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Remembering Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born in 1818 during the month of February. Since he was born into slavery, there weren’t accurate records of the excact day of his birth. He chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14th remembering that his mother called him her “little Valentine.” In later years while reminiscing about his mother, he wrote:

“…My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant. … It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. … I do not recollect of ever seeing my mother by the light of day. She was with me in the night. She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone.”

After escaping from slavery, he became a famous speaker, writer and a national leader of the abolotionionist movement. In later years, he remembered his first taste of freedom when arriving in New York City:

“I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity. There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. A new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath, and the “quick round of blood,” I lived more in one day than in a year of my slave life. It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe.”

During his lifetime, he wrote three autobiographies. In his first published book in 1845, he described his life as a slave in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. In 1855, My Bondage and My Freedom was published. His autobiography, LIfe and Times of Frederick Douglass was published in 1881 and revised in 1892.

Louisa Adams was Born Today in 1775

Louisa Adams was born February 12, 1775. Did you know that she was the very first First Lady to be born in a foreign country? She was born and raised in London. She met her husband, John Quincy Adams, while he was serving as the U.S. Minister in London and they were married in London on July 26, 1797.

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln!

Today in American history…Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. He is truly my personal favorite in that I’ve always admired his strength and tenacity to succeed. Coming from humble beginnings and born in a log cabin in Kentucky, he taught himself at a young age to read and write. He would eventually become a famous lawyer, served a term as a US Representative from Illinois (1847-1849) and then as our 16th US President (1861-1865).

Mary Todd Lincoln quite often made a “white cake” for Abraham Lincoln while they were courting and it was one of his favorites after they were married. She made it for special holidays and especially his birthday. It was also served on their table at their home in Springfield, Illinois for a reception on the evening he was first elected to the Presidency. So, I like to imagine they would have had it today as well – to celebrate his birthday.

Here is a recipe from the book, Lincoln’s Table, by Donna D. McCreary and was adapted by Janice Cooke Newman. We’ve enjoyed making it several times and it’s something you can even make in your own kitchen. How wonderful for us to be able to enjoy something the same way Abraham Lincoln once did.

Happy Birthday, Mr President! 🇺🇸

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake

1 Cup blanched almonds, chopped in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour
1 Cup butter
2 Cups sugar
3 Cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 Cup milk
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectionary sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder 3 times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk. Stir in almonds and beat well.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour into prepared pan and and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. When cool, sift confectionary sugar over top.

A basic white frosting sprinkled with almonds was also popular.

Photo Credit: The Historical Homemaker

Today in American History…William Henry Harrison was Born

Today in American history…William Henry Harrison was born in on February 9, 1773 in Charles City County, Virginia.

Some of his lifetime achievements were:

First Governor of the Indiana Territory January 10, 1801 – December 28, 1812

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio‘s First District October 8, 1816 – March 3, 1819

Member of the Ohio Senate (Hamilton County) 1819–1821

U.S. Senator from Ohio March 4, 1825 – May 20, 1828

U.S. Minister to Gran Colombia May 24, 1828 – September 26, 1829

He was our 9th US President and unfortunately has the distinction of serving the shortest Presidency (March 4 – April 4, 1841) due to becoming ill and passing away shortly after his inauguration.

He was the very first President to die in office.

William Henry Harrison also holds the record of having the longest inauguration speech of 8,445 words which took nearly 2 hours to read!

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Today in American history…Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on February 7, 1867 in Pepin County, Wisconsin. As a child, I spent many hours reading her books and watched every episode of Little House on the Prairie. She was a truly gifted writer and I am so glad that she shared her magnificent stories with us.

Laura and her sisters.
Laura is standing on the right.

Today in American History…Ronald Reagan was Born

Today in American history…Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 to Jack and Nelle Reagan in the small town of Tampico, Illinois.

In his early years, he moved to Iowa and was a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs basebal games. It was while he was traveling with the Chicago Cubs in 1937 to California that he did a screen test for Warner Brothers movie studio and was signed to a seven year contract. One of his most popular roles was the role of George Gipp in the film Knute Rockne: All American. From then on, he would be forever coined with the nickname “The Gipper.”

Some of the few highlights of Ronald Reagan’s life were:

President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947 – 1952 and also served as President 1959-60.

Governor of California from 1967-1975

Elected as our Nation’s 40th U.S. President on November 4, 1980. He was re-elected to serve a second term on November 4, 1984.

Today in American History…Nancy Hanks Lincoln was Born in 1784

Not much is known of Nancy Lincoln except for the most important aspect: she was Abraham Lincoln’s mother. There aren’t any pictures of her – only a depiction (made into a painting by Lloyd Ostendorf, February 12, 1963)


(Image of Nancy Hanks Lincoln is courtesy of Lincoln Boyhood National Museum)

We do know that she was a warm, caring mother and that her son, Abraham Lincoln, loved her very much.  He was only nine years old when his mother died of milk sickness on October 5, 1818.  Throughout his life, he recalled the love of his mother and once said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”

William Herndon, Law partner with Abraham Lincoln and a close confidante, later wrote a book, Life of Lincoln, and described Nancy Hanks Lincoln most likely from Lincoln’s memories of his mother and those who knew her:

She was above the ordinary height in stature, weighed about 130 pounds, was slenderly built, and had much the appearance of one inclined to consumption. Her skin was dark; hair dark brown; eyes gray and small; forehead prominent; face sharp and angular, with a marked expression for melancholy which fixed itself in the memory of all who ever saw or knew her. Though her life was clouded by a spirit of sadness, she was in disposition amiable and generally cheerful.

Today in American History…Clark Gable was Born

Today in American history…one of our beloved and historic film stars was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio.

His most famous role would be as Rhett Butler in the classic movie Gone with the Wind which premiered on December 15, 1939.

Not only was he a world famous movie star…he also signed up for the US Army under the Army Air Forces on August 12, 1942. During World War II, he flew several combat missions and was promoted to Major in 1944. He rseigned his commission with the US Army in 1947 and was awarded several military honors for his service:

The Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

After his military service, Clark Gable resumed his acting career until his death on November 16, 1960.

Today in American History…FDR is Born 🇺🇸

Today in American history…Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York.

A few of his lifetime achievements were:

Member of the New York State Senate from the 26th District

January 1, 1911 – March 17, 1913

Assistant Secretary of Navy

March 17, 1913 – August 26, 1920

44th Governor of New York

January 1, 1929 – January 1, 1933

32nd President of the United States

March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945

Fun fact. President Roosevelt was related (either by blood or marriage) to 11 former U.S. Presidents:

John Adams, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft and of course…Theodore Roosevelt who was his 5th cousin.

Theodore Roosevelt was also Eleanor Roosevelt’s paternal uncle.

Today in American History

Today in American history…Robert Edward Lee was born at Stratford Hall plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia on January 19,1807.

His had a great pedigree: his father was Major General Henry Lee III aka “Light Horse Harry” Lee, Governor of Virginia, and his mother was Anne Hill Carter Lee of the prestigious Carter family who resided at Shirley Plantation in Tidewater, Virginia.

I have always been fascinated by Robert E. Lee.  It could have been the many school trips that I went on as a child to his Arlington home, known as Arlington House or the Custis-Lee Mansion that sits on a steep hill overlooking Arlington Cemetery. Or maybe it was his connection to George Washington that intrigued me (Robert E. Lee married the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis who was George Washington’s step-grandson and eventual adopted son).

Today his name brings controversy because he was, after all, a Confederate General. He fought against the United States of America and was considered a traitor to his country. He went against all that he believed in, as a career Army officer, to fight for a cause that he felt that he needed to fight for: the protection of his homeland: the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You can almost feel his angst when he wrote his resignation letter to General Winfield Scott:

Arlington, Washington City, P.O
20 Apr 1861

Lt. Genl Winfield Scott
Commd U.S. Army

Since my interview with you on the 18th Inst: I have felt that I ought not longer to retain any Commission in the Army. I therefore tender my resignation which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has Cost me to separate myself from a Service to which I have divoted all the best years of my life, & all the ability I possessed. During the whole of that time, more than a quarter of a century, I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors & the most Cordial friendships from any Comrades. To no one Genl have I been as much indebted as to yourself for kindness & Consideration & it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry with me, to the grave the most grateful recollections
of your kind Consideration, & your name & fame will always be dear to me. Save in the defense of my native state shall I ever again draw my sword. Be pleased to accept any more [illegible] wishes for “the Continuance of your happiness & prosperity & believe me

Most truly yours
R E Lee

Robert E. Lee was not only a famous Civil War General. He was also the President of Washington College (later renamed Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia from 1865 until his death on October 12, 1870.