August 15, 1935: Will Rogers dies in Plane Crash in Alaska

“When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: ‘I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I dident like.’”

will2Will Rogers was born on the Dog Iron Ranch in the Indian Territory before it became Oklahoma. He was nine-sixteenths Cherokee; his ancestors hadn’t come over on the Mayflower – they “met the boat.” He dropped out of school in the tenth grade to study roping and the cowboy arts, then he went on to vaudeville and Hollywood. He began to write a weekly column, “Slipping the Lariat Over”, and by the middle of the nineteen thirties he became our Cowboy Philosopher. Americans loved him because he could always be relied on to speak the truth:

“There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

“The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”

“Being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on earth.”

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries.”

“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets”

“Lead your life so you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip. ”

“If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?”

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”

“We are all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can.”

“Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco!”

“Always drink upstream from the herd.”

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

August 14, 1925: Four Presidents are Proposed for Mount Rushmore

In 1924 Gutzon Borglum had just been fired from his position carving Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee statue onto Stone Mountain, Georgia for the Ku Klux Klan.

Doane Robinson, the State Historian for South Dakota, had read about Borglum’s efforts at Stone Mountain. He had been envisioning another colossal project to carve the granite outcroppings of the Black Hills into sculptures, which would transform the tall narrow, granite rock formations known as “the Needles” into memorials of mythic American heroes such as Custer, Lewis and Clark, perhaps the Sioux chief Red Cloud.

mt rushmoreAmericans were starting to travel by automobile and this would lure tourists away from Yellowstone National Park and into the Black Hills of South Dakota. When he heard that Borglum was in need of a new project, he sent a letter suggesting “opportunities for heroic sculpture of unusual character”.

Borglum telegrammed back “VERY MUCH INTERESTED IN YOUR PROPOSAL, GREAT SCHEME YOU HAVE; HOLD TO IT, THE NORTH WILL WELCOME IT” and in August of 1925 he travelled to South Dakota to meet with Robinson. He rejected Robinson’s initial “Needles” site, but after some exploration, he found Mount Rushmore (which the Sioux called “Six Grandfathers”) and declared the mountain perfect because it received full exposure to daylight and the stone was of the highest quality.

On August 14, Borglum proposed a “Shrine of Democracy” which would commemorate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. All they needed was money.

In the summer of 1927, South Dakota Congressman William Williamson, a champion of the project, convinced President Calvin Coolidge to take a vacation in the Black Hills. President Coolidge was glad to get out of Washington. He arrived in the Black Hills in June and prolonged his three week stay (his hosts kept restocking the trout) into three months. Funding for the project was soon in place.

For the next fourteen years 400 workers carved at Mount Rushmore with dynamite and jackhammers to create “the formal rendering of the philosophy of our government into granite on a mountain peak.” The scale was immense – Washington’s face is 60 feet chin to forehead, his eyes 11 feet wide, his mouth 18 feet wide. The small mole on Lincoln’s face is 16 inches across. Each day the workers climbed to the top of the mountain, then were lowered in “bosun chairs” over the 500 foot face to set off charges and cart away the stone.

It was nerve-wracking and tough and dangerous work, but during the Depression, any job was a good job.

August 13, 1831: O, What Portents are these?

In Raleigh, North Carolina, during the early dog days of August, 1831 a heavy and mysterious silence chained the elements. No clouds obscured the sky, no forked lightning cleaved the firmament. The deep mutterings of thunder were unheard, yet a pall hung over the face of nature. A strange calm rested upon everything and men looked wonderingly at each other to divine the result.Vincent_van_Gogh

On August 13th, the sun began to assume a pale and sickly hue after noon and by four o’clock was deprived of all its illuminating power. It took the appearance of a greenish globe, thickly set across its diameter with black spots of various sizes, which continued to be visible to the naked eye, until sunset.

At Albany, New York that same day, the sun was pale, like the moon, and slightly green and the western sky turned deep red after sunset.

At Macon, Georgia a blue tint settled over the face of the sun in the early afternoon and remained until the sun set seven hours later. Citizens quickly smoked glasses through which they watched the sun while thumbing frantically through almanacs.

Dry fog was observed on the coast of Africa, on the Black Sea and in the south of France. The sky was never dark at night, and even small print could be read at midnight in Siberia.

Some folks recalled the eclipse of the sun from February, or the eerie atmosphere that preceded the New Madrid earthquake back in 1811.
In Missouri, Joseph Smith received a revelation – The angels of the Lord were watching over the elders who were voyaging west “upon horses or upon mules or in chariots” to the Land of Zion and would receive his blessing.

In Dresden, Vermont, the Reverend William Miller began preaching with chronological certitude: the End Days of the world would surely arrive on March 21, 1844.

In Southampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner also took the workings of the heavens to be a sign. He should lead his people to a land of blue water and green leaves. Remembering Moses and his exodus to the land of milk and honey, he fashioned a rough copper snake and attached it to a rod, and then Nat put forth his plan to lead his people out of bondage.

At 2:00 a.m. on Aug. 22, Nat and a small band of slaves entered the home of his owner, Joseph Travis. Nat Turner struck the first blow with a hatchet. A fellow slave finished the killing with a broadax. They took arms and horses, and rode into the night. The rebels rode to the nearest plantation compound at full gallop, and swiftly killed all the slave owners. They left with more fighters, more horses, muskets, and swords.

For two days, the slave revolt grew – first a dozen, and then 30 and then 60, and perhaps 80 men marching and singing, waving red flags for their freedom, and killing every slave owner they found, until a white militia set up roadblocks. When he met the militia Nat halted his people and attempted to preach at the whites. Someone opened fire, and the armed blacks charged and overwhelmed the outnumbered whites. The slaves crossed the Shenandoah Valley into western Virginia before the soldiers caught up with them. When artillery, horsemen, and eight hundred infantry attacked their camps, the exodus was stopped.

Dozens of slaves were executed, hundreds returned to their masters. Some escaped into Ohio, but Nat turned back, realizing that even Moses had not been able to pass over into the Promised Land. He hid in the Dismal Swamp until he was captured on October 30.

On November 11, 1831, Nat Turner was hanged, flayed, beheaded, and quartered. See More

— with Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia



August 12, 1676: King Philip’s War comes to a Bloody End

It was a pure matter of survival for the Pilgrims to make peace with Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag, in the spring of 1621, as half of their company had died during the first winter. It was only with the natives’ generous assistance that the colonists somehow made it through the next few years, which made it possible for many thousands more colonists to eventually emigrate from England in the 1630’s.

The Native Americans were willing to accommodate the settlers at first because smallpox was taking its toll on their own numbers. Wassaumon philipwas one young Massachuset who lost his family during the epidemic of 1633. Fortunately a Pilgrim family took the boy in as a servant, baptized him “John Sassamon” and he learned to speak English.

By 1637, the settlers were starting to move west into central Massachusetts and the Connecticut River valley. Disease had wiped out the native tribes so the Pequot were also moving into the area. The colonists, with the help of John Sassamon as an interpreter, joined forces with the Wampanoag and drove the rival Pequot out. By 1651, the colonists were getting the upper hand – some natives converted to Christianity, and took up farming and settled in “Praying Towns” such as Natick and Ponkapoag. John Sassamon taught English and Christianity to these converts and also furthered his own studies at Harvard College.

After returning to Natick, Sassamon began to serve as translator and secretary to Massasoit’s son, Metacomet. In 1660 Metacomet requested that the court at Plymouth give him, like Wassaumon, an English name. The court agreed and Metacomet was named Philip – King Philip.

John Sassamon still had a foot in two worlds, but his worlds were rapidly pulling apart. In December 1674, he warned Josiah Winslow, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, that King Philip was planning an attack on Plymouth. Shortly after John Sassamon went missing – two months later his body was discovered under the ice in Assawompset Pond.

The colonists were furious and looked for fast justice. They quickly tried and hung three Pokanoket men for John Sassamon’s murder. Then all hell broke loose.

Scalping was the weapon of choice for the natives. Plymouth, Deerfield, Swansea, Brookfield, Northfield, Turners Falls, Lancaster all came under vicious attack. The colonists were forced to evacuate the Connecticut Valley and retreat to the coast.

In the winter of 1675-1676, one thousand men marched against the Indians, massacring seven hundred in one night. The Indians were on the defensive and Philip became a fugitive. He was finally overtaken in the Misery Swamp in Rhode Island and on August 12, 1676 he was shot dead by John Alderman, a “Praying Indian”.
The war was over, but one third of the towns in New England lay in ashes, farms were abandoned and the fields lay fallow. Five thousand of the seventy thousand people in New England were dead.

King Philip’s body was quartered and hung on trees. Alderman sold his severed head to the Plymouth Colony authorities for 30 shillings. The head was placed on a stake atop the fort on Burial Hill in Plymouth, where it remained for the next 20 years. Alderman received Philip’s cut-off hand, which he pickled and would display to the curious for a modest fee.

The colonists rounded up the surviving natives. They loaded several ships, including “The Seaflower” with hundreds of native men, women and children (including Philip’s wife and nine-year-old son) who were guilty of “many notorious and execrable murders, killings, and outrages.”

The “heathen malefactors” would be sold into slavery in the West Indies, but the market for murderous aborigines in Barbados and Jamaica was poor. One American slave ship was forced to venture all the way to Africa before he finally disposed of his cargo.



August 11, 1942: Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil Secure Patent #2,292,387

“Any girl can be glamorous,” Hedy would say. “All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.”Hedy Lamarr

Hedy wasn’t stupid. She had achieved a certain notoriety for her full frontal nudity and convincing orgasm in the film “Ecstacy”, but she was also mathematically gifted and acquainted with the intricacies of modern weaponry thanks to her first marriage to an Austrian munitions manufacturer.

George Antheil made his living as an avant-garde composer of orchestral music and opera. He lived in Paris during the ’20s and counted Ernest Hemingway and Igor Stravinsky among his friends. Antheil would often lay a pistol on the piano as a warning to his audience to keep quiet. George was also more than a pianist with eccentric skills and provocative compositions. He penned an advice column to the lovelorn, wrote for Esquire magazine, and even published a book entitled “Every Man His Own Detective: A Study of Glandular Endocrinology”.

Hedy Lamarr was very interested in glandular matters. She approached Antheil at a Hollywood dinner party hoping to talk about the possibility of increasing the size of her breasts. However, in 1942 there was a war going on, and there were other topics to talk about.

The Germans were blocking and intercepting Allied radio communications and things weren’t going well. Hedy and George talked together about how they might help the war effort. They had each hung out in enough beer halls to be familiar with the inner workings of a player piano. What if radio frequencies could hop all over the spectrum, the way music jumped all up and down the 88 ivory keys when the piano roll turned? Messages would be difficult to jam or intercept, but if you knew the code, could easily be put back together.

Hedy and George thought they were onto something, so they secured a patent, and pitched it to the Navy brass.

Antheil later recognized that comparing the invention to the mechanism of a player piano in front of a bunch of naval officers had probably been a mistake. “‘My god,’ I can see them saying, ‘we shall put a player piano in a torpedo.’”

Lamarr and Antheil dropped the idea and went back to making movies and music.

It wasn’t until the 1950’s that engineers at Sylvania rediscovered their patent and started using it in their research and development. Today we use it every day: Frequency-hopping spread-spectrum technology is a key element in wireless and cellphone communications.




August 8, 1925: The Klan Marches on Washington

The Ku Klux Klan felt it was being put on the defensive in America. After the uproar of the Scopes trial, the security of fundamentalism was feeling a little shaky. Even women could vote. The great waves of immigrant Jews and Greeks and Italians were steadily becoming assimilated. Black men were going to college! America was in danger of becoming a pluralistic society.

kkkImperial Wizard Hiram Evans proposed a march on Washington. When sixty thousand white-robed Klansmen marched down Pennsylvania Avenue they would show the nation that the power of the Klan was not on the wane.

On August 7 Klansmen started arriving in the capital by cars, trains and buses. It was hot – ninety degrees – and the visitors camped for the night in tents set up on a twenty-three acre plot in the northeast section of the District. They had a good time, the same as the Shriners or Elks might have at their summer conventions. About thirty thousand folk showed up – about half what had been predicted, but still a large crowd. There were many young people – couples with their children, as many women as men. It was a homogenous crowd and everyman felt comfortable: “There was not an individual among its white-robed tens of thousands who was not a Protestant, nor one who had not declared his faith in Christ!”

The morning of August 8, the Klansmen formed in white-robed ranks at the head of Pennsylvania Avenue. The instructions were clear – March with your visors raised and show your faces. They marched forth state by state, with large banners proclaiming their faith. The long white robes made the procession extra hot – more than a hundred men and women wound up in the hospitals with dehydration and heat stroke.

As the columns wheeled south to march the final leg to the Washington Monument, large thunderheads started to roll ominously overhead. The columns kept marching. Rain started to spit – first a few sprinkles, then a brief shower. The crowd started to get a bit edgy and the nervousness worked its way up to the podium.

L. A Mueller, the Grand Kleagle for the District of Columbia, thought he could calm the parading Klansmen. He picked up the microphone and proclaimed through the loudspeakers: “It will not rain. We shall pray. Never yet has God poured rain on a Klan assembly!”

Thunder crashed overhead. Minutes later, the heavens opened and heavy rain deluged the parading Klansmen. The parade started to break rank.

The Rev Dr. Gulledge from Columbus Ohio, the ranking clergyman on the rostrum, got down on his knees. “Oh God” he intoned into the microphone, “I pray that the remainder of this service be conducted without rain.”

The rain intensified into “a damp penetrating rain that soaked the Klansmen to the skin”. The Klansmen streamed back to their cars and buses and trains.

Before the parade, the Ku Klux Klan boasted a membership of four million. Five years later, that number had washed out to forty-five thousand.

Source: The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America by Wyn Craig Wade




August 7, 1794: George Washington quenches the Whiskey Rebellion

In 1790, the Federal government of the United States assumed the debts incurred by the colonies during the Revolution, and the new government was deep ($54 million) in debt. Alexander Hamilton, the enterprising Secretary of the Treasury, proposed a bill which Congress approved in 1791 that established an excise tax on all distilled spirits.

The large distillers on the east coast, who produced alcohol as a full time business venture could make a flat annual tax payment which whiskeyworked out to about six cents per gallon. The smaller producers inland however, who only made whiskey occasionally, had to make payments of almost twice that amount each time they distilled a barrel. The government insisted that payment be made in cash – but for many farmers, whiskey WAS cash, as they operated in a barter economy and it was much easier to trade distilled spirits to the eastern markets than raw grain.

Pretty soon, when excise officers arrived in towns west of the Alleghenies to set up shop, they learned to not stay long unless they were looking to be tarred and feathered. Things came to an ugly head in 1794 when a large mob in western Pennsylvania marched on collector John Neville’s house in Washington County, had a shoot-out with him and his slaves, and burned his home to the ground. Neville escaped, but then the locals started talking about breaking away from the Union.

On August 7, George Washington invoked the Militia Acts and called out the troops. He personally led a militia force of 12,950 men towards Western Pennsylvania, warning locals “not to abet, aid, or comfort the Insurgents aforesaid, as they will answer the contrary at their peril.” By the time the militia reached Pittsburgh, the rebels had dispersed and could not be found.

The Whiskey Rebellion was over.

Three years later George Washington hired a Scottish plantation manager, James Anderson, and with his advice and assistance the Father of Our Country built his own whiskey distillery at Mt. Vernon, next to the gristmill. Five copper pot stills were erected, which soon produced a fine mash whiskey using Washington’s own recipe of rye (60%), corn (35%) and malted barley (5%).

By 1799, the distillery produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey. It had become the largest operation of its kind in America and the most successful business enterprise Washington undertook at Mount Vernon.




August 6, 1849: Catherine Havens begins her Diary in Old New York

I AM ten years old today, and I am going to begin to keep a diary. My sister says it is a good plan, and when I am old, and in a remembering mood, I can take out my diary and read about what I did when I was a little girl.

catherineI can remember as far back as when I was only four years old, but I was too young then to keep a diary, but I will begin mine by telling what I can recall of that far-away time.

The first thing I remember is going with my sister in a sloop to visit my aunts, Mrs. Dering and Mrs. L’Hommedieu, on Shelter Island. We had to sleep two nights on the sloop, and had to wash in a tin basin, and the water felt gritty.

These aunts live in a very old house. It was built in 1733 and is called the Manor House, and some of the floors and doors in it were in a house built in 1635 of wood brought from England.

The next thing I remember is going with my nurse to the Vauxhall Gardens, and riding in a merry-go-round. These Gardens were in Lafayette Place, near our house, and there was a gate on the Lafayette Place side, and another on the Bowery side.

Back of our house was an alley that ran through to the Bowery, and there was a livery stable on the Bowery, and one time my brother, who was full of fun and mischief, got a pony from the stable and rode it right down into our kitchen and galloped it around the table and frightened our cook almost to death.

Another time he jumped onto a new barrel of flour and went right in, boots and all. He was so mischievous that our nurse kept a suit of his old clothes done up in a bundle, and threatened to put them on him and give him to the old-clothes man when he came along.

The beggar girls bother us dreadfully. They always have the same story to tell, that “my father is dead and my mother is sick, and there’s five small children of us, and nary a hapo.” The hapo means money.

They come down the steps to the kitchen door and ring the bell and ask for cold victuals; and sometimes they peek through the window into the basement, which is my nursery. And one day my brother said to one of them, “My dear, I am very sorry, but our victuals are all hot now, but if you will call in about an hour they will be cold.” And she went away awfully angry.

We moved from Lafayette Place to Brooklyn when I was four years old, but only lived there one year. My brother liked Brooklyn because he could go crabbing on the river, but I was afraid of the goats, which chased one of my friends one day. So we came back to New York, and my father bought a house in Ninth Street. He bought it of a gentleman who lived next door to us, and who had but one lung, and he lived on raw turnips and sugar. Perhaps that is why he had only one lung. I don’t know.

I am still living in our Ninth Street house. It is a beautiful house and has glass sliding doors with birds of Paradise sitting on palm trees painted on them. And back of our dining room is a piazza, and a grape vine, and we have lots of Isabella grapes every fall. It has a parlor in front and the library in the middle and the dining room at the back. On the mantelpiece in the library is a very old clock that my father brought from France in one of his ships. It has a gilt head of Virgil on the top, and it is all gilt, and stands under a big glass case, and sometimes I watch my father when he takes off the case to wind the clock, and he has to lift it up so high and his hands tremble so, I am afraid he will break it.

Sometimes I think we shall never move again. I think it is delightful to move. I think it is so nice to shut my eyes at night and not to know where anything will be in the morning, and to have to hunt for my brush and comb and my books and my et ceteras, but my mother and my nurse do not feel that way at all.




August 5, 1837: The First Ascent of Mount Marcy

Ebenezer Emmons was a doctor from the Berkshires with a particular interest in geology. After graduating from Williams College and the Albany College of Medicine, he pursued graduate studies in geology at the new Rensselaer School in Troy. He was fascinated with Paleozoic stratigraphy, and was the first discoverer of primordial fauna in any country.

Orson Phelps was not a great guide. His neighbors considered him both lazy and shiftless. He delighted in showing the way up a trail, but not in preparing the camp. As his father had been a local surveyor he knew the country, but he wasn’t much help even if he was always ready to bushwack up a trail.two guides.1

Dr. Emmons was leading the Geological Survey of New York State, looking for the headwaters of the East Fork of the Hudson River in the high country of northern New York. The survey party found the river’s source at “Lake Tear of the Clouds” on the southwest slope of the highest mountain (5,343 feet) of the range. The party continued on to the summit, where Dr. Emmons named the mountain “Mount Marcy” after William L. Marcy, the Governor of New York State.

Orson Phelps always called it “Mt. Mercy”. He turned his hobby, climbing mountains, into a remunerative specialty. He carefully cultivated his image. He wore a woolen shirt, patched up butternut-colored trousers, and a limp, light-brown felt hat, frayed away at the top so that his tangled yellow hair grew out of it like a fern. “Soap is a thing,” he said, “that I hain’t no kinder use for.”

Emmons named the mountain range “Adirondacks”, from the Mohawk “ratirontaks”, meaning “they eat trees”, which is how the Mohawk referred to their neighbors, the Algonquian, who would eat the buds and bark of trees when food was scarce. Phelps called the mountains his home, where he lived with the “honkinflappers” (geese), “croakers” (frogs), “bumble-buzzers” (bees), “peelicks” (blue jays), “hooters” (owls), “skitterypups” (chipmunks and squirrels), and “porkypetes” (porcupines).

Emmons went on to transform American geology, His survey of New York State became the standard for stratigraphic surveys of the United States. He published the classic texts on the subject: Manual of Mineralogy and Geology (1826), Report on the Second Geological District of New York (1842), Natural History of New York (1848), and Textbook of Geology (1860). He became embroiled in a nasty dispute with his student James Hall (the chief American invertebrate paleontologist of his era). Hall claimed the rocks east of the Hudson River were younger, whereas Emmons claimed them to be older. The dispute went to court – suit led to counter suit. Ultimately a court decision favoring Hall forced Emmons to leave New York. (Geologists today side with Emmons).

Phelps stayed on the mountain. In 1849 he blazed the first trail to its summit from the east, going in from Lower Ausable Lake and then passing Haystack and the head of Panther Gorge. Later he cut the Bartlett Mountain trail. About 1850 he guided two ladies, the first women to make the complete ascent, to the summit of Marcy. He took care of the fancy summer people – to a point – he balked when offered lobster after soup and salad at the St. Huberts Inn, saying, “I drank yer dishwater an’ I ate yer grass, but I’ll be derned if I’ll eat yer bug!”

He became known as “Old Mountain Phelps”. When asked to lead the way up some unfamiliar trail, he would often say: “So you want Old Mountain Phelps to show you the way, do you. Well, I caller late he kin do it.”

Where Dr. Emmons saw the work of geologic history, Old Mountain Phelps saw God in every sunrise and in every sunset. Where Dr. Emmons listened to a clear mountain stream and heard the force of erosion at work, Phelps heard a symphony.

Dr. Emmons passed away in 1866 in his exile in North Carolina. His remains were returned to Albany, where he was laid to rest next to his old student and rival, the chief American invertebrate paleontologist of his era, James Hall.

Mount Emmons (4,039 feet), the westernmost of the 46 High Peaks, bears Dr. Ebenezer Emmons’s name.

Old Mountain Phelps lived to the age of eighty-eight in his beloved Keene Valley. He went to his eternal rest in 1905, and to the end expressed the hope and expectation that his next sight would be more beautiful sunrises and sunsets among other ranges of mountains which he would learn to love as much as he loved his own Adirondacks.

Phelps Mountain (4,160 feet) lies east of Marcy Dam and north of Mount Marcy. See More




August 4, 1964: A Long Day in the Life of Lyndon Johnson

Tuesday, August 4th, 1964, should have been another sleepy summer day in the humid District of Columbia.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was awakened as usual by 7:00 AM and eating breakfast by 7:05.

His daily schedule got underway at 8:01 with a quick call to his Secretary of Agriculture, Orville Freeman. Then it was off for a “working breakfast” at 8:05 with his Legislative Leaders (Speaker McCormack, Senators Smathers and Mansfield, and Congressmen Boggs and Albert) and his aides (Larry O’Brien, Walter Jenkins, Bill Moyers, George Reedy, and Jack Valenti).lbj

In the middle of the breakfast, at 9:12, the President was summoned to take a call from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara – Two US Navy Warships, the “Maddox” and the “C Turner Joy” were under attack in the Gulf of Tonkin from North Vietnamese aircraft and PT boats, and retaliatory actions were being planned.

At 9:34 LBJ returned to his office with Hale Boggs and Carl Albert. He picked up the phone and started making and taking calls. At 9:41 he called Jack Valenti. At 9:43 he took another call from McNamara. Another call to Jack Valenti. Larry O’Brien and Bill Moyers joined the group. At 10:20 AM he called Congressman Phil Landrum.

The calls stopped briefly at 10:25 when Major General R.G. MacDonnell of the Army Corps of Engineers stopped in for seven minutes. Then at 10:34, S K Patil, the Railway Minister of India, entered with MacGeorge Bundy and a translator. Patil presented a letter from his Prime Minister, had his picture taken with LBJ, and was out by 10:39.

At 10:40 the President’s Secretary called to remind him to call Mr. Sweeterman. “OK, Never mind” was the President’s response, so Congressman George Mahon came in to meet with the President until 11:30, during which time LBJ talked to McNamara (twice), Budget Director Gordon, Senator Anderson, Speaker McCormick, Walter Jenkins, Jack Valenti, and the Governor of West Virginia.

He made 11 more phone calls before 12:35 when he headed for the Cabinet Room. A National Security Council meeting had been scheduled to discuss the situation in Cyprus. Bobby Kennedy, CIA Director McCone, Robert McNamara, Cyrus Vance, General Curtis LeMay, Dean Rusk, George Ball, McGeorge Bundy, and Phil Talbott were among the men that sat around the big table. The agenda had now changed; the topic was now Viet Nam.

At 1:06 PM President Johnson excused himself so that he could meet with 26 visiting doctors representing the National Medical Association.

Thirty minutes later, he headed back to the Executive Mansion for lunch with Secretary Rusk, McNamara, CIA Director McCone, McGeorge Bundy, and Cyrus Vance.

At 2:35 he joined Mrs. Johnson’s tea group (three couples visiting from Texas with their Washington in-laws and various small children), and then took a few minutes to send letters and flowers to an ailing Senator and a Senator’s daughter.

After tea with Lady Bird, he made six more phone calls, and then sent three nominations to the Senate for approval (two Federal Judges and an Attorney General for the Oregon District). By 3:35, he was able to head upstairs with Senator Russell to make more phone calls.

At 5:45 Rear Admiral Arthur Graila, who was about to take the South Atlantic fleet on a Latin American cruise, stopped by with two photographers for a quick handshake and a picture – He was out by 5:47. At 5:54 Thomas Vail, the young publisher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer got the same treatment.

At 6:15 the President instructed the telephone operator to call Barry Goldwater at Balboa Bay Club in California “at 6:40, no 6:37”. He had an important message to convey to his Republican opponent and it was urgent that they talk.

At 6:16, the National Security Council reconvened. At 6:38, a message was sent in – Barry Goldwater was on a boat and it might take 20 minutes to reach him – Should they reach him by air? The President replied in the affirmative.

By 6:45 LBJ was back in the Cabinet Room with the Legislative Leaders. At 8:01 Cartha Daloach, Assistant Director of the FBI, interrupted the meeting with another call. He informed the President that the bodies of three young Civil Rights workers (Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney) had just been found in a shallow grave in Mississippi.

The President huddled in his office with McNamara, Rusk and Bundy, and made a few more calls, including one to Mrs. Johnson at 8:35. At 8:47, a message arrived that Goldwater knew he was trying to reach him, but the marine radio keeps cutting in and out.

Now LBJ needed to reach the Governor of Mississippi. At 9:23 PM he got the message that Governor Johnson was also out on a boat. A patrol boat was dispatched to retrieve him. The President then made a call to the Governor of New Jersey, and one to his daughter, Linda Bird Johnson. He finally got through to Mississippi Governor at 9:35, and at 10:06 also connected with Goldwater.

By 10:28 he was able to retire to the Mansion for dinner with Mrs. Johnson, bringing along McGeorge Bundy and Jack Valenti, and then back to the office at 11:20.

Finally, at 11:34 PM, LBJ headed to the Fish Room. 16-1/2 hours after he had started his day, the bright lights came on, and Lyndon Johnson looked straight into the national network television cameras. It had been a long, long day, but he still needed to talk to directly to the American people:

“My fellow Americans:
As President and Commander in Chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action . . .”

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