Posted on Leave a comment

Rand, Roosevelt, & Earhart: Three Women’s Contributions to Society

Rand, Roosevelt, & Earhart - featured image

There is nothing quite like a good biography. With absolutely no fictional information, the writer will take a reader on an adventure to an entirely another world. The best part? This isn’t a creation from someone’s mind, but rather a picture of another living, breathing human being doing the best they could in a world in which they lived. Here, we take a closer look at some of the most famous women examined in biographies who have made invaluable contributions to history and society: Ayn Rand, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart.

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is best known for her two best-selling books, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. She was born in Russia in 1905 as Alissa Rosenbaum and then moved to the US in 1926, first to Chicago, and then to try her hand in Hollywood. Rand was a staunch proponent of individual self-interest over collectivist values due to her experience with her father’s shop being overtaken by Bolshevik soldiers, forcing her family to live in poverty in Crimea. This philosophy was echoed in her first novel, We the Living, and became even more prominent in her later works. In addition to literature, Rand also worked in film, with titles like Red Pawn and Penthouse Legend (later renamed Night of January 16th) under her belt.

Over the years, she coined the term “objectivism”, a belief in a solid reality in which there are existing truths, as well as the moral importance of looking out for self-interest. The development of objectivism essentially ended her literary career, at which point she became a bona fide intellectual, forming a group that called itself “The Collective” and included members such as Alan Greenspan, the one-time Federal Reserve Chairman. She continued to teach and pursue speaking engagements until she died of heart failure in New York City in 1982.

Elanor Roosevelt

Meanwhile, Eleanor Roosevelt is probably one of the most influential First Ladies in American History. She was born in 1884 in New York City, and was not only married to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt but also was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. Eleanor truly redefined the role of First Lady by taking up and pursuing issues she was passionate about. She was not a woman content to be at home pursuing a domestic life. This go-getter attitude can probably first be traced back to World War I when she worked for the Red Cross. Years later, during her time as First Lady, she was a fierce advocate for human rights, children’s rights, and women’s rights.

She balanced this work while acting as a caregiver to her husband who suffered from a polio attack and needed assistance for the rest of his life. Reading and rhetoric were two of her strengths, having penned her own column and holding many a press conference in her day. Eleanor even went on to write several books, including This is My Story, This I Remember, On My Own, and It’s Up To The Women. After her time in the White House, she proceeded to become the chair of the UN’s Human Rights Commission, continuing her legacy for public service until her death in 1962.

Amelia Earhart

Finally, there is the autobiography of Amelia Earhart, who was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Affectionately coined “Lady Lindy,” she broke the barrier for women in her field. Earhart was only the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license and also served as the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She is, unfortunately, also well known for her mysterious disappearance alongside navigator Fred Noonan. While attempting to fly around the world, the pair disappeared near Howland Island out in the Pacific Ocean. She was legally declared dead by the Los Angeles Superior Courts in 1939.

Whether a Russian immigrant credited with producing some of the most well-known novels of the 20th century, an impassioned First Lady for the ages, or an airplane pilot going where no woman had gone before, biographies transport us to a world beyond our own and serve as an inspiration and a record to last the test of time.

Posted on Leave a comment

Historical Highlight: Margaret Thatcher

blog cover - margaret thatcher

Date of Birth: October 13, 1925
Died On: April 8, 2013
Cause of Death: Stroke

10 Fascinating Facts About Margaret Thatcher

  • First female Prime Minister of the UK
  • Nicknamed “The Iron Lady”
  • Worked as a food scientist to help develop soft serve ice cream in the UK
  • Mother to twins, Mark and Carol
  • Was the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century for the UK
  • Was opposed to the EU
  • Enjoyed whiskey and sodas at the end of most days
  • Was born in parent’s apartment above her dad’s grocery store
  • Her favorite poet was Rudyard Kipling

Books Authored:

“The Downing Street Years”

“The Collected Speeches”

“The Path to Power”

“Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World”

Note: You can find signed copies of The Downing Street Years,” “The Path to Power,” and “The Collected Speeches” for sale here.

Early Political Career

Thatcher was elected as a Member of Parliament for Finchley. Thatcher ruffled feathers within her party in her maiden speech, by supporting a private member’s bill. This would be a continuous theme throughout her time in Parliament, going against party norms regarding homosexuality, abortion, and hare coursing. Raising quickly through the ranks of Parliament, Thatcher was selected by the United States Embassy to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program. This was atypical because she was not yet a Shadow Cabinet member. However, she was described as a possible future Prime Minister to the State Department, and they approved her role for the program.

Continuing her trend of moving quickly through the ranks, Thatcher was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science. While serving, Thatcher was often in the public spotlight because of the government’s attempts to cut spending. She gave priority to the academic needs of schools while administering expenditure cuts, which would eventually result in the removal of the free milk program. This would lead her to garner the nickname “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher.” It would eventually come out that she indeed, in fact, opposed the cuts and appropriation of funds, but the Treasury forced her hand.

Prime Minister (1979-1990)

On May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. During his time as Prime Minister, Thatcher met weekly with Queen Elizabeth II to discuss government business. Although it was rumored that these two developed a power struggle, it was denied by both parties involved. The economy under Thatcher started very poorly, but towards the end of her time was booming. It wasn’t until 1983 before the economy turned for the better under Thatcher. In 1983 inflation and mortgage rates fell to their lowest in 13 years. By 1987 unemployment was falling, the economy stable and the inflation rate was low.

Under Margaret Thatcher, the term “Thatcherism” was born. This described her style of politics and how she would lead the United Kingdom. Specifically, “a political platform emphasizing free markets with restrained government spending and tax cuts coupled with British nationalism both at home and abroad.” Privatization is a crucial piece of Thatcherism. Industries that were privatized under Thatcher were gas, water, and electricity. In most cases, the privatization of the UK benefited the consumers regarding lower prices and improved efficiency.

Thatcher also dealt with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) during her time in office. These groups were prisoners who carried out hunger strikes to regain the status of political prisoners. As a result, violence increased during this period and eventually would lead to the deaths of 10 prisoners after Thatcher’s refusal. This would lead to an assassination attempt on Thatcher in 1984 by the PIRA. She would survive and eventually grant partial rights to paramilitary prisoners only.

Later Life

Thatcher’s premiership would end in 1990 after being contested by fellow Conservative Michael Heseltine. After losing the second vote against Thatcher initially wanted to challenge the vote and Heseltine, but after consultation, she would eventually succumb and resign as Prime Minister.

It was during her first few years out of power that she would pen two volumes of her memoirs, The Downing Streets Year and The Path to Power. During the time leading up to her death in 2013, Thatcher remained very active in the political world. She made speeches all over the globe on behalf of many different organizations. She was vocally supportive of the United States efforts in the Middle East during the George H. W. Bush administration.

In the years before 2013, Thatcher’s health began to decline. Despite being hospitalized a number of times before her passing, Thatcher attended as many events and ceremonies as physically possible.

On April 8, 2013, Margaret Thatcher passed away at the age of 83 after suffering from a stroke. At her funeral she received full military honors with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in attendance, marking only the second time that the Queen had attended the funeral of a former Prime Minister.

Posted on Leave a comment

Historical Highlight: Winston Churchill

historical figure highlight: winston churchill

Date of Birth: November 30, 1874
Died On: January 24, 1965 (age 90)
Cause of Death: Stroke

10 Fascinating Facts About Winston Churchill

  • Was voted the “Greatest Briton” of all time by the people of the United Kingdom
  • Failed his military entrance exam twice
  • Escaped from a prison camp in South Africa
  • It’s believed that he invented the word summit
  • Loved whiskey and cigars
  • Favorite movie was That Hamilton Woman
  • His favorite cat, Jock, was by his side as he died
  • Wore slip-on shoes that gave the appearance they were lace-ups
  • His mother was born in America
  • Was hit by a car on 5th Ave while visiting New York City

Early Years in Parliament and Resignation (1900-1916)

Winston Churchill won the seat of Oldham in the 1900 general election. Originally as a member of the Conservative Party, Churchill opposed many of the party’s policies. This would ultimately lead Churchill to be deselected from his seat by his constituents. In the 1904 general election, Winston Churchill crossed the floor and officially became a member of the Liberal Party.

In 1906, Churchill was voted out as the seat of Oldham but was invited to represent Manchester North West. After two years in this seat was promoted to the Cabinet as the President of the Board of Trade. In October of 1911, Churchill was appointed as First Lord of Admiralty.

After serving in this capacity for a couple of years, Churchill resigned on November 15, 1915, feeling his energies were not being used properly.

Return to Parliament and Political Isolation (1916-1940)

After a four-month hiatus, Churchill returned to the UK from France as becoming restless while serving in the army. He was appointed Minister of Munitions in July of 1917, and then in January of 1919 was appointed to Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air. During this time, he was the main architect of the Ten Year Rule. He also was a strong advocate for the Allied intervention of the Russian Civil War.

After a series of different jobs and titles throughout Parliament, he once again stood for a Liberal seat in 1923, only this time he lost in Leicester. He switched sides once again after his loss in 1923 but quickly became estranged with Conservatives. This would eventually lead to Churchill’s political isolation.

During this time Churchill’s reputation waned. He was viewed negatively by many in Parliament, but the beginning of WWII helped Churchill’s reputation. The day that Britain declared war on Germany, Winston Churchill was appointed as First Lord of the Admiralty once again.

Prime Minister (1940-1945)

After Prime Minister Chamberlain’s debacle in Norway, it became clear through Parliament that Chamberlain was incapable of leading the country through WWII, eventually leading to his resignation. Upon his resignation, Chamberlain, as well as others, recommended Churchill to fill his seat as Prime Minister.

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. At the age of 65, there were concerns about Churchill when he took over. However, many wrote that taking over such an important and demanding position energized Churchill and truly uplifted him as a person.

As he navigated through WWII, Churchill had an outstanding relationship with the United States president Franklin Roosevelt. Although he was vehemently against communism, Churchill sent supplies and tanks to the Soviet Union when they were invaded by Nazi Germany.

Resignation and Second Term as Prime Minister (1951-1955)

With the general election in 1945 looming, Churchill resigned as Prime Minister in response to the Labour Minister’s refusal of the continuation of the wartime coalition. As a result, he accepted the King’s invitation to form a new government, which would become to be known as the Churchill Caretaker Ministry. However, Churchill didn’t have the support of enough Conservatives and would ultimately lose the election of 1945. In the six years between his terms as Prime Minister Churchill served as the Leader of Opposition.

In the general election of 1951 however, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister once again. During his second term, foreign policy crises were persistent. Colonial issues with Kenya and Malaya were on the forefront. A post-war relationship between Britain and the United States was also a large concern during Churchill’s second term. Trying to remain allies, while not cowering to the Americans heavily weighed on Churchill.

Final Retirement and Death (1955-1965)

For years leading up to his resignation, he had been advised that it was time to retire due to the fact that he suffered multiple strokes. Eventually admitting that both his physical and mental health was declining, he finally retired as Prime Minister in 1955. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Winston Churchill suffered a series of strokes, and on January 15, 1965, he would suffer his final one. Nine days later on January 24, 1965, Winston Churchill passed away in his London home at the age of 90.

Posted on Leave a comment

Presidential Limited Editions

The surest way to guarantee you’re getting an authentic signed copy of a presidential book is to seek out a limited edition printing. At first glance, you’ll come across material from Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon, who were prolific signers during and after their presidency.

Its common to find a signed limited edition from President Nixon, number XX of 2500. But when you’ve been researching this field for many years, you’ll realize that unique limited edition items do exist. Here are some examples that got us excited when we came across them.

  • Mr. Citizen by President Harry Truman. This signed book can be found on the market in a limited edition of 1000 copies, but this edition here was held back for the author. Only 100 were printed for Mr. Truman.
  • That Shining Hour by Patricia Kennedy Lawford. This unassuming book was produced for members of the Kennedy Family and supporters shortly after the death of Robert Kennedy. Most are signed by a member of the Kennedy family but unsigned, they are still a unique presidential item.
  • Read My Lips: No New Taxes by Dan Ostrander. This book, which details the 1990 budget deal, was published in limited edition form by Butte College Press in 1990. There were 175 signed copies of the clothbound edition, signed by President Bush. An additional 26 copies, bound in leather, were produced as gifts for the publishers. This was a surprise after years of collecting George Bush limited editions.
  • Address of the President at the Opening of the Conference on the Japanese Peace Treaty by Harry Truman. This limited edition of 60 copies was bound by the Government Printing Office as Christmas Gifts for President Truman. These have occasionally surfaced on the market, but are rare, to say the least.
  • Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy. Published as a gift for family and political allies, 100 copies of President Kennedy’s important inaugural addresses were printed and signed. One of the most unique limited editions available on the market.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Historical Highlight: John F. Kennedy

Historical Highlight - John F. Kennedy

Date of Birth: May 29, 1917
Died On: November 22, 1963 (age 46)
Cause of Death: Assassination

9 Fascinating Facts About JFK

  • President Kennedy was a prolific author before his time as President. He wrote the following books:
    • Why England Slept (1940)
    • As We Remember Joe (1945)
    • Prelude to Leadership (1945)
    • Profiles in Courage (1956)
    • A Nation of Immigrants (1959)
    • The Burden and the Glory (1964)
  • He suffered from Addison Disease throughout his life.
  • Bought 1,200 Cuban cigars the day before an Executive Order banned Cuban imports
  • Obsessed with his weight to the point that he traveled with a bathroom scale
  • Donated his entire salary as president to charity
  • Loved playing Bridge and reading James Bond novels
  • Got into a fender bender with Larry King while he was a Senator
  • Was the last president to be sworn in wearing a top hat
  • He was the target of at least 4 assassination attempts

Naval Service

Following his graduation from Harvard, John F. Kennedy entered the Navy. After he completed basic training, he was assigned command of PT-109 in the South Pacific. While in the Pacific, one of the boats he commanded was hit and he was injured. Despite being injured, Kennedy helped a fellow naval officer by swimming them both to safety.

Upon completion of his naval career, Lieutenant Kennedy received multiple awards for heroism. His war medals include: Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Purple Heart Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.

House of Representatives (1947-1953)

Kennedy won the 11th Congressional District in Massachusetts in 1947. The seat became available when U.S. Representative James Michael Curley vacated his seat to become the mayor of Boston. With the backing of his father, Kennedy’s campaign was successful, ending with him taking 73 percent of the vote.

Kennedy served six years in the House of Representatives. His focus was largely on international affairs. While in the House, Kennedy supported many major acts of legislation including the Truman Doctrine, the Labor Management Relations Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Senate and Presidential Campaign (1953-1963)

As early as 1949, JFK began preparing for a senatorial career. In 1952, Kennedy defeated three-term incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. by a wide margin to win the seat in the Senate. During his time in the Senate, Kennedy underwent two spinal operations.

While recovering, Kennedy wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, Profiles in Courage. Kennedy also married his wife, Jacqueline, during his second year in the Senate. In 1960, John F. Kennedy formally announced that he would be running for the Democratic presidential nomination. His youth and experience were questioned, but his charisma won many over.

The fact that Kennedy was a Catholic was viewed as a negative to many in the country, but his adamant message of separation of church and state would eventually win over some within the anti-Catholic crowd. Kennedy selected Lyndon B. Johnson as his vice presidential nominee despite opposition from his brother, Robert.

In the first-ever televised presidential debates, Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon squared off against each other. The television debates became a turning point for Kennedy, giving him the edge over Nixon. People who listened to the debate on the radio believed that Nixon had won. Kennedy eventually went on to defeat Nixon in one of the closest elections of the 20th century.

Presidency (1961-1963)

The Kennedy Administration began on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address, he famously said: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy’s address expressed his confidence that his administration would make significant impacts both domestically and abroad. Kennedy’s time in office is remembered as a time engulfed with foreign policy crisis.

The Cold War, the Space Race, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Bay of Pigs are all vividly remembered as critical times in American history. Kennedy’s domestic program, called the “New Frontier,” promised federal funding for education, medial care for the elderly, economic aid to rural regions, and government intervention to stop the recession. During his time in office, Kennedy was also an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement.

Assassination

On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated while on a political trip. While riding in a presidential motorcade, Kennedy was shot once in the back and once in his head by Lee Harvey Oswald. He was immediately rushed to Parkland Hospital where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. He died at the age of 46, serving 1,036 days in office.