Pieces of Silver
Betty Ford reviewed the table settings in the State Dining Room as preparations for the state dinner honoring the President of Liberia were underway.
For the centerpieces the White House borrowed 19th century silver presentation pieces from the Museum of the City of New York. These pieces, which had been given to individuals in recognition of service or accomplishment, had all be manufactured in America.
The decorations also featured arrangements of flowers and greenery that included Boston ivy, pink cabbage roses, eucalyptus, Gerber daisies, and mums. A pink lily was tucked in each napkin, which rested on the wildflower-patterned Johnson china.
Did you know that FDR named his beloved Scottish terrier after a distant Scottish ancestor? Upon receiving the pet as a gift in 1940, Roosevelt changed the dog’s name from “Big Boy” to “Murray the Outlaw of Falahill” — “Fala” for short — in homage to the famous John Murray of Falahill.
Fala became Roosevelt’s constant companion and the most famous dog in America.
With both the Scottish Independence Referendum and The Roosevelts documentary in the news this week, here’s a little piece of Rooseveltian-Scottish trivia, courtesy of our colleagues at the fdrlibrary.
What are you following this week, The Roosevelts, or the referendum?
It’s National #HispanicHeritageMonth!
A portrait of revolutionary Latin American leader Simón Bolívar over the mantle in Harry S. Truman’s Oval Office, ca 1946. (via ourpresidents)
Photograph of the fireplace in the Oval Office of the White House, with a portrait of Simon Bolivar hanging over the mantelpiece, flanked by portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington., 11/05/1946
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Find more Hispanic Heritage Month resources at the http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/ web portal →
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel arrived in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 1974. The state dinner in his honor was held on September 12.
Maria Downs, Mrs. Ford’s Social Secretary, provides a description of the welcoming ceremony for visiting heads of state:
This official greeting by the President and the First Lady was a very impressive occasion which included the herald trumpet greeting, honors to the President, Ruffles and Flourishes, both national anthems, a 21 gun salute, reviewing of the troops, the welcoming remarks of our President and the honored guest’s response….In their homeland, millions of our guest’s countrymen would be scrutinizing the manner in which their leader is received – the respect shown – the guests present – all these details and many others are looked upon as significant symbols.
The First Lady’s First Press Conference
A week after the President gave his first press conference Betty Ford held one of her own. She fielded questions in the State Dining Room for 25 minutes on September 4, 1974.
Although she had interacted informally with the press since entering the White House, Mrs. Ford took a step many former First Ladies had not by making herself available to the media in an official press conference. Around 150 reporters and photographers attended the session.
During the press conference Mrs. Ford answered questions about her family’s transition to the White House, the impact of the economy on her family’s budget, and the possibility of President Ford running in the 1976 election. She spoke openly on several topics that would come up throughout the administration, including her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s engagement in civic affairs. “I think that by becoming very active in politics, which I deeply encourage, that they will play a great role in the future of our country,” she said.
Reporters asked her about her role as First Lady as well. Mrs. Ford expressed her interest in supporting the arts, particularly in education, and working with underprivileged and retarded children. She also responded to a question regarding the kind of “footprint” she wanted to make during her time in the White House: “I would like to be remembered in a very kind way; also as a constructive wife of a President. I do not expect to come anywhere near living up to those First Ladies who have gone before me. They have all done a great job, and I admire them a great deal and it is only my ambition to come close to them.”
The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
Today in 1964, LBJ signed the Wilderness Act, protecting more than 9 million acres of land.
In his signing speech the President praised the bipartisan work in getting the bill passed:
"I think it is significant that these steps have broad support not just from the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party, both parties in the Congress. For example, the wilderness bill has been before the Congress since 1957, but it passed this year 73 to 12 in the Senate, and 373 to 1 in the House. So it seems to me that this reflects a new and a strong national consensus to look ahead, and, more than that, to plan ahead; better still, to move ahead.”
Attendees at the ceremony included some of those Congressional leaders, and many leaders of nonprofit groups who had worked alongside them. LBJ signed the bill outdoors, in the Rose Garden—naturally!
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.
Little League Baseball celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
President Ford welcomed the final eight teams from the 1974 Little League World Series to the White House on August 26, 1974. The teams represented Red Bluff, California; New Haven, Connecticut; Tallmadge, Ohio; Jackson, Tennessee; Victoria, British Colombia, Canada; Maracaibo, Venezuela; the Republic of China (Taiwan); and Athens, Greece, which included the children of American military and Embassy staff in Europe.
Image: President Ford with the Little League baseball team from Red Bluff, California (White House photograph A0364-23)
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.
Photographs of the Final Days of the Nixon Administration
President Nixon walking the White House grounds with his daughter, Tricia Nixon Cox. August 7, 1974; The press briefing given by Senators Scott and Goldwater and Congressman Rhodes after their meeting with the President concerning the resignation crisis.
-From the Nixon Library
"We have a cancer… close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily…"
On July 16, 1973, during his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee, Deputy Assistant to the President Alexander Butterfield shocked the world by revealing the existence of a White House taping system.
This revelation proved particularly explosive as the taping system could and would corroborate John Dean’s June 1973 testimony that he had detailed for President Richard Nixon White House-led cover-up efforts of the Watergate break-in in a March 1973 conversation. Dean testified that he had even warned the President of a lethal “cancer growing on the Presidency,” due to the continued perjury and pay-offs required to maintain the cover-up.
The conversation between President Nixon and White House Counsel John Dean had occurred on March 21, 1973 and was captured by recording devices in the Oval Office of the White House.
In this conversation segment, Dean warns President Nixon that the Watergate cover-up is a growing “cancer… close to the Presidency.” Listen here.
More Watergate-Related Conversations from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
Heads up! We’re almost halfway through the World Cup.
Brazilian superstar Pelé showed President Ford, a former college gridiron standout, what he could do with his kind of football when visiting the White House on June 28, 1975.
Original images White House photographs A5272-18 to 22.
What did the President know and when did he know it? Find out for yourself by listening to the “smoking gun” conversation!
On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon met with Chief of Staff H. R. (“Bob”) Haldeman, following the June 17 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. In this conversation segment, President Nixon and Haldeman discuss the progress of the FBI’s investigation. They especially focus on the tracing of the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA ask the FBI to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a national security operation.
On July 24, 1974, after a yearlong legal battle, the Supreme Court announced its 8-0 ruling that President Nixon must turn over the 64 tapes subpoenaed by the Special Prosecutor. On August 5, 1974, White House aides distributed to reporters transcripts of the June 23, 1972 audiotape, accompanied by President Nixon’s own two-page statement. In his comments, President Nixon wrote, “portions of the tapes of these June 23 conversations are at variance with certain of my previous statements.”
Conversation 714-002, Audiotape 744 (NARA Identifier #6852462), Oval Office Recordings, White House Tapes, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration.
More Watergate-Related Conversations via the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
It’s time for the 2014 World Cup!
This year Brazil is hosting the tournament. Football great Edson Arantes Nascimento, better known as Pelé, helped lead the Brazilian national team to three World Cup victories in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
Pelé met with President Ford in the Rose Garden on June 28, 1975, and gave him some pointers on how to juggle a soccer ball.