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Harry S Truman: How Reading and Music Shaped his Presidency

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

harry truman

HARRY S. TRUMAN (1884-1972)
OUR 33RD PRESIDENT (1945-1953)

Harry S. Truman believed there were several life experiences that prepared him to become our 33rd president. In particular, he cited his background as a farmer, banker and Army soldier as well as his prior experience in government. But there were two very personal activities that carried him through his younger years and profoundly influenced his service as President.

Truman was born in 1884 in Lamar, Missouri and grew up in Independence. Poor eyesight caused Harry to begin wearing glasses when he was very young, making him self-conscious and the target of taunting at school. A childhood bout with diphtheria meant he wasn’t able to participate in sports like most boys his age. Instead, he turned to reading and music and discovered an abiding love for both.

harry truman white house china

STUNNING SERVICE PLATE FROM THE TRUMAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - MANUFACTURED BY LENOX - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.

He later said his “interiority complex” brought on by wearing glasses drove him to become “intellectually above” those who teased him. He liked to demonstrate his academic prowess in school, but believed one should not “lord it over those that you’ve defeated” in class.

Harry Truman claimed he had read every book in the Independence Public Library by the time he was 14, but historians suggest that was probably an exaggeration. At the time, the library contained more than 4,000 books. Nonetheless, young Harry clearly was a voracious reader and undoubtedly made his way through hundreds of the library’s offerings. One of his schoolmates remembered Harry reading two or three books on the weekends.

harry truman glasses

WELL PRESERVED EYEGLASSES FROM TRUMAN'S CHILDHOOD - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Harry was especially interested in biographies of American presidents and other government leaders, and in history. He said history offered "solid instruction and wise teaching which I somehow felt that I wanted and needed." Years later in his Memoirs, Truman acknowledged, "My debt to history is one which cannot be calculated. I know of no other motivation which so accounts for my awakening interest as a young lad in the principles of leadership and government."

As for music, Harry’s mother began teaching him to play the piano when he was 10. Later, he studied with a teacher in Kansas City who had herself studied under the famous European pianist Theodore Leschetitzky. One of Truman’s friends, Charlie Ross, recalled Harry “didn’t lack spunk when he braved the jeers of the boys to go regularly to his music teacher, carrying his music roll.”

harry truman piano

HARRY S. TRUMAN PLAYING THE PIANO, IN THE WHITE HOUSE, WITH LAUREN BACALL PEERING DOWN.

Nonetheless, Truman simply wasn’t gifted enough to realize his dream – and his mother’s dream – of becoming a concert pianist. When he was 15, he abruptly stopped taking lessons. But playing the piano and enjoying a broad range of music from classical to folk songs continued to have a powerful impact on Truman’s life. In 1945, while playing for a group of Methodist women at a county fair, he told them that when he played the piano for Stalin, the Soviet leader responded by signing the Potsdam Agreement.

Throughout his life, Harry S. Truman was famous for saying, “My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.” He often told people he never would have become president if he had been a more accomplished pianist. One can only imagine how that would have changed history.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: harry truman

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Opening the Presidential Cabinet Door to Women

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Apr 07, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

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FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945)
OUR 32ND PRESIDENT (1933-1945)

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first American president to appoint a woman to his cabinet, naming Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor in 1933. Perkins had served as FDR’s Labor Commissioner when he was Governor of New York, and he brought her “up” with him when he transitioned to the White House. Very impressive moves for his time.

In her position as New York Labor Commissioner, Perkins had worked tirelessly to improve pay and working conditions in industries that employed women as well as men. She also focused public attention on the plight of poor working women, an issue often ignored by politicians.

fdr official white house china

CLASSIC SERVICE PLATE FROM THE F.D.R. OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION FEATURES THE HISTORIC ROOSEVELT FAMILY COAT OF ARMS - MANUFACTURED BY LENOX - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.

As Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins served from 1933 to 1945, the longest tenure of any holder of that cabinet post. President Roosevelt also appointed her to head a new cabinet-level Committee on Economic Security. In both roles, Perkins figured prominently in helping FDR craft ground-breaking legislation such as the Social Security Act, unemployment insurance and federal minimum wage laws.

Nonetheless, men benefited more than women because they were considered family bread-winners. The significant majority of jobs created by the CCC and WPA went to men. Minimum wage laws allowed women to be paid less for the same work, and newly-instituted Social Security legislation did not cover domestics or retail workers, two groups comprised largely of women.

Frances Perkins

FRANCES PERKINS (1880-1965)
FIRST WOMAN APPOINTED TO THE U.S. CABINET AND THE LONGEST SERVING U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR (1933-1945)

Frances Perkins may have held the highest position for a woman in government during the Roosevelt presidential years, but she was not alone. Women came to fill many key roles, especially in agencies and programs associated with FDR’s New Deal. Josephine Roche served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Hilda Smith directed Workers Education for the WPA. Clara Beyer served as Associate Director of the Division of Labor Standards, and Mary McLeod Bethune headed the Division of Negro Affairs within the National Youth Administration.

eleanor roosevelt

ANNA ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (1884-1962)
OUR LONGEST SERVING FIRST LADY (1933-1945)

And then there was Eleanor. Like many Presidential wives throughout our history, Eleanor Roosevelt served as confidante and unofficial political advisor to her husband. But she was the first to transform the role of First Lady into a highly visible advocacy position.

Eleanor used her prominence as First Lady to promote coverage for women in federal relief programs. A women’s division was created under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and a woman was appointed to head the division. States were required to appoint their own women’s programs, headed by women.

fdr service place uss williamsburg

STUNNING SERVICE PLATE ORDERED BY ROOSEVELT FOR THE USS WILLIAMSBURG. UNFORTUNATELY, THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF FDR MEANT HE WOULD NOT GET TO USE OR SEE THIS GORGEOUS FINAL PRODUCT - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

In 1940, the women’s division of the Democratic National Committee met in Washington, DC. Anticipating a turnout of around a hundred women, FDR and Eleanor, who was a leader in the organization, extended an invitation to meet at the White House. The President wanted a chance to “chat a little” with them. However, when 4,000 women arrived in the capital for the gathering, the meeting had to be moved elsewhere. Perhaps both Roosevelts had seriously underestimated the desire of women across the country to take an active role in politics.

One thing is certain: Franklin Delano Roosevelt had two smart, strong women working in the Executive branch of the government. Whether FDR was a deliberate advocate for women or he simply respected and appreciated what they could contribute to his administration, he did instigate and preside over dramatic economic and social programs that had profound effects on women as well as men. And he will always be known as the president who opened the cabinet door to woman.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Woodrow Wilson: Progressive Segregationist?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

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WOODROW WILSON (1856-1924)
OUR 28TH PRESIDENT (1913-1921)

Progressive. President of Princeton University. Creator of the Federal Reserve System. Supporter of women’s voting rights. The 28th President of the United States. These are all things that come to mind when we think back on the life and career of Woodrow Wilson. Few of us think “segregationist.” Nonetheless, Wilson was a staunch believer and promoter when it came to separating white and black Americans.

William Keylor is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. In a book he wrote in 2013, he noted, “Wilson is widely and correctly remembered – and represented in our history books – as a progressive Democrat who introduced many liberal reforms at home and fought for the extension of democratic liberties and human rights abroad. But on the issue of race his legacy was, in fact, regressive and has largely been forgotten.”

woodrow wilson white house china

ELEGANT SERVICE PLATE FROM THE WOODROW WILSON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - MANUFACTURED BY LENOX - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.

Woodrow Wilson was a product of the South. Born in Virginia in 1856, he grew up in Georgia and South Carolina. His Southern upbringing influenced his beliefs and actions throughout his life. During his tenure as Princeton’s president, the school did not accept black applicants because Wilson thought their pursuit of education was “unwarranted.”

When he was elected President in 1912, Washington, DC was strictly segregated. However, federal agencies had been integrated during Reconstruction and many African-Americans had been hired into civil service jobs, working alongside white employees. Although five decades had passed since the Emancipation Act, Wilson immediately set to work dismantling reforms that had opened opportunities for black citizens.

woodrow wilson shoe horn

PRESIDENT WILSON'S EXQUISITE STERLING SILVER SHOE HORN HAND ENGRAVED "TWW - 1913" TO REPRESENT WILSON'S ACTUAL NAME OF THOMAS WOODROW WILSON - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Woodrow Wilson encouraged his cabinet members to re-segregate their departments. Many of them did so, including the Postal Service and Department of the Navy. Workers were separated by color, then separated by screens. In one department a black worker was reportedly surrounded by a cage instead, since his job required him to work closely with his white colleagues. In the Treasury Department, cafeterias and restrooms were separated. A new rule was instituted requiring photographs of all civil service job applicants.

Wilson claimed these changes were made to eliminate “friction between the colored and white clerks,” adding, “It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I sincerely believe it to be in their interest.”

African-American Monroe Trotter, a Boston newspaper editor and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard, led the National Independent Political League to the White House in protest. Wilson brushed them off, stating “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit.” Trotter retorted, “For fifty years white and colored clerks have been working together in peace and harmony and friendliness, doing so even through two Democratic administrations.”

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WILSON'S IMAGE GRACES THE FRONT OF THE LARGEST DENOMINATION OF U.S. PRINTED CURRENCY. THESE EXTREMELY RARE BILLS WERE ONLY MADE DURING A THREE-WEEK STRETCH BETWEEN DECEMBER 1934 AND JANUARY 1935.

W.E.B. Du Bois later wrote the President, “It is no exaggeration to say that every enemy of the Negro race is greatly encouraged; that every man who dreams of making the Negro race a group of menials and pariahs is alert and hopeful.”

“Birth of a Nation,” the legendary silent movie produced by D.W. Griffith in 1915, depicted the glories of the rising Ku Klux Klan. The film’s verbal commentary was delivered in the form of quotes from Woodrow Wilson’s writings.

Ironically, Wilson was heavily supported by black voters when he ran for President in 1912. He promised them “not more grudging justice but justice executed with liberality and cordial good feeling.” However, as protests grew against his segregationist policies, Wilson’s response was merely to suggest that if black Americans regretted voting for him, “they ought to correct it.”

Historian John M. Mulder has been quoted as saying Wilson’s “stance on race is perhaps the greatest single defect of his moral vision of what the United States should be.”

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Theodore Roosevelt: election Campaigns Then and Right Now

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Mar 08, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

teddy roosevelt

THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919)
OUR 26TH PRESIDENT (1901-1909)

Teddy Roosevelt is one of our historically highly-rated, most well-known, and beloved American presidents. Stories about him in and out of the White House abound. Since we’re now in the midst of another hotly-contested presidential election season, it is interesting to look back at how TR, as he preferred to be called, approached his own campaigns. Was electioneering really so different 100+ years ago?

In a word - NO. Remove modern technology from the equation, and you find some surprising – and some humorous – similarities. Teddy Roosevelt first campaigned in 1900, as running mate to Republican presidential nominee William McKinley. He couldn’t have known he would actually become our 26th president shortly thereafter, when McKinley was assassinated. He worked so hard in support of McKinley, one columnist reportedly said, “Tis Teddy alone that’s running, an’ he ain’t a running, he’s gallopin’.”

teddy roosevelt white house china

SIMPLE AND ELEGANTLY DESIGNED FISH PLATE FROM THE TEDDY ROOSEVELT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - MANUFACTURED BY WEDGWOOD - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.

Name calling – a hallmark of current campaigning – was prevalent back then, too. Mark Hanna, a political rival within TR’s own Republican Party, called Teddy “that damned cowboy.” During the 1904 presidential election, the Democrats billed themselves as the “sane and safe choice.” Conversely, they described Roosevelt’s administration as “spasmodic, erratic, sensational, spectacular and arbitrary.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE. Teddy raised more than $2 million from wealthy industrialists and Wall Street financiers like J.P. Morgan. Reportedly this group said they would rather see an “unpredictable head of a predictable party” in the White House than a “predictable head of an unpredictable party.”

teddy roosevelt silver case

PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S ORNATELY CRAFTED
1902 STERLING SILVER CASE, MONOGRAMMED "TR 1902" - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

THE ART OF EXPEDIENT DEAL-MAKING. To secure support from more conservative Republicans, Teddy made a trade. He promised to downplay his progressive domestic agenda if they would allow him to follow his own lead in foreign affairs. When he used his “bully pulpit” to promote regulation of big business, the conservatives insisted that TR tone it down. However, as a campaign tactic shortly before the 1904 Republican convention, Roosevelt defiantly issued an executive order giving pensions to all veterans between 62-67 years old.

Ironically, it was deal-making that caused Teddy to split from the Republicans and form his own Progressive Party. Having decided to make another run for the White House against his former protégé William H. Taft, Roosevelt arrived at the convention with more delegates than Taft. But Taft’s people refused to recognize their credentials. Teddy was irate and walked out, along with his followers. He later told them at their own convention, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”

teddy roosevelt tea caddy

THEODORE ROOSEVELT’S EXQUISITE
STERLING SILVER TEA CADDY - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Even key platform issues haven’t changed much. Roosevelt campaigned for economic opportunity and political justice, a national health service and a minimum wage for women. Woodrow Wilson, running against Teddy in 1912, campaigned for corporate campaign spending limits and banking and currency reform.

ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE. Although Teddy had campaigned long and hard on behalf of McKinley, he did not actively participate in his own campaign to become president in 1904. In those days, presidential candidates did not do that. It’s difficult to imagine today’s nominees sitting on the sidelines while their respective vice-presidential candidates did all the work to win over voters.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: Theodore Roosevelt

Benjamin Harrison: An Electrifying Term of Office

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 @ 01:57 PM

harrison_w.h._full_prtrait_president_benjamin-harrison-portrait-painting-1.jpg

BENJAMIN HARRISON (1833-1901)
OUR 23RD PRESIDENT (1889-1893)

Nothing changes our perspective like advancements in technology. Now, in the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine a time when a setting as influential as the White House didn’t even have electricity. Such a simple technology -- something we take for granted today but something new and wondrous as President Benjamin Harrison was ascending to office.

It was our 23rd president who brought that new-fangled technology to the White House, about halfway through his term and just ten years after electric lighting was introduced to the public.

Bringing electricity to the White House in 1891 was something of a daring move. Because the technology was so new, it wasn’t widely accepted as a true replacement for “old-fashioned” lamps. But Benjamin Harrison had money to spend -- he was the first president to get a $1 billion budget passed by Congress. Funding was available not only to electrify the White House but to install electrical wiring in the adjacent State, War & Navy building as well.

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CAPTIVATING STATE DINNER PLATE FROM THE HARRISON WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - MANUFACTURED BY TRESSEMANES AND VOGT, LIMOGES - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.

The retrofit involved burying wires in the plaster walls, then installing round switches in each room. The work was done by Irwin H. “Ike” Hoover, a young employee at the equally young Edison General Electric Company. As it turned out, once he completed the wiring projects Ike stayed on as part of the White House staff – for 42 years.

Although Benjamin Harrison showed great leadership in bringing electricity to the White House, he and his wife were reportedly afraid of being electrocuted. According to stories, they reportedly wouldn’t touch the light switches, preferring to simply leave the lights on at night. However, historians suggest that this story is unlikely. Instead, the President and First Lady more likely left it to their domestic staff to turn the lights on and off.

Benjamin Harrison holds another presidential technology first, too. In 1889, a 36-second speech was recorded in his voice on a wax phonograph cylinder, making his the first presidential voice to be preserved for posterity.

benjamin-harrison-china-breakfast-plate-1.jpg

BEAUTIFUL BREAKFAST PLATE FROM THE HARRISON WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION FEATURES A DELICATELY HAND-PAINTED CORN AND GOLDENROD TRIM - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Since Harrison’s presidency, other Chief Executives have scored technology firsts. James Polk’s inauguration was the first to be reported live via telegraph. Rutherford B. Hayes installed the first telephone in the White House. (Perhaps not surprisingly, the phone number was 1.) But it took another half-century before the President’s desk in the Oval Office sported a phone, installed at Herbert Hoover’s request.

Bill Clinton was the first president to create an official White House website and use email, and President Obama transformed social media technology into a must-have campaigning tool during his first election.

It’s interesting to speculate how this progression of White House technology leadership might have been different had Benjamin Harrison not taken that first “radical” step back in 1891 to bring the latest innovation to the White House.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: Benjamin Harrison

Rutherford B. Hayes: One Tough Cookie

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

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RUTHERFORD B. HAYES (1822-1893)
OUR 19TH PRESIDENT (1877-1881)

Our 19th president may not be the most famous or the most decorated Civil War hero, but he certainly was one of the most durable. We can’t help but admire his resilience, courage and dedication. During his four years of service, Rutherford B. Hayes was wounded four times, once quite severely. He also had four horses shot out from under him.

Five US presidents actually served during the Civil War, although Hayes was the only one who was wounded. After the war, General Ulysses S. Grant wrote that Hayes’ conduct on the field “was marked by conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring.”

A Harvard-educated lawyer, Rutherford B. Hayes opposed slavery. When the Republican Party was formed in the 1850s to oppose expansion of slavery, Hayes became an active member where he lived in Cincinnati. He enlisted to fight with the Union in 1861 after Confederate soldiers fired on Fort Sumter. Hayes suffered his first war wound – to the knee – early on when his regiment was conducting raids against Confederates in West Virginia.

hayes_w.h_china_full_oriole_shot_rutherford-hayes-dessert-plate-1.jpg

ELEGANT HAND-PAINTED DESSERT PLATE FROM THE HAYES WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION FEATURES A COLORFUL BALTIMORE ORIOLE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
SEE MORE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE.

In September of 1862, Hayes was injured much more seriously during the Battle of South Mountain in Maryland. A Lt. Colonel at the time, Hayes and his men spearheaded an attack at Fox’s Gap. His journal entries describe heavy fighting leading up to his injury:

“Just as I gave the command to charge I felt a stunning blow and found a musket ball had struck my left arm just above the elbow. Fearing that an artery might be cut, I asked a soldier near me to tie my handkerchief above the wound. I soon felt weak, faint, and sick at the stomach.” Hayes notes he laid down and was “pretty comfortable.”

His journal continues, “I was perhaps twenty feet behind the line of my men, and could form a pretty accurate notion of the way the fight was going. The enemy's fire was occasionally very heavy; balls passed near my face and hit the ground all around me. I could see wounded men staggering or carried to the rear.”

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A RARE AND ORNATE FISH PLATTER FROM THE HAYES SERVICE. HAND-PAINTED IN 1880 BY THEODORE R. DAVIS - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

As fighting positions changed, Hayes eventually realized he was lying between the enemy and his own soldiers. He was rescued under fire and moved to another position where he could continue to manage the assault. Following the battle, he was treated at a field hospital and billeted with a local family for several weeks while he recuperated. Then he went back to active duty. His fourth and final wound came during the Battle of Cedar Creek in 1864.

Rutherford B. Hayes was nominated to run for Congress in 1864. However, the war was still raging. He refused to actively campaign, explaining in a letter, “An officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped.”

Later in life, Rutherford B. Hayes described his Civil War action as “the best years of our lives.” Despite being injured four times, General Hayes was not the most-often-wounded officer in the Civil War. But Hayes was one tough cookie!

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: Rutherford B. Hayes

New Acquisition: Rare Service Plate From the President's USS Williamsburg

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

USS Williamsburg plate

A STUNNING AND RARE SERVICE PLATE FROM THE USS WILLIAMSBURG CHINA IS NOW PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a very rare – and exceptionally beautiful – service plate to augment his outstanding collection of Presidential and White House China. This lovely 10-1/2” plate was owned for decades by Capt. Jack Kevers, USN. Mr. Amyx acquired it from Capt. Kevers’ great-grandson, who noted his ancestor “rubbed shoulders with many of the historic figures of the day.”

Indeed he did. Those historic figures included Admiral Richard Byrd and Winston Churchill as well as President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was FDR who figures in the provenance of this service plate. Capt. Kevers served in the White House as Assistant Naval Aide to President Roosevelt and was later named Commanding Officer of the first Presidential yacht, Potomac. The Potomac was often referred to as the “Floating White House.” When it was replaced by the USS Williamsburg, Capt. Kevers continued as CO.

Captain Jack Kevers

CAPTAIN JACK KEVERS AT THE HELM WITH F.D.R AS ONE OF HIS PASSENGERS.

Why is this plate so rare? It comes from a china service that was ordered from Lenox in 1944 for use on the USS Williamsburg. The yacht was considered a “vacation ship” to travel between Washington, DC and Florida. It included a formal dining room because passengers sometimes included important dignitaries such as Churchill. The china for this dining room had to be much finer than the everyday dishes used by the crew.

USS Williamsburg

THE PRESIDENTIAL YACHT - THE USS WILLIAMSBURG - SERVED AS THE HOME FOR THIS RARE CHINA COLLECTION UNTIL THE YACHT WAS DECOMMISSIONED AND ALL CHINA PIECES WERE MOVED TO CAMP DAVID.

For obvious reasons, the formal dining room aboard the yacht was far smaller than the formal dining room at the White House, capable of seating only about two dozen diners. It is not known exactly how many pieces were in the order, though only a small number of place settings and service pieces would have been needed. By contrast, FDR’s official White House China consisted of 220 pieces.

The elegantly simple design was chosen personally by FDR. It is entirely different from Roosevelt’s official White House China. The plate features the official federal eagle centered on a white ground. As was still the tradition at this time, the eagle is facing a quiver of arrows, not the olive branch clasped on his other side. The rim is decorated with a pair of dark blue and gold bands, separated by a wide buff band studded with 13 gold stars representing the original American colonies. (In 1947, Truman officially reversed the official motif so that the eagle would forever face the olive branch of peace.)

FDR White House China

LENOX PRODUCED THIS TIMELESS DESIGN FOR THE FRANKLIN AND ELENOR ROOSEVELT OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA. THIS ELEGANT DINNER PLATE DISPLAYS THE HISTORIC ROOSEVELT FAMILY COAT OF ARMS - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

The Williamsburg plates were manufactured by Lenox and represent the same high-quality china as the White House China made for FDR and Truman. The service plates were by far the most beautiful pieces among this set – not unusual because it is these plates that are pre-set to visually welcome dinner guests to the table.

Franklin Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, without ever having a chance to enjoy his new china or even to see the final product. However, President Truman used the china onboard the yacht, the only president to do so. Later, when President Eisenhower decommissioned the USS Williamsburg, the china service was moved to Camp David. It remained in use there until President Ronald and Nancy Reagan “retired” the service in lieu of something new.

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FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945)
OUR 32ND PRESIDENT (1933-1945)

For Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, acquiring this stunning piece is an exception in his lifetime of collecting important Presidential memorabilia. Normally, he notes, he isn’t interested in china from the yachts or from Air Force One, because these dishes are plentiful and, therefore, not particularly valuable to top-end collectors.

However, he admits, “If you’re a smart and serious collector, you have to have this plate because it’s more beautiful than many other pieces of White House China.”

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: USS Williamsburg

Ulysses S Grant: Cigars, Cocaine and Cancer

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

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ULYSSES S. GRANT (1822-1885)
OUR 18TH PRESIDENT (1869-1877)

With former President Jimmy Carter’s dramatic victory over cancer in the news, it makes one wonder how many other presidents have had a brush with cancer. As it turns out, several of them have experienced this disease first-hand, either while in office or afterward. But only Ulysses S. Grant actually perished from the disease.

President Grant died on July 23, 1885, from throat cancer. Grant was a notorious, lifelong cigar-lover. He not only smoked them but chewed them – as many as a dozen a day by his own admission. Historians report that once the public discovered his love of cigars, he received more than 20,000 as gifts. Grant was also a heavy drinker at times during his life.

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GENERAL GRANT'S HANDSOME MAHOGANY CIGAR CASE WITH A BRASS SHIELD MONOGRAMMED "USG-1862". THIS PROFOUND RELIC WAS PRESENTED TO RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX ABOUT A QUARTER-CENTURY AGO.

Grant’s wife Julia remembers her husband was eating peaches – a favorite of his – when he first noticed a problem with his throat. “He proceeded to eat the dainty morsel; then he started up as if in great pain and exclaimed, ‘Oh my. I think something has stung me from that peach.’” Unfortunately, he ignored that warning.

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THE GRANT WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION FEATURES 24 DIFFERENT FLOWERS REPRESENTING 24 DIFFERENT STATES. THIS ELEGANT 9.25" STATE DINNER PLATE FROM THE COLLECTION OF ULYSSES AND JULIA GRANT IS STILL IN PRISTINE CONDITION AND PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

The victim of a shady investment scheme, Grant found himself broke later in life. Knowing he was dying of throat cancer, he accepted a lucrative offer from his longtime admirer Mark Twain to write and publish his memoirs. Despite Grant’s terrible pain and failing health, they worked together for five weeks in a cottage on the grounds of the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The house is now the Grant Cottage Historic Site, where several of his personal effects are on display.

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GRANT COTTAGE STATE HISTORICAL SITE ON THE SLOPE OF MOUNT McGREGOR IN WILTON, NEW YORK. THIS COZY COTTAGE IS WHERE GRANT COMPLETED HIS MEMOIRS BEFORE PASSING AWAY IN HIS BED ON JUNE 16, 1885. ORIGINAL FURNISHINGS, DECOR AND PERSONAL ITEMS ARE ON DISPLAY IN THE COTTAGE.

Perhaps the most interesting item is the glass of cocaine hydro chlorate solution, which Grant called his “cocaine water.” Swallowing small amounts of the liquid was the only treatment available to him. By the time Grant sought medical help for the pain and swelling in his mouth, the cancer was untreatable. But the cocaine solution helped alleviate the pain in his throat. Over time, the cocaine in the solution has settled to the bottom of the glass. Tim Welch, director of the Grant Historic Site, says, “Every year the New York State Department of Parks and Recreation measures this and makes sure that none of it is gone.”

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THIS CHINESE PORCELAIN FISH PLATE IS ONE OF ONLY 24 ORDERED FOR THE GRANT SERVICE, WHICH THEY SELECTED WHILE TOURING EUROPE. THIS UNIQUE PATTERNED PLATE IS IN REMARKABLE CONDITION AND PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Ulysses Grant passed away just a few days after his memoirs were completed. His family reportedly received more than $450,000 from the sale of 300,000-plus copies of his memoirs, an inordinately huge sum of money for this period of history.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: Ulysses S. Grant

Abraham Lincoln: Pardoner of Turkeys, Lover of Cats

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Sun, Jan 03, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Abraham Lincoln 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865)
OUR 16TH PRESIDENT (1861-1865)  

This past Thanksgiving, the President of the United States once again pardoned a turkey, saving the bird forever from becoming part of our nation’s annual feast. Did you know that tradition started with President Abraham Lincoln?

As President, in 1863 Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” He received a turkey as a special dinner gift for this new holiday, but his son Tad stepped in to ask that his father spare the bird.

Obama pardoning a turkeyPRESIDENT OBAMA PERFORMING THE ANNUAL THANKSGIVING TRADITION OF PARDONING A TURKEY 

An historical anecdote relates that after shooting a turkey as a youth, Lincoln was so upset at what he had done he vowed never to hunt animals again. That was an exceptionally unusual decision, given that Lincoln grew up on the frontier. Nonetheless, Lincoln overtly loved all animals and believed they should be treated with the same care and compassion as people. “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights,” he said. “That is the way of a whole human being.”

Lincoln once backtracked a half-mile because he’d seen a pig stuck in a bog and wanted to help it out.

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A STUNNING 9.25" STATE DINNER PLATE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE COLLECTION OF ABRAHAM AND MARY TODD LINCOLN - STILL IN PRISTINE CONDITION. NOW IN THE COLLECTION OF RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX.

While practicing as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln adopted a mutt as a pet – another unheard of practice on the frontier. He named the dog Fido, Latin for “fidelity,” and it went everywhere with him including to the dining table where Lincoln petted the dog and shared his meals with him. However, when it was time for the newly elected President and his family to move from Illinois to Washington, DC, they worried the long trip and confusion would upset their beloved Fido.

Instead they left the dog with a neighbor, extracting a long list of promises regarding the dog’s care and treatment. They even left behind Fido’s favorite horsehair sofa so he’d have a familiar place to sleep.

After settling in at the White House, the Lincolns acquired a new dog, named Jip. This dog also shared meals and cuddling at the table with his master. Besides the dog, the Lincoln White House included rabbits and two pet goats, Nanny and Nanko. Allowed to wander grounds and house, the goats were the bane of housekeeping staff, chewing flowers and furniture alike. But the President adored those goats. The Lincoln sons Tad and Willie also adored the goats, hitching them to carts or the kitchen chairs for a ride.

lincoln white house china

FROM THE COLLECTION OF RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX: ONE OF ONLY FOUR SERVING PIECES IN LINCOLN'S ORIGINAL "BUFF" WHITE HOUSE CHINA ORDER, THIS RARE AND PRISTINE 10" WHITE SERVING DISH DISPLAYS CLASSIC GOLD AND BUFF ACCENTS.

But our sixteenth president was most devoted to cats, so much so that his wife once claimed cats were her husband’s hobby. Secretary of State William Seward bestowed two kittens on Lincoln as a White House gift. The President loved to spend hours petting the cats and talking to them. And, as he did with Jip, he fed his kitties at the table. One time he used a gold fork to do that, which was too much for Mrs. Lincoln. His response? “If a gold fork was good enough for former President Buchanan, it’s good enough for Tabby.”

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A LIFE SIZE BRONZE STATUE OF LINCOLN AND HIS HORSE "OLD BOB" - CREATED BY IVAN SCHWARTZ AND FEATURED IN THE GARDENS OF LINCOLN'S COTTAGE IN WASHINGTON D.C.

As befitted a lifelong animal lover, Abraham Lincoln’s beloved horse Old Bob served as the rider-less horse in his master’s funeral following Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|

RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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Tags: Abraham Lincoln

FRANKLIN Pierce: THE WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

franklin pierce 

FRANKLIN PIERCE (1804-1869)
OUR 14TH PRESIDENT (1853-1857)  

For most Americans, when we think of President Franklin Pierce, we draw a blank. Pierce simply wasn’t that memorable, especially compared to our many high-profile leaders. Perhaps that is because our 14th President was most notable as a contrarian and for the tragic loss of his children.

Some historians consider Franklin Pierce the worst president the United States has ever had. He served just one term, from 1853 to 1857, yet he managed to accomplish two “firsts” with that. He was nominated as the first-ever presidential “dark horse” candidate in American history. Pierce was more or less a political unknown at the time and won the nomination only after Democratic Party representatives went through four dozen ballots unable to agree on anyone better known.

Pierce’s political failures while in office caused his fellow Democrats to turn their backs on him four years later. Although he wanted to serve a second term, they refused him another nomination. Franklin Pierce became the first sitting president to suffer that insult.

franklin pierce white house china

FROM THE COLLECTION OF RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX: AN INTRICATE PLATE FROM THE FRANKLIN PIERCE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - IMPORTED AND DECORATED BY HAUGHWOT & DAILY, NEW YORK. THIS WAS THE FIRST AMERICAN DECORATED CHINA SERVICE EVER PURCHASED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.

Born in New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce gained notoriety as a Northerner with a Southern attitude toward slavery. Pierce was an expansionist and dedicated considerable effort to adding territory. However, because of his stance in favor of slavery, many saw these efforts as a covert ploy to expand the practice. So instead of quietly maintaining the peace between pro- and anti-slavery factors – the nation’s expectation of his presidency – Pierce’s actions fanned the flames of controversy.

Pierce continued to argue in favor of slavery after he left office, and was an overt opponent of Abraham Lincoln.

He went against the grain in other ways, too. At his inauguration, he merely affirmed his oath of office by placing his hand on one of his law books rather than swearing on a Bible. Interestingly, he gave his entire inaugural speech – 3,319 words’ worth -- from memory. Pierce punctuated that by cancelling his inaugural ball.

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FORMER FIRST LADY JANE PIERCE (1806-1863) WITH THEIR ELDEST SON BENNIE WHO TRAGICALLY DIED IN A TRAIN WRECK AT AGE 11

Pierce’s wife Jane suffered from frail health and depression throughout her life, and the couple’s three sons all perished before the age of 12. Franklin, Jr. died just three days after his birth in 1836. Frank Robert was born in 1839 but died four years later during a typhoid epidemic. And Benjamin, known affectionately to his parents as “Bennie,” died horribly in a train wreck just two months before his father took office as President. Bennie, 11 years old at the time, was the only person to die in the accident.

For much of his life, Franklin Pierce vacillated between alcoholism and advocating temperance. His wife was devoutly religious, and it was through her he first became active in the temperance movement. But his dependence on alcohol during trying times became more prominent as he aged, and ultimately he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1869.

franklin pierce

FRANKLIN PIERCE BEGAN THE TRADITION OF DISPLAYING A CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

There was, however, one bright note in Pierce’s presidency: he was the first President to put up a Christmas tree in the White House.  

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|
RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

SELECT PRESIDENTIAL ITEMS TO BE OFFERED

 

Tags: Franklin Pierce

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