LBJ and Civil Rights

Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964…. the most significant piece of civil rights legislation in our history.  No President in the 20th century more eloquently expressed the fight for civil rights as Johnson did in 1965,

“There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem. And we are met here tonight as Americans—not as Democrats or Republicans—we are met here as Americans to solve that problem.”

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Johnson also signed the Voting Rights Act… in 1965.  Johnson’s administration created the Department of Housing and Urban Development to oversee equality in public housing and all his Great Society programs were color blind.  He appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court in 1967.  Johnson acted where his predecessors had only given lip service to the issue of civil rights.  Yet, his legacy is in doubt today, largely due to his off-color language and perceived personal prejudice.

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Conservatives cite Johnson’s racial feelings… as proof that Democrats have never cared about minorities; that the GOP remains the party of Lincoln, the true civil rights champion.  Johnson’s civil rights record is just another conspiracy to dupe the ignorant masses into voting Democratic.  Reconciling personal feelings with our public actions has never been an easy task.  The 24 hour news cycle is driven by a culture dependent on sound bytes as the only acceptable measure of public figures.  Perhaps it’s time we start judging a person’s actions rather than snippets of their personal conversations…?

Current News – USS WASP – WWII Wreck Located

Pacific Paratrooper

A port bow view of the ship shows her aflame and listing to starboard, 15 September 1942. Men on the flight deck desperately battle the spreading inferno. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-16331, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The discovery of sunken wrecks seems to hold an eternal fascination. Although the quest to find them takes a huge amount of resources and technical skills, the quest goes on. Many searches have focused on the wrecks of warships lost during the Second World War. One of the most recent successes, despite many difficulties, was the discovery of USS Wasp (CV-7) deep in the Pacific Ocean.

The story of Wasp‘s end begins in September 1942. The aircraft carrier set out with 71 planes and a crew of more than 2,000 men on board to escort a convoy of US Marines to Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in…

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Thank You, John Tyler

Presidential History Blog

John Tyler

The Whig party wasn’t really a political party per se, in 1840.

It was more a conglomeration of frictional, factional and sectional needs and angsts, and would remain so for the rest of its short 12-year-run.

The frictional part centered around towering figures: Democrat Andrew Jackson and Jackson-loathing Henry Clay, both of whom had ardent adherents and bitter enemies. Jackson’s hand-picked successor, Democrat Martin Van Buren, inspired little affection.

henry clay Henry Clay

andrew jackson 1 Andrew Jackson

The factional part and the sectional part were frequently combined. Certain areas bellowed about “states’ rights.” Certain areas clamored for national financing for “internal improvements” like roads, and dredging harbors and rivers for navigation. Some favored industry and banking. Some were violently opposed. Some areas demanded high tariffs; others wanted no tariffs. Slavery “issues” were lower on the list at that time, but would rise substantially during the following decade.

William Henry Harrison, the first…

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Presidents on the Move

History is constantly evolving and changing…. so is this list.

 

Presidential reputations change rapidly. 

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George W. Bush ^  :  Loathed by modern “progressives,”  any historian worth his/her salt should have suggested patience. Presidents must not be judged immediately following their terms, nor soon after elections.  Many of Bush’s policies are now being viewed as successful- see the Surge, and TARP.  Despite the vitriol still spewed by his critics, W’s historical stock is rising.

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LBJ  v :  Recent release of Oval Office recordings revealed Lyndon Johnson at his worst.  Modern depictions of him in films like “Selma” have also cast doubt on his civil rights legacy.  No other President has experienced this sort of roller coaster ranking,  and this year appears to be a straight drop for “Landslide Lyndon.”

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Dwight Eisenhower ^ :  Soon to be memorialized on the National Mall, Ike is liked once again.  Historians are beginning to appreciate his cool demeanor and bipartisan political record.  The current Republican party should do some soul searching when viewing its current obsession with ideological purity.

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Woodrow Wilson v :   The recent uproar at Princeton over the racist legacy of its most famous history professor has everyone reconsidering our view of the Progressive champion.  Proper scrutiny is now being leveled against Wilson’s policies- many of them created as a result of his distrust of the Constitution and disregard for the Declaration of Independence.

Madison Would Never Agree

Words James Madison never uttered…. but when considering the US Senate as it exists today, the naive can almost hear the Father of the Constitution proclaim the following lunacy with pride:

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Not a body of amateurs

So let’s describe the US Senate as it exists today…

The United States Senate will be chosen by popularity contest in each state.  There will be no prerequisites to holding membership, citizens seeking their very first public office are preferred candidates.  Legislative inexperience is desired to gain popular support from the well-educated masses.  Citizens from different states should establish residence in select states and seek the office of US Senator there.  Unfamiliarity with the constituencies in the new states must not deter ambitious office seekers.  Key political alliances and endorsements will sway the voting public when these insignificant issues arise.  Once is session, the Senate will thrive due to all the untested legislative acumen and uninformed opinions. 

Supreme Court Justices- Mt. Rushmore

Recent discussion about the Supreme Court prompted… some thoughts about the greatest men to sit on our nation’s highest bench.   Four faces that best exemplify jurisprudence in American history. Here goes….

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John Marshall: Chief Justice 1801-1835– The George Washington of justices, the first and possibly the greatest.  Marshall established all future Court behavior in Marbury v. Madison – later he helped define Federalism with the McCulloch v. Maryland decision.

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Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: Associate Justice 1902-1932– A man of action on the battlefield (wounded twice in the Civil War) and in the courtroom.  Holmes is one of the most cited Justices and helped establish that free speech must be responsible speech in Schenck v. United States. 

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John Marshall Harlan: Associate Justice 1877-1911– A former slave owner who became the voice of reason on a Court determined to protect segregation.  Harlan’s lone dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson became the foundation of all future Civil Rights cases.

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Earl Warren: Chief Justice 1953-1969– Much ink has been spilled over Warren’s legacy, but it is an essential one.  Warren’s decisions ended public school segregation, reaffirmed “one man-one vote,”  and expanded due-process protections.  He is largely responsible for the role the Court plays in modern American politics.