If you are excited about the newest panda at the National Zoo, you should thank Richard Nixon.
President Nixon’s historic trip to China in February 1972 opened diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries and was one of the most successful achievements of his administration. The result that sticks most keenly in the popular memory, though, is the arrival of two chubby black and white furry goodwill ambassadors—Ling-Ling (shown here) and Hsing-Hsing.
Mrs. Nixon had been captivated by the pandas at the zoo in Beijing and was delighted to head up the delegation to welcome the pandas to the National Zoo.
On April 16, 1972, she officially accepted the gift of the People’s Republic of China and declared, “I think ‘panda-monium’ is going to break out at the zoo.”
She was right. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing were the top attractions at the zoo until their deaths in in the 1990s.
Watch Mrs. Nixon’s speech from 1972 on the Prologue blog.
Image: Ling-Ling munches on her snack on her first day in the new Panda House at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, April 16, 1972. (Nixon Presidential Library)
September 21, 1949 - Mao Zedong announces that The Communist Party of China will lead the new Chinese government.
Twenty-six years later, Mao Zedong would shake hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during President Ford’s visit to China. This photo was taken on a visit to Chairman Mao’s residence in Peking by the Gerald R. Ford, daughter Susan Ford, and Kissinger. December 2, 1975.
Another Amelia Earhart Mystery?
On August 24, 1945 a telegram was sent via U.S. Naval Radio that relayed personal messages from civilian internees liberated from Weihsien Internment Camp located in present-day Weifang, Shangdong, China.
These very brief messages usually gave a few words of reassurance “…family all well…,” “Advise Mother all concentration camp liberated…,” “Health perfect spirits high,” and then signed by the internee.
However, one is very unusual. Found on page 10 it was written to G. P. Putnam, Amelia Earhart’s widower – it reads: G P PUTNAM 10042 VALLEY SPRING LANE NORTH HOLLYWOOD CALIFORNIA CAMP LIBERATED ALL WELL VOLUMES TO TELL LOVE TO MOTHER
Unsigned and rather mysterious – the message to Putnam was sent anonymously and it has never been determined who actually sent it. According to conspiracy theorists, “Love to Mother” was a phrase Amelia Earhart used to say. The fact of its anonymity is what makes the telegram so interesting, and (along with never finding Earhart’s plane or remains) has led to a few theorists saying that this was proof that Earhart survived on an island in the Pacific for years during the war and ended up in a Japanese camp, and after it was liberated, decided to live out the rest of her life in quiet anonymity instead of coming back the States as a rescued celebrity.
Here at Today’s Document, we’re not coming to any conclusions about Earhart, but we thought you might enjoy a little mystery for your Friday.
Left: Page 1 of the 12 page document
Right: Page 10 with text of Telegram to G. P. Putnam
Lou Henry Hoover’s Report on the Boxer Rebellion
In this letter, Lou Henry Hoover chides college friend Evelyn Wight Allen for her failure to come to China in time for the Boxer Rebellion in June, 1900. The Hoovers — along with 800 European and American citizens — had suffered through a 45 day siege by 30,000 Boxers who had surrounded Tientsin. After an international relief force drove off the Boxers, Mrs. Hoover found time to write an extraordinary letter in which she proudly compared their ordeal with the experiences of Kimberly and Mafeking, two English settlements that had been surrounded for several months during the recent Boer War in South Africa.
Boxer Rebellion observations by future First Lady, Lou Henry Hoover, 08/08/1900
Can you translate Chinese? Would you like to try your hand with a few items from the holdings of the National Archives at Philadelphia?
This album contains miscellaneous documents from our Chinese Case files, part of Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85.
You can send your translations to firstname.lastname@example.org and selected entries will be featured on our Facebook page throughout the summer.
This is an identification certificate, issued by the Imperial Chinese government via the Consulate General in San Fransisco, dated in 1891. The certificate was one way in which Chinese-American immigrants could vouch for their identity and their eligibility to work and reside in the US. Proof of identity and residency was necessary (and very important) under the laws enacted with the Chinese Exclusion Act.
This document is part of a series of general case files for the US District Court in Los Angeles. The records are held at the National Archives at Riverside.
Observing Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
To pay tribute to the many generations of Asian-Pacific Americans that have enriched our nation’s history, the National Archives at Riverside will be highlighting some of our holdings relating to Asian American history in our region (Southern California, Arizona, and Clark County, NV), including records relating to enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act, records relating to Japanese internment and relocation, and many more.
For more information about Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, see http://asianpacificheritage.gov/
Among Xi’an’s Terracotta Army
On this day in 1984, President Reagan became the second U.S. President to visit the People’s Republic of China since the Communist shift of power. 4/26/84
In this photo, Ronald and Nancy Reagan stand among the terracotta figures in Xi’an China. 4/29/84
-from the Reagan Library
Dinner Diplomacy Thaws the Cold War
Sometimes sharing a good meal is the best way to resolve the differences you may have with another. For the United States and China, this strategy helped normalize relations during a peak of the Cold War. Read more
Images from Nixon’s culinary travels through China:
Banquet place settings (cigarettes included); Chinese people having lunch outdoors; President Nixon using chopsticks; Pat Nixon samples cuisine in the Peking Hotel kitchen; Menu from Banquet given by Prime Minister Chou in honor of President Nixon. February, 1972.
Ping Pong Diplomacy
President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 ended 25 years of isolation between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China. During the week of February 21-29, the President traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai - thawing relations with a country that had long been closed to the West.
Forty years later, Our Presidents will be revisiting the iconic events of Nixon in China. Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes details about this landmark trip.
Photos: President and Mrs. Nixon’s arrival in Peking, China. Nixon reviews troops at the airport; Air Force One in Peking, 02/21/1972.
-from the Nixon Library
Four years before Pearl Harbor, the United States and Japan were involved in an incident that could have led to war between the two nations. On December 12, 1937, the American navy gunboat Panay was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft. A flat-bottomed craft built in Shanghai specifically for river duty, USS Panay served as part of the U.S. Navy’s Yangtze Patrol in the Asiatic Fleet, which was responsible for patrolling the Yangtze River to protect American lives and property.