John Wilkes Booth

March 4 In Presidential History

March 4 is part of Presidential history from 1789 through 1933, as the 20th Amendment, ratified later that year, changed Inauguration Day to January 20, starting in 1937.

March 4, 1789 was the day that the newly ratified Constitution went into effect, but George Washington was not in New York City on that day to be inaugurated the first President, only arriving 57 days late and being inaugurated at Federal Hall in lower Manhattan on April 30, 1789, so therefore did not serve a full eight years, as his second term ended on March 4, 1797.

March 4, 1801 saw the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, and the world witnessed the first peaceful transition of power from one political party to another, and the losing party and candidate gracefully exiting.

March 4, 1829 saw the inauguration of Andrew Jackson, “the people’s President”, first born as NOT part of the aristocracy, and seen as representing the “common man”.

March 4, 1841, saw the inauguration of the first Whig President, William Henry Harrison, who gave the longest inauguration speech without a topcoat in cold, rainy conditions in Washington, DC, and proceeded to fall into illness, believed to be pneumonia, confined to bed and at times in a coma, until he died exactly one month later, April 4, 1841.

March 4, 1857, President James Buchanan was so sick that he considered bypassing a public ceremony of inauguration, but went through the motions, and then was in bed recovering for two weeks, before being able to lead the nation.

March 4, 1861, after a dangerous trek from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC, and surviving a potential plot on his life (Baltimore Plot), Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the first Republican President, in the midst of seven states having declared their secession from the Union, and only six weeks to the outbreak of the Civil War.

March 4, 1865, the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, and the giving of the most famous Inaugural Address, “With Malice toward none, with Charity for all”, Lincoln did not know that his future assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was in the inauguration crowd, and was moving toward the Inauguration stand as Lincoln spoke.

March 4, 1885, Grover Cleveland was sworn in as the first Democratic President since before the Civil War.

March 4, 1913, Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as the first Democratic President in a generation, and only the second since the Civil War.

March 4, 1933, the last such inauguration date, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as the nation was in the worst moments of the Great Depression, and he gave the second most remembered Inauguration speech, “Let me assert my firm belief, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, and rallied the nation around what came to be known as the New Deal.

Three “Unknown” Potential Presidents In Two Assassination Incidents: Abraham Lincoln And William McKinley

As discussed in my new book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA, in two of our tragic assassinations of American Presidents,  there are three, relatively unknown, potential Presidents who could have emerged.

Two of these individuals are relevant to the Abraham Lincoln Assassination–President Pro Tempore, Senator Lafayette Foster, of Connecticut; and Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.

IF Vice President Andrew Johnson had been killed when Lincoln was, on April 14, 1865, as he was supposed to be under the John Wilkes Booth plot against the US Government, the next in line under the Presidential Succession Act of 1792 would have been Lafayette Foster, an obscure member of the Senate.

IF Lincoln had not replaced first time Vice President Hannibal Hamlin with Andrew Johnson, Hamlin would have become President, instead of Johnson.

Also, when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, only six months in office, succeeded him, but IF first term Vice President Garret Hobart had not died in office of heart disease in 1899, it is likely he would have been Vice President in the second term, and would, therefore, have become President.  We might not even know who Theodore Roosevelt was, as simply a New York Governor, but not of national significance, other than his role in the Spanish American War as a “Rough Rider” in Cuba.

So these three “unknown” potential Presidents–Lafayette Foster, Hannibal Hamlin, and Garret Hobart—remain in relative obscurity in history, and Andrew Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt became famous!

150th Anniversary Commemoration Of Lincoln Assassination Live on C Span 2 AND C Span 3–American History TV Tonight And Wednesday Morning!

C-Span 3–American History TV–is a wonderful station well worth watching on a regular basis! So is C Span 2!

Tonight, starting at 8 pm, the ceremonies commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln Assassination at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, DC, will be aired live, with the exact moment of assassin John Wilkes Booth’s shot at 1015 pm into the skull of Lincoln, and the candlelight vigil after this shocking event, including the carrying of Lincoln’s body across the street to 516 10th Street NW to the Petersen House.

The next morning, at 7 am, C Span 2 and or 3 will cover the moment of the declaration of Lincoln’s death at 722 am and the reaction afterwards, with President Barack Obama expected to issue a declaration of a Day of Remembrance, for what is considered the most path breaking single moment in all of American history!

The sad thing is that a pro Confederate hate group is going to “celebrate” the assassination of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, a commentary on how the Civil War has not fully ended, and also a statement of the hatred and division that still exists in some people’s heads who are, either, descendants of the Confederate troops who fought the Union in the Civil War, or are simply racists and secessionists, who still dream of breaking away from the United States, or plotting against its leadership, including President Obama, who has had more death threats in office than anyone since Lincoln.

And a reminder that my forthcoming book devotes Chapter 2 to the Lincoln Assassination, and also devotes part of Chapter 16 to the death threats, which are constant, against President Obama.

Republicans, The Lincoln Lie, And Rand Paul’s Ambitions For President In 2016

The Republican Party loves to claim a connection to Abraham Lincoln, even though they have totally repudiated everything he stands for.

They honor his memory, particularly now on the 149th Anniversary of his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. But they favor states rights, nullification, and support back tracking on civil rights, all of which the Confederate and Border South advocated when they were Democrats, and now when they are Republicans, and control most seats in Congress and most state legislatures in those states.

But when seeking the Presidency, these Southern and Border state Republicans have no problem in trying to appeal to groups they have been working against.

A great example is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, known for his doubts about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and about overseas military bases and involvement in world affairs.

Suddenly, while in New Hampshire appealing for support for President, he expresses concern for groups that have been totally ignored by his party, including African Americans, Latinos and Hispanics, women, and poor people, although there is no evidence of a real transformation.

And now he is no longer willing to condemn Dick Cheney and the Iraq War, and backs away from his isolationist views of the past, and that must make his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, wince!

It is clear that Rand Paul is a total charlatan, a phony, who cannot be believed or trusted, either the “old” libertarian Rand Paul, or the newer, transformed model, to be our President!

The Most Significant Dates In Presidential History Related To Four Great Presidents!

Every year as we reach mid April, we are reminded of the most significant dates in Presidential history related to four great Presidents, all of whom represent the best of our history.

April 12 is the anniversary of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, our greatest President of the 20th century, the promoter of the New Deal to react to the Great Depression, and also the leader through most of the fight against Fascism and Nazism in World War II.

It is also the anniversary of Harry Truman becoming President suddenly, and filling the shoes of FDR with courage and decisiveness, bringing about the end of World War II; confronting the Soviet Union in the Cold War; and promoting the expansion of the New Deal, the beginning of the end of racial segregation; and the recognition of Israel.

April 13 is the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence; doubled our territory through the Louisiana Purchase agreement with France; kept us out of war with Great Britain with his understanding that we could not fight them with a chance to be victorious; and was a genius in so many ways, without a doubt the most brilliant person ever to occupy the Presidency.

April 14 marks the sad anniversary of Abraham Lincoln being shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater, and his death the next morning, April 15, but having brought about the victory of the Union over the Confederacy and the enunciation of the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation.

The ranking of these Presidents on the C-Span list of 2009 is Lincoln as number one, FDR as number three, Truman as number five, and Jefferson as number seven.

We are fortunate to have had such great leadership from these four Presidents, who had, overall, a greater effect on American history, than any other Presidents we have had!

April A Particularly Historic Month In America’s Past

The month of April is a particularly historic month in America’s past in so many ways, with 20 significant events listed below.

April 2, 1917—President Woodrow Wilson asks the Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks.

April 4, 1968—The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

April 6, 1917—Congress votes for entrance into World War I against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks.

April 9, 1865—General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, marking the official end of the Civil War.

April 12, 1861—The Civil War begins, with the South Carolina attack on the federal military fort, Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

April 12, 1945—President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Harry Truman becomes President.

April 13, 1743—President Thomas Jefferson is born in Virginia.

April 14, 1865—President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, dying the next morning at 722 AM

April 17, 1961—A failed attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro failed, coming to be known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and helped to lead to the later Cuban Missile Crisis, the greatest challenge faced by President John F. Kennedy.

April 18, 1775—The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, inspiring the first armed uprising against British oppression, occurred.

April 18, 1906—The highly destructive San Francisco Earthquake occurred, destroying much of the city, and killing 4,000 people.

April 19, 1775—The American Revolution began, with the Battle of Lexington and Concord outside Boston, Massachusetts.

April 19, 1993—The Waco, Texas tragedy of the death of 82 people in the Branch Davidian religious compound, consumed by fire, after an intervention by armored vehicles and federal agents occurred, inspiring conspiracy theories which led to the event below.

April 19, 1995—The worst domestic terrorist act in American history occurred, when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building, killing 168 people and wounding about a thousand others.

April 20, 1914—The Ludlow Massacre of miners by company hired National Guardsmen, killing 19 people, occurred in Colorado over a desire for recognition of the United Mine Workers for the coal miners.

April 20, 1999—The Columbine Massacre in Littleton, Colorado, led to the worst mass shooting of students and teachers in public schools until the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.

April 21, 1836— The Battle of San Jacinto near Houston, Texas, led to the victory of Texans led by Sam Houston over the Mexican army of General Santa Anna, leading to Texas Independence.

April 22, 1994—President Richard Nixon dies at the age of 81.

April 24, 1800—The national library of America, the Library of Congress, is established in Washington, DC.

April 30, 1789—George Washington is inaugurated as the first American President at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan.

Rapidly Growing Polarization Threatens Safety Of President Obama And Vice President Biden!

As the fury and anger of critics of President Obama and Vice President Biden on so many issues—the debt ceiling, gun control legislation, Cabinet nominees, gay rights, immigration reform, climate change, and foreign policy controversies (including a nuclear Iran, the Syrian Civil War, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea)— continues to escalate to dangerous emotional levels, the safety of both men is, more than ever, a subject of great concern not often directly talked about publicly.

The argument could be that both the President and Vice President have exceptional Secret Service security, and that we need not worry.

But as one realizes as we begin the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination this coming November 22, no security detail can guarantee the safety of any President, Vice President, or anyone else.

There is always the “lone wolf” out there, ready to sacrifice himself to gain glory, to make a political point, to act out hatred of someone, knowing they will be part of the American history story forever, as much as John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz and Lee Harvey Oswald—the assassins of Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy, respectively!

And the rhetoric that has become “normal” these days is far greater than it was even when John F. Kennedy was traveling to Dallas, Texas, almost 50 years ago.

And we have talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel who thrive on building hate and animosity and conspiracy theories, and will stop at nothing in their hateful and divisive rhetoric!

And we have the power of pressure groups, and not just the National Rifle Association, but many others, who ratchet up the stress and tension by making it seem like the world will end, due to the federal government passing legislation or extending executive authority, as if we are Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, or Communist China, when our history and our heritage have nothing to do with the history of those nations!

As we come up to the second inauguration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, we all need to do a lot of praying that the polarization which exists will not lead to a greater tragedy which solves nothing, and just would show the depths of the threats we face from right wing wingnuts who want to set back the progress of America, and are delusional about the world they live in!

An Eventful Four Days In American History–April 12-15

Every day in the calendar year one can find historical events of great significance, but in many ways, the days from April 12 to 15 are particularly outstanding for turning point moments in American history.

April 12 is the day the Civil War began at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina in 1861.

April 12 is also the day of the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, to go into space in 1961.

Sadly, April 12 is also the day of the death of the greatest President of the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945.

April 13 marks the birthday of one of our greatest Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, in 1743.

April 14 is another sad day, marking the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President, shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, and dying the morning of April 15, 1865, at 7:22 AM, at the Peterson House across the street.

Also, on April 15, 1947, the nation witnessed the racial integration of baseball with the courage and skills of second baseman Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Any four day period that includes the birthday of a President, the death of our two greatest Presidents, the beginning of the most significant event in American history (the Civil War), the ushering in of the Space Age for the United States, and the integration of major league baseball, is simply an amazing four days!

The Dangers Of Political Extremism: Assassination Of Political Leaders

Today is a day to dwell on the dangers of political extremism, the kind of rhetoric that we have been witnessing more than ever since the Great Recession occurred in 2008 and after. The election of the first African American President in 2008 has added to the cauldron.

The chasm between the political parties is wider than ever, and the hot rhetoric displayed on much of talk radio and Fox News Channel is more intense than ever, and will, unfortunately, get worse as the heat of the Presidential campaign intensifies.

Political extremism of the past led to political assassination in American history, as witness:

Abraham Lincoln, murdered at the end of the Civil War, April 14, 1865, by a Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth.

William McKinley, murdered by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, on September 14, 1901.

John F. Kennedy, murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, a supporter of Fidel Castro and Cuba, 48 years ago on this date, and being commemorated today.

Martin Luther King, Jr,, murdered by a racist, James Earl Ray, on April 4, 1968.

Robert Kennedy, murdered by an Arab sympathizer, Sirhan Sirhan, on June 5, 1968.

These five assassinations, along with the assassination by mentally ill people of James Garfield and Huey Long; and the attempted assassinations of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan are constant warnings of the dangers of violence once passions are aroused to a dangerous level.

When one considers that an individual was recently arrested for having shot at the White House, and perceived as a danger to President Barack Obama, it makes one feel a chill go through his spine, this on top of a similar incident under Bill Clinton.

Our nation’s leaders are under constant threat, and we need to tone down our rhetoric in memory of the death of John F. Kennedy nearly a half century ago, as we do not want to go through the horror and pain of such an event ever again!

The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln 1865: Still Affecting America Today!

On this day, at around the hour I am writing this, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, by actor John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, who wished to reverse the Union victory accomplished five days earlier by the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Lincoln looks better all of the time, and we are now commemorating the sequicentennial of the Civil War, which lasted officially from April 12, 1861 to April 9, 1865, and killed two percent of the population, approximately 620,000 men!

The sectionalism that helped to cause the Civil War still exists, and much of the South is celebrating the Civil War anniversary, rather than just commemorating it!

American history would have been quite different if Lincoln had lived, and it is still the greatest human tragedy of the nation’s history, as far as any individual’s role in history is concerned.

Much is published regularly about Lincoln, but the mountain of material never stops, and a lot of attention will be given to it over the next four years because of it being 150 years ago, a notable anniversary!

A movie well worth seeing, opening tomorrow, is THE CONSPIRATOR, which portrays the assassination of Lincoln, and the supposed complicity of Mary Surratt, who ran the rooming house where the Lincoln conspiracy was discussed by the group involved in the plot, including her son, John Surratt, who escaped punishment for his complicity in the event, but had his mother become the first woman executed in American history, due to a military tribunal illegally condemning four of the conspirators to death, rather than having trial by a civilian jury!

The movie informs us of the unconstitutional actions taken by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was in such a hurry to eliminate the conspirators that he broke the Bill of Rights, a troubling followup to the tragedy of the Civil War!

It is a warning that even in crisis, we must not forget the Constitution and Bill of Rights, too often ignored in the name of national security!