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Archive for 'Rare Videos'

Inside the Vaults – The Bill of Rights

After more than 40 years of research and more than 14,000 documents, new discoveries are being made as scholars at the George Washington University continue to collect every scrap of paper associated with the First Congress of the United States.

The First Congress adopted the Constitutional amendments that are known today as the Bill of Rights. To mark the 2010 Bill of Rights Day, “Inside the Vaults” looks at the work of the First Federal Congress Project. Seventeen volumes of letters, debate records, newspaper articles, petitions, and other documents have been printed thus far—and there are still five volumes to go.

The First Federal Congress Project is funded in part by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making entity within the National Archives and Records Administration.

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If our Founding Fathers had Twitter (Final!)

thumbbill2We here at the National Archives noticed that many politicians these days use Twitter to deliver messages. Often this involves using numbers instead of letters, and symbols to convey a complex point in just a few words.

So we asked our readers: “what if the authors of the Bill of Rights only had 140 characters per amendment?” Last week we started counting down from Amendment X and we’ve posted the winning results below.

Archivist David Ferriero picked the pithiest tweets and the winners will receive a reproduction of the Bill of Rights, compliments of the National Archives eStore. You have three chances left to play! Today we’re tweeting the Second Amendment, and tomorrow we’re tweeting both the First Amendment and giving out a prize to the person who can best summarize the ENTIRE Bill of Rights in just 140 characters. Use #BillofRights to play and to follow along!

Amend Original Text Twitter Version Winner
X The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Power to the People! (conditions apply, void where prohibited) @azaroth42
IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Standard rights still apply. @jwt3K
VIII Excessive bail shall
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War Comes to America

Sixty-nine years ago today, the Congress of the United States declared war following the delivery of a speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that included these words:  “Yesterday … a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked … With confidence in our armed forces–with the unbounding determination of our people–we will gain the inevitable triumph–so help us God.”

When the House cast the vote to declare war on the Japanese Empire, only one voice rose in dissent, that of House Representative Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress who represented the state of Montana before women could even vote (read our POH post, “Women can’t vote, but they can run for Congress“). As the lone voice in the 388-1 vote, Rankin only said “as a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”

While Rankin may not have been eligible to go to war, men were, and many needed convincing. It was imperative that the nation knew what caused the conflict and why America had entered it. Part of the solution to this was the “Why We Fight” series, an acclaimed look at who America was and why it was at war against the Axis powers.

The series was a who’s who of Hollywood. Frank Capra, who … [ Read all ]

Does television affect how we elect Presidents?

A screenshot from the Nixon/Kennedy Presidential debates (JFK Presidential Library)

A screenshot from the Nixon/Kennedy Presidential debates (JFK Presidential Library)

Fifty years ago last week, John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon to become the nation’s 35th President. The 1960s were a significant changing of the guard in U.S. leadership and also in how Americans chose their leader. During the 1960 debates between the two candidates, Americans for the first time could tune in and watch the debates on television, or listen on the radio.

About 70 million people tuned in to watch the Kennedy/Nixon debates. When they turned on their television sets, they saw a tired Richard Nixon and a tanned, fit John Kennedy. Nixon had refused makeup for the cameras, wore an ill-fitting shirt, and hadn’t gained back his natural weight after a serious knee injury and two weeks in the hospital. Kennedy, on the other hand, had been campaigning in southern California and appeared on camera with a healthy tan.

The story has it that those Americans who tuned in over the radio believed the two candidates were evenly matched, but tended to think Nixon had won the debates. But those 70 million who watched the candidates on the television believed Kennedy was the clear victor.

While there aren’t any qualified statistics to back up this claim, what is certain is that Kennedy took a leap in the polls after the debate. … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Civil War Beards on Film

Civil War veterans at the Blue and Grey Reunion. This is a screen from the "Inside the Vaults" video short.

Civil War veterans at the Blue and Gray Reunion. This is a screen from the "Inside the Vaults" video short.

Yesterday was Veterans Day, and many of my friends on Facebook posted tributes to their family and friends, usually mentioning their grandfathers who fought in World War II.

Now, World War II was over 60 years ago, but I personally know WWII vets—my own grandfather and great-uncle. And my father knew family members who were WWI vets.

It is easy to think of historical events as happening in the long-ago past, in a vacuum where wars have a beginning and end rather than as lives that overlap from one event to another. But things run into each other—Theodore Roosevelt saw Lincoln’s funeral, and Roosevelt’s  son Ted served in World War I and later was on the beach in Normandy in WWII, directing the troops as they came ashore.

But still, I was jolted when I saw the film footage of Civil War veterans. After all—the Civil War ended in 1865, before the invention of cars or telephone or airplanes. But there they were in motion, men who had been on the field at Gettysburg, chatting and talking, their long white beards blowing in the wind.

They were filmed in 1938, 20 years after WWI and just a few years before WWII. They had grown up with horses and trains, and they arrived … [ Read all ]