Cuyahoga County Colored Delegation for Garfield and Arthur
By the time James Garfield sought the presidency in 1880, he already had a long history of support for African-American rights, so those African-Americans who could now vote gravitated toward Garfield and the party of Emancipation.
Garfield joined the Republican Party in Ohio in the 1850s and advocated for an antislavery platform while serving as a state senator. Following a stint as a Union soldier in the Civil War, Garfield was elected to congress, where he joined the Radical Republicans, members who believed that President Andrew Johnson wasn’t fulfilling the promise of promoting and protecting the African-American civil rights for which the Union fought.
Garfield voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted more rights to former slaves. When Johnson vetoed the bill, the Radical Republicans led the congress in overriding him.
In his inaugural address, Garfield said: “The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787.”
During his administration, he appointed African-Americans to several positions, including two former slaves turned abolitionists: Henry Highland Garnet, U.S. ambassador to Liberia, and Frederick Douglass, District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds.
But he didn’t have the chance to help further the African-American progression toward equal rights; he was assassinated in 1881 by Charles J. Guiteau.
About the Emancipation, Garfield noted in his inaugural speech:Those who resisted the change should remember that under our institutions there was no middle ground for the negro race between slavery and equal citizenship. There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen.
He was destined for a statue in a park, and was practicing the pose for it.
William Allen White on William McKinley
Published in The Autobiography of William Allen White (1946)
Ronald Reagan’s “I am Paying for this Microphone!” Moment in 1980
February 23, 1980, during a Republican Primary debate in New Hampshire, Ronald Reagan angrily declared “I am paying for this microphone!” when a moderator tried to turn his sound down.
Reagan wanted the debate to be between multiple candidates, as opposed to a one-on-one with his chief rival, George H. W. Bush, which the local newspaper sponsoring the debate wanted. When the Federal Election Commission ruled that the newspaper couldn’t sponsor a debate that excluded some candidates, Reagan agreed to pay for the event himself.
On the day of the debate, he argued that the others should be included … and then tried to bring them on stage, much to the surprise of the Bush camp, who knew nothing of the plan, or that Reagan’s team had been coordinating with the other candidates all morning.
Hey, haven’t I seen you somewhere before? Why, it’s Vice President Joe Biden at a 1980 press briefing with Hercules Inc. President A.F. Giacco. A major manufacturer of chemical products, Hercules maintained its home office in Wilmington, DE and here we see then-Senator Biden lending his support to the company’s newest expansion project. With many Hercules company photos still to process, I wonder where Delaware’s favorite son will pop up next!
Photo credits: Hercules Inc. Image Collection (2012.017).
For all our Biden fans out there…
"A beautiful goblet of White House champagne" or an "An ugly mug of log-cabin hard cider"
Of the losing Whig candidates in 1836, William Henry Harrison was most successful, so he was chosen to oppose incumbent Martin Van Buren. The Democrats must have been elated: Harrison was old - older by 20 years than Van Buren. And he hadn’t really been involved in the Washington political scene for years. Even with the financial crisis of 1837 it probably seemed like Van Buren could secure a second term.
The law of unintended consequences played out shortly thereafter when a Democratic newspaper in Baltimore openly dismissed Harrison’s candidacy, implying he was a simpleton, ready to be put out to pasture:
"Give him a barrel of hard cider, and settle a pension of $2,000 on him, and our word for it, he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin by the side of the sea-coal fire and study moral philosophy."
The image of Harrison as a log cabin-dwelling “every man,” enjoying a good cider and a warm fire, was exactly what the Whigs needed to energize the masses. Hedging their bets, Van Buren was portrayed as a blue-blooded dandy, aloof and unresponsive to the concerns of the common man. In reality he was born to a humble Dutch farming family and left school at age 14.
Martin Van Buren mechanical pull-tab card from the Syracuse University Library Special Collections Research Center. H/T to ceyths, where I first found it.
"Senator John F. Kennedy addresses the huge crowd that turned out to greet him outside the Citizens for Kennedy-Johnson headquarters at 1431 Chestnut St."
October 31, 1960.
From the George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph collection, Temple University.
Jan. 9, 1955: Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president, spoke to reporters and cameramen on his Gettysburg, Pa., farm. It was unclear if the president had confiscated this camera or wanted a photo of the scrum for himself. Apparently, he had a temper, evidenced in a 1969 article: “Once he topped a tee shot at Augusta and flared up in such anger that Richard Flohr, his Secret Service guard, grew alarmed. Mr. Flohr ran to the general and, in the manner of a top sergeant talking to a buck private, shouted: ‘Now you just cut that out right now, Mr. President. And I mean cut it out, or I’m going to put you in that cart and take you right back to the cottage and lock you in.’ ” His Gettysburg home seemed to have a mellowing effect. Photo: George Tames/The New York Times
I met James Madison today! He gave us a long “briefing” of the issues at hand in his current administration and interacted with us with charming wit.