Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Archive for '- Presidents'

Crafting the “Day of Infamy” Speech

Early on a quiet Sunday afternoon in December 1941, the President of the United States was in his study at the White House working on his stamp album. It was a favorite activity and one that allowed him to shut out the troubles of the world, if only for a little while.

The telephone rang, and the White House operator put through the call. Franklin D. Roosevelt learned that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, just before 8 a.m. Hawaii time (1 p.m. in Washington).

It was still unclear what the loss was in lives and ships and planes, but it would be high. Hawaii was the home of the Pacific fleet, along with thousands of soldiers and sailors to man them.

Two of Roosevelt’s speechwriters were out of town, so the President summoned his secretary, Grace Tully, to take down dictation as he “drafted” one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century to deliver to Congress the next day.

“Yesterday, December seventh, 1941, a date which will live in world history,” he began, “the United States was simultaneously and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.”

Franklin Roosevelt's changes to the first draft of his speech are clearly visible on "Draft No. 1." In the opening sentence, he changed "world history" to "infamy" and "simultaneously" to "suddenly." At one point, he considered putting the words "without warning" at the end of the sentence but later crossed them out. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)

Franklin Roosevelt’s changes to the first draft of his speech are clearly visible on “Draft No. 1.” In the opening sentence, he changed “world history” to “infamy” and “simultaneously” to

[ Read all ]

A Very Special “Make It Work” Christmas Story

Tim Gunn will be at the National Archives on December 11, hosting “Deck the Halls: Holidays at the White House.” Join us in person or watch live on our YouTube channel. Details at the bottom of this blog post!

It was 40 years before his famous catchphrase, but Tim Gunn knew he needed to “make it work” if he wanted to get the Christmas tree decorated in time at the White House.

First Lady Rosalynn Carter holds an ornament designed by Tim Gunn. (Carter Presidential Library and Museum)

First Lady Rosalynn Carter holds an ornament designed by Tim Gunn. (Carter Presidential Library and Museum)

The future Project Runway star had recently begun teaching three-dimensional design at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC, when the call came in. The White House was asking for students to make original ornaments for the tree in the Blue Room.

But just like a challenge on Project Runway, there was a catch: they had one week.

In Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work, Gunn recalled that they were excited to have the opportunity—and intensely curious about how the White House had come to be in this situation. “We heard a rumor,” he wrote, “that the Jimmy Carter White House perceived the work of this original ornament maker to be “inappropriate,” and we had a wonderful time trying to imagine what in the world those ornaments had looked like.”

His second-year students … [ Read all ]

The Ike Jacket

Today’s post comes from Timothy Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. In honor of Veterans Day and those who have worn a uniform while serving their country, here’s the story behind the famous jacket now on display in our exhibit “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures.”

General Dwight D. Eisenhower considered the Army’s World War II military uniform to be restricting and poorly suited for combat. Instead he had a standard issue wool field jacket tailored to be “very short, very comfortable, and very natty looking.” The resulting “Eisenhower jacket” or “Ike jacket,” as it came to be known, was standard issue to American troops after November 1944. This “Ike jacket” was worn by Eisenhower.

One of General Eisenhower's jackets is currently on display in the "Making Their Mark" exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

One of General Eisenhower’s jackets is currently on display in the “Making Their Mark” exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

Ike urged theater-wide adoption of the shorter jacket in a May 5, 1943, letter to General George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff:

I have no doubt that you have been impressed by the virtual impossibility of appearing neat and snappy in our field uniform. Given a uniform which tends to look a bit tough, and the natural proclivities of the American soldier quickly create a general impression of a disorderly mob. From this standpoint alone, the matter is bad enough; but

[ Read all ]

Rita Moreno, first Hispanic actress to win the Academy Award

Concluding our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

English Version: 

Rita Moreno has inspired many people throughout her celebrated career as an actress and stage performer. As the first Hispanic actress to win an Academy Award in 1961, she opened the door for hopeful Latinos in the entertainment industry. Moreno is also one of a select group of performers to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards, two Emmys, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. This is known as the EGOT.

Her films include some of the most influential and popular musicals Hollywood has ever produced, including West Side Story (1961), Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and The King and I (1954). In 1955 Moreno received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She has earned two of America’s highest honors the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush in 2004 and the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama in 2009 for her wide-ranging body of work and success in the entertainment industry.

President George W. Bush with Medal of Freedom recipient Rita Moreno.  (National Archives Identifier: 7431430)

President George W. Bush with Medal of Freedom recipient Rita Moreno.
(National Archives Identifier: 7431430)

Born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, she moved with her mother to New York when she was six years old. At age 13 … [ Read all ]

President Nixon and the Hispanic Strategy

Continuing our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

English Version: President Nixon and the Hispanic strategy during his re-election campaign

President Nixon and the President of Mexico review the troops at the White House, 06/15/1972. (National Archives Identifier: 194436)

President Nixon and the President of Mexico review the troops at the White House, 06/15/1972.
(National Archives Identifier: 194436)

The United States of America is witnessing a growing Latin American voting demographic, and many might be surprised to learn that the first “Latino” President was, in fact, Richard Nixon. In 1969, his first year in office, he established the Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish Speaking People.

Throughout his Presidency, he appointed more Latinos than any preceding President, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He remained unsurpassed in those numbers until Bill Clinton’s Presidency in the 1990’s.

President Nixon taking the oath of Office during his second inauguration, 01/20/1973. (National Archives Identifier: 7268203)

President Nixon taking the oath of Office during his second inauguration, 01/20/1973.
(National Archives Identifier: 7268203)

Over four decades ago, Hispanics in the United States found themselves exercising more power in a Presidential campaign that at any other time in American history.

Seeking re-election, President Nixon reached out to the Latino community by discussing his strategy for funding education, health, small businesses and other programs in Latin American communities in areas like Texas, California, and in the Southwest. Some called it the Nixon Hispanic Strategy.

Nixon received 40 percent … [ Read all ]