The Illustrious Washington

In the wake of today’s divisive politics it seems unimaginable that one candidate could be unanimously chosen as President of the United States. But it has happened before—twice, in fact. Both times it was the same man: George Washington.

Washington for President

The people are in favor of Washington and Adams as President and Vice-President

Washington was elected as the first president of the United States on February 4, 1789, by an unusual voting process wherein electors cast votes for two people without distinguishing which should be president and which should be vice president. All present electors voted for Washington, and the majority of the rest also voted for John Adams. Thus, Washington was considered the unanimous choice for president, while Adams was given the vice presidency.

Public opinion of Washington before, during, and after his presidency was incredibly high. He was considered not only a national hero, but a man of integrity and wisdom. The clipping below comes from an ode written about the president in the same year he was first elected:

An ode to President Washington

In 1796 Washington revealed that he would not be running for president in the following election, setting a two-term precedent that eventually became law in 1951 with the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

See more articles on Washington from the year of his election using this search, or try another search for more articles and clippings from some of Newspapers.com’s oldest papers.

Groundhog Day

Didn't seem to care a darn about seeing his shadow

Punxsutawney Phil has done it again. The famous groundhog’s prediction this morning suggests an early spring is in our future this year based on the reliable fact that he did not see his shadow. This unusual tradition has happened in the United States every February 2nd for over a hundred years, though unofficially it’s been practiced even longer. And how is the forecast decided?

Phil

Phil whispers weather forecast

The groundhog whispers it into a representatives ear. From the looks of it, there have been just as many skeptics throughout the decades as there are now.

groundhog is a phony

February 2nd ---

No convincing statistical evidence

Belle Plain and the fallacy of the groundhog tradition

The clipping above was taken from an article in which the author details the predictions and results of 9 consecutive Groundhog Days to prove that “that little animal” can’t really predict anything. Click on the image or go here to read the rest.

There are hundreds of articles about this whimsical holiday—find more here or here make your own search using the search page on Newspapers.com. Oh, and don’t forget to take down your Christmas decorations!

Challenger Disaster

On this day in 1986, the Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger broke apart within minutes of launch, resulting in the deaths of all 7 crew members. Investigations into the cause of the accident called into question factors of NASA’s work environment and attention to safety in engineering, and the space shuttle program went on a 32-month hiatus. See below for newspaper clippings from the days and years that followed the disaster.

Explosion's reverberations still being felt - Jan 1987

Challenger Disaster

Management and Safety Problems

Challenger explosion

Challenger Launch Sequence

Reagan speaks at service

73 seconds of silence

Still fresh a decade later

The Seven

For more on the Challenger disaster, try this search or another one here, or try one of your own using the search page on Newspapers.com.

Object: Matrimony

In the days before the internet, newspapers were the answer to keeping people connected. Online dating has its origins here, in the stark black and white print of advertisements from hopeful singles looking for a match.

Here’s the rub, though. Much like online dating in its early days, ads meant to track down a spouse were looked down on as cheap and ridiculous, or sometimes even disreputable and scandalous.

A New Crusade

But that didn’t stop hundreds of people from sending their information (anonymously) to papers and matrimonial bureaus to be printed and eventually perused by like-minded souls. Those interested could then send in a response, and a correspondence would begin.

Something New Under the Sun

Matrimonial Agency

Just a few of these types of ads are below:

object, matrimony; no joke.

Two lonely orphan girls

Widower seeks widow or spinster

Desirous of opening a correspondence

A lady neither young nor middle aged

More than one marriage began in this way, though few would ever admit it.

One opinion of these ads took note of the impressively consistent perfection of the applicants:

They all have fine forms, excellent morals, no bad habits

But honest or not, the ads often got the desired results for their buyers.

Find hundreds more of ads like these here, or more articles about matrimonial agencies here. Try your own search using the search page on Newspapers.com.

Elizabeth Finnern

The Civil War was a tempestuous time in American history. The recently liberated nation divided and fought “brother against brother,” as the slogan goes. But we know now that some of these brothers were actually sisters—brave, incensed, loyal women who disguised themselves as men in order to fight. Hundreds of women fought in this way, and Elizabeth Finnern was just one of them. She followed her husband into a war and remained undiscovered for 90 days, after which she worked as a battlefield nurse for several years until her husband was discharged.

Elizabeth Finnern

Elizabeth and her husband died long after the war, within a few years of each other. They were buried together beneath a stone that acknowledged not only his contributions to the regiment, but hers as well.

Elizabeth Finnern

Elizabeth Finnern

This search has many more clippings related to Elizabeth Finnern and her involvement in the Civil War and after. There are many more stories like hers to be found in the pages of Newspapers.com—try a search for more of them here.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Who was Martin Luther King?

In November 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that made Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday.

Remarks from Reagan's speech during the signing ceremony

The change took effect three years later, when the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated on January 20, 1986, at the federal level. It wasn’t until 1991 that all states observed the holiday under various names, and it wasn’t uniformly known as “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” until 2000.

First National Observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The decision to make a holiday after Dr. King was a fraught one, filled with concerns about the cost of making another paid holiday for federal employees as well as whether a holiday should be given to a private civilian when such a thing had never been done before. But over 15 years of campaigning and voting eventually won out over the opposition, and the holiday is now celebrated on the third Monday in January every year.

Find more about the holiday and its namesake on Newspapers.com using this search or one of your own.

The Tompkins Square Riot

A Small Riot Quelled

In January of 1874, both Europe and North America were in the midst of an economic depression that left thousands unemployed. It was called the Panic of 1873, though it lasted for several years, and it brought about demonstrations by workers movements throughout the country for better public works programs to aid in providing jobs. But change was slow in coming.

Meeting of the unemployed

On January 13th, around 7,000 New Yorkers gathered in Tompkins Square Park in New York City. A group called the Committee of Safety had organized the meeting to protest the city’s lack of help creating jobs. Newspapers labeled the Committee a menace and turned civilians against them and the protesters, calling them idlers and ruffians.The night before the demonstration, the Police Board requested that the committee’s permit to meet in the park be revoked. Protesters came anyway, of course, completely unaware that anything had changed.

Just before the meeting was set to start, police entered the square and began to disperse the demonstrators with clubs and force. Mounted police cleared the streets, brutally assaulting anyone in their way. In retaliation the demonstrators fought back—one man even hitting an officer in the head with a hammer—and what had been simply a meeting quickly became mayhem.

Newspaper recounts the events of the riot

Several dozen arrests were made in the aftermath of the riot. The unemployment movement was basically demolished. Efforts to organize more marches fell through, and the Committee of Safety dissolved itself. There were attempts to fire those on the Police Board, but nothing came of them. The city’s police department only increased its harassment of supposed “radicals” and political organizations.

Check out Newspapers.com‘s collection for more articles like these. Try a search for a any topic here, or take a leisurely stroll through the available papers in the browse section.

The Phantom of the Opera is Here!

Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in Phantom of the Opera

…On Broadway, that is!

This month marks the anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera’s grand debut for American audiences. Previews for the show began January 9th, 1988, shortly followed by the gala opening on January 26th. The musical, which originally debuted in London’s West End two years prior, was found to live up to the hype that preceded its showing at Broadway’s Majestic Theater.Phantom of the Opera hits Broadway

Phantom's hype is deserved

Later that same year, The Phantom of the Opera made away with 7 Tony Awards, losing in only a few categories to Into the Woods, which had hit Broadway in November 1987.

Phantom Wins 7 at Tony Awards

Phantom has since become Broadway’s most successful musical, still showing after more than 25 years. In 2012 it became the first Broadway musical to pass the 10,000th performance mark, and is still the only one to have done so. You can still see the production performed in the Majestic if you’re willing to pay the price—and compared to the cost of those first tickets in ’88 (see the second image above), it’s not too bad!

Find more articles about this famous musical using this search or one of your own on Newspapers.com‘s search page.

Dropping the Ball on New Year’s Eve

The slow descent of the countdown ball in Times Square is perhaps the most iconic tradition associated with bringing in the New Year, and it all began over 100 years ago. The fledgling years of the 20th century were full of exhibition and spectacle, and the New Year made the perfect setting for such a display. And who was the man responsible for dropping the ball on New Year’s Eve?

Adolph Ochs

Adolph Ochs, one-time owner of the prestigious New York Times. In 1904 he had the paper moved to a new building on Manhattan’s Longacre Square, which was renamed Times Square by the city. To show off his new headquarters and draw publicity to the paper, Ochs gave a fireworks show on the street on New Year’s Eve. In 1908, the first New Year’s Eve ball was made by Artkraft Strauss and dropped to ring in the new year under Ochs’ direction—he hoped it would bring even more attention to the area. The ball has dropped from the heights of Times Square every year since, except during wartime blackouts in 1942 and 1943.

Artkraft Strauss involved since 1908

The first Times Square Ball was a 700 lb marvel of iron and wood, lit with 100 incandescent lightbulbs. When the need arose, Artkraft Strauss continued to manufacture new versions of the ball. Updates have been required over the years to keep pace with improvements in lighting and occasionally to reflect the sentiments of the city and country.

The Ball will drop from atop Times Square

For more like this, try a search on Newspapers.com to learn about the history and origins of traditions like the New Year’s Eve ball drop or other subjects that pique your interests.

The Taste of Christmas

Christmas is nearly here, and you know what that means: yuletide treats are in the works. Some are yearly favorites treasured by family and friends, while others are inexplicable traditions you’d rather never taste again. Need some inspiration for a recipe of your own? Why not try one of these Christmas recipes to spice up your festivities?

Spiced Banana Fruit Cake, 1954:

Spiced Banana Fruit Cake

Lima Towers, 1955:

Lima Towers

Sand Tarts, 1925:

Sand Tarts

Molded Christmas Salad, 1935:

Molded Christmas Salad

Red and Green Olive Log, 1959:

Red and Green Olive Log

Pink Cranberry Salad, 1965:

Pink Cranberry Salad

Spakanopita, 1980:

Spanakopita

Christmas Recipe, 1964:

Christmas Recipe

Have you found one of these recipes sitting on your Christmas table before? Do any of them catch your eye? Let us know! Try a search for more recipes (or more general Christmas ads and articles) using the search page on Newspapers.com.