WASHINGTON'S FINEST MOMENT OF COURAGE
George Washington's finest moment of courage was not facing British bullets in the heat of battle. Rather he confronted his former comrades-in-arms. His officers had not been paid for months. They wanted to set up a new government. They approached George Washington to take charge. Washington responded, "I want to read a letter that I have received from Congress. But you must excuse me for taking out my eyeglasses. My eyes have grown dim in the service of our country." The officers ashamed went back to their barracks.
George Washington owned many slaves. He inherited ten slaves from his father at the age of eleven and eventually managed over 300 slaves. Although nobody said it was wrong to own slaves at the time, Washington in his heart knew it was wrong. He felt that when he helped our country gain its freedom, it was wrong to take other people's freedom by owning them. Washington tried to find ways to farm Mount Vernon, his home, without slaves. He also had slaves trained in crafts and other jobs to help them live on their own. He freed the 122 slaves he owned upon his death. For those that were too young or too old, he gave them money so that they could live well.
FRIENDS TO THE END: ADAMS AND JEFFERSON
John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia had become friends during the American Revolution. Jefferson wrote our country's Declaration of Independence. Adams helped negotiate an end to the struggle. When our country became independent, both became presidents of the United States. For a while, they became enemies because they had different views of how the United States should be run. Adams was defeated for president by Thomas Jefferson. For the first time in world history, one president peacefully gave up power to someone else.
ANDREW JACKSON: TEENAGE REBEL
Andrew Jackson grew up in South Carolina. At age thirteen he became a soldier during the American Revolution. He was captured by the British. Jackson refused to clean a British officer's boots. The officer hit him with his saber. This resulted in an ugly scar on his forehead. During the War of 1812, he was put in charge of defending New Orleans against the British. He defeated the British at New Orleans. This made him a national hero. He had avenged himself against the British.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND HIS ENEMIES
At an official reception during the Civil War, President Lincoln made a brief speech in which he referred to the Confederates as erring human beings, rather than as enemies to be destroyed. An elderly lady, a fiery zealot for the Union cause, scolded him for speaking kindly of the enemies of his country when he ought to be thinking of killing them. "Why, Madam," replied Lincoln, "do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"
Upon Lincoln's return from Gettysburg, he came down with smallpox. He immediately asked that all the office-seekers should be sent to him. He explained, "I now have something I can give to everybody."
GRANT'S SPECIAL SKILL
Grant's childhood nickname was "useless," a play on his middle name, Ulysses before it became his first name at the United States Military Academy at West Point. People said he was dumb. However, he was an expert in one area. He could train and ride any horse. Neighboring farmers paid him to break in their horses or to take care of them when they were sick. A circus ringmaster offered five dollars to anyone who could stay on a pony. Ulysses took up the challenge. The pony raced and bucked. The ringmaster tossed a monkey on the boy's back. The monkey climbed on his head. Ulysses kept his seat. He won the prize. If Ulysses could handle a horse, he could lead people in battle.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE TEDDY BEAR
The Teddy Bear is loved8by children in every part of the world. This stuffed toy was born in November 1902. President Theodore Roosevelt, hunting grizzly bears, came upon a small bear cub that some members of his hunting party had captured. The President refused to shoot the cub and insisted on turning the bear loose. Clifford Berryman, a cartoonist for The Washington Post, read of the episode. He drew a cartoon of Teddy and the bear. Morris Mitchum, a Brooklyn toy-maker, decided to make a bear and gave it the president's nickname. Thereafter the "teddy bear" found a place in the hearts of young and old alike.
FDR'S GREATEST SPEECH
Franklin D. Roosevelt's greatest speech consisted of no words. He visited an army hospital in the Pacific area. Many of the men were missing arms or legs from their combat. He simply took off the blanket from his wheelchair so the soldiers could see his shrunken legs. He simply wheeled down the hospital rooms.
TRUMAN'S LETTER TO A MUSIC CRITIC
President Harry Truman read an unfavorable report in the newspaper of his daughter Margaret's singing. He wrote the music critic an angry letter. He called him names. He threatened to break his nose. At the time, the publication of the letter made Truman look foolish and without manners. As time has gone by, the letter improved Truman's reputation. The letter shows him being loyal to his daughter and willing to say what he really thought, regardless of what others would think of him.