On May 31st 1889, tragedy of the utmost magnitude struck the Pennsylvania town of Johnstown. After several days of intense, heavy rainfall, the privately-owned South Fork Dam on the Conemaugh River broke, releasing over 14 million cubic meters of water onto the town. At least 2,200 people died.
The death and destruction was a national crisis, and disaster relief from all over the United States came in to help the town and its victims. One big relief effort was led by Clara Barton and the American Red Cross.
The survivors of the flood tried their best to recover damages from the dam’s owners (totaling over $463 million in today’s dollar), whom they regarded as responsible for the dam’s failure. But their legal pursuits didn’t go far, much to the chagrin of a dismayed public. American disapproval of the lack of responsibility incurred by the owner of the faulty dam, despite mass death and tragedy, led to America changing its fault-based law to “strict liability”, which basically ensured those who cause mass damage will be responsible for the damage they cause.
Below is a collection of the well-photographed, by 1880s standards, aftermath of the catastrophic and tragic flood. Thank you to the Library of Congress for this extensive collection.
Today is 33rd President Harry Truman’s birthday!!! Since we don’t currently offer any Reelect Truman shirts, here are some of our favorite photos of Harry.. Enjoy!
Truman in his World War I uniform.
Bowling at the new White House bowling alley, which was gifted to him for his birthday.
Serenading actress Lauren Bacall.
With Stalin and Churchill.
That time the news got the winner of the presidency wrong..
He be jammin’.
Serious faces with his successor, General Dwight Eisenhower.
Hanging with FDR’s wifey and our favorite lady ever, Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mona Lisa Smile ain’t got nothing on Harry Truman Smile.
A little peace and quiet. Truman in retirement with his wife, Bess Wallace.
And that wraps it up, folks! Happy Birthday to Truman!!
A sad day, today is. On this very day in 1865, America’s 16th President Abraham Lincoln died following a gunshot wound carried out by the hands of an angry assassin. He was the first U.S. President to be assassinated and, following his death, American history forever changed.
Not long after his death, Congress thought it imperative to erect a national monument to the larger than life president who presided over our nation’s only civil war. But it would take nearly 50 years before government would come together and begin construction of the beautiful and famous Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.. They quarreled over what it should look like and where it should reside. But by 1914, all came together and construction began. Miraculously, the Memorial finished on time in 1922.
To celebrate one of our nation’s most brilliant and amazing presidents, we’ve collected some amazing photographs of the construction of the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the special dedication ceremony held in 1922, when the Memorial was opened to the public. The ceremony was administered by President Warren G. Harding and Chief Justice William Taft (who was president when Congress commissioned the memorial and was even the commission’s president!). Another very special guest was also at the dedication ceremony: Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert Todd.
Here are 20 awesome photos to honor our 16th President.
Taft, Harding and Lincoln together at the ceremony.
Dedication Ceremony and opening to the public, May 30, 1922.
Escorting Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert Todd, at the dedication ceremony.
President Warren G. Harding, standing left, and Chief Justice William H. Taft, standing right.
President Harding addressing the huge crowd.
R.I.P. William Henry Harrison, the first president who died in office, on this day in 1841.
Our 9th President, Harrison set a few more records — he had the shortest presidency at only 31 days. He was the first President from the Whig Party (the second and last Whig President, Zachary Taylor, also died in office). And he gave the longest inauguration speech in history (which is rumored to be the reason for his death).
Harrison was the grandfather of future president Benjamin Harrison and, interestingly enough, is the reason we call alcohol “booze”.
When Harrison was running for president, critics said he was too old to run and said he should basically go sit in his log cabin. Harrison’s “marketing team”, if you will, ran with this and promoted him as a regular joe, just a “log cabin”, humble kind of guy. It worked like a charm, and people saw him as “the guy next door” (he actually came from great wealth and his father was an original signer of the Declaration of Independence).
This “Log Cabin” campaign came with visuals and memorabilia to promote the would-be president, including log cabin-shaped bottles of whiskey, which were manufactured and distilled by E.C. Booz. And that is how ‘Booz’ became synonymous with alcohol!
Sadly, Harrison caught pneumonia soon after becoming president. It is rumored he caught pneumonia because he gave a very lengthy inauguration speech in cold weather. He passed away at age 68.
At least we’ll always have “booze” to remember him by.
(40th President Ronald Reagan)
Today in 1981, not long after taking office as President, Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt by gunman John Hinckley, Jr. Hinckley was trying to get the attention of Jodie Foster, whom he was obsessed with since her 1976 role in Taxi Driver.
Hinckley also shot three others: Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, Washington D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty and White House Press Secretary James Brady. Brady would be paralyzed from his gunshot wound to the head and would sadly die in 2014 from causes related to the 1981 shooting.
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, though the prosecution declared him legally sane. He was released in 2016 to live with his mother under court supervision.
Reagan, who was a staunch advocate of gun rights over gun control, did not cave on his views following the assassination attempt. However, 10 years later, his views seemed to change more in favor of gun control, when he endorsed the Brady Bill. Here’s his quote endorsing the bill, named after the paralyzed Press Secretary:
“‘Anniversary’ is a word we usually associate with happy events that we like to remember: birthdays, weddings, the first job. March 30, however, marks an anniversary I would just as soon forget, but cannot… four lives were changed forever, and all by a Saturday-night special – a cheaply made .22 caliber pistol – purchased in a Dallas pawnshop by a young man with a history of mental disturbance. This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now – the Brady bill – had been law back in 1981… If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land. And there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the Bradys, Delahantys, McCarthys and Reagans face every March 30.”
(19th President Rutherford B. Hayes)
On this day in 1867, the first of the Reconstruction Acts was passed. The idea behind the Reconstruction Acts was to help bring the South back into the nation following the Civil War, as well as establish rights and freedoms for the newly freed slaves.
But, regarding the rights of the freedmen and women, Reconstruction wouldn’t last long. In fact, ten years to the date, in one of the most hotly contested elections in our history, Rutherford B. Hayes would be declared president. And the way he got to be president was by making a compromise with Democrats — a compromise that would end Reconstruction.
Ironically, Hayes was for racial equality. He was a Union Civil War veteran from Ohio, but because he didn’t win the popular or electoral vote in the 1876 election, he and the Republicans were forced to negotiate with the Democrats, whose candidate, Samuel Tilden, also didn’t have an electoral lead. However, Samuel Tilden did win the popular vote, which gave them some leverage at the bargaining table…
The outcome from the bargaining table was arguably one of the worst outcomes from a bargaining table in our history. Hayes could be president, but only if he in effect ended Reconstruction. Hayes and the Republicans agreed to it.
Soon after inauguration day, Federal troops left the south and basically left the racist locals to determine their own politics. It was the end to any opportunity or protection for the millions of African Americans who lived amongst incredible violence and hatred.
Today in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama, leading to her arrest for violating segregation laws.
The history surrounding this momentous day is a bit more complicated than our school text books tell us, for Parks was not the first person to give up her seat and the case that eventually overturned racial segregation on Alabama buses was not Rosa Park’s case.
However, the significance of her arrest is not to be overlooked, for her arrest was the spark needed to ignite the historic, year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The Boycott was so successful — the large amount of riders lost was an economic blow to Montgomery — it would stimulate the Civil Rights movement and bring activists together in the South to fight for their liberties. In fact, the movement was so big, it propelled Martin Luther King, Jr, an organizer, into the spotlight.
A year after the boycott began, a case called Browder v. Gayle would overturn Alabama segregation on buses, citing violation of the 14th amendment. Following this triumphant news, the boycott commenced. A victory had been had.
Rosa Parks is to be remembered for her bravery and for her leadership. Death threats were not uncommon… She also lost her job. Her refusal to move for a white person and the following Bus Boycotts proved not only incredibly courage, but also the power of the people, especially when they come together and fight for what is right.
We leave you with a few photos of Parks, and even one of our current president…