38th President Dwight D. Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890.
President Eisenhower entered office in 1953, the same year that Robert C. Byrd began his first term in the U.S House of Representatives. Eisenhower was present to welcome the freshmen class of Congressmen and presented Byrd with a signed photograph.
The relationship between Congressman Byrd and President Eisenhower focused mainly on Byrd’s efforts to bring more economic opportunities to West Virginia. This proved to be a struggle, however, as Eisenhower placed more emphasis on foreign trade and was apparently unaware of the poor economic conditions plaguing West Virginia. According to Byrd biographer David Corbin, Eisenhower “was under the impression that West Virginia coal mines were running ‘full blast.’
Byrd pushed for several pieces of legislation to boost West Virginia’s economy during the Eisenhower administration, including the Area Redevelopment Act and H.R Bill 1775, which called for the establishment of quota limitations on imports of foreign oil. Byrd also made an effort to work with the federal government to increase coal exports from the United States. All of these attempts were met with resistance from the Eisenhower administration.
Byrd struggled with passing depressed area legislation for the remainder of Eisenhower’s time as President. It was this difficult experience with the President that inspired Byrd to make his run for Senate in order to work more closely with future administrations.
By Malorie Matos
The Story of School Lunch: Experimentation in the Progressive Era
Front cover, USDA Farmer’s Bulletin No. 712 published in March 1916
The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies will be opening a new exhibit which will explore the history of the National School Lunch Program.
Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch will be on display in the Harrison Feature Gallery inside the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries from September 26, 2014 through May 15, 2015.
50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 exhibit at OSU
The Ohio State University Libraries is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with a new exhibit, Remembering the Act: Archival Reflections on Civil Rights. The exhibit explores the historical and cultural ramifications of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with particular insight on William McCulloch, the Ohio politician who was instrumental in passing the legislation through Congress.
President Lyndon B. Johnson presents Congressman William McCulloch with one of the pens used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
The exhibit is on display in the Thompson Library Gallery until January 4, 2015.
You can visit the online version of the exhibit at: http://www.go.osu.edu/civilrights
Photograph from the William M. McCulloch Papers, Ohio Congressional Archives.
Happy Constitution Day! The University of Delaware Library Special Collections is commemorating this holiday with the exhibit: “Celebrating the History of the United States Constitution,” which features selected items from the Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers.
Come see the exhibit on the first floor of Morris Library between September 16-24, 2014.
OTD Strom Thurmond delivered the longest speech in Senate history
Illustration of a 19th Century Filibuster, from the Senate Historical Office.
Senators J. Strom Thurmond with Richard B. Russell, Jr. (GA-D), circa 1964, from the Senate Historical Office.
On August 28-29, 1957, Senator J. Strom Thurmon (R-SC), broke the record for the longest speech delivered in Senate history. Senator Thurmond spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes filibustering against the 1957 Civil Rights Act.
This Week in History: Senator and Mrs. Byrd departed for a 9-day diplomatic trip to Hungary and the Soviet Union on August 27, 1985.
“Leaders of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom meet with Senator Everett Dirksen (R- IL) at the Capitol. Left to right: Whitney Young, National Urban League; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Roy Wilkins, NAACP; Walter Reuther, UAW; Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL); John Lewis, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.”
credit: Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University
OTD in 1963, over 200,000 people attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C. The march was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations. Some of the organizers involved with the march included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The “March on Washington” Leaders Visit the White House
On this day in 1963, civil rights leaders speak to members of the press following a meeting with President John F. Kennedy regarding “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” that was held earlier that day.
Left to right: President of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), Reverend Eugene Carson Blake; unidentified (back to camera); President of the National Urban League, Whitney M. Young, Jr.; President of the Negro American Labor Council (NALC), A. Philip Randolph; unidentified man (in back); Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Roy Wilkins (speaking at microphones); President of United Auto Workers (UAW), Walter P. Reuther; President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; President of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Joachim Prinz; several unidentified reporters. White House, Washington, D.C. 8/28/63.
President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson meet with organizers of “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in the Oval Office. 8/28/63.
"As a Republic dedicated to liberty and justice for all, this Nation cannot deny equal status to women."
On August 22, 1974, President Ford signed a proclamation designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. That date honored the incorporation of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, into the Constitution on August 26, 1920.
In the proclamation President Ford noted his previous backing of the Equal Rights Amendment and his intention to continue supporting it. “Today I want to reaffirm my personal commitment to that amendment,” he stated. “The time for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment has come just as surely as did the time for the 19th Amendment.”
Representatives Yvonne Brathwait Burke (D-Calif), Barbara Jordan (D-Tex), Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), Marjorie S. Holt (R-Md), Leonor K. Sullivan (D-Mo), Cardiss Collins (D -Ill), Corinne C. Boggs (D-La), Margaret M. Heckler (R-Mass), Bella S. Abzug (D-NY), Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), Ella T. Grasso (D-Conn), Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo), and Patsy T. Mink (D-Hawaii) attended the signing ceremony held in the Cabinet Room. First Lady Betty Ford and Anne Armstrong, Counsellor to the President, were also present for the signing.
In commemoration of Women’s Equality Day, the National Archives (usnatarchives) is hosting a discussion in partnership with the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum:
Tuesday, August 26, at 7 p.m. at the William G. McGowan Theatre.
Can’t make it? The discussion will be streamed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2t48I3j004.
Former President Bill Clinton turned 68 on August 19th.
The Clinton administration was certainly a rocky one for Senator Byrd. Rumors about Clinton’s infidelity and lack of organization made Byrd uneasy even before the 42nd President took office. Byrd always placed a great deal of importance on morality, and his attention to detail was one of his defining characteristics, so it is clear to see why he may have found Bill Clinton’s conduct off-putting.
Byrd biographer David Corbin wrote, “To a perfectionist like Byrd, the administration’s sloppiness, as well as its political ineptness, were inexcusable,” after discussing the Clinton administration’s disordered lack of professionalism.
Throughout the President’s two terms, Byrd often found himself opposing Clinton, despite being a fellow Democrat. One of the first issues that soured their relationship was the line-item veto. During his campaign, Clinton made his support for the line-item veto well-known. Senator Byrd believed that giving the President the ability to veto individual line items in a bill would disrupt the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. He was very outspoken on this issue and addressed the Senate many times before, often using the decline of the Roman Senate as an example of how the line-item veto disrupts government function. Byrd was unable to garner enough congressional support to defeat the line-item veto in 1996. Fortunately for Byrd and unfortunately for Clinton, the Supreme Court ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional in 1998.
Clinton and Byrd also clashed over Clinton’s first-term attempt at healthcare reform and his decision to send ground troops to Bosnia without consent from Congress. Byrd was concerned that the President was abusing his position as commander in chief by circumnavigating congressional war-making powers.
In a letter to Clinton dated June 2, 1995, Byrd wrote, “The extent, duration, dangers, and cost of such an operation all point to the wisdom and prudence of getting Congress and the American people behind this type of involvement.”
Senator Byrd played a significant role during Clinton’s memorable impeachment scandal. Although Byrd did not approve of Clinton’s sexual misconduct or the fact the President lied about his actions while under oath, he was still hesitant to go through the impeachment process. Byrd felt that much of the support for impeachment was fueled by destructive partisanship and that the trials might be harmful to the stability of the nation.
Byrd did agree to go through with the impeachment trials on the basis that it was the Senate’s constitutional duty to do so. Throughout the trial, Byrd made his distaste for Clinton clear. According to Corbin, “On the senate floor, Byrd had denounced [Clinton] for violating standards of behavior. “ Despite these statements, Byrd eventually issued the motion to dismiss the charges against Clinton and allow him to complete his term as President.
Bill Clinton may not have had the most positive relationship with Byrd, but the two still managed to interact with a certain level of cordiality, just as Byrd often did with previous Presidents.
In his autobiography, Byrd mentions how much a 1994 letter from President Clinton meant to him. In the letter, Clinton congratulated Byrd on 36 years in the Senate and called him “one of the legendary guardians of that great institution.”
Here at the archive, we have another small note of congratulations from Clinton to Byrd. Though it doesn’t say, it is very likely that the letter is referring to Byrd’s defeat of the balanced budget amendment in early 1995. The handwritten note reads,
“Dear Sen. Byrd—Congratulations on your great victory for the Constitution—This is my best supply—No one deserves it more—Sincerely Bill Clinton” with a side note indicating that the “best supply” was a box of cigars.
Clinton was one of the eulogizers at Robert Byrd’s funeral in Charleston, WV.
By Malorie Matos