History of America
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History of America
American History starting with today
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Petitions Ask for Kentucky, Other States, to Secede

Petitions Ask for Kentucky, Other States, to Secede | History of America | Scoop.it

Documenting the Absurdity:

by JOSEPH LORD, WFPL News Louisville

President Obama has been re-elected, a new Congress is taking shape and the American citizenry is ready to move on to tackle the various challenging issues before the nation.

Perhaps not all of the citizenry.

At least a small fraction of people in several states are more interested in calling an end to the Union. Here's an Internet petition asking to remove Kentucky from the United States:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Peacefully grant the State of Kentucky to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.

More than 5,000 people had "signed" the Kentucky secession petition as of Monday afternoon, created Saturday by a "Wesley C."

The petition appears on the WhiteHouse.gov website, of all places, in a section where citizens are encouraged to exercise the First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The petitions are user generated. The section, called "We the People," says:

"We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."

So far, succession petitions have been made for several states. The Texas petition appears to be leading the way -- it has more than 25,000 signers since beginning Friday.

Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and New Jersey are just a few of the other states where hundreds or thousands are signatories to similar secession petitions on the White House website.

This, of course, will lead to nothing, except perhaps a minor embarrassment for the Obama administration's attempt to engage people directly on issues. [MORE]

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President's Weekly Address: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts to Grow the Economy

November 10, 2012

In his weekly address, President Obama says that it's time for Congress to pass the middle class tax cuts for 98% of all Americans. Both parties agree that this will give 98% of families and 97% of small businesses the certainty that will lead to growth, and so there is no reason to wait. On Tuesday, the American people voted for compromise and action, and the President calls on Congress to come together in that spirit to help create jobs and strengthen our economy.

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Healing the divisions in postelection America

Healing the divisions in postelection America | History of America | Scoop.it

by PAULINE ARRILLAGA - Associated Press

APPOMATTOX, Va. — Baine’s Books sits in the heart of this historic village, a Main Street institution where townspeople gather for coffee and conversation and, every Thursday after sundown, an open mic night that draws performers from near and far with guitars and banjos in hand, bluegrass and blues on their lips.

Talk of church and school, and most certainly music, almost always takes precedence at Baine’s. But we’ve stopped in at election time, and Lib Elder is at a corner table tucking into a chicken pot pie, an Obama-Biden button pinned to her blouse right next to her heart.

She knows without asking why a reporter has come to this corner of southern Virginia to write about an election that divided America among so many lines.

Red or blue. Left or right. Big government or small. Tea party or Occupy. Ninety-nine percent or 1. Employed or out-of-work. Black or white or brown.

This is, after all, "’where our nation reunited,’" said Elder, her voice tinged with slight sarcasm as she quotes the slogan adorning every sign into the town where, on Palm Sunday 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War.

It’s a nice idea, that a place could symbolize peace and harmony and, even, healing after what was inarguably the most divisive time in our nation’s history.

It’s just not something that Elder finds particularly authentic after another cutthroat election year across these "united" states.

The acrimony is still too fresh and far too raw. There was the family member, related by marriage, who accused Elder of "hating" her country because she had sent him a fundraising email for Barack Obama; Elder mistakenly believed he was a Democrat. And the white teenagers at the Appomattox Railroad Festival who saw her Obama button and jeered: "You know he’s black, don’t you?"

Peace and harmony? Elder, for one, doesn’t see them. Not in Appomattox. Not in America. Not even now that Election 2012 is behind us at last. [MORE]

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VIDEO: Long lines at Prince William polling place in Dumfries create unrest, outrage

VIDEO: Long lines at Prince William polling place in Dumfries create unrest, outrage | History of America | Scoop.it

by TOM JACKMAN, The Washington Post

UPDATE, Nov. 9: Borden reports that the county electoral board retracted a request of $350,000 to assist the anticipated higher turnout, but the money would not have gone to additional voting machines. So it’s still unclear whether this could have been avoided.

ORIGINAL POST: Regardless of your political persuasion, you should watch and be troubled by this very well composed video of the situation Tuesday at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, where voters waited three to five hours to vote.

Prince William Supervisor Frank Principi (D) says in the video that the registrar requested funds to handle a large turnout, and Prince William County staff “nixed the budget.” The Post’s Jeremy Borden is looking into that.

The video was produced by Story of America: A Nation Divided, a Web series of videos that the filmmakers intend to turn into a full-length documentary. They started in Virginia shortly before the election, and say they intend to expand their scope to a national dialogue on the increasing fragmentation of America. Annabel Park, a documentary filmmaker and political activist, is leading the project.

Other notes about Tuesday night: The River Oaks precinct in Dumfries, where Potomac Middle is located, is reported to be one of the highest minority precincts in Prince William. Borden reported that there were six voting machines for 5,100 registered voters, and that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) and other Democrats showed up there Tuesday night urging voters not to let the long lines deter them. [MORE]

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The Future of the White Man's Party

The Future of the White Man's Party | History of America | Scoop.it

Caption: Former California governor Pete Wilson with his wife Gayle in 1995. During his tenure, Wilson promoted Proposition 187, which would have denied all public services to undocumented immigrants—a move that is credited with turning Latinos in the state against the GOP.

For a glimpse of where the GOP is headed, look to California, where Latinos, Asians, and young people just elected Democratic supermajorities to the state legislature.

by HAROLD MEYERSON, The American Prospect

Over the past 15 years, California’s electorate has changed so dramatically and so quickly that Democrats have often won victories they weren’t even anticipating. In 1998, no one expected Gray Davis to win the governor’s office by 20 percentage points, and the tightly wound Davis, who had no life outside politics, was plainly bewildered by his own emotions during his victory speech on the night of the landslide. This week, no one expected the Democrats to win two-thirds of the seats in the state Assembly (they did expect to win that many in the state Senate, which they did), yet the Democrats won those seats going away. As California law requires a two-thirds vote in both legislative houses to raise any taxes, the Republicans have long used their just-over-one-third representation in those houses to block all tax increases, decimating the state’s schools, colleges, and parks in the process. Now, the Democrats have finally overcome that hurdle—and have become the first party with two-thirds representation in both houses since 1933. [MORE]

Via Eric Byler
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All Americans Win if the GOP Comes Back to Mainstream Reality

There are no words. Just watch. And share.

Via J'nene Solidarity Kay, Eric Byler
Deanna Dahlsad's comment, November 9, 2012 4:07 PM
I think you are having difficulty with the facts.
Deanna Dahlsad's comment, November 9, 2012 4:11 PM
Fact One: We do have the Electoral College and in that sense, along with the increase of democrats in other elected positions, it was a loud & clear message. Fact Two, everything Rachel Maddow listed was a fact for the nation -- and to be celebrated in the spirit of us as a nation. Fact Three, when it comes to compromise, the democrats are not to blame; republicans declared their refusal to participate in government, and fulfilled that one promise. Need more facts? Let me know.
Gracie Passette's comment, November 9, 2012 6:45 PM
I don't view a listing of the facts as destructive. Maddow listed facts ~ sure, facts that progressives like, but facts nevertheless. It's like Party Recon over there, didn't watch/listen to the whole piece or they would have known that facts are needed, not only to have discussions, but for having reality based discussions, something too many, especially those on the far-right like FOX & their viewers, are incapable of facing.
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Virginia 2012: Polling place ordeal at the most African American precinct in Prince William County


This video tells the story of the 2012 election. River Oaks Precinct is the most African American precinct, in the most diverse district, of the only majority minority county in Virginia: Prince William County. On Nov. 6, 2012, the polling place at Potomac Middle School did not register its last vote until10:45 pm, nearly four hours after polls officially close.

According to Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, Virginia law requires that one voting machine be assigned per 750 registered voters. By contrast, Maryland law requires one voting machine per 200 registered voters. This polling place did not appear to adhere to Virginia's law, with only six voting machines and over 5,000 registered voters. 

Election officials told us that the lines had been long all day, and, many people were forced to brave the cold and for as many as five hours. As the sun fell and temperatures dropped, the entire line was moved inside by snaking it through the hallways of the middle school. We arrived shortly before the polls closed at 7 pm. We documented the events that took place between 7 pm and 11 pm.

The Romney campaign had a poll watcher there (he is the man in the three piece suit) at the end of the line. He made sure that no one got in line after 7 pm, which, was also the job of the Greg Jackson, the election officer who decided to go to the back of the line and go through the same ordeal as his neighbors. The Romney poll watcher was polite and professional, as was Mr. Jackson. By the end they seemed to have become friends.

By far the most memorable part of the night was the deep patriotism and civic heroism of the thousands of people who stood in line, some for more than four hours, to cast their vote. According to an Obama volunteer who was there from before the polls opened until after they closed, only 5 people gave up the entire day. Many voters had to come back more than two times because they could not find 3 or more hours in their day when they could be away from their jobs and families. The ordeal became a bonding experience for this community. Several African Americans mentioned the Civil Rights Movement, and the fact that many had fought and died for their right to vote. Although they were exhausted, they were not willing to give up that right. We asked one woman, who was an immigrant voting in her 4th presidential election whether this experience would deter her. She said absolutely not.

There was a 17-year-old African American man, who said he was a Republican, who spent the entire four hours looking after his mother, a Democrat, who would be casting her vote for President Obama. Each time the line moves, the young man carried the chair that his mother had been sitting upon a little bit closer to the polling place. 

At River Oaks precinct, 2,826 votes were cast, 84% for President Obama. On his way to re-election, Obama won the commonwealth of Virginia by 100,499 votes, by a 50.57% to 47.85%.

Description by Eric Byler 

Video by Eric Byler, Bobby Wagnerman, Michael Levin, Annabel Park

Music by Javier Suarez (jahzzar) 

Story of America: A Nation Divided is a web series to be developed into a full-length documentary that engages Americans from across the country in a dialogue about the deep divisions that exist in America today and how we can bridge them to achieve greater unity, democracy and prosperity as a nation. 

Join our journey http://www.storyofamerica.org. Share your stories of what it means to be an American today and find solutions to how we can heal the divide in our country. 

On our website, share your stories of what it means to be an American today and join the dialogue. On instagram and twitter, use #thisismystory 

To make a tax-deductible donation to our project:https://storyofamerica.nationbuilder.com/donate

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The Line It Is Drawn: A Look Back at October 1963

The Line It Is Drawn: A Look Back at October 1963 | History of America | Scoop.it

Nomadic Politics

Of the many critical moments in American history, the year 1963 stands out as one of the most climactic. 

Perhaps it was mainly because that year culminated, as we all know, with the shocking murder of a president in Dallas. 

Yet there was so many things going on and so many stories being told just before that awful moment that were lost in the shadow that fell over the nation after the assassination.
In this post, I'd like to follow a chain of change that was taking place in that year and why the events of that particular year still reverberate today.


Via J'nene Solidarity Kay
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FDR "The Fala Speech"

FDR responds with good humor at Republican attempts to lay blame for the Great Depression at his doorstep. The president however takes exception to those who would assail his scotch terrier Fala.

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FDR: Warning against the smooth evasion

"Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion that says, 'Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.'" 


- Franklin D. Roosevelt: Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y., September 29, 1936.



[Read the whole speech online at The American Presidency Project.]

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Wisdom of Mark Twain

Wisdom of Mark Twain | History of America | Scoop.it

"It was no accident that planted Lincoln on a Kentucky farm, half way between the lakes and the Gulf. The association there had substance in it. Lincoln belonged just where he was put. If the Union was to be saved, it had to be a man of such an origin that should save it. No wintry New England Brahmin could have done it, or any torrid cotton planter, regarding the distant Yankee as a species of obnoxious foreigner. It needed a man of the border, where civil war meant the grapple of brother and brother and disunion a raw and gaping wound." - Mark Twain, quoted in The New York Times

[Image: Young Mark Twain Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-USZ62-28851]

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The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | PBS

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | PBS | History of America | Scoop.it

THE RISE AND FALL OF JIM CROW explores segregation from the end of the civil war to the dawn of the modern civil rights movement.

Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, "Jim Crow" came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States. [MORE]

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Rich Americans Aren't the Real Job Creators

Rich Americans Aren't the Real Job Creators | History of America | Scoop.it

by NICK HANAUER, the Atlantic

In a November 2011 op-ed for Bloomberg View, I argued that rich people in general -- and business-people in particular -- are not job creators. When the economy is understood in 21st-century terms, as an ecosystem, it becomes obvious that jobs don't squirt out of business-people like jelly from doughnuts. Rather, jobs are the consequence of the feedback loop between customers and businesses. For this reason, it is middle-class consumers and the demand they create that are our true job creators, not rich business-people.

Solving the nation's most entrenched problems See full coverage
Given this, it is counter-productive to build a tax system that asymmetrically benefits the people at the very top. We all are better off -- business-people and consumers, rich and poor -- if the burden of taxes is placed at the top and not the middle, enabling middle class citizens to consume, and starting the positive feedback loop of job creation again.

Not surprisingly, this argument has created significant consternation among many of my peers. I hope to redeem myself with my fellow capitalists by arguing that thinking of ourselves as job creators significantly underestimates our contribution to our country. Any knucklehead can create jobs. We capitalists do something far more important.

Capitalists are idea creators, not job creators.

Every business, from the mundane ("How do you make the chip taste more like BBQ?") to the arcane ("How do we turn photons into electrons?"), is based on an idea about how to solve a problem. The process of converting great ideas into products that effectively solve fast-changing human needs is what creates a business. The essence of every business is both an idea for a product that meets an important human need and the ability to make that product efficiently in order to create profit.

The unmatched benefit of capitalism is the way it creates an almost unlimited number of ways for individuals to hatch ideas and then propagate those ideas in the form of businesses. I firmly believe that these businesses can collectively solve human problems faster than any other type of economic organization.

Capitalism, when properly constructed, is the best way ever invented for humans to adapt to changing challenges and conditions. Crucially, it's not just the fact that capitalists create ideas, but also the rate at which those ideas are created to meet the blindingly fast changes in human need that makes such a critical difference and produces so much value. [MORE]

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Americans - a Public Service Film by Kid Rock & Sean Penn

"Americans" is a short, public service film starring Sean Penn and Kid Rock, directed by Jameson Stafford. The goal of the film is to tear down the one-dimensional political stereotypes portrayed by the media by confronting them head on. It reminds us that what really matters is that we're all Americans, with diverse thoughts, opinions and stances on issues. We are millions of unique, individual parts, the sum of which comprise a whole that is the shining beacon of freedom throughout the world.

The film reminds us to be proud of our differences, and to never forget that we're all in this together as Americans.

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SPECIAL BROADCAST of THE BOTTOM LINE with Guest Host CHRIS FRANKS.  Plus, HAL ZIEGLER joins Coffee Party Radio | History of America | Scoop.it




"The Election, the Fiscal Cliff, and the 113th Congress: What's in the Crystal Ball?"

The election may be in our rear-view mirror, but the so-called "fiscal cliff" is just up ahead, right around that hairpin turn.... In the meantime, Speaker Boehner is suddenly stepping up and telling the GOP fringe that they need to get in line.  But will it work? And what about the next Congressional session?

Today's show is guest hosted by


a Denver entrepreneur and political independent who considers himself fiscall conservative and socially liberal.

And premiering today, a new recurring segment from


Hal is a former GOP State Senator and Rep. Hal worked closely with Gov. George Romney decades ago, and, was vocal in his criticism of Gov. Mitt Romney during the recent presidential campaign. Hal will be debuting a weekly segment for Coffee Party Radio, in which he will offer his persepctive on current events and then take questions.







Via Michael Charney
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Annals of Biography: Angels and Ages

Annals of Biography: Angels and Ages | History of America | Scoop.it

by ADAM GOPNIK, The New Yorker

This all began on a very long plane ride, East Coast to West, when I was reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” her book about Abraham Lincoln and his political competitors, and how, in the course of the Civil War, he turned them into a collegial Cabinet. It is a well-told, many-sided story, which attempts to give context to Lincoln without diminishing him, to place him among his peers and place him above them, too.

Coming to the end of the book, to the night of April 14, 1865, and Lincoln’s assassination, I reached the words that were once engraved in every American mind. At 7:22 a.m., as Lincoln drew his last breath, all the worthies who had crowded into a little back bedroom in a boarding house across the street from Ford’s Theatre turned to Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s formidable Secretary of War, for a final word. Stanton is the one with the long comic beard and the spinster’s spectacles, who in the photographs looks a bit like Mr. Pickwick but was actually the iron man in the Cabinet, and who, after a difficult beginning, had come to revere Lincoln as a man and a writer and a politician—had even played something like watchful Horatio to his tragic Hamlet. Stanton stood still, sobbing, and then said, simply, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

It’s probably the most famous epitaph in American biography, and still perhaps the best; reading the words again, I felt a shiver. They seem perfectly chosen, in their bare and stoical evocation of a Lincoln who belongs to history alone, their invocation not of an assumption to an afterlife but of a long reign in the corridors of time, a man now part of eternity.

Overcome again by Lincoln’s example—by the idea of a President who was at once an interesting mind, a tough customer, and a good writer—I decided to start reading the new Lincoln literature. It seemed to be multiplying by fission, as amoebas do, on the airport bookstore shelves. For the flight home, I picked up James L. Swanson’s “Manhunt,” a vivid account of the assassination and the twelve-day search for John Wilkes Booth that followed. Once again, I came to the deathbed scene, the vigil, the gathering. The Reverend Dr. Gurley, the Lincoln family minister, said, “ ‘Let us pray.’ He summoned up . . . a stirring prayer. . . . Gurley finished and everyone murmured ‘Amen.’ Then, no one dared to speak. Again Stanton broke the silence. ‘Now he belongs to the angels.’ ” [MORE]

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Why Mitt Romney Lost: A Simple, Overriding Theory

Why Mitt Romney Lost: A Simple, Overriding Theory | History of America | Scoop.it

by ANDREW COHEN, the Atlantic

Mitt Romney lost because he was too conservative. Mitt Romney lost because he wasn't conservative enough. He lost because of union vote in Ohio. He lost because of the youth vote in Colorado. He lost because he backtracked on abortion and reproductive rights. He lost because he is a rich man who ran during rough economic times pledging to give tax breaks to other rich men. He lost because he didn't turn over his tax receipts. He lost because he is a Mormon. He lost because of Barack Obama. He lost because of Hurricane Sandy.

May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won't have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America -- no legitimate party in any viable democracy -- can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio's Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser's game.

That's my theory, anyway, and I'm sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas. Instead of legislating on the theory that some people are too poor or too old or too lazy to vote, and for all their talk about freedom and the Tea Party, they should try to find ways to encourage the franchise in America, to nurture and protect it.

But I don't want to talk about the losers. There will be plenty of time for that. I want to talk instead about the winners of the election of 2012. They aren't just the returning members of Congress and the president and his cabinet. They aren't just the donors and functionaries who helped fund and operate the massively expensive reelection campaign. They are, to cite just one example, the tens of thousands of citizens all over the country who fought back against the greatest threat to civil rights since the 1960s.

If there is one thing this election has proven, if there is one thing I have come to know, it is that Americans don't like it when their right to vote is threatened. The very people whose votes the Republicans sought to suppress came out to vote. In places like Akron and Orlando and Denver and Milwaukee, they came. They waited in long lines and endured the indignities of poll workers. Yet they were not cowed. Today is their day. A day when they can look at one another and appreciate that they are truly a part of the history of civil rights in this country. [MORE]

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I Can Relate to America's Identity Crisis

I Can Relate to America's Identity Crisis | History of America | Scoop.it
When I was growing up in Korea, being told that you were going to America was like being told that you were going to heaven. In 1978, my family applied to immigrate to the United States from South Korea.
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President Obama: "I'm Really Proud of All of You."

President Obama stopped by campaign headquarters in Chicago and spoke from his heart about how grateful he is for everyone's support.

Every single person who helped build this campaign deserves to see this - watch it and share:


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Why are we so divided? A voter from Mecklenburg, Virginia

Tommy is a wood carving artist who lives in Mecklenburg, VA. He is a Ron Paul supporter who is reluctantly voting for Romney.

Story of America: A Nation Divided is a web series to be developed into a full-length documentary that engages Americans from across the country in a dialogue about the deep divisions that exist in America today and how we can bridge them to achieve greater unity, democracy and prosperity as a nation.

Join our journey http://www.storyofamerica.org. Share your stories of what it means to be an American today and find solutions to how we can heal the divide in our country.. http://www.storyofamerica.org.

On our website, share your stories of what it means to be an American today and find solutions to how we can heal the divide in our country. On instagram and twitter, use #thisismystory

To make a tax-deductible donation to our project: https://storyofamerica.nationbuilder.com/donate

Video by Annabel Park, Eric Byler

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Alben W. Barkley - Paducah's pillar of politics

Alben W. Barkley - Paducah's pillar of politics | History of America | Scoop.it

by JOHN CASHON, Cashon Delivery

If you have driven down Alben Barkley Drive in Paducah, Kentucky, seen Alben Barkley's name on the historical markers in town, flew out of Barkley Regional Airport, or spent the day at Barkley Lake, this name will be familiar to you, but do you really know who he was and his accomplishments?

For those that are history enthusiasts living in the area, Alben Barkley Drive brings back the memories of Paducah’s most famous politician, that had a remarkable career in politics in the House of Representatives, as the Majority Leader in the Senate and as the 35th Vice President of the United States with President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953.

Early Days

Barkley was born November 24, 1877 in a log cabin near Lowes, Kentucky in Graves County, but his given name was Willie Alben Barkley. His parents were John Wilson Barkley and Electra Eliza (Smith) Barkley, which were deeply religious tenant farmers who raised tobacco but later settled on a wheat farm in Hickman County, Kentucky in 1891.

He first attended Marvin College, in Clinton, Kentucky, and graduated in 1897 where he learned that he excelled in speech and debate, all the while working as a full-time janitor in school. Barkley continued his studies at Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, and afterwards, he attended the University of Virginia School of Law and graduated in 1901.

Never liking his name Willie Alben, he legally changed his name to Alben William Barkley. He later commented, "Just imagine the tribulations I would have had. A robust, active boy, going through a Kentucky childhood with the name of 'Willie,' and later trying to get into politics!"

Returning to Kentucky, Barkley clerked for two Paducah attorneys before passing the bar exam in 1901 and opened his own law office the same year. He married Dorothy Brower in 1903 and they had three children: David Murrell, Marion Frances, and Laura Louise.

Barkley decided to run for prosecuting attorney of McCracken County two years later, and he would later tell a story in his memoirs, That Reminds Me, about how he was said to have ridden a mule during the campaign stating, "This story is a base canard, and, here and now, I wish to spike it for all time. It was not a mule—it was a horse.”

From Judge to House of Representatives and the Senate

Working as the prosecuting attorney for four years, Barkley became a County Judge for the McCracken County Court in 1909 and held this position until 1913. It was at this time that he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1912 representing Kentucky’s 1st District.

In Congress, Barkley was heavily influenced by Woodrow Wilson and believed government needed to be flexible and have a willingness to experiment with social and economic programs. He was a proud liberal and progressive declaring, “I was a liberal and a progressive long before I ever heard of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

In 1919, he was a leading figure in creating the Prohibition Amendment and the Volstead Act that was ratified as the 18th Amendment and enacted into law as the National Prohibition Act of 1920 that prohibited the manufacture, sale, transport, import, or export of alcohol beverages.

Serving seven terms in the House of Representatives, Barkley made an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination as governor of Kentucky, and after suffering this defeat in the 1923 campaign, he ran for the United States Senate in 1926.

Even though Barkley lost the election for governor, he did get name recognition which helped him win the 1926 election for Senator and won him the title of 'iron man' because of his ability to give as many as sixteen speeches a day.

When the New Deal was being debated in congress, Barkley worked closely with Majority Leader Joe Robinson from Arkansas, who was very different in style, and they were influential in passing much of the New Deal legislation between 1934 and 1936.

Having worked together in the Democratic minority in the 1920’s, Robinson gave an impression of strength and forcefulness, while Barkley was much better with his oratory skills and usually succeeded by using compromise with his jovial personality and his gift of storytelling. Robinson was happy to let Barkley forge alliances using his skills while he used a mix of threats, favors, and parliamentary skill.

Barkley was known to say about his storytelling ability, "A good story is like fine Kentucky bourbon, it improves with age and, if you don't use it too much, it will never hurt anyone."

In 1937, Joe Robinson passed away leaving a vacancy for the Senate Majority Leader position. Barkley was selected along with Pat Harrison, the chairman of the influential Finance Committee and very popular in the Senate, to compete for the leadership of the Senate.

President Roosevelt did not feel comfortable with Harrison because he would not support his Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937 that would appoint an additional member to the Supreme Court for every sitting justice over the age of 70. This would have increased the Supreme Court by a total of six new judges.

For this reason, Roosevelt privately threw his support behind Barkley and he won by just one vote to become the new Democratic Majority Leader from Kentucky. However, Roosevelt’s ‘court packing plan’, as some called it then, failed to be included in the final amended version of the bill in the Senate.

Barkley was the Senate Majority Leader from 1937 to 1947, and with the Democrats loss of the Senate in 1946, he became the Senate Minority Leader from 1947 to 1949. President Roosevelt, during the 1944 election campaign, chose Harry S. Truman for the Vice Presidential nomination, although Barkley was almost considered for the position.

Barkley continued to support the President's initiatives though, including the passage of the United Nations Charter and the formation of Israel as a nation-state. He was also the chairman of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack while also a member of the Congressional Nazi War Crimes Committee.

On March 10, 1947, Dorothy passed away in Washington D.C. after a long illness from a heart ailment. She had been in a critical condition for nearly three years.

Time as Vice President and his Legacy

When Truman became the President with the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, a Vice President was not picked to replace him but after Barkley’s keynote speech at the 1948 Democratic convention in Philadelphia, where he gave an impassioned speech saying, “Thomas Jefferson did not proclaim that all white men, all black men, or red or yellow men are equal, that all rich or poor men are equal, that all good or bad men are equal. What he declared was that all men are equal”, this speech was the deciding factor for Harry Truman picking Barkley for Vice President.

According to Mark Hatfield with the Senate Historical Office:

"While the president whistle-stopped by train, Barkley made the first "prop stop" campaign by air. He had come a long way since the days when he first campaigned for office on horseback. In six weeks he toured thirty-six states and gave more than 250 speeches. He spoke to so many small audiences that the press dubbed him "the poor man's candidate." But his strength and stamina refuted the charges that he had been too old to run."

This was the historical election where the Chicago Tribune newspaper had the headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman." Truman and Barkley had won when everyone thought they didn't have a chance to succeed.

One evening, Barkley went to his daughter’s house in Washington and was talking about how he should be addressed, because he thought Mr. Vice President was too wordy. Barkley later told in an interview about a conversation with his grandson, Stephen M. Truitt, “Gramps, why not put two little e’s in there between those two big letters and call it Veep?”

The next day, he told the story to the press corps and the name stuck, and from then on, he was called ‘The Veep’.

At this time, Barkley was 70 years old but this did not slow him down. He was the last Vice President to preside regularly over the Senate, and Truman insisted, because of his legislative experience, that he be included in all of the cabinet-level meetings and on the National Security Council.

"He was certainly the first vice president that routinely attended National Security Council meetings", Truitt stated in an interview with NPR, "And part of this was his own personality and the other part of it was Truman liked him and trusted him, and wanted him to do these things. He met with the president all the time, and was very important in his advice-giving to him."

Also, because of Barkley’s talent in public speaking, Truman decided to have him be the administration’s principal spokesman to use his natural sense of humor and a gift of storytelling to help defuse many partisan and personal animosities.

"A Vice-President who is well liked by members of the Senate”, Barkley once stated, “and by the corresponding members of the House in charge of legislation can exercise considerable power in the shaping of the program of legislation which every administration seeks to enact."

Jane Hadley Barkley, her husband Alben W. Barkley Vice President of the United States, 

When asked about the Vice President, Truman replied, “Barkley, as Vice President, was in a class by himself. He had the complete confidence of both the President and the Senate.”

Captivating national attention with their romance in 1949, Barkley began courting Jane Hadley, who was half his age, and the press loved following the romance in the newspapers. On November 18, 1949, they were married in a big ceremony in St. Louis, Missouri.

Barkley's granddaughter, Dorothy Barkley, who was a young girl at the time, recalled the publicity surrounding the wedding, "Their pictures were all over Life Magazine, all sorts of goings on because he was the first Vice President ever married while he was in the White House."

Back in Paducah, Barkley lived in a house called 'Angles' that was built in 1859 by Colonel Quintus Quincy Quigley, who was another famous lawyer back in the nineteenth century from Paducah. A Kentucky historical marker is located at the home that reads:

"Home of Alben W. Barkley, 1937-56. A good example of Greek Revival architecture. Built in 1859 by Colonel Quintus Quincy Quigley. Location on sharp angles of three tracts of land source of its name. In early married life Barkley and his wife dreamed of owning it. Dream realized after 30 years. Beloved home for 19 years while Senator and Vice President."

Mark Hatfield, with the Senate Historical Office, notes that Barkley was described as:

"A storyteller of great repute, Alben Barkley frequently poked fun at himself and his office. He was especially fond of telling about the mother who had two sons. One went to sea; the other became vice president; and neither was heard from again. In Barkley's case, the story was not at all true. He made sure that the public heard from him, and about him, as often as possible. And what the public heard, they liked, for Alben Barkley performed admirably as vice president of the United States."

In 1952, Barkley tried for the nomination for the President of the United States, but he withdrew because many felt he was too old to run. This was a bitter pill for him to swallow, but Barkley accepted the decision and delivered a farewell address to the convention with all of his usual grace and style. When he finished, he was given a forty-five minute ovation out of their respect for him.

Barkley retired afterwards but he was unable to stay retired. Barkley ran for and won his Senate seat back in 1954, against the incumbent Republican Senator John Sherman Cooper. Two years later, at Washington and Lee University, he was invited, on April 30, 1956, to deliver the keynote address at their mock convention.

At the end of the speech, Barkley reminded the audience that he was once again a freshman in the Senate, “ I was a junior congressman, then I became a senior congressman, and then I went to the Senate and became a junior senator, then I became a senior senator, and then Majority Leader of the Senate, and then Vice President of the United States, and now I’m back again as a junior senator. I am willing to be a junior. I’m glad to sit on the back row, for I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord, than to sit in the seats of the mighty.”

These were Alben Barkley’s last words, because shortly after saying this, he collapsed from a heart attack and passed away. Thus ended the career of one of Paducah’s finest heroes.

NPR concluded in their interview with Stephen Truitt:

"In the end, Stephen Truitt says, his grandfather's most profound legacy was the New Deal. Truitt says the program went hand in hand with his grandfather's deeply-held belief that sometimes society needed a little bit of a boost from the government it created to reach its fullest potential."

It is a rare thing to see someone, whose parents were humble Kentucky farmers, achieve the success that Alben Barkley was able to accomplish, showing that a rural location does not decide the fate of one who strives to rise so high in the government. One may not agree with his liberal and progressive ideals, but Paducah has a long history of residents, belonging to both parties, staying current and debating the affairs of the day. He was no exception and took it as far as he could, to the Vice President of the United States.

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Lincoln Assassination Eyewitness (Feb 9, 1956)

Lincoln Assassination Witness appears on I've Got a Secret.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt: Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y. | History of America | Scoop.it

the American Presidency Project

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y.

Transcription of Speech:

Ladies and gentlemen:

From force of long habit I almost said, "My fellow delegates."

Tonight you and I join forces for the 1936 campaign.

We enter it with confidence. Never was there greater need for fidelity to the underlying conception of Americanism than there is today. And once again it is given to our party to carry the message of that Americanism to the people.

The task on our part is twofold: First, as simple patriotism requires, to separate the false from the real issues; and, secondly, with facts and without rancor, to clarify the real problems for the American public.

There will be—there are—many false issues. In that respect, this will be no different from other campaigns. Partisans, not willing to face realities, will drag out red herrings as they have always done—to divert attention from the trail of their own weaknesses.

This practice is as old as our democracy. Avoiding the facts—fearful of the truth—a malicious opposition charged that George Washington planned to make himself king under a British form of government; that Thomas Jefferson planned to set up a guillotine under a French Revolutionary form of government; that Andrew Jackson soaked the rich of the Eastern seaboard and planned to surrender American democracy to the dictatorship of a frontier mob. They called Abraham Lincoln a Roman Emperor; Theodore Roosevelt a Destroyer; Woodrow Wilson a self-constituted Messiah.

In this campaign another herring turns up. In former years it has been British and French- and a variety of other things. This year it is Russian. Desperate in mood, angry at failure, cunning in purpose, individuals and groups are seeking to make Communism an issue in an election where Communism is not a controversy between the two major parties.

Here and now, once and for all, let us bury that red herring, and destroy that false issue. You are familiar with my background; you know my heritage; and you are familiar, especially in the State of New York, with my public service extending back over a quarter of a century. For nearly four years I have been President of the United States. A long record has been written. In that record, both in this State and in the national capital, you will find a simple, clear and consistent adherence not only to the letter, but to the spirit of the American form of government.

To that record, my future and the future of my Administration will conform. I have not sought, I do not seek, I repudiate the support of any advocate of Communism or of any other alien "ism" which would by fair means or foul change our American democracy.

That is my position. It always has been my position. It always will be my position.

There is no difference between the major parties as to what they think about Communism. But there is a very great difference between the two parties in what they do about Communism.

I must tell you why. Communism is a manifestation of the social unrest which always comes with widespread economic maladjustment. We in the Democratic party have not been content merely to denounce this menace. We have been realistic enough to face it. We have been intelligent enough to do something about it. And the world has seen the results of what we have done.

In the spring of 1933 we faced a crisis which was the ugly fruit of twelve years of neglect of the causes of economic and social unrest. It was a crisis made to order for all those who would overthrow our form of government. Do I need to recall to you the fear of those days—the reports of those who piled supplies in their basements, who laid plans to get their fortunes across the border, who got themselves hideaways in the country against the impending upheaval? Do I need to recall the law-abiding heads of peaceful families, who began to wonder, as they saw their children starve, how they would get the bread they saw in the bakery window? Do I need to recall the homeless boys who were traveling in bands through the countryside seeking work, seeking food —desperate because they could find neither? Do I need to recall the farmers who banded together with pitchforks to keep the sheriff from selling the farm home under foreclosure? Do I need to recall the powerful leaders of industry and banking who came to me in Washington in those early days of 1933 pleading to be saved?

Most people in the United States remember today the fact that starvation was averted, that homes and farms were saved, that banks were reopened, that crop prices rose, that industry revived, and that the dangerous forces subversive of our form of government were turned aside.

A few people- a few only—unwilling to remember, seem to have forgotten those days.

In the summer of 1933, a nice old gentleman wearing a silk hat fell off the end of a pier. He was unable to swim. A friend ran down the pier, dived overboard and pulled him out; but the silk hat floated off with the tide. After the old gentleman had been revived, he was effusive in his thanks. He praised his friend for saving his life. Today, three years later, the old gentleman is berating his friend because the silk hat was lost.

Why did that crisis of 1929 to 1933 pass without disaster?

The answer is found in the record of what we did. Early in the campaign of 1932 I said: "To meet by reaction that danger of radicalism is to invite disaster. Reaction is no barrier to the radical, it is a challenge, a provocation. The way to meet that danger is to offer a workable program of reconstruction, and the party to offer it is the party with clean hands." We met the emergency with emergency action. But far more important than that, we went to the roots of the problem, and attacked the cause of the crisis. We were against revolution. Therefore, we waged war against those conditions which make revolutions—against the inequalities and resentments which breed them. In America in 1933 the people did not attempt to remedy wrongs by overthrowing their institutions. Americans were made to realize that wrongs could and would be set right within their institutions. We proved that democracy can work.

I have said to you that there is a very great difference between the two parties in what they do about Communism. Conditions congenial to Communism were being bred and fostered throughout this Nation up to the very day of March 4, 1933. Hunger was breeding it, loss of homes and farms was breeding it, closing banks were breeding it, a ruinous price level was breeding it. Discontent and fear were spreading through the land. The previous national Administration, bewildered, did nothing.

In their speeches they deplored it, but by their actions they encouraged it. The injustices, the inequalities, the downright suffering out of which revolutions come—what did they do about these things? Lacking courage, they evaded. Being selfish, they neglected. Being short-sighted, they ignored. When the crisis came—as these wrongs made it sure to come—America was unprepared.

Our lack of preparation for it was best proved by the cringing and the fear of the very people whose indifference helped to make the crisis. They came to us pleading that we should do, overnight, what they should have been doing through the years.

And the simple causes of our unpreparedness were two: First, a weak leadership, and, secondly, an inability to see causes, to understand the reasons for social unrest—the tragic plight of 90 percent of the men, women and children who made up the population of the United States.

It has been well said that "The most dreadful failure of which any form of government can be guilty is simply to lose touch with reality, because out of this failure all imaginable forms of evil grow. Every empire that has crashed has come down primarily because its rulers did not know what was going on in the world and were incapable of learning."

It is for that reason that our American form of government will continue to be safest in. Democratic hands. The real, actual, undercover Republican leadership is the same as it was four years ago. That leadership will never comprehend the need for a program of social justice and of regard for the well-being of the masses of our people.

I have been comparing leadership in Washington. This contrast between Democratic and Republican leadership holds true throughout the length and breadth of the State of New York. As far back as the year 1910, the old Black Horse Cavalry in Albany, which we old people will remember, was failing to meet changing social conditions by appropriate social legislation. Here was a State noted for its industry and noted for its agriculture—a State with the greatest mixture of population- where the poorest and the richest lived, literally, within a stone's throw of each other—in short a situation made to order for potential unrest. And yet in this situation the best that the Republican leaders of those days could say was: "Let them eat cake." What would have happened if that reactionary domination had continued through all these hard years?

Starting in 1911, a Democratic leadership came into power, and with it a new philosophy of government. I had the good fortune to come into public office at that time. I found other young men in the Legislature—men who held the same philosophy; one of them was Bob Wagner; another was Al Smith. We were all joined in a common cause. We did not look on government as something apart from the people. We thought of it as something to be used by the people for their own good.

New factory legislation setting up decent standards of safety and sanitation; limitation of the working hours of women in industry; a workmen's compensation law; a one-day-rest-in-seven law; a full train-crew law; a direct-primary law—these laws and many more were passed which were then called radical and alien to our form of government. Would you or any other Americans call them radical or alien today?

In later years, first under Governor Smith, then during my Governorship, this program of practical intelligence was carried forward over the typical and unswerving opposition of Republican leaders throughout our State.

And today the great tradition of a liberal, progressive Democratic Party has been carried still further by your present Governor, Herbert H. Lehman. He has begun a program of insurance to remove 'the spectre of unemployment from the working people of the State. He has broadened our labor legislation. He has extended the supervision of public utility companies. He has proved himself an untiring seeker for the public good; a doer of social justice; a wise, conscientious, clear-headed and businesslike administrator of the executive branch of our Government. And be it noted that his opponents are led and backed by the same forces and, in many cases, by the same individuals who, for a quarter of a century, have tried to hamstring progress within our State. The overwhelming majority of our citizens, up-state and down-state, regardless of party, propose to return him and his Administration to Albany for another two years.

His task in Albany, like my task in Washington, has been to maintain contact between statecraft and reality. In New York and in Washington, Government which has rendered more than lip service to our Constitutional Democracy has done a work for the protection and preservation of our institutions that could not have been accomplished by repression and force.

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says, "Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything."

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity—twelve long years of it.

Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: the Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job's being done.

Look to the source of the promises of the past. Governor Lehman knows and I know how little legislation in the interests of the average citizen would be on the statute books of the State of New York, and of the Federal Government, if we had waited for Republican leaders to pass it.

The same lack of purpose of fulfillment lies behind the promises of today. You cannot be an Old Guard Republican in the East, and a New Deal Republican in the West. You cannot promise to repeal taxes before one audience and promise to spend more of the taxpayers' money before another audience. You cannot promise tax relief for those who can afford to pay, and, at the same time, promise more of the taxpayers' money for those who are in need. You simply cannot make good on both promises at the same time.

Who is there in America who believes that we can run the risk of turning back our Government to the old leadership which brought it to the brink of 1933? Out of the strains and stresses of these years we have come to see that the true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning. The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative.

Never has a Nation made greater strides in the safeguarding of democracy than we have made during the past three years. Wise and prudent men- intelligent conservatives—have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve." I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal.

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Thomas Jefferson Letter to George Logan on Nov. 12, 1816

Thomas Jefferson Letter to George Logan on Nov. 12, 1816 | History of America | Scoop.it

This is a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Dr. George Logan who was a medical doctor and great friend to Jefferson:

To George Logan J. MSS.

Poplar Forest Near Lynchburg, Nov. 12. 16.

Dear Sir, - I received your favor of Oct. 16, at this place where I pass much of my time, very distant from Monticello. I am quite astonished at the idea which seems to have got abroad; and this is said to have arisen from a letter of mine to my friend Charles Thompson, in which certainly there is no trace of such an idea. When we see religion split into so many thousand of sects, and I may say Christianity itself divided into it’s thousands also, who are disputing, anathematizing and where the laws permit burning and torturing one another for abstractions which no one of them understand, and which are indeed beyond the comprehension of the human mind, into which of the chambers of this Bedlam would a [torn] man wish to thrust himself. The sum of all religion as expressed by it’s best preacher, ‘fear god and love thy neighbor’ contains no mystery, needs no explanation. But this wont do. It gives no scope to make dupes ; priests could not live by it. Your idea of the moral obligations of governments are perfectly correct. The man who is dishonest as a statesman would be a dishonest man in any station. It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings collected together are not under the same moral laws which bind each of the separately. It is a great consolation to me that our government, as it cherishes most it’s duties to its own citizens, so is it the most exact in it’s moral conduct towards other nations. I do not believe that in the four administrations which have taken place, there has been a single instance of departure from good faith towards other nations. We may sometimes have mistaken our rights, or made an erroneous estimate of the actions of others, but no voluntary wrong can be imputed to us. In this respect England exhibits the most remarkable phaenomenon in the universe in the contrast between the profligacy of it’s government and the probity of it’s citizens. And accordingly it is now exhibiting an example of the truth of the maxim that virtue & interest are inseparable. It ends, as might have been expected, in the ruin of it’s people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on it’s people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Logan and accept yourself my friendly and respectful salutations.

This quote by Jefferson is compelling. Was Jefferson warning about future corporations?

"I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

[Read: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: 1816-1826]

[Image - Thomas Jefferson as President Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-DIG-ppmsca-15715]

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The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. Tools and Activities

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. Tools and Activities | History of America | Scoop.it


This is a copy of a 1965 Alabama Literacy Test used to suppress voting. Take a look at the questions and see if you could answer. [MORE]

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