Herbert Hoover and the Bonus Army

On July 28, 1932 (89 years ago today) President Herbert Hoover ordered the United States Army to forcibly evict the "Bonus Army", a group of World War I veterans who had gathered in Washington, D.C. Hoover ordered US Army soldiers under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to remove a these protesters the nation's capital. Hoover was nearing the end of his first (and only) term as president, unpopular because he was perceived as not doing enough to combat the Great Depression. What happened with the Bonus Army didn't help his chances for re-election, as an arrogant General MacArthur exceeded his orders by attacking the protesters, causing a number of casualties. The incident may have been the final nail in the coffin for Hoover's re-election campaign, which was already on life support. It is a sad chapter in American history, as the men who had fought for their country in 1917 and 1918 were attacked by the very army in which many of them had once served.

Bonus Army

The Bonus Army was the popular name given to a group of about 43,000 protesters, composed on approximately 17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and other affiliated groups. The protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., in the spring and summer of 1932. Ravaged by the Great Depression, the group gathered in the nation's capital to demand the immediate cash-payment redemption of their service certificates. The payment wasn't technically due to them until 1945, but these desperate people needed the money now. Organizers of the march named the group the "Bonus Expeditionary Force", a reference to the name of the First World War's American Expeditionary Force. The news media abbreviated the name to the Bonus March. The group was led by Walter W. Waters, a former Army sergeant.

Many of the war veterans had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression. The World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 had awarded them bonuses in the form of certificates that could not be redeemed until 1945. Each service certificate, issued to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value equal to the soldier's promised payment plus compound interest. The Bonus Army wanted the immediate cash payment of their certificates.

Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most popular military figures of the time, visited their camp to back the effort and encourage them. Some of the protesters camped out in government buildings and other parts of Washington. On July 28, 1932, U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed from all government property. He also ordered the police to remove the Bonus Army veterans from their camp. When the veterans moved back into it, a group of them rushed two policemen trapped on the second floor of a building. The cornered police drew their revolvers and shot two veterans, William Hushka and Eric Carlson, who died from their wounds.

Realizing that the task was too much for the police, President Herbert Hoover then ordered the army to clear the veterans' campsite. Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur commanded the infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. The Bonus Army marchers with their wives and children were driven out of the camp, and their shelters and belongings were ordered burned by MacArthur, in order to prevent their return.

At 4:45 p.m. that day, the 12th Infantry Regiment, Fort Howard, Maryland, under MacArthur's command, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, supported by six battle tanks commanded by Maj. George S. Patton, formed in Pennsylvania Avenue while thousands of civil service employees left work to line the street and watch. The Bonus Marchers, believing the troops were marching in their honor, cheered the troops until Patton ordered the cavalry to charge them. This prompted the spectators to yell, "Shame! Shame!"

After the cavalry charged, the infantry, with fixed bayonets and Adamsite gas, an arsenic-based vomiting agent, entered the camps, and began evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River to their largest camp and President Hoover ordered the assault stopped.

General MacArthur chose to ignore Hoover's order. He believed that the Bonus March was a Communist attempt to overthrow the government. MacArthur ordered a new attack. Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 were arrested in the course of that attack. One veteran's wife miscarried. A baby, 12-week-old Bernard Myers, died in hospital after being caught in a tear gas attack.


During the military operation, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, later President of the United States, served as one of MacArthur's junior aides. Believing it wrong for the Army's highest-ranking officer to lead an action against fellow American war veterans, he strongly advised MacArthur against taking any public role. Eisenhower later said: "I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there. I told him it was no place for the Chief of Staff."

Hoover was incensed when he learned of MacArthur's disobedience to his order, but for some reason he refused to reprimand MacArthur. The entire incident was yet another devastating negative for Hoover, as the 1932 election approached. His opponent, New York governor and Democratic presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt said of Hoover: "There is nothing inside the man but jelly!"

A second, smaller Bonus March was held in 1933 at the start of the Roosevelt Administration. It was defused in May with an offer of jobs for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at Fort Hunt, Virginia, which most of the group accepted. Those who chose not to work for the CCC by the May 22 deadline were given transportation home. Like his predecessor, Roosevelt refused to pay the men their bonuses, but in 1936, Congress overrode Roosevelt's veto and paid the veterans their bonus years early.

Following is a YouTube video showing some film footage of the Bonus Marchers:


The Birth of the Cabinet and the First Department

The Department of State was originally called the Department of Foreign Affairs and it was created by statute on July 27, 1789 (232 years ago today). The name change came into effect on September 15, 1789. The Secretary of State’s main function was to serve as the principal adviser to the President in the determination of foreign policy. Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson as the first State Secretary on September 26, 1789.

Two years earlier, the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787 took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in the old Pennsylvania State House, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The building would later become known as Independence Hall because it was there that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted eleven years earlier. The Convention was intended to revise the first system of government that had been put in place under the Articles of Confederation, but from the outset, many of those attending, including James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York, was to create a new form of government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington of Virginia, former commanding general of the Continental Army in the late American Revolutionary War, to preside over the Convention. The result of the Convention was the creation of the Constitution of the United States.

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After the Convention, a very tired George Washington returned to his estate in Virginia, Mount Vernon, intent on resuming his retirement and letting others govern the new nation. But the public at large wanted Washington to be the nation's first president. Many consider the first U.S. presidential campaign to have been a grassroots effort to convince Washington to take the job. Letters poured into Mount Vernon, many from those who had served under him in the recent war, begging him to accept the position. Gouverneur Morris wrote to Washington, stating: "Thirteen horses are now about to be coupled together. There are some of every race and character. They will listen to your voice and submit to your control. You therefore must, I say must mount this seat." The comte de Rochambeau and the Marquis de Lafayette both wrote letters, urging Washington to accept.

In an August 1788 letter setting out how he felt about all of this, Washington wrote:

"I should unfeignedly rejoice, in case the Electors, by giving their votes to another person would save me from the dreaded dilemma of being forced to accept or refuse. If that may not be–I am, in the next place, earnestly desirous of searching out the truth, and knowing whether there does not exist a probability that the government would be just as happily and effectually carried into execution without my aid."

The Constitution stipulated that the position of Vice-President would be awarded to the runner-up in the presidential election, or the person with the second highest amount of electoral votes. Because Washington was from Virginia, the consensus was that a vice president would be chosen from one of the northern states to ease sectional tensions. In an August 1788 letter, Thomas Jefferson wrote that he considered John Adams and John Hancock, both prominent citizens from Massachusetts, to be the top contenders. In January 1789, upon hearing that Adams would probably win the vice presidency, Washington wrote to Henry Knox, saying that he was "entirely satisfied with the arrangement for filling the second office."

Each state's presidential electors gathered in their state's capital on February 4, 1789, to cast their votes for the president. The election occurred prior to ratification of the Twelfth Amendment, so at that time, each elector cast two votes for the presidency, though the electors were not allowed to cast both votes for the same person. Under the terms of the constitution, the individual who won the most electoral votes would become president while the individual with the second-most electoral votes would become vice president. Each state's votes were sealed and delivered to Congress to be counted.

Washington had declared his willingness to serve. On April 6, 1789, the House and Senate, meeting in joint session, counted the electoral votes and certified that Washington had been elected President of the United States with 69 electoral votes. They also certified that Adams, with 34 electoral votes, had been elected as Vice President. The other 35 electoral votes were divided among: John Jay (9), Robert H. Harrison (6), John Rutledge (6), John Hancock (4), George Clinton (3), Samuel Huntington (2), John Milton (2), James Armstrong (1), Benjamin Lincoln (1), and Edward Telfair (1).

Washington learned of his election on April 14, 1789. He wrote in a letter to Edward Rutledge that he would accept the job, but that the was giving up "all expectations of private happiness in this world." The first presidential term and the first vice presidential term both officially started on March 4, 1789, the date set by the Congress of the Confederation for the beginning of operations of the federal government under the new U.S. Constitution.But because of the difficulties of long-distance travel in 18th century America, they did not begin their jobs until several weeks later. The House of Representatives and the Senate convened on the prescribed date, but both adjourned due to lack of a quorum. The presidential electoral votes could not be counted or certified. The House would not achieve a quorum until April 1, and the Senate on April 6. John Adams arrived in New York a few days before Washington, and first presided over the Senate on April 21. Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York, then the nation's capitol. The presidential oath of office was administered by Chancellor Robert Livingston, the highest judicial officer in the state of New York. Washington took the oath on the building's second floor balcony. After the oath was administered, Livingston shouted "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!"

The new Constitution empowered the president to appoint executive department heads with the consent of the Senate. Three departments had existed under the Articles of Confederation: the Department of War, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Finance Office. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reestablished on July 27, 1789, and would be renamed to the Department of State in September. The Department of War was retained on August 7. The Finance office would be renamed the Department of the Treasury on September 2.

Congress also considered establishing a Home Department to oversee Native American affairs and the preservation of government documents, but these duties were absorbed into the State Department. In September 1789, Congress established the positions of Attorney General, to serve as the chief legal adviser to the president; and Postmaster General, to serve as the head of the postal service.

Initially, Washington met individually with the leaders of the executive departments and the Attorney General, but he began to hold joint meetings in 1791, with the first meeting occurring on November 26. The four positions of Secretary of War, Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, and Attorney General became collectively known as the cabinet. Washington held regular cabinet meetings throughout his second term. The Vice-President did not attend Washington's Cabinet meetings.

Edmund Randolph became the first Attorney General, while Henry Knox retained the position as head of the Department of War, which he had held under the old system of government. Washington initially offered the position of Secretary of State to John Jay, who had served as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs since 1784. Jay had acted as the interim Secretary of State. But Jay expressed his preference for a judicial appointment. Washington selected Thomas Jefferson as the first permanent Secretary of State.

For the key post of Secretary of the Treasury, which would oversee economic policy, Washington chose Alexander Hamilton, after his first choice, Robert Morris, declined. Morris had recommended Hamilton instead. Morris wrote to Washington, "My dear general, you will be no loser by my declining the secretaryship of the Treasury, for I can recommend a far cleverer fellow than I am for your minister of finance in the person of your aide-de-camp, Colonel Hamilton."

Washington's initial cabinet achieved somewhat of a regional balance. It consisted of one individual from New England (Knox), one individual from New York (Hamilton), and two Southerners (Jefferson and Randolph). Washington already had considerable experience in both Foreign affairs and in War, and often relied on his own counsel in those fields. Washington was given broad powers for removing officials in the executive branch. Congress passed a bill sponsored by James Madison that gave the President the power to remove public officials. In 1789, Vice President John Adams cast the deciding vote in the Senate against a bill that would have mandated senatorial consent for the removal of Senate-confirmed federal and cabinet appointments.

Washington set the agenda for cabinet discussions and occasionally requested cabinet opinions in writing. Washington's cabinet members were known for their factionalism, which led to their forming rival parties, much to Washington's displeasure. The most fierce rivalry within the cabinet was that between Hamilton and Jefferson. Their deep philosophical differences set them against each other and they frequently held opposing views about economic and foreign policy issues. Jefferson described his relationship with Hamilton as being "daily pitted, like two cocks." Knox tended to side with Hamilton, while Randolph tried to remain neutral but more often agreed with Jefferson, his fellow Virginian.

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Jefferson left the cabinet at the end of 1793. He was replaced by Randolph, while William Bradford took over as Attorney General. With Jefferson's departure, Hamilton came to dominate the cabinet. Washington looked to him for advice even after Hamilton resigned from the cabinet. Randolph held very little influence in the cabinet and was not held in high regard by Washington. Knox left the cabinet in 1794, and was replaced by Timothy Pickering. Hamilton left the cabinet in 1795, as did Randolph. When they left, Oliver Wolcott became Secretary of the Treasury, and Pickering succeeded Randolph as Secretary of State. James McHenry replaced Pickering as Secretary of War, while Charles Lee became Attorney General after the departure of Bradford.

When Washington left office, he published he farewell address, which stressed the necessity and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, and of the evils of political parties. He called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good.

Lincoln and McClellan

On July 26, 1861 (160 years ago today), General George Brinton McClellan was selected by President Abraham Lincoln to be the commander of the Military Division of the Potomac, the main Union force responsible for the defense of Washington. On August 20, several military units in Virginia were consolidated into McClellan's department and he immediately formed the Army of the Potomac, with himself as its first commander. McClellan brought a high degree of organization to his new army, and greatly improved its morale. But a lack of trust soon developed between McClellan and his President. McClellan refused to divulge any details about his strategic planning, or even mundane details such as troop strengths and dispositions. He claimed not to trust anyone in the administration to keep his plans secret from the press, and thus from the enemy.

On November 1, 1861, Winfield Scott retired and McClellan became general-in-chief of all the Union armies. McClellan had performed reconnaissance missions for Scott during the Mexican War and Scott was a close friend of McClellan's father. Lincoln wondered it the dual role of army commander and general-in-chief was too much for one man, but McClellan responded, "I can do it all." It was a decision Lincoln would come to regret, but at the time it seemed like a smart move. McClellan had been a graduate of West Point and had served with distinction during the Mexican. After that war he left the Army to work on railroads until the outbreak of the war. Early in the conflict, McClellan was appointed to the rank of major general and played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army, which would become the Army of the Potomac in the Eastern Theater; he served a brief period (November 1861 to March 1862) as Commanding General of the United States Army of the Union Army.

Lincoln, as well as many other northern political leaders, became increasingly impatient with McClellan's slowness to attack the Confederate forces gathered near Washington. McClellan displayed an attitude of insubordination to his commander-in-chief. He privately referred to Lincoln, whom he had known before the war as a lawyer for the Illinois Central, as "nothing more than a well-meaning baboon", a "gorilla", and "ever unworthy of his high position." On November 13, he snubbed the president, who came to visit at McClellan's house, by making him wait for 30 minutes, only to be told that the general had gone to bed and could not see him. McClellan biographer Stephen W. Sears, in his book George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon describes the incident as follows (at pages 132-3):

His famous snub of the President was a direct consequence of this attitude. On November 13, Lincoln, Seward and John Hay, paid an evening call on the general-in-chief and were told that he was attending an officer's wedding. They had been waiting in his parlor for an hour when McClellan returned, passed by the parlor door and went upstairs, ignoring his orderly's announcement that the President and Secretary of State were waiting to see him. After half an hour the orderly was sent upstairs to remind the general of his visitors; he returned to say that McClellan had gone to bed. Hay termed it "unparalleled insolence" and "a portent of evil to come." (It was not an isolated instance. A month or so earlier, William Howard Russell of the Times of London noted in his diary a scene at headquarters when the President was sent away by the announcement that General McClellan had gone to bed and would see no one.) Lincoln took no apparent offense, and indeed he returned the next evening for a discussion of future operations, but the contempt inherent in the snub could hardly have escaped him. This arrogance, rarely displayed so publicly, marked the most unpleasant side of George McClellan's character.

In his 1886 autobiography, entitled "McClellan's Own Story", the General fails to mention the incident. In Chapter IX, entitled "Conspiracy of the Politicians", McClellan writes at page 160:

My relations with Mr. Lincoln were generally very pleasant, and I seldom had trouble with him when we could meet face to face. The difficulty always arose behind my back. I believe that he liked me personally, and certainly he was always much influenced by me when we were together.

On March 11, 1862, Lincoln removed McClellan as general-in-chief, leaving him in command of only the Army of the Potomac, so that McClellan would be free to devote all his attention to the move on Richmond. Lincoln later named Major General Henry W. Halleck to the post of General-in-Chief without consulting, or even informing, McClellan. Lincoln offered command of the Army of the Potomac to Major General Ambrose Burnside, who refused the appointment. McClellan failed to move his army to support Major General John Pope, and Pope was beaten decisively at Second Bull Run in August. After this defeat, Lincoln reluctantly named McClellan to command "the fortifications of Washington, and all the troops for the defense of the capital." Later, When McClellan failed to pursue Lee aggressively after the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln ordered that he be removed from command on November 5, 1862 Major General Ambrose Burnside assumed command of the Army of the Potomac on November 7.

McClellan would later run against Lincoln in the election of 1864 as the candidate for the Democratic Party. Lincoln won the election handily, with 212 Electoral College votes to 21 and won the popular vote by 403,000 votes, or 55%. For all his popularity with the troops, McClellan failed to secure their support and the military vote went to Lincoln nearly 3-1. Lincoln's share of the vote in the Army of the Potomac was 70%.

The Nixon Doctrine

On July 25, 1969 (52 years ago today), President Richard Nixon declared what became known as "the Nixon Doctrine". He made the pronouncement at a press conference while in Guam. Nixon would later spell this out in greater detail in a speech he gave on the subject of "Vietnamization" of the Vietnam War on November 3, 1969. Simply stated, Nixon declared that "the United States would assist in the defense and developments of allies and friends", but would not "undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world." He said that each ally nation was responsible for its own security in general, but the United States would act as a sort of nuclear umbrella when requested. The Nixon Doctrine also called for peace through a partnership with American allies.


When Nixon was elected president and first inaugurated, the United States had been engaged in combat in Vietnam for almost four years, with no end in sight. By then over 30,000 Americans had been killed in the war and several hundred thousand Vietnamese citizens had also been killed. By January of 1969 when Nixon was sworn in as President, public opinion in the nation had moved decisively to favoring ending the Vietnam War. This opinion persisted early into Nixon's Presidency. For example, a Gallup poll taken in May of 1969 showed that 56% of those polled believed that sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake. Of those over 50 years old, 61% expressed that belief, compared to 49% of those between ages 21 and 29. Even knowing that this might ultimately lead to a complete Communist takeover of South Vietnam and an unwillingness to hold to the nation's treaty requirements, a majority of Americans polled were still opposed to continuing the war. Nixon had campaigned for "Peace with Honor" in Vietnam during the 1968 presidential campaign, and ending the war there became an important priority for him.

In July of 1969, Nixon made a stopover on the United States territory of Guam during an international tour and it was there that Nixon formally announced his Doctrine. Nixon declared the United States would honor all of its treaty commitments in Asia, but "as far as the problems of international security are concerned, the United States is going to encourage and has a right to expect that this problem will increasingly be handled by, and the responsibility for it taken by, the Asian nations themselves."

Several months later, on November 3, 1969, speaking from the Oval Office in an address to the nation on the War in Vietnam, Nixon presented the nation with a list of his intentions. He said:

"First, the United States will keep all of its treaty commitments. Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security. Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense."

One of Nixon's goals was to reduce the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and mainland China, in order to pursue his policy of détente. But the policy was not limited to southeast Asia. In the middle east, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran used Nixon's remarks to justify his request for the United States to sell him arms without limitations. Nixon agreed with this and considered Saudi Arabia and Iran as what he called the "twin pillars" of regional stability. Arms sales to that region were funded by increases in the price of oil in 1970 and 1971 to fund both states with their military expansion. Arms transfers from the United States to Iran increased from $103.6 million in 1970 to $552.7 million in 1972. Sales of arms to Saudi Arabia increased from $15.8 million in 1970 to $312.4 million in 1972. The United States limited its involvement in the region to a small naval force of three ships in the Gulf, which had been stationed there since World War II in Bahrain.

The Nixon Doctrine was also motivated by economic factors. The Vietnam War had proven to be very expensive, as Nixon's predecessor Lyndon Johnson had learned. The cost of the war severely curtailed Johnson's "Great Society" initiatives and his "War on Poverty." Nixon also reduced troop numbers in South Korea with nearly of third of the 61,000 US troops previously stationed being withdrawn by June 1971.


Although Nixon instituted phased U.S. troop withdrawals, he also authorized incursions into Laos and Cambodia, in order to interrupt the "Ho Chi Minh trail", which was used to supply North Vietnamese forces. Nixon announced the ground invasion of Cambodia to the American public on April 30, 1970. This led to further protests over what many Americans saw as an expansion of the conflict. Unrest escalated to violence won May 4, 1970 when Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four unarmed students. Appearing frazzled, Nixon made an impromptu, early morning meeting with protesters at the Lincoln Memorial on May 9, 1970. Nixon was accused of having a credibility gap because on the one hand he promised to reduce US involvement in the war, while at the same time escalating the bombing there. Somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 people were killed during the bombing of Cambodia between 1970 and 1973.

In 1971, excerpts from the "Pentagon Papers" were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and published by The New York Times and The Washington Post. Nixon was persuaded by Henry Kissinger that the Papers were more harmful than they appeared, and Nixon tried to prevent publication, but the US Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of the newspapers.


U.S. troop withdrawals continued and the draft was reduced and finally ended in 1973 with the armed forces becoming all-volunteer. The Paris Peace Accords were signed at the beginning of 1973, implementing a cease fire and allowing for the withdrawal of remaining American troops without requiring the 160,000 North Vietnam Army regulars located in the South to withdraw. After American combat support ended, there was a brief truce, but fighting soon broke out again. North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam in 1975. By then Nixon had resigned as President.

Remembering Martin Van Buren

On July 24, 1862 (159 years ago today), Martin Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States and the first President from New York, died in the same community where he was born, Kinderhook, New York, at the age of 79.

Kinderhook is about 23 miles south of Albany, New York. Martin's father Abraham Van Buren was a farmer who was also a slaveholder. He had six slaves. Abraham was also a tavern-keeper in Kinderhook and supported the American Revolution and later the Jeffersonian Republicans. Martin Van Buren's mother was Maria Van Alen (née Hoes) Van Buren.

Van Buren was the first president born as a citizen of the United States, as all previous presidents were born before the American Revolution. His great-great-great-grandfather Cornelis Maessen van Buren had come to America in 1631 from the small city of Buren, Dutch Republic, in present day Netherlands. Van Buren grew up in a Dutch-speaking community. His native language was Dutch, and he was the only President who spoke English as a second language.

Martin Van Buren became involved in politics at the age of 17, and was a supporter of Aaron Burr. He became a lawyer and served as Attorney General of New York from 1815 to 1819, a US Senator from New York from 1821 to 1828 and Governor of New York for 3 months in 1829 before being selected by President Andrew Jackson as his Secretary of State. He earned a reputation as a good politician and political organizer. His prowess and skill earned him the nickname "the Little Magician".

Van Buren won Jackson's approval by his courtesy to Peggy Eaton, wife of Secretary of War John H. Eaton, with whom the wives of the cabinet officers (led by Vice President John C. Calhoun's wife, Floride Calhoun) had refused to associate, in what was known as "the Petticoat Affair." Jackson picked Van Buren as his Vice-President for his second term and then chose him as his successor in the election of 1836.

As President, Van Buren did not want the United States to annex Texas. His administration was mostly remembered for the severe economic recession of his time, known as "the Panic of 1837". Van Buren paid the price for his predecessor's war with the Bank of the United States and Jackson's decision to rescind the Bank's Charter. He was unfairly scapegoated for the depression and was pejoratively called "Martin Van Ruin" by his political opponents. He is also remembered by historian unfavorably for his carrying out the Indian removal policies of his predecessor Jackson. The actual sad march of displaced members of First Nations known as the "Trail of Tears" happened on Van Buren's watch.

In the election of 1840 Van Buren lost his bid for reelection to Whig candidate William Henry Harrison, in a campaign in which the spin doctors of the day portrayed Harrison as a poor cider-drinking man born in a log cabin, while Van Buren was spun as being fancy and rich.

Upon leaving the White House, Van Buren returned to his estate, Lindenwald in Kinderhook, where he planned on a return to the White House. When the Democratic convention began in 1844, Van Buren was at first considered to be the front runner. But he sunk his chances with a famous letter of April 27, 1844, in which he opposed the immediate annexation of Texas. At the Democratic convention in Baltimore, he had a majority of the votes, but not the two-thirds which the convention required, and after eight ballots his name was withdrawn. James K. Polk received the nomination instead.

In 1848, Van Buren was nominated by two minor parties, first by the "Barnburner" faction of the Democrats, then by the Free Soilers, with whom the "Barnburners" later merged. He didn't win any electoral votes, but took enough votes in New York to give the state — and perhaps the election — to Zachary Taylor. In the election of 1860, he voted for the fusion ticket in New York which was opposed to Abraham Lincoln, but he was critical of President Buchanan's course in dealing with secession and eventually supported Lincoln.

Van Buren then retired to his home in Kinderhook. After being bedridden with a case of pneumonia during the fall of 1861, Martin Van Buren died of bronchial asthma and heart failure at his Lindenwald estate in Kinderhook at 2:00 a.m. on July 24, 1862. He is buried in the Kinderhook Cemetery along with his wife Hannah, his parents, and his son Martin Van Buren, Jr. Van Buren outlived his four immediate successors as President (William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor).

Remembering Ulysses Grant

On July 23, 1885 (136 years ago today) Ulysses Grant, the 18th President of the United States, died at Mount McGregor, New York, at the age of 63. His love of cigars had caught up with him and throat cancer had claimed another victim.

He was born with the name Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822 at Point Pleasant, Ohio. When he was 17, Grant was nominated by Congressman Thomas L. Hamer for a position at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Hamer mistakenly nominated him as "Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio." At West Point, he adopted this name with a middle initial only. His nickname became "Sam" among army colleagues at the academy, since the initials "U.S." stood for "Uncle Sam". The "S", according to Grant, did not "stand for anything", though Hamer had used it to abbreviate Grant's mother's maiden name.

Grant fought in the Mexican War as a Lieutenant, but left the army in 1854 with the rank of Captain after given an ultimatum concerning his drinking. He experienced a series of business failures and reluctantly went to work for his father. When the Civil War began, he accepted a position offered by Illinois Governor Richard Yates to recruit and train volunteer units, but what Grant really wanted was a field command in the regular Army. He made multiple efforts to acquire such a position including seeking a meeting with his Mexican War Colleague George McClellan (now commander of the Union Army - McClellan refused to meet with Grant). He had no success.

Grant was promoted to Colonel by Governor Yates on June 14, 1861, and put in charge of the unruly Twenty-first Illinois Volunteer Regiment. A victory at the capture of Fort Donelson enhanced Grant's military reputation and he was ultimately put in command of the Union Army by President Abraham Lincoln, who said of Grant "I like this man, he fights." Under Grant, the Union Army defeated the Confederate army and effectively ended the war with the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox. Grant became a close friend of President Lincoln and was also admired by his fellow northerners. He likely literally "dodged a bullet" when he declined an invitation to join the Lincolns at Ford's Theater on the night of Lincoln's assassination because his wife did not like Mrs. Lincoln. During the term of Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, Grant briefly and reluctantly served as Acting Secretary of War.

It was widely expected that the popular Grant would be elected president, and this occurred in 1868. Grant supported the Radical Republicans in their effort to eliminate all vestiges of slavery. He waged a successful suppression of the Ku Klux Klan in 1871. As president, he supported Reconstruction by enforcing civil rights laws and fighting Klan violence. Grant was President as the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment occurred. It gave constitutional protection for African American voting rights. He used the army to build the Republican Party in the South by protecting the rights of freedmen. As a result, African Americans were represented in the U.S. Congress for the first time in American history in 1870.

Grant's reputation as president by 1873 was at an all time high. But his reputation was marred by his repeated defense of corrupt appointees, and by the deep economic depression (called the "Panic of 1873") that dominated his second term. Although his Republican Party split in 1872 with reformers denouncing him, Grant was easily reelected. By 1874 the opposition was gaining strength and when he left the White House in March 1877, his successor Rutherford Hayes ordered federal troops to be withdrawn from the south, as white southerners regained control of every state in the south and reconstruction ended on a note of failure with the civil rights of African-Americans left unprotected.

After leaving office, Grant embarked on a two-year world tour that included many enthusiastic royal receptions. In 1880, he made an unsuccessful bid for a third presidential term. The trip around the world, although successful, was costly. When Grant returned to America, he had depleted most of his savings from the long trip and needed to earn money. He became a principal in the establishment of the new Mexican Southern Railroad Co., which failed. In 1881, Grant purchased a house in New York City and at the suggestion of his son Buck, and he placed almost all of his financial assets into Grant & Ward, the investment banking partnership which his son had established with Ferdinand Ward. In 1884, Ward swindled Grant and other investors who had been encouraged by Grant, bankrupted the company, and fled. Although he was short on funds himself, Grant was compelled by a sense of personal honor and with a personal loan of $150,000 from William H. Vanderbilt, he repaid those swindled by Ward, and repaid the loan by selling his Civil War mementos. Although the market value did not completely cover the loan, Vanderbilt insisted the loan was paid in full. The matter left Grant financially destitute.

Grant learned in 1884 that he was suffering from throat cancer. He had forfeited his military pension when he assumed the Presidency, but Congress subsequently restored Grant to the rank of General of the Army with full retirement pay. At the suggestion of Robert Johnson, Grant wrote several articles on his Civil War campaigns for The Century Magazine at $500 each. The articles were well received by critics, and Johnson suggested Grant write a book of memoirs, as Sherman and others had successfully done. Grant took up the project. Century offered Grant a book contract, including a 10% royalty. When Grant shared this information with his friend Mark Twain, Twain suggested that Grant counter with a request for double the royalty; at the same time, he made his own offer to Grant for his memoirs, talking of a 75% royalty. Grant ultimately decided on Twain's company, Charles L. Webster and Co., as his publisher. His son Fred assisted primarily with references and proofing. Grant finished his memoir just a few days before his death. They sold 350,000 two-volume sets at prices from $3.50 to $12 (depending on the binding). Each copy contained what looked like a handwritten note from Grant himself. In the end, Grant's widow Julia received about $450,000.

Grant died of throat cancer at the age of 63 in Mount McGregor. His last words were, "I hope that nobody will be distressed on my account." After lying in state, Grant's body was placed on a funeral train and traveled via West Point to New York City. His body lies in New York City's Riverside Park, beside that of his wife, in Grant's Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America. Grant is also honored by the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial at the base of Capitol Hill in Washington.

Franklin Roosevelt's Plan to Control the United States Supreme Court

On July 22, 1937 (84 years ago today) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Judicial Procedures Reform Bill was defeated 70-20 in the Senate and sent back to committee. It was the end of Roosevelt's proposed "court-packing" plan, a scheme designed to thwart rejection of some of Roosevelt's New Deal Programs by the high court. It was the most notorious interaction between the Executive and Judicial branches of government in recent history, and it took place in the late 1930s when Franklin Delano Roosevelt unveiled his creative plan to control the court. On February 5, 1937 Roosevelt unveiled proposed legislation known as the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, though the whole affair is better known colloquially as Roosevelt's "Court-Packing Plan."

FDR proposed to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, increasing the size of the court. By adding more Justices who were more philosophically in step with him, FDR's goal was to obtain favorable rulings for pieces of New Deal legislation that had been previously ruled unconstitutional. The most controversial provision of the bill would have granted the President power to appoint up to six more Justices to the court, one for every sitting member over the age of 70.

During Roosevelt's first term, the Court had struck down several of his New Deal measures intended to bolster economic recovery during the Great Depression. Democrats accused a narrow majority of the court of being obstructionist and political. Since the U.S. Constitution does not limit the size of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt sought to counter this entrenched opposition to his political agenda by expanding the size of the court in order to create a pro-New Deal majority on the bench.

The legislation was unveiled on February 5, 1937 and on March 9, 1937, Roosevelt addressed the nation about his plan in one of his "Fireside chats" radio addresses. Later that month, on March 29, the Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding a Washington state minimum wage law in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish by a 5–4 ruling. Justice Owen Roberts had joined with the wing of the bench that was more sympathetic to the New Deal. Since Roberts had previously ruled against most New Deal legislation, his perceived about-face was widely interpreted by many as an effort to alleviate the political pressure to create a court more friendly to the New Deal. Journalists of the day called his move "the switch in time that saved nine."

Roosevelt's plan failed largely due to adverse public opinion. The retirement of one Supreme Court Associate Justice Willis Van Devanter allowed Roosevelt to fill the vacancy with a nominee more sympathetic to the New Deal, allowing him to regain a majority of support on the bench. The unexpected and sudden death of the legislation's U.S. Senate quarterback, Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson, was another mortal wounding of the plan. Following Robinson's death, Vice President John Nance Garner informed Roosevelt, "You are beat. You haven't got the votes."

The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated in an address he gave in 2004:

"President Roosevelt lost the Court-packing battle, but he won the war for control of the Supreme Court ... not by any novel legislation, but by serving in office for more than twelve years, and appointing eight of the nine Justices of the Court. In this way the Constitution provides for ultimate responsibility of the Court to the political branches of government. [Yet] it was the United States Senate - a political body if there ever was one - who stepped in and saved the independence of the judiciary ... in Franklin Roosevelt's Court-packing plan in 1937."

First Bull Run

On July 21, 1861 (160 years ago today) the Battle of First Bull Run, also known as First Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought in Prince William County, Virginia, near the city of Manassas. It was the first major land battle of the Civil War.


Just months after the start of the war at Fort Sumter, the Northern public was itching for action and the press was calling for a march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Many northerners believed that this would bring an early end to the rebellion. Yielding to public and political pressure, Brigadier General Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against the equally inexperienced Confederate Army of Brigadier General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard which was camped near Manassas Junction. McDowell was concerned about the untried nature of his army, but President Abraham Lincoln told him, "You are green, it is true, but they are green also; you are all green alike."McDowell's plan for a surprise flank attack on the Confederate left was poorly executed.

Confederate reinforcements under Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston arrived from the Shenandoah Valley by railroad and the course of the battle quickly changed. A brigade of Virginians under a relatively unknown colonel from the Virginia Military Institute, Thomas J. Jackson, stood their ground, giving Jackson his famous nickname "Stonewall Jackson". The Confederates then launched a strong counterattack, and as the Union troops began withdrawing under fire, many panicked. McDowell's men frantically ran without order in the direction of Washington, D.C. The fierce fighting and numerous casualties made both sides realize that the war was going to be much longer and bloodier than either had anticipated.


Bull Run was the largest and bloodiest battle in American history up to that point. That would soon change. But at the Battle of Firsr Bull Run, Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, and 1,312 missing or captured. Confederate casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing. The Northern public was shocked at the unexpected defeat of their army when an easy victory had been widely anticipated. Both sides quickly came to realize the war would be longer and more brutal than they had imagined. On July 22 President Lincoln signed a bill that provided for the enlistment of another 500,000 men for up to three years of service.

The battle was a clash between two large, poorly-trained bodies of recruits, led by inexperienced officers. Nearly 60,000 men were present at the battle, but only 18,000 had actually been engaged on each side. McDowell was later criticized for spending most of his energy maneuvering regiments and brigades, instead of controlling and coordinating the movements of his army as a whole. Johnston's decision to transport his infantry to the battlefield by rail played a major role in the Confederate victory. Jackson's brigade had fought almost alone for four hours and sustained over 50% casualties.

The First Battle of Bull Run made the combatants realize that the war would not be won by one large battle. Both sides began preparing for a long and bloody conflict. The battle demonstrated the need for adequately trained and experienced officers and men. One year later, many of the same soldiers who had fought at First Bull Run, now combat veterans, would have an opportunity to test their skills on the same battlefield at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

The embedded video below, produced by American Battlefield Trust, provides a five-minute explanation of the battle.


The Moon Landing

On July 20, 1969 (52 years ago today) Apollo 11 became the first spaceflight that landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while his teammates were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface, at a site they had named Tranquility Base upon landing, before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit.

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The Apollo program, also known as Project Apollo, was the third human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The program successfully landing the first humans on the Moon from 1968 to 1972. It was first conceived during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration as a three-person spacecraft to follow the one-person Project Mercury, the prgram which put the first Americans in space. Apollo was later dedicated in honor of President John F. Kennedy's national goal for the 1960s of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth," a pledge that Kennedy had made in an address to Congress on May 25, 1961. It was the third US human spaceflight program to fly, preceded by the two-person Project Gemini conceived in 1961 to extend spaceflight capability in support of Apollo.

After Apollo 11, five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last, Apollo 17, in December 1972. In these six spaceflights, twelve people walked on the Moon. Apollo ran from 1961 to 1972, with the first crewed flight in 1968. It encountered a major setback in 1967 when an Apollo 1 cabin fire killed the entire crew during a prelaunch test. After the first successful landing, sufficient flight hardware remained for nine follow-on landings with a plan for extended lunar geological and astrophysical exploration, but three of these were cancelled due to budget cuts.

The Apollo 13 landing was prevented by an oxygen tank explosion in transit to the Moon, which destroyed the service module's capability to provide electrical power. The crew returned to Earth safely by using the lunar module as a "lifeboat" for these functions.

The Apollo program returned 842 pounds of lunar rocks and soil to Earth, providing a better understanding of the Moon's composition and geology.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 at 13:32 UTC, and it was the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages—a descent stage for landing on the Moon and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit. After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V's third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20. The astronauts used Eagle's ascent stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the command module. They jettisoned Eagle and then propelled Columbia out of the last of its 30 lunar orbits onto a trajectory back to Earth. They returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.

Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event in his first words spoken on the moon's surface: "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, and the first manned space flight by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had motivated NASA to proposed a manned lunar landing by the early 1970s. President Dwight Eisenhower held an ambivalent attitude on manned spaceflight, and early in his presidency, President Kennedy was ready to dismantle the manned space program. His Vice-President, Lyndon Johnson, was a strong supporter of the space program in the Senate. Johnson was given a major role in overseeing the administration's space policy, and at Johnson's recommendation Kennedy appointed James E. Webb to head NASA. In April 1961, after Gagarin became the first person to fly in space, American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union grew. Less than a month later, Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space, strengthening Kennedy's confidence in NASA.

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After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Kennedy felt pressured to respond to the erosion of American prestige. He asked Johnson to explore the feasibility of beating the Soviets to the Moon. Kennedy reluctantly agreed to Johnson's recommendation that the U.S. commit to a manned lunar landing as the major objective of the U.S. space program. In a May 25, 1961 speech, Kennedy famously declared:

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

Gallup polling showed that many in the public were skeptical of the necessity of the Apollo Program, members of Congress were strongly supportive in 1961, and they approved a major increase in NASA's funding. In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, and the following year Mariner program sent an unmanned flight past Venus. Though some members of Congress came to favor shifting NASA's budget to other programs, Kennedy and Johnson remained committed to the lunar landing.

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After a nearly decade-long effort, the United States won the race to land astronauts on the moon on July 20, 1969. President Richard Nixon spoke with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their moonwalk, calling the conversation "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House". He met with the astronauts on their return to earth. But Nixon was unwilling to keep funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the high level seen through the 1960s, and rejected NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine's ambitious plans for the establishment of a permanent base on the moon by the end of the 1970s and the launch of a manned expedition to Mars in the 1980s. On May 24, 1972, Nixon approved a five-year cooperative program between NASA and the Soviet space program, culminating in the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, a joint mission of an American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft in 1975.

Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick

Today is the 52nd anniversary of what is known as the "Chappaquiddick Incident." On the night of July 18, 1969, Massachusetts Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, younger brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, was on Martha's Vineyard's Chappaquiddick Island at a party he gave for the "Boiler Room Girls", a group of young women who had worked on his brother Robert's presidential campaign the year before. Kennedy left the party, driving a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 with one of the women, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. Sometime after midnight on the morning of July 19, 1969, Kennedy drove his vehicle off of Dike Bridge into the Poucha Pond inlet, a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy escaped from the overturned vehicle, and according to his description of the event, he dove below the surface seven or eight times, attempting in vain to reach Kopechne. Ultimately, he swam to shore and left the scene of the accident, without calling police that night. He contacted authorities the next morning, but Kopechne's body had already been discovered.


On July 25, 1969, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was given a suspended sentence of two months. That night, he gave a statement on national television in which he said, "I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately." Kennedy denied driving under the influence of alcohol and denied any immoral conduct between him and Kopechne. Kennedy asked the Massachusetts electorate whether he should stay in office or resign. He claimed that he received a favorable response in messages sent to him, and apparently it didn't matter to Massachusetts voters because Kennedy was re-elected the following year with 64% of the vote, and re-elected in all subsequent elections until his death in office.

Following is a YouTube video of part of Kennedy's statement:

Just a year previously, at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in August, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and some other party factions did not think that Vice-President Hubert Humphrey could not unite the party, and they encouraged Ted Kennedy to make himself available for a draft. Then 36 years old, Kennedy was seen as the heir to his brothers' legacy and "Draft Ted" movements sprang up among delegates. After testing the political winds and getting a negative reaction from Southern delegates, Kennedy rejected any move to place his name before the convention as a candidate for the nomination. He also declined consideration for the vice-presidential spot.

Chappaquiddick had greatly damaged Kennedy's future presidential prospects. Shortly after the incident, he told reporters that he would not be a candidate in the 1972 U.S. presidential election. In 1971 when some polls suggested he could win the nomination if he tried, Kennedy gave some more thought to running. In May of that year he decided not to run. In November 1971, a Gallup Poll still had him in first place in the Democratic nomination race with 28 percent. When George McGovern was close to clinching the Democratic nomination in June 1972, various anti-McGovern forces tried to get Kennedy to enter the contest at the last minute, but he declined. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention McGovern repeatedly tried to recruit Kennedy as his vice presidential running mate, without success. When McGovern's choice of Thomas Eagleton stepped down soon after the convention, McGovern again tried to get Kennedy to take the nod, again without success. McGovern instead chose Kennedy's brother-in-law Sargent Shriver.

Kennedy finally ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1980 presidential election by running against the incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter. A midsummer 1978 poll had shown Democrats preferring Kennedy over Carter by a 5-to-3 margin. Carter was not intimidated despite his 28 percent approval rating, saying publicly: "If Kennedy runs, I'll whip his ass." Labor unions urged Kennedy to run, as did some Democratic party officials who feared that Carter's unpopularity would lead to bad losses in the 1980 congressional elections. In August 1979, when Kennedy decided to run, polls showed him with a 2-to-1 advantage over Carter, and Carter's approval rating slipped to 19 percent.

Kennedy formally announced his campaign on November 7, 1979, at Boston's Faneuil Hall. He received negative press from a rambling response to the question "Why do you want to be President?" during an interview with Roger Mudd of CBS News. The Iranian hostage crisis, which began on November 4, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which began on December 27, caused the electorate to rally around the president, allowed Carter to pursue a strategy of staying at the White House.

Kennedy's campaign staff was disorganized and the Chappaquiddick incident became a more significant factor than expected. Several newspaper columnists and editorials criticizing Kennedy's answers on the matter. In the January 1980 Iowa caucuses, Carter demolished Kennedy by a 59–31 percent margin. Kennedy's fundraising dropped off and his campaign had to downsize, but he remained defiant, saying "Now we'll see who is going to whip whose what." Kennedy lost three New England contests. Continued concern about Chappaquiddick and Kennedy's personal character prevented him from gaining support of many people who were disillusioned with Carter. In a St. Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago, Kennedy had to wear a bullet-proof vest due to assassination threats as hecklers yelled "Where's Mary Jo?"

Carter ran ads that by implication criticized Kennedy on Chappaquiddick, but Kennedy still managed a narrow win in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. Carter won 11 of 12 primaries held in May, while on the June 3 Super Tuesday primaries, Kennedy won California, New Jersey, and three smaller states out of eight contests. Overall, Kennedy had won 10 presidential primaries against Carter, who won 24. Although Carter had enough delegates to clinch the nomination, Kennedy carried his campaign on to the 1980 Democratic National Convention in August in New York.


On the second night of the convention, August 12, Kennedy delivered what was probably the most famous speech of his career. He concluded with these words:

For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

The Madison Square Garden audience reacted with wild applause and demonstrations for half an hour. On the final night of the convention, Kennedy arrived after Carter's acceptance speech, and while he shook Carter's hand, he failed to raise Carter's arm in the traditional show of party unity. Carter's difficulty in securing Kennedy supporters during the general election campaign was seen as one of many reasons for his defeat in November of 1980 to Ronald Reagan.