Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Five U.S. Presidents You May Have Forgotten

Another article I wrote for my company letter, was going to post it on Presidents' Day but you know how these things go...

Traditionally, Presidents’ Day (February 16) is a federal holiday honoring our nation’s fist president, George Washington, and our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. This month, we would like to honor five lesser-known presidents.

William Henry Harrison, 9th US President. His term (March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841) was the shortest of any US president, only serving the office officially for a little over 30 days before he died of pneumonia. His untimely death, the first death of a US President in office, brought about the 25th Amendment to the Constitution detailing the succession of the US President.

Millard Fillmore, 13th US President, was the second Vice President to take office after the death of the elected president. The most notable accomplishment during his term (July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853) was having California signed in to statehood – a process begun by his predecessor.

James Buchanan, 15th US President, has been ranked by most historians as one of the worst presidents. During his term (March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861) the Southern states declared their secession but Buchanan declared the action illegal and remained inactive on the topic. Failure to avoid the Civil War has been considered the worst single failure by any U.S. president.
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th US President, was sworn in to office after winning the election with a mere one electoral vote over his opponent. His term (March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881) was marred by indecision and conflict including the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 which ended in the death of 70 striking Baltimore & Ohio Railroad employees.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, was dubbed “Silent Cal” for being a man of few words in social situations. He completed Harding’s term as president and then was elected to office in his own right serving as president for a term and a half (August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929). Coolidge signed the Radio Act of 1927 which regulated radio use in the U.S. until the formation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Five Interesting Firsts

I originally wrote this article for my company newsletter, and thought I would post it for others to read as well.

February is Black History Month and typically a time when we reflect upon and appreciate African-Americans that have made an impact on American history. We all know the names Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama. Who are some of the lesser-known African-American history-makers?

First published African-American writer in America – Jupiter Hammon (1711 – 1806?) was a lifelong slave on Long Island, New York who was given a formal eduation and is considered one of the founders of African-American literature. He was deeply religious and his poem “An Evening Thought,” was published in 1760 as a broadside and noted as the first published writing by an African-American in the U.S.

First African-American Lawyer – Macon Bolling Allen (1816 – 1894) was a self-taught lawyer who was accepted to the bar in Portland, Maine is 1844. Soon after that he was admitted to the bar in Boston and became the first African American Justice of the Peace. Allen moved to South Carolina during the American Civil war where he felt his skills as an abolitionist lawyer could be of use.

First African-American Olympic Gold Medal Winner – At the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, track and field athlete John Baxter Taylor, Jr. (1882 – 1908) earned a gold medal for his part in the U.S. medley relay team. Taylor ran the third leg of the medley race, running 400 meters in 49.8 seconds.

First African-American Woman Elected to Congress – Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005) was elected to New York’s Twelfth District congressional seat in the House of Representatives in 1968. In 1972 she became the first major party African-American candidate, and the first woman to run for president.

First African-American to reach the peak of Mount Everest – In 2006 Sophia Danenberg (1972 - ) was the first African-American to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. She suffered many ailments during her climb and bad weather conditions held back the other members of her climbing party. She and her sherpas were the only climbers to witness the event.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eat the View: Part 2

Almost a month ago I posted a video called “This Lawn is Your Lawn”. The video is about the initiative to have the front lawn of the White House be partially converted to a vegetable garden to fill the first kitchen. The movement has been dubbed Victory Garden 2.0 after Eleanor Roosevelt’s WWII era Victory Garden at the White House. I think this is a magnificent idea, and one that Obama should take to heart when he has a moment. I really do believe that if he takes the lead it could have a profound impact on our country in ways we may not be able to calculate. We can’t exactly expect the leader of the free world to focus on something that we find important – then it comes back to us to stand up to do it ourselves.

Around the time that I posted that video Hubby and I had dinner with the Married Couple Collective (MCC) and found that many of us felt the same way about growing our own produce to the extent that we can. The other two wives and I chatted and found that they already had a plan laid out, if not planting beds already built, so they were already ready for planting when the time comes this year. Hubby and I on the other hand, don’t have much in the yard.

When we moved in to this house last year there wasn’t much in the yard but grass and a tree in the back. Last Spring/Summer my main goal was to beautify. We planted three rose bushes, cleaned out some weeds, purchased a lawn mower, and this fall I planted some bulbs. The plan for this season: build planter boxes and grow some veggies for ourselves. The great thing about this plan and the conversation with the MCC, is a built in growing community. We’ve worked out a seed-share program between the three couples to share the packets of seeds that we order.

Really it’s not much. It is just a little bit to provide for me and Hubby, perhaps even share any over abundance I have with others – but my reduced demand in the grocery store might just translate to something larger than I can conceive. I like that.