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Tag: John F. Kennedy

Amending the Constitution: 100 Days to 200 Years

The Constitution hasn’t changed much since it was adopted in 1787.

However, it has been tweaked by 27 amendments—some were ratified in a few months, another took more than two centuries.

The ink on the Constitution had barely dried in 1787 when people discovered what it did not say. It did not spell out adequately, they argued, the individual rights that citizens of the United States had under the Constitution.

So James Madison, the “father of the Constitution” and a member of the House of Representatives from Virginia, went to work.

The result: 12 amendments. They were approved by Congress in late 1789 and sent to the 13 states for ratification, which, then as now under the Constitution, required three-quarters of the state legislatures or constitutional conventions.

Twelve? Yes, but only ten (originally numbers three through 12), known to us all today as the Bill of Rights, were approved. It took 811 days to ratify those ten, and they became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. Each December 15, we observe Bill of Rights Day.

The proposed first amendment, dealing with congressional apportionment, has never been ratified. The proposed second amendment, dealing with congressional pay, was approved by the Michigan and New Jersey legislatures on the same day in 1992—more than 202 years after Congress submitted it to the 13 states. By 1992, … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: The John Fitzegerald Kennedy Library and Museum

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is located in Boston. The staff collect, preserve, and make publicly available over 48 million items related to the 35th President. These records include not only JFK’s writings and belongings, but also records of some of his family members, his administration officials, and other individuals and organizations.

The permanent exhibits include materials from his 1960 Presidential campaign against then-Vice President Richard Nixon; the “Space Race” exhibit, featuring the Freedom 7 space capsule; a collection of Kennedy’s personal effects from the Oval Office; and video samples of the President’s televised press conferences—Kennedy used television extensively  to communicate with his constituents.

If you love Jackie Kennedy’s iconic style, check out the permanent exhibit “First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy” on her involvement in American arts and culture. The library also holds many of Jackie Kennedy’s clothes, photos of which are online.

The famous “pink coat,” designed by Oleg Cassini, was worn by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on her arrival in New Delhi, India, during her state visit on March 12, 1962. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Genealogists might enjoy the fascinating history of the Kennedy and Fitzgerald families, which is on permanent display with a collection of family heirlooms, artifacts, and photographs.

The library holds the world’s largest collection of Ernest Hemingway archival materials. President Kennedy was … [ Read all ]

Say cheese, Mr. President: White House photographers at the Truman Library

Only 43 men in the history of the United States have held the title of President.

That’s a fairly small group , smaller than your average NFL team. But smaller still is the group of professionals who have held the title as the President’s chief photographer. To date, only nine men have served as the official White House Photographer.

President John F. Kennedy first appointed photographer Cecil Stoughton in 1960 in the role of White House Photographer. In the nearly 50 years following that first appointment, Presidential photographers have served as visual historians of the President’s daily life.

These photographers captured rare glimpses inside the White House and the historic moments of the Presidents they served. In addition to iconic images that enter the public’s memory of the President, private moments are captured as well.

On October 21, 2011, the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, is excited to share the works of these photographers with  the exhibition “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office.”

The exhibit displays images from the 1960s, when the first Presidential photographer was hired, to today’s unprecedented coverage of Barack Obama. The National Geographic exhibition features works by veteran presidential photographers including David Hume (who photographed Gerald Ford), David Valdez (George H.W. Bush), Bob McNeely (Bill Clinton), and Eric Draper (George W. Bush).

This tradition continues today as the 44th President’s chief … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: National Waffle Day

Want a waffle with that earthshake?

All Virginia earthquake jokes aside, today is a momentous day indeed. On this day in 1869, Dutch American Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York, received a U.S. patent for the first waffle iron. Described as simply a “device to bake waffles,” the waffle iron was heated over a coal stove, and batter was poured on the griddle. Then the cover was shut, and after a few minutes, the iron was flipped over to cook the other side of the waffle. Breakfast would never quite be the same.

By the 1930s, the honeycombed griddle was a standard appliance in American kitchens, thanks to General Electric’s invention of the electric waffle iron. Responding to the demand, the Dorsa brothers created an easy waffle mix in the mid-1930s that would eventually become the frozen waffle brand Eggo. Belgian waffles—thick, fluffy waffles dressed with strawberries and whipped cream—were an immediate hit with Americans when Maurice Vermersch debuted his wife’s waffle recipe at the 1964 World’s Fair in Chicago. Today, waffles are a ubiquitous item that can be found in the frozen foods section of grocery stores and on breakfast menus everywhere.

But waffles of all sorts have been around far longer than 1964 or 1930—or even 1869.

Food history suggests that the earliest form of the waffle occurred thousands of years ago in ancient Greece. … [ Read all ]

Reverse the (Zero) Curse

When Ronald Reagan survived the attempt on his life on March 30, 1981, and went on to serve two full four-year terms, he broke what some people call “the year-ending-in-zero” curse.

It goes like this: Every President elected in a year ending in zero since 1840 had died in office.

William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, died after one month in office of pneumonia; he also was our shortest serving President. On his inauguration day, then on March 4, he gave a two-hour speech without hat or topcoat, then rode through the streets of Washington. He was succeeded by John Tyler. (Remember Tippecanoe and Tyler too!)

Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated a month into his second term, on April 12, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth. He was succeeded by Andrew Johnson.

James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was assassinated in 1881 after only 199 days in office, succeeded by Chester A. Arthur. William McKinley, elected in 1896 and reelected in 1900, was mortally wounded in September 1901 and died eight days later, succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt.

Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died in 1923 of a heart attack and was succeeded by Calvin Coolidge. Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected to his third term in 1940, died early in his fourth term in April 1945 and was succeeded by Harry S. Truman.

And John … [ Read all ]