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Persons of Interest: William Borah

William Borah was a powerful United States Senator from Idaho. He sat in the senate for 33 years and wielded a lot of influence. He ran for President in 1936 and while he was not successful, he left quite a legacy, even though today not many people have ever heard of him.



William Edgar Borah was born in Jasper Township, Illinois on June 29, 1865. His parents, William and Elizabeth, were farmers.He was the seventh of ten children, and the third son. Borah was not considered to be a good student. After attending Tom's Prairie School, his father sent him to Southern Illinois Academy in 1881, to train for the ministry. But Borah was expelled in 1882. He ran away from home with an travelling Shakespearean company, but his father convinced him to return. He became interested in the law, and managed to convince his father to let him pursue this career rather than the ministry. In 1883 he went to live with his sister Sue in Lyons, Kansas. Her husband, Ansel M. Lasley, was an attorney.

Borah briefly worked as a teacher, but lost that job. In 1885 he enrolled at the University of Kansas. He contracted tuberculosis in early 1887, and had to return to Lyons, where his sister cared for him in his illness. He began to read law under Ansel Lasley's supervision. Borah passed the bar examination in September 1887 and went into partnership with his brother-in-law. He was appointed city attorney for Lyons in 1889. In October 1890, wanting a change, but uncertain of his destination, he boarded the Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha and onn the advice of a gambler on the train, Borah decided to settle in Boise, Idaho.

Idaho had just become a state in 1890. The state capital of Boise was considered a boom town. Borah prospered there and in 1892 he became head of the Republican State Central Committee. He served as political secretary to Governor William J. McConnell and in 1895 married the governor's daughter, Mary.

In 1896, Borah abandoned the Republican Party to support Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Borah, like Bryan, was a supporter of silver as a basis of currency and this position was extremely popular in Idaho. Borah ran for the House of Representatives that year, but knew he had little chance of winning. In 1898, Borah supported the Spanish–American War, though he remained loyal to the Silver Republicans. By 1900, Borah was not as strong a supporter of silver due to increased gold production and national prosperity, and he returned to the Republican Party and campaigned for William McKinley's re-election.

In 1902 Borah sought election to the Senate. At the 1902 Idaho state Republican convention, a majority supported Borah, but the choice of senator was generally decided by the caucus of the majority party in the legislature. In the 1902 election, Republicans retook control in the legislature. When the legislature met in early 1903, Borah was unsuccessful in his bid for the senate. He did not get discouraged and pursued the next senate vacancy in 1907. Borah campaigned to end the caucus's role in selecting the Republican nominee for Senate, arguing that it should be decided by the people, in a convention. He made a deal with a potential Republican rival, Governor Frank Gooding, in which Borah would be nominated for Senate and Gooding for re-election and on August 1, 1906. Both men received the state convention's endorsement by acclamation. Voters re-elected Gooding, and selected a Republican legislature, which in January 1907 electing Borah to the Senate.

Congress's regular session began in December, allowing Borah time to participate in two major trials. He prosecuted union leader Big Bill Haywood, who was tried for conspiracy in the murder of ex-governor Steunenberg. The former governor was killed on December 30, 1905 by a bomb planted on the gate at his home in Caldwell. A man registered at a local hotel named Harry Orchard, was arrested as the assassin. Orchard implicated four labor leaders, including Haywood, who was extradited from Colorado to Idaho in February 1906. Haywood's trial began on May 9, 1907. His defense team was led by Clarence Darrow. Haywood was acquitted at trial, but the trial also elevated Borah's profile.

Meanwhile, Borah and others were indicted in federal court for land fraud, having to do with the acquisition by the Barber Lumber Company of title to timber land claims. The United States Attorney for Idaho, Norman M. Ruick, got a grand jury to indict Borah, but the accusation was seen as political. The trial began in September 1907. The defense case consisted almost entirely of Borah's testimony, and the jury quickly acquitted him.

Borah went to Washington in December 1907. It was the custom that junior senators would wait a year before giving their maiden speech, but at President Theodore Roosevelt's request, Borah spoke in April 1908 in defense of Roosevelt's dismissal of over a hundred African American soldiers in the Brownsville who were accused of having shot up a Texas town. The accusations were later deemed to be motivated by racism, and in 1972, the dismissals were reversed.

Borah became one of a growing number of progressive Republicans in the Senate. He promoted the Seventeenth Amendment, providing for the direct election of senators by the people.

In 1912 Borah opposed President William Howard Taft on a number of issues and in March he announced his support of the candidacy of Theodore Roosevelt over Taft for the Republican presidential nomination. Most delegates to the 1912 Republican National Convention in Chicago selected by primary supported Roosevelt, but Taft's control of the party machinery gave him the advantage. When it became clear Taft would be renominated, Roosevelt and his supporters bolted the party. Roosevelt asked Borah to chair the organizational meeting of his new Progressive Party, but Borah did not wist to leave the Republican Party. When Roosevelt came to Boise on a campaign swing in October, Borah sat on the platform as Roosevelt spoke, though he was unwilling to formally endorse him.

The Republicans both lost the presidency with Wilson's inauguration and their majority in the Senate. In the reshuffle of committee assignments that followed, Borah was given a seat on Foreign Relations. He would occupy it for the next quarter century. Borah generally approved of many of Wilson's proposals, but he voted against the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. He opposed monopolies and believed the new Federal Trade Commission would be under the control of the trusts.

In 1913 Borah clashed with Wilson and his Secretary of State, Bryan, over Latin American policy. Borah was concerned about the potential for the U.S. to expand into Latin America, something Borah opposed. He and Wilson clashed over policy towards Mexico, then in the throes of revolution. He felt that Wilson was meddling in Mexican affairs and felt that Mexicans should decide who ran Mexico.

When World War I began in 1914, Borah felt that the U.S. should stay out of it and he voted for legislation requested by Wison barring armament shipments to the belligerents. He was vigilant in his support for U.S. neutrality, though he was outraged by the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans. Borah was considered as a possible candidate for president in 1916, but gained little support. When the Republicans nominated Charles Evans Hughes, Borah campaigned for him.

After Germany resumed unlimited submarine warfare in early 1917, U.S. entry into the war seemed inevitable, though Borah hoped it might still be avoided. He supported Wilson on legislation to arm merchant ships, and voted in favor when the president requested a declaration of war in April 1917. He justified his vote by saying that the U.S. was going in to defend its own rights. He opposed the draft and the Espionage Act of 1917.

Borah opposed Wilson's 14-point plan as well as the League of Nations. A week after Wilson presented the treaty, Borah refused an invitation to the White House extended to him and other Senate and House members on the foreign relations committee. In November 1919, the Senate defeated the Treaty of Versailles. The following January, the Senate considered the treaty again but a compromise could not be reached, in large measure due to Borah's opposition.

In 1920 Borah supported California Senator Hiram Johnson for President. Johnson had been Roosevelt's running mate in 1912. Borah alleged bribery on the part of the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, General Leonard Wood. When the 1920 Republican National Convention met in Chicago in June, delegates faced a deadlock. Borah played no part in the smoke-filled room discussions as the Republicans attempted to break the deadlock. The eventual nominee was Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding, Borah's colleague on the Foreign Relations Committee. Though not his first choice, Borah strongly endorsed Harding and his running mate, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge.

In 1921, when Harding nominated former president Taft as chief justice, Borah was one of four senators to oppose confirmation. He said that that the 63 year old Taft was too old for the job and had been absent for decades from the practice of law.

Harding's death in August 1923 brought Calvin Coolidge to the White House. Borah seemed to have a good relationship with Calvin Coolidge. When 1924 Republican National Convention nominated Coolidge as their candidate, he offered the vice presidential nomination to Borah. According to one anecdone, when Coolidge asked Borah to join the ticket, Borah asked which position on it he was to occupy. Borah refused the offer, and ran for re-election. He did no campaigning for Coolidge, claiming that his re-election bid required his full attention.

In November 1924, Borah became Chairman and the senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which greatly increased his influence. Borah continued to oppose American interventions in Latin America. Borah continuously had a reputation for being a contrarian. Once, when President Coolidge was watching Borah horseback riding in Rock Creek Park, the president quipped that it "must bother the Senator to be going in the same direction as his horse."

Borah hoped to be elected president in 1928, but he had made too many enemies within his own party for this to be a reasonable possibility. He was reluctant to support Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover for president, and backed Ohio Senator Frank Willis instead. When Willis collapsed and died at a campaign rally in late March, Borah threw his support behind Hoover. Borah, like Hoover, was a strong backer of Prohibition. Borah undertook a lengthy campaign tour for Hoover, claiming that a huge part of his motivation was his opposition to Tammany Hall's Democratic candidate Al Smith. When Hoover was elected, he thanked Borah for his support and offered to make Borah Secretary of State, but Borah declined.

In June 1930 Congress passed the Hawley–Smoot Tariff, steeply increasing rates on imports. Borah was one of 12 Republicans who joined Democrats in opposing the bill, which passed the Senate 44–42. He suggested that members of Congress turn back their salary to the Treasury. As the economy continued to worsen in the winter of 1931, Borah urged relief legislation.

Borah considered challenging Hoover for renomination in 1932, but concluded that he could not overcome Hoover's control over the party machinery. He disagreed with the platform of the 1932 Republican National Convention and made a major address on June 30, attacking his party's platform. He did nothing to aid Hoover's doomed campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Democratic landslide that accompanied Roosevelt's election cost Borah his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. Borah opposed the National Recovery Act (NRA) and was pleased when it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935.

Borah ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1936, the first candidate from Idaho to do so. His candidacy was opposed by the conservative Republican leadership. Borah praised Roosevelt for some of his policies, and for this he was widely criticized his party.He received the most votes in the primaries, but managed to win only a handful of delegates and took a majority of them in only one state, Wisconsin, where he had the endorsement of Senator Robert M. La Follette Jr. Borah refused to endorse the eventual Republican nominee, Kansas Governor Alf Landon, leading some to believe he might cross party lines and support Roosevelt. He chose to endorse neither candidate. That fall he faced his toughest contest for re-election, but still won with over 60 percent of the votes. He was one of only sixteen Republicans remaining in the Senate when Congress met in January 1937.

Borah opposed large-scale immigration by Jews from Germany, feeling that was impractical with millions of Americans unemployed. He tried to visit Germany and meet with Hitler, but in September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, this was no longer feasible. Borah was later quoted as saying, "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler—all this might have been averted."



William Borah died in his sleep at his home in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1940 from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 74 years of age. His state funeral at the U.S. Capitol was held in the Senate chamber on Monday, January 22 and a second funeral was held three days later at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise, where Borah's casket lay beneath the rotunda for six hours prior to the service. An estimated 23,000 passed by the bier or attended the funeral. He is buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.
On October 14, 1912, as the presidential election campaign was in the home stretch, Theodore Roosevelt, was seeking a third term as President, this time as the candidate for the Progressive Party (better known as the Bull Moose Party). As he was leaving the Hotel Gilpatrick in Milwaukee, on the way to give a speech at Union Depot, a fanatical former saloon-keeper named John Schrank emerged from the crowd brandishing a nickle-plated revolver and fired, striking the former president in the chest. In his 2013 work entitled Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance and the Campaign of 1912, author Gerard Helfereich tells the story of Roosevelt's run for a return to the White House, and the Bavarian immigrant who stalked the 26th President across the country before their meeting in Milwaukee.



In an extremely well-researched work, Heferich uncovers the roots of would-be-assassin Schrank's obsessive quest to prevent Roosevelt from winning another four-years as president. He traces the route traveled both by the candidate and his stalker as both crossed the country on their respective missions. While Roosevelt's activities were more publicized, Heferich uncovers and retraces Schrank's steps in exceptional detail, making the reader feel like an literal eyewitness to history. His account of the shooting and of the speech that Roosevelt insisted on giving after he had been shot is especially compelling reading.

This is an outstanding account of an episode of presidential election history that seems larger than life, much like the Bull Moose candidate himself. Although at times it seems that the author is taking liberties in speculating what some of the central characters were thinking or doing, he explains in an author's note how these conclusions are more fact-based than one might imagine. Helferich has produced a brilliant historic account of Schrank's attempt to end the life of the energetic and enigmatic former president that is a pleasure to read.

Persons of Interest: Charles Sumner

Though never seen as likely to be president, Charles Sumner was a leading political figure of his era, and has left a lasting historical legacy as one of the nation's most prominent abolitionists and as the leader of the "Radical Republicans."



Sumner was born in Boston on January 6, 1811. His father was Charles Pinckney Sumner, a Harvard-educated lawyer, and like his son, a prominent abolitionist. The elder Sumner was one of the first to advocate for racially integrated schools. Sumner senior served as Clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1806 to 1807 and again 1810 to 1811, and later as Sheriff of Suffolk County, a position he held from 1825 until his death in 1839.

Sumner attended the Boston Latin School. He graduated in 1830 from Harvard College, and from Harvard Law School in 1834. He was mentored by Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. Sumner was admitted to the bar following his graduation and he began private practice in Boston in partnership with George Stillman Hillard. He contributed articles to the quarterly American Jurist and edited Story's court decisions. From 1836 to 1837, Sumner lectured at Harvard Law School.

Sumner traveled to Europe in 1837, landed at Le Havre and going on to Paris in December, where he studied French. He attended lectures at the Sorbonne on subjects ranging from geology to Greek history to criminal law. In France he observed black men treated as social equals and reinforced his viewpoint that Americans were wrong to see African-Americans as inferior. When he returned home his abolitionist viewpoint was reinvigorated. In 1838, Sumner visited Britain before returning home in 1840.

In 1840, at the age of 29, Sumner returned to Boston to practice law and to lecturing at Harvard Law. He developed a friendship with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1843. In 1845, he delivered an Independence Day oration on "The True Grandeur of Nations" in Boston in which he spoke out against the Mexican–American War. Sumner developed a reputation as a skilled orator. He was six feet four inches tall, with a massive frame and a loud and clear voice.

After the annexation of Texas as a new slave-holding state in 1845, Sumner took an active role in the anti-slavery movement. He represented the plaintiffs in Roberts v. Boston, a case which challenged the legality of segregation. Though unsuccessful, his arguments would be very similar to those that would be made in Brown v. Board of Education over a century later. Although Sumner lost the case, the Massachusetts legislature abolished school segregation in 1855.

Sumner helped to organize the Free Soil Party, which opposed both the Democrats and the Whigs. In 1848 he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Free Soil candidate, but lost the election. In 1851, Democrats gained control of the Massachusetts state legislature in coalition with the Free Soilers. The Free Soilers named Sumner their choice for U.S. Senator. Sumner was elected by a one-vote majority on April 24, 1851. His abolitionist viewpoint was in sharp contrasted with that of his well-known predecessor in the seat, Daniel Webster, who had been one of the foremost supporters of the Compromise of 1850 and of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Sumner took his Senate seat in late 1851 as a Free Soil Democrat. On August 26, 1852, Sumner, despite strenuous efforts to dissuade him, delivered his first major speech, in which he vigorously attacked the Fugitive Slave Act. Sumner called for the Act's repeal.

In 1856, during the "Bleeding Kansas" crisis, Sumner denounced the Kansas–Nebraska Act. In a famous speech known as the "Crime against Kansas" speech, he spoke in the senate on May 19 and May 20 and argued for the immediate admission of Kansas as a free state. He denounced the "Slave Power". In the speech, he said:

"Not in any common lust for power did this uncommon tragedy have its origin. It is the rape of a virgin Territory, compelling it to the hateful embrace of slavery; and it may be clearly traced to a depraved desire for a new Slave State, hideous offspring of such a crime, in the hope of adding to the power of slavery in the National Government."

Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina was enraged by the speech. infuriated. Brooks later said that he intended to challenge Sumner to a duel, but he was advised that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing. Two days later, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber. Brooks is reported to have said: "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina". As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks beat Sumner severely on the head, using a thick cane with a gold head. Sumner was unable to get to his feet and Brooks continued to strike Sumner mercilessly. Sumner collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat the motionless Sumner until his cane broke, at which point he left the chamber. Several other Senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by South Carolina Representative Laurence Keitt who brandished a pistol.

The episode transformed Sumner into a martyr in the North and Brooks a hero in the South. Northerners were outraged. Thousands attended rallies in support of Sumner in Boston, Albany, Cleveland, Detroit, New Haven, New York, and Providence. Over a million copies of Sumner's speech were distributed. Southerners sent Brooks hundreds of new canes in endorsement of his assault. One was inscribed "Hit him again".



Sumner suffered a severe head trauma, accompanied by nightmares, severe headaches, and what is now understood to be post-traumatic stress disorder. He spent months convalescing. The Massachusetts legislature reelected him in November 1856, believing that his vacant chair in the Senate chamber served as a powerful symbol of free speech and opposition to slavery. Sumner attempted to return to the Senate in 1857, but was unable to last a day. On his doctors' advice he sailed for Europe and this seemed to aid in his recovery. He spent two months in Paris in the spring of 1857, where he renewed friendships and attended the opera. He then toured several countries, including Germany and Scotland, before returning to Washington where he spent only a few days in the Senate in December. Once again he found it difficult to attend to Senate business. He sailed once more for Europe on May 22, 1858, leaving on the second anniversary of Brooks' attack.

In 1858 while in Paris, prominent physician Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard diagnosed Sumner's condition as spinal cord damage that could be treated by burning the skin along the spinal cord. Sumner refused anesthesia, because it was believed that this would reduce the effectiveness of the procedure. Today physicians doubt that Brown-Séquard's efforts were of any value. After spending weeks recovering from these treatments, Sumner resumed his touring, traveling to Dresden, Prague and south to Italy.

Sumner returned to the Senate in 1859. Fellow Republicans advised taking a less aggressive tone than he had previously, but Sumner would have none of it. He delivered his first speech following his return on June 4, 1860, during the 1860 presidential election. He spent the summer rallying the anti-slavery forces and opposing talk of compromise.

Sumner became a leader in the faction of the Republican Party known as the Radicals. In March 1861, after the withdrawal of Southern Senators, Sumner became chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. The Radicals advocated the immediate abolition of slavery and the destruction of the Southern planter class. Other Radicals included Senators Zachariah Chandler and Benjamin Wade. During the Civil War, after the fall of Fort Sumter, in April 1861, Sumner, Chandler and Wade repeatedly visited President Abraham Lincoln at the White House.

Lincoln was initially resistant to freeing the slaves, fearing that this might encourage border states that were also slave states such as Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, to join the Confederacy. Sumner was confident that the war would eventually cause Lincoln to free the slaves. As a compromise, the Radicals and Lincoln agreed on the passage of two Confiscation Acts in 1861 and 1862 that allowed the Union military to free confiscated slaves who were performing tasks for the Confederate army.

Sumner believed that emancipating the slaves would keep Britain from entering the Civil War and the millions of slaves freed from bondage would give America higher moral standing. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

On November 8, 1861, the Union naval ship USS San Jacinto, under the command of Capt. Charles Wilkes, intercepted the British steamer RMS Trent, captured and put into U.S. port custody two Confederate diplomats James M. Mason and John Slidell. This led to concern that the British would use this as grounds to go to war with the United States. The British government dispatched 8,000 British troops on the Canada–US border and efforts were made to strengthen the British fleet.Sumner advised Lincoln that in his opinion the men did not qualify as war contraband, since they were unarmed. He recommended that their release with an apology by the U.S. government was appropriate. Lincoln agreed with Sumner's assessment, telling his cabinet, "One war at a time".The Trent Affair helped to improve Sumner's reputation improved among conservative Northerners.

In February 1865, there was considerable debate over authorizing the creation of a memorial to United States Chief Justice Roger Taney. Sumner was very critical of Taney for his decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case. Speaking on the Senate floor, Sumner said of Taney:

"I speak what cannot be denied when I declare that the opinion of the Chief Justice in the case of Dred Scott was more thoroughly abominable than anything of the kind in the history of courts. Judicial baseness reached its lowest point on that occasion. You have not forgotten that terrible decision where a most unrighteous judgment was sustained by a falsification of history. Of course, the Constitution of the United States and every principle of Liberty was falsified, but historical truth was falsified also."

Sumner was the most vigorous advocate of emancipation, as well as of enlisting African-Americans in the Union Army, and of the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau. Sumner fought for equal civil and voting rights for the freedmen.

Following Lincoln's death and the end of the war, Sumner joined his fellow Republicans in overriding President Johnson's vetoes. Sumner's radical theory of Reconstruction proposed that, by declaring secession, the states which seceded could now be turned into territories that should be prepared for statehood, under conditions set by the national government. He objected to Lincoln's and later Andrew Johnson's more lenient Reconstruction policies. When Andrew Johnson was impeached, Sumner voted for conviction. He said, he wished he could have voted, "Guilty of all, and infinitely more."

During Reconstruction, Sumner attacked civil rights legislation as inadequate and fought for legislation to give land to freed slaves and to mandate education for all, regardless of race, in the South. He introduced a civil rights bill in 1872 to mandate equal accommodation in all public places and required suits brought under the bill to be argued in the federal courts. The bill failed, but Sumner revived it in the next Congress, and on his deathbed begged visitors to see that it did not fail.

Sumner's foreign relations committee approved the Alaska Purchase and sent the treaty to the Senate. In a 3-hour speech, Sumner spoke in favor of the treaty, describing Alaska's history, natural resources, population, and climate. Sumner wanted to block British expansion, arguing that Alaska was geographically and financially strategic, especially for the Pacific Coast States. The treaty won its needed two-thirds majority by one vote.

After the war, the U.S. had claims against Britain for the damage inflicted by Confederate raiding ships fitted out in British ports. Sumner held that since Britain had accorded the rights of belligerents to the Confederacy, it was responsible for extending the duration of the war and consequent losses. In 1869, he asserted that Britain should pay damages for their part in causing the "prolongation of the war". He demanded $2,000,000,000 for these claims. Sumner suggested that Britain turn over Canada as payment.

In 1869, President Ulysses Grant considered the annexation of a Caribbean island country, the Dominican Republic, then known as Santo Domingo. Grant believed that the mineral resources on the island would be valuable to the United States, and that African Americans repressed in the South would have a safe place to migrate to. Orville Babcock, private secretary to President Grant, secretly negotiated a treaty with President Buenaventura Báez, President of the Dominican Republic. The official treaty, drafted by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish in October 1869, annexed the Dominican Republic into the United States, gave eventual statehood, the lease of Samaná Bay for $150,000 yearly, and a $1,500,000 payment of the Dominican national debt. In January 1870, Grant met with Sumner, mistakenly believing that Sumner supported the treaty. The treaty was formally submitted to the United States Senate on January 10, 1870. Sumner, opposed the treaty, concerned that annexation would lead to the conquest of the neighboring republic of Haiti. He was also convinced that corruption lay behind the treaty. Sumner's committee voted against annexation. Grant persisted and sent messages to Congress in favor of annexation on March 14, 1870, and May 31, 1870. Sumner spoke out against the treaty. Finally, on June 30, 1870 the treaty was voted on by the Senate and failed to gain the required 2/3 majority for treaty passage.

In retaliation for what be believed to be an act of betrayal on Sumner's part, the following day Grant ordered the dismissal of Sumner's close friend John Lothrop Motley, as Ambassador to Britain. Grant also initiated a campaign to depose Sumner from the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Grant grew more bitter toward Sumner. He was once told that Sumner did not believe in the Bible, and is supposed to have said: "I'm not surprised. He didn't write it."

As the rift between Grant and Sumner increased, Sumner's health began to decline. When the 42nd U.S. Congress convened on March 4, 1871, Senators who were supporters of Grant voted to oust Sen. Sumner from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship. Sumner reacted by speaking out against the corruption in Grant's administration. In 1872, Sumner joined the Liberal Republican Party which had been started by reformist Republicans such as Horace Greeley.

Unlike some other Radical Republicans, Sumner strongly opposed any hanging or imprisonment of Confederate leaders. In December 1872, he introduced a Senate resolution providing that Civil War battle names should not appear as "battle honors" on the regimental flags of the U.S. Army. He believed that any United States regiment, that would in the future enlist southerners as well as northerners, should not carry on its ensigns any insult to those who joined it. His resolution offended Union army veterans and the Massachusetts legislature passed a motion of censure against Sumner. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier successfully led an effort to rescind that censure the following year.



Charles Sumner died of a heart attack at his home in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 1874. He lay in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, the second senator so honored (Henry Clay being the first, in 1852). He was buried on March 16 in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His pallbearers included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Persons of Interest: Stuart Symington

Stuart Symington is another one of those persons who fits in the category of "almost president". If history had taken the other fork in the road in 1960, it would have been Symington, and not Lyndon Johnson, who would have become president on November 22, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was killed. Then again, if Symington had been Vice-President at the time, perhaps Kennedy would never have gone to Dallas. We'll never know. But what we do know is that Symington was John F. Kennedy's first choice of a running mate in 1960, before political expediency intervened and he chose Johnson instead.



Though best known as the Senator from Missouri, William Stuart Symington Jr. was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on June 26, 1901. His father, William Stuart Symington, Sr., had a Ph.D in French literature, and was a romance languages professor at Stanford and Amherst College before changing careers. The elder Symington became a lawyer and was appointed to be a federal judge in Baltimore, Maryland. His mother, the former Emily Harrison, was a direct descendant Benjamin Harrison (not the president, but his great-grandfather, the one who signed the Declaration of Independence). She came from a wealthy family in Virginia.

Symington grew up in Baltimore, the oldest of five siblings. He attended Roland Park Public School and the Gilman School (a private all-male prep school in Baltimore) and he graduated from Baltimore City College in 1918, and at the age of 17. That year, Symington enlisted in the United States Army as a private first class during World War I. The war ended before he was sent overseas, but he was stationed in an Officer Training Program at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Symington was commissioned as a second lieutenant, becoming one of the youngest members of the Army to achieve that rank. He was honorably discharged as a second lieutenant in January 1919. He graduated from Yale University in 1923.

In 1923, Symington went to work for an uncle at the Symington Company of Rochester, New York, manufacturers of iron products. Two years later he formed Eastern Clay Products but in 1927 he returned to the Symington Company as executive assistant to the President. In 1930 he left the company to become President of the Colonial Radio Corporation. In January 1935, he became president of Rustless Iron and Steel Corporation (manufacturers of stainless steel). When Rustless Iron and Steel Corporation was sold in 1937, Symington resigned and in 1938 became president of Emerson Electric Company in St. Louis, Missouri. During World War II the company was the world's largest builder of airplane gun turrets.

In 1945 his fellow Missourian Harry S. Truman appointed Symington chairman of the Surplus Property Board in 1945 and later Assistant Secretary of War for Air in 1946. On September 18, 1947, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force was created and Symington became the first Secretary. This was a challenging assignment as the Air Force had previously been part of the Army. He fought public turf wars with Secretary of Defense James Forrestal. During his tenure, he instituted the United States Air Force Academy along with other initiatives. But he resigned his position in 1950 to protest lack of funding for the Air Force after the Soviets detonated their first nuclear weapon.

With the support and encouragement of his father-in-law, Symington decided to run for the Senate. His father-in-law, James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr., was a former Republican Speaker of the New York State Assembly and U.S. Senator from New York. Symington was elected to the senate in 1952, taking the seat previously held by Truman. He won the seat in a year in which the Republicans made gains in the senate. Symington was re-elected in 1958, 1964, and 1970. As a member of the Senate he served on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, and specialized in military affairs. He argued for a strong national defense. In 1954, he made headlines by accusing the Department of Defense of wasting millions of dollars on outdated weapons.

Symington was one of the most vocal opponents of Senator Joseph McCarthy and seemed to get under McCarthy's skin. McCarthy nicknamed Symington "Sanctimonious Stu". He came to the defense of Annie Lee Moss, who had been brought before McCarthy's committee under the accusation that she was a Communist spy. Evidence supporting this claim was given by an undercover FBI agent who could not be cross-examined by Mrs. Moss or her counsel. Symington proclaimed his belief in Moss's innocence before the packed audience at the McCarthy committee hearing, to the applause of those present. Later that year, Symington took a lead role in censuring McCarthy.

In 1959, Symington decided to run in the 1960 presidential election. He had the support of former President and fellow Missourian Harry Truman. He did not win any primaries but he finished third in the balloting behind first ballot winner John F. Kennedy and second place finisher Lyndon Johnson. Truman chose not to attend the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, claiming that he was displeased with party bosses support for Kennedy. Truman restated his support for the candidacy of Symington and added, "I have no second choice". Unlike Kennedy or Johnson, Symington refused to speak to segregated audiences in the southern United States and this hurt his chances among southern delegates. He declined to enter any of the Democratic primaries. Symington was said to be Kennedy's first choice for Vice President. But Kennedy opted for Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who he believed to be more advantageous politically for his ticket.

Symington was a member of EXCOMM (he Executive Committee of the National Security Council), a body of United States government officials that convened to advise President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. He later became critical of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and in the early 1970s, his committee held hearings on CIA misconduct in Laos. In 1967 when Major League Baseball owners approved the move of the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland, California, Symington threatened legislation to revoke the league's antitrust exemption and vowed to support lawsuits challenging the legality of the reserve clause. Kansas City was awarded an expansion team, the Kansas City Royals, which was scheduled to begin play in 1971. Symington protested, saying that Kansas City should not wait. As a result, the Royals began play in 1969.



In 1976, Symington did not seek a fifth term and resigned on December 27, a week before the end of his final term, so that his Republican successor, John Danforth, would gain a seniority advantage in the Senate. His son, James W. Symington, served in the United States House of Representatives from Missouri's Second Congressional District from 1969 to 1977. His cousin, Fife Symington III, was Governor of Arizona from 1991 to 1997. His grandson, also named W. Stuart Symington, served as the U.S. ambassador to Djibouti and Rwanda.

Symington retired in 1978 and resided in New Canaan, Connecticut. He died at his home there on December 14, 1988 at the age of 87. He is buried in a crypt in Washington National Cathedral.

Persons of Interest: Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins never ran for President, but she did shatter a few glass ceilings in her day. She was the first woman ever appointed to the federal cabinet and also the longest serving Secretary of Labor in the nation's history. At a time when politics was definitely a man's world, she had sufficient merit not only to earn a place at the cabinet table, but to serve as one of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's most trusted advisers.



She was born Fannie Coralie Perkins on April 10, 1880 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents, Frederick and Susan Perkins, were from Maine but moved to Massachusetts. At age 25, Fannie Coralie Perkins changed her name to Frances when she joined the Episcopal church in 1905. Perkins attended the Classical High School in Worcester and she graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and physics in 1902. She obtained a master's degree in political science from Columbia University in 1910. She also taught chemistry from 1904 to 1906 at Ferry Hall School (now Lake Forest Academy). In 1918 she began her years of study in economics and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Perkins became the head of the New York Consumers League in 1910 and in that capacity she made a name for herself, lobbying for better working hours and conditions. She taught as a professor of sociology at Adelphi College and she witnessed the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a pivotal event that led to a change in labor conditions in the United States. She left the New York Consumers League and became the executive secretary for the Committee on Safety of the City of New York.

In 1913, Perkins married New York economist Paul Caldwell Wilson. She actually had to bring a court action to keep her maiden name. The couple had a daughter, Susanna. Both her husband and her and daughter suffered from manic-depressive symptoms and Wilson was hospitalized for mental illness. Perkins was the sole supporter for her household.

Perkins held various positions in New York State government and became a respected figure for her work for safer working conditions in the state of New York. In 1919 she was named to the Industrial Commission of the State of New York by Governor Alfred E. Smith.

In 1929 newly elected New York governor, Franklin Roosevelt, appointed Perkins as the inaugural Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor. She helped to put New York in the forefront of progressive reform in the field of labor. Her initiatives included expanded factory investigations, a reduced workweek for women (to 48 hours) and passage of minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws. Her most passionate causes were working to end child labor and to provide safety for women in the workplace.

In 1933, Roosevelt appointed Perkins as Secretary of the Department of Labor, a position she held for twelve years. She held the position for longer than any other Secretary of Labor and she became the first woman to hold a cabinet position in the United States. (This meant that she was the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession). President Roosevelt consistently her efforts as Secretary of Labor. She wrote a significant amount of New Deal legislation, including minimum-wage laws. As chairwoman of the President's Committee on Economic Security, she was involved in the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. She drafted the Social Security Act of 1935. On the day that the bill was signed into law, her husband escaped from a mental institution.

Following her tenure as Secretary of Labor, in 1945 Perkins was asked by President Harry Truman to serve on the United States Civil Service Commission and she did until 1952, when her husband died. At that time she resigned from federal service. In 1946 she published a memoir of her time in the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, entitled The Roosevelt I Knew.



Following her government service career, Perkins taught at the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University until her death. She died on May 14, 1965 at the age of 85. She is buried in the Glidden Cemetery in Newcastle, Maine. In her honor, the headquarters of the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. was named The Frances Perkins Building is the Washington, D.C.

Persons of Interest: A. Mitchell Palmer

In the two years that followed the end of the first world war, fear of terrorism was alive and well in the United States and was known as the "Red Scare." No political figure is more closely associated with that chapter of American history perhaps than Alexander Mitchell Palmer, who was Woodrow Wilson's attorney-general, and who imagined himself as Wilson's successor, something that was not to be.



A Mitchell Palmer was born near White Haven, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1872. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1891, and became the court stenographer for Pennsylvania's 43rd judicial district. He studied law at Lafayette College and George Washington University, and continued his study of law under attorney John Brutzman Storm. Palmer was admitted to the bar in 1893, and joined Storm in the practice of law in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Palmer became active in politics with the Democratic Party and rose to a position as a member of the executive committee of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee. He was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat and was a member of the 61st, 62nd, and 63rd Congresses, serving from March 4, 1909, to March 3, 1915. While a congressman, he served as vice-chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in his first term and managing the assignment of office space in his second term.

Palmer supported the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and also supported lower tariffs, even though this was not the prevailing view in his home state. In his second term, he became a member of the Ways and Means Committee and as a member of that committee he authored a controversial detailed tariff schedules which called for a significant lowering of tariffs. Palmer took the view that tariffs profited business but had no benefit for workers. In his home state he was opposed by Pennsylvania mining and manufacturing firms. Palmer seemed unconcerned about this.

Palmer served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in both 1912 and 1916. At the 1912 Convention, he played a key role in delivering the Pennsylvania delegation for Woodrow Wilson and following Wilson's victory in the election of 1912, Wilson offered Palmer a position in his Cabinet as Secretary of War. Palmer declined the offer, because of his religion. He was a practicing Quaker and in a letter to the President, he wrote:

"As a Quaker War Secretary, I should consider myself a living illustration of a horrible incongruity. In case our country should come into armed conflict with any other, I would go as far as any man in her defense; but I cannot, without violating every tradition of my people and going against every instinct of my nature, planted there by heredity, environment and training, sit down in cold blood in an executive position and use such talents as I possess to the work of preparing for such a conflict."

He remained in Congress and continued to fight for tariff reduction, and he contributed to the Underwood Tariff Act of 1913. He supported other progressive positions, including outlawing the employment of under-age workers in rock quarries. He also sponsored a bill to promote women's suffrage and another to end child labor in most American mines and factories. The House voted 232 to 44 in favor of the bill on February 15, 1915, but the bill did not get through the Senate.

In 1914, Wilson convinced Palmer to give up his House seat and run instead for the United States Senate. Palmer finished last in the three-man race, likely because of his support for tariff reduction, something very unpopular in his home state.

In March 1915, Wilson offered Palmer a lifetime position on the Court of Claims, which Palmer accepted, but asked that the appointment be delayed so that he could continue serving on the Democratic National Committee. He worked for the Wilson in the 1916 elections, but Pennsylvania voted Republican. Ultimately Palmer did not take the position.

Following the United States' entry into World War I in April 1917, Palmer chaired his local draft board and in October, he accepted an appointment from Wilson as Alien Property Custodian an office he held from October 22, 1917, until March 4, 1919. In this position he had responsibility for the seizure, administration, and disposition of enemy property in the United States. In this position Palmer was responsible for almost 30,000 trusts with assets worth $500 million. Some of the materials seized were used in the war effort, such as medicines, glycerin for explosives, and charcoal for gas masks. He distributed jobs in the management of these assets as patronage to fellow Democrats.

In 1919 President Wilson needed to fill the position of Attorney General and he selected Palmer for the job. Wilson sent Palmer's nomination to the Senate on February 27, 1919, and Palmer took office as a recess appointment on March 5. He served as Attorney General from March 5, 1919 until March 4, 1921. As Attorney-General, Palmer is best known for "The Palmer Raids". These occurred as part of what became known as "the Red Scare", the term given to fear communist radicals in the United States immediately following World War I.

Labor unrest and strikes became more prevalent after the war and race riots also occurred in over 30 US cities. Two sets of bombings took place in April and June 1919, including an attack on Palmer's home. A first booby-trap bomb directed at assassinating Palmer was mailed by anarchists but was intercepted and defused. Two months later, Palmer and his family narrowly escaped death when an anarchist exploded a bomb on their porch. The bomb detonated early, killing the bomber. In total, there were 36 dynamite-filled bombs mailed to other leading figures in April of 1919, including justice officials, newspaper editors and businessmen, including John D. Rockefeller.

Palmer initially a series of raids to locate the source of the bombings. A raid in July 1919 against a very small anarchist group in Buffalo failed when a federal judge tossed out his case. In August, Palmer organized the General Intelligence Unit within the Department of Justice and recruited J. Edgar Hoover, a 24-year-old law school graduate who had worked in the Justice Department's Enemy Alien Bureau, to head up the new unit. On November 17, 1919, Palmer told the senate about the threat anarchists and Bolsheviks posed to the government. He launched a campaign against radicals and in January 1920, he instituted a series of police actions known as the Palmer Raids. Federal agents supported by local police rounded up large groups of suspected radicals, often based on membership in a political group rather than any actions of the group.

Assistant Secretary of Labor Louis Freeland Post refused to approve many of the deportations called for by Palmer, limiting the number to 556. At a Cabinet meeting in April 1920, Palmer called on Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson to fire Post, but Secretary Wilson would not support this. The President ended the meeting by telling Palmer that he should "not let this country see red." Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, later wrote that Palmer "was seeing red behind every bush."

The American public initially supported the raids, while some civil rights activists and legal scholars raised protests. Officials at the Department of Labor, especially Louis Freeland Post, opposed Palmer's campaign, citing the rule of law in opposition to it. Palmer was called before Congress and testified for two days in defense of his position. The press generally supported Louis Post's position on the issue and were critical of Palmer.

In the fall of 1919 strikes were threatened in the railroad and coal industries. These two industries faced disruption as the presidential election year of 1920 approached. The railroad union postponed its strike but the United Mine Workers under John L. Lewis went ahead with theirs. Palmer invoked the Lever Act, a wartime measure that made it a crime to interfere with the production or transportation of necessities. The law was passed to punish hoarding and profiteering, and had never been used against a union. Palmer obtained an injunction on October 31 and 400,000 coal workers struck the next day. Both Palmer and the mine owners attempted to portray the strikers as communists and Bolsheviks. Lewis, faced criminal charges, and withdrew his strike call, in the face of this pressure, but many strikers ignored his action. As the strike dragged on into its third week, coal supplies were running low and public sentiment was against the striking miners. However Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson opposed Palmer's obtaining an injunction and the rift between the Attorney General and the Secretary of Labor led to dysfunction in the cabinet.

Palmer's General Intelligence Division (GID), headed by J. Edgar Hoover, had become a storehouse of information about radicals. It had infiltrated a number of organizations and had interrogated thousands of those arrested and seized documents and publications. Agents in the GID told Palmer that they had evidence of plans for an attempted overthrow of the U.S. government on May Day 1920, even though there was dubious support for this assertion. With Palmer's backing, Hoover warned the nation to expect the worst and Palmer told the nation on April 29, 1920, that American radicals were "in direct connection" with European counterparts. Cities prepared their police forces and some states mobilized their militias. But May Day came and went without incident. In response, the media mocked Palmer and he lost credibility as a result.

In 1920 Palmer sought the Democratic Party's nomination for President. The field of potential candidates was crowded, in part because Wilson held on to the thin hope of seeking a third term, despite having significant health issues that made this a near impossibility. During the campaign, Palmer told his audiences: "I am myself an American and I love to preach my doctrine before undiluted one hundred percent Americans, because my platform is, in a word, undiluted Americanism and undying loyalty to the republic."

During the campaign, Palmer won delegates in the Michigan and Georgia primaries but his support did not extend much beyond that. He ran a respectable third until his support collapsed on the convention's 39th ballot and the nomination shortly thereafter went to Ohio Governor James Cox.

In 1921, in the closing weeks of the Wilson administration, Palmer asked the President to pardon imprisoned Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, whose health was said to be failing. Debs had been arrested and convicted for speaking out against the draft during the war. Palmer suggested to Wilson that the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln was an appropriate day for the announcement. Wilson was adamantly opposed to any sort of leniency for Debs and he wrote "Denied" across Debs' clemency petition.

After retiring from government service in March 1921, Palmer went into the private practice of law and continued to act the role of a senior statesman of the Democratic Party. His wife Roberta Dixon died on January 4, 1922, and he married Margaret Fallon Burrall in 1923. Palmer backed Governor Al Smith of New York for the Democratic nomination in 1928. He served on the Platform Committee of the 1932 Democratic National Convention and authored the original draft of the platform. In the platform, he supported forgiving the debts of America's allies in World War I.



Palmer died on May 11, 1936, at Emergency Hospital in Washington, D.C., from cardiac complications following an appendectomy two weeks earlier. He was buried at Laurelwood Cemetery in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Persons of Interest: George Romney

Unlike his son Willard (better known by his middle name of Mitt), George Romney was never selected as his party's candidate for president, though he was once the front runner in the race to become the Republican Party's candidate for President in 1968. An unfortunate remark about "brainwashing" made George Romney the first of two members of his family to miss out on becoming President.



George Wilcken Romney was the son of Gaskell Romney and Anna Amelia Pratt, two American citizens from Utah who were married in Mexico. Their son George was born in Colonia Dublán in Galeana in the state of Chihuahua, one of the Mormon colonies in Mexico), on July 8, 1907. The Romneys did not practice polygamy. After the Mexican Revolution broke out, the Romney family returned to the United States in July 1912, leaving their property behind. Romney grew up in humble circumstances, living on government relief in El Paso, Texas. They moved to Los Angeles, California, where Gaskell Romney worked as a carpenter. In 1913, the family moved to Oakley, Idaho, where they grew potatoes. The farm failed when potato prices fell and the family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1916, returning to Idaho, the following year.

In high school, Romney met his future wife Lenore LaFount. He attended Latter-day Saints University to be close to her, where he was elected student body president. He worked as a Mormon missionary and in October 1926, he sailed to Great Britain where he worked in a Glasgow, Scotland, slum. In February 1927, he went to work in Edinburgh and in February 1928 to London. He returned home in 1928 and studied at the University of Utah and LDS Business College. He followed his fiancee to Washington, D.C., in fall 1929, after her father, Harold A. Lafount, had accepted an appointment by President Calvin Coolidge to serve on the Federal Radio Commission. Romney worked for Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senator David I. Walsh during 1929 and 1930, first as a stenographer, then as a staff aide.

When Lenore LaFount began accepting small roles in Hollywood movies as an actress, Romney moved to Los Angeles office to work for Alcoa as a salesman. He attended night classes at the University of Southern California. The couple returned to Washington where Romney worked for Alcoa as a lobbyist. The Romneys were married on July 2, 1931, at Salt Lake City Temple. They had four children together, and Mitt Romney was their youngest child.

After nine years with Alcoa, Romney changed careers, taking a job with the Automobile Manufacturers Association as manager for its Detroit office. Romney moved his family there in 1939. In 1942, he was promoted to general manager of the association, a position he held until 1948. On May 1, 1954, the Nash-Kelvinator automobile company merged with Hudson Motor Car to become the American Motors Corporation (AMC). It was the largest merger in the history of the industry, and Romney was hired to be the executive vice president of the new firm. In October 1954, when the company's president died suddenly, Romney was named AMC's president and chairman of the board.

Romneyt proved to be a successful executive. By the end of 1957 Romney had phased out the Nash and Hudson brands, whose sales had been lagging. AMC pursued an innovative strategy of manufacturing only compact cars. The company struggled badly at first, and Romney instituted company-wide savings and efficiency measures included reducing his and other executive salaries. He fended off a corporate takeover just as sales of the Rambler finally took off, leading to unexpected financial success for AMC in 1958. Sales remained strong during 1960 and 1961; the Rambler was America's third most popular car both years. AMC's resurgence made Romney famous and the Associated Press named Romney its Man of the Year in Industry for four consecutive years, 1958 through 1961. The company's stock rose from $7 per share to $90 per share, making Romney very wealthy due to stock options. He had a good relationship with United Automobile Workers leader Walter Reuther and AMC workers benefited from a new profit-sharing plan.

Romney was exemplary in following the beliefs of his religion. He did not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, and did not smoke, or swear. He and his wife tithed, and from 1955 to 1965, gave 19 percent of their income to the church and another 4 percent to charity. He was active in a number of charities and was on the board of directors of the Children's Hospital of Michigan and the United Foundation of Detroit. In 1959, he received the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith's Americanism award.

Romney became directly involved in politics in 1959. He declared himself a member of the Republican Party and in 1962 he resigned as President of AMC in February to run for Governor of Michigan. He ran against incumbent Democratic Governor John B. Swainson in the general election and won by over 80,000 votes, ending a fourteen-year stretch of Democratic rule in the state.As governor he proposed a comprehensive tax revision package that included a flat-rate state income tax, but general economic prosperity prompted the Michigan Legislature to reject the measure.

Romney supported the American Civil Rights Movement as governor. During his first State of the State address in January 1963, he said "Michigan's most urgent human rights problem is racial discrimination—in housing, public accommodations, education, administration of justice, and employment." Romney created the state's first civil rights commission. When Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Detroit in June 1963 and led the 120,000 person Great March on Detroit, Romney designated the occasion Freedom March Day in Michigan. His support for civil rights brought him criticism from some in his own church.

In the 1964 U.S. presidential election, Senator Barry Goldwater quickly became the likely Republican Party nominee. Goldwater represented a segment of the party that Romney was not a part of. He disagreed strongly with Goldwater's views on civil rights. During the June 1964 National Governors' Conference, 13 of 16 Republican governors present were opposed to Goldwater. Despite this, Romney kept his pledge to stay out of the nomination contest. At the Republican convention, Romney fought for a strengthened civil rights plank in the party platform, but it was defeated on a voice vote. In the 1964 election, Romney refused to campaign with the national ticket. He was re-elected as Governor in 1964 by a margin of over 380,000 votes.

In 1965, Romney visited South Vietnam for 31 days and said that he was continuing his strong support for U.S. military involvement there. During 1966, while son Mitt was away in France on missionary work, George Romney guided Mitt's fiancée Ann Davies in her conversion to Mormonism. He continued his support of civil rights and after violence broke out during the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965, he marched at the front of a Detroit parade in solidarity with the marchers. In 1966, he won re-election again by 527,000 votes and his share of the black vote rose to over 30 percent, virtually unprecedented for a Republican.

On July 23, 1967, the 12th Street riot in Detroit began in a predominantly black neighborhood. Romney called in the Michigan State Police and the Michigan National Guard to address the riot and on July 24, Romney and Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh requested that federal troops be sent. On July 24, President Lyndon Johnson authorized thousands of paratroopers to enter Detroit. In the disturbance 43 people died, over a thousand were injured, 2,500 stores were looted, hundreds of homes were burned, and there was $50 million in property damage. Romney believed the White House had intentionally slowed its response because Johnson saw Romney as a potential election rival in 1968. He charged Johnson with having "played politics" in his actions.

A Gallup Poll after the 1964 election showed Romney as the leading Republican candidate for president in 1968. A Harris Poll showed Romney besting President Johnson among all voters by 54 percent to 46 percent. Romney announced an exploratory phase for a possible campaign in February 1967. Romney's greatest weakness was a lack of foreign policy expertise. But as the campaign progressed, Romney's national poll ratings began to erode. Questions were asked about Romney's eligibility to run for President owing to his birth in Mexico, given the uncertainty in the United States Constitution over the phrase "natural-born citizen".

His biggest campaign gaffe occurred on August 31, 1967, in a taped interview with talk show host Lou Gordon of WKBD-TV in Detroit. Romney told his host: "When I came back from Viet Nam in November 1965, I'd just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get." While he had once supported the war effort, he now opposed it. He aid "I no longer believe that it was necessary for us to get involved in South Vietnam to stop Communist aggression in Southeast Asia." He called for "a sound peace in South Vietnam at an early time." The "brainwashing" comment attracted significant criticism. Eight other governors who had been on the same trip as Romney took offense to the remark. The connotations of brainwashing made Romney's comment politically devastating, and it became television talk show fodder. Senator Eugene McCarthy, running against Johnson for the Democratic nomination, said that in Romney's case, "a light rinse would have been sufficient." After the remark was aired, Romney's poll ratings nosedived, going from 11 percent behind Nixon to 26 percent behind.

Romney persevered, going on a three-week, 17-city tour of the nation's ghettos and disadvantaged areas. This failed to rehabilitate his campaign. His release of his federal tax returns was a first and established a precedent that many future presidential candidates would follow. He spent the following months campaigning tirelessly, focusing on the New Hampshire primary. He returned to Vietnam in December 1967 and made speeches and proposals on the subject. Two weeks before the March 12 primary, an internal poll showed Romney losing to Nixon by a six-to-one margin in New Hampshire. This led Romney to announce his withdrawal as a presidential candidate on February 28, 1968. Nixon went on to gain the nomination.

At the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Romney refused to release his delegates to Nixon. Romney finished a weak fifth, with only 50 votes on the roll call. Romney's name was placed into nomination for vice president by New York Mayor John Lindsay. Romney lost to Spiro Agnew by a vote of 1,119–186. Romney, however, worked for Nixon's campaign in the fall.

After the election, Nixon named Romney to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Romney was confirmed by the Senate without opposition on January 20, 1969, the day of Nixon's inauguration and was sworn into office on January 22, with Nixon at his side. Romney resigned as Governor of Michigan that same day.

Romney was largely outside the president's inner circle and had minimal influence within the Nixon administration. By early 1970, Nixon had decided he wanted Romney removed from his post and he tried to get Romney to run in the 1970 U.S. Senate race in Michigan. Instead, George came up with the idea of his wife Lenore running. She lost badly in the general election to incumbent Democrat Philip A. Hart.

In spring 1972, a major scandal struck the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which had been responsible for helping the poor buy homes in inner-city areas through government-backed mortgages. A number of FHA employees were indicted for a scheme in which the value of cheap inner city homes was inflated and sold using those government-backed mortgages to buyers who could not really afford them. The government was stuck for the bad loans when owners defaulted. The FHA scandal gave Nixon the ability to shut down HUD's remaining desegregation efforts.

Romney finally did resign from the Nixon Cabinet on November 9, 1972, following Nixon's re-election. His departure was announced on November 27, 1972. After he left the cabinet, Romney became chair and CEO of the National Center for Voluntary Action. In April of 1991 Romney was honored by President George H. W. Bush's Points of Light program when he received the Points of Light Foundation's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from President Bush in April 1991. Bush wanted Romney to chair the new foundation, but he declined the offer, and suggested Bush's organization merge with his. They did so in September 1991, and Romney became one of the founding directors of the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network.

Romney campaigned for his son, Mitt Romney, during his son's bid to unseat Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. That same year, Ronna Romney, Romney's ex-daughter-in-law (formerly married to G. Scott Romney), decided to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Michigan. Mitt and G. Scott endorsed Ronna Romney, but George Romney had endorsed her opponent. A family spokesperson said that George Romney had endorsed Abraham before knowing Ronna Romney would run and could not go back on his word.



On July 26, 1995, Romney died of a heart attack at the age of 88 while he was doing his morning exercising on a treadmill at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He was buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Brighton, Michigan. In addition to his wife and children, Romney was survived by 23 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

Persons of Interest: Hiram Johnson

In the first part of the twentieth century, the progressive movement was a prominent force in American politics. It arose in part from a split in the Republican Party, though some Democrats such as Woodrow Wilson were considered to be progressive as well. In the Republican Party there were the conservatives, who were more attuned to business interests and the status quo, and there were the progressives who worked for social change. The most famous progressives were Theodore Roosevelt (who ran as a progressive in 1912) and Wisconsin Senator Robert LaFollette. Another famous progressive (and Theodore Roosevelt's running mate in 1912) was California Governor (and later Senator) Hiram Johnson.



Hiram Warren Johnson was born in Sacramento, California on September 2, 1866. His father was Grove Lawrence Johnson, who had served as a Republican Congressman and a member of the California State Legislature. The elder Johnson had been accused of election irregularities and using his political offices to look after his personal financial interests.

Hiram Johnson attended Heald College in San Francisco. He worked as a shorthand reporter and stenographer in law offices before attending law school at the University of California, Berkeley. He was admitted to the California state bar in 1888 and commenced practice in Sacramento before moving to San Francisco in 1902. He served as assistant district attorney and became active in reform politics. He made his name as someone who battled political corruption mantle. His most famous case involved the prosecution of San Francisco Mayor Eugene Schmitz and political boss Abe Ruef. During the trial, a man posing as a juror shot lead prosecutor Francis J. Heney during the jury selection and Johnson had to take over the prosecution of the case. Johnson successfully prosecuted the case and made a name for himself in legal circles.

In 1910, Johnson ran for Governor of California as a member of the Lincoln–Roosevelt League, a liberal Republican movement. He campaigned on a platform critical of the Southern Pacific Railroad. He was successful in the election and he emulated Roosevelt's style as a populist governor who implemented many important reforms. These included the popular election of U.S. senators. He also advocated the ability of candidates to register in more than one political party. He saw this as a means of weakening the power of political bosses. In 1911, Johnson and the Progressives added initiative, referendum, and recall to the state government, giving California a degree of direct democracy unmatched by any other U.S. state. Johnson also pressed for the establishment of a railroad commission to regulate the power of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Following his inauguration he paroled the convicted Southern Pacific train bandit Chris Evans.

With some reluctance Governor Johnson supported the California Alien Land Law of 1913, which prevented Asian immigrants (excluded from naturalized citizenship because of their race) from owning land in California.

Johnson was one of the founders of the Progressive Party in 1912. After Theodore Roosevelt was unsuccessful in winning the Republican Party nomination for president that year, Roosevelt was selected as the Presidential candidate for the Progressive Party (unofficially dubbed the "Bull Moose" Party) and Johnson was selected as the party's vice presidential candidate. His selection helped Roosevelt to carry California by the narrowest of margins (0.2 percent of the votes). The Progressives finished second nationally ahead of the incumbent Republican, President William Howard Taft, but lost the election to Democrats Woodrow Wilson.

Johnson was re-elected governor of California in 1914, almost doubling his opponent's vote total. When Charles Evans Hughes ran for President in 1916, it is said that Hughes lost the state of California (and the Presidency) because of a snub of Johnson when Hughes visited the state, but did not make a courtesy call on the Governor. This was during Johnson's final term as governor as in 1916 Johnson ran successfully for the U.S. Senate, defeating Democrat George S. Patton, Sr. In a speech about US entry into World War One, Johnson uttered the famous line: "The first casualty when war comes is truth".

When Theodore Roosevelt died in January of 1919, Johnson was considered to be the natural leader of the Progressive Party. In 1920, however, he chose to run for the Republican Party's nomination for president instead. He placed third on the first nine ballots before losing to Senator Warren Harding of Ohio on the 10th. Johnson had hoped to get the support of Theodore Roosevelt's family and many of his former supporters, but these people instead supported Roosevelt's long-time friend (and commanding officer in Cuba) Leonard Wood instead.

In the senate Johnson helped push through the Immigration Act of 1924, working with Valentine S. McClatchy and other anti-Japanese lobbyists to prohibit Japanese and other East Asian immigrants from entering the United States.

When the motion picture industry looked for someone to establish a self-regulatory process and to help the industry fend off official censorship, Johnson was considered as the man for the job. But instead Will H. Hays, who had campaigned actively for Harding among industry leaders, was ultimately chosen to head the new Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America in early 1922.



Johnson ran for the Republican nomination against Calvin Coolidge in 1924, but he received only 10 votes. Still, as a senator, Johnson proved extremely popular in his home state. In 1934, he was re-elected with 94.5 percent of the popular vote, in part because he was nominated by both the Republicans and the Democrats. His only opponent was Socialist George R. Kirkpatrick. During the early presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson supported the New Deal, and he frequently voted with the Democrats. He supported Roosevelt in the 1932 and 1936 presidential elections, although he never switched party affiliation. Johnson later became disenchanted with Roosevelt following FDR's unsuccessful attempt to increase the size of the Supreme Court.

An isolationist, Johnson had voted against the League of Nations, but he was not present when the Senate voted to ratify the treaty creating a the United Nations. He went on record as stating that he would have voted against ratification if present.

After having served in the Senate for almost thirty years, Johnson died in the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, on August 6, 1945. He was interred in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Persons of Interest: Geraldine Ferraro

Before there was Sarah Palin, there was Geraldine Ferraro. In 1984 she emerged from obscurity to make history as the first woman to have her name placed on the ticket of a major political party in a presidential election, when she was selected as the running mate of Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale.



Geraldine Ferraro was born on August 26, 1935 in Newburgh, New York, the daughter of Dominick and Antonetta Ferraro. Her mother was a first-generation Italian American and her father was an Italian immigrant who was the owner of two restaurants. Her father died as the result of a heart attack in May 1944, when Geraldine was eight years old. After her father's death, her mother moved the family to a low-income area of the South Bronx, working in the garment industry to support herself and her children.

Ferraro attended Marymount Academy in Tarrytown, New York, and was bright enough to skip the seventh grade. She was a member of the honor society, and was also active in sports. She graduated in 1952 and with her mother's support, she pursued her post-secondary education at Marymount Manhattan College while working as many as three jobs at the same time. During her senior year she met her future husband John Zaccaro, a Marine. Ferraro received her Bachelor of Arts in English in 1956, making her the first woman in her family to obtain a college degree. She also passed the city exam to become a licensed school teacher. Ferraro taight elementary school in Astoria, Queens. She was unhappy doing this and decided to attend law school. She later recalled that an admissions officer had said to her, "I hope you're serious, Gerry. You're taking a man's place, you know."

Ferraro graduated with a Juris Doctor degree with honors from Fordham University School of Law in 1960, going to classes at night while continuing to work as a second-grade teacher. She was one of only two women in her graduating class of 179 and was admitted to the bar of New York State in March 1961.

Ferraro married John Zaccaro on July 16, 1960. He became a realtor and businessman. The couple had three children, two daughters and a son (her middle child). While raising her children, Ferraro worked part-time as a civil lawyer in her husband's real estate firm. She became involved in local politics and she met lawyer and future Governor Mario Cuomo, who became her political mentor. In 1970, she was elected president of the Queens County Women's Bar Association.

In January 1974, she was appointed Assistant District Attorney for Queens County, New York by her cousin, District Attorney Nicholas Ferraro. She was assigned to the new Special Victims Bureau, which prosecuted cases involving rape, child abuse, spouse abuse, and domestic violence. Ferraro was named head of the unit in 1977. She gained a reputation for hard work and good judgement. Ferraro later learned that she was being paid less than equivalent male colleagues because she was a married woman. While considering a career change, Cuomo, then Secretary of State of New York, suggested that she run for the House of Representatives.

In 1978 Geraldine Ferraro ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 9th Congressional District in Queens and ran on the slogan "Finally, A Tough Democrat". She won the three-way primary with 53 percent of the vote, and then won in the general election as well, defeating her Republican opponent by a 10 percent margin. It was later discovered that she had financed her campaign in large part from a $110,000 loan from her husband, in violation of campaign finance laws. This transaction were declared illegal by the Federal Election Commission and she had to pay back the loans in October 1978, by way of several real estate transactions. In 1979, her campaign was fined $750 for violating the election law.

Ferraro was elected to be the Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus for 1981–1983 and again for 1983–1985, which in turn entitled her to a seat on the Steering and Policy Committee. In 1983, she was named to the House Budget Committee and she also served on the Public Works and Transportation Committee and the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. She was a cosponsor of the 1981 Economic Equity Act. She was also a member of a congressional delegation to Nicaragua in 1984, where she spoke to members of the Contras.

Ferraro served as one of the deputy chairs for the 1980 Carter-Mondale campaign and she served on the commission that rewrote the Democratic delegate selection rules in 1982, which included the creation of superdelegates. She was chosen as Chairwoman of the Platform Committee for the 1984 Democratic National Convention, the first woman to hold that position.

In the 1984 U.S. presidential election, as Walter Mondale became the likely Democratic nominee, he put forth the idea of picking a woman as his vice-presidential running mate. The idea had support from the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus. Mondale selected Ferraro to be his running mate on July 12, 1984. The Mondale campaign hoped that her selection would be a "game change" as he was well behind incumbent Ronald Reagan at the time. Ferraro was the first woman to run on a major party national ticket in the United States as well as the first Italian American. In her acceptance speech, Ferraro said, "The daughter of an immigrant from Italy has been chosen to run for vice president in the new land my father came to love."

Ferraro gained a huge amount of media attention. At first, the focus was one the novelty of her being a female candidate. She was asked on Meet the Press, "Do you think that in any way the Soviets might be tempted to try to take advantage of you simply because you are a woman?"

The choice of Ferraro did not give Mondale the bump in the polls that he had hoped for. Following the announcement, polls showed that only 22 percent of women were excited about Ferraro's selection, while 18 percent thought it was a "bad idea". By the last week of July, things got worse as the New York Times began reporting about Ferraro's finances, the finances of her husband, John Zaccaro, and their separately filed tax returns. Ferraro promised to release both their returns within a month. The media also reported on the investigation into Ferraro's 1978 campaign funds. Zaccaro resisted releasing his financial information and on August 12, Ferraro announced that her husband would not in fact be releasing his tax returns, on the grounds that to do so would be harmful to his real estate business.

The announcement dominated television and newspapers and Ferraro faced a lot of questions about the issue. Some advised Mondale that Ferraro should leave the ticket. The Philadelphia Inquirer published reports of a possible link between Zaccaro and organized crime figures, but most publishers did not give the story any credence. This led to Zaccaro changing his mind and on August 20 he released his tax records. The disclosure included notice of payment of some $53,000 in back federal taxes that was owed due to what was described as an accountant's error. Ferraro said the statements proved overall that she had nothing to hide and that there had been no financial wrongdoing. But the disclosure that Ferraro and her husband were worth nearly $4 million, had a full-time maid, and owned a boat and the two vacation homes was spun against her to attack Ferraro's image of a rags-to-riches story.

Ferraro performed well at an August 22 press conference covering the final disclosure. She answered all questions for two hours, but by this time significant damage had been done.The issue killed any momentum the Mondale–Ferraro ticket gained out of the convention.

Ferraro was also attacked by representative of the Catholic Church because her position on abortion was at odds with that of her church. She was criticized by Cardinal John O'Connor, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, and James Timlin, the Bishop of Scranton, and she said "I do believe that there are a lot of Catholics who do not share the view of the Catholic Church".

Only one vice-presidential debate took place between Congresswoman Ferraro and Vice President George H. W. Bush, held on October 11, without a clear winner. During the debate she said to Bush, "Let me just say first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy." Second Lady Barbara Bush was quoted as describing Ferraro as "that four-million-dollar—I can't say it, but it rhymes with 'rich'." Mrs. Bush later apologized for the remark.

On October 18 the New York Post accurately reported that her father had been arrested for possession of numbers slips in Newburgh shortly before his death. Ferraro's mother had never told her about his arrest. The story led Ferraro to state that Post publisher Rupert Murdoch "does not have the worth to wipe the dirt under [my mother's] shoes."

By the end of the campaign, Ferraro had traveled more than Mondale and more than Reagan and Bush combined. Mondale and Ferraro lost the general election in a landslide. They received only 41 percent of the popular vote compared to 59% for Reagan and Bush and in the Electoral College won only Mondale's home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Reagan captured 55 percent of women voters according to exit polling. Political observers generally agree that Democrat could have won the election in 1984 and Mondale later said that he had no regrets about choosing Ferraro.

After the election, the House Ethics Committee found that Ferraro had technically violated the Ethics in Government Act by failing to report, or reporting incorrectly, details of her family's finances, and that she should have reported her husband's holdings on her Congressional disclosure forms. The committee concluded that she had acted without "deceptive intent" and no action against her was taken.

Ferraro had relinquished her House seat to run for the vice-presidency. She appeared in a Diet Pepsi commercial in 1985 and she published Ferraro: My Story, an account of the campaign in November 1985. It was a best seller and earned her $1 million. She founded the Americans Concerned for Tomorrow political action committee, which focused on getting ten women candidates elected in the 1986 Congressional elections (eight of whom were successful). She considered running in the 1986 Senate election in New York against Republican incumbent Alfonse D'Amato, but in December 1985, she decided against it, due to an ongoing U.S. Justice Department probe on her and her husband's finances stemming from the 1984 campaign revelations.

In January of 1985 John Zaccaro pled guilty to fraudulently obtaining bank financing in a real estate transaction. He was sentenced to 150 hours of community service.In October 1986, he was indicted on unrelated felony charges regarding an alleged 1981 bribery of Queens Borough President Donald Manes concerning a cable television contract. A year later, he was acquitted of that charge at trial. Ferraro said her husband never would have been charged had she not run for vice president. In February 1986, the couple's son John had been arrested for possession and sale of cocaine. He was convicted, and in June 1988, sentenced to four months imprisonment. Asked in September 1987, whether she would have accepted the vice-presidential nomination had she known of all the family problems that would follow, she said, "More than once I have sat down and said to myself, oh, God, I wish I had never gone through with it."

Ferraro remained active in raising money for Democratic candidates nationwide, especially female candidates. She was a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics from 1988 to 1992, teaching seminars such as "So You Want to be President?" In October 1991, Ferraro ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1992 United States Senate election in New York.In a bitter campaign she lost the nomination by less than a percentage point. D'Amato won the election by a very narrow margin. Following the primary loss, Ferraro became a managing partner in the New York office of Keck, Mahin & Cate, a Chicago-based law firm.

President Clinton appointed Ferraro as a member of the United States delegation to United Nations Commission on Human Rights in January 1993. She attended the June 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna as the alternate U.S. delegate.In October 1993, Clinton promoted her to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. She was named vice-chair of the U.S. delegation to the landmark September 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing Ferraro held the U.N. position until 1996.

In February 1996, Ferraro joined the CNN political talk show Crossfire as the co-host representing the "from the left" viewpoint. She sparred with her "from the right" co-host Pat Buchanan, and the show earned strong ratings. In early 1998 she left Crossfire and ran for the Democratic nomination again in the 1998 New York Senate election. One of her opponents, Congressman Chuck Schumer, outspent her by a five-to-one margin, and she lost to Schumer by a 51 percent to 26 percent margin. Schumer went on to decisively defeat D'Amato in the general election.

The 1998 primary defeat brought an end to Ferraro's political career.

Ferraro complained of feeling unusually tired at the end of her second senate campaign. In November 1998, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. She did not publicly disclose the illness until June 2001, when she went to Washington to successfully press in Congressional hearings for passage of the Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act. Ferraro became a frequent speaker on the disease, and an avid supporter and honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. She was initially given only three to five years to live, but several new drug therapies and a bone marrow transplant in 2005 helped her to manage the disease and live much longer than predicted.

In January 2000, Ferraro and Lynn Martin, a former Republican Congresswoman and U.S. Secretary of Labor, co-founded G&L Strategies, a management consulting firm. Its goal was to advise corporations on how to develop more women leaders and make their workplaces more amenable to female employees. She also became a principal in the government relations practice of the Blank Rome law firm in February 2007, working both in New York and Washington about two days a week in their lobbying and communications activities. Now over 70 years of sage, she said that if she fully retired, she would "go nuts".

In December 2006, Ferraro announced her support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She assisted with fundraising by assuming an honorary post on the finance committee for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. In March 2008 she said in an interview: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." She received strong criticism for the remarks was was accused of racism by some Obama supporters. Clinton publicly expressed disagreement with Ferraro's remarks. Ferraro resigned from Clinton's finance committee on March 12, 2008, saying that she didn't want the Obama camp to use her comments to hurt Clinton's campaign. In April, Ferraro said people were deluging her with negative comments and trying to get her removed from one of the boards she was on. She added, "This has been the worst three weeks of my life." She said that she thought Obama had behaved in a sexist manner and that she might not vote for him.



During September 2008, Ferraro gained attention again following the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, the first such major party bid for a woman since her own in 1984. In reaction to the nomination, Ferraro said, "It's great to be the first, but I don't want to be the only. And so now it is wonderful to see a woman on a national ticket."

Ferraro continued to battle her cancer, making repeated visits to hospitals. In March 2011 she went to Massachusetts General Hospital to receive treatment for pain caused by a fracture, a complication from her multiple myeloma. Once there, however, doctors discovered she had come down with pneumonia. Unable to return home, Ferraro died at Massachusetts General on March 26, 2011.

President Obama said upon her death that "Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life," and said that his own two daughters would grow up in a more equal country because of what Ferraro had done.

Remembering James Garfield

On September 19, 1881 (135 years ago today) James Abram Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, died as the result of gunshot wounds he sustained earlier that year, when he was shot by assassin Charles Guiteau at a Washington DC train station. He was 49 years of age.



On the morning of July 2, 1881, Garfield was on his way to Williams College, his alma mater, where he was scheduled to give a speech. Garfield was accompanied by two members of his cabinet, Secretary of State James G. Blaine and Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, as well as his two sons, James and Harry. As he was walking through the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington at 9:30 a.m., Garfield was shot twice from behind, once across the arm and once in the back.

His assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, was the poster boy of disgruntled office-seekers. Guiteau had deluded himself to believe that he was on close terms with Garfield even though the two had never spoken to each other. Guiteau also believed he was entitled to a Federal appointment as the United States consul in Paris, a position for which he had no qualifications. Guiteau also believed that a short speech he had made to a small group of people during the presidential election campaign was the cause of Garfield's election to the presidency, which therefore justified his appointment. When the appointment did not materialize, Guiteau believed he could save the nation if Garfield was killed.

Guiteau stalked Garfield for weeks, armed with a .44 caliber Webley Bulldog revolver. As Guiteau was being arrested after the shooting, he repeatedly said, "I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts! I did it and I want to be arrested! Arthur is President now!" This very briefly led to unfounded suspicions that Vice-President Chester Alan Arthur or his supporters had put Guiteau up to the crime.

One bullet grazed Garfield's arm. The second bullet was thought later to have lodged near his liver but could not be found. When his autopsy was done, the bullet was found behind the pancreas. Alexander Graham Bell specifically devised a metal detector to find the bullet, but the device's signal was thought to be distorted by the metal bed springs.Later the detector was proved to work perfectly and would have found the bullet had Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss (yes, he was a Doctor of Medicine whose given name was also "Doctor") allowed Bell to use the device on Garfield's left side as well.

Garfield became increasingly ill over a period of several weeks due to infection, which caused his heart to weaken. He remained bedridden in the White House with fever and extreme pain. As the heat of summer became more oppressive for the stricken President, a Navy engineer installed what may have been the world's first air conditioner, in Garfield's bedroom. An air blower was installed over a chest containing 6 tons of ice, with the air then dried by conduction through a long iron box filled with cotton screens, and connected to the room's heat vent. This device was at times capable of reducing the air temperature to 20°F (11°C) below the outside temperature.

On September 6th Garfield was moved to the Jersey Shore in the hope that the fresh air and quiet there might aid his recovery. In a matter of hours, local residents put down a special rail spur for Garfield's train. Some of the ties are now part of the Garfield Tea House.



On Monday, September 19, 1881, at 10:20 p.m. President James Garfield suffered a massive heart attack and a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm, following blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia. Garfield was pronounced dead at 10:35 p.m. by Dr. Bliss in the Elberon section of Long Branch, New Jersey. Mrs. Garfield remained with her dead husband for over an hour until prompted to leave the room. The wounded President died exactly two months before his 50th birthday. His final words were "My work is done."

Guiteau was formally indicted on October 14, 1881, for the murder of the President. Guiteau's counsel argued the insanity defense, but the jury found him guilty on January 5, 1882, and he was sentenced to death. Guiteau was executed on June 30, 1882.



An outstanding book about Garfield's assassination is Candice Millard's 2011 work Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, a review of which was posted in this community here. Also, earlier this year PBS aired an outstanding documentary about Garfield called Murder of a President.

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