Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
With hope —
-Maya Angelou from her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” read at the inauguration for President Clinton.
Maya Angelou has passed away at the age of 86. Our thoughts are with her family and all of those that she inspired.
Photo: Maya Angelou delivers her poem at the inaugural ceremonies for President Bill Clinton. U.S. Capitol, January 20, 1993.
John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Grapes of Wrath” on this day, May 6, 1940.
Here is a a personal letter from President Kennedy to John Steinbeck. President Kennedy is responding to a thank you letter from Steinbeck, who attended JFK’s inauguration. JFK’s handwritten note reads: “No President was ever prayed over with such fervor. Evidently they felt that they country or I needed it - probably both!”
-from the JFK Library
225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.
On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath as the first President of the United States. The oath was administered by Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, on a second floor balcony of Federal Hall, above a crowd assembled in the streets to witness this historic event. President Washington and the members of Congress then retired to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered the first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress.
Washington sent an important message by dressing in a plain brown suit that was American made instead of his military uniform. He deliberately chose to dress similar to the people who elected him, and refused to place himself above others.
“This nation asks for action, and action now.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933
In his inaugural address, FDR demanded “action, and action now” to fight the Great Depression. He did not waste any time in delivering on that promise. On his first full day in office he called Congress into special session. He had promised Americans a New Deal. Now he began to construct it.
Roosevelt’s New Deal would touch virtually every aspect of American economic life and forever change the role of the Federal Government in the lives of Americans.
"Again my thanks, my pledge and my passionate hope that your words may become history. And I believe they will!"
— John Steinbeck to JFK
A letter from author John Steinbeck to President Kennedy, thanking him for his dedication to the arts.
(From the White House Central Subject Files, Box 711, Folder: PP 6-1 Entertainers)
FDR Elected President for an Unprecedented Fourth Term — Today in History
Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States four times: 1932, 1936, 1940, and on November 7, 1944.
Prior to the third-term election of 1940, it was a presidential tradition set by George Washington that presidents only held the office for two terms. As a result of FDR’s unprecedented four terms, the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1951, limiting all future presidents to two elected terms.
Photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivering his fourth Inaugural Address., 01/20/1945
-from the FDR Library
Opening today at the LBJ Library — “The First Ladies Collection” of Madame Alexander dolls. Shown here are two of the dolls that will be on display, Jaqcueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson, both dressed in their inaugural gowns.
The dolls will be on display in the Great Hall of the LBJ Library through November.
March 4, 1933: Inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
On this day in 1933, FDR stood outside the Capitol building and presented the New Deal through his inaugural speech as the 32nd U.S. president.
The New Deal was a series of economic reforms that responded to the Great Depression. It stressed the importance of the three R’s: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. During the famous first one hundred days, Roosevelt’s administration actively focused on measures that pushed for economic recovery, such as the Bank Holiday and Agricultural Adjustment Act, while also creating the National Recovery Administration and the Public Works Administration.
Historians have claimed that the New Deal represented total bipartisanship from members in Congress.
Remember the events during the Great Depression with American Experience’s timeline.
Image: Franklin Roosevelt explained many of the aspects of his New Deal programs to the American public through a series of “Fireside Chats” delivered by the new medium of the era, radio. (Library of Congress)
Marian Anderson was born on this day, February 27, 1897. The internationally renowned contralto opera singer sang the National Anthem at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
Twenty two years earlier, Anderson’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial marked a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. Learn more about the concert, and the friendship between Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt here.
Photo: President Kennedy with Marian Anderson and her accompanist Franz Rupp in the Oval Office, White House. 3/22/62.
-from the JFK Library