Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz.
The 1912 presidential election was a three-way contest among former President Theodore Roosevelt for the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson for the Democratic Party, and incumbent President William Howard Taft for the Republican Party. As the election neared, Taft, who had given no major campaign speeches in the months leading up to the election, was living up to the moniker that Roosevelt had given him in September - “a dead cock in the pit.” Despite his lackluster campaign performance, Taft’s campaign managers continued to argue that he was still a contender in the race. They even announced a prediction for the election outcome: Taft would win with 280 electoral votes. In this cartoon, published just weeks before Election Day in the Washington Evening Star, the Democratic donkey and the Bull Moose are shown laughing hysterically. In the general election, held on November 5, 1912, Taft gained a mere eight electoral votes compared with Roosevelt, who gained 88 and Wilson—the winner—who gained 435.
G.O.P Bulletin by Clifford Berryman, Washington Evening Star, 10/18/1912, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6040976)
The Development of TV Spots
Television became an important part of campaign fundraising for the 1952 presidential election.
These storyboards are from an Eisenhower campaign strategy book that illustrates how money-raising goals were achieved through “TV Spots.”
Creative Women Behind Ike’s 1952 Campaign
During the 1952 campaign, Jacqueline Cochran, businesswoman and aviatrix, persuaded employees at Walt Disney Studios to produce an animated cartoon in support of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s candidacy.
Staff at Disney worked off the clock to produce the short animated commercial, “We’ll Take Ike.” The lyrics for this song were written by Gil George, who was actually Hazel George. She was first hired as a nurse at Disney Studios. After her knack for writing was discovered she wrote song lyrics for The Mickey Mouse Club and a number of Disney animated feature films.
In the pictured telegram, Jacqueline Cochran wrote, “I personally believe the proposed short could be the greatest piece of propaganda in the whole campaign…” 9/30/52
Also pictured, a letter from Bill Anderson at Disney that accompanied an autographed animation cel setup and copy of the song, “We’ll Take Ike” for the newly elected President Eisenhower. 11/19/52.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Thirty four more days until the Presidential election. In the coming weeks, the Presidential Libraries will be featuring memorabilia, photos, and documents from campaigns of the past century.
Up first, a campaign comic book created for the 1952 election. A Republican senatorial campaign in Rhode Island promoted the GOP slate by making the most of Dwight Eisenhower’s heroic image as “Leader, Statesman, Administrator, Presidential Candidate.”
Late in the night of August 1, 1943, Lieutenant John F. Kennedy’s Patrol Torpedo boat, the PT-109, was attacked by a Japanese destroyer in the South Pacific.
The destroyer struck PT-109 in the darkness of the moonless night, ripping away the starboard side of the boat. The impact tossed Kennedy around the cockpit. Most of the crew were knocked into the water. The one man below decks, engineer Patrick McMahon, miraculously escaped, although he was badly burned by exploding fuel.
From the wreckage, Kennedy ordered the men with him, to identify the locations of their crewmates in the water.
Kennedy swam out to McMahon and Charles Harris. Kennedy towed the injured McMahon by a life-vest strap, and alternately cajoled and berated the exhausted Harris to get him through the difficult swim. Floating on and around the hulk, the crew took stock.
After a discussion of options, the men abandoned the remains of PT-109 and struck out for an islet three and a half miles away.
Kennedy had been on the swim team at Harvard; even towing McMahon by a belt clamped in his teeth, he was undaunted by the distance. Some of the other men were also good swimmers, but several were not; two, Johnston and Mauer, could not swim at all. These last two were lashed to a plank that the other seven men pulled and pushed as they could. Read more
Hemingway fans – can you help our archivists solve this puzzle? The documents pictured are from the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We think it depicts a scene that took place shortly after Hemingway’s time as an American Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy in June and July of 1918. Any help is appreciated!
“A garden for every child, every child in a garden.”
On May 5, 1917, Herbert Hoover was appointed by President Wilson to be the United States Food Administrator.
The U.S. had just entered World War I, and Hoover mobilized Americans to produce and conserve food supplies. Among the kitchen war efforts were Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays.
Across the country, a movement to grow food in school gardens also took off. Children, women, and other civilians tended and harvested gardens to feed WWI troops.
What are you growing in your school garden?
Another one for Arbor Day
We’re a little late for Earth Day, but we had to post this picture JFK drew as a young boy. Found in Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy’s personal papers, this image features a tree on a hill with the words “Plant a tree” at the bottom. JFK’s childhood signature is scribbled on the back.
I saw in the bushes a parting of the branches and in the opening a face staring at me with intense curiosity. I smiled and nodded and other faces appeared in the bushes. And so of course they didn’t understand English. So what is there to do? In a small notebook I penciled a sketch of a locomotive with care and then made the sound, ‘choo-choo, chuff-chuff.’
-John Paton Davies, U.S. Diplomat
On August 2, 1943, Davies, 20 other men boarded a C-46 transport plane in India en route to the Chinese city of Chungking. Their flight path took them over the Burma “hump,” but as they crossed the mountains one of the plane’s engines failed and all 21 men parachuted out. 20 survived. They were met on the ground by an indigenous Burmese tribe known as the Naga, who were thought to be headhunters.
Recently the papers of U.S. diplomat John Paton Davies were donated by his family to the Truman Library. Find out more about headhunters and diplomats in Independence, Missouri from our blog and Inside the Vaults at the National Archives.