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Tag: Ronald Reagan

From the Presidential Libraries: Hanukkah at the White House

Today’s guest post comes from Susan K. Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives.

Among the gifts from heads of state that are in the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is a menorah presented to President Truman by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The menorah dates back to at least 1767, when it was donated to a synagogue in Buergel, Germany.

The menorah was used in the synagogue until 1913, when it was found broken in pieces.  A man by the name of Siegfried Guggenheim asked for the broken pieces and provided a replacement. The Guggenheim family restored the old menorah for their personal use, and brought it to the United States when they immigrated in the 1930s.  Eventually, the menorah was acquired by the Jewish Museum in New York.

When Prime Minister Ben-Gurion visited the United States in 1951, he searched for a suitable gift to give to Harry S. Truman in light of the President’s recognition and support of the State of Israel.  The Jewish Museum suggested the menorah, and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion presented it to Truman on his birthday, May 8, 1951.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter participated in lighting a Hanukkah menorah on the Ellipse, just south of the White House.  Each President since then has commemorated Hanukkah at the … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is located in Simi Valley, California—about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles—and holds over 60 million pages of documents, 1.6 million photographs, hundreds of thousands of feet of audiovisual material, and 40,000 artifacts.

In the Air Force One Pavilion, you can tour Air Force One (tail number 27000). This airplane carried Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush all over the world and the United States. This “Flying White House” was integral to Reagan’s presidency: he wrote many speeches, signed legislation, and relaxed while traveling in Air Force One.

You can also visit an exhibit on Presidential motorcades. Vehicles include one of Reagan’s presidential limousines, Secret Service suburbans, and a Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson.

The Museum also features a reconstructed Oval Office, showing how President Reagan decorated using warm, earthy colors. He even displayed a collection of bronzed saddles.

One of President Reagan’s greatest goals while in office was to end the Cold War. He held many diplomatic talks with Mikhail Gorbachev. He  addressed Berlin in 1982 and in 1987, when he spoke in front of the Brandenburg Gate—an ornate 18th-century entrance gate that served as a symbol of European division. The museum features a piece of the Berlin Wall, which stands outside the building. Inside the museum, … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest—May 10

The clothes must make the man! Last week’s photo caption contest winner featured Spring Fashion Week and canvas jumpsuits; this week’s winner pokes gentle fun at what our congressmen might look like before they are suited up for work.

Duke Blackwood, the Director of the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum, took on his guest judging duties with a good humor that may make even the stoniest-faced terra-cotta warrior crack a smile.

Congratulations to Logan! Check your email for a code for a 15% discount in the National Archives eStore.

The original caption of the photo reads: “Photograph of the Reagans standing with the Terra Cotta figures in Xi’an, China” (April 29, 1984. ARC 198547). President Reagan’s 1984 trip to China marked only the second time a U.S. President visited since President Richard Nixon’s historic trip in 1972. Reagan met with Chinese President Li Xiannian in an attempt to resolve diplomatic differences between the U.S. and China. He also toured historical and cultural sites in Beijing with First Lady Nancy Reagan, including the Terra-cotta Army of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China. The terra-cotta soldiers were found in a massive burial site, intended to protect the emperor in the afterlife.

Our last photograph featured orderly soldiers below the ground, so this week we thought we’d take to the unpredictable skies. Put your wittiest captions in the comments below!… [ Read all ]

A Shaky, but Official, Signature

It had not yet been 24 hours since President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt—wounds far more serious than the public was told at the time.

But on the morning of March 31, 1981, the three men he relied on most in these early days of his administration came to see him in his room at George Washington University Hospital, about six blocks from the White House.

Chief of Staff James A. Baker, Deputy Chief Michael Deaver, and Counselor Edwin Meese brought with them some urgent business—a piece of legislation that had to be signed. And it had to be signed that day.

It had passed both houses of Congress and, like all bills sent from Congress to the President, bore the signatures of the Speaker of the House, then Democrat Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, then Republican Strom Thurmond.

The legislation would block an increase in dairy price supports that, without Reagan’s signature on this legislation, would go into effect the next day, April 1, 1981, boosting price supports and costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars. Reagan’s budget makers argued that the mounting costs of the dairy program could run into the billions of dollars.

The President needed to sign this bill that day. He did, right on his breakfast tray. His clear, … [ 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 ]