When POTUS Has to Ask for Mommy’s Help

JFK letter to mother Kruschev autograph

He may have been the most powerful man in the world, but John F. Kennedy learned that there are some things even the President of the United States can’t do. He commanded a military of nearly 3 million people who would follow his orders without question, but there was one person to whom he needed to say, “Please.” That person who could reduce POTUS to a little boy was none other than his mother. Continue reading

The President’s Finger on the Button: Disaster, Dessert, or POTUS Pranks?

Button on President's desk
Hollywood has immortalized the image of the fate of the world resting on a shiny red button on the desk of the President of the United States. With a single press of that button, life as we know it would come to a brutal, inglorious end. It makes for good fiction, but that just isn’t the way it works. When the President pushes a button, it is generally for something far more mundane.  Continue reading

Reptiles Running the Government?

 

Reptilian conspiracy. Shape-shifting lizard people.

Many of us wondered, as children, whether our teachers were from another planet, but how many adults believe the government is run by aliens? As it turns out, it is a pretty sizeable number. A recent report revealed that 12 million Americans believe the country is controlled by shape-shifting lizard people from outer space. Continue reading

The Ultimate Rental House Fixer-Upper

White House Truman renovation

As President Harry Truman’s daughter, Margaret, played the piano one day, she was startled as one leg of the piano suddenly dropped through the floor of the White House residential level. Engineers were called in to see what was going on, and the report was nothing short of alarming.

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Royal Bill Referral

Calvin Coolidge send bill to King of England

President Calvin Coolidge was forced to move out of the White House in 1927 for six months so extensive remodeling and repairs could take place. In the course of the repairs, the architect showed the president the extreme damage that had occurred to the rafters when the White House was burned by British troops during the War of 1812.

The architect insisted that the rafters be replaced and asked whether the new rafters should be wood or steel beams. Coolidge was notoriously thrifty but ultimately decided in favor of the more durable option. He justified the extra expense, declaring, “All right. Put in the steel beams and send the bill to the King of England.”

Boller, P. F. (2007). Presidential Anecdotes (p. 244). Philadelphia: Running Press.

The Torch Has Been Passed … And Possibly Caused a Fire

"Hot words" Eisenhower to Kennedy fire at podium
John F. Kennedy takes the oath of office on January 20, 1961, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower looks on. Photo credit

The world watched the peaceful transfer of power on January 20, 1961, as the oldest President to that point, Dwight D. Eisenhower, handed the reins of power to the youngest elected President, John F. Kennedy.

As the two men stood side-by-side on the inaugural platform, listening as Cardinal Richard Cushing prayed the invocation, they noticed smoke billowing from the podium. An electrical short sparked and nearly started a fire that would have required the hurried evacuation of the entire United States federal government from the crowded platform.

Unaware that his successor was about to speak the immortal words, “Let the word go forth from this time and place to friend a foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…,” a bemused Eisenhower leaned over whispered in Kennedy’s ear, “You must have a hot speech.”

Fortunately the electrical problems were resolved before a crisis developed, and the torch was passed, peacefully, as planned.

Asleep at the Senate

Charles Dawes Vice President tie-breaking vote asleep
30th US Vice President Charles Dawes (left) and 48th US Vice President Mike Pence (right)

On February 7, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence became the first Vice President to cast the tie-breaking vote in the US Senate for the confirmation of a cabinet member. Under the terms of the Constitution, the Vice President presides over the Senate, but does not have a vote except for the purpose of breaking a tie. With the Senate evenly divided on the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Vice President Pence cast his vote in favor of confirming the President’s nomination, thus earning himself one more place in the history books.

One of his predecessors had the opportunity to have that place in history.  Continue reading