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44-D’s Impact Diaries: How Will You Answer Dr. King’s Question?

Posted by: Audiegrl



The Corporation for National and Community Service shares a wonderful story of how Miami residents are coming together to green and beautify their community to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Miami project is just one example of how people are coming together to serve their communities as part of January 18th’s MLK Day of Service. To find service projects in your community, visit serve.gov/MLKDay.

How will you answer Dr. King’s question?

On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds will come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and to move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. Dr. Martin Luther King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs—poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.

Please volunteer with Americans across the nation on the 2010 King Day of Service and make a real in difference in your community. Fueled by President Obama’s call to service, the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service experienced a historic level of participation, as Americans across the country honored Dr. King by serving their communities on the January 19 King Holiday. In total, more than 13,000 projects took place — the largest ever in the 14 years since Congress encouraged Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this national effort.

Thousands volunteered to prepare care packages for troops stationed in Iraq during Serve DC's Operation Gratitude project for the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in Washington, DC.

How to You Can Serve

2010 MLK Day Technology Challenge

We are calling on educators and web professionals to join our new effort – the 2010 MLK Day Technology Challenge. The idea is simple: to connect schools with technology needs to IT and web professionals, developers, graphic designers and new media professionals who are willing to volunteer their skills for good, take on these technology projects and give back to a school in need. Learn more.

MLK Day Resources

Everything you need to plan a King Day project – including tips on getting started, building partnerships, organizing the day, and fundraising. You’ll also find a service-learning guide for schools and organizations, project examples, and marketing tools to help promote your project.

For more information…

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15 Scientific and Technical Achievements to be Honored with Academy Awards®

Posted by: Audiegrl

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® today announced that 15 scientific and technical achievements represented by 46 individual award recipients will be honored at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation at The Beverly Wilshire on Saturday, February 20, 2010.

Unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during 2009. Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:


Technical Achievement Award (Academy Certificate)

Technical Achievement Award

Technical Achievement Award

To Mark Wolforth and Tony Sedivy for their contributions to the development of the Truelight real-time 3D look-up table hardware system. Through the use of color management software and hardware, this complete system enables accurate color presentation in the digital intermediate preview process. The Truelight system is widely utilized in digital intermediate production environments around the world.

To Dr. Klaus Anderle, Christian Baeker and Frank Billasch for their contributions to the LUTher 3D look-up table hardware device and color management software. The LUTher hardware was the first color look-up table processor to be widely adopted by the pioneering digital intermediate facilities in the industry. This innovation allowed the facilities to analyze projected film output and build 3D look-up tables in order to emulate print film, enabling accurate color presentation.

To Steve Sullivan, Kevin Wooley, Brett Allen and Colin Davidson for the development of the Imocap on-set performance capture system. Developed at Industrial Light & Magic and consisting of custom hardware and software, Imocap is an innovative system that successfully addresses the need for on-set, low-impact performance capture.

To Hayden Landis, Ken McGaugh and Hilmar Koch for advancing the technique of ambient occlusion rendering. Ambient occlusion has enabled a new level of realism in synthesized imagery and has become a standard tool for computer graphics lighting in motion pictures.

To Bjorn Heden for the design and mechanical engineering of the silent, two-stage planetary friction drive Heden Lens Motors. Solving a series of problems with one integrated mechanism, this device had an immediate and significant impact on the motion picture industry.


Scientific and Engineering Award (Academy Plaque)

Scientific & Engineering Award

To Per Christensen and Michael Bunnell for the development of point-based rendering for indirect illumination and ambient occlusion. Much faster than previous ray-traced methods, this computer graphics technique has enabled color bleeding effects and realistic shadows for complex scenes in motion pictures.

To Dr. Richard Kirk for the overall design and development of the Truelight real-time 3D look-up table hardware device and color management software. This complete system enables accurate color presentation in the digital intermediate preview process. The Truelight system is widely utilized in digital intermediate production environments around the world.

To Volker Massmann, Markus Hasenzahl, Dr. Klaus Anderle and Andreas Loew for the development of the Spirit 4K/2K film scanning system as used in the digital intermediate process for motion pictures. The Spirit 4K/2K has distinguished itself by incorporating a continuous-motion transport mechanism enabling full-range, high-resolution scanning at much higher frame rates than non-continuous transport scanners.

To Michael Cieslinski, Dr. Reimar Lenz and Bernd Brauner for the development of the ARRISCAN film scanner, enabling high-resolution, high-dynamic range, pin-registered film scanning for use in the digital intermediate process. The ARRISCAN film scanner utilizes a specially designed CMOS array sensor mounted on a micro-positioning platform and a custom LED light source. Capture of the film’s full dynamic range at various scan resolutions is implemented through sub-pixel offsets of the sensor along with multiple exposures of each frame.

To Wolfgang Lempp, Theo Brown, Tony Sedivy and Dr. John Quartel for the development of the Northlight film scanner, which enables high-resolution, pin-registered scanning in the motion picture digital intermediate process. Developed for the digital intermediate and motion picture visual effects markets, the Northlight scanner was designed with a 6K CCD sensor, making it unique in its ability to produce high-resolution scans of 35mm, 8-perf film frames.

To Steve Chapman, Martin Tlaskal, Darrin Smart and James Logie for their contributions to the development of the Baselight color correction system, which enables real-time digital manipulation of motion picture imagery during the digital intermediate process. Baselight was one of the first digital color correction systems to enter the digital intermediate market and has seen wide acceptance in the motion picture industry.

To Mark Jaszberenyi, Gyula Priskin and Tamas Perlaki for their contributions to the development of the Lustre color correction system, which enables real-time digital manipulation of motion picture imagery during the digital intermediate process. Lustre is a software solution that enables non-linear, real-time digital color grading across an entire feature film, emulating the photochemical color-timing process.

To Brad Walker, D. Scott Dewald, Bill Werner and Greg Pettitt for their contributions furthering the design and refinement of the Texas Instruments DLP Projector, achieving a level of performance that enabled color-accurate digital intermediate previews of motion pictures. Working in conjunction with the film industry, Texas Instruments created a high-resolution, color-accurate, high-quality digital intermediate projection system that could closely emulate film-based projection in a theatrical environment.

To FUJIFILM Corporation, Ryoji Nishimura, Masaaki Miki and Youichi Hosoya for the design and development of Fujicolor ETERNA-RDI digital intermediate film, which was designed exclusively to reproduce motion picture digital masters. The Fujicolor ETERNA-RDI Type 8511/4511 digital intermediate film has thinner emulsion layers with extremely efficient couplers made possible by Super-Nano Cubic Grain Technology. This invention allows improved color sensitivity with the ability to absorb scattered light, providing extremely sharp images. The ETERNA-RDI emulsion technology also achieves less color cross-talk for exacting reproduction. Its expanded latitude and linearity provides superior highlights and shadows in a film stock with exceptional latent image stability.

To Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins, John Monos and Mark Sagar for the design and engineering of the Light Stage capture devices and the image-based facial rendering system developed for character relighting in motion pictures. The combination of these systems, with their ability to capture high fidelity reflectance data of human subjects, allows for the creation of photorealistic digital faces as they would appear in any lighting condition.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin to Co-Host 2010 Oscars®

Posted by: Audiegrl

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will serve as co-hosts of the 82nd Academy Awards®, Oscar telecast producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman announced.

We think the team of Steve and Alec are the perfect pair of hosts for the Oscars,” said Shankman and Mechanic. “Steve will bring the experience of having hosted the show in the past and Alec will be a completely fresh personality for this event.”

I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin,” said Martin.

I don’t play the banjo but I’m thrilled to be hosting the Oscars – it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Baldwin.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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Welcome to 44’D’s Happy Holiday’s Special

We here at The 44 Diaries would like to say Thank You for participating in our blog and we hope that you all have a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. We also hope that you get to spend plenty of time with the people you love the most…

Please note: We will be keeping this up all week in celebration, but will be posting political news in the top section next to ‘Home’.


History of Christmas




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Origins and Traditions of Hanukkah

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Celebrating Kwanzaa



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Santa Claus Through History



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Famous and Not-So Famous Christmas Movies List

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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

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Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos

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Christmas Around the World



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Fun Filled Christmas Facts



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Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas in the Age of Dickens



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Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914



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Holiday Season at the White House with the Obama’s 2009




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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

Like any other Americans, the family living in the big white house on Pennsylvania avenue has traditions surrounding the holiday season as well. Sit back, and get comfortable, while we explore how Presidents have celebrated Christmas from President George Washington to President Barack Obama.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~ President Calvin Coolidge

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History of Christmas at the White House (1789-1849)



President George Washington and First Lady Martha (1789-1797)
President John Adams and First Lady Abigale (1797-1801)
President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
President James Madison (1809-1817)
President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth (1817-1825)
President John Quincy Adams and First Lady Louisa (1825-1829)
President Andrew Jackson and First Lady Rachel (1829-1837)
President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
President William Henry Harrison and First Lady Anna (1841-1841)
President John Tyler and First Ladies Lettitia and Julia (1841-1845)
President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah (1845-1849)
President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret (1849-1850)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1850-1901)

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President Millard Fillmore and First Ladies Abigail and Caroline (1850-1853)
President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane (1853-1857)
President James Buchanan (1857-1861)
President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary (1861-1865)
President Andrew Johnson and First Lady Elizabeth (1865-1869)
President Ulysses S. Grant and First Lady Julia (1869-1877)
President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy (1877-1881)
President James A. Garfield and First Lady Lucretia (1881-1881)
President Chester A. Arthur and First Lady Ellen (1881-1885)
President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Francis (1885-1889, (1893-1897)
President Benjamin Harrison and First Lady Caroline and Mary (1889-1893)
President William McKinley and First Lady Ida (1897-1901)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1901-1953)

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President Theodore Roosevelt and First Ladies Alice and Edith (1901-1909)
President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen (1909-1913)
President Woodrow Wilson and First Ladies Ellen and Edith (1913-1921)
President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence (1921-1923)
President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace (1923-1929)
President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou (1929-1933)
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor (1933-1945)
President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess (1945-1953)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1953-1977)

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President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower (1953-1961)
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1961-1963)
President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Claudia (Lady Bird) (1963-1969)
President Richard Nixon and First Lady Patricia (1969-1974)
President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty (1974-1977)

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History of Christmas at the White House (1977-2009)

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President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter (1977-1981)
President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy (1981-1989)
President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara (1989-1993)
President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary (1993-2001)
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush (2001-2008)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (2009- )


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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789 thru 1849

President George Washington and First Lady Martha 1789-1797

George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City. There was no White House at that time so the Washington’s lived in houses that were “borrowed” as Presidential homes, first in New York City and later in Philadelphia.

At a time when Christmas was still quite controversial in a new nation, at the time Martha Washington’s holiday receptions were stiff and regal affairs, quite befitting the dignity of the office of President of the United States and invitations were much desired by the local gentry. A Christmas party was given by the Washington’s for members of Congress on Christmas Day, 1795 at which a bountiful feast was served to the guests, all men with the exception of the First Lady.

The 2009 Mount Vernon Holiday Ornament

The 2009 Mount Vernon Holiday Ornament

Although not everyone celebrated Christmas in the colonies, the festivities at Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation in Virginia would start at daybreak with a Christmas fox hunt. It was followed by a hearty mid-day feast that included “Christmas pie,” dancing, music, and visiting that sometimes did not end for a solid week. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the Christmas of 1777, spent by General Washington and his troops at Valley Forge where dinner was little more than cabbage, turnips, and potatoes.

Some documents show that Christmas at Mt. Vernon were quite a celebration. The traditional feast varied from household to household (depending on how wealthy the family was) but generally, consisted of wines, rum punches, hams, beef, goose, turkey, oysters, mincemeat pies, and various other treats. The season was considered a grown-up celebration, but presents would generally be given to children. Irena Chalmers notes that in 1759, that George Washington gave the following presents to his children: a bird on Bellows; a Cuckoo; a Turnabout Parrot; a Grocers Shop; an Aviary; a Prussian Dragoon; a Man Smoking; a Tunbridge Tea Set; 3 Neat Books, a Tea Chest. A straw parchment box with a glass and a neat dressed wax baby.

President John Adams and First Lady Abigale 1797-1801

When the second President of the United States, John Adams, moved into what would come to be known as the White House, the residence was cold, damp, and drafty. Sitting at the edge of a dreary swamp, the First Family had to keep 13 fireplaces lit in an effort to stay comfortable. It is in this setting that the cantankerous president held the first ever White House Christmas party in honor of his granddaughter, Susanna. It could be said that the invitations sent for this party were the very first White House Christmas cards, though in those early days, the building was referred to as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion, or President’s House.

Peacefield, the Quincy, Massachusetts home and farm of John Adams, where he spent Christmas with his family before and after his presidency

The affair was planned in large part by the vivacious First Lady, Abigail Adams, and was considered a great success. A small orchestra played festive music in a grand ballroom adorned with seasonal flora. After dinner, cakes and punch were served while the staff and guests caroled and played games. The most amusing incident of the evening occurred when one of the young guests accidentally broke one of the First Granddaughter’s new doll dishes. Enraged, the young guest of honor promptly bit the nose off of one of the offending friend’s dolls. The amused president had to intervene to make sure the incident didn’t turn any uglier.

The 2009 John Adams Administration Christmas Ornament

The 2009 John Adams Administration Christmas Ornament

With the death of George Washington shortly before Christmas of 1799, President Adam’s Federalist Party was weakened. Due in part to the unpopularity of the Alien and Sedition Acts, he narrowly lost his re-election bid to Thomas Jefferson, 65 to 73 in the Electoral College. Adams retired to a life of farming at Peacefield, his home near Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1812, Adams reconciled with Thomas Jefferson. He sent a brief note to Jefferson, which resulted in a resumption of their friendship and began an ongoing correspondence that lasted the rest of their lives.

President Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809

Since Christmas did not become a national holiday until 1870 during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, it is not surprising that the exchanging of White House Christmas cards was not a yearly presidential custom during the very early history of our country. For most of our earlier presidents, there is very little documented information regarding Christmas celebrations or traditions they or their families may have practiced. However, whether it is because he was a prolific letter-writer or that scholars have accumulated a wealth of information on his life from painstaking research, there is more information describing Christmas celebrations of our third president, Thomas Jefferson, than any of our other Founding Fathers who became president. This information reflects both the time Jefferson spent as president in the White House and at his famous Virginia home and plantation, Monticello.

Monticello, the Virginia home and plantation of Thomas Jefferson, where he celebrated many Christmas seasons with his family before and after his presidency

As president in 1805, six of his grandchildren and 100 of their friends – invited by Secretary of State James Madison’s wife, Dolley, who acted as official hostess – made for a tremendously enjoyable holiday party at which Jefferson played the violin for the dancing children. Christmas celebrations at the Jefferson White House were festive affairs where delicacies and local American foods were served. Joyful Christmas partying continued at Monticello in 1809 following the end of the Jefferson presidency earlier that year. Celebrations at Jefferson’s beautiful home included social intercourse amongst friends and relatives and the serving of a Christmas favorite, mince pies. The hanging of Christmas stockings and the decorating of evergreen trees had not yet become the norm like those traditions are today.

2004 American President Collection Thomas Jefferson Ornament

2004 American President Collection Thomas Jefferson Ornament

In all that he did, Jefferson tried to maintain his political and moral philosophy, not only for the country itself, but also for America’s citizens. He believed that each person has “certain inalienable rights,” which could not be taken away whether a government existed or not. He also believed in equality for all people and was a proponent of states’ rights.
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 along with fellow Founding Father and 2nd President, John Adams). Ironically, this date was also the 50th anniversary of the adoption of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the document which historians readily believe is perhaps the most important document in our country’s history.

President James Madison 1809-1817

President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth 1817-1825

Monroe, a Virginian who is considered the last of the United States’ Founding Fathers, was, however, one of the participants in what may be the most famous Christmas in our nation’s history.

It was on Christmas in 1776 that Monroe, a lieutenant in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was wounded in the shoulder serving with General George Washington in the surprise attack against the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton in New Jersey. In fact, in the famous 1851 painting by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze, it is the young James Monroe who is shown holding the flag as Washington leads his men into battle as their boat crosses the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey. Had the exchanging of Christmas cards been a custom back in Colonial times, certainly none would have been exchanged between the pro-British Hessians and the revolution-minded colonists!

The famous painting by Emanuel Leutze featuring George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware on Christmas of 1776. Future President James Monroe is depicted holding the American flag.

The famous painting by Emanuel Leutze featuring George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware on Christmas of 1776. Future President James Monroe is depicted holding the American flag.

In modern times, at the James Monroe Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia, not only is there an annual exhibition showcasing what the Monroe home would have looked like at Christmastime, but other festivities include fireworks, a display of Christmas dishes such as candied fruits and plum pudding, and decorations which include mistletoe, ivy, and holly.

In 1831 James Monroe died from tuberculosis and heart failure one year later on the 4th of July – the third president of the first five in our country’s history to pass away on the date of the birth of our nation.

President John Quincy Adams and First Lady Louisa 1825-1829

President John Quincy Adams spent four Christmases in the White House and yet there is very little written about his Christmas celebrations, if indeed there were any. He was a very prolific writer and there is certainly the possibility that he sent Christmas messages from the White House. Since Christmas cards were not in vogue until after the 1850s, we can be sure that President John Quincy Adams did not send out White House Christmas cards.

President Adams appointed Joel R. Poinsett as the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1825, who shortly thereafter brought back red, wild growing plants from the southern Mexican states. These red plants would be called poinsettia, the popular Christmas plant of today.

President and Mrs. Adams lived vastly separate lives while in the White House. President Adams developed his love for gardening and Louisa raised silk worms. Perhaps, her intention was to make Christmas presents with the silk. Being the only foreign born first lady, Louisa had some bad publicity stirred up by opponents of her husband. Their son John was the only son of a president to be married in the White House on February 25, 1828. Louisa Adams was the first to allow visitors to tour the White House with the intention of proving that the First Family was not living in the lap of luxury at the expense of the taxpayers.

President Andrew Jackson and First Lady Rachel 1829-1837

During the 1835 Christmas season, a number of young relatives occupied the White House of President Andrew Jackson. His wife’s niece, her four children and the two children of his adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., all made their residence in the executive mansion. The President and his family sent invitations, White House Christmas cards, of sorts, to the local children inviting them to an event in the East Room on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve, President Jackson and the White House children embarked upon a carriage ride, delivering gifts to former First Lady Dolly Madison and Vice President Martin Van Buren. As they rode, one of the children asked the President if he thought Santa would visit the White House. Mr. Jackson replied that they would have to wait and see and told the children of a boy he once knew who had never heard of Christmas or Santa Claus and who had never owned a single toy. The boy, he told them, never knew his father and then his mother died. After her death, he had no friends and no place to live. Jackson and the children then visited an orphanage and delivered the remaining gifts in the carriage to its residents. Years later, one of the children, Mary Donelson, realized that the boy the president spoke of had been Jackson himself.

The 2004 American President Collection Andrew Jackson Ornament.

The 2004 American President Collection Andrew Jackson Ornament.

That night, the President encouraged the children to hang their Christmas stockings in his bedroom and even allowed himself to be talked into hanging his own stocking for the first time in his 68 years. On Christmas morning, the children raced into Jackson’s chamber to see what St. Nick had left. They each received a silver quarter, candy, nuts, cake, and fruit in addition to a small toy. The President received slippers, a corncob pipe, and a tobacco bag.

Later that day, the children who had received the White House Christmas card invitations arrived at the residence and found the East Room decorated with mistletoe and other seasonal foliage. They participated in song, games and danced throughout the afternoon. At dinnertime, the youngsters filed into the dining room two-by-two as the band played “The President’s March.” The French chef had created a remarkable feast including winter scenes filled with animals carved out of icing and confectionery sugar. Also featured were cakes shaped like apples, pears, and corn. In the center, there was a large pyramid of cotton “snowballs” – frosted creations which exploded when struck in a certain way.

The Hermitage, the Nashville home of Andrew Jackson, where he spent several Christmas holidays following his stay in the White House

After dinner, the children were allowed to participate in a wild snowball fight. While some of the adults feared that the festivities were getting out of hand, President Jackson cheered them on, taking great pleasure in their youthful enthusiasm.

After two terms, Jackson retired to his estate, the Hermitage, outside Nashville, Tennessee. He remained a force in national politics and was instrumental in the elections of Democrats Martin Van Buren in 1836 and James K. Polk in 1844. He died from tuberculosis in 1845 at the age of 78.

President Martin Van Buren 1837-1841

President William Henry Harrison and First Lady Anna 1841-1841

William Henry Harrison was not in the White House long enough to enjoy a Christmas season, serving only one month before he died. It is very clear that he did not send White House Christmas cards. The first known Christmas cards sold in the United States weren’t until 1843, two years after Harrison’s election in 1841. The custom of sending White House Christmas cards began officially with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, although many prior presidents sent Christmas cards to family and friends.

President William Henry Harrison was portrayed in a 1991 Christmas ornament issued by the White House Historical Society. He was depicted atop a white charger in full military regalia. Harrison spent many years on the Northwest Frontier (as it was known in his time) probably spending Christmas with family or his troops. There is little written about President Harrison’s Christmas celebrations prior to his short tenure in the White House. There is little doubt that he would have followed his Episcopalian beliefs in any Christmas observances.

Grouseland, the Northwest Frontier home of William Henry Harrison, where he spent many Christmas seasons before his short stint in the White House

At the age of 67, William Henry Harrison became the oldest man elected as President of the United States until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. He won on the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” on the Whig ticket. The Harrison’s must have had a busy Christmas season in 1840 preparing to move to the White House.

President Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech in history and had the shortest term. He was the first president to die in office. He served only 30 days before dying of pneumonia. His wife, Anna, never had a chance to be First Lady, but was given a widow’s pension of $25,000 and lifetime franking privilege. President William Henry Harrison was buried in Ohio and the Whig party died with him.

President John Tyler and First Ladies Lettitia and Julia 1841-1845

There were probably no White House Christmas cards sent at the beginning of the Tyler administration. There is no information whatsoever as to whether the Tyler family followed that present-day Christmas tradition, but it was not until 1843 – during the middle of the Tyler administration – that the first commercial Christmas cards were even commissioned. That card was quite controversial as it showed a family and their young child partaking of some wine drinking, a picture of which would have been scandalous had the Tyler’s sent out something similar as their White House Christmas cards. Although Christmas cards were not exchanged, it is known that President Tyler enjoyed hosting Christmas parties for young children.

Married to wife Letitia since 1813, by 1839 she had become an invalid. After her husband acceded to the presidency, a daughter-in-law, Priscilla Cooper, became the President’s official hostess since the First Lady was not able to perform her official duties. On September 10, 1842, after a lengthy illness, Letitia died.

An illustration of party for children thrown by President John Tyler, perhaps a Christmas party

During the following year, the widower Tyler had taken notice of an outgoing and quite beautiful young woman named Julia Gardiner, daughter of Senator Daniel Gardiner of New York, whose family usually spent the winter social season in Washington. It was a special White House Christmas that followed as the President hosted a special Christmas Eve gathering of the Tyler and the Gardiner families. Their friendship turned into love in the succeeding months and the two were married on June 26, 1844.

Serving as First Lady for only a little more than eight months until the end of her husband’s term, Julia made quite an impact during her short reign. At the age of 24 and 30 years younger than her husband, she was the youngest woman to serve as First Lady. Bringing gaiety and a youthful feel to the White House, she made sure that the song “Hail to the Chief” was played at state occasions and she also introduced the Waltz and Polka to White House dance festivities. The one Christmas Julia spent as White House hostess must have been one of joy and celebration.

President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah 1845-1849


James K. Polk is considered by historians to be the last strong pre-Civil War president. In his one term, he nearly doubled the territory of the United States, strengthened the economic power of the federal government, promoted trade, and bolstered the power of the chief executive. While nearly all give him credit for greatly strengthening the nation, he is often criticized for his lack of a forward-looking vision on the issue of slavery.

Polk accomplished the first two fiscal goals before the middle of his term. These policies were popular in the South and West, but not in Pennsylvania and much of the northeast. His first foreign policy victory came four days after Christmas of 1845, when Texas was admitted to the Union as the 28th state. This angered Mexico, which viewed the area as its own breakaway province. Avoiding a costly war, Polk reached an agreement with Great Britain to recognize the 49th parallel as the border between British Canada and the U.S., acquiring slightly more than half of the Oregon territory in the process. Acquisition of California and New Mexico would prove more difficult as the Mexican government refused Polk’s $20-30 million offer for the territories and by the spring of 1846, the nations would find themselves at war.

The Tennessee home of President Polk where he celebrated Christmas with Mrs. Polk before taking up residence in the White House

The Tennessee home of President Polk where he celebrated Christmas with Mrs. Polk before taking up residence in the White House

The country expanded again when Iowa gained statehood three days after Christmas. Another important event in American history occurred about a week after the holiday season when The Philanthropist became The National Era, and declared itself the country’s leading anti-slavery periodical. A few years later, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s highly-influential novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, would first be published as a 40-week serial in The National Era, further stoking the abolitionist movement. A few weeks before Christmas of 1847, another influential anti-slavery publication first rolled off the presses when former slave Frederick Douglass published the North Star.

President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret 1849-1850


Zachary Taylor served as the 12th President of the United States before dying in office after leading our nation for only 16 months. Having spent only one Christmas in the White House (1849), there is no information as to how the President and his family celebrated the holidays or whether they exchanged White House Christmas cards with friends and acquaintances.

Indeed, First Lady Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor cared so little about performing the traditional social duties of a president’s wife that she would not have had a hand in sending out White House Christmas cards anyway. In fact, President Taylor was empathetic to his wife’s feelings of not wanting to take on the role of presidential spouse since his wife had endured a life of hardships as the spouse of a career military man. One of their daughters, newly-married Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Taylor Bliss, assumed her mother’s role at official functions and carried on in that capacity during President Taylor’s short term in office. Whether Betty Taylor Bliss had a hand in overseeing the exchange of White House Christmas cards is unknown as well.

Kentucky boyhood home of Zachary Taylor where he spent Christmas with his seven brothers and sisters

Kentucky boyhood home of Zachary Taylor where he spent Christmas with his seven brothers and sisters

By the summer of the following year, during the final stages of the eventual agreement on the issue which became known as the Compromise of 1850, President Taylor died. At a ceremony on the 4th of July connected with the building of the Washington Monument and celebrating the 74th birthday of our country, the President drank a large amount of cold water along with cherries and iced milk to help overcome the high temperatures. After contacting gastroenteritis and suffering from a high fever that night, Taylor passed away four days later from a reported coronary thrombosis.

Taylor’s death, however, has been clouded in controversy. Being a robust man in good health, historians have surmised that perhaps because of the controversy surrounding the country at that time, certain people upset with Taylor’s stance on slavery might have had reason to do him harm. In 1991, acting on the idea that Taylor was possibly poisoned, the former president’s body was exhumed, and hair and fingernail samples were taken. After testing, it was determined that there was arsenic present but the levels were too low to consider that Taylor – rather than Abraham Lincoln – had been the first president of the United States to have been assassinated.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

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Tea Party Express at Civil Rights District in Birmingham Alabama–We Should Be Outraged

Posted by Guest Contributor alpolitics from Progressive Electorate

Today the Tea Party Express rolled into Birmingham, Alabama – my hometown. Probably not a big surprise to anyone. But I’m absolutely shocked at the display that occurred in Kelly Ingram Park – right in the middle of the historic Civil Rights museum. Within feet of the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and the 16th Street Baptist Church – where four little girls were killed on September 15, 1963. In the middle of Kelly Ingram Park where Dr. Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth organized demonstrations for real freedom. Where Bull Connor turned the firehouses and dogs on children.

Here’s Kelly Ingram Park on May 3, 1963

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Here was Kelly Ingram Park on November 9, 2009

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One man had the audacity to say:

“I’m here for freedom,” said Pinson resident Tim Emala. “We need to get back to the Constitution. We seemed to have strayed away from it. The politicians need to read it.”

You are talking about freedom in the same place that people marched because they were forced to sit on the back of the bus, and use separate restrooms and attend separate schools. This could have been held anywhere in Birmingham but it was held in the cradle of the Civil Rights District. Where people marched and protested for real rights. And now they are protesting against health care which should be a right not a privilege.

You had this stupid rally using kids as props within a stones throw of where four little girls died simply because of the color of their skin.

Here are some images of statutes that are actually in the park to memorialize the significance of what occurred in the park during the 1960’s and the civil rights movement.

Three ministers

The three ministers statue in Kelly Ingram Park representing N.H. Smith, John T. Porter and A.D. King, who led a sympathy march on Palm Sunday in 1963 in support of jailed civil rights leaders: Revs. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy


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This sculpture is dedicated to the foot soldiers of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement who braved the dogs.


A statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking towards the 16th Street Baptist Church.

A statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking towards the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Charlene Cannon of Birmingham does a good job summing up her feelings, mine and I hope yours…

“They say they’re against taxation, it looks like it’s a No-Obama rally. My thing is they could have had this anywhere else other than Kelly Ingram Park”

Please check out the poignant video of Ms. Cannon here. More pictures from today can be viewed here. Another slide show here.

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Tea Party Express makes stop in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park

44-D Update

tea partyAlabama Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tim James attended the 32nd stop on the Tea Party Express national bus tour in Birmingham, Alabama. From the picture he looks as if he thoroughly enjoyed today’s Tea Party Rally in the Civil Rights district. It would be interesting to know what comment he has about the rally being held in such a hallowed place.

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