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Odd Coincidences in American Presidential History
I was a History Major in college. All my life, I have been interested in History and Politics. One aspect of history that has always captured my interest are the strange coincidences that occurred over time. Below are some of my favorites. You may have already heard of some but there are links and suggestions for more information.
Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln
Legend has it that Teddy Roosevelt's Grandfather, a powerful businessman in New York, admired President Lincoln very much. When Lincoln was killed, the funeral procession was scheduled to run through New York. Roosevelt's home was at the end of the most prestigious street in New York at the time, Broadway, and the funeral procession passed by directly in front of the home. There is a picture of the moment when the procession passes the Roosevelt home and if you look closely in the second story window you can see two small children looking down on the procession. One of them is Teddy Roosevelt, who would later become President when William McKinley was himself killed by an assassin. It is no wonder that TR transformed the Secret Service that we all know today.
For a good detailed expanation regarding Lincoln's funeral procession and the aftermath, including Teddy Roosevlt and the attempted theft of Lincoln's body, I suggest watching "Stealing Lincoln's Body" on the History Channel.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were two of America's founding fathers and the second and third Presidents of the United States respectively. The two were both instrumental in America's fight for Independence and the drafting of the Constitution.
Despite their shared passion for democracy, the two could not be more different. Adams was a short, pompous and pious man from the North and Jefferson was tall, humble and awkward. The two spent almost the span of their adult lives at odds. They disagreed on what path the new nation should take. Adams believed in a centralized government while Jefferson believed in more localized and state control. The election of 1796, where the two faced each other, was one of the most cankerous in our nation's history. What the two candidate's sides said about each other makes today's election look downright civil. Adams won the election by a mere three electoral votes. Jefferson was forced to serve as Adam's Vice President under the Constitution. (This was later changed by Amendment) Jefferson defeated Adams in 1800 by another slim margin.
After the election battles the two did not speak for many years. Then, they began corresponding by letter. The two became great friends. Amazingly, on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day since the founding of a nation the two helped build together, Adams and Jefferson both died. Adams is quoted as saying "Thomas Jefferson survives."
For a detailed explanation of Jefferson and Adams' debates and friendship I suggest reading David McCullough's "John Adams." McCullough details the substantial correspondence between the Jefferson and Adams in great detail.
George Washington - Leader Of The British
In every elementary school in America, children learn about our Country's first President, George Washington. We have all heard the stories about he could not tell a lie to his father about cutting down the Cherry Tree. But what many do not know is that George Washington was a British leader as well.
At twenty-two years of age, George Washington fired some of the first shots of what would become known as the French-Indian War. The war started in the 1750s when the British began building forts in what was known as Ohio. Ohio at the time was claimed by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Governor sent the young Washington to ascertain the strength of the French forces. Washington also delivered a letter to the French demanding that they leave Ohio.
They of course declined. War broke out soon after and Washington served as a Colonel. After winning a small battle, Washington lost a battle to the French at Fort Necessity. Washington resigned after being released by the French, only to volunteer a few years later to serve under General Braddock. After distinguishing himself as a leader under terrible circumstances, Washington resigned again from the British army; this time because he was refused a promotion. He returned to Virginia and the rest is History.
The French Indian War was a very costly war for the British. As a direct result of the war and the need to keep British soldiers in the colonies after the war, King George decided to raise taxes on the colonists. This heightened taxation was one of the leading causes of the American Revolution. As we all know, George Washington was the commander in chief of the American Revolutionary Army.
The odd coincidence, George Washington helped trigger the French Indian War as a leader of the British Army. It was this war that helped lead a revolution against the British led by George Washington.
Bill Clinton - Jeered Then Revered
In 1988 the Democrats nominated Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis for President. Dukakis eventually lost the election to George Herbert Walker Bush handidly, but it was who gave the nomination Speech at the convention that goes down in History. As Dukakis was a liberal governor from the Northeast, he chose the little known Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton to deliver the speech nominating Dukakis for President.
Bill Clinton's speech that night was not well received. Most found Clinton's speech boring and all thought his 32 minute speech was way too long. Long time journalist Tom Brokaw remarked, "He droned on and on, and droned on," said Brokaw. "When he finally said 'In conclusion,' people began to cheer." Most believed that Clinton's introduction to the nation was so bad that his political career was over.
Oddly, Bill Clinton only four years later accepted the Democratic Nomination for President before a huge crowd in New York City. He won two terms as President and until Barack Obama came on the scene in 2008 was the most loved Democrat. He still brings excitement wherever he goes and oddly, people love to hear him speak.
Booth Saves Lincoln's Life
Everybody knows that John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. But few know that a Booth saved a Lincoln a few years before that fateful night in 1865.
Edwin Booth was John Wilkes Booth's older brother. One night Edwin was standing on a railraod platform waiting to enter a sleeping car in Jersey City. Booth was there with John T. Ford, the owner of Ford's Theatre. A group of passengers were purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor. The platform was about the same height as the car and their was a space in between the platform and the car. The train began to move and the motion twisted on the passengers off his feet and he fell into the space. The passenger was helpless and Booth reportedly grabbed him by the coat collar and pulled him up back onto the platform. The passenger gave Booth his gratitude.
The passenger that night was Robert Tood Lincoln, the President's son who was traveling to Washington for the holidays. Lincoln relayed the story to a friend who wrote Booth a letter informing him of whom he had saved. Sources also state that General Grant also sent Booth a letter thanking him for saving Lincoln's life who was then serving the General staff.
There is no evidence that Robert ever told his parents about the incident and the incident was not reported in the newspapers. Years later, of course, Booth's name would be synonymous with the death of a Lincoln, but it should not be forgotten that a Booth did save Lincoln's life as well.
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