August 31, 1910: Teddy Roosevelt Weighs In on “Citizens United”

“The Constitution guarantees protections to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation. The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that TR Campaignproperty shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.

There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.

We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced.

Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”

August 28, 1963: Martin Luther King has a Dream

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. MLK Dream.1

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning: “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

“Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

August 27, 1908: Birth of Lyndon Johnson

The day Lyndon Baines Johnson came into the world in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River near at Stonewall, Texas, he made quite an impression. His grandfather declared he would grow up to be a United States Senator.lbj-cowboy_300_381_s_c1

At the age of four, Lyndon Johnson began running to the nearby one-room “Junction School” to play with his cousins at recess. The teacher took him on as a pupil, and he would sit in her lap and recite his lessons.

The family moved to nearby Johnson City, named for Lyndon’s forebears, and the young Lyndon entered first grade. He graduated from Johnson City High School at the age of fifteen, and made his way to California with a few friends, where he performed odd jobs, including one as an elevator operator. A year later he returned home where he worked on a road construction gang.

Borrowing $75, he enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos. He earned money as a janitor and as an office helper.

He dropped out of school to serve as principal and teach at Welhausen School, a Mexican-American school in the south Texas town of Cotulla, but he still had time to edit the College paper and star on the debate team.

He graduated, taught for a few weeks at Pearsall High School, and then took a job teaching public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston, Texas. His debate team won the district championship.

In November 1931, Congressman Richard Kleberg asked Johnson to come to Washington to work as his secretary. Johnson held the job for three years and learned how the Congress worked. In 1933, he was elected speaker of the “Little Congress,” an organization of congressional workers.

In the fall, he briefly attended Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D. C. On a trip home to Texas, Johnson met Claudia Alta Taylor. He decided almost immediately that she should be his wife.

Two months later, Lady Bird agreed, and on November 17, 1934, they were married in San Antonio.

In February 1937, Lyndon Johnson returned home to seek the advice of his father. Should he run for Congress?

A month later Lyndon Johnson stood on the porch of his boyhood home to announce his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Tenth District of the State of Texas.

Thus began three decades of life in politics.

Lyndon Baines Johnson became as big and as brash as the entire state of Texas, but he never forgot the small farmhouse or the people of his childhood from the Pedernales River Valley

August 26, 1965: One-Hundred-and-Seventy-one Las Vegas Weddings Performed in Three Hours

In fall of 1965, while 35,000 men a month were being called to serve in what would become America’s longest and most divisive war, federal officials became concerned by a noticeable increase in the number of marriages among 19-year-olds, some of which are apparently made to escape the draft. Other than attending college, getting married was one of the few deferments available to avoid the draft and the Vietnam War.Vegas Wedding

On August 26, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced that an order would eliminate special status for men married after midnight of that day:
Executive Order 11241:  This order will formally eliminate deferments for childless men who are married after August 26, 1965, between the ages of 19-26, and will be considered the same as single men in Class I-A with regard to the order of call. Students are exempt …

That evening young couples headed to Las Vegas by the droves, from San Diego, Newark, Chicago, Kansas City, New Haven, Seattle, Denver, St. Paul, Dallas. They had until midnight (PST) to get hitched, and only in Nevada there was no waiting period for licenses, no blood tests, and a marriage license cost just $10.

That evening young couples from across the country lined up on the third floor of the county courthouse at 200 Third Street off Carson Avenue, in Las Vvegas, ready to tie the knot.

“I came back to the office from performing a ceremony at the Dunes at around 9:30 p.m., and it was packed,” said Judge James Brennan, who was one of the Justices of the Peace on call that night. “I knew they had a mission to get married before midnight.”

There were at least 50 couples waiting outside the courthouse. It was a mass of people, and everything was rushed. There was a huge line and a sign on the lawn that read ‘standing room only!’

In the final two hours before midnight, Justice Brennan performed 67 marriage ceremonies, well above his average of seven a night. He cut a few words out of the ceremony to keep things moving, he grouped a few couples together in the final moments in the eleventh hour; and then he hung typewriter covers over the clocks at quarter to midnight as he kept uniting husband and wife, husband and wife, husband and wife…

Justice Brennan finished up around 2 in the morning, and then left the office and enjoyed a beer at the back bar of the Horseshoe Casino.

August 25, 1814: Tornados drive the British out of Washington

On August 24th, the invading British had burned the White House, the War Department, the State Department, the Treasury and the Capitol building. The fires burning down the public buildings threatened to spread out of control to the rickety boarding houses which lined the muddy avenues of the half built city.DC Thunder

The following day, August 25, the fires still raged. But then thick clouds blew in from the west, and, with cracks of thunder and great flashes of lightning and great gusts of wind, a massive storm crashed into the District.

The storm tore roofs off buildings, lifted them right off their foundations. The winds uprooted trees and knocked men to the ground. Houses collapsed, killing British soldiers taking shelter inside. One British officer reported seeing cannons lifted off the ground and thrown through the air.

Redcoats lay prostrate in the mud of the streets of Washington, terrified by the flying debris, fearful that even they would be blown away by the whirlwind.

As the storm began to subside, a British officer emerged from his shelter and asked a local inhabitant, “Great God, Madam, is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?!”

She responded, “No, sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from the city.”

The fires were largely extinguished by the rains. The British retreated to their ships.

August 24, 1814: The British enjoy a White House Banquet

America had been at war with the British Empire since 1812, but most of the action had consisted of a series of border skirmishes along the Great Lakes. The start-up capital of Washington held little strategic value – the thriving ports of New York or Baltimore were more important, but the British needed to break the will of the Americans.whhite house burning

In late August the British army of approximately 4,000 approached Washington, and the majority of its residents fled. The American defenders were quickly routed in a battle a few miles away, and a messenger was dispatched to First Lady Dolley Madison of the impending attack. She tore the full-length portrait of George Washington from a White House wall and fled across the Potomac.

That evening, the British army arrived on Capitol Hill and set about destroying all the public buildings in the city.

When the detachment sent out to destroy the Executive Mansion entered the White House, they found the dining parlor waiting for them. The dinner table was spread and covers laid for forty guests. Several kinds of wine, in handsome cut glass decanters, were cooling on the sideboard; plate holders stood by the fireplace, filled with dishes and plates; knives, forks, and spoons were arranged for immediate use; in short, everything was ready for the entertainment of a ceremonious party.

When they entered the kitchen, they discovered spits, loaded with joints of various sorts, turned before the fire; pots, saucepans, and other culinary utensils stood upon the grate; and all the requisites for an elegant and substantial repast were in place for an elegant banquet.

The soldiers were tired and hungry. They sat down, perhaps not in the most orderly manner, and helped themselves to a sumptuous feast, lubricated by a generous helping of the wines.

After finishing their feast, they set fire to the White House.

By the following day, nothing could be seen except charred walls and smoking ruins.

August 21, 1790: George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.Touro_Synagogue_National_Historic_Site

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

August 20, 1886: Convicted Haymarket Martyr Albert Parsons’s Last Words to His Wife

Cook County Bastille, Cell No. 29,
Chicago, August 20, 1886.

My Darling Wife:
Our verdict this morning cheers the hearts of tyrants throughout Haymarket-monument
the world, and the result will be celebrated by King Capital in its drunken feast of flowing wine from Chicago to St. Petersburg.

Nevertheless, our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judicial murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellowman. The oppressed of earth are writhing in their legal chains. The giant Labor is awakening. The masses, aroused from their stupor, will snap their petty chains like reeds in the whirlwind.

We are all creatures of circumstance; we are what we have been made to be. This truth is becoming clearer day by day.

There was no evidence that any one of the eight doomed men knew of, or advised, or abetted the Haymarket tragedy. But what does that matter? The privileged class demands a victim, and we are offered a sacrifice to appease the hungry yells of an infuriated mob of millionaires who will be contented with nothing less than our lives. Monopoly triumphs! Labor in chains ascends the scaffold for having dared to cry out for liberty and right!

Well, my poor, dear wife, I, personally, feel sorry for you and the helpless little babes of our loins.

You I bequeath to the people, a woman of the people. I have one request to make of you: Commit no rash act to yourself when I am gone, but take up the great cause of Socialism where I am compelled to lay it down.

My children—well, their father had better die in the endeavor to secure their liberty and happiness than live contented in a society which condemns nine-tenths of its children to a life of wage-slavery and poverty. Bless them; I love them unspeakably, my poor helpless little ones.

Ah, wife, living or dead, we are as one. For you my affection is everlasting. For the people, humanity. I cry out again and again in the doomed victim’s cell: Liberty! Justice! Equality!

Albert R. Parsons.

August 19, 1791: Benjamin Banneker Lectures Thomas Jefferson on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Sir, I freely and cheerfully acknowledge, that I am of the African race, and in that color which is natural to them of the deepest dye; and it is under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, that I now confess to you, that I am not under that state of tyrannical thraldom, and inhuman captivity, to whichbenjamin_banneker too many of my brethren are doomed, but that I have abundantly tasted of the fruition of those blessings, which proceed from that free and unequalled liberty with which you are favored; and which, I hope, you will willingly allow you have mercifully received, from the immediate hand of that Being, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect Gift.

Sir, suffer me to recall to your mind that time, in which the arms and tyranny of the British crown were exerted, with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude : look back, I entreat you, on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that time, in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation; you cannot but acknowledge, that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of Heaven.

This, Sir, was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition. It was now that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publicly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages :

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Here was a time, in which your tender feelings for yourselves had engaged you thus to declare, you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great violation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were entitled by nature; but, Sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of Mankind, and of his equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges, which he hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.

I suppose that your knowledge of the situation of my brethren, is too extensive to need a recital here; neither shall I presume to prescribe methods by which they may be relieved, otherwise than by recommending to you and all others, to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to them, and as Job proposed to his friends, “put your soul in their souls’ stead;” thus shall your hearts be enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards them; and thus shall you need neither the direction of myself or others, in what manner to proceed herein.

August 18, 1961: “The Birds” invade Santa Cruz

“Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes; Thousands of Birds Floundering in Streets” read the headline in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

“A massive flight of sooty shearwaters, fresh from a feast of anchovies, collided with shoreside structures from Pleasure Point to Rio del Mar during the night.Birds
Residents, especially in the Pleasure Point and Capitola area were awakened about 3 a.m. today by the rain of birds, slamming against their homes.

Dead, and stunned seabirds littered the streets and roads in the foggy, early dawn. Startled by the invasion, residents rushed out on their lawns with flashlights, then rushed back inside, as the birds flew toward their light.
. . .
When the light of day made the area visible, residents found the streets covered with birds. The birds disgorged bits of fish and fish skeletons over the streets and lawns and housetops, leaving an overpowering fishy stench.
. . .
The most learned explanation of the bird tragedy came this morning from Ward Russell, museum zoologist at the University of California.

He said the shearwaters generally live in the southern hemisphere. As far as they are concerned this is their winter flocking area.
Often when they are disturbed while feeding they will rise in flocks from the water. A blinding fog covered the coast last night and this morning.

“They probably became confused and lost and headed for the light,” he said. The only light available was the street lights and overnight lights in some homes and businesses.
. . .
Russell said that this is a fairly rare phenomena and it takes certain atmospheric conditions to cause this confusion. He said that during very foggy conditions the lighthouses along the coast are struck by the thousands of seabirds.”

The day after this story ran in the Sentinel, Hollywood mystery producer Alfred Hitchcock phoned to inform the paper that he would be using last Friday’s edition as research material for his latest thriller.

It seems Hitchcock was preparing to film Daphne DuMaurier’s novel, “The Birds,” which ironically deals with the invasion of a small town by millions of birds.

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