Tuesday, January 20, 2009

973.092 Presidential Facts: Trivial Fun for an Important Historical Day

With these simple, few words

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

a major cornerstone of the process we in this country hold dear took place for the 44th time today as the 43th man to do so took the oath of office and became President of the United States.

Despite all the campaigning, the talking, the debating, the wheeling and dealing, the compromising, the organizing, the planning, it really comes down to those few words that brings about the transition...the change...in the power of our government.

It is amazing in its simplicity.

Now for the traditional first facts portion of my thoughts.

It was reported recently that Barack Obama official photograph is the first to be taken with a digital camera...no film to fade or get scratchy, disintegrate, or fall apart!

President John Quincy Adams was the earliest person who served as president to be photographed by the Bishop & Gray Gallery although his picture was not taken until 1843, some 14 years after his 1825-1829 term ended.

There seems to be some controversy over who was the first sitting president to be photographed, but general consensus gives the honor to James K. Polk, the 11th President who served from 1845-1849. The reason for the confusion is that Matthew Brady and his team of photographers and other photographers of the time were busy taking pictures of lots of famous people and dates were not always carefully noted. Some important photos include only ranges of years as the time marker!

The missing piece of my historical puzzle is which president is the first to be photographed in color? The best guess I could determine in the small amount of time I allowed myself to research this trivia is that there exists a piece of colored film of President William Henry Taft made in 1912 that was put through a process to created a colored single frame or "picture" of the 27th president.

Why does this photographic history pf presidents interest me? I take digital pictures...love the ease of them, but worry like a old person of the 20th century that I have nothing to "hold on to" for 99% of the pictures I have taken for about the last 5-6 years except for a computer file "somewhere" on some computer, old or new, while at least 2 dozen years of personal history taken on film are neatly filed away in boxes..to become faded, scratchy, disintegrated relics of times gone by!

O, yeah, and a simple little picture that I personally own that was created by the Brady team that contains the likenesses of 6 participants of the Civil War...among them, a gruff-looking, old codger with whom I share a family tie (and unfortunately, a familiar look)...and one of his staff members who later became the 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison!

Will I share this photograph? You bet...just as soon as I find the digital copy I carefully put away...somewhere!

P.S. This post also contains my favorite piece of presidential trivia no matter who is president. I love to ask "how many people have served as president?" and have them give me the number of presidents we have had. Why do these 2 numbers not match? The same person served as both the 22nd and 24th Presidents. Now it's your turn to figure out who! :-)

"Artwork" of the oath created using Wordle.
Photographs from Library of Congress files.


Busy Mom said...

Grover Cleveland! That's neat that you are related to a past president!

VWB said...

yep, you are right!

nope, not related to BH, but to his "boss" at the time of the picture!

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