A machine that really adds up
This drawing by William Seward Burroughs is from his first patent application for a calculating machine—an important step toward the modern computer. A sometime clerk, box maker, and mechanic, Burroughs resolved to invent a machine that could add automatically and print the result. He was issued the patent on August 21, 1888.
Drawing for a Calculating Machine, 08/21/1888
From the series: Gerald R. Ford White House Photographs, 08/09/1974 - 01/20/1977
President Gerald Ford in the family kitchen of the White House, only 11 days after assuming the Presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974.
On August 19, 1974, President Ford announced plans for an earned amnesty program in an address at the 75th annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
During the first week of his administration, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger had suggested that doing something about the some fifty thousand Vietnam War draft evaders and deserters would be a way to hasten the healing process. Former Secretary of Defense Mel Laird and the President’s three sons agreed. Ford asked his staff to coordinate with the relevant agencies to put together a conditional amnesty program.
“I stated my strong conviction that unconditional blanket amnesty for anyone who illegally evaded or fled military service is wrong,” he said. “But all, in a sense, are casualties, still abroad or absent without leave from the real America. I want them to come home if they want to work their way back…In my judgment, these young Americans should have a second chance to contribute their fair share to the rebuilding of peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
About a month later President Ford signed an executive order establishing the Presidential Clemency Board, which administered the earned amnesty program over the next year. Many of the applicants completed alternative service assignments before receiving their pardons.
-from the Ford Library
Here President and Mrs. Ford ride in the Presidential limousine during a trip to Chicago on August 19, 1974.
President Ford logged over 270,000 miles of travel while in office, and Mrs. Ford regularly accompanied him on trips. They attended public events together and made state visits to several foreign countries. “I had fun, I was privileged to travel in style and to see many wonders,” she reflected on their Presidential trips in her memoirs, “and these will stay in my memory.”-from the Ford Library
The Battle for Paris began with a coordinated uprising by the French Resistance on August 19, 1944, following a city-wide general strike. Watch as deserted streets give way to barricades and organized resistance:
Occupied by German forces since June 1940, the city would be liberated on August 25, 1944, following the arrival of Free French and U.S. Army forces.
Petition from Minnie Fisher Cunningham of the Texas Woman Suffrage Association for passage of the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” sent to Congress on May 2, 1916
The amendment passed Congress on June 4, 1919. It was ratified as the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920.
Petition from Texas Woman Suffrage Association, 5/2/1916, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 306659)
Day 69: FDR Rides a Dirigible, 1918
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to ride in an airplane, an occasion marked by a very long overseas flight to attend the 1943 Casablanca conference. FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore, was the first president ever to fly, a trip that took place back in 1910 shortly after he had left the presidency.
FDR may have set an additional aviation first – we think he may have been the first president to fly on-board a dirigible airship (also known as a blimp or zeppelin)!
During World War I, serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR traveled to Europe to inspect US Navy facilities. Several weeks into his trip, on August 17th, 1918 he visited a base in Paimboeuf, Western France where he was offered a ride aboard a French-built airship.
Considered too vulnerable for use on the front, airships were primarily used for scouting missions and mine clearance throughout Western Europe during the war. The use of airships later declined as airplane technology advanced and after several high profile accidents. FDR was serving his second term as president when the infamous Hindenburg crashed in New Jersey in 1937.
FDR writes about the flying experience in his log of the trip saying:
I tried my hand at running the lateral stearing[sic] gear and also the elevating and depressing gear. The sensation is distinctly curious, less noise than an areo.[sic] and far more feeling of drifting at the mercy of the wind.
Photograph Taken in Maryland of the Ceremony Opening the Final Link of the Capital Beltway Around Washington, DC with Federal Highway Administrator Whitton and Maryland Governor Tawes Cutting the Ribbon, and John B. Funk, Chairman of the Maryland State Highway Commission Assisting, 08/17/1964
From the series: General Photograph Files, 1954 - 1984. Records of the Federal Highway Administration
Day 77 - FDR visits the Panama Canal
Throughout his travels FDR made many trips through the Panama Canal, including a visit to the nearly completed Canal in 1912. The work on the Canal started under President Theodore Roosevelt and was finished in 1914. FDR traveled to Panama with his brother-in-law Hall Roosevelt and his friend and Republican Senate colleague J. Mayhew Wainright. The trio was given their own personal observation car to use through the nine-mile Culebra Cut. FDR wrote home to his mother Sara saying:
I can’t begin to describe it and have become so enthusiastic that if I didn’t stop I would write all night. The two things that impress me most are the Culebra Cut, because of the colossal hole made in the ground, and the locks because of the engineering problems and size. Imagine an intricate concrete structure nearly a mile long and three or four hundred feet wide, with double gates of steel weighing 700 tons apiece!
Our museum collection includes this watercolor painting of the U.S.S. Houston at the Panama Canal by Ian Marshall. This painting depicts the scene of the Houston passing through the Panama Canal on July 11, 1934 with President Roosevelt on board. This was the first passage through the completed Canal by a U.S. President while in office.
The Birth of the peacecorps
On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 to establish the Peace Corps. In 1966 Lillian Carter, the mother of future President Jimmy Carter, was drawn to volunteer. At age 68 she completed her training and spent 21 months in India. This is a letter Mrs. Carter sent describing her experience in India.
The Panama Canal - Before and After:
- Map of the Isthmus of Panama Showing the Proposed Interoceanic Ship Canal, 1875
- Map of the Panama Canal Zone, 08/01/1920
The first map shows a proposed route for the canal, created during a 1875 U.S. Surveying Expedition. The second shows the route of the canal and the surrounding Canal Zone circa 1920.
After years of difficult work and a loss of many lives to tropical diseases, the Panama Canal officially opened 100 years ago on August 15, 1914. Considered one of the great engineering feats of modern times, the Canal greatly reduced transit time from east coast ports to west coast ports of the United States and for European shippers as well.
Completed 10 years after the United States controversially took control of the project and possession of the surrounding Canal Zone in 1904, the Canal was eventually relinquished to Panama in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter.
After years of difficult work and a loss of many lives to tropical diseases, the Panama Canal officially opened on August 15, 1914, ten years after the United States controversially took control of the land and project. Considered one of the great engineering feats of modern times, the Canal greatly reduced transit time from east coast ports to west coast ports of the United States and for European shippers as well. The U.S. War Department steamship, Ancon, made the first passage through the Panama Canal.
On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act.
Later that day, the Washington Post proclaimed that the Social Security Act was the “New Deal’s Most Important Act…Its importance cannot be exaggerated …because this legislation eventually will affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in the country.”
This poster was distributed from November 1936- July 1937 during the initial issuance of Social Security numbers through U.S. post offices and with the help of labor unions.