TSD History Corner

Folks, Henry Brooks Adams, in his autobiographical book, The Education of Henry Adams wrote: “The idea that as society grew older, it grew one-sided, upset evolution, and made of education a fraud. That, two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, a man like Grant should be called—-and should actually and truly be–the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous. One must be commonplace as Grant’s own commonplaces to maintain such absurdity. The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant, was evidence enough to upset Darwin.” As I read Henry Adam’s book I obviously reasoned that he wrote a posteriori and not vindictively. Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918) was the son of Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886) who was the son of Pres. John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) who was the son of Pres. John Adams (1735-1826).

A scholium: Charles Francis Adams as Pres. Lincoln’s Minister to England is noted for his famous retort to Foreign Secretary Earl Russell on his proposed delivery of Ram Warships, to the Confederates {Rebels}. “It would be superfluous in me to point out to your lordship that this is war.” It should be noted that England, France and Russia sought to break up the United States and thought the diminution of a dangerous power, the USA to be to their advantage.

Folks, when the Secret Service was established in 1865 its main duty was to protect the U.S. dollar and not the U.S. President. Counterfeiting had become so widespread that our monetary system was in peril. In fact on the day that Pres. Lincoln was shot it was believed that one of three bills in circulation were counterfeit. What contributed to this deplorable condition was that each state bank could and did issue their own coins and bills. For whatever reason it took the assassinations of Garfield in 1881 and the assassination of McKinley in 1901 before the Congress added the protection of the President to the Secret Service’s duty. Today the Secret Service not only protects the president, but his wife and family. The Secret Service’s protection has been so expanded that they now protect presidential candidates.

Folks, Anne Royall, 1769-1854, was the first woman to become a professioal journalist. She was noted for her pioneering role as a chronicler, publisher, muckraker and social commentaries. Mrs. Royall was one of the most controversial figures in the Adams to Jackson eras. She has the rather dubious distinction of being the only American to be tried and convicted for being a “common scold” or public nuisance. It was said that you either revered or reviled her. Her fame was such that H.L. Mencken’s magazine, The American Mercury, in 1927 praised her with the epithet, the grandmother of muckrakers. Here is one legend that needs telling. Pres. John Quincy Adams customarily went skinny-dipping in the Potomac River. Anne Royall was aware of his 5 a.m. swims. After being refused numerous times for an interview she went to the river and waited for his appearance. We he disrobed and went into the river she gathered up his clothes and sat on them. The hapless president wasn’t in any position to deny her an interview. While chin deep in the Potomac River Pres. John Quincy Adams gave a female reporter the first presidential interview. There is no substitution for determination.

Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.

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