Information

William Howard Day


William Howard Day was born on 19th October, 1825 in New York. He worked as a printer on the Northampton Gazette before moving to Cleveland where he became involved in the struggle against racial discrimination.

Inspired by the example of Frederick Douglass, Day became editor of the Cleveland True Democrat (1851-52) and the Aliened American (1853-54). In 1858 he embarked on a tour of Europe where he made speeches and raised funds for the Anti-Slavery cause.

Day returned to the United States after the Civil War and worked for the Freedmen's Bureau. He became an inspector of schools in Maryland and Delaware before being ordained a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1867.

William Howard Day, who served as general secretary of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1875-1880), died in Harrisburg on 3rd December, 1900.


William Howard Day, Unsung Abolitionist

The William Howard Day Cemetery on Lincoln Street in Steelton, PA is a short distance from the Bass Pro Shop at the Harrisburg Mall. The 43-acre cemetery opened in 1940 to serve the needs of the African-American community in Harrisburg.

The William Howard Day Homes are apartments at Community Drive, Reilly Road and Herr Streets in Harrisburg.

Both the homes and the cemetery were named in honor of the first African-American to serve on the Harrisburg City School Board. He served as president of that board from 1891-1893, the first African-American president of any school board in the nation.

The name of William Howard Day is not as well-known as Frederick Douglas or Harriet Tubman, although he worked with both of those famous abolitionists in the mid-1800’s.

Todd Mealy teaches Modern American History at Penn Manor High School, and felt that Day’s story needed to be told. Mealy is the author of Aliened American: A Biography of William Howard Day, 1825-1900.

Day was born in New York City in 1825. His mother, Eliza, was a runaway slave. It’s not known if his father was as well, but both were living free in New York when he was born. His father died in an accident at the New York Harbor when Day was 3.

“His mother made the courageous decision,” says Mealy, “to give him up for adoption to a white family from Northampton, Massachusetts. You have to picture, it’s the 1830’s. She wanted him to be safe, not be kidnapped, and make sure that he got an education.”

Day received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Oberlin College in Ohio. Later he would attain a Doctorate of Divinity degree from Livingstone College. He became heavily involved in the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves flee to Canada. For a time he lived in Canada, working in refugee slave settlements and publishing a newspaper. He also visited Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland, raising money for the cause.

After his return to the states he became a lecturer and one of the leading advocates for the Equal Rights Movement, helping to found the Equal Rights League which became the predecessor for the NAACP.

He eventually settled in Harrisburg and became the first African-American employed by the Commonwealth. Shortly thereafter he joined the Harrisburg School Board, and later became president.

Todd Mealy hopes that his biography can help illuminate some of the contributions Day made to the cause of equal rights. Mealy will be giving a lecture on William Howard Day for the Historical Society of Dauphin County on Sunday afternoon, February 8 at 2:30 at the Harris-Cameron Mansion, 219 South Front Street in Harrisburg.

Todd Mealy has also written Biography of an Antislavery City: Antislavery Advocates, Abolitionists, and Underground Railroad Activists in Harrisburg, PA, and most recently Legendary Locals of Harrisburg.


Presidents at the park

President Woodrow Wilson throws out the first ball of opening day in 1916 during his first term.

The next day, sportswriters described the events of the game breathlessly. “There have been many openings of baseball seasons in Washington, but none such as yesterday, when the Nationals scored a 3 to 0 victory over the Athletics,” J. Ed Grillo wrote in the Washington Post. “Every available foot of space was crowded with humanity. The stands were filled to suffocation.” The Evening Star noted that “the president was one of the best fans of them all, for he stayed to the very end of the contest, until the last Philadelphian was out, and the victory was stowed away safely in the McAleer bat bag.” (See pictures of baseball from around the world.)

Taft returned to the ballpark the following year, making the presidential Opening Day pitch a tradition that would endure until the modern era—with most presidents doing so at least once in their tenure. But the tradition has changed a bit through the years. Richard Nixon became the first president to throw out the Opening Day pitch outside of Washington, D.C., in 1973, when the city temporarily lost its baseball team. In 1988, Ronald Reagan became the first president to throw an Opening Day pitch from the mound rather than the grandstands.

Only two sitting presidents have skipped Opening Day, Carter and Trump. Carter did throw out the first pitch in the last game of the 1979 World Series, though, and has since thrown out an Opening Day pitch as well. Trump threw out a pitch at a Red Sox game in 2006, but did not do so as a sitting president.


Oberlin Heritage Center Blog

In 1850, a young African American couple from Oberlin, acclaimed as up-and-coming spokespersons against slavery and racial injustice, gazed with optimism towards a future of bright hope for themselves, their race, and their country. But as they took their leave of Oberlin to spread that hope through Ohio and the nation, they could little imagine the disappointment and disillusion they would suffer over the next several years. In the long run they would see their efforts rewarded, but only after a temporary separation from their country and a permanent separation from each other. Their names were William Howard Day and Lucie Stanton.


William Howard Day
(courtesy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

William Howard Day came to Oberlin in 1843 at the age of 17, where he enrolled in the collegiate program at Oberlin College. He brought with him a strong disdain for slavery and racial injustice, learned from his mother, who had escaped from slavery in upstate New York and settled in Manhattan. It was there, as a nine year old boy, that William witnessed the terrible race riots that wreaked havoc on Reverend Charles G. Finney’s chapel and the home of abolitionist Lewis Tappan. But now, attending the college that Finney and Tappan had done so much to turn into an abolitionist stronghold, William wasted no time in making his mark. [1]

He became close friends with George Vashon, who in 1844 would become the first black student to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College, and Sabram Cox, another African American who was one of Oberlin’s most important Underground Railroad operatives. Working closely with Vashon and Cox, William became a leading orator and organizer of the Oberlin black community. On August 1, 1844, as Oberlin’s black citizens celebrated their third annual observance of the anniversary of British emancipation in the West Indies, William stood before the crowd to “commemorate the emancipation of eight hundred thousand of our fellow men from the galling yoke of slavery” and urged his “‘Colored friends [to] struggle on – struggle on! Be not despondent, we shall at last conquer.” The audience listened to William’s speech with such “great interest” that they requested it be reprinted in the Oberlin Evangelist. [2]

During the long winter recesses between semesters, William would travel to Canada and teach in the many black settlements founded there by refugees from American slavery. He also found employment in Oberlin during the school months as a typesetter for the Oberlin Evangelist. And as new students enrolled in Oberlin College, he developed new friendships. Among these were Charles and John Mercer Langston, and Lawrence W. Minor, all of whom would become important contributors to Oberlin’s black community. Another new friendship was with Lucie Stanton. [3]

Lucie (often spelled Lucy) came to Oberlin in 1846, William’s senior year. She had been raised in Cleveland in a home that was a station on the Underground Railroad. In Cleveland she attended public school with white children, but eventually she was forced, “heart-broken”, to leave because of her race. It was against state law at that time for black children to attend public school, so her stepfather, a wealthy African American barber, started his own private school in Cleveland, which Lucie attended. Thus Lucie, like William, came to Oberlin highly conscious of American racism and slavery. She and William naturally gravitated towards each other and began a courtship that would last several years. [4]

William graduated in 1847, becoming the third black student to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College. He was chosen to give a commencement address, which he entitled “The Millenium of Liberty” and was reprinted in the Oberlin Evangelist. [5] William remained in Oberlin after graduating, continuing to work for the Evangelist, and helping to organize Oberlin’s “vigilance committee”- black residents that would protect the community against “men-thieves”. In 1848, William, together with Sabram Cox, Lawrence Minor, John Watson, and Harlow H. Pease (the white nephew of Oberlin’s first resident, Peter Pindar Pease) called together a “Meeting of Colored Citizens” of Lorain County, where they passed eleven resolutions, including: [6]

1. Resolved, That we the colored citizens of Lorain county hereby declare, that whereas the Constitution of our common country gives us citizenship, we hereby, each to each, pledge ourselves to support the other in claiming our rights under the United States Constitution, and in having the laws oppressing us tested…

4. Resolved, That we still adhere to the doctrine of urging the slave to leave immediately with his hoe on his shoulder, for a land of liberty…

5. Resolved, That we urge all colored persons and their friends, to keep a sharp look-out for men-thieves and their abettors, and to warn them that no person claimed as a slave shall be taken from our midst without trouble… [7]

William was making a name for himself as a superb organizer and orator, and he would be a driving force in local, state and national black civil rights/anti-slavery conventions for the next decade. In January, 1849, at the “State Convention of the Colored Citizens of Ohio” in Columbus, William delivered a speech in the Hall of Representatives of the Ohio General Assembly, becoming the first black person to address a session of that body. It was an important milestone for Ohioans and for 23-year-old William, as he urged the Assembly to repeal Ohio’s notoriously discriminatory “Black Laws”:

We believe … that every human being has rights in common, and that the meanest of those rights is legitimately beyond the reach of legislation, and higher than the claims of political expediency…

We ask for equal privileges, not because we would consider it a condescension on your part to grant them – but because we are MEN, and therefore entitled to all the privileges of other men in the same circumstances…

We ask for school privileges in common with others, for we pay school taxes in the same proportion.

We ask permission to send our deaf and dumb, our lunatic, blind, and poor to the asylums prepared for each.

We ask for the repeal of the odious enactments, requiring us to declare ourselves “paupers, vagabonds, or fugitives from justice,” before we can “lawfully” remain in the State.

We ask that colored men be not obliged to brand themselves liars, in every case of testimony in “courts of justice” where a white person is a party…

We ask that we may be one people, bound together by one common tie, and sheltered by the same impartial law…

Let us … inform our opposers that we are coming – coming for our rights – coming through the Constitution of our common country – coming through the law – and relying upon God and the justice of our cause, pledge ourselves never to cease our resistance to tyranny, whether it be in the iron manacles of the slave, or in the unjust written manacles for the free. [8]

Ohio’s Black Laws had been in effect since the early days of statehood and had survived multiple attempts at repeal. But William’s timing was perfect in 1849. It so happened that the General Assembly was deadlocked between representatives of the Democratic and Whig parties, with a handful of abolitionist members of the new anti-slavery Free Soil Party holding the balance of power – and willing and able to wield that power effectively. And so, less than a month after William’s passionate appeal, the General Assembly voted by an overwhelming majority to repeal most of the Black Laws, and to permit public schooling of black children (albeit racially segregated, for the most part). It was a significant step forward for Ohio, and a major victory for William. [9]

But William wasn’t the only one achieving major breakthroughs during this period of time. Back at Oberlin College, Lucie was elected the first black President of the Ladies’ Literary Society in 1850, and then became the first African American woman in the country to earn a college degree. Lucie also was chosen to deliver a commencement address, which was also reprinted in the Oberlin Evangelist. With a “charming voice, modest demeanor, appropriate pronunciation and graceful cadences”, she delivered “A Plea for the Oppressed”: [10]

Dark hover the clouds. The Anti-Slavery pulse beats faintly. The right of suffrage is denied. The colored man is still crushed by the weight of oppression. He may possess talents of the highest order, yet for him is no path of fame or distinction opened. He can never hope to attain those privileges while his brethren remain enslaved. Since, therefore, the freedom of the slave and the gaining of our rights, social and political, are inseparably connected, let all the friends of humanity plead for those who may not plead their own cause…

Truth and right must prevail. The bondsman shall go free. Look to the future! Hark! the shout of joy gushes from the heart of earth’s freed millions! It rushes upward. The angels on heaven’s outward battlements catch the sound on their golden lyres, and send it thrilling through the echoing arches of the upper world. How sweet, how majestic, from those starry isles float those deep inspiring sounds over the ocean of space! Softened and mellowed they reach earth, filling the soul with harmony, and breathing of God–of love–and of universal freedom. [11]

And so with boundless optimism, Lucie left Oberlin and found employment in Columbus, teaching in the newly established public schools for black children, while William moved to Cleveland, where he became a correspondent for an anti-slavery newspaper called the Daily True Democrat and was active in the Cleveland vigilance committee, assisting refugees from slavery. He also remained active in conventions, and in 1851 he took aim at the Ohio Constitution and its restriction of voting rights to “white male inhabitants” only. [12]

The discriminatory word “white” in the Ohio Constitution had been a target of progressives for decades, even though the Ohio courts had since diluted it to the point that light-skinned black men like William could now vote in some localities. Even so, William set his sights at eliminating the word completely, and a state Constitutional Convention held in 1850-1851 gave him just that opportunity. A “State Convention of Colored Men” was held concurrently in Columbus, and William was given the chance to address both conventions simultaneously in January, 1851. Using statistics compiled by John Mercer Langston, William told the conventions: [13]

We respectfully represent to you, that the continuance of the word “white” in the Ohio State Constitution, by which we are deprived of the privilege of voting for men to make laws by which we are to be governed, is a violation of every principle [of our fathers of the revolution]…

Again, colored men are helping, through their taxes, to bear the burdens of the State, and we ask, shall they not be permitted to be represented?… In returns from nineteen counties represented, we find the value of real estate and personal property belonging to colored persons in those counties, amounting to more than three millions of dollars… [We] think the amount above specified, certainly demands at your hands some attention, so that while colored men bear cheerfully their part of the burdens of the State, they may have their part of the blessings…

We ask, Gentleman, in conclusion, that you will place yourselves in our stead,- that you will candidly consider our claim, and as justice shall direct you, so to decide. In your hands, our destiny is placed. To you, therefore, we appeal. We look to you “To give us our rights – for we ask for nothing more.” [14]

But this time William’s timing wasn’t so good. In fact, it was off by decades. The delegates of the Constitutional convention voted overwhelmingly to retain the word “white” in the new Constitution.

It was the first of a long string of disappointments, but still William and Lucie battled on. In 1852 they joined in matrimony and Lucie returned to Cleveland. In 1853, William started his own newspaper, The Aliened American, the first African American newspaper in Ohio. The paper employed a highly impressive and “intelligent corps of male and female correspondents”, which included Lucie, who wrote a fictional story for the first issue about an enslaved brother and sister. The story, entitled “Charles and Clara Hayes”, has been recognized as “the first instance of published fiction by a black woman”. The Aliened American dealt with local and state racial issues, but William also tackled national issues, including in his first issue an editorial rebuttal of President Franklin Pierce’s recent inaugural address: “The President forgot, or if he did not forget, cared not to remember, that the South, for whom he was pleading, tramples every day upon the Constitutional rights of free citizens.” [15]

But the trampling of Constitutional rights, by the North as well as the South, was taking its toll. In 1854, the Ohio General Assembly expelled William from the Senate press gallery largely because of his race. (See my Oberlin Commenst this War! blog) In 1850 the U.S. Congress passed the notorious Fugitive Slave Law, and the Pierce Administration now demonstrated the lengths the government would go to in order to enforce it when they sent “several companies of marines, cavalry and artillery” to Boston to rendition a single fugitive, Anthony Burns. And the United States Congress overturned the long-respected Missouri Compromise by allowing slavery into U.S. territories that had been guaranteed free. William, who had been criticized by some of the more militant black leaders for “wrap[ping] the stars and stripes of his country around him”, began to take a more militant stance himself. The crowning blow came in 1856, when William and Lucie were returning from a trip to the black settlements in Canada and ended up making the long journey by train and wagon because they were denied a berth on a Michigan passenger boat due to the color of their skin. The incident, and the ensuing unsuccessful lawsuit against the boat operator, devastated William emotionally and financially, and crushed his remaining faith in American justice. [16]

And so it was, in 1856, that William and Lucie joined thousands of other refugees from American racial oppression and relocated to Canada. There they had a child and took an active role in helping the Canadian vigilance committees protect even Canadian blacks from being kidnapped into American slavery. In 1858, when the radical white Ohio abolitionist, John Brown, visited Canada to recruit support for a planned slave insurgency in the heart of the American south, William agreed to print his “Provisional Constitution” for him, but refused to participate any further. [17] (An original Day print of this document recently fetched $22,800 at auction.)

In 1859 William sailed to Britain to solicit financial support “to establish a Press … for the special benefit of the Fugitive Slaves and coloured population” of Canada. He was still there when the American Civil War broke out in 1861, and so he also urged the British people to reject the Confederacy and support the Union. But he also solicited funds for a new colonization effort in Africa led by his militant friend, Martin Delany. [18]

The long separation from his wife, however – leaving her to raise their child alone – irreparably damaged their marriage. When President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Days found faith enough in the United States to return and dedicate themselves to the advancement of the freedmen, but they would go in separate directions. William became a superintendent of schools for the Freedmen’s Bureau and ultimately President of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania school board. Lucie had to overcome the Victorian-era stigma of being a single mother (you can read about her trials and tribulations here), but she eventually fulfilled a long-term ambition “to go South to teach”, teaching black children in Georgia and Mississippi. After finalization of the divorce, she remarried, and under the name of Lucie Stanton Sessions was an active officer of the Women’s Relief Corps and a local temperance society. [19]


Lucie Stanton Sessions in her later years

Although the boundless, youthful optimism of their Oberlin days may have been tempered, both Lucie and William continued to “struggle on” and dedicated their lives to the cause of “universal freedom.”

Sources consulted:

Todd Mealy, Aliened American: A Biography of William Howard Day: 1825 to 1865, Volume 1

Stephen Middleton, The Black Laws: Race and the Legal Process in Early Ohio

Frank Uriah Quillin, The Color Line in Ohio: A History of Race Prejudice in a Typical Northern State

State Convention of Colored Men, “Address to the Constitutional convention of Ohio / from the State convention of colored men, held in the city of Columbus, Jan. 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1851”

Ellen NicKenzie Lawson with Marlene D. Merrill, The Three Sarahs: Documents of Antebellum Black College Women

“Meeting of Colored Citizens”, The Liberator, March 2, 1849, Vol XIX, No. 9, Page 1

The Oberlin Evangelist (see footnotes for specific issues)

C. Peter Ripley, et al, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, Volume IV, The United States, 1847-1858

C. Peter Ripley, et al, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, Volume II, Canada, 1830-1865

William Cheek, John Mercer Langston and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1829-65

William M. Mitchell, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom

Victor Ullman, Look to the North Star a life of William King

James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom

Oberlin Heritage Center Harlow Pease, “Harlow Pease (1828-1910)”

General catalogue of Oberlin college, 1833 [-] 1908 , Oberlin College Archives

Robert Samuel Fletcher, A history of Oberlin College: from its foundation through the Civil War, Volume 1

[1] Mealy, pp. 47-50
[2] Mealy, pp. 120-121 Oberlin Evangelist, Nov 6, 1844
[3] Mealy, pp. 121-126
[4] Lawson, pp. 190-191
[5] “Catalogue and Record” Oberlin Evangelist, Oct. 13, 1847
[6] Mealy, pp. 134, 146 Oberlin Heritage Center
[7] “Meeting of Colored Citizens”
[8] Samuel J. May Anti-slavery collection
[9] Quillin, pp. 39-40
[10] Lawson, pp. 192-193 Oberlin Evangelist, Nov 6, 1850
[11] Oberlin Evangelist, Dec 17, 1850
[12] Mealy, pp. 169-172 “Ohio Constitution”
[13] Ripley, Vol. IV, p. 225 Cheek, p. 153
[14] “Address to the Constitutional convention”
[15] Ripley, Vol. IV, pp. 215, 150 Lawson, pp. 196-197
[16] McPherson, p. 119 Ripley, Vol. IV, p. 75 Mealy, pp. 238-243
[17] Mealy, pp. 268, 277
[18] Mitchell, pp. 171-172 Mealy, p. 316
[19] Lawson, pp. 198-201

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 8:24 am and is filed under Abolition, Reconstruction Era, Women's Rights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


Census records can tell you a lot of little known facts about your William Howard ancestors, such as occupation. Occupation can tell you about your ancestor's social and economic status.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name William Howard. Like a window into their day-to-day life, William Howard census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name William Howard. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name William Howard. For the veterans among your William Howard ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name William Howard. Like a window into their day-to-day life, William Howard census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name William Howard. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name William Howard. For the veterans among your William Howard ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


This day in history, May 30: Ten people killed after police fire on steelworkers demonstrating near the Republic Steel plant in South Chicago

Today is Sunday, May 30, the 150th day of 2021. There are 215 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 30, 1937, ten people were killed when police fired on steelworkers demonstrating near the Republic Steel plant in South Chicago.

In 1431, Joan of Arc, condemned as a heretic, was burned at the stake in Rouen (roo-AHN’), France.

In 1883, 12 people were trampled to death in a stampede sparked by a rumor that the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge was in danger of collapsing.

In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in a ceremony attended by President Warren G. Harding, Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Robert Todd Lincoln.

In 1943, during World War II, American troops secured the Aleutian island of Attu from Japanese forces.

In 1971, the American space probe Mariner 9 blasted off from Cape Kennedy on a journey to Mars.

In 1972, three members of the Japanese Red Army opened fire at Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing 26 people. Two attackers died the third was captured.

In 1989, student protesters in Beijing erected a “Goddess of Democracy” statue in Tiananmen Square (the statue was destroyed in the Chinese government’s crackdown).

In 1994, Mormon Church president Ezra Taft Benson died in Salt Lake City at age 94.

In 1996, Britain’s Prince Andrew and the former Sarah Ferguson were granted an uncontested decree ending their 10-year marriage.

In 2002, a solemn, wordless ceremony marked the end of the agonizing cleanup at ground zero in New York, 8 1/2 months after 9/11.

In 2006, the FBI said it had found no trace of Jimmy Hoffa after digging up a suburban Detroit horse farm.

In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, former Delaware attorney general Beau Biden, died at age 46 of brain cancer.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama selected Army Gen. Martin Dempsey to be the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. Germany announced plans to abandon nuclear power over the next 11 years, outlining an ambitious strategy in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster to replace atomic power with renewable energy sources.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama challenged Americans on Memorial Day to fill the silence from those who died serving their country with love and support for families of the fallen, “not just with words but with our actions.”

One year ago: Tense protests over the death of George Floyd and other police killings of Black people grew across the country racially diverse crowds held mostly peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities, though many later descended into violence, with police cars set ablaze. The National Guard was deployed outside the White House, where crowds taunted law enforcement officers, who fired pepper spray. A fourth day of violence in Los Angeles prompted the mayor to impose a citywide curfew and call in the National Guard. Street protests in New York City over police killings spiraled into the city’s worst day of unrest in decades, as fires burned, windows were smashed and confrontations between demonstrators and officers flared. A rocket ship built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral to carry two Americans to the International Space Station it ushered in a new era of commercial space travel.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Ruta Lee is 86. Actor Keir Dullea is 85. Rock musician Lenny Davidson (The Dave Clark Five) is 77. Actor Stephen Tobolowsky is 70. Actor Colm Meaney is 68. Actor Ted McGinley is 63 Actor Ralph Carter is 60. Actor Tonya Pinkins is 59. Country singer Wynonna Judd is 57. Rock musician Tom Morello (Audioslave Rage Against The Machine) is 57. Actor Mark Sheppard is 57. Movie director Antoine Fuqua is 56. Actor John Ross Bowie is 50. Rock musician Patrick Dahlheimer (Live) is 50. Actor Idina Menzel is 50. Rapper Cee Lo Green is 46. Rapper Remy Ma is 41. Actor Blake Bashoff is 40. Christian rock musician James Smith (Underoath) is 39. Actor Javicia Leslie is 34. Actor Jake Short is 24. Actor Sean Giambrone is 22. Actor Jared Gilmore is 21.

Journalism, it’s often said, is the first-draft of history. Check back each day for what’s new … and old.


New Online: Digital Edition of the William Howard Taft Papers

LOC Manuscript Division 31.07.2020 12:00

The papers of William Howard Taft (1857-1930), twenty-seventh president of the United States and tenth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, consist of approximately 676,000 documents (785,977 images), which have been digitized from 658 reels of previously reproduced microfilm. Held in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, these papers constitute the largest collection of original Taft documents in the world. The collection contains family papers, personal and official correspondence, presidential and judicial files, speeches and addresses, legal files and notebooks, business and estate papers, engagement calendars, guest lists, scrapbooks, clippings, printed matter, memorabilia, and photographs dating from 1784 to 1973, with the bulk of the material dated 1880-1930.  The materials address the major issues that confronted his presidency, including tariffs, federal income tax, international arbitration, antitrust enforcement, conservation, Republican party politics, U.S. investment in Latin America, and the construction of the Panama Canal.

The Index to the William Howard Taft Papers (link to catalog record) was created by the Manuscript Division in 1972 after the bulk of the collection was microfilmed. The index comprises six volumes, each of which is available in searchable PDF and HTML versions. Volume 1 (PDF and HTML) provides alphabetical listings of presidential subject or case files in Series 5, Series 6, and Series 7, as well as legal case files in Series 12 and Series 13. The remaining volumes provide an alphabetical list of correspondents found throughout the collection: Volume 2: A-C (PDF and HTML), Volume 3: D-H (PDF and HTML), Volume 4: I-M (PDF and HTML), Volume 5: N-S (PDF and HTML), and Volume 6: T-Z (PDF and HTML). The information in these volumes is helpful in finding individual letters or documents in the online version. Items in Series 27, an addition to the collection, came to the Library after 1972 and are not included in the index.

A current finding aid (PDF and HTML) to the William H. Taft Papers is also available online with links to the digital content on this site.


This day in history, May 23: Bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker shot to death in police ambush in Bienville Parish, Louisiana

Today is Sunday, May 23, the 143rd day of 2021. There are 222 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 23, 1934, bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were shot to death in a police ambush in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

In 1430, Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians, who sold her to the English.

In 1533, the marriage of England’s King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon was declared null and void by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer.

In 1911, the newly completed New York Public Library was dedicated by President William Howard Taft, Gov. John Alden Dix and Mayor William Jay Gaynor.

In 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary during World War I.

In 1939, the Navy submarine USS Squalus sank during a test dive off the New England coast. Thirty-two crew members and one civilian were rescued, but 26 others died the sub was salvaged and recommissioned the USS Sailfish.

In 1944, during World War II, Allied forces bogged down in Anzio began a major breakout offensive.

In 1945, Nazi official Heinrich Himmler committed suicide by biting into a cyanide capsule while in British custody in Luneburg, Germany.

In 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, an action which helped precipitate war between Israel and its Arab neighbors the following month.

In 1977, Moluccan extremists seized a train and a primary school in the Netherlands the hostage drama ended June 11 as Dutch marines stormed the train, resulting in the deaths of six out of nine hijackers and two hostages, while the school siege ended peacefully.

In 1984, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued a report saying there was “very solid” evidence linking cigarette smoke to lung disease in non-smokers. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” starring Harrison Ford, was released by Paramount Pictures.

In 1994, funeral services were held at Arlington National Cemetery for former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

In 2007, President George W. Bush, speaking at the U.S. Coast Guard commencement, portrayed the Iraq war as a battle between the U.S. and al-Qaida and said Osama bin Laden was setting up a terrorist cell in Iraq to strike targets in America.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama opened a six-day European tour in Ireland, where he paid tribute to his Irish ancestors before heading to Britain. The European Union imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad over the continuing crackdown on antigovernment protesters. Pakistani commandos recaptured a major naval base from Taliban attackers after a bloody 18-hour standoff.

Five years ago: During his visit to Asia, President Barack Obama, eager to banish lingering shadows of the Vietnam War, lifted the U.S. embargo on selling arms to America’s former enemy. Prosecutors failed for the second time in their bid to hold Baltimore police accountable for the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, as an officer was acquitted in the racially charged case that triggered riots a year earlier. The Supreme Court upended the conviction and death sentence of a Black Georgia man because prosecutors had improperly excluded African-Americans from his all-white jury. Dr. Henry Heimlich, the 96-year-old retired chest surgeon credited with developing the namesake Heimlich maneuver, used it to save a woman choking on food at his senior living center in Cincinnati.

One year ago: For the first time since he declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency more than two months earlier, President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, as he pushed for state and local leaders to fully reopen after months of closures and tight restrictions. China reported no new confirmed coronavirus cases for the first time since it started announcing infections in January.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Barbara Barrie is 90. Actor Joan Collins is 88. Actor Charles Kimbrough is 85. International Tennis Hall of Famer John Newcombe is 77. Actor Lauren Chapin is 76. Country singer Judy Rodman is 70. Chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov is 70. Singer Luka Bloom is 66. Former baseball manager Buck Showalter is 65. Actor-comedian-game show host Drew Carey is 63. Actor Lea DeLaria is 63. Country singer Shelly West is 63. Author Mitch Albom is 63. Actor Linden Ashby is 61. Actor-model Karen Duffy is 60. Actor Melissa McBride is 56. Rock musician Phil Selway (Radiohead) is 54. Actor Laurel Holloman is 53. Rock musician Matt Flynn (Maroon 5) is 51. Country singer Brian McComas is 49. Actor John Pollono is 49. Singer Maxwell is 48. Singer Jewel is 47. Game show contestant Ken Jennings is 47. Actor LaMonica Garrett is 46. Actor D.J. Cotrona is 41. Actor Lane Garrison is 41. Actor-comedian Tim Robinson is 40. Actor Adam Wylie is 37. Movie writer-director Ryan Coogler is 35. Golfer Morgan Pressel is 33. Actor Alberto Frezza is 32. Folk/pop singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz (juh-ROHZ’) is 30.

Journalism, it’s often said, is the first-draft of history. Check back each day for what’s new … and old.


William Howard Taft, former president and chief justice, dies at 72 in 1930

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 8 — William Howard Taft died at 5:15 p.m. today.

Surrendering at last to a combination of ailments, the former President and chief justice passed away after lingering for weeks at the point of death. He was 72.

He died peacefully at his home on Wyoming Ave., with Mrs. Taft at his bedside. His two sons had returned to Cincinnati recently.

Funeral arrangements, still incomplete, contemplate a ceremony attended by the highest officials of the government. It is undecided whether entombment will be at Washington or Cincinnati.

The end came a few hours after Associate Justice Edward Terry Sandford of the United States Supreme Court died suddenly at his home following a collapse in his dentist's office.

The federal government he served over four decades will observe a period of official mourning by proclamation of President Hoover.

Congress and the Supreme court will recess. Flags on government buildings and army and navy stations throughout the world will be put at half-staff.

A congressional committee of twenty senators and twenty representatives will attend the funeral.

Taft had been confined to his home since Feb. 4, when he returned to Washington from Ashville., N.C., where he had gone for rest and recuperation. The day previous he had resigned as chief justice.

Suffered From Old Ailment.

Suffering from an old nervous disorder, a bladder complaint and heart trouble, his condition was aggravated of late by hardening of the arteries.

Dr. Francis R. Hagner announced tonight that a sudden stroke of cerebro arterio sclerosis (hardening of the brain arteries) caused Taft's death.

The doctors abandoned hope for his ultimate recovery weeks ago, and last Thursday said it was only a matter of time.

He spent these last days generally in a comatose state. Drs. Hagner and Thomas A. Claytor visited him several times daily, issuing regular bulletins through the White House.

President and Mrs. Hoover are placing the facilities of the White House at Mrs. Taft's disposal for such help as she may need.

President Hoover as soon as he was advised of the death of Taft called at the home to pay his respects. He was accompanied by Charles Evans Hughes, who replaced Taft as chief justice.

Mrs. Hoover accompanied her husband and Mr. Hughes. The three entered the big mansion together.

In official and unofficial Washington, which loved him, the news of the former president's death stirred a great outpouring of sorrowful tributes. This mentioned the wide regard with which he was held both as chief executive and Chief Justice of the nation.

Charles Evans Hughes, who succeeded to the chief justiceship after Taft's resignation last month, said the people had "recompensed his endeavors in their behalf with a warmth of affection which perhaps has never been so universally felt toward a public officer during his own time."

Patrick J. Hurley, who holds the war secretaryship which Taft had in the Roosevelt administration, said the army mourned "the loss of a friend."

Officials Pay Tribute.

"A great, a fine life," said acting Secretary Cotton of the state department while acting Secretary Jahncke of the navy said Mr. Taft was "a great American citizen, always considerate of the human feelings of his fellow man."

Senator William E. Borah of Idaho mourned the ending of "a marvelous career" and the passing of "a most lovable character."

Senator Walsh of Montana, acting democratic leader of the senate, said, "no one ever doubted his integrity or his devotion to his country."

Neither Dr. Hagner nor Dr. Claytor were at his bedside when the end came.

A Dr. Fuller, who was summoned by the nurses when they were unable immediately to reach the attending physicians, pronounced the former chief justice dead.

Dr. Claytor arrived fifteen minutes later.

When the end came unexpectedly, the activity which has surrounded the Taft residence since his return from Asheville had almost ceased, only a few cars were in front of the home. Shortly thereafter taxicabs arriving with newspaper men gave notice of the death.

First word of the death was sent to the White House, which announced it to the press in the following bulletin:

"Former Chief Justice Taft died at 5:15 p.m. today."

Dr. Claytor at 6:30 p.m. tonight issued a formal bulletin saying the former chief justice had undergone a sudden change at 4:45 p.m., from which he failed to rally.

The funeral will be conducted probably Tuesday from the Unitarian church here which Taft attended during all his life in the capital.

William Howard Taft, twenty-seventh President of the Unites States, was hand-picked for the office by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.

In 1912 Roosevelt carried out his threat to hamstring his renomination. Taft was renominated and Woodrow Wilson was swept into power through the split in the Republican party caused by Roosevelt's bull moose defection.

Taft took his defeat just as cheerfully as he had said he would. Smiling he welcomed Wilson into the White House March 4, 1913, and smilingly he retired to Yale college to become Kent professor of law in the university.

For eight years he remained in the comparative insecurity of his professorship, emerging only when impelled to proclaim his advocacy of a larger army and navy before this country entered the World War and his earnest support of the League of Nations covenant, with or without reservations.

Then, on Oct. 11, 1921, he achieved his real life ambition, accepting from president Harding the nomination to be Chief Justice of the Supreme court of the United States.

William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, O., Sept. 15, 1857.

Early in his youth young Taft showed his scholarly aptitude, graduating from Woodward. High School, Cincinnati, at seventeen into Yale, where he became class orator and salutatorian of the 1878 class, taking his B.A. degree.

Two years later, 1880, young Taft got his LL.B. in the Cincinnati Law School, taking first prize in his class. In later years he was showed with degrees from Yale Harvard, Princeton, Hamilton, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati, Oxford (England), McGill, and other colleges. But be prized most his L.L.B. at Cincinnati, which enabled him to hang out his shingle as a lawyer.

Finding clients few, he took to law reporting, working first for his brother's paper and then for the Cincinnati Commercial. But this was unsatisfactory. A political move gave him the position of internal revenue collector at $4,500 a year, but he gave this up to become, at much less salary, assistant prosecutor of Hamilton County, O., which he held till 1883, when he went back to the practice of law.

A couple of years as assistant county solicitor from 1885 to 1887 found him appointed to be judge of the Superior court in Cincinnati, which he held till 1890.

Benjamin Harrison was President then and he sent for Judge Taft and offered him the post of solicitor general of the United States, a job which entails more work than glory. Taft was but thirty-three, but he displayed such skill of the Bering Sea seal fisheries dispute with Great Britain and the elucidation of the first McKinley tariff bill that in 1892 he was appointed United States circuit judge for the sixth circuit, embracing Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky.

He held his position till 1900, rendering decisions on labor controversies and the enforcement of the Sherman anti-trust act which startled the country and were upheld completely by the Supreme court. Her had become meanwhile professor and Jean of law school at Cincinnati university, but his decisions made him a national figure.

President McKinley sent for him in 1900 and ordered him the post of chairman of the United States Philippine commission, which he accepted.

President Roosevelt, who had succeeded to the White House through the assassination of McKinley, sent Taft, at the latter's suggestion, to Rome to consult with Pope Leo XIII on the subject of the property owned in the islands by religious orders under the old Spanish regime.

When Taft left the Philippines in January 1904 to become secretary of war under Roosevelt, his departure brought grief to the Filipinos, whose friend he had become. During this period he three times refused an offer to become an associate justice of the United States Supreme court, an honor to which he dearly aspired. But he felt that he could not desert the Filipinos and in accepting the cabinet post as secretary of war he did so only because as such he would have supervision over the government of the Philippines.

Roosevelt, who admired Taft's administrative ability, kept him busy. Twice between 1904, and 1908, when he was elected President. Taft was sent on trips which took him around the world. He put down, by civil methods, the insurrection in Cuba, he supervised the construction of the Panama Canal, he inspected Puerto Rico, visited Japan, where he cheered the subjects and the statesmen of the Mikado by assuring them America was their friend, not their enemy.

He dropped in on the Philippines again and made a trip over the Siberian continental railroad, coming back by way of Europe.

Roosevelt, putting aside the idea of what was being called a third term for himself, preached Taft to politicians high and low, night and day, until in June, 1908, the Republican Convention nominated William Howard Taft on the first ballot amid tremendous enthusiasm. Bryan ran against him on the Democratic ticket an Taft won by about 1,370,000 plurality. Women did not vote then, and that was considered a magnificent victory.

His first step on becoming President was to summon Congress to extra session to pass what was afterward called the Payne-Aldrich tariff bill. Its terms were in line with the promises of the Republicans, but when Taft, in an indiscreet moment, pronounced it "the best Tariff bill over passed" a storm of opposition arose which the Democrats took such good advantage of in 1910 that they elected a Democratic House of Representatives. The Senate, with a dissatisfied Republican element, was not easy to manage, and this President Taft found himself in the middle of his term riding a bucking horse.

President Taft was no politician. He had no astuteness, no ear to the ground and no ability or desire to strikes the popular chord by some opportune speech or act. But by sheer doggedness he saw safely through Congress a lot of legislation which he was bent upon.

The laws for the publication of campaign funds and contributions, for regulating the Panama Canal tolls, for halting the white slave traffic and for the adoption of the income tax amendment were all Taft measures. He settled the Mexican boundary dispute in Texas, put a final end to the Bering sea controversy and put through the arbitration treaty for the Atlantic fisheries.

The earnest advocate of arbitration treaties with all countries, he much deplored the action of the Senate in refusing, during his term, to ratify the treaties he had concluded with great Britian and with Canada. But he took his defeats as goodhumoredly as his victories,.

Theodore Roosevelt, returning from his African hunting trip in 1910, secretly anxious for his own renomination, according to some observers socially and politically opposed to Taft for private reasons, according to others, began almost immediately a crush against the Taft administration. Walter came to his wheel in the shape of the Ballinger-Pinchot Alaska coal controversy.

President Taft's indiscriminate application of the Sherman antitrust laws against the International Harvester, Standard Oil, Steel and other corporations antagonized a large section of big business, and through George W. Perkins, formerly of the Morgan banking house, but now a backer of Roosevelt, big business began to apply the big stick to President Taft,

The result was that though Taft was renominated by the Republicans, the Progressives under Roosevelt made hash of the campaign and the Democrats elected Woodrow Wilson. Taft carried only two states in the whole election.

His good nature, pleasant personality, ruddy, smiling face and great bulk of cheerful human nature stood him in good stead when he took up law teaching again at Yale.

President at fifty-one, he became tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme court at sixty-three.

His wife, Helen Taft, to whom he was married in 1886, bore him three children, Robert, Charles and Helen.

"He Belonged to All of Us," Says Coolidge.

Former President Calvin Coolidge, who reached New York not long after Mr. Taft's death became known here, was one of the first of numerous men in public life to express his grief.

"William Howard Taft's public service extended over a generation," said the ex-President. "To me he was a friend, kindly, genial and helpful. He came often to my office when I was in Washington, and always brought mature thought and good cheer.

"I join with millions of fellow citizens in my expressions of sympathy for his family. He belonged to all of us."

Other statements included.

Alfred E Smith: "He served his country in the highest tradition of American ideals. He will be mourned by a nation that knows how to value its great men."


Past and Present: East New York’s Historic Howard House

Howard’s Woods was a farm tract established by William Howard, the eldest of seven brothers who came to the Flatbush area in the late 1600s from England. They settled on land that was part of the “New Lots” opened up to Flatbush settlers looking for more room. As time went by, new neighbors came to the area a pretty remote spot near the Jamaica Bay. Around 1700, William Howard turned his large Dutch style farm house into an inn and tavern.

He was near a crossroads where the Jamaica Plank Road that led to Long Island was met by other local roads, including what would become Atlantic Avenue, the perfect place for a tavern. His customers were farmers, merchants and others making their way back and forth to Brooklyn and Long Island. He called his inn Howard House.

Howard House soon became a way station for stage coaches, and a tourist destination for those heading further out on Long Island, or to Manhattan via Brooklyn, and William Howard was a busy man. In the old tradition of English pubs and inns, he always kept a key on a hook outside so that anyone could enter after all were asleep and take shelter. Howard knew his customers were honest and would settle up later. On August 27th, 1776, Howard House was visited by a man who used that key and came into the inn at two in the morning.

The American colonies were flexing their muscles toward independence from England. The Declaration of Independence had been signed, and war was in the air. General George Washington and the Continental Army was in Brooklyn, in the Gowanus and Brooklyn Heights area, and even out in New Lots, people were wondering what would happen next. Many people, like William Howard, were English themselves, but had committed themselves to the cause of American liberty.

So when the British gentleman who entered the inn at two in the morning woke William Howard and his son up, they had no idea what was going on. Even though it was in the middle of summer, the man had a coat on, and a cap on his head. He was accompanied by several other men, and they called for a round of drinks for themselves. After downing their ale, the leader of the group announced to Howard and his teenage son that they were his prisoners. He was Lord William Howe, the commander of the British forces. The tavern soon found itself surrounded by red-coated British troops who came out of the woods in huge numbers.

Howe had come to nip this little revolution in the bud by marching through Flatbush and wiping out the Continental Army as they slept in Gowanus. But he had no clue how to get there, and had gotten lost. General Howe forced Howard and his son, also William, to lead him down the roadways and paths to Gowanus. Marched at gunpoint, they had little choice, and with only a torch to see where they were going, they reluctantly led Howe and his army to the Flatbush Road, and on to the Battle of Brooklyn.

Howe let the Howards go after they had done their job, and lucky to be alive, they made their way back to their inn. General Howe and his aide, General Clinton, did now know that Howard had secretly sent a trusted servant ahead to warn Washington. He then proceeded to lead the British through Flatbush the long way, stalling them as long as possible. Washington found out just in time that the British were coming, and although defeated and forced to retreat, they made it through the bloodiest battle of the Revolution. The British occupied all of Brooklyn and New York City for the rest of the war.

Back in New Lots, Howard House became more popular than ever as Brooklyn and Flatbush (still a separate town) grew and prospered. Stage coach lines became more numerous, as was road traffic. By the mid-1800s, the Long Island Railroad was running, as were horse drawn trollies to Broadway Junction. In 1852, William Howard the younger was now 90 years old. He still held court at Howard House, telling the story of General Howe to any and all who came in.

Earlier, in 1835, a Connecticut developer named John R. Pitkin came through these parts and bought up as much land as he could. He wanted to start a new city that would rival New York City, and he called his new town East New York. His operation did not succeed conceptually or financially, but East New York did continue to grow, and Howard House was right in the middle of it.

In 1857, the last bit of the old Dutch house was torn down, and a new building built on its site. This was a large wood-framed Italianate villa with a cupola on the roof. It was built by the last Howard to own the inn, the grandson of William Howard, Philip Howard Reid. He opened a feed store next door, and gave it a go for almost 10 years. Then the Howard estate was sold in 1868 for $23,000. It included Howard House, as well as four acres of land.

Howard House was purchased by brewing company S. Leibmann’s Sons. They did a total renovation inside and out, and when the inn reopened several months later, it was totally changed inside and was a modern and fashionable inn. It was now under the proprietorship of Major Henry Breden. He had been an experienced hotel man before the Civil War. He made Howard House more popular than ever. It became home to several local clubs who met their regularly. It was the place to dine in the area, and attracted both locals and tourists.

By 1890, the Long Island Railroad stopped literally at its front door, as did several trolley lines. The LIRR ran a special summer Rockaway Beach train that began and ended here at the inn, now at the corner of Atlantic and Alabama Avenues. Trolleys ran from the inn to the beaches at Canarsie, as well. Amazingly, all of these people managed to get where they were going in an orderly manner, as there was no real structure in place. Travelers of the day heard the familiar cry of “Howard House” from the conductors before they reached the station.

Howard House was in the papers all the time. Partly because of activities going on there, good and bad, and partly because it was the most historic place East New York had. Everyone knew about William Howard’s forced guide work to Gowanus. The newspapers frequently ran articles about the history of the house, and its occupants. They would also talk about how important Howard House was to history, and how it was a landmark. What a concept.

Rumors of tearing it down had been floating around in the papers since around 1910, prompting another round of articles about its history. East New York had changed by then, it was a growing densely populated urban area. The Long Island Railroad had been elevated, and buried underground right near the inn, and Howard House was no longer a stop on its route. The trains now stopped at nearby Broadway Junction, instead. The inn grew seedy, became a boarding house, and finally closed. As a final indignity, the building was sold to a company that used it as a laundry.

In 1925, the now derelict building was torn down for a new $40,000 brick store, showroom and light industrial building. When that announcement was made in the papers, they also said that the inn was 200 years old, and that George Washington had slept there. Neither one of those statements is true. The building was only about 70 years old. But that George Washington certainly got around, didn’t he? Today, this same showroom/factory building is self-storage. Not even a plaque commemorates the place where General Howe was served a beer, and led on a long path into the annals of history. GMAP


Watch the video: Presidents Day: Golfs Strong History in the White House (January 2022).