Sometimes sharing a good meal is the best way to resolve the differences you may have with another. For the United States and China, this strategy helped normalize relations during the Cold War.
During President Nixon’s trip to China, chefs prepared items familiar to the American palette like shrimp, roast pork, and roast duck with pineapple. Menus also included native cuisine like shark’s fin soup, black mushrooms with mustard greens, and bamboo shoots.
President Nixon skillfully used chopsticks to sample each dish served to him, maintaining proper Chinese etiquette.
The main beverages that were served were boiled water, orange juice, wine, and, of course, mao-tai. Photographs of Nixon and Chou En-lai toasting each other with this staple Chinese liquor quickly appeared on newspapers all across the world, symbolizing a new day in relations between the two countries.
Images: Menu and table settings from dinner given during President Nixon’s visit to Peking, China. 2/25/72.
President Nixon and Premier Chou En-lai toast in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. 2/25/72.
Today in history: 32 years ago, Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman to be sworn in as Supreme Court Justice.
President Ronald Reagan had nominated O’Connor to the Court one month earlier on August 19, 1981.
Photo: Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger. Her husband John O’Connor looks on. 9/25/81. U.S. Supreme Court.
-from the Reagan Library
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and JFK
President Kennedy is out on a political limb. He’s committed his administration to a major new civil rights bill, which he outlines in a nationally-televised address on June 11, 1963. The following week, he submits it to Congress. But its passage is very much in doubt and he needs all the support he can get. Now he’s learned that civil rights and labor organizations are planning a big demonstration in the capital this summer which they are calling “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Kennedy is afraid that it will hurt rather than help his chances of getting the bill through Congress.
On June 22, the same day he’s scheduled to leave on an important European trip, the President has a pre-arranged meeting with civil rights leaders. A. Philip Randolph, the respected black labor leader is there. He’s the driving force behind the proposed March. Martin Luther King Jr. is also present and has joined Randolph in supporting the demonstration. The president tells the group he doesn’t want “a big show in the capital” that could jeopardize passage of the bill. Read More
Photo: Children near the Washington Monument at the Civil Rights March on Washington. 8/28/63. http://research.archives.gov/description/541995
March on Washington Program with map. Among others, the Big Six will speak: A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, James Farmer, Whitney Young Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Martin Luther King Jr., all leaders of separate civil rights organizations. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/MISCACC-2003-036
Conference on Security and Cooperation
President Ford and members of the American delegation take a break at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Helsinki, Finland, on July 30, 1975.
Delegations from the United States, Canada, and 33 European states met in Finlandia Hall for this summit meeting that followed up previous discussions of political, economic, and cultural issues in Europe. The Conference culminated in the signing of the Final Act by the participants on August 1. This declaration did not have binding treaty status but still served as a step towards relaxing tensions and improving relations between the East and West.
-from the Ford Library
The Americans with Disabilities Act - Today in History
On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). President Bush had made the bill a key element of his domestic agenda that year. The ADA proved to be one of the most far-reaching civil rights bills in the nation’s history, affecting more than 40 million citizens.
During its development, the ADA was a popular idea, but there were great challenges in turning it into workable legislation. Although the ADA was equally embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike, bipartisan support did not ensure easy passage of a complicated bill capable of touching tens of millions of lives.
As these documents demonstrate it took leaders and politicians willing and able to “reach across the aisle” to find workable solutions; though as the documents also show, political strategists were well aware of the electoral costs of failure. Read More
President Truman - Just Stopping By
On this day in 1947, President Harry S. Truman stopped by the U.S. Capitol unannounced. According to the President’s appointment calendar for the day:
”White at the Capitol, the President visited the Senate Chamber, took his old seat, was recognized by the President of the Senate and made a brief impromptu speech.”
Addressing the senators around him, he said, “I get homesick for this seat. I spent the best 10 years of my life in this seat.”
Photo: Senator Harry S. Truman on the Capitol Steps, circa 1940.
Truman, Stalin, and Churchill during the Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was the last major meeting of the leaders of the three main Allied powers and the first of the conferences in which President Truman took part.
The President met both Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill for the first time at Potsdam. The three leaders and their advisors settled many issues, including the establishment of a Council of Foreign Ministers to further work on the peace treaties, the governing of Germany during occupation by the Allies, German reparations, the methods for handling war criminals, and the admission of the defeated countries to the United Nations.
In addition, Truman, along with Prime Minister Churchill and Generalisimo Chiang-Kai-shek, jointly issued the famous “Potsdam Proclamation” on July 26, which promised “prompt and utter destruction” to Japan if it did not surrender.
Photo: President Harry S. Truman with Soviet Prime Minister Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Cecilienhof Palace during the Potsdam Conference. 7/17/45.
-from the Truman Library
All About White House State Dinners
The pleasure of your company is requested for the latest Tumblr from the National Archives - State Dinners with President and Mrs. Ford.
It’s everything you ever wanted to know about the planning and process of State Dinners - from invitations, seating charts, and entertainment, to the President’s briefing notes and private “Memcons.” Check it out!
President and Mrs. Ford hosted the first state dinner of his administration on August 16, 1974, just a week after he was sworn-in following Richard Nixon’s resignation. Given the recent change in administrations President Ford had been asked whether he wanted King Hussein’s already scheduled visit to be postponed.
"Of course not," he replied. He had met King Hussein on several previous occasions, and in fact had hosted a state dinner for him in President Nixon’s absence the previous spring.
Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of the 20th century, passed away today at age 87.
Thatcher enjoyed a close working relationship with President Ronald Reagan, and also worked with President Jimmy Carter and President George Bush.
Photo: Jimmy Carter with Margaret Thatcher, 09/13/1977
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.