1924 Democratic Convention I

Lead: With the possibility of returning to power clearly at hand, the Democratic Party in 1924 went to New York City to pick a Presidential nominee. In 14 hot muggy summer days the Democrats nearly committed suicide.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The peculiar election system of the United States requires a Presidential candidate to assemble a majority of votes in the Electoral College. This is one of the most important reasons why a huge and diverse society such as the United States has only two major political parties. Instead of a splintered system with dozens of small parties such as in many European nations, the system is prejudiced toward two broadly based, umbrella-like parties that force political groups to work together to achieve that magic number in the electoral college. This tendency is also reflected in state and local elections.


Lead: One of the most fearsome and famous methods of capital punishment was actually developed as a more humane and democratic way of execution. It is named for an obscure member of the French National Assembly, a young physician, Joseph-Ignace Guillotine.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Decapitation as a means of execution has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time. The quick easy removal of the victim’s head brought a swift conclusion to their earthly journey; a sharp blade, a heavy well-placed blow brought matters to a timely end. Mechanical devices for execution may have used in various European countries before 1300, but there is no evidence for this prior to the execution of Murcod Ballagh near Merton Ireland in 1307. By 1564 in Scotland such a mechanism was in common use. It was called “The Maiden,” and consisted of two grooved upright posts held together at the top by a cross-member and at the bottom by diagonal supports. The person to be offed was trussed-up, laid faced down with their neck lined up with the grooves. At the moment of execution a very heavy oblique, steel-clad, iron blade held in lead-lined wooden casing would be released and the victim’s head would be quickly and painlessly severed from his torso.

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The Last Full Measure – Lewis “Chesty” Puller, Most Decorated Marine

Lead: For 400 years service men and women have fought to carve out and defend freedom and the civilization we know as America. This series on A Moment in Time is devoted to the memory of those warriors, whose devotion gave, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, the last full measure.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For Chesty Puller, the Marines were his life. In 37 years, through three wars, Caribbean interventions, and regular service, Puller earned a reputation as a gruff, demanding leader, who, nonetheless, held the best interests of his men close to his heart. He became the most decorated marine in Corps history, but it was at Guadalcanal and at the Chosin reservoir in North Korea that Puller attained iconic status.

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George Westinghouse II

Lead: Aware of repeated and often deadly railroad accidents, George Westinghouse developed the air brake.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At first Westinghouse tried to harness the steam generated by the locomotive, but found that by the time steam reached the rear of the train it had begun to condensing thus losing its power to force the brakes. His solution came while reading a magazine article describing the construction of the huge railroad tunnel through Mont Cenis in the Italian Alps. Instead of generating steam deep in the mountain for drilling which would eat up precious oxygen, engineers compressed air on the outside and pumped it to the tunnel face. Westinghouse applied the same principle to stopping trains, some of which were dozens of cars in length.


George Westinghouse I

Lead: On a dark February night in 1871, the chief engineer of the New York Central's crack Pacific Express, Doc Simmons, peered beyond a rounded bend south of Poughkeepsie, New York and saw disaster coming and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Everything was executed precisely. Simmons blew the emergency whistle. Trainmen between each of the passenger cars went to their stations. The icy handles began to turn. The brakes began to bite. Too little. Too late. A wrecked freight train lay tumbled across the small drawbridge just ahead. The Pacific Express, its useless brakes complaining loudly, drove through the oil-filled tank cars and pitched into Wappinger Creek. The tanks ignited. Thirty people died including Doc Simmons. Pity. Had the New York Central not been so cheap, Simmons would surely have been able to save lives that night. Already available was a device so effective that it was to revolutionize the railroad industry. In the public outcry following the Wappinger Creek disaster, New York Central and most other major lines began to equip their passenger stock with an invention by a little-known engineer. It was the air brake. His name was George Westinghouse.

Disputed Election of 1876 III

Lead: The fix was in. A deal with Southern democrats in 1876 made Rutherford B. Hayes President of the Unit-ed States.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the election of 1876, Sam Tilden, the New York Democrat was ahead in the popular vote and only one vote shy in the Electoral College. When the College met after the election, the votes of three Southern states were in dispute. To win, Hayes, the Republican candidate, needed all those Southern votes.

Disputed Election of 1876 II

Faced with a deadlocked election in 1876, Congress began to negotiate.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1876 the Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden, won the popular vote, 250,000, and had 184 votes in the Elec-toral College, one vote shy of election. Tilden's opponent, Governor Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, was far behind at 165 votes and needed all votes of three disputed Southern states to win. All three, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, were controlled by Republicans but they were accusing local Democrats of intimidating Blacks and thus preventing them from voting. Actually, both sides were guilty of fraud. In Louisiana, the members of the electoral commission were all Re-publicans but the chairman, J. Madison Wells offered Louisiana's votes to the highest bidder. Tilden's nephew William Pelton, the acting secretary of the Democratic National Committee, offered Wells $200,000 but the money got there too late and Wells was forced to accept a lesser offer from the Republicans.

Disputed Election of 1876 I

Lead: The Presidential Election in 1876 ended in deadlock. Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican Governor of Ohio, won, but not without some highly questionable deals on both sides.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: After fifteen years of war and Reconstruction and two terms of corrupt politics under Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, the electorate was toying with the idea of returning the Democratic Party to the White House. The Democrats already controlled the House of Representatives and nominated the reform-minded Governor of New York, Samuel J. Tilden.