Famous Birthdays

Clinton, William

William J. Clinton Born- August 19, 1946, Hope, AR 42nd US President -1993-2001 Courtesy of the Library of Congress During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history. He was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country’s history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare roles. He proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. As part of a plan to celebrate the millennium in 2000, Clinton called for a great national initiative to end racial discrimination. After the failure in his second year of a huge program of health care reform, Clinton shifted emphasis, declaring “the era of big government is over.” He sought legislation to upgrade education, to protect jobs of parents who must care for sick children, to restrict handgun sales, and to strengthen environmental rules. President Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas, three months after his father died in a traffic accident. When he was four years old, his mother wed Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. In high school, he took the family name. He excelled as a student and as a saxophone player and once considered becoming a professional musician. As a delegate to Boys Nation while in high school, he met President John Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden. The encounter led him to...

Anthony, Susan B.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress Leader in Women’s Rights This famous women’s rights leader was born in Adams, Massachusetts on February 15th, 1820.  It wasn’t until 1845 that her family moved to Rochester, New York on the Erie Canal.  Their house then became a meeting place for anti-slavery activists and perhaps the place where Susan B. Anthony first became interested in political events.  In 1851, she attended her first anti-slavery convention in Syracuse.  Soon thereafter in 1852, Anthony attended her first women’s rights convention and proceeded to join the Women’s Rights Movement.  Two years later she began a New York State campaign for women’s suffrage in Chatauqua County.  In 1869 she called for the first Women Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C.    In probably her most noted act, Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872.  This didn’t stop her cause one bit and she continued to fight until her last breath.  In 1898, The Life & Work of Susan B. Anthony, A Story of the Evolution of the Status of Women was published and in 1906, Anthony made her last public appearance.  At the suffrage hearings in Washington D.C., she gave her ‘Failure is Impossible’ speech at her 86th birthday celebration.  She died almost a month later on March 13th, 1906. Source: Biography.com, PBS, susanbanthonyhouse.org Learning Links The Susan B. Anthony House The Susan B. Anthony House is located in Rochester, New York and was her home during the most politically active period in her life.  It is also the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.  Today the house is...

Edison, Thomas

Photograph copyright by Emil P. Spahn, Newark, New Jersey. Copyrighted 1880. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Thomas A. Edison: The Wizard of Menlo Park 1847 – 1931   In May of 1913, it was decided by a survey of independent magazine readers that Thomas A. Edison was the most useful man in the country. Although Edison was born on February 11th, 1847, the impact of his accomplishments are still being felt over a century later.   When he was a young boy, doctors feared that he might be brain damaged because of the size of his head.  However, by 1869, this odd young man named Thomas Alva Edison had become a full time inventor.  In addition to inventing the phonograph, incandescent light bulbs, and motion picture camera, Edison established over 1,093 patents earning him the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”   On April 24, 1889 the Edison General Electric Company was organized.  In December of 1903, The Edison Manufacturing Company released its hit film, The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter.  On May 21st, 1928 Edison received an honorary medal from Congress.  Three years later, on January 6th, 1931, Thomas Edison filed his last patentapplication.  He died in November of that same year.    Thomas Alva Edison will be remembered as one of the most prolific inventors of all time.  His patents and discoveries cover a multitude of subjects, including: electric lighting, electric railways, secondary batteries, phonographs, cylinder records, and much more.  These inventions have made a significant impact on how science and invention have progressed in...

Armstrong, Neil

Neil A. Armstrong is the Chairman of the Board of AIL Systems, Inc., Deer Park, N.Y., an electronic systems company. He was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1955. Image courtesy of NASA After serving as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952 and completing his studies at Purdue, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955. His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. For the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As a research pilot at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., he was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft, including the well known, 4000-mph X-15. He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders. Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962. He was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission. Gemini 8 was launched on March 16, 1966, and Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface. The Eagle Has Landed – Archived Historical Movie Source: Internet Archives – Moving Images Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy...

Tesla, Nikola

Patent Number 390,414 Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Austria-Hungary and emigrated to the U.S. in 1884 as a physicist. He pioneered the generation, transmission, and use of alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be transmitted over much greater distances than direct current. Tesla patented a device to induce electrical current in a piece of iron (a rotor) spinning between two electrified coils of wire. This rotating magnetic field device generates AC current when it is made to rotate by using some form mechanical energy, like steam or hydropower. When the generated current reaches its user and is fed into another rotating magnetic field device, this second device becomes an AC induction motor that produces mechanical energy. Induction motors run household appliances like clothes washers and dryers. Development of these devices led to widespread industrial and manufacturing uses for electricity. The induction motor was only part of Tesla’s overall conception. In a series of history-making patents, he demonstrated a polyphase alternating-current system, consisting of a generator, transformers, transmission layout, and motor and lights. From the power source to the power user, it provided the basic elements for electrical production and utilization. Our AC power system remains essentially unchanged today. In 1888, George Westinghouse, head of the Westinghouse Electric Company, bought the patent rights to Tesla’s system of dynamos, transformers and motors. Westinghouse used Tesla’s alternating current system to light the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. Then in 1896, Tesla’s system was used at Niagara Falls in the world’s first large hydroelectric plant. The Tesla coil, invented in...

Farnsworth, Philo T.

Philo T. Farnsworth – ‘The Father of Television’ Seventy-seven years ago on September 7th, 1927, the first successful demonstration of television occurred.  A mostly self-taught genius named Philo T. Farnsworth transmitted an image of a horizontal line to a receiver in the next room.  Farnsworth was born on August 19th, 1906, at Indian Creek in Beaver County, Utah.  At age six he told his Dad that he’d been born an inventor.  An amazing young boy, he built an electric motor at age 12 and won his first national contest at age 13.  In the contest sponsored by Science and Invention Magazine, Farnsworth created a thief proof lock.  He didn’t stop there.  During the summer of 1921, Farnsworth was leading a horsedrawn plowing machine when he stopped to look over his work.  He suddenly realized that just as he was plowing the field into parallel rows, he could scan an image row by row.  He figured that by doing this one line at a time, with a beam of electrons inside a cathode ray tube, he might successfully transmit an image to a receiver.   He went on to demonstrate the first operational, all electronic television system in 1927.  With an extension on his funding, it was May 1928 when Farnsworth transmitted a two-dimensional image of his wife and assistant Pem, to a receiver for viewing by an audience.  Using a sketch kept by his high school chemistry teacher, Justin Tolman, he went on to win a legal suit against RCA.  They claimed, to no avail, that their man, Vladimir Zworykin, had documented this...

Reagan, Nancy

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-110212] Nancy Davis Reagan was born on July 6, 1921, in New York City. Raised in Chicago, she graduated from Girls’ Latin School and went on to Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1943. In her early career, Nancy Davis worked as an actress in stage, film, and television productions. Her stage performances ranged from summer stock to road tours to Broadway and, in 1949, she was signed to a seven-year contract with MGM. During this time, she met Ronald Reagan and they were married on March 4, 1952. She made eleven films in all, including three after her marriage. Her last film, at Columbia in 1956, was “Hellcats of the Navy,” in which she and her husband appeared together. Shortly after her husband became Governor of California in 1967, Mrs. Reagan began visiting wounded Vietnam veterans and became active in projects concerning POWs and servicemen missing in action. During the war, she wrote a syndicated column, donating her salary to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. While First Lady of California, Mrs. Reagan made regular visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly, as well as schools for physically and emotionally handicapped children. During one of these hospital visits in 1967, she observed participants in the Foster Grandparent Program, a program which brings together senior citizens and handicapped children, and she soon became its champion. Later, as First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Reagan continued to help expand the program...

Van Buren, Martin

Martin Van BurenUS President – 1837-41 Courtesy of the Library of Congress Only about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, but trim and erect, Martin Van Buren dressed fastidiously. His impeccable appearance belied his amiability–and his humble background. Of Dutch descent, he was born in 1782, the son of a tavernkeeper and farmer, in Kinderhook, New York. As a young lawyer he became involved in New York politics. As leader of the “Albany Regency,” an effective New York political organization, he shrewdly dispensed public offices and bounty in a fashion calculated to bring votes. Yet he faithfully fulfilled official duties, and in 1821 was elected to the United States Senate. By 1827 he had emerged as the principal northern leader for Andrew Jackson. President Jackson rewarded Van Buren by appointing him Secretary of State. As the Cabinet Members appointed at John C. Calhoun’s recommendation began to demonstrate only secondary loyalty to Jackson, Van Buren emerged as the President’s most trusted adviser. Jackson referred to him as, “a true man with no guile.” The rift in the Cabinet became serious because of Jackson’s differences with Calhoun, a Presidential aspirant. Van Buren suggested a way out of an eventual impasse: he and Secretary of War Eaton resigned, so that Calhoun men would also resign. Jackson appointed a new Cabinet, and sought again to reward Van Buren by appointing him Minister to Great Britain. Vice President Calhoun, as President of the Senate, cast the deciding vote against the appointment–and made a martyr of Van Buren. The “Little Magician” was elected Vice President on the Jacksonian ticket...

Fillmore, Millard

Millard Fillmore US President – 1850-53 Born: January 7, 1800, Summerhill, NY Died: March 8, 1874, Buffalo, NY Full name: Millard Fillmore Presidential term: July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853 Buried: Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo Millard Fillmore – Early Life In his rise from a log cabin to wealth and the White House, Millard Fillmore demonstrated that through methodical industry and some competence an uninspiring man could make the American dream come true. Born in the Finger Lakes country of New York in 1800, Fillmore as a youth endured the privations of frontier life. He worked on his father’s farm, and at 15 was apprenticed to a cloth dresser. He attended one-room schools, and fell in love with the redheaded teacher, Abigail Powers, who later became his wife. Millard Fillmore -The Law and Politics In 1823 he was admitted to the bar; seven years later he moved his law practice to Buffalo. As an associate of the Whig politician Thurlow Weed, Fillmore held state office and for eight years was a member of the House of Representatives. In 1848, while Comptroller of New York, he was elected Vice President. Fillmore presided over the Senate during the months of nerve-wracking debates over the Compromise 1850 He made no public comment on the merits of the compromise proposals, but a few days before President Taylor‘s death, he intimated to him that if there should be a tie vote on Henry Clay’s bill, he would vote in favor of it. President Millard Fillmore Thus the sudden accession of Fillmore to the Presidency in July 1850 brought an abrupt political shift in the...

Hoover, Lou Henry

Portrait of Lou Henry Hoover, taken between 1928 and 1933Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-25811 DLC] What are your dreams? Would you like to travel the world, live in the White House, write books, or be an honorary leader of all the Girl Scouts of America? Well, one famous woman had all of these adventures and more during her lifetime. Her name was Lou Henry. How did she happen to have what seems to be a boy’s name? Her father had wanted a boy and that’s how it came to be. Lou’s father, Charles Henry, was a banker in Waterloo, Iowa where his daughter was born in 1874. Lou, her younger sister, Jean, and Mr. Henry could be seen around town hiking, riding horses, skating, and camping. Mr. Henry made sure his daughters knew about the outdoors, while Lou’s mother, Florence, made sure that her daughters knew about responsibilities around the house like sewing, music, and art. Lou was lucky to have parents who helped her discover much about the world and her future. Later, the family moved and settled in Whittier, California and then went on to Monterey. Lou planned to be a teacher and attended San Jose Normal School, but teaching was not the best match for Lou. Then, in 1894 something happened that changed Lou Henry’s life forever. During that summer she heard Professor John Casper Branner of Stanford University speak about “The Bones of the Earth”. That was it! She convinced her parents that she should become a geology student at...

Johnson, Lyndon B.

Lyndon B. JohnsonUS President – 1963-69 Courtesy of the Library of Congress “A Great Society” for the American people and their fellow men elsewhere was the vision of Lyndon B. Johnson. In his first years of office he obtained passage of one of the most extensive legislative programs in the Nation’s history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain Communist encroachment in Viet Nam. Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle. He felt the pinch of rural poverty as he grew up, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College; he learned compassion for the poverty of others when he taught students of Mexican descent. In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor, whom he had married in 1934. During World War II he served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare skill he obtained passage of a number of key Eisenhower measures. In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy’s running mate, was elected Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President. First he...

Adams, John Quincy

John Quincy AdamsUS President – 1825-29 Courtesy of the Library of Congress The first President who was the son of a President, John Quincy Adams in many respects paralleled the career as well as the temperament and viewpoints of his illustrious father. Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1767, he watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from the top of Penn’s Hill above the family farm. As secretary to his father in Europe, he became an accomplished linguist and assiduous diarist. After graduating from Harvard College, he became a lawyer. At age 26 he was appointed Minister to the Netherlands, then promoted to the Berlin Legation. In 1802 he was elected to the United States Senate. Six years later President Madison appointed him Minister to Russia. Serving under President Monroe, Adams was one of America’s great Secretaries of State, arranging with England for the joint occupation of the Oregon country, obtaining from Spain the cession of the Floridas, and formulating with the President the Monroe Doctrine. In the political tradition of the early 19th century, Adams as Secretary of State was considered the political heir to the Presidency. But the old ways of choosing a President were giving way in 1824 before the clamor for a popular choice. Within the one and only party–the Republican–sectionalism and factionalism were developing, and each section put up its own candidate for the Presidency. Adams, the candidate of the North, fell behind Gen. Andrew Jackson in both popular and electoral votes, but received more than William H. Crawford and Henry Clay. Since no...
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