farewell speech to the White House staff in the East Room on August 9, 1974, his last day in office.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There's a VPOTUS Named...Elbridge

Elbridge Gerry.
March 4, 1813-November 23, 1814.


Gerry was President Madison's second vice president and like his first he died in office. So Gerry is also the second to be vice presidentially dead Gerry's 200th deathaversary is next year so politicians will be celebrating by making sure districts are redrawn so they stay in power. Gerry is less remembered for being the young nation's 5th vice president but more so for the political term from high school Government class textbook's "gerrymandering".

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #36 - "Clinton, the Politician not the Musician and the VPOTUS not the POTUS"

George Clinton, not the American singer and songwriter of the late-20th and early-21st Centuries, but the American soldier and politician of the late-18th and early-19th Centuries. He is in no way related to the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. This Clinton is originally from New York and became the State's first governor in 1777 and serving for 18 years. He served another 3 years as New York Governor from 1801 to 1804. He was elected vice president twice, once in 1804 with President Thomas Jefferson and again with Secretary of State James Madison in 1808. Vice President Clinton's reelection in 1808 was the first reelection of a vice president since Vice President John Adams came in second to President George Washington a second time in 1792 and the first for a Democratic-Republican. But 1804 wasn't the first time he'd have votes cast for him in the Electoral College.

George Clinton. 4th VPOTUS. Democratic-Republican. New Yorker.

Clinton received Electoral College votes in the Presidential Elections of 1792 and 1796. In 1792 he was competing for the second place finish to a unanimously reelected George Washington in the pre-12th Amendment days. The person with the second most number of votes, but still a majority, would be the vice president of the United States. John Adams was reelected vice president in that election.

In the 1796 election President Washington made it clear he would not seek or accept the nomination for a third term as president of the United States. Factions within the federal government were forming. It was the first partisan election for the presidency. While Washington had no party affiliation, by the end of his time as head of the Executive Branch the Federalists (a strong federal government) were dominant in the administration, his supporters lined up behind two-term Vice President Adams. South Carolinian Thomas Pinckney was the Federalist's next most favored member and hoped Pinckney would be Adams' vice president. The opposition party, the anti-Federalists that became Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party, or sometimes known as the Democratic-Republican Party, and they liked Clinton fourth out of a bunch of white males. But the ones that matter, first place was Jefferson and second place was fellow New Yorker Aaron Burr, the Democratic-Republicans' desired presidential ticket. Well in pre-12th Amendment America there are no tickets. The man with a majority of Electoral College votes was Vice President Adams and when he counted the votes in a Joint-Session of Congress, he got to announce his own win. The man with the second most number of votes became the vice president and it wasn't the Federalist's pick in Pinckney but rather their main opponent since the Federalists came into existence but Jefferson himself.

The term from 1797 to 1801 will be the first of two times the POTUS and VPOTUS are of different parties and ideologies. The next time would be the Union Party ticket of Republican President Abraham Lincoln and Democratic Military Governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson in 1864 which would only last from March 4, 1865 to April 15, 1865. But back in the election of 1800, a rematch of the 1796 election, but no Clinton even considered. Thomas Pinckney was out and in his place was his older brother Charles as the Federalists desired choice for the second place finisher to what would hopefully be President Adams' reelection, but it was not. Jefferson tied for first place Burr, the Democratic-Republican's choice to finish second to Jefferson. The electors of the Electoral College don't distinguish between president and vice president until after the passage of the 12th Amendment in 1804. So since there is a tie, the House of Representatives must decide and on the 36th ballot settle on the more popular personality of Jefferson over President Aaron Burr.

For President Jefferson's reelection in 1804, the party decided not to renominate the answer to this next question, which vice president of the United States shot Alexander Hamilton? And he shot him during an election year. Interesting that a question can be phrased "which vice president of the United States shot...?" and there's more than one question so there's more than one VPOTUS that shot someone and be the 200th Anniversary vice presidential winner to Burr's 1800 win. Whereas the Federalists nominated their failed hopeful-vice president choice elder brother Pinckney for the presidency on the Federalist Party's first Presidential ticket in the first presidential election post-12th Amendment. New Yorker Rufus King the party's first vice presidential nominee. Jefferson wins reelection and Clinton finally gets enough votes to be the 4th VPOTUS and the first to replace a sitting vice president.

The duel. 1804.

President Jefferson after 8 years as POTUS follows in the footsteps of two-term President Washington and does not seek another four year term, or rather a third term. The Democratic-Republicans choose Secretary of State James Madison to be their party's nominee and renominate Clinton as vice president. In fact, Secretary Madison is the only new face in the 1808 election. The Federalist's renominate that losing ticket of Pinckney and King. However there were six New York electors that went against the State and flipped their votes in opposition to Madison. Even then 3 votes went to Madison for Clinton's vice president and the remaining 3 voters couldn't even vote Madison vice president and instead chose James Monroe. While New York's other 13 electors cast for the Madison/Clinton ticket and easy win for the Democratic-Republican Party.

Clinton became the first vice president to serve with two different presidents. So far there has only been one other twice elected VPOTUS and that's John C. Calhoun, President John Quincy Adams' only and President Andrew Jackson's first of two. Calhoun would also be the first to resign the vice presidency and, so far, that only other fellow wouldn't resign until 1973. Calhoun resigned to serve in the Senate and not as that legislative body's head, whereas Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned for criminal charges from his days as Maryland's governor.

And back two hundred and one years ago, Clinton's firsts didn't stop there. In 1812 on April 20th, Clinton died becoming the first vice president to die while in office. Ever since then, New Yorkers have celebrated his death by lighting up the marijuana. Although that may only be a rumor, but a reason to enjoy 4/20 this year. While this Clinton's name wouldn't appear on the 1812 ballot, his nephew's would. DeWitt Clinton would be nominated by a small portion of Democratic-Republicans in opposition to President Madison. The Federalist Party supported Clinton's nomination. But President Madison won reelection and the man who's name is associated with Gerrymandering (Congressional redistricting to favor political parties), Elbridge Gerry from Massachusetts became the 5th VPOTUS and by 1814 the second to die in office.

1812 political cartoon on Gerrymandering. Which has nothing to do with Clinton...really (v)pointless (vice)presidential (v)pfact.

Five more vice presidents would follow Clinton and Gerry and die in office. William King would be the first to be sworn-in on foreign soil in present day U.S.-isn't-supposed-to-like-Cuba but returned and died on April 18, 1853. The shortest vice presidential term after John Tyler and Andrew Johnson. He served as Franklin Pierce's number 2, but was rumored to be romantically connected to future president and former Secretary of State James Buchanan, first bachelor presidential candidate and until Grover Cleveland's marriage to Francis Folsom in his first term, the only bachelor president. I have no idea if they're gay, I have a hard time figuring out if present day males are gay. But good for them if they were. President Ulysses S. Grant's second vice president, Henry Wilson would die in 1875. Cleveland's first vice president, Thomas Hendricks died in the first year of the administration. William McKinley's first term vice president, Garret Hobart would die in 1899 and the vacant spot on the bottom of the GOP ticket would be the best place for the popular and do-gooding New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt. The vice presidency would shut him up they said. Mark Hanna knew better. And the last vice president to die in office was back 101 years ago, 100 years after Clinton's death in office. Fellow New Yorker James S. Sherman, the nation's 27th VPOTUS and Taft's only vice president, Sherman was the first vice president to be renominated and win since Calhoun in 1824 and 1828. Sherman died a few days before election day in 1912 but Nicholas Butler received the vice presidential votes the Taft/Sherman ticket won, which was third place to Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson and in second place, formerly part of the Republican Party, the Progressive Party's Theodore Roosevelt came in second.

James (my middle name could sell books) Schoolcraft Sherman. 27th VPOTUS. Republican. New Yorker.

There's a VPOTUS Named...Clinton

George Clinton.
MARCH 4, 1805-APRIL 20, 1812.
New York.


No relation to William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd POTUS and future leader of the world.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #35 - "Lincoln, Kennedy and Monroe"

There are many coincidences throughout history and even within a country's own history, like the United States. Now the internets have been passing misinformation around big time, including on the legend of the connections between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. The inaccuracies forced me to write this piece based off of simple coinkydinks that occurred during the Lincoln and Kennedy presidencies, starting with some accurate non-coinkydinks events in presidential history.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 and John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917. No similarity there between the two. Lincoln was elected the 16th POTUS while Kennedy became the 35th POTUS. Still nothing coincidental about those facts.

Abraham Lincoln. 16th POTUS. Illinois. Republican.

Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846 and JFK was elected in 1946. Exactly (well in years) one hundred years apart Lincoln and Kennedy were elected to the House of Representatives. Representative Lincoln served only one term in the House after being a part of the Whig Party's opposition to President James K. Polk and the Democratic Party's war win against Mexico, making the United States a continental power. Representative Kennedy on the other hand went on to win reelection to his House seat two more times and then in 1952 wins the race for Massachusetts' open senate seat in the U.S. Senate, the other house of Congress.

John F. Kennedy. 35th POTUS. Massachusetts. Democrat.

Senator Kennedy went from the Senate to the White House in 1960, whereas Lincoln won the presidential election of 1860 without having served in elected politics since he left the House in 1849, when Polk was leaving office and Zachary Taylor was entering office. One hundred years apart both became president of the United States. They were both challenged by an incumbent, and youthful, vice president in the General Election, John C. Breckinridge in 1860 and Richard M. Nixon in 1960, both would announce their loss to Lincoln and Kennedy, respectively, to a Joint-Session of Congress.

President Lincoln had to deal with States in rebellion from the start of his term and his goal was first and foremost to preserve the Union of States before the Civil War took on the responsibility of freeing the enslaved blacks in the South. He was president during the Civil War, while JFK was a president that served during the Cold War, another "C"-"W" initialed event. His hundred year counterpart would become associated with Civil Rights as well and his death would help push Civil Rights legislation through the Congress by his successor one hundred years after the Civil War ended. Essentially the Civil Rights that Lincoln began fighting for don't come to until almost one hundred years after his death.

As president, they both had young children in the White House, or during Lincoln's time, the Executive Mansion. Their wives also lost a child while living in the presidential mansion. Mary Todd Lincoln, and the president, lost their youngest William to an illness at the age of 11, where Jack and Jackie Kennedy lost their child, Patrick, two days after being born. The two died one hundred and one years apart.

Both presidents had secretaries named after the other. President Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and President Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.

But there's more connections.

John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln while he, his wife and the Rathbones (such a 19th Century-sounding name) watch "Our American Cousin" from box seats at Ford's Theater. Why the sketch artist just sketched and didn't help is one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries so says the ghost of Robert Stack.

Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, almost one hundred years. Almost. But they were both shot on a Friday while sitting next to their wives. Both were shot in the head. They were with another couple. The Lincolns went to Ford's Theater with the Rathbones and the Kennedys rode with the Connallys in an automobile named Lincoln. Both males that were with the president when they were shot were both injured and survived the attacks. The presidents were shot by men from the South. One was born in 1838 and the other born in 1939. The assassins were known by their full name, three names made up of 15 letters, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. Booth fled a theater for an abandoned warehouse, whereas Oswald did the opposite, he went from a warehouse to a theater. Both Booth and Oswald were shot and killed before their trial.

"Oswald!" yelled Jack Ruby as he shot Lee Harvey Oswald on LIVE television.

Both presidents were succeeded by Southerners who were their vice presidents. Both vice presidents were named Johnson and born one hundred years apart, 1808 and 1908 Tennessee's Andrew Johnson was loyal to the Union and put on the Union Party ticket with President Lincoln in 1864, a ticket made up of a Republican and a Democrat. Johnson became the 17th POTUS the day after Lincoln was shot and three hours after he died. Texas' Lyndon Johnson ran with Kennedy in 1960 and was sworn in as the 36th POTUS the day JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. Johnson-17 would go on to become the first impeached POTUS but survived the trial in the Senate by one vote in a battle to control Reconstruction of the South. His impeachment would weaken the executive branch, which was strong during Lincoln's terms, for the rest of the 19th Century. Johnson-36 would go on to win a landslide election of his own in 1964 but while he had success with Civil Rights and hoped for a great society, Johnson-36 eventually lost favor with the American people and his party as reelection in 1968 seemed impossible thanks to the longevity of the Vietnam War and his mishandling of the Cold War's proxy hot war.

A ticket to the Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson in the Senate in 1868.

Lyndon B. Johnson. 36th POTUS. 37th VPOTUS. Texas. Democrat.

The punchline of the fact sheet from the pre-Internet days ends with Lincoln being in Monroe, Maryland a week before his assassination setting up Kennedy to be in Marilyn Monroe a week before his. There is no Monroe, Maryland and Marilyn Monroe died in 1962...all according to Google.

All of this is nothing but historical coincidences. Nothing more. These comparisons between the two American presidents has been going on since the mid-1960s, more than likely.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #34 - "The Last Time Lincoln Was in a Theater"

On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln went to Ford's Theater to watch "Our American Cousin". Now while the 16th President of the United States wanted to relax at the theater as the Civil War came to an end, an individual with so much opposition to the central government's involvement in freeing the enslaved black man wanted nothing more than to topple the U.S. government on the night of the 14th. John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators planned to kill Lincoln, the loyal Southern Democrat from Tennessee and the recently sworn-in vice president, Andrew Johnson, and the Secretary of State, William Seward. Lincoln and Johnson ran on the Union Party ticket, dumping his vice president Hannibal Hamlin for the loyal southerner of the opposition party. Seward had been the nation's chief diplomat since the start of Lincoln's first term and prior to that had challenged Lincoln for the Republican nomination in 1860 and was expected to win it. Booth was a southern sympathizer from a famous family of actors, he was not unknown like his future fellow presidential assassins like Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz, or Lee Harvey Oswald (and his conspirators???).

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. Republican from Illinois.

The guy that was to kill Vice President Johnson chickened out and Johnson had no clue about an attempt. Although Booth did try to make a connection between himself and the vice president, but nothing came of it.

Lewis Powell, one of Booth's co-conspirators, had the responsibility of killing Secretary Seward. Powell made it into the secretary's home and fought off his son before stabbing him. What saved Seward was a neck-brace he wore after being in a carriage accident. Powell fled the scene and was later caught.

Lewis Powell

The only one successful that night was Booth. He had scoped out Ford's Theater and planned out his moves. He knew the play's funniest line, "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap." And that was when he was going to strike. Booth shot Lincoln with a derringer. After he shot Lincoln in the back of the head, Booth fought off Major Henry Rathbone, he and his wife shared the theater box with the First Couple, after bigger names like Grant and Sherman turned the play down. Booth slashed away at Rathbone, but the attack threw Booth off his game. Booth jumped from the box to the stage and his spur got caught in the flag. He broke his leg but before rushing off the stage yelled something to the audience. Two things were reported said, "Sic semper tyrannis!" which is the motto of Virginia and translates to "Thus always to tyrants." The line heard was "The South is avenged!"

Booth got on a horse, which he asked someone to hold, although they didn't know why, and he rode out of town. The Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, issued a manhunt for Booth and his accomplices. Booth sought help for his leg and eventually made his way to Garrett's farm and stayed in the barn until Federal troops circled the barn with fire. A soldier shot Booth and he died shortly afterward. His conspirators were tried and hung for the crime. Among those executed on July 7, 1865, was the first female, Mary Surratt.

John Wilkes Booth

But on the night of April 14th, doctors in Ford's Theater tried to save the president's life. Fearful that President Lincoln would not survive the bumpy road back to the Executive Mansion, they moved the president across the street. Lincoln died the next morning. It is said that Stanton said, "now he belongs to the angels" and later he changed his quote to "now he belongs to the ages."

Johnson was sworn-in as the 17th president of the United States. Lincoln's plans for Reconstruction of the South would never come to light and a political power struggle between President Johnson and the Radical Republicans would harm Reconstruction and Civil Rights for about 100 years until after another assassinated president is succeeded by another Vice President Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States. Democrat from Tennessee.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #33 - "The 33rd President follows the 32nd"

On April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, died. When news of the U.S. president's death reached Adolf Hitler in Germany, it was already Friday the 13th and his death was taken as a good sign for the Axis Powers. But of course he was wrong, since the war in Europe would end the next month. The Allied Powers would move on and the U.S. would too with Harry S. Truman as the new and 33rd president of the United States.

In 1944 FDR was reelected to an unprecedented 4th term as POTUS. The inauguration for the 4th term was less grand this time around. Instead of at the Capitol, the ceremony was held on the South Portico of the White House. The reason for the difference in ceremonies was because the U.S. was at war and it was Roosevelt's 4th time. Business as usual. In that 1944 election, Truman was elected to the vice presidency. He was FDR's third vice president. John Nance Garner, a conservative Democrat from Texas, was elected and reelected with FDR in 1932 and 1936 and for FDR's 3rd term he had liberal Democrat Henry A. Wallace from Iowa as his running-mate. Wallace was so liberal in the minds of Democrats in 1944 that if he remained on the ticket it would harm FDR's chances of reelection. His 4th election was the closest of his four but he still pulled in over 50% of the popular vote. He ran against the young and popular New York Governor Thomas Dewey, who would run an even closer race four years later against President Truman. Had FDR passed away before January 20, 1945, Wallace would've been POTUS. In 1940, Wallace went from the head of the Agriculture Department to the vice presidency. After his term as vice president, he would return to FDR's (and remain with President Truman's) cabinet as the Secretary of Commerce. Wallace would eventually leave the cabinet and in the 1948 election run against Truman and Republican Dewey as the Progressive Party's candidate. He would come in fourth and with no Electoral Votes against third place finisher (and winner of some Electoral Votes) Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond. At the 1945 inauguration, Wallace swore-in the vice president-elect just as Garner had done for Wallace at the 1941 inauguration. Truman would be the vice president for only 82 days, before taking the Oath of Office.

Upon arriving at the White House and learning of the FDR's passing, Truman asked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt "Is there anything I can do for you?" to which she replied "Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now." After he took the oath, he said of his new responsibility, "I don't know if any of you have had a bale of hay fall on you. Well, I feel like the sun, the stars and all the planets just fell on me."