Total Pageviews

Friday, March 10, 2023

                          Stalwart Arthur 

A branch of the Republican Party was called 'Stalwart.' Roscoe Conkling was a senator and the head of the Stalwarts. He got Chester Alan Arthur appointed to the position of customs collector in New York City. Chester was grateful and used his position to divert money to fill the party's coffers and help Conkling's agenda for the Stalwarts.  Chester Arthur raised illegal fundraising money and wielded patronage and bribes. Later, he became the Vice-President to Garfield's Presidency.

Before being a customs collector, he had a law practice in New York City.  A black woman, Lizzie Jennings, was removed from a streetcar as the company had a "whites only" policy.  Mr. Arthur sued the streetcar company and won. For many years after, the Colored People's Legal Rights Association celebrated the victory.

Chester Arthur was in the New York Militia. His wife's brother was a southern army soldier and prisoner of war. Mr. Authur secured his release from a Yankee prison.

Because of corruption in the customs department, Chester  Arthur lost his job. But the "Stalwart" Republicans got him on the ticket for Vice President for Garfield's nomination for President.

In my last post, I described how President Garfield was shot twice by Mr. Guiteau.  So, Arthur became President. Mr. Guiteau said he was a Stalwart Republican, and he sent President Arthur a letter in which he stated, "My inspiration is a Godsend to you...It raised you from a political cipher to the President of the United States."

Arthur's wife, Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur, died before he became President. Later he placed a fresh bouquet beside his deceased wife's picture. His sister served as the White House hostess.  
Sister Mary Arthur McElroy was the White House Hostess.

After becoming President, he enacted the Pendleton Act to undo most of the spoils system he had used before going to the White House. He based appointments based on the merits of the candidates. He appointed Dorman B. Eaton as the chair of the first Civil Service Commission. He then cleaned up the Post Office Department to stop the fraud and ordered party officials to stop seeking graft for future campaign funds. This angered his Stalwart Republicans, so they did not nominate him for President at the next Republican Convention.

President Arthur held huge feasts and was nicknamed Elegant Arthur. He had to employ a full-time valet, for it is said he had eighty pairs of pants. He rode in his carriage, which had gold lace curtains and his coat of arms on the sides. 

He did not like the used furniture in the White House, so before he moved in, he had an auction. Twenty-four wagons of Presidential items were sold to a crowd on the White House lawn; an old pair of Lincoln's trousers and a hat that belonged to John Quincy Adams were mixed in with the other items of former Presidents and sold.

His term ended in 1885, and he went to Florida to fish. 

Chester Alan Arthur had been diagnosed with Bright's disease, which he kept from the public. The condition got worse, and according to one source, he contracted malaria while fishing.  Another source says Former President Arthur died of a stroke of apoplexy. He died in 1886, in New York City, just eight months after leaving the White House.

Note: Brights Disease was not too common in President Authur day, but there were several cases over the years.  One theory was it was contracted through a mountain tick bite.  In my historical fiction book that will come out this year, Texas Cakewalk, one of the characters was reported to have died from Brights Disease, but that was unusual.  There was a rumor that it was really strychnine.

This is the last blog on Presidents of the United States for this year.  I hope you enjoyed learning about some of our lesser-known Commanders in Chief.  

References: America and Its Presidents by Earl Schenck Miers
                    First Ladies of the White House by Gertrude Zeth Brooks
                   Secret Lives of the U.S. presidents by Cormac O'Brien 

Friday, February 24, 2023

President Garfield

 President Garfield Did Not Seek to be President.

James Garfield was respected as a professor of ancient languages, President of Hiram College, and a major general in the Union army. He had been elected to Congress when he was only thirty-two years old.

When he served in the army, his wife, Lucretia, discovered he had an affair with a woman known only as "Mrs. Calhoun." Garfield's wife sent her husband to see Mrs. Calhoun and get back every love letter he had sent. She told him to destroy any evidence of their relationship. The marriage between James and Lucretia became strong and remained until death. 

The Republican Party nominated him for the presidency, although he did not seek it. The Party thought he would be able to help bridge the gap that had developed between Congress and the executive branch. Congress and the Presidency were not getting along at all.

After Garfield was elected President, people would hound him for a federal office. Charles Guiteau was very persistent in being appointed as the Consul General of Paris.

Garfield said, "These people would take my very brain, flesh, and blood if they could."  Congress passed the Pendleton Act of 1883, which based appointments to the civil service on talent and seniority to help Presidents avoid office seekers.

As they walked by, Charles Guiteau would sit on a bench in Lafayette Park and ask cabinet members to further his petition for Consular General of Paris. Secretary of State James Blaine shouted at Mr. Guiteau, "Never speak to me again on the Paris consulship as long as you live!"  So, Guiteau started to go into the White House. Finally, the staff was told Guiteau was barred from entering.

Guiteau bought a pistol and had the salesman show him how to use it, then went to a local prison where he felt he would be sent in the future. He wanted to know where he would live. When President Garfield was waiting for a train at a railroad station, Guiteau walked up to him and fired twice. The first bullet grazed the President's arm, and the second lodged in his back.

It took eighty days for the President to die. Historians think it was not the bullet in his back that killed him, but the doctors' unsanitized medical instruments and fingers. Garfield was awake when they tried to find the bullet. Alexander Graham Bell was called to use his version of an early metal detector. They still did not find it. President Garfield suffered for eighty days in hot and humid weather. He was 49 years old and was President for only 4 months.

After President Garfield died, the bullet was found during the autopsy. Charles Guiteau wrote a letter to Chester A. Arthur, the Vice -President who became President at Garlield's death. Guiteau was hung on June 30, 1882.

Read the letter from Guiteau in the next blog.

Lucretia Rudolph Garfield was born in 1882 and was a widow for 37 years. She died in 1918. She and James Garfield had four sons and one daughter.

Saturday, February 18, 2023


                                        Which President Was This?

 After serving in the Civil War, this President said, "I have seen the dead piled up, and I do not want to see another."

However, he believed in Manifest Destiny. The President sent the battleship Maine to the Havana harbor when Cuba went to war with Spain. Suddenly the ship blew up, killing more than 200 Yankee sailors. The American people were outraged and wanted to retaliate against Spain.  Remember the Maine was the battle cry. The President instead had a commission investigate. Theodore Roosevelt, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, said, "the President was a "White-lived cur." The Commission decided the ship hit a Spanish mine. ( Some historians think it was likely caused by a coal fire on the ship.)

In three months, America went to war and defeated Spain, and the US got Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam in the treaty with Spain. And later, the President persuaded Congress to annex Hawaii. When the Philipines revolted, he immediately sent a troop to put down the revolt, and he sent troops to put down the Boxer rebellion in China as it was in the best business concerns of America.  

The idea of the Press Room for journalists started with this  President, and the journalist loved the idea and accepted the carefully chosen "news" he handed out. 

When he turned men down for an office, he made them think he was doing them a favor and presented them with a flower from his lapel. The Secretary of War said about the President, "He had a way of handling men so that they thought his ideas were their own."

Some Republican businessmen said they would fire employees who did not vote for their candidate. He won by a landslide.

His inaugural address was the first to be filmed.

He was devoted to his wife, Ida, who unfortunately had epilepsy. If her seizures hit at a state dinner, a public gathering, or a speech, the President would drape his handkerchief over her face. The darkness helped to calm her, and when the seizure passed, the couple acted as if nothing had happened.

The President's wife, Ida. 

They had two children; Katherine (Katie) died at age 3 from typhoid fever, and little Ida was born in 1873 and died four months later.

He was elected to a second term as President. In September 1901, he attended The Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz walked up to the President with a handkerchief wrapped around his hand. He had a gun concealed, and he fired two bullets. The President was hit in the breastbone and the abdomen. As the President fell to the floor, he said, "My wife, be careful how you tell her-oh, be careful,"

Eight days later, the President died. And Forty-five days later, Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, was electrocuted. 

                           William McKinley  

                                        President 1897 -1901

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Presidents Day - William Henry Harrison

                                                     Keep It Short!

Presidents' Day! We all know about famous presidents such as Washington, Jefferson, the two Roosevelts, and JFK.

But the other presidents had interesting lives too. Today let's look at our ninth president, William Henry Harrison.  

William Henry's father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. William Henry was the last President born as a British subject. His father wanted William to be a physician, but William chose army life. He became an Indian fighter in the northwest territory. He tried twice to make peace with Tecumuseh, the Creek chief, who allied with the British.

Finally, Harrison led the troops that killed Tecumseh and defeated the British at the junction of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers. After the war, he served in the US Senate and later as an ambassador to Columbia. Columbians nearly threw him in jail as he supported the uprising against the Columbian government.

He belonged to the Whig Party, and it was considered crass to campaign for yourself in that day. But he was a maverick and the first presidential candidate to campaign for himself with speeches, parties, banners, and parades. This idea has been followed by all the succeeding candidates.

His opponent was Martin Van Buren, portrayed as a snob and a dandy. Harrison's running mate was John Tyler, so the slogan was 'Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too'.   Harrison said of himself, "Some folks are silly enough to have formed a plan to make a president of th the U.S. out of this Clerk and Clod Hopper. 

The prominent Whigs thought Harrison would be easy to dominate and get the people they wanted into important positions, but he spoiled their plans. He told them where they could 'stick their suggestions.'

He became President in 1841. His wife, Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison, was ill and could not travel to Washington.

He delivered his inaugural address on March 4th. It was a cold, windy day. He did not wear a coat or gloves. His speech was one hour and 45 minutes long ( It became the longest inaugural  speech ever given. So the moral is "Keep It Short.")

He came down with a cold and seemed to recover. Then he would go out to various government offices to look for inefficient Federal employees to fire. Also, early each morning, he left the White House to buy food at the local market. He did not wear a coat on these jaunts. A few days later, he had chills and a fever. The diagnoses were pneumonia and pleurisy. The doctors treated their patient with castor oil, calomel, ipecac, opium, camphor, and brandy. He soon had colitis, vomiting, and hepatitis. He died on April 4th, 1841, exactly one month after taking office.

The vice president became President. John Tyler was more challenging to dominate than Harrison.

Anna married William Henry against her father's advice. She lived with him on the frontier. They had ten children. A grandson, Benjamin Harrison, became the twenty-third President. Anna lived twenty years longer than her husband and devoted herself to church work. She was eighty-nine when she died peacefully.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Love and Cupid


                 Love, Cupid, and Valentine

How did Valentine's Day start? According to history scholars, Valentine is named after a person with that name. However, two people may have originated the idea of Valentines. First, there was a priest in 200 A.D. in Rome. He disobeyed Emperor Claudius II's ban on marriage for young soldiers as it would distract them, so he married them secretly. He was caught and sentenced to death.

Another person named Valentine was killed for trying to help Christians escape Rome's prison, and he may have sent the first Valentine's message while in prison. He wrote a letter and signed it "From your Valentine."

Valentine's Day commemorates St. Valentine's death on February 14. But, some historians say it began in a Pagan fertility festival called  "Lupercalia."   Ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia on February 15. It was to honor Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and the two founders, Romulus and Remus, of Rome. The people would sacrifice animals and smack women with hides to encourage fertility. (The reasoning behind that behavior, I have yet to learn.)

About 499 A.D., Roman Pope Gelasius made February 14 St. Valentine's Day. But only in the Middle Ages did the holiday mean love and romance. This idea started in France and England. They believed birds began their mating season on February 14.

How does Cupid fit into all of this?   He began in 700 B.C. as Eros, a handsome Greek god with the power to make people fall in love. In the  4th century BCE, the Romans made Eros into an image of a cute little boy with a bow and arrow. In the 1800's Cupid was linked with Valentine's Day.

The first Valentine was written by a French duke, Charles, to his wife in 1415 while imprisoned in the Tower Of London.  

 In the 1840s, the cards were mass-produced in the U.S. They were sold by Esther A. Howland. She made elaborate, crafty cards with lace and ribbons. She is known as the "Mother of the American Valentine."

Ladies, if you live in North Carolina, you could consult the Love vine. "First, you name the boy that you like. Then you take one of the long orange tendrils off the plant and try to tie it in a knot, which is most difficult. If you can tie a knot in the vine without breaking it, the boy you named loves you." According to Effie Price.

The love vine is also known as Dodder, Strangle-weed, Devil's Hair, and Hell-bind. It has long, orange, thread-like stems that spread quickly over host plants, sucking their life.

 In 1832,  The Old Farmer's Almanack published this poem by Mr. Tag, who was in love with a young lady named Miss Pickle. He wrote her this love ditty.

My heart to rags with love is torn and scratch'd with doubts hard to be borne.
My soul is harrow'd up with grief till naught, but Pickle gives relief.
Not pickled onions, 'tis I mean;
Nor pickled cabbage, red or green;
Nor pickled cucumbers, small or big;
Nor pickled port, nor pickled pig;
Not pickles brought from a foreign shore,
Nor any pickle known before!
A pickle, ad infinitum bright, 'tis brightest day 'midst darkest night!
A pickle 'tis of virgin fame, and Bridget Pickle is its name.
Oh! the kind Cupid, be not fickle; inspire the heart of sweet Miss Pickle
To reap love's harvest with thy sickle; Oh! Pickle! Pickle! Pickle! Pickle!

After such a romantic poem, I wonder if Bridget Pickle responded.

Candy Hearts! Oh, so good.

The following is part of a poem written by Ida M. Brookshire.

At the little country schoolhouse,
You were standing next to me,
In a long line-up of pupils,
For an old-time spelling bee.                                                                                   
I took your closed hand shyly,
Gently prying it apart,                                                                   

And laid upon your open palm
 A small white candy heart
With this question in red letters,
"Will you be my valentine?"
I read the smiling answer 
In the eyes you raised to mine.

If you do not have a valentine, you can still celebrate. In 2003, The day was established on February 14 as International Quirkyalone Day. So it is okay to be single and have platonic relationships. So, on February 14, I shall be celebrating International Quirkyalone Day. Let me know if any of you are going to do the same.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What was Paupukeevis Thinking?


You may know by now I love to read, especially history. Such fascinating stories and all true. Here is one of them. 

In 1907 there was a zoo called Longfellow Gardens near the Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. It had hippos, zebras, camels, elephants, lions, tigers, and bears in cages for the people to stare at.

It also had deer, elk, flamingos, and sea lions who roamed the zoo as they wished. They could mingle with the people. Thousands of visitors visited the grounds.

One sea lion named Paupukeevis decided he wanted adventure. So he flip-flopped over to the Minnehaha Falls, and from there, he swam down the Mississippi.   

In its June 10, 1907 issue, Minneapolis Tribue newspaper carried the news about the escape. It advised the readers to be on the lookout for the escapee who "wore a plain suit of shiny black."

Reports started to come in. It appears Paupukeevis swam to St. Paul's Boom Island, where he met John Knutson. Evidently, he didn't like Mr. Knutson as he bit him and tore a piece out of his trousers, which he took with him as he paddled away.

There was a report of the wandering sea lion at the mouth of the Minnesota River. Plainclothes agents sent from Longfellow Gardens rushed to the area and scoured it, but no sign was found of the miscreant.
Some folks think he made his way to the Gulf. 

R.F. Jones, who owned the zoo, offered a reward for the return of the wandering swimmer. He feared someone might shoot it, thinking it was a river monster.

No one claimed the reward, and Paupukeevis is still missing.  

The zoo closed in 1934.


In these days of germ concerns, I read in the book Home Remedies From The Bible about what the people did in the ancient days.  

                                                                  What did they do for acne?

Most acne is from infection from blocked glands.

Onion juice was rubbed on the skin to clear up acne.  The liquid seemed to be an antibiotic.  In ancient days onions were so expensive that they were buried with royalty.

Also, a tonic of rosewater and witch hazel was applied with cotton. Or the Calendula plant, which we call marigold, was used.

People inhaled steam with chamomile, sage leaves, and thyme to purge the skin of impurities. (please do not inhale anything unless your doctor says it is okay.)

Lemon juice is a gem killer and helps to bring circulation to the skin. Using fresh lemon juice for the desired area was deemed helpful.

Carrot, grapefruit, and celery juice may help to detoxify the skin from the inside out. (Not sure if the people drank the juice or put it on the skin.)

Please consult a health professional if you wish to try any of these ideas.
This information is from Home Remedies from the Bible by Mary Ellen Hettinger.

When I was a child, and my mother bought a fresh lemon for a recipe, she would put the lemon skin in the dishwater. We did not have bottled lemon juice. 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Auld Lang Syne

                                                   Auld Lang Syne

Different versions of the words for the song "Auld Lang Syne" have been around since 1711 and are attributed to Sir Robert Ayton. The melody was first composed by William Shield to use in his comic opera Rosina in 1782. It was in 1799 that the words and melody were put together. Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, is credited with the fusion of words and music. 

The words were in the Scottish language. Auld Lang Syne means in English "Old Long Since" and is also interpreted as "since long ago" or "for old times' sake."  

In the 19th century, it became part of the Scottish Hogmanay or (New Year's celebration).   Traditionally the people sing the song while holding hands and standing in a circle. 

The Scottish version is:                                            The English version is:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,                         Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?                                      And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,                          Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne?                                                   And old lang syne?

(Chorus)                                                                      (Chorus)

For auld lang syne, my jo,                                           For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,                                                       For auld lang syne,

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,                                   We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.                                                         For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!                               And surely you'll buy your pint cup!

And surely I'll be mine!                                                    And surely I'll buy mine!

And we'll take a cup of kindness yet,                             And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.                                                          For auld lang syne.

We twa have run about the braes                                        We two have run about the slopes,

And pu'd the gowans fine;                                                   And picked the daisies fine;

But we've wander'd a weary foot                               But we've wandered many a weary foot,

 Sin auld lang syne.                                                                   Since auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn,                                            We two have paddled in the stream,

Frae mornin' sun till dine;                                                    From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar'd                           But seas between us broad have roared

Sin auld lang syne.                                                          Since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!                               And there's a hand my trusty friend!

And gie's a hand o' thine!                                                And give me a hand o' thine!

And we'll take a right guid willy waught,                 And we'll take a right good-will draught,

For auld lang syne.                                                             For auld lang syne.

The song became popular when Guy Lombardo's band, the Royal Canadians, played it on December 31, 1929, on the radio and later on television.

There are many versions of this song today. Robert Burns's, in his various manuscripts of this song, are not worded exactly the same either. 

If you notice, some words need to be more grammatical or spelled correctly. This is on purpose. 

This information is from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published May 19, 2017.

Please, everyone, have a safe New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. May God Bless us with good health during the holiday and all the new year.  

                          Stalwart Arthur  A branch of the Republican Party was called 'Stalwart.' Roscoe Conkling was a senator and...