San Franciscans Give Their Heart to De Gaulle
While French President François Hollande arrives in San Francisco today, our colleagues at historyatstate take us back to April 1960 when Charles de Gaulle paid the city its first official visit by a President of France:
French President Charles de Gaulle made his first State Visit as head of the Fifth Republic in April 1960. De Gaulle’s trip aimed to improve relations between the two countries after diverging policy objectives in the 1950s strained the relationship. Moreover, it was hoped that better acquainting U.S. policymakers with the French president could facilitate the bilateral relationship in the future. Lastly, the trip provided an opportunity for de Gaulle and President Dwight Eisenhower to prepare for the May 1960 joint summit meeting in Paris with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev.
De Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, arrived in Washington, D.C., on April 22 for four days of meetings, a speech in front of a joint session of Congress, and a state dinner. Eisenhower first met de Gaulle 18 years earlier during the Second World War and the two men forged a firm friendship over the years. Thus, a visit to Eisenhower’s farmhouse in Gettysburg, PA, was part of de Gaulle’s itinerary.
The trip was also notable as the first time that a French head of state paid a formal visit to San Francisco and New Orleans. On April 26, the de Gaulles went to New York, then flew to San Francisco on April 27, where an estimated 250,000 San Franciscans lined the streets of de Gaulle’s motorcade route from the San Francisco International Airport to City Hall.1 The San Francisco police estimated the welcome to be “the biggest ever given here to the head of a foreign state.”2 Among his engagements that day, de Gaulle met with California Governor Edmund G. Brown and toured the bay before spending April 28-29 in New Orleans. The de Gaulles were accompanied around the United States by Department of State Under Secretary Douglas Dillon, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France from 1953 through 1957.
View the video retrospective of French presidential visits to the United States via France’s Institut National Audovisuel (INA).
In 1978, former Governor Ronald Reagan, Supervisor Milk, President Jimmy Carter, and former President Gerald Ford all opposed a ballot initiative sponsored by California state senator John Briggs. The “Briggs Initiative” would have banned gay men and lesbians from being teachers or otherwise employed by California school districts.
On June 25, 1978, Milk—who had been elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977—gave a rousing speech at the city’s Gay Freedom Day celebration. In it, he challenged Briggs and others to reexamine American history.
In case the President had not read the speech, Milk sent him a copy along with a note. He hoped that the President would oppose the Briggs Initiative and “take a leadership role in defending the rights of gay people.”
You can read the full story here: http://go.usa.gov/bsf4
Image from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
San Francisco, California. This restaurant, named “Nisei” after second-generation children born in this country to Japanese immigrants was closed prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry; and, according to sign in the window, was scheduled to re-open under new management. Evacuees will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for [the] duration. 04/07/1942
Professional photographers such as Lange were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
April is National Poetry Month!
Deck Log, USS RINGGOLD (DD-500), January 1, 1945.
While records held by the National Archives document the functions and activities of the Federal government, there is also a literary side to bureaucracy. Records include material related to Walt Whitman’s employment with the Department of Justice, the death of Joyce Kilmer during World War I, and Allen Ginsberg’s service in the Merchant Marines.
Also among our holdings are the unsung poets of the U.S. Navy which has a tradition of placing a poem in the ship’s deck logs on the first day of the New Year.
Plan of Alcatraz Prison Towers at the Dock and Power House, 1940
Fifty years ago today, the Federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed on March 21, 1963. Acquired by the Department of Justice in 1933, the federal prison opened in 1934. Over the course of its years in operation, the prison hosted such infamous figures as Al Capone, Robert Stroud (aka The Birdman), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Rafael Cancel Miranda. These plans for prison towers at the dock and power house were part of the overall modernization of the prison facilities undertaken in 1940.
This is a Certificate of Identification for Ho Fook Sing, issued at the port in San Francisco on July 2, 1924. It is held in a series of Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files created by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service’s San Pedro Office.
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/
The April 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, estimated at 7.9 magnitude, was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, claiming more than 3,000 lives. Congress responded to the disaster in several ways. The House and the Senate Appropriations Committees enacted emergency appropriations. Other congressional action included the House Claims Committee handling claims from owners seeking reimbursement for destroyed property. The Senate also passed a resolution asking the Secretary of War to furnish the Senate with a copy of a report on the earthquake and fire. The report on the relief efforts and accompanying captioned photographs, prepared by the U.S. Army, are now housed with the records of the Senate Committee on Printing and include the above photos.
Visit our featured document article for more information on this tragic event and the congressional response.
Photograph of Union Street Car Line After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127302)
Photograph of the Effect of Earthquake on Houses Built on Loose or Made Ground After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127357)
Photograph of Souvenir Hunters After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127316)
Photograph of St. Francis Hotel Showing the Clean Sweep of Fire in the Business Section of All Except Class A Steel Frame Buildings After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127289)
Photograph of a Military Camp on the Fourth Day After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127305)
Photograph of a Typical Bread Line in the Early Stages of Relief Distribution After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 306190)
Considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, the San Francisco Earthquake struck on the morning of April 18, 1906.
San Francisco, California. The family unit in kept intact in various phases of evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry. …A view at Wartime Civil Control Administration station, 2020 Van Ness Avenue, on April 6, 1942, when first group of 664 was evacuated from San Francisco. The family unit likewise is preserved in War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees will spend the duration.
This photo of Japanese-American evacuees was taken by Dorothea Lange on April 6, 1942. Professional photographers such as Lange were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Fugitive slave arrested…and freed
This March 17, 1858, warrant—from the only known Federal fugitive slave case tried in California—directed the arrest of a fugitive slave named Archy. His owner, Mississippian C. A. Stovall, claimed to be visiting California when Archy became a fugitive. Stovall demanded that Archy be returned to him. Archie was tried in California and Federal courts and eventually freed.
Warrant of Arrest, 03/17/1858
Party Like It’s 1889
The first coin operated phonograph (an early version of the jukebox) appeared in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco on November 23, 1889. We’d love to know what sorts of tunes played on the wax cylinder for a nickel.
Drawing of a Coin Actuated Attachment for Phonographs by L. Glass and W. S. Arnold, 05/27/1890
We Asked, You Answered!
Here are some of your favorite bridges that can be found in the holdings of the National Archives.
Following a period of rampant speculation on Wall Street, the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, a major precipitating event of the Great Depression — a decade-long economic catastrophe. By 1933 industrial production had fallen to one-third its pre-Depression levels, thousands of banks were closed, and almost 13 million Americans were jobless. This photo of a Depression-era bread line was taken by Dorothea Lange at the White Angel Jungle, a soup kitchen for San Francisco’s jobless.
"The White Angel Bread Line" By Dorothea Lange, San Francisco, California, 1933; Records of the Social Security Administration ; Record Group 47; National Archives.