Presidential Justice…William Howard Taft

Today in History, July 11, 1921:

Former President William Howard Taft is sworn in as the 10th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, replacing the recently deceased Chief Justice that he himself had appointed when he was President.

It was Taft’s dream job, and he took to it enthusiastically. He would be the only person to be both President and Chief Justice, and therefore the only President to swear in other Presidents.

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling! Skylab, That is…


America’s first space station, Skylab, was the brain child of Werner Von Braun, the rocket scientist the U. S. had harvested from the Nazi rocket program.

Skylab had three missions through the seventies, during which the astronauts involved completed numerous experiments which advanced the space program. More missions were planned, utilizing the nascent Space Shuttle Program.

Skylab’s orbit began to deteriorate, and plans were made to boost its trajectory using the Space Shuttle or other options. Delays in the Shuttle Program made the recovery efforts untenable, and on July 11, 1979 the space station re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and broke apart…mostly. NASA managed to guide it away from populated areas…mostly. The debris fell into the Southern Indian Ocean, and onto Western Australia.

The event was a media sensation, due to a great deal of uncertainty regarding where Skylab would come down…onto your house in the mid west? The ocean? New York City? For weeks the impending doom was the subject of television specials, political cartoons, selling gimmicks, you name it. After the demise, the jurisdiction in Australia where some of the debris fell sent NASA a fine of $400 for “littering” as a joke.

Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice

Today in History, July 11, 1921:

Former President William Howard Taft is sworn in as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, his dream job.

He had been a jurist in several different posts, Governor-General of the Philippines, Secretary of War and finally President. His former friend Theodore Roosevelt had tried to appoint him to the court several times, but he had refused because he felt responsibilities to the positions he filled at the time.

He never really wanted to be President, but Chief Justice had been his life long dream. President Warren G. Harding gave it to him, making him the only person to hold both jobs, and the only former President to swear in future Presidents.

“Johnny Get Your Gun!”

Mark Mears 1918 – Famous Opera Singer Enrico Caruso records “Over There”, a patriotic song written by George M. Cohan for the First World War…..Verse 1

Johnny,[2] get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.

Take it on the run, on the run, on the run.

Hear them calling you and me,

Every Son of Liberty.

Hurry right away, no delay, go today.

Make your Daddy glad to have had such a lad.

Tell your sweetheart not to pine,

To be proud her boy’s in line.

Verse 2

Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.

Johnny, show the “Hun”[3] you’re a son-of-a-gun.

Hoist the flag and let her fly

Yankee Doodle[4] do or die.

Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit.

Yankee[5] to the ranks from the towns and the tanks.[6]

Make your Mother proud of you

And the old red-white-and-blue[7]


Over there, over there,

Send the word, send the word over there

That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming

The drums rum-tumming everywhere.

So prepare, say a prayer,

Send the word, send the word to beware –

We’ll be over, we’re coming over,

And we won’t come back till it’s over, over there.

A Crucial Split Second at Weehawken



Today in History, June 11: 1804 – A duel between Alexander Hamilton and Vice-President Aaron Burr ends in the death of Hamilton. Both men had played important roles in the birth of America, Hamilton greatly more so. Hamilton had been an aide to Gen. Washington during the Revolutionary War and a key player in the writing of the Constitution, and then the primary driver in creating our financial system.
Burr had been a hero of the Canadian campaign during the war and was a talented politician, if less than diligent in his ethics. Hamilton despised Burr, and considered it his duty to defeat Burr’s ambitions wherever he could. Finally, after Hamilton played a key role in defeating Burr’s ambitions to be New York’s next Governor, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel.
Duels were then illegal in New York, and most of the challenges were brought to an amicable solution without gunfire. The combatants and their seconds had to go across the river to New Jersey, to a promontory known as Weehawken. Depending on which side you listen to, Hamilton fired his shot into the air, believing the duel to be frivolous. In this version, Burr then took careful aim and shot Hamilton dead.
Burr’s second reports that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed. With the death of such a prominent American, Burr was excoriated as a cad. He finished out his term as Vice-President to hide behind the immunity from prosecution it provided. Afterwards he instigated a scheme to create a separate nation within the Louisiana Territory, going to the British for support (which was refused) and was tried for treason, of which he was acquitted. Nonetheless, he was despised by all, and remained so in history.
This is one of those moments in History, that will forever be shrouded in mystery.  As with time travel theories…what if this had never happened?  What if Burr had missed?  There is a very real possibility Hamilton could have been President at some point.  If so, what effect would he have on the War of 1812?  With his financial acumen, would he have affected Andrew Jackson’s battle with the Bank?  Or would Jackson or any since have even been President?
How often has a split second in History…changed History?