Archive for 'Myth or History'
There wasn’t supposed to be a Fourth of July celebration in the vision of John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and our second President.
But in that Philadelphia summer of 1776, having successfully argued for the Second Continental Congress to declare the United States independent of Great Britain, Adams was excited.
The day after the Congress approved the resolution declaring independence on July 2, Adams penned one of the many letters he wrote home to his wife, Abigail. He wrote, in part:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it 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.
Adams got his pomp and parade and his bells and bonfires—and from one end of the continent to the other—but he was off by two days.
The Congress did indeed declare the United States independent on July 2, and Adams played no small part in it. The delegates debated Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library. He answers a question each week on Facebook. This week’s special, matrimonial edition of Ask an Archivist comes from the Netherlands, and we thought it would be fun to post it in honor of the Eisenhowers’ 97th wedding anniversary.
“My friends Jerom and Natasja are getting married and I would like to give them something special. Since they are both lovers of American history and trivia, I’d love to give them some unexpected knowledge. I am writing a large group of American museums to ask if they could send me an anecdote, a factoid or a bit of trivia that surprises their visitors when they tour the museum; something that makes them laugh, think or realize a connection to American history they hadn’t known before. Would you please send me a contribution as well?” – Lambert Teuweissen
Wedding gifts run the gamut from appliances to zeolites (always appropriate for the love-besotted mineralogist in one’s life), but the gift of historical knowledge? Genius!
We think this is the first time that staff have been asked to contribute to the launch of a happy marriage, but we are confident that we can meet the challenge. This might be the start of a wedding registry service for history lovers if it goes well!
While that remains … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on July 1, 2013, under - Presidents, - World War I, - World War II, Myth or History, National Archives Near You, Unusual documents.
Tags: Eisenhowers, wedding, wedding cake
Today’s post comes from curator Bruce Bustard. These photographs and documents are on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC, until July 15 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
On July 5, 1863, photographer Alexander Gardner and his assistant, Timothy O’Sullivan, arrived at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle had ended two days earlier. On parts of the battlefield, bodies were still unburied.
Over the next three days, Gardner did not hesitate to photograph the carnage. On July 6, when he saw the body of a Confederate soldier in an area called “Devil’s Den,” he photographed it. He and O’Sullivan then saw an opportunity for another, more dramatic photograph. They moved the corpse more than 40 yards to what they believed to have been the sharpshooter’s position, and O’Sullivan made another exposure.
The photographs became two of the most famous of the Civil War, but for over 100 years historians did not question the captions Gardner wrote for them in his Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War. These described a “sharpshooter” who had died a slow death and who had spent his final moments thinking of his family. Gardner also wrote that when he returned to Gettysburg in November 1863, the body and the gun were still there.
In 1975, historian William A. Frassanito … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library. He answers a question each week on Facebook. This week’s Ask an Archivist query comes from Kansas.
“Did Knute Rockne ever box Dwight D. Eisenhower? I heard that this took place in Abilene, Kansas, around 1913.” – Anonymous
We have heard this story before. The legend goes that Rockne, who would later gain fame as a football coach for Notre Dame, traveled the country as an exhibition boxer and took on a young Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene. Rockne then attempted to convince him to become a professional boxer.
Unfortunately for presidential and sports historians, this event never took place.
In a 1947 letter to his former aide Harry Butcher, Eisenhower wrote “There is no truth whatsoever in the story about Knute Rockne trying to interest me in a professional boxer’s career. The people who got that story started took two or three little different incidents, put them all together into a single story, and came up with some weird and wonderful ideas.”
Ann Whitman, the president’s personal secretary, wrote in 1956 that, “the President says there is not a word of truth in this–-and that he never met Knute Rockne until he was grown up.”
Library staff answer every reference question we receive, but not all questions will be posted to Ask … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library. He answers a question each week on Facebook. This week’s Ask an Archivist query comes from Pennsylvania.
“Did Eisenhower teach Patton how to drive a tank at Camp Colt in Gettysburg?” Anonymous
Captain George S. Patton knew how to drive a tank by the time Captain Dwight D. Eisenhower was in command of Camp Colt. In November 1917, Patton visited a French light tank training session in the forest of Compiegne where he drove a Renault tank and fired its gun. He was so interested in the machine that his instructors had to find a mechanic to answer his questions.
After taking a course at the army’s first tank school at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Eisenhower was ordered in November 1918 to report to Camp Meade, Maryland. There he joined the 65th Engineers and organized what would become the 301st Tank Battalion. In March he was told that the battalion would go to France and that he would be in command. To his disappointment, he was sent to Camp Colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he was placed in command of the Tank Corps. He was temporarily promoted to lieutenant colonel in October and was told he would leave for France in November to command an armored unit. The armistice was signed before he could … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on February 25, 2013, under - Presidents, - World War I, - World War II, Myth or History.
Tags: Camp colt, Camp Meade, Christopher Abraham, Eisenhower, Fort Leavenworth, Gettysburg, guest post, Patton, tank command, tanks