On July 15, 1971, Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he had accepted the PRC’s invitation for him visit China.
President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 ended twenty-five years of isolation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He viewed his trip as the first step in a long process of contact between the United States and the PRC. Further, he believed it would reduce tension between the United States, the PRC, and the Soviet Union.
The President’s trip to China required a tremendous amount of planning. Part of this effort involved matters of protocol and etiquette, such as the use of chopsticks.
Image: Transcript of Speech President Nixon Gave Announcing Upcoming Trip to China. 7/15/1971.
More on Ping Pong Diplomacy: Nixon’s Trip to China on the Presidential Timeline.
The 26th Amendment Lowers the Voting Age to 18
Today in history, July 5, 1971, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was officially certified. President Nixon had signed the Act, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age, on January 1, 1971.
When the Founding Fathers set the voting age at twenty-one, they were following a common law tradition that went relatively unchallenged in the United States until 1942. In October of that year, as Americans fought in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation to lower the military draft age from 21 to 18. For many, this raised the question, “if a man is old enough to serve, is he old enough to vote?”
From 1942 until 1965, members of Congress introduced over sixty resolutions to grant young people the right to vote, and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first President to voice his support for the youth vote.
Image: Certification of the 26th Amendment, 7/5/71. From the Nixon Library.
"In Event of Moon Disaster", July 18, 1969.
White House speechwriter, William Safire, was asked to write a speech that President Nixon would make in case the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon.
It was never delivered, and this speech was quietly tucked away into Nixon’s records.
Source: Nixon Library
On this day in 1970, Apollo 13 was launched from Kennedy Space Center, FL, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. 4/11/70
The mission was aborted two days later when an oxygen tank exploded. Here, they are pictured with President Richard Nixon in Hawaii on April 18 after their perilous return to Earth.
Do you remember the Apollo 13 incident?
This Thanksgiving, two turkeys from Minnesota will travel to the White House to be pardoned by President Obama. The annual tradition began in 1947 when the Poultry and Egg National Board presented a live turkey to President Truman for the holiday. Earlier presentation birds did not fare as well as their modern day counterparts and were handed over for, ahem,dining, rather than pardoning.
This photo shows the Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation to President Nixon on November 18, 1969. As you might imagine, we’ve got a number of POTUS photos from previous turkey days in our holdings. More to come next week.
What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?
pbsthisdayinhistory: NOVEMBER 17: “I AM NOT A CROOK” - NIXON, 1973
On this day in 1973, President Richard Nixon famously uttered the words “I’m not a crook.” The President gave this televised speech amidst the damaging revelations from the Watergate investigations that eventually prompted him to resign from the presidency.
Listen to Nixon’s famous speech in this scene from American Experience’s The Presidents: Nixon.”
"Don’t give them any of that prissy stuff." 7 stories about Mamie Eisenhower:
- When Mamie observed that her granddaughter-in-law, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, was timidly waving to the crowd during the parade for President Nixon’s second inauguration, she offered the following advice: “Don’t give them any of that prissy stuff. Give them a big wave. Really say hello.”
- Rather than discarding a blue gown, Mamie gave it to Gettysburg College. Female students wore it to different events held at the school.
- When General Dwight D. Eisenhower was overseas during World War II, Mamie insisted that he hand write the letters he sent to her. By the war’s end Mamie had a collection of 319 letters.
- Young Mamie may have grown up a society girl, but she later happily proclaimed that she furnished one of her and Ike’s first homes with a table and sofa from “the dump heap.”
- Accustomed to living on a budget, Mamie Eisenhower continued to clip coupons when she moved into the White House. Each morning Mamie searched the newspaper for bargains and would place orders via telephone.
- Mamie developed such a close relationship with some of the Secret Service agents assigned to her that a few called her “Mom.”
- At a reception, Mamie and another woman wore the same dress. When the worried woman tried to conceal her dress Mamie told her, “Don’t hide it, I think it’s pretty!”
Mamie Doud Eisenhower was born on November 14, 1896. Today would have been her 115th birthday. She served as First Lady of the United States from 1953-1961. The photo is of Mamie on her 60th birthday.
Happy Birthday Juliette Low!
The founder of the American Girl Scouts was born on October 31, 1860.
What’s your favorite kind of Girl Scout cookie?
Obit of the Day: The Reporter Wore Tennis Shoes
Robert Pierpoint was assigned to the biggest stories throughout his career. His first job was with CBS Radio, where he worked with legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow. When the Korean War began, he travelled there to cover the first conflict of the Cold War. When the cease fire was signed in July 1953, he announced it for CBS. (Thirty years later, it was Pierpoint’s broadcast that was heard on the final episode of the CBS series, M*A*S*H.) As the network’s White House correspondent from 1957 until 1980 he covered and interviewed six presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. He was in Dallas when President Kennedy was shot and won two Emmys for his coverage of Watergate.
His most memorable moment, though, occurred off-camera in 1970. Scheduled to play tennis with a member of President Nixon’s staff, Pierpoint received a call about an assignment at the White House. Knowing he would still have a chance to make his match, Pierpoint threw on a shirt, tie, and jacket but left his tennis shoes, socks, and shorts on. Although it went unseen by the television audience, someone else caught the moment on film. CBS was none too happy.
Pierpoint, who died at the age of 86, got a kick out of the episode and will be buried in a jacket, tie, shirt…and tennis shorts.
(Image is copyright of the Roger Pierpoint Collection at the University of Redlands and courtesy of Nieman Watchdog.)