To mark the beginning of baseball season, Steven Goldman over at SBNation has put together the definitive guide to understanding American history - through presidential first pitches! This post looks at 1910-1945, covering Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and FDR, and we’ve got to say, the pitches alone seem like a pretty good window on presidential style! Also, is it just us, or is there a zombie in the front row at Taft’s game?
JFK and Superman #JFK #jfkpresidentiallibrary (at John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)
Let’s take a moment and consider James K. Polk
and how you could do a perfect ski jump off the end of his mullet.
“I think this would be a good time for beer.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, March 12, 1933
One of the most popular bills enacted during the First100 Days had nothing to do with banking, farms, or public works.
During the 1932 campaign, FDR had come out against Prohibition. The 18th Amendment, ratified 13 years earlier, banned the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors. Meant to end the curse of alcoholism, it had led instead to lawlessness and helped foster organized crime. A constitutional amendment to repeal it was working its way through the state legislatures. But Roosevelt saw a way to quench the voters’ thirst more quickly. He signed into law the Beer-Wine Revenue Act that legalized (and taxed) beverages containing no more than 3.2 percent alcohol—which the authors of the new law carefully defined as “non-intoxicating.” Millions of Americans celebrated the return of legal beer. Prohibition was officially repealed by the 21st Amendment in December 1933.
William Jennings Bryan at the Southern Pacific Depot at 3rd and Townsend in San Francisco. Bryan was in town for the 1920 Democratic Convention.
Bryan, a three-time presidential candidate, hoped to convince the Party to support Prohibition. With that failure, any lingering hope that the Democrats might single him out for nomination again faded as well. According to The New York Times, July 7, 1920:
There were a few cries for Bryan, but the “Commoner,” who had met defeat over his platform and had nothing more to do with the convention, was nowhere in sight. Chairman Robinson then, at 3:30 o’clock, announced the adjournment of the convention sine die.The Democrats instead nominated Ohio Governor James Cox and then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The photo is in one of two volumes from Hamilton Henry Dobbin (1856-1930) titled “Album of San Francisco.”
PHOTO ALBUM-VAULT: ** fc917.9461 A3, Vol. II, page 218 bottom left.California Hist. Room (CALIF) : Picture Collection, California State Library Search: Picture Catalog / “William Jennings Bryan arriving in San Francisco.”
So I’m going through some of my grandparents things in the garage, old newspapers, magazines and the like, and I come across this disturbing photo and caption. I was not aware that it was ever kosher to open mouth kiss your grandad.
"Puertorriqueño! Hispano! Kennedy Merece su Voto"
This New York Spanish-language brochure urges Puerto Ricans and Hispanics to vote for John Kennedy (“Kennedy Deserves your Vote”) in the 1960 presidential election.
Fresh out of law school, the future president first hoped he could be one of J. Edgar Hoover’s agents
The abridged biography of Richard Nixon, as most know it, goes something like this. Born the son of a grocer and housewife, Nixon grew up in southern California and attended Whittier College, a small liberal arts college less than 20 miles from Los Angeles. He graduated from Duke University’s law school, moved home to California and started practicing law. He was first elected as a U.S. congressman in 1946 and then a senator in 1950, then served as vice president and eventually the president, before resigning in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
The National Archives, however, adds a surprising little insert into that timeline. That is, a 24-year-old Nixon applied to be a special agent in the FBI in 1937.
See Nixon’s FBI Application and read more at Smithsonian.com.
President William McKinley and his wife take part in the parade of the Fiesta de las Flores in Los Angeles, in May of 1901. One report estimates 20,000 roses adorned the float.
McKinley arrived on the 8th, and it’s likely the parade took place on the 9th. A Metropolitan News-Enterprise article from 2007 recounts the President’s visit from news reports at the time:
“The approach to the city of Los Angeles was heralded by a terrific din which could be heard for miles. Steam whistles screamed, cannon boomed and as the train passed through the Chinese quarter of the city long strings of firecrackers hung from awnings exploded like the continuous rattle of musketry.”According to the Historical Society of Southern California:
Shortly after 2:30 p.m., the train pulled into the Arcade Depot at Fifth Street and Central Avenue. Alighting from it was the president of the United States, William McKinley, along with his entourage.
They made their entrance “[a]mid the blowing of whistles and shouts of welcome from thousands of people,” as the Los Angeles Evening Express’ edition that night recites. The account adds that the shouting and cheering was “heard all over the downtown district.”
An editorial in that edition remarks that “Southern Californians have been counting time by months, by weeks, by days, by hours and finally by minutes in anticipation of greeting” the president.
The Fiesta de las Flores was a later embodiment of the Fiesta de Los Angeles which had been cancelled for three years due to insecurities about its Spanish character during the Spanish-American War.Photo via the Center for Southwest Research, William A. Keleher Collection University Libraries, University of New Mexico
Like the Fiesta de Los Angeles, the celebration was meant to attract tourists and stimulate commerce for the city of Los Angeles and the surrounding communities, but its themes focused less on California’s Spanish Colonial past and highlighted its more contemporary and patriotic attributes. The first Fiesta de las Flores coincided with President William McKinley’s visit to Los Angeles in 1901.
Top headline from the Los Angeles Herald, May 10, 1901, via the California Digital Newspaper Collection