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15 February

The First Teddy Bear

Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear

Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear

The first Teddy Bear was the brain child of Morris Michtom who was inspired by the political cartoon above.  The cartoon was drawn by Clifford K. Berryman and called “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” where President Theodore Roosevelt is depicted showing compassion for a small bear cub.  Michtom liked the cartoon and showed it to his wife, Rose.  Rose went to create the teddy bear.  On February 15, 1903 the Russian Jewish immigrant placed the little teddy bear in his shop window at 404 Tompkins Avenue, New York.

It was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where it is currently on display.  After the creation of the bear in late 1902, the sale of the bears was so brisk that Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.  Through many mergers the company was eventually part of Mattel.

10 February

25th Amendment to the United States Ratified

George W Bush

George W Bush

This is one of those cool things in American history that keeps coming up in post-apocalyptic movies.  For those who don’t remember the 25th amendment deals with presidential succession.  In other words, if the president is no longer able to continue his duties, who takes over for him.  The amendment was ratified on February 10, 1967.  The amendment really just talks about the vice president taking over for the president.  It also goes one step further to say who steps in if the VP is not able to take the presidents place.

It has been used 6 times.

  1. October 12, 1973 Spiro Agnew resigns, President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford as the new VP, the senate confirmed on November 27 and the house on December 6.
  2. August 9, 1974 Nixon resigns and Gerald Ford steps in and is President.  Ford is the only person to be VP and President without being elected to either position.
  3. December 19, 1974 Gerald Ford leaves VP position, its filled by Nelson Rockfeller.
  4. July 12, 1985 Reagan goes in for surgery acting president is George H.W. Bush.
  5. June 29, 2002 George W. Bush has surgery and Dick Cheney is acting president.
  6. July 21, 2007 George W. Bush again invokes the amendment as he goes in for surgery and Cheney is acting president.

For those of you interested, I know I was, here is the list of who’s next from wikipedia:

Presidential line of succession

Presidential line of succession – wikipeda

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07 January

First U.S. Presidential Election

Electoral College 1789

Electoral College 1789

On this day 224 years ago, Americans as a country chose their first president. However, some might argue that John Hanson was actually America’s first president. You can read and listen to more about that in history podcast #11. During this first election only white male, landowners were allowed to vote. Of course, Washington won this election and was sworn into office on April 30, 1789 to start the very first term of an American President.

It was also the first time the Electoral College was used. That’s they system we still use. It’s a common misconception that the people vote for the president. Americans actually vote for electors who in turn vote for a president. However, the media does follow the popular vote during election night, but the popular vote is not the official mechanism to get a president elected.
There has been much debate about whether America should continue with the Electoral College or use the popular vote. History Channel sums it up well with this:

Critics of the Electoral College argue that the winner-take-all system makes it possible for a candidate to be elected president even if he gets fewer popular votes than his opponent. This happened in the elections of 1876, 1888 and 2000. However, supporters contend that if the Electoral College were done away with, heavily populated states such as California and Texas might decide every election and issues important to voters in smaller states would be ignored.

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19 November

150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address


Today, November 19, marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. On this day, a Thursday, in 1863 President Lincoln delivered what many today call one of the most moving speeches of all time. This short speech, only 278 words, moved the nation that day and forever. You can listen to the Gettysburg address can be listened to here.

On June 1, 1865, Senator Charles Sumner commented on what is now considered the most famous speech by President Abraham Lincoln. In his eulogy on the slain president, he called it a “monumental act.” He said Lincoln was mistaken that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Rather, the Bostonian remarked, “The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech.” –

Lincoln was the second to speak that fateful day at Gettysburg. The first was famed orator Edward Everett who spoke for 2 hours. The next day he wrote to Lincoln:

“Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.” – Edward Everett

In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, with “a new birth of freedom,” that would bring true equality to all of its citizens. You can read Everett ‘s speech here.

There were 5 copies of the speech. Each is named for the person that Lincoln gave it to. Two went to his private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay. Both of them were written around the time of the speech. The three other copies were written after. Everett asked for a copy of the speech to include in a book he was creating, the proceeds would go to charity. George Bancroft also requested a copy to sell, but he never sold it, since it was deemed unfit for its intended purpose. Lincoln then wrote one last copy that was sent to Colonel Alexander Bliss. This copy is the only one that Lincoln signed and it is believe to be the last one he wrote.


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01 November

The Attempted Assassination of President Harry S. Truman

White House Policeman Leslie W. Coffelt

White House Policeman Leslie W. Coffelt

On November 1, 1950, a pair of Puerto Rican nationalists made an attempt on President Truman’s life at Blair House, his temporary residence. The two men, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, sought to bring attention to the Puerto Rican independence movement.

The men attempted to shoot their way into the house from the front door of Blair House. A gun battle ensued on and around the front steps with White House police officers and Secret Service agents. President Truman was awakened in an upstairs bedroom by the sound of gunfire. He rushed to the window, but a guard shouted at him to take cover.

When the dust cleared, three White House policemen were injured, Torresola was killed, and Collazo was wounded. Private Leslie Coffelt, who fired the bullet that killed Torresola, died later that day from his wounds. His badge is displayed in his honor in the Blair House security office.

Collazo’s wife Rosa was arrested by the FBI for conspiracy charges and spent 8 months in jail.  Upon her release she helped gather 100,000 signatures in an effort to save her husband from the electric chair.  In 1952, Collazo was sentenced to death, but President Truman commuted his sentence to life imprisonment to be carried out at Leavenworth.  On September 6, 1979, after spending 29 years in jail, President Jimmy Carter commuted his sentence.  Upon their return to Puerto Rico, they were received as heroes by the different independence groups.  Oscar and Rosa Collazo eventually were divorced.  Rosa Collazo died in May 1988. On February 21, 1994, Oscar Collazo died of a stroke, having passed his 80th birthday by just over a month. The guns used by Collazo and Torresola in the assassination attempt are on display at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.


Read about it:




American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill President Truman--and the Shoot-out That Stopped It

American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill President Truman–and the Shoot-out That Stopped It

American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill President Truman–and the Shoot-out That Stopped It

11 August

John Hanson: First President?

John Hanson:  First President?

John Hanson was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland. He has been called the First President of the United States because he was the first man to serve a full term as President of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation in 1781 and 1782.


The following men served as the President of the Continental Congress:

  • Peyton Randolph (September 5, 1774 – October 21, 1774) and
  • Henry Middleton (October 22, 1774 – October 26, 1774)
  • Peyton Randolph (again) (May 10, 1775 – May 23, 1775)
  • John Hancock (May 24, 1775 – October 31, 1777)
  • Henry Laurens (November 1, 1777 – December 9, 1778)
  • John Jay (December 10, 1778 – September 27, 1779)
  • Samuel Huntington (September 28, 1779 – March 1, 1781)

The following men served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled:

  • Samuel Huntington (March 1, 1781 – July 9, 1781)
  • Thomas McKean (July 10, 1781 – November 4, 1781)
  • John Hanson (November 5, 1781 – November 3, 1782)
  • Elias Boudinot (November 4, 1782 – November 2, 1783)
  • Thomas Mifflin (November 3, 1783 – October 31, 1784)
  • Richard Henry Lee (November 30, 1784 – November 6, 1785)
  • John Hancock (November 23, 1785 – May 29, 1786)
  • Nathaniel Gorham (June 6, 1786 – November 5, 1786)
  • Arthur St. Clair (February 2, 1787 – November 4, 1787)
  • Cyrus Griffin (January 22, 1788 – November 2, 1788)


That Podcast Song
Wikipedia Entry on John Hanson

Disscussion on the topic:

Message 1
Message 2
Message 3
View Sept. 2000

Books on the Subject:

The Forging of the Union, 1781-1789 (New American Nation Series)
Read more…