(Today’s post is from Jim Worsham, editor of Prologue magazine, the quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, and is based on a longer article in the Summer 2015 issue.)
President Harry S. Truman watched the clock closely, wanting to abide by the agreement to make the historic announcement at the same time as our Allies in London and Moscow.
At exactly 7 p.m. Eastern War Time on August 14, 1945, Truman revealed Japan’s response to the Allied demand for unconditional surrender.
The announcement the world was waiting for came just a few days after atomic bombs fell on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the opening shots in the nuclear era.
The emperor of Japan, the statement read, had agreed to unconditional surrender to the Allies. The President then appointed Gen. Douglas MacArthur supreme commander in Japan and the Pacific and who would officially accept Japan’s surrender September 2, 1945.
The euphoria that erupted May 8 when Truman announced the Germans … [ Read all ]
A little after 11 p.m., Gertrude Junge, the 25-year-old secretary to Adolf Hitler, woke from a one-hour nap, and, thinking it was time for the nightly tea with her boss, headed for his study.
“Have you had a nice little rest, child,” her boss asked her as he shook her hand. “Yes, I have slept a little,” she replied.
Getting any sleep in Hitler’s bunker, deep underground in Berlin, might have been difficult that night in April 1945.
Russian troops were only about 1,000 yards away, and the war was all but lost by then. The head of Hitler’s dreaded SS, Heinrich Himmler, was already negotiating with the Western Allies. The Third Reich was almost over.
But the dictator had something else on his mind at tea time.
“Come along,” he said to Junge, “I want to dictate something.”
They went into the conference room next to Hitler’s quarters, and Junge began to uncover the typewriter she usually used to take down his dictation.
Not this time, however, as Greg Bradsher recounts … [ Read all ]
This post was originally published as an article by Trevor Plante in the Spring 2015 issue of Prologue magazine. Trevor K. Plante is chief of the Reference Services Branch at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. He is a supervisory archivist who specializes in 19th- and early 20th-century military records and is an active lecturer and a frequent contributor to Prologue.
To many Americans the word Appomattox is synonymous with the end of the Civil War.
The war, however, did not officially conclude at that tiny village west of Petersburg, Virginia. But what happened there in early April 150 years ago certainly marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.
After the fall of Richmond, the Confederate capital, on April 2, 1865, officials in the Confederate government, including President Jefferson Davis, fled. The dominoes began to fall. The surrender at Appomattox took place a week later on April 9.
While it was the most significant surrender to take place during the Civil War, Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s most respected commander, surrendered only his Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
Several other Confederate forces—some large units, some small—had yet to surrender before President Andrew Johnson could declare that the Civil War was officially over.
The Grant-Lee agreement served not only as a signal that the South had lost the … [ Read all ]
Citizen Archivists! You can transcribe this document as part of our #SunshineWeek Transcription Challenge!
The black-bordered letter sent to President Martin Van Buren relayed the official news that the king of the United Kingdom, His Majesty William IV, had died on June 20, 1837. The new monarch was the late king’s niece, 18-year-old Victoria.
Writing on June 23, the young new queen announced the passing of “Our Most Honoured and Beloved Uncle” and advised the President of her own accession to the throne. She assured him “that it will be Our most earnest desire to cultivate and maintain the Relations of Friendship and good Understanding which so happily subsist between the Two Countries.”
At the end of the letter, she signed herself, “Your Good Friend, Victoria R.” Just three days into her nearly 64–year reign, her signature is penned neatly and carefully. In later years, letters from the more mature queen show a looser, more flowing signature.
Several other letters from Victoria and other 19th-century monarchs (in the series “Ceremonial Letters from Great Britain”) are available in the online National Archives catalog. They announce births, deaths, and weddings of members of the royal family and diplomatic appointments. The foreign minister’s signature (Palmerston on this 1837 letter) appears below the monarch’s.
Posted by Mary on March 20, 2015, under - Presidents, Letters in the National Archives, Uncategorized.
Tags: Great Britain, letters, Martin Van Buren, Queen of England, Victoria, William IV
In honor of Festivus, this seems like the perfect document for the airing of grievances. This feature was originally published in Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives (Summer 2013).
At the National Archives, and almost any other archival institution, one of the principal rules for using original records is to keep the records in the same order in which they are given to you.
We benefit in our research from the care taken by unknown prior custodians of the records. Their work is usually invisible, but in the case of our featured document, a clerk’s voice breaks through from the 19th century.
At the back of the Civil War widow’s pension file based on the service of Pvt. Stephen Whitehead, a Pension Office clerk wrote:
These papers having been sorted with considerable care and for convenience arranged in something like their logical order, are now fastened together in the hope that the next man may escape the annoyance and drudgery that would be entailed were they chucked back in the promiscuous condition in which they were found.
Jany. 16, 1894. C.L.H.
The clerk’s frustration is understandable in light of the complexity of the Whitehead pension case. In 1860, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Mary on December 23, 2014, under - Civil War, Prologue Magazine, Uncategorized, Unusual documents.
Tags: airing of grievances, civil war, civil war pensions, civil war widows, clerk, festivus, pension, Pension Office