Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Franklin Pierce

In 1852 Franklin Pierce (1804-1869) won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States because the four strongest candidates were in a stalemate. Pierce was selected because he strongly favored the option to settle the slavery issue by the Compromise of 1850. Pierce was only 48 when he became President and thus was the youngest President to that time. Pierce was good looking and had an impressive speaking manner. The people of New Hampshire thought he was a good Representative and Senator and appreciated his military service in the Mexican War. He was not well known outside his home state. Pierce had two main problems during his administration: 1) The North grew increasingly in opposition to slavery. 2) Prejudice against immigrants was increasing. One of the most prosperous times in American history happened during Pierce's presidency. Two popular songs came out during the time period - "My Old Kentucky Home Good Night" by Stephen Foster and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" (Christmas 1855). Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804, in Hillsboro, New Hampshire. He had eight siblings, six older and two younger. His father fought in the Revolutionary War, was a brigadier general in the state militia and served two terms as governor of New Hampshire. Franklin attended an academy in Hancock at age 11. He also attended the academy at Francestown, New Hampshire, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Pierce and Nathaniel Hawthorne became good friends while attending Bowdoin College. For the first two years of college Pierce was mainly interested in the social life. At the end of his first two years, he was ranked last in his class. He apparently settled down a lot because he was ranked third in his class at graduation in 1824. Pierce studied law and opened his own law office in Concord, New Hampshire. He served two terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In 1833 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. After serving two terms there, he was elected to the United States Senate where he was the youngest Senator at age 33. Pierce married Jane Means Appleton in 1834. She had tuberculosis and disliked Washington. She rarely went to Washington with Pierce. Two of their three sons died in early childhood. Pierce resigned from the Senate in 1842, just prior to the end of his term, in order to be with his wife. Pierce was commissioned a colonel in the United States Army by President James K. Polk when the Mexican War began in 1846. A few months later he was promoted to brigadier general. After the war he resumed his law practice and became a leading Democrat in New Hampshire. After 49 ballots at the Democratic Convention, he was chosen to head the Democratic ticket. Pierce won the popular vote and carried the most states. Pierce's remaining son, Benjamin, died in a railroad accident at age 11 just two months before the inauguration. Mrs. Pierce did not attend the inauguration because she had collapsed with grief. For nearly two years she secluded herself in an upstairs bedroom while her aunt served as White House hostess. After January 1, 1855, Mrs. Pierce frequently attended state dinner but was still melancholy. Important events during the Pierce presidency: 1) The Gadsden Purchase from Mexico in 1853 settled the boundary question with Mexico, added property to the United States, and allowed for a southern railroad route to the Pacific Coast. 2) Congress organized the Kansas and Nebraska territories in 1854 and allowed the territories to decide if they wanted to be slave or free. 3) The Crimean War was fought from 1853 to 1856 between Russia and allied forces of France, Great Britain, Turkey, and Sardinia. It ended in a Russian defeat. 4) Florence Nightingale of England took charge of a hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War and established new hospital and nursing care standards. She gained international acclaim because her efforts saved many lives. 5) The Republican Party was established in 1854 by anti-slavery groups who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. 6) Frederick Douglas, a runaway slave who became the leading spokesman for black rights in the 1800's, published his autobiography, My Bondage, My Freedom, in 1855. 7) The Bessemer steel process was invented by Sir Henry Bessemer of England in 1856. It was the first process invented to make large quantities of steel inexpensively. Facts for this post came from an article by Philip S. Klein in the World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, pp 454-457.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a national patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day set aside to remember and honor Americans who gave their lives for their country. Memorial Day was originally designated to honor the military personnel who died during the Civil War (1861-1865). It was later changed to honor all those men and women who die in any war while fighting for the Unite States. Memorial Day is sometimes called Decoration Day because it is a day to decorate or put flowers and flags on graves. I knew the day as Decoration Day long before I heard it called Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a legal holiday in most states and is observed the last Monday in May by most Northern States and some Southern States. The last Monday in May was made a federal law, effective in 1971. Most of the Southern States also honor the Confederate dead on their own specified days. Mississippi chose the last Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama celebrates on the fourth Monday in April. Georgia designated April 26 to observe this holiday. North Carolina and South Carolina chose to celebrate the holiday on May 10. Virginia honors their dead on the last Monday in May. Louisiana celebrates on June 3. On that same day, Tennessee observes Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on January 19. Memorial Day is a day when people put flowers and flags on the graves of military personnel. Many organizations march in military parades and hold special programs. The reading of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is often included in Memorial Day programs. Memorial Day is often chosen as the day to dedicate memorials. Military exercises and special programs are held at Gettysburg National Military Park and at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Some United States ports organize ceremonies where tiny ships filled with flowers are set afloat on the water to honor those who died at sea. Memorial Day has also been known as Poppy Day since World War I ended. Small, red artificial poppies are sold by volunteers to help disabled veterans. The day has now become a when many Americans choose to decorate their loved ones' graves. Although several communities claim to have started Memorial Day, the United States government proclaimed in 1966 that it started in Waterloo, New York. The residents of Waterloo held their first observance of Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, in honor of soldiers killed in the Civil War. Businesses closed that day, and people decorated the graves of soldiers and flew the3ir flags at half-mast. May 30 was designated by Major General John A. Logan in 1868 as a day to remember Union soldiers and honor their graves. Logan held the position of commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization composed of Union veterans of the Civil War. This organization had charge of Memorial Day celebrations for many years in the Northern States. After World War I, the American Legion carries this duty. On this Memorial Day and on every day, if you value freedom, thank an airman, a soldier, a sailor or a marine because they are people who have made the greatest sacrifices to keep our nation free. When possible, thank their families also for all the sacrifices made by spouses, children, parents, siblings, etc. Always remember, freedom is not free. Its costs are great! Facts for this blog post came from an article by Sharron G. Uhler, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, pg 392. Oliver North wrote a tribute to our men and women in the military here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


We must learn and obey certain principles and ordinances in order to be a true follower of Christ. Principles are truth, and ordinances are rites or ceremonies. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance are the first two principles of the gospel. The first ordinance of the gospel is baptism. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism bring forgiveness for sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There are several reasons for the ordinance of baptism: 1) To show obedience. Jesus was baptized even though He was sinless. 2) To become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. 3) To receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 4) To enter the Celestial Kingdom. The proper mode of baptism was revealed to Joseph Smith by the Lord. Jesus told him that a person with proper priesthood authority to baptize "shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism …. Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:73-74). Immersion is a requirement and is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection. A newly baptized individual starts a new way of life. Baptism by immersion under proper priesthood authority is the only acceptable means of baptism. Every person who is eight years old or older and is accountable or responsible for his or her actions needs to be baptized. Little children younger than eight are not capable of sinning and do not require baptism. People who are mentally incapable of knowing right and wrong do not need baptism. When we are baptized we make covenants with God that we will: 1) Come into the fold of God; 2) Bear one another's burdens; 3) Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places; 4) Serve God and keep His commandments. When we keep the covenants made at baptism, the Lord promises to: 1) Forgive our sins; 2) Pour out His Spirit more abundantly upon us; 3) Give us daily guidance and the help of the Holy Ghost; 4) Let us come forth in the First Resurrection; 5) Give us eternal life. (See Acts 2:38; Mosiah 18:7-17; Doctrine and Covenants 20:77; 49:13.) Baptism is called a new birth because it brings a new way of life. Baptism is a great blessing because it gives us a new start on our journey towards eternal life.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good Books

Families become stronger when individual members read good books. Wise parents insure that their children know how to read and then encourage them to learn to love to read good books. Joseph Smith prayed, "And do thou grant, Holy Father, that all those who shall worship in this house may be taught words of wisdom out of the best books, and that they may seek learning even by study, and also by faith, as thou hast said" (Doctrine and Covenants 109:14) Another prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley stated, "A great man was once asked which one of all the books he had read had most affected his life. His response was that he could no more remember the books he had read than he could remember the meals he had eaten, but they had made him. All of us are the products of the elements to which we are exposed. We can give direction to those elements and thereby improve the result. Make every effort to enrich your environment with the reading of good books." (Stand A Little Taller, p 40.). It is important that children learn to read. It is also important that they learn to enjoy reading. Parents can help children learn to love reading by reading to them from the time they are born. Parents can insure that the books are appropriate for the child's age as well as show them that words can paint wonderful pictures in their minds. Parents can also help children to love reading by discussing what they are personally reading and by setting an example of a reader. Parents can use good books about correct principles and values to help their children become outstanding adults. I am grateful that my children love to read and are teaching their own children to enjoy good books.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Protect the People

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that a constitution should be written in such a way as to be a permanent protection for the people from the human weaknesses of government leaders. The Founders of our nation seemed to understand the principle contained in the following statement written by the Prophet Joseph Smith: "We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." The following quotes from some of our Founding Fathers indicate that they understood that the leaders we elect are still mere human beings. Thomas Jefferson stated, "It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights; that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power; that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go… In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." ("The Kentucky Resolution of 1798," Annals of America, 4:65-66; emphasis added.) George Washington also indicated his belief that government was something that had to be tightly controlled y the Constitution when he said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." (Quoted in Jacob M. Braude's Lifetime Speaker's Encyclopedia, 2 Vols., 1:326.) James Madison also indicated that he had more faith in the people than in the leaders they choose when he said, "It may e a reflection on human nature that such devices [chains of the Constitution] should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? … If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. [But without controls] in framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." (The Federalist Papers, No. 51; emphasis added.) We can see that the Founders were very concerned about controlling the natural tendency of men with power to abuse the rights of the governed. This natural tendency is a permanent part of human nature and it never changes. It is "the nature and disposition of almost all men" to use their power to "exercise unrighteous dominion." Ideas and quotes for this post came from The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen, pp. 119-122.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cold War

The Cold War developed after World War II and lasted until 1992 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin and United States President George H. W. Bush declared that their countries did not regard each other as potential enemies. The Cold War was an intense rivalry between groups of Communist and non-Communist nations. The Communist group consisted of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and its Communist allies. This group was often referred to as the Eastern bloc. The other group consisted of the United States and its democratic allies, usually referred to as the Western bloc. It was called the Cold War because there was no actual fighting on a wide scale. The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion and misunderstandings by both sides. There were numerous times that people thought World War III was likely to start. The United States accused the U.S.S.R. of trying to expand Communism worldwide. The Soviets accused the United States of practicing imperialism and with attempting to stop revolutions in other countries. When John F. Kennedy became President in January 1961, Cold War tensions were high - in Europe and Asia as well as in Cuba. The Fidel Castro government of Cuba became openly Communist in 1960. Castro condemned the United States and began to receive military aid from Communist countries. Millions of dollars' worth of American property was seized by Castro's government. Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba ended in January 1961. Anti-Castro Cubans, sponsored by the United States, tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. The invasion was not successful. It strengthened Castro's control of Cuba and embarrassed the United States. Kennedy met Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet Party chief, in Vienna, Austria, in June 1961. The two leaders failed to reach an agreement about ending military occupation in Berlin. In July 1961 the U.S.S.R. increased military spending and cancelled cuts in its armed forces. Increasing numbers of East Germans were fleeing to West Germany. The East German Communists began building a wall of cement and barbed wire between East and West Berlin on August 13, 1964. The United States sent troops to West Berlin by highway. United States tanks were used to enter East Berlin without showing papers to Communist border guards to enforce Western rights to the city. Some East Germans escaped to West Berlin after the wall was built, but many died in the attempt. The Berlin Wall remained until the time of Ronald Reagan. The U.S.S.R. secretly installed missiles and missile bases in Cuba, about 90 miles from Florida, and the United States learned about it in October 1962. President Kennedy demanded that the U.S.S.R. remove them. He ordered a naval "quarantine" of Cuba. The U.S.S.R. offered to remove the missiles if the United States would dismantle its military bases in Turkey. The United States refused, and after a week of extreme tension Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles. Some how the world managed to avoid World War III through a period of about 40 years of the Cold War. I remember the tension of this period of time. We were always wondering if we were going to have a nuclear bomb dropped on our nation. Facts for this post came from an article by Burton I. Kaufman in Burton I. Kaufman, World Book EncyclopediaVol. 4, pp 762-771.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Attack on Prayer

Prayer is being attacked once again. Officials from Senior Citizens Inc. announced recently that open prayer could not be said on the food at the Ed young Senior Citizens Center in Port Wentworth, Georgia, because the food there was mostly covered by the federal government. Saying the blessing on the food would usher in the burden of separation of church and state. Instead of asking the usual open prayer on their food, senior citizens will be given a moment of silence during which they may offer their own personal - and silent - prayer. This is just another example of how freedoms for many people are destroyed in the name of being tolerant of the wishes of a few other people. The people who continue to belief that there is a wall between church and state do not understand the First Amendment. The Founders set up a government where the citizens had freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

Monday, May 24, 2010

John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), usually known as Jack Kennedy or JFK, at age 43 was the youngest man ever elected President of the United States. He was also the youngest to die in office. He was shot on November 22, 1963, after being president two years and ten months. The world mourned his death, and presidents, premiers, and members of royalty came to his funeral. Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was the first Roman Catholic to hold the office of President. He was also the first President to be born in the 1900's. In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, Kennedy made a statement that has become famous, "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." [This statement doesn't mesh well with the Democrat message today that tells Americans "The government should take care of you from cradle to grave.] Kennedy won the respect of the world as leader of the Free World. He turned aside the threat of atomic war with the Soviet Union while forcing the Soviets to withdraw missiles from Communist Cuba - and greatly increased the prestige of the United States in 1962. During the Kennedy years, the United States enjoyed its greatest prosperity in history after he signed a tax cut bill. [Can you believe that a Democrat as President cut taxes? He did!] The United States made its first manned space flights and prepared to send man to the moon. Blacks made greater progress in their quest for equal rights than at any time since the Civil War. Kennedy was the second son of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. His ancestors were Irish farmers in southeastern Ireland, and his great-grandfather left Ireland to settle in Boston during the great potato famine of the 1840's. JFK's grandfather was a state senator and political "boss" of a ward in Boston. Kennedy's mother, Rose, was from a political family also. Her father was a colorful politician who served in the state senate, the United States House of Representatives, and two terms as mayor of Boston. JFK's father, Joseph, was a self-made millionaire. He served as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a United States ambassador to Great Britain. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, on May 29, 1917. He was the second son and second child in a family of four boys and five girls. Jack attended elementary school in Brookline and Riverdale. At 13 he attended Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. The next year he transferred to Choate Academy in Wallingford, Connecticut. When he graduated from Choate at age 18 in 1935, his classmates voted him "most likely to succeed." He enrolled at Princeton University but dropped out with jaundice at Christmas break. He entered Harvard University in 1936 where he majored in government and international relations. He graduated cum laude in 1940. He enrolled at Stanford University business school but dropped out six months later to enlist as a seaman in the U.S. Navy. JFK applied for sea duty after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to a PT boat squadron in 1942 and later, after being trained as commander of the small craft, was commissioned as an ensign. He became a war hero after a Japanese destroyer cut his boat in two in the South Pacific. Two of the twelve men were killed, and the other men swam to a small island. For his heroism JFK received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Because he was wounded in combat, he was awarded the Purple Heart. He suffered with a bad back for the rest of his life. Kennedy was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1946 and then to the United States Senate in 1952. He married Jacqueline "Jackie" Lee Bouvier on September 12, 1953. they were blessed with four children: a stillborn daughter (1956), Caroline (1957), John F., Jr. (John-John) (1960), and Patrick Bouvier who was born prematurely and died soon after birth (1963). Five years after Kennedy's assassination, Jackie married Aristotle Onassis, a Greek millionaire. JFK started working for the 1960 Democratic nomination for President soon after the 1956 convention. He was re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958 but continued to campaign for President. Democratic leaders though JFK had several disadvantages as a presidential candidate. The first "problem" was his religion: no Roman Catholic had previously been President. [I remember hearing adults say that he would never be elected because he was Catholic.] Other "problems" were his youth, his wealthy family, his inexperience in international affairs. Some Democrats even thought that JFK was too conservative. [Even though he was a Democrat, JFK was actually more conservative than many Republicans today.] He was nominated on the first vote, chose Lyndon B. Johnson to be Vice President, and won the election against the sitting Vice President Richard Nixon. Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. His Administration was often called "Camelot." There was a young handsome President, a beautiful and stylish First Lady, and two beautiful children who were dearly loved by Americans. The Kennedy's brought youth and informality to the White House. Caroline and John-John were the first children of a President to live in the White House for more than 60 years. The nation loved the Kennedy family. Women in many nations around the world adopted the hairdo and clothing styles worn by Jackie. When Jackie accompanied Kennedy to Europe, huge crowds gathered wherever Jackie went. President Kennedy presented himself to a Paris luncheon by saying, "I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris…." Mrs. Kennedy toured Pakistan and India without the President. She won much praise for her redecoration of the White House. She gathered furnishings of past Presidents and made the mansion ma historic showplace and a tourist attraction. One of the most successful of Kennedy's programs was the U.S. Peace Corps. It was first launched by executive order in March 1961, and then it was later authorized by Congress. The corps sent thousands of Americans abroad to help people in developing nations raise their standards of living. The Peace Corps was often called the "Kennedy Corps" by people of other countries because it seemed to carry the Kennedy enthusiasm to the world. Kennedy wanted to be prepared for non-nuclear wars and made every effort to avoid using nuclear weapons. He reorganized America's defense policies by increasing conventional weapons. Kennedy helped businesses by increasing tax benefits for companies investing in new equipment. He proposed a $10 billion tax cut in 1963; this cut lowered corporate taxes. He thought that the American people would have more money to spend if taxes were cut. The increased spending generated new business, and the taxes from the expanded economy economy more than made up revenue lost in the tax cut. Today this sounds like a strange idea to be coming from a Democrat! A major domestic issue during the Kennedy years was the demands for equal rights for blacks. A group of black and white freedom riders entered Montgomery, Alabama, by bus in 1961 to test local segregation laws. When rioting broke out, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent U.S. marshals to the city to restore order. Demands by blacks for equal civil and economic rights increased in 1963. There were racial protests and demonstrations in all parts of the nation. On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 people staged a Freedom March in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their demands for equal rights for blacks. Kennedy asked Congress to pass legislation to require hotels, motels, and restaurants to admit customers regardless of race. He also asked that authority be given to the attorney general to begin court suits to desegregate schools. In requesting this legislation, the President said, "The time has come for the Congress of the United States to join with the executive and judicial branches in making it clear to all that race has no place in American life or law." Even though I lived in areas with few Blacks, I remember the tenseness of the civil rights movement. The Cold War caused many problems in foreign affairs. An invasion by Cuban rebels into their homeland was attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro, the Communist-supported dictator. Kennedy was forced to accept blame for the ill-fated invasion because it had been planned by the United States. Another Cuban crises happened in October 1962 when the United States learned that the Soviet Union had installed missiles in Cuba, which were capable of hitting U.S. cities. Kennedy ordered the U.S. Navy to quarantine or blockade Cuba. Navy ships were ordered to turn back any ships carrying Soviet missiles to Cuba. He also called about 14,000 Air Force reservists to active duty. War seemed likely for about a week before Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev ordered all Soviet offensive missiles removed. Kennedy then lifted the quarantine. Cuba was not the only place where Communists were threatening. At the end of World War II, Berlin was controlled by America, Britain, France, and U.S.S.R. Any threat to the freedom of West Berlin was opposed by the Western nations. In 1961, the Soviet Union issued a threat that Communist East Germany would have control over the West's air and land supply routes to Berlin. This was all part of a plan to get the Western nations out of Berlin and Germany. Nothing was settled after Kennedy and Khrushchev met in Vienna, Austria, in June 1961. The East Germans began building a wall between East and West Berlin in August 1961 to keep people from fleeing to freedom in the West. Kennedy called up about 145,000 members of the National Guard and reservists to strengthen American defenses. They served about ten months before being released. Kennedy traveled to Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Mrs. Johnson in attempt to heal a split in the Texas Democratic Party before the 1964 Presidential campaign. The party left Washington, D.C., on Thursday, November 21 and flew to San Antonio, Houston and Fort Worth. They arrived in Dallas the next day at 11:37 a.m. after a short flight from Fort Worth. They planned to travel in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas to the Dallas Trade Mart where Kennedy was scheduled to speak at a luncheon. President and Mrs. Kennedy rode in an open limousine for the trip to the Trade Mart. The Kennedy's sat in the rear seat with the President on the right side of the car and his wife on the left. Texas Governor John B. Connally sat in a "jump" seat in front of the President with Mrs. Connally beside her husband. A limousine carrying Secret Service agents was behind the President's car with the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson in a third car accompanied by Secret Service men. Special security precautions had been taken because Dallas had a reputation as a center for people who strongly opposed Kennedy. Friendly, cheering crowds lined the streets. At 12:30 p.m. on November 22, 1963, as the cars approached an expressway for the last leg of the trip, three shots suddenly rang out. The President was hit in the neck and slumped down with his head in Mrs. Kennedy's lap. Governor Connally received a bullet in the back. The limousine raced to a nearby Parkland Hospital. Doctors worked desperately to save Kennedy's life, but he died at 1:00 p.m. without regaining consciousness. Doctors said that the President had no chance of survival when he arrived at the hospital. Governor Connally was seriously wounded but later recovered. News flashes of the event were on television and radio, telling the world that President Kennedy had been killed. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. We were all shocked that such a thing would happen in our modern age. Vice President Johnson raced to the hospital and remained until Kennedy died. He then went to the airport where the presidential plane waited. Mrs. Kennedy arrived later with the coffin holding her husband's body. At 2:39 p.m., U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes administered the oath of office to Johnson who became the 37th President of the United States. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy were there as he took the oath of office. Witnesses reported that the shots came from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. Police raced to the building but couldn't find the killer. Then they searched for an employee of the building who left the scene a few minutes after the shooting. About 1:15 p.m. the employee, Lee Harvey Oswald, is said to have shot and killed a Dallas policeman, J. D. Tippit, while resisting arrest. Oswald was arrested a short time later in a theater and charged with the murders of President Kennedy and Tippit. Oswald was an admitted Marxist who had a Soviet wife and had once tried to become a Soviet citizen. He was active in a group that supported Cuba's Communist dictator Fidel Castro. He was questioned for two days by police, but he denied both murders. An Italian rifle with a telescopic sight which had been purchased by Oswald from a mail-order firm for $12.78 was found hidden in the School Book Depository. Oswald's palm prints were found on the weapon. Two days after the assassination, Oswald was being led to an armored car to be taken from the Dallas city jail to the county jail. A Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, stepped out of the crowd and shot Oswald to death. The nationwide television audience witnessed the shooting. Oswald was taken to the same hospital where Kennedy died and passed away at 1:07 p.m., about 48 hours after the President died. The world mourned the death of Kennedy. Over 90 countries sent representatives to attend the funeral on November 25. Kennedy was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. At the close of the ceremony, Mrs. Kennedy lighted an "eternal flame" which still burns over the President's grave. In one of his first acts, President Johnson named the National Aeronautics and Space Administration installation in Florida The John F. Kennedy Space Center. Other public building and geographical sites throughout the world were named for Kennedy. Congress voted funds for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. D.C. Great Britain made 1 acre of ground permanent United States territory as part of a Kennedy memorial. The John F. Kennedy Library open in Boston in 1979. The assassination of President Kennedy was investigated by the Warren Commission, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren. The commission reported in 1964 that Oswald had acted alone. Many people believed that Oswald was part of a group who wanted Kennedy dead. Other investigations have taken place, but there are still questions about the assassination of Kennedy. Interesting historical events during the Kennedy presidency are: 1) Amendment 23 to the Constitution was adopted in 1961 giving residents of the District of Columbia the right to vote in presidential elections. 2) Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., in 1962 became the first American to orbit the earth. 3) Adolf Eichmann, a top Nazi war criminal, was hanged in Israel in 1962 for his part in the massacre of Jews in Europe during World War II. 4) The Supreme Court ruled in 1962-1963 that official prayers and Bible reading in public schools were unconstitutional. Facts for this post came from an article by Eric Sevareid in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, pp 260-269.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Appointed by States

The topic for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.3.1, "Senators shall be appointed by their respective state legislatures to protect the rights of the states as sovereign entities." In other words, the Constitution gave the Right to choose special representation directly to the state. Because the House of Representatives was to represent the people and the Senate was to represent the state, the people were represented both as individuals and as groups of individuals. This arrangement was made to provide a balance of power, but the Seventeenth Amendment destroyed the original intent of the Founders.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


There is a natural progression from faith in Jesus Christ to repentance. From the time of Adam, mankind has needed repentance. The Lord told Adam to "teach it unto your children that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence" (Moses 6:57). This earth was created as a place where we could grow and develop. During this lifelong process, we all sin and need to repent. Some sins are committed in ignorance; others are committed because of weakness or deliberate disobedience. Sin is unrighteousness and a transgression of law. Jesus Christ is the only being to ever live on earth and remain sinless. He lived a perfect life, and through His Atonement, Heavenly Father provided a way for everyone else to repent. Repentance is the way that we can become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them. The burden of sin holds us back and slows or even stops our spiritual growth. Repentance is the process where we can throw off our burden of sin and start growing and developing again spiritually. Repentance is not easy. In fact, it is very difficult. It requires strength, courage, prayer, work, and sometimes even tears. "There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner" (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 38; italics in original). The principles of repentance include: 1) We must recognize that we have sinned. Until we admit to ourselves that we have done something wrong, we cannot truly repent. 2) We must feel sincere sorrow - sometimes called godly sorrow - for what we have done and desire to unload the burden of sin. 3) We must forsake the sin or stop committing the sin. 4) We must confess all of our sins to the Lord. We should confess our sins to those we have injured by sinning. We must confess to proper priesthood authority any serious sin, such as adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, spouse or child abuse, or selling and/or using illegal drugs. 5) We must make restitution and do everything possible to right any wrong we did. 6) We must forgive others who have sinned against us. 7) We must keep the commandments of God. Sincere repentance changes lives. Repentance makes the Atonement of Jesus Christ more effective in our lives and brings forgiveness from God. As we become free from the burden of our sins, we find true joy coming into our lives. Repentance should be a part of our daily life. We should examine ourselves in the morning to determine if the Holy Ghost is with us. We should review our words and actions each night and ask God to help us recognize anything for which we need to repent. When we repent everyday and feel God's forgiveness for our sins, we can experience the daily process of becoming more like Christ. This process can bring sweet and exquisite happiness and joy into our lives.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Battle Armor Needed

The family is the basic unit of society because it is the foundation upon which communities, states and nations are built. We must strengthen families because they are now under assault on every side. One thing that can strengthen families is to realize that there is a battle being fought in our nation and across the world. It is a battle between righteousness and evil. The writer of Ephesians 6:11-12 wrote, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. I believe that there are secret combinations at all levels of government who are trying to destroy the government of the United States and realize that they need to destroy the family first. I also believe that there is "spiritual wickedness in high places" in our own nation. Strong families form a basic force for good in the world and can do much to strengthen society. Gordon B. Hinckley, a modern-day prophet, also spoke about the battle between right and wrong. He said, "We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish." (Stand A Little Taller, p 15.) Wise parents will gather their children around them in family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinner hours and wholesome family activities. The key word here is family! These activities will give children spiritual and emotional armor to withstand the forces of evil. They will also strengthen individual families who can then join groups of families to search out and support good, honest and moral people for positions of leadership in communities, states and nations. If this or any nation is to survive the onslaught of evil in the later days, it will need to have strong families whose members are wearing spiritual and emotional battle armor.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Republic, Not Democracy

On this Freedom Friday, the topic of discussion is republics. The pledge of allegiance highlights the form of government in the United States - "I pledge allegiance to the flag Of the United States of America And to the Republic For which it [the flag] stands…." The Founders desired to set up a Republic for numerous reasons. A pure democracy works well in smaller groups where the masses of people can fully participate in decisions and rules. A democracy becomes inefficient and unwieldy in a large population. A republic can be expanded indefinitely because it governs through representatives. James Madison defined a republic as follows: "We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it bed derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic" (quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap, p 114). Three examples of tyrannical governments that claim to be republics are the Communist People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

California Gold Rush

When James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill in California on January 24, 1848, he started the greatest gold rush in United States history. The rush for gold was well underway by 1849. After the United States won the Mexican War in 1848, Mexico surrendered its claim to California in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. California first became a United States territory and then was admitted to the Union as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. John A. Sutter was a pioneer trader and received a large grant of land in the Sacramento Valley in 1849. He hired a carpenter named James W. Marshall to help build a sawmill on the American River. It was while he was working at Sutter's Mill that Marshall found the first nuggets of gold. News of the gold discovery traveled quickly, and thousands of people rushed to the area to establish claims. The miners and others were called the "Forty-niners." The population of California increased from about 15,000 to more than 100,000 between early 1848 and the end of 1849. Communities such as San Francisco and Sacramento turned into flourishing towns because miners who found gold were freely spending it. Some of the miners who did not find gold became farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley. Facts from article by David W. Eakins and Tom L. McKnight in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p 62, and by Duane A. Smith in Vol. 8, p 254.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Supreme Court Nominee

Elena Kagan is the latest nominee for the Supreme Court with the announcement made recently by President Obama. She would be the youngest justice as well as give the court three female members for the first time. If confirmed, she would become only the fourth woman justice in history. Kagan at 50 is fairly young to be chosen for a lifetime position and could have an effect on the court for decades. She is currently the Solicitor General. She was the Dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009. She would be the first justice in nearly 40 years without any judicial experience. Former Attorney General Ed Meese released the following statement in response to Kagan's nomination: "First and foremost, any nominee to a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court must demonstrate a thorough fidelity to apply the Constitution as it was written, rather than as they would like to re-write it. Given Solicitor General Kagan's complete lack of judicial experience, and, for that matter, very limited litigation experience, Senators must not be rushed in their deliberative process. Because they have no prior judicial opinions to look to, Senators must conduct a more searching inquiry to determine if Kagan will decide cases based upon what is required by the Constitution as it is actually written, or whether she will rule based upon her own policy preferences. "Though Ms. Kagan has not written extensively on the role of a judge, the little she has written is troubling. In a law review article, she expressed agreement with the idea that the Court primarily exists to look out for the "despised and disadvantaged." The problem with this view - which sounds remarkably similar to President Obama's frequent appeals to judges ruling on grounds other than law - is that it allows judges to favor whichever particular client they view as "despised and disadvantaged." The judiciary is not to favor any one particular group, but to secure justice equally for all through impartial application of the Constitution and laws. Senators should vigorously question Ms. Kagan about such statements to determine whether she is truly committed to the rule of law. Nothing less should be expected from anyone appointed to a life-tenured position as one of the final arbiters of justice in our country." I agree with Mr. Meese as do most Americans according to several surveys. A survey taken after the 2008 election by the polling place found that 70% of actual voters wanted judges to use law rather than personal views and feelings to make decisions. A survey by Gallup indicates that Americans "would prefer a new Supreme Court justice who makes the court more conservative (42%) over one who would make the Court more liberal (27%). The Senators must do their job properly and give the American people what they want. Otherwise, the rule of law will suffer even more.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) was President of the United States for only 16 months, but he served his country as a soldier for 40 years previous to becoming President. He became a national hero for his courage and ability during the Mexican War. He showed the same courage as President, but he died before proving his full potential as a politician. Even though President Taylor owned many slaves in the South, he did not oppose admitting California and New Mexico to the Union as free states. When the South talked of states seceding from the Union over slavery, President Taylor replied that he would take his place at the head of the army to put down any such action. Taylor made his greatest contribution to his country as a soldier. He was quiet, friendly and a good leader but not a military genius. He never lost a battle and was known by his troops as "Old Rough and Ready." Taylor was born on November 24, 1784, near Barboursville, Virginia, the third son in a family of six boys and three girls. His parents were from plantation families in Virginia. His father served in the army during the Revolutionary War and received a war bonus of 6000 acres of land near Louisville, Kentucky, in 1783. He moved his family to Kentucky in 1785. Zachary studied under tutors because there were no schools on the Kentucky frontier. He gained practical knowledge working on his father's farm. In 1808 Zachary was appointed a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and promoted to captain in 1810. Taylor married Margaret Mackall Smith, an orphaned daughter of a Maryland planter, on June 21, 1810. They had one son and five daughters, two of whom died as babies. A third daughter married Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederacy, and died three months after the wedding. Taylor was promoted to major during the war of 1812 and served in Indiana Territory. He became a lieutenant colonel in 1819. He received the surrender of Chief Black Hawk in 1832 in Wisconsin. He was sent to Florida in 1837 where he defeated the Seminole Indians. He was given the honorary rank of brigadier general. He fought in the Mexican War and became a national hero after winning a stunning victory over the forces of General Santa Anna in 1847. The presidential election of 1848 was the first held at the same time in all states. Taylor was inaugurated on March 5, 1849, because he refused to be inaugurated on Sunday, March 4. Neither Taylor nor his wife were anxious for him to be President. She was a semi-invalid and took little part in White House social life. Her daughter acted as White House hostess. President Taylor became ill and died on July 9, 1850. He was buried in a family cemetery near Louisville, Kentucky. Mrs. Taylor died in 1852 and was buried beside her husband. A team of experts examined President Taylor's body in 1991 to investigate whether he was poisoned. The team concluded that Taylor died of natural causes. Facts for this post came from an article by Michael F. Holt in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, pp 58-60.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two Senators

On this Constitution Monday, the topic moves to the Senate. Article I.3.1 of the Constitution states, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state." This provision insures that each state is equally represented. This provision was part of the "great compromise" about representation made at the Constitutional Convention. Having the Senate made up of elected individuals was a completely American idea because most upper chambers in other nations are comprised of lifetime appointments, which sometimes included hereditary offices.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Faith in Jesus Christ

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of His gospel. One of the requirements of salvation is to have faith in Jesus Christ. Faith requires action and gives power to motivate us in our daily lives. Faith has been described as a "hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21; see also Hebrews 11:1). We would not study and learn if we did not believe we could gain knowledge and wisdom. We would not work if we did not hope to accomplish something. We would not plant if we did not hope to harvest something. We exercise faith every day when we act upon things we hope for without being able to see the results. There are numerous examples in the scriptures of great things being accomplished by exercising faith. Acting in faith Noah built an ark and saved his family during the great Flood. (See Hebrews 11:7.) By faith Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea. (See Hebrews 11:29.) With faith Elijah called down fire from heaven. (See 1 Kings 18:17-40.) By faith Nephi called for a famine and then asked God to end the famine. (See Helaman 11:3-5, 9-17.) By the power of faith many miracles have taken place and many prayers have been answered. Faith is a strong belief of truth that leads us to do good. For faith to be most powerful, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we trust Him enough to obey Him. With faith in Jesus Christ, we become His obedient disciples, receive forgiveness for our sins, and prepare to return to God's presence. Numerous prophets have taught that there is no one else, no other name in the world that can save us. (See Acts 4:12; 2 Nephi 9:23; Mosiah 3:17.) When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will also have faith in Heavenly Father. We will also have faith that They will send the Holy Ghost to teach us all truth, to protect us, and to comfort us. Many blessings come to those people who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. We can increase our faith in Jesus Christ the same way that we develop any skill. When we study, work and practice at any skill, we improve. The same is true with faith in Jesus Christ. If we want to increase our faith in Jesus Christ, we must work at it. The first step in building faith in Jesus Christ is the desire to have it. We can increase our faith by praying to Heavenly Father about our hopes, desires, and needs. We cannot expect faith to come simply because we ask for it. We must work to obtain faith even though it eventually comes as a gift from God. We can also increase our faith by hearing the word of God as it is taught at our church meetings and by studying the scriptures. There is a direct relationship between faith and action. Faith motivates us to act, and then our faith is strengthened by our actions. Many blessings come through the gift of faith: miracles are wrought, angels appear, prayers are answered, and men become the sons of God. "When faith comes it brings … apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. All these appear when faith appears on the earth, and disappear when it disappears from the earth; for these are the effects of faith …. And he who possesses it will through it, obtain all necessary knowledge and wisdom, until he shall know God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has sent - whom to know is eternal life" (Lectures on Faith [1985], 83).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marriage, Then Motherhood

Motherhood today has a different face than in past years. Today's mothers are older, more educated, less often white, more often Hispanic - and more often single - than mothers of even 20 years ago. In 2008 41 percent of babies born in America were born to single mothers. In 1990 only 28% of babies were born to single mothers. This and other data was provided by the Pew Research Center just in time for Mother's Day. The number of unmarried women in their child-bearing years has been increasing since 1990. It is apparent that having a baby out of wedlock is not as shameful as it once was. Christian values are still important to Americans, but the public apparently thinks differently about the need for marriage before having babies. Traditional marriage is better for children emotionally, economically, and academically. These are facts obtained by comparing children from traditional marriages with those from step families or co-habitating couples. The research was taken from census reports and health statistics and show that couples in America and other western nations are marrying at older ages and having babies when they feel they can afford them. The number of babies born to unmarried mothers increased most among white women and women who were traditionally Catholic Hispanic. The birth rate for black single mothers in 1990 was 67 percent and 72 percent twenty years later. The decline in marriage is the result of many social problems, which include crime, divorce, and poverty. It is also the result of the decline in teaching personal responsibility to children and youth in past years. It is difficult for teenagers to understand why they should wait until marriage to become sexually active when the adults all around them are having sex without the benefits of marriage. Teenagers also have difficulty believing in marriage when their own parents divorce. The teenagers of today are behaving differently than those of yesteryear. The Pew study showed that the rate of births to teenage mothers in 1990 was 13 percent but had dropped to 10 percent in 2008. There is hope that the future will hold still further declines in the teen rate as well as that of older women. In order to strengthen families, responsible adults must teach by word and example that marriage is needed before participating in sex and that fidelity in marriage is very important to maintaining strong families.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Changing Tyrannical Government

Today is Freedom Friday. The liberty principle for today is that the majority of the people have the authority to rid themselves of a tyrannical government. The American colonists endured many injuries from an abusive government that violated the English constitution. They understood well how governments can misuse the power loaned to them by the people. They understood that the government was established by the majority of the people, and that the majority of the people could authorize an appeal to change an established government. This right to change lies with the majority of the people. An individual, group or minority has no right to revolt. The Founders understood well the principle expressed Mosiah 29:26 that "it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right…." There is an added warning in Mosiah 29:27, "… if the times comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you...."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gifts of the Spirit

After we were baptized, each of us had elders lay their hands on our heads to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. If we are willing and worthy to "receive" this great gift, we can have His influence with us continually. Through the Holy Ghost, each of us can be blessed with certain spiritual powers called the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are given to those who are faithful to Jesus Christ to help us know and teach the truths of the gospel. These gifts help us to bless others and will lead us back to God. It is important that we know what these gifts are, how we can develop them, and how to recognize Satan's imitations of them. According to many scriptures, these gifts have been given to members of the true Church of God whenever it has been on the earth (see Mark 16:16-18). The gifts of the Spirit include the gift of tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues, the gift of translation, the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of teaching wisdom and knowledge, the gift of knowing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the gift of believing the testimony of others, the gift of prophecy, the gift of healing, the gift of working miracles, and the gift of faith. In order to develop our gifts, we must first know what they are. We can gain this knowledge through fasting and prayer. Sometimes this information is given in patriarchal blessings. We are to seek after the best gifts according to Doctrine and Covenants 46:8. Obedience and faithfulness are required before we will be given gifts. We are then to use those gifts to do the work of the Lord. Satan has the power to imitate the gifts of tongues, prophecy, visions, healings, and other miracles. Moses had to compete with Satan's imitations while trying to convince Pharaoh to let his people leave Egypt (see Exodus 7:8-22). Satan uses imitation to convince us to believe in his false prophets, false healers, and false miracle workers. These imitations may seem so real that they may be detected only by asking God for the gift of discernment. Satan himself may appear as an angel of light (see 2 Nephi 9:9). Satan wants to blind us to the truth and to keep us from seeking the true gifts of the Spirit. Satan uses his power through mediums, astrologers, fortune tellers and sorcerers. They may claim that they follow God, but their works are an abomination to the Lord (see Isaiah 47:12-14; Deuteronomy 18:9-10). We should avoid all associations with the powers of Satan. Spiritual gifts are sacred (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:10) and are given for our profit and for salvation. They are not to boasted of or spoken about before the world. We should express gratitude to God for all the gifts that He gives to us.

Trail of Tears

Long before white people lived in the area, bands of American Indians roamed the plains of the region that was later known as Oklahoma. There were large herds of buffalos that grazed on the huge grasslands, and the Indians followed the buffalo. The Indian tribes that lived in the area included the Arapaho, Caddo, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita. The Spanish explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado was one of the first Europeans to reach the area in 1541. In 1682 a French explorer traveled down the Mississippi River and claimed for France all of the land drained by the Mississippi, including what is now Oklahoma. The United States acquired all of that area in 1803 when Napoleon needed money to fight the European wars. It was called the Louisiana Purchase. In 1819 the United States ceded the Oklahoma Panhandle to Spain to settle boundary disputes. Sometime after 1819 the Indian tribes located in the southeastern United States were prodded to move to the Oklahoma area. The tribes were known as the Five Civilized Tribes because they had lived in close contact with white settlers for longer than one hundred years. These tribes - the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole - were forced by the government to give up most of their lands in the east and start the journey to Oklahoma, which was mostly unoccupied in 1824. Sad processions of Indians moved into the wooded hills and open grasslands of Oklahoma between 1830 and 1842. The trek is known as the Trail of Tears because thousands of Indians died along the way. The Indians who had immigrated to the area were given the right to all of present-day Oklahoma except the Panhandle. Each of the five tribes became a nation. The United States government promised with treaties to protect the Indian nations and guaranteed ownership of the land to the Indians. Each Indian nation established its own courts, legislatures, and written language as well as built their own capital. The Indians later cleared lands, operated farms and ranches, and built schools. The westward movement of pioneers generally passed them because they were protected by the government. The prosperity and protection of the Indians was destroyed by the Civil War (1860-1865). Many of the Indians were Southerners who owned slaves. A brigade of Indians fought for the Confederacy with one Indian becoming a brigadier general. Other Indians fought for the North. After the Civil War was over, Congress forced the Five Tribes to give up the western part of their land because they supported the South. Some of the land was given or sold to other tribes. White settlers soon filled the land bordering Indian Territory. Facts for this post came from an article by Keith D. Harris and H. Wayne Morgan in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, pp 731-732.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is in the news again all over the United States. The leaders of our nation, both Democratic and Republicans, have allowed this problem to grow for political reasons. The problem is quickly becoming a monster that will destroy our nation if we don't correct it. Undocumented workers who are in our country illegally are marching in our streets demanding that they be given our constitutional rights. American students are sent home from school in California because they chose to wear American flag bandanas and T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, but students wearing Mexican flag clothing are allowed to stay in school. Cities and towns across the United States hold large celebrations on Cinco de Mayo to honor "Mexican independence day" - a day that has little meaning to those who actually live in Mexico. We have people living in the United States and claiming privileges here that pledge greater allegiance to Mexico than they do to our country. We live in a nation where we are called racist simply because we want to know who is coming into our country and why. We have a problem in America - a big problem! If you don't belief me, watch this video that has a college professor calling for a Mexican revolt in the United States.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) was born on December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York, a Dutch community. He was the third child and second son born to his parents. His mother had three other children in a previous marriage that ended with the death of her husband. Martin's father owned a truck farm and a tavern, and Martin liked to listen as tavern patrons argued politics in the Dutch language. Martin attended school in the village and started studying law at age 14. He showed great talent and was allowed to sum up the arguments in a court case at age 15. He was paid with a silver half-dollar. He moved to New York City in 1801 to continue his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1803. He opened a law office with his half-brother. Van Buren married his distant cousin and childhood sweetheart, Hannah Hoes, on February 21, 1807. The couple had four sons. Mrs. Van Buren died eighteen years prior to the time that Martin became President. Martin had a dignified appearance because of his erect bearing and high, broad forehead. He had courteous manners and treated his political rivals politely. Martin became involved in politics because of his enthusiasm for Thomas Jefferson's ideas. He demonstrated his deep convictions and courage by defending Jefferson's ideals. He served in the New York Senate before being elected to the United States Senate and being seated on December 3, 1821. In his first term he joined the fight against imprisonment for debt, a common evil of the day. He was re-elected in 1827. Congress passed a law in 1828 abolishing such imprisonment. Late in 1828 Martin resigned from the Senate to serve as New York Governor. He served in that position only two months before he was appointed by Andrew Jackson to be Secretary of State. He was elected as United State Vice President in 1832 while Andrew Jackson was President. He was elected President of the United States in 1836. He ran for President two other times but was not re-elected. Van Buren was president when the country went through its first great depression, the Panic of 1837. This financial crash came on May 10, 1837, just 67 days after Van Buren took office and lasted about three years. Banks in Philadelphia and New York City closed and were closely followed by every other bank in the nation. The panic brought financial ruin and misery to millions of people. Many of them sought aid from the government but were rejected by Van Buren. He believed, as did Jefferson, that the government should play a small part in American life. Van Buren explained, "The less government interferes, the better for general prosperity." Although he wanted to limit government, he protect government funds by pushing Congress to create the United States Treasury. This act cost him support from banks and financial institutions and led to his not being re-elected. In the time of Van Buren, the city of Washington, D.C. had muddy streets and few trees, but it reflected the excitement of a country that was growing. Visitors to Van Buren's inauguration rode the first railroad from New York City and Philadelphia. People from the Frontier such as Sam Houston mingled with proper New Englanders and genteel Southerners. Washington Irving, the author, was a popular dinner guest. The frontier town of Chicago became an incorporated city, and the Republic of Texas started its fight for statehood. Extravagant White House parties were avoided by Van Buren because of the depression. He limited his entertaining to simple dinners, which were described as austere and formal even when the Van Buren boys attended. A new daughter-in-law became the White House hostess. Besides the depression, Van Buren also had to deal with border disputes with Canada. A boundary dispute between Maine and New Brunswick nearly caused open warfare before Van Buren solved the problem with tact. He received little credit for his efforts. He was also in trouble with both proslavery and antislavery groups. Proslavery leaders faulted him for not working to annex Texas as a slave state. Antislavery leaders though Florida would become a slave state after the Seminole Indians were driven out. After Van Buren lost his re-election bid, he retired to his country estate, Lindenwold, located near the place of his birth. He stayed active in politics for more than 20 years and was nominated again for President. As the slavery dispute grew hotter, Van Buren made clear that he was opposed to slavery, but he remained an active Democrat. He supported Franklin Pierce in 1852 and James Buchanan in 1856. He died at Lindenwold on July 24, 1862, and was buried beside his wife in Kinderhook. The Lindenwold estate became the Martin Van Buren National historic Site in 1974. Other events in the world of President Van Buren include: 1) In 1837 John Deere invented the first steel plow that could turn the heavy prairie sod easily. 2) In 1837 the first popular method of photography, called daguerreotypes, was invented by Louis Daguerre of France. 3) In 1837 Samuel F. B. Morse demonstrated the telegraph for the first time. He patented it in 1840. 4) The Trail of Tears took place during the 1830's and early 1840's when thousands of American Indians were forced to march from their homelands in the Southeastern United States to the Indian Territory in what became Oklahoma. United States troops oversaw the march, which was organized to open land for white settlers. 5) An expedition by the United States Navy to Antarctica was led by Lt. Charles Wilkes between 1838 and 1842. He saw land in 1840 and sailed 1500 miles of the Antarctic coast. He was the first person to recognize that Antarctica was a continent and not just ice. 6) Only women were admitted when the first teacher-training school in the United States opened in Lexington, Massachusetts. Facts for this blog post came from an article by James C. Curtis in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 20, pp 294-297.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


For this Constitution Monday, our principle comes from Article I.2.5, "The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive authority to bring impeachment charges against any federal judge or officials in the executive branch of government." The direct representatives of the people have the Right to bring charges against government officers in the judicial or executive branches for not doing their proper jobs. The Founders probably thought that this item would carry more power than it actually does because it is rarely used. Only two presidents have been impeached by the House, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Neither one left office because the Senate failed to convict them. Richard Nixon resigned in order to avoid being impeached. Three federal judges and one Cabinet member have been impeached.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The Alaska Young Mother of the Year is a woman who is related to some members of my family. She well deserves the honor because she does an outstanding job of mothering her large family. I suspect that the honor given to her makes other young mothers feel less competent. I want to assure all the mothers of young children of my acquaintance that you are doing well. I have developed the habit of watching the mothering skills of women around me, and I must say that I am more and more impressed as time goes by. I am learning much from young mothers that I wish I had known while my children were young. The smallest of gestures are impressive as shown by the following lines attributed to Victor Hugo: "She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness. `She hath kept none for herself,' grumbled the sergeant. `Because she is not hungry,' said a soldier. `No,' said the sergeant, `because she is a mother.'" I think that mothers in general think that they are failing in their responsibilities. I know that I usually feel that I don't measure up to what I should be. A dear friend told me many years ago that we will not know how good of mothers we are until we see how our grandchildren turn out. While you are pondering that thought, remember that numerous religious leaders have told us that some children would turn out great no matter whom their parents were and other children would challenge the best of parents. Please don't be too hard on yourselves. I know for sure that we never fail until we fail to keep trying. For all those mothers who feel that they will never be chosen as "mother of the year," consider the following thoughts from prophets: "I have learned to place a high estimate upon the love of mother. I have often said, and will repeat it, that the love of a true mother comes nearer being like the love of God than any other kind of love" (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 315). "Motherhood is the greatest potential influence, either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world" (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, 452). "She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, whose immortal souls will exert an influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have decayed or shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God" (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, 453-54). Motherhood is the noblest of all careers because it is the most important career for women. The following story illustrates the important role filled by mothers. "Kristen was finishing a graduate degree and had recently given birth to her second child. She felt the other graduates had accomplished so much more and was reluctant to attend the graduation dinner. Her fears were confirmed when, at the dinner, the students were asked to list their professional accomplishments. "Kristen recalled, `I suddenly felt embarrassed and ashamed. I had nothing to call myself, no lofty position, no impressive job title.' To make matters worse, the professor read the lists as he presented a diploma to each student. The woman ahead of Kristen had many accomplishments: she already had a PhD, was receiving a second master's degree, and she'd even been a mayor! The woman received grand applause. "Then it was Kristen's turn. She handed the professor her blank sheet, trying to hold back the tears. The professor had been one of her teachers and had praised her performance. He looked at her blank paper. Without missing a beat he announced, `Kristen holds the most critical role in all of society.' He was quiet for a few seconds, then declared in a powerful voice, `She is the mother of her children.' Instead of a few courteous claps, people rose to their feet. There was just one standing ovation that night; it was for the mother in the room" (Bonnie D. Parkin, "Sweet Moments," Ensign, Nov. 2005, 107). Fools may deride the women who choose to become mothers and spend their most productive years in nurturing their children. People with wisdom understand that mothers hold the most critical position in the world. The work done by mothers with their children will determine the type of society we have. Never underestimate the importance of being a mother. I wish a Happy Mother's Day to every woman. To those women who happen to have children, enjoy the attention given to you today because you deserve it. To those women who do not have children of their own yet, rejoice because you are a woman and are a mother in your heart.. Every woman has a part to play in helping the children and youth of today to become the healthy, well-balanced adults of tomorrow.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Power in Motherhood

Never underestimate the power in motherhood for righting the wrongs in the world. Mothers hold a key position because of their influence in the lives of their children. "A mother has far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family. It is while the child is in the home that he gains from his mother the attitudes, hopes, and beliefs that will determine the kind of life he will live and the contribution he will make to society" (N. Eldon Tanner, "No Greater Honor: The Woman's Role," New Era, Jan. 1977, 31). If you doubt the effect of mothers in the lives of their children, here are some words spoken by young men who were going off to fight in their first war. These young men had been taught by their mothers to put their trust in God and not doubt His power. They told their commander, "We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:48). The faith of these 2060 young men kept them alive when men were dying all around them. There is real power in motherhood! The great good in the world today as well as the terrible evils are the results of the way that the children of yesterday were reared. The nation and the world will follow where the next generation leads, and mothers control the direction of the rising generation. We must never forget the principle enshrined in a poem written by William Ross Wallace and published in 1865. He wrote, "For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." Motherhood is the preeminent force for change in the world because any changes that we want in the world must first take place in the home. We have the words of two different prophets of God that emphasize the need for parents to teach their children correct principles. President David O. McKay said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." President Harold B. Lee said, "The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home." There are numerous good reasons why God sent us as babies to families on earth. One of those reasons included the desire for the babies to be taught properly. E. T. Sullivan explained the way God works to change the world with these words, "We fancy that God can only manage His world with battalions, when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world. When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn't stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart, and she puts it into the baby's mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies" ("God's Way," The Treasure Chest [1965], p 53). Babies soon grow into youth, and youth quickly matures into adulthood. Those babies will be forces for good or evil, depending in large measure on how they were reared. The wise writer of Proverbs declared, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). A mother's example will do more than anything else to impress a pattern of life on the minds of her children. A story is told about a group of women in ancient Rome who were showing their beautiful jewels to each other with great pride and vanity. Cornelia, the mother of two boys, was among the group. One of the women asked Cornelia, "And where are your jewels?" Cornelia answered by pointing to her sons and saying, "These are my jewels." She taught her sons by her good example and virtuous life. The two sons were Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus - the Gracchi, as they were called. They became two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history. Those who remember and speak of them also remember and praise the mother who reared them after the manner of her own virtuous life. I do not wish to ignore the effect of fathers on children because the influence of fathers is great also. Motherhood is so powerful because the bond between mother and child is there long before the birth of the child. It is usually the mother who spends the most time with children because mothers are usually in the home more than fathers are. If you listen carefully to the way that great men talk about their mothers, you will understand that mothers have a powerful influence on their children. It is mother who has the greatest ability to bring comfort and security to a frightened or unhappy child. For all these reasons, mothers carry much power in the lives of their children. "When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling that what happened in congresses?" (Neal A. Maxwell, "The Women of God," Ensign, May 1978, 10-11). The world and our nation would be much more beautiful if every mother regarded her children as the jewels of her life. Mothers will determine to a large extent what our nation will be like for the next generation by what they put into the minds of their children. This is why I state that there is great power for good or evil in motherhood!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Right to Govern

Today is Freedom Friday. The liberty principle for today is that the God-given right to govern is vested in the people. In other words the people have the divine right to govern themselves and exercise the power to select and/or depose their leaders. The leaders should understand that they are merely servants and are responsible to represent the will of the people as a whole. When an elected or appointed official misuses the authority of the people and form an abusive type of government, the people have the authority to "alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government…." (Declaration of Independence).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Korean War

The United Nations was about five years old when the Korean War started even though it was organized to eliminate the need for war among the nations. The Korean War was a great challenge for the United Nations because it was the first war in which it played a major role. The UN was forced into the war because Harry S. Truman sent airplanes and ships to protect South Korean independence. Troops from Communist-ruled North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950 and started the Korean War. The UN demanded that North Korea withdraw because it was violating international peace. When the Communists refused to obey the demand, the UN requested that the sixteen members send military aide to South Korea. Forty-one countries sent military equipment, food, and other supplies. Ninety percent of the troops, military equipment, and supplies were provided by the United States. North Korea received military equipment from the Soviet Union and had China fighting on their side. The Korean War was one of the bloodiest wars in history with about a million South Korean civilians killed and several million left homeless. About 580,000 UN and South Korean troops and about 1,600,000 Communist troops were killed, wounded, or reported missing. The UN and North Korea signed an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953 to end the Korean War. A permanent peace treaty has never been signed by South Korea and North Korea, and United States military forces are in South Korea to this day in order to discourage a resumption of hostilities between the two Korean countries. A recent problem between the two countries was a ship explosion that South Korea blames on North Korea. The causes of the Korean War began when the Japanese gained control of Korea in 1895 and made it a part of Japan in 1910. When the Allies defeated Japan in World War II (1939-1945), United States and Soviet forces moved into Korea. When the war ended, Soviet troops occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel of north latitude. This is an imaginary line that cuts Korea approximately in half. American troops occupied Korea south of the 38th parallel. The impotency of the United Nations was exhibited again when the UN General Assembly declared in 1947 that elections should be held through Korea to choose one government for the entire country. The Soviet Union was opposed to this idea and would not permit elections in North Korea. The people of South Korea elected a national assembly on May 10, 1948, and set up the government of the Republic of Korea. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established on September 9 by North Korean Communists. Both North and South Korea claimed the entire country, and their troops clashed near the border several times between 1948 and 1950. When the United States removed its last troops from Korea in 1949 and indicated in early 1950 that Korea was not in the main U.S. defense line in Asia, the Communists decided the time was right for military action. The North Korean Army had about 135,000 soldiers when it invaded South Korea. Many of those soldiers had fought for China and the Soviet Union during World War II. North Korea also had airplanes, artillery, and tanks. South Korea had about 95,000 soldiers in its army; they also had few planes or heavy guns and no tanks and could put up little resistance to the enemy attack. South Korean and UN forces were about 1,110,000 at greatest strength. Of that number, about 590,000 were South Koreans, 480,000 were Americans, and about 39,000 came from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey. There were about 260,000 soldiers from North Korea at the peak of the war with another 780,000 soldiers sent from China. A cease-fire was proposed on June 23, 1951, were deadlocked by late April 1952, and resumed on April 26, 1953. An armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, and ended the fighting. A Demilitarized Zone about two and a half miles wide along the final battle line divided the two sides. South Korea gained about 1,500 square miles. Both sides agreed not to increase their military strength/ About 88,559 prisoners were exchanged in September 1953. The United States spent about $67 billion dollars on the war, and all parts of Korea were damaged. Facts for this blog post came from an article by Lloyd C. Gardner in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, pp 379-384.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Defending Freedom

Defending freedom is a choice that must be made by United States citizens and leaders alike. We now have a President who does not believe that America is any more unique than any other country.

President Ronald Reagan saw it differently. He explained to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev: "When World War II ended, the United States had the only undamaged industrial power in the world. Our military might was at its peak, and we alone had the ultimate weapon, the nuclear weapon, with the unquestioned ability to deliver it anywhere in the world. If we had sought world domination then, who could have opposed us? But the United States followed a different course, one unique in all the history of mankind. We used our power and wealth to rebuild the war-ravished economies of the world, including those of the nations who had been our enemies." President Reagan had such strong feelings about America being exceptional that he once described our nation as "this experiment in liberty, this last, best hope of man."

President Obama considers our country as just another country with declining power, and his policies are quickly turning us into a nation that is looking more like Europe every week. Kim Holmes, PhD, a vice president at Heritage for foreign and defense policy studies, wrote, "We are headed down a European path. … According to the President's budget, defense spending over the next few years will continue to fall relative to the economy, from 4.9 percent to 3.6 percent of GDP by 2015. Indeed, defense was the target of roughly half of the Administration's $17 billion in spending cuts in 2010. Some 50 defense programs were truncated or eliminated, compromising not only our future air and naval superiority, but also our defense against ballistic missiles."

This is particularly frightening because we know that Greece is being bailed out financially and other European nations are struggling. President Reagan doctrine was "peace through strength." He thought that we should maintain military and economic strength in order to keep other nations from attacking us. President Obama obviously thinks that strength comes through apology.

We each need to decide NOW where we stand. What principles do we really believe? Which doctrine do we think is best for our nation? If you believe that "peace through strength" is the best way, you might want to join the battle to elect conservatives. If you are interested in supporting the conservative movement, check out Senator Jim DeMint here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) was born on May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri, the oldest of three children born to his parents. His first name of Harry was chosen in honor of his uncle, Harrison Young. His middle initial S was chosen instead of a middle name in order that both his grandfather (Solomon Young and Anderson Shippe Truman) could claim he was named for them. The Truman family moved from a farm near Grandview, Missouri, to Independence, Missouri, when Harry was six years old. He attended elementary school and high school in Independence. He started wearing glasses at age eight because of severe nearsightedness. He was so afraid of breaking his glasses and injuring his eyes that he did not join in the rough games of childhood. He spent his time reading and had read the Bible three times by the time he was 13 or 14 as well as all the books in the Independence Public Library. Harry joined the Baptist Church at age 18. Truman's vision was too poor to be accepted at the United States Military Academy at West Point so he briefly attended a business school in Kansas City. Within five years following his high school graduation in 1901, he worked in the mailing room of the Kansas City Star, as a timekeeper for a construction crew for a railroad company, and as a clerk and later as a bookkeeper in two Kansas City banks. He worked on the family farm with his father from 1906 until 1917. Truman was a member of the Missouri National Guard from 1905 to 1911. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Truman helped organize a field artillery regiment attached to the 35th Division. He became a lieutenant and then was sent to France in 1918. As a captain there he commanded an artillery battery. He was honorably discharged in 1919 and soon joined the Army reserves as a major and then was made colonel. Truman married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth "Bess" Virginia Wallace, on June 28, 1919, six weeks after returning home from the war. They were blessed with one daughter, Mary Margaret. Truman lost money in mining and oil investments before World War I. After the war he and a friend opened a men's clothing store that failed during the severe depression beginning in 1921. It took Truman fifteen years, but he paid all the store debts. Truman turned to politics and received help from the Democratic Party boss, "Big Tom" Prendergast, who thought Truman could win votes because of his farm background, war record, and friendly personality. His first political position was as county judge for two years. When he failed to bed re-elected, he decided to attend Kansas City School of Law but did not earn a degree. While serving as presiding county judge, Truman earned a reputation for honesty and efficiency. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1934 and re-elected in 1940. In 1944 Truman was nominated for Vice President on the Democratic ticket with Franklin D. Roosevelt. This would be FDR's fourth term as President, and many people were concerned that he would die in office. Truman served only 83 days as Vice President before he was summoned to the White House by telephone on April 12, 1945. Elinore Roosevelt informed Truman that FDR was dead. That evening Truman took the oath of office at 7:09 P.M. Truman became President in the last weeks of World War II. Germany surrendered on May 7, and Truman proclaimed May 8, his 61st birthday, as V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day). In July Truman traveled to Germany to meet with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. While there he received a secret message that American scientists had tested an atomic bomb successful for the first time. On his way home he ordered American pilots to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. The first bomb fell on Hiroshima on August 6. A second bomb fell on Nagasaki three days later. On August 14, Japan agreed to end the war and on September 2 formally surrendered. The decision to drop an atomic bomb on Japan was one of the most awesome decisions ever considered by one human being. He made that decision in order to bring an end to the war and hopefully to save more lives. Truman had a strong personality and fighting spirit that brought him bitter enemies as well as loyal friends. He was blunt and outspoken and often used strong language against his opposition. His friends loved him because he was straightforward, and his enemies thought he was undignified. Truman faced many serious challenges as President. The United States economy had to reorganize from a wartime to a peacetime basis. Many countries torn by war needed relief programs. A Cold War divided the world between Western nations and Communist subversion and aggression. Truman wanted to extend Roosevelt's New Deal and drew up a program that included authority over the economy, national health insurance, permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission to protect minority rights, public power projects on the Arkansas, Columbia, and Missouri Rivers. The Republican-controlled Congress blocked most of Truman's programs but approved his plan to unify the Armed Forces under a single secretary of defense. Truman's Administration created programs such as the Truman Doctrine,, the Marshall Plan, the Point Four Program, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Truman Doctrine meant international resistance to Communist aggression and guaranteed American aid to free nations resisting Communist propaganda or sabotage. The Marshall Plan (1947) extended the Truman Doctrine. It proposed that the war-damaged nations of Europe join in a program of mutual aid for economic recovery with grants from the United States to assist them. Eighteen countries accepted the Marshall Plan, but the Communist nations rejected it. In the election of 1948, Republicans were poised to win the White House. Liberal Democrats formed the Progressive Party and ran their own candidate. Truman campaigned hard and won one of the biggest upsets in political history. While in the White House, Truman arose early - sometimes as early as 5:30 - to take a walk accompanied by Secret Service agents and media representatives. He sometimes played the piano for visitors and enjoyed Chopin and Mozart. The Truman family spent most evenings in the family living quarters. During the Truman years, the White House received extensive repairs. The Truman family lived at Blair House from 1948 until March 1952. While they were there, two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to invade Blair House to assassinate Truman on November 1, 1950. One Secret Service agent was killed, and another was injured while one gunman was killed and the other captured. The United States, Canada, Great Britain, France and eight other nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty in the spring of 1949, forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This treaty meant that an attack on one member would be considered as an attack on all. Other countries joined later and pooled their armed forces to defend Western Europe. The first supreme commander of NATO forces was General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Communists from North Korea invaded South Korea and started the Korean War on June 25, 1950. The five-year old United Nations demanded North Korea withdraw. On June 27, without UN permission, Truman sent US planes and ships to help save South Korean independence. Congress cheered the announcement, and the UN approved sending troops from other nations on the same day. On June 30 Truman ordered ground troops to South Korea and risked World War III. He later said that this was the hardest decision of his political career. Truman had other problems at home and waged an extensive reform program call the "Fair Deal." This program included civil rights legislation, repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, a new farm program, federal aid to education, a federal housing program and increases in the Social Security program. Most of his proposals were defeated by Congress. Truman chose not to run for President in the 1952 campaign, saying that he felt no "duty to spend another four years in the White House." He left office on January 20, 1953, and retired to his home in Independence, Missouri. He wrote two volumes of memoirs and continued his active interest in politics and in the Democratic Party. The Harry S. Truman Library, built on funds collected by friends, opened in 1957 and holds Truman's papers and souvenirs. Truman died on December 26, 1972 with severe lung congestion and is buried in Independence in the Truman Library courtyard. Other events in the world of President Truman include: 1) The first fully electronic digital computer was built by engineers in 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania. 2) The phrase "Iron Curtain" was first used by Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe the barrier set up against Western Nations by Communist governments in Eastern Europe. 3) British India was divided into two independent nations - India and Pakistan - in 1947. 4) the first supersonic flight took place in 1947 when U.S. Air Force Captain Charles Yeager flew a Bell-X-1 rocket plane to break the sound barrier. 5) Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 to become the first black baseball player in the major leagues. 6) Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, and the first Arab-Israel war began the next day when Arab nations attacked Israel. 7) Civil war in Greece ended in 1949 with the defeat of Communist-led rebels. 8) the Communist People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. 9) The first nationwide telecast took place in 1951 when Truman made an announcement from San Francisco in 1951. 10) Elizabeth II became queen of Great Britain in 1952. Facts and information for this post came from an article in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, pp 466-473.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Choose Own Leaders

Our study of the Constitution continues on this Constitution Monday. The United States Constitution provides that the "House of Representatives shall choose its own clerks, sergeant at arms, and all other officers needed to function efficiently" (Article I.2.5). this provision is much like the one from last week in that it says that the House of Representatives has the Right to organize itself. The majority party carries this right. The officers in the House of Representatives include committee chairmen, party whips, the House clerk, floor leaders, the sergeant at arms, doorkeeper, parliamentarian, chaplain, postmaster, and pages.