James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief II

Lead: The use of the stirring, heroic melody, Hail to the Chief, was ritualized by First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, dealing with her husband’s public relations problems. The story behind the tune, however, is not very good news for a politician.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk, Eleventh President of the United States, was short, usually unkempt and wore cheap, ill-fitting suits. He and Sarah were not universally popular in Washington society and he could walk into a room and be completely ignored. To call attention to his presence and increase respect, Sarah Polk decreed that he should have a theme song. Whenever he entered the room, the Marine Band was instructed to play Hail to the Chief.

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James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief I

Lead: Frustrated that her husband was being ignored at social and political events, the First Lady determined that the president needed a theme song. Of such are traditions born.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk was an unprepossessing man. He was short, he usually sported a bad haircut, and he wore cheap oversized suits. Often the President of the United States was ignored when he entered the room. In short, he was a public relation expert's nightmare. Nevertheless, Polk had a secret political weapon. It was his wife, Sarah.

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Democrats & 1964 Convention IV

Lead: The decline of the Democratic Party in the late 20th century can be attributed in part to its decision to champion black civil rights. This offended many racist Southern whites who migrated into the Republican Party.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party emerged from voter registration efforts in the summer of 1964. One of its goals was to present a competing delegation to the Convention in Atlantic City in August. When the two groups arrived, the Party was in a quandary. Here was one group claiming the moral high ground; some of its members, directly touched by the bloody Mississippi violence of that summer. The other group represented the vast majority of white Mississippians, most of whom were opposed to black progress. Even party liberals, such as Senator Hubert Humphrey were conflicted.

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Democrats & 1964 Convention III

Lead: The slipping fortunes of the Democratic Party in 1990s can be seen in part to result from its decision to champion black civil rights. This trend was confirmed at Atlantic City in August 1964.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lyndon Johnson, told one of his aides, Joseph Califano, “I think we’ve delivered the South to the Republican Party for your lifetime and mine.” While his accurate prediction was decades off the mark, the process that led to that Democratic Party implosion was confirmed at the quadrennial party gathering in Atlantic City that summer. One of the persons responsible for the party’s moral triumph, but steady political decline, was a soft-spoken, intellectual schoolteacher from New York named Bob Moses.

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Democrats & 1964 Convention II

Lead: At the Democratic Convention of 1964, competing visions over how to eliminate overt racism in America, secured an electoral triumph but laid the foundation for the precipitous decline of the Party over the next three decades.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Hubert Horatio Humphrey was a classic liberal, economically and socially. He led the charge to firmly establish the national Democratic Party on the side of African Americans in their quest for freedom. At the Convention in 1948 Humphrey argued for a much stronger Civil Rights plank in the platform and prevailed. This angered many southerners who felt that any progress by blacks was a threat to white supremacy. Led by then Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, many S

outherners bolted the convention. Thurmond ran for President, but the election was Harry Truman’s in 1948. The Southerner, however, would have his revenge.

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Democrats & 1964 Convention I

Lead: At the Democratic Convention of 1964, Lyndon Johnson was overwhelmingly nominated for President, but those brief days in August confirmed a tectonic shift taking place in American politics.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.Content: When the Democrats assembled in the decaying resort of Atlantic City in the late summer, the outcome was never in doubt. President Johnson would be the nominee. The party was still reeling from the assassination shock of the previous year and would go on to crush the Republicans in an electoral tsunami that would sweep away the conservative challenger Barry Goldwater and dozens of GOP congressmen and Senators. Yet, the events of that August week would seal the fate of the Democrats and make possible the Republican revolution that transformed national politics three decades later.

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First Ladies: Sarah Childress Polk

 Lead: The wife of the tenth President of the United States was the ideal political spouse: devoted, principled, and ambitious.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1823 James Knox Polk was stuck in what he considered a dead end job as a clerk employed by the Tennessee legislature. He asked Andrew Jackson, just beginning his first run for the Presidency, what advice he would give for success in politics. Jackson told him, "stop this philandering...settle down as a sober married man." "Which lady shall I choose?" asked Polk. "The one who will never give you no trouble," replied Jackson, "you know her well." "You mean Sarah Childress?" Polk asked, thought a minute, went out and asked her to marry him. He never regretted the choice.

 

A House Divided (Civil War): The Great Congress II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Despite its reputation for inertia, the U.S. Congress on occasion is capable of electrifying and revolutionary activity. But if the truth be known, such seasons of spectacular innovation occur more often than not when a single political party is in close to absolute control of the levers of congressional power and Congress is driven by an determined President of the majority party with visionary ambitions.