How other presidents spent their Fourths of July

President George W. Bush smiles as he poses for a group photo with military personnel during his visit to U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.  on July 4, 2006. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Through history, the Fourth of July has been a day for some presidents to declare their independence from the public. They’ve made tracks to the beach, the mountains, the golf course, the farm, the ranch. In the middle of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt was sailing to a Hawaii vacation.

It’s also been a day for some presidents to insert themselves front and center in the fabric of it all, as Donald Trump plans to do Thursday with his speechifying and showmanship. Teddy Roosevelt drew crowds in the hundreds of thousands for his oratory and Richard Nixon enraged the anti-war masses without even showing up.

In modern times, though, presidents have tended to stand back and let the people party. George W. Bush had a ceremony welcoming immigrants as new citizens. Barack Obama threw a South Lawn barbecue for troops. Trump’s plan to command center stage with his words and American military might has the capital cleaving along political lines.

As the anti-Nixon demonstrations of 1970 showed, Independence Day in the capital isn’t always just fun and games. It has a tradition of red, white and boo, too.

And when protesters make their presence felt Thursday, that will be as American as the cherries and milk that apparently soured Zachary Taylor’s gut when he wolfed them down July 4, 1850, and died five days later.

A look at what some presidents have done on the Fourth of July:

1777: On the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, with the Revolutionary War underway, future president John Adams describes a day and night of spontaneous celebration in Philadelphia in a letter to his wife, Abigail. After hours of parading troops, fireworks, bonfires and music, he tells her he strolled alone in the dark.

“I was walking about the streets for a little fresh air and exercise,” he writes, “and was surprised to find the whole city lighting up their candles at the windows. I walked most of the evening, and I think it was the most splendid illumination I ever saw; a few surly houses were dark; but the lights were very universal. Considering the lateness of the design and the suddenness of the execution, I was amazed at the universal joy and alacrity that was discovered, and at the brilliancy and splendour of every part of this joyful exhibition. ”

1791: Two years after becoming the first president, George Washington celebrates in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, “with an address, fine cuisine, and walking about town,” says the National Park Service . Philadelphia was the interim capital as Washington, D.C., was being readied; Lancaster had hosted the Continental Congress for a quick, on-the-run session during the revolution.

1798: Now president, John Adams reviews a military parade in Philadelphia as the young nation flexes its muscle.

1801: Thomas Jefferson presides over the first Fourth of July public reception at the White House.

1822: James Monroe hangs out at his farm in Virginia.

1826: Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third, both die on this July 4.

1831: James Monroe, who was the fifth president, dies on this July 4.

1848: James Polk witnesses the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument with Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois congressman, attending. A military parade follows.

1850: Zachary Taylor attends festivities at the grounds of the Washington Monument and falls ill with stomach cramps after eating cherries and drinking iced milk and water. He dies July 9. A theory that someone poisoned him with arsenic was debunked in 1991 when his body was exhumed and tested.

1861: Abraham Lincoln sends a message to Congress defending his invocation of war powers, appealing for more troops to fight the South and assailing Virginia for allowing “this giant insurrection to make its nest within her borders.” He vows to “go forward without fear.”

1868: Post-war, Andrew Johnson executes a proclamation granting amnesty to those who fought for the Confederacy.

1902: Teddy Roosevelt speaks to 200,000 people in Pittsburgh. He liked to get in people’s faces on the holiday.

1914: “Our country, right or wrong,” Woodrow Wilson declares at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

1928: Calvin Coolidge (born July 4, 1872) goes trout fishing in Wisconsin.

1930: Herbert Hoover vacations by the Rapidan River in Virginia.

1934: Franklin Roosevelt is in or near the Bahamas after leaving Annapolis, Maryland, on a monthlong voyage and visit to Hawaii via the Panama Canal. On July 4, the U.S.S. Houston’s log refers to the “fishing party” leaving the ship for part of the day.

1946: With World War II over the year before, Harry Truman relaxes in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains at Roosevelt’s Shangri-La retreat, later renamed Camp David.

1951: With the U.S. at war in Korea, Truman addresses a huge crowd at the Washington Monument grounds, marking the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1953 and 1957: Dwight Eisenhower = golf.

1968: Lyndon Johnson, who favored his Texas ranch on the holiday, speaks in San Antonio about the lack of independence for the poor, minorities, the ill, people “who must breathe polluted air” and those who live in fear of crime, “despite our Fourth of July rhetoric.”

1970: Richard Nixon, in California, tapes a message that is played to crowds on the National Mall at an “Honor America Day” celebration organized by supporters and hotly protested by anti-war masses and civil rights activists. Tear gas overcomes protesters and celebrants alike, Viet Cong flags mingle with the Stars and Stripes, and demonstrators plunge into the reflecting pool, some naked.

1976: As the U.S. turns 200, Gerald Ford speaks at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, then Independence Hall, and reviews the armada of tall ships in New York harbor.

1987: Ronald Reagan, at Camp David, makes a straight political statement in his July 4 radio address, pitching an economic “bill of rights” and Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. On a Saturday, it served as his weekly radio address, which he and other modern presidents used for their agendas.

2008: George W. Bush, like several presidents before him, hosts a naturalization ceremony. More than 70 people from 30 countries are embraced as new citizens.

2010: Barack Obama brings 1,200 service members to the South Lawn for a barbecue. The father of a July 4 baby, Malia, he would joke that she always thought the capital fireworks were for her.

2012: Obama combines two Fourth of July traditions — celebrating troops and new citizens — by honoring the naturalization of U.S. military members who came to the country as immigrants.

2017: Trump goes to his golf club, then hosts a White House picnic for military families.

2018: Another White House picnic for military families, with thousands also invited to see the fireworks.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Obama: Rights, equality ensured America’s success

A new U.S. citizen holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, Thursday.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
A new U.S. citizen holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, Thursday.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

President Barack Obama says the U.S. has only succeeded because generations of Americans have fought to expand rights and opportunity to more people.

Obama is reflecting on the meaning of the Fourth of July in his weekly radio and Internet address. He says there’s no nation on earth that wouldn’t trade places with the United States.

Obama says the Founding Fathers were united by a belief that all are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He says America’s success has been made possible because Americans never took those truths for granted.

In the Republican address, Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack says Washington has been denying Americans the chance to seize their economic destiny. He says Republicans are working to restore opportunity.



Obama address:

GOP address:


Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights

Independence Day – 2014

Capitol Hill Blue founder and publisher Doug Thompson uses images and videos to both tell stories and express points of view.

For his annual Independence Day video, he used images that he feels portray a still beautiful but conflicted America.

“As an American, I love my country,” he says.  “But, as an American, I also worry about what it has become.”

In Thompson’s view, America has become a nation where we celebrate freedom while not actually practicing or having it, a country where we soldiers are asked to serve their nation and then are forgotten when they come home and a place where money and politics override common sense and decency.

Is it American the Beautiful or America the Ugly?  You decide.

From all of us at Capitol HIll Blue, our best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July.

‘Restore the Fourth:’ An idea whose time has come?

Restore the Fourth marchers in Austin, Texas (photo courtesy of Reddit.Com)
Restore the Fourth marchers in Austin, Texas (photo courtesy of Reddit.Com)

In more than 100 towns and cities across the nation on July 4th, protestors gathered not to celebrate America’s independence but instead to demand that freedom and liberty be returned to a nation where rights are under attack and disappearing.

“Restore the Fourth,” had a double meaning:  Recognizing the nation’s founding and seeking restoration of the privacy rights that used to be protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

As we here at Capitol Hill Blue have reported over the years, rights and freedoms that Americans once took for granted are disappearing under rights-robbing laws like the USA Patriot Act and increasing government intervention into the lives of all citizens.

In New York City, Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Philadelphia and other locations, those unhappy with White House and Congress-backed spying of Americans by the National Security Agency and other government agencies gathered to voice their anger over the loss of privacy and freedom in America.

Supporters reported good turnouts in places like Austin, Texas, where many unhappy with the Gestapo-like tactics of both the current administration of Barack Obama and the previous Presidency of George W. Bush marched and voiced their dismay over the dismantling of traditional American freedoms.

Posters to the web discussion site Reddit.Com, which spearheaded much of the effort, reported Denver police used pepper spray, clubbed some participants and ran over a young girl’s foot with a motorcycle.

Others reported police harassment in Chicago while marches went smoothly in New York City and other locations.

Most locations reported crowds that ran into the hundreds and supporters hope the demonstrations on the Fourth start a nationwide trend of widespread and growing protests against the spying.

Michael Reed, the director of communications for the Restore the Fourth Movement, says 19,000 subscribers joined the group that formed on Reddit.Com and the movement’s page drew more than half a million visitors in the first three days.

Rainey Reitman, activism director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the goal was to take the energy online to the streets on Independence Day.

The group got strong support from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who posted a video message on YouTube to support the rallies and promised to “lead the fight” against surveillance programs of the government.

“The Fourth Amendment ought to be defended,” Paul said in his video.  “I think really the right to privacy is one of the new fights of the century.”

Amen Senator.  Amen.


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A White House barbeque to thank troops

The White House on July 4th.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The White House on July 4th. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Barack Obama is noting that it’s not just the nation’s birthday, it’s his daughter Malia’s, too.

At a sun-splashed Independence Day barbeque on the White House South Lawn, the president and first lady Michele Obama thanked members of the military for their service to the nation. The Declaration of Independence was adopted 237 years ago on July 4, 1776. Malia Obama turned 15 on Thursday.

The Obamas spoke to the crowd and then spent about 10 minutes shaking hands and posing for pictures with babies dressed in red, white and blue ahead of evening fireworks on the National Mall.

The USO sponsored the event and expected about 1,200 military personnel and their families to attend. Also there were members of Obama’s administration and their families.


Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue


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The Fourth of July

As America pauses to celebrate the Fourth of July, Capitol Hill Blue founder and publisher Doug Thompson, who is also a photographer and filmmaker, put together a short video on Independence Day.

Even tough Thompson earlier wrote a column expressing doubts that America is truly a free or independent nation today, this video clip expresses no political opinion or doubts about the nation.

“I do find it incredible that some who responded to my column about the lack of American independence doubted my love of country,” Thompson says.  “To the contrary, it is love of country that made the column necessary and most of my life is devoted to visual displays of this country’s beauty and its people.”


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July 4th: A day set aside for an American independence that does not exist

Uncle Sam: Crying out for an America that no longer exists.
Uncle Sam: Crying out for an America that no longer exists.

On Thursday, America will pause for a rare mid-week holiday to celebrate Independence Day.

Yep, the 4th of July is Independence Day, the day we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence that led to the Revolutionary War against England and the march towards the creation of the United States of America.

Unlike many holidays in this country, Independence Day is not relegated to the closest Monday for celebration.  It is one of the rare days that is actually honored on the real date.

But while the day is real, the reason for celebrating the day may not be so factual.

Sadly, Americans no longer have any real independence to celebrate on July 4th.

Think about.  Is America today really independent?

If so, independent of what?

America’s government, theoretically a government “of the people, for the people and by the people” is — in reality — a government controlled by special interests and dependent upon the money of fat cats whose agendas have little to do with “the people.”

Those “truths” that signings of the Declaration of Independence accepted when they put their names on the document on July 4, 1776, no longer exist — if they ever did.

Americans are not free or independent.  They live lies regulated by that government, restricted by ever-increasing and more repressive laws.  We are a people controlled by a government that neither cares nor responds to our needs.  We are spied upon 24/7 by a hostile government that operates under the belief that any of us can be a terrorist and none of us can be trusted.

Our leaders lie to us so much that truth is a lost commodity and deception is an accepted part of business as usual.

Those who speak out against the tyranny are castigated and called traitors.  Those who seek a return to freedom and independence have no leaders to back or parties to join.  The system is controlled by two political parties with a singular purpose — absolute control by an agenda that has nothing to do with the best interests of the nation.

America today is a nation without principle, a populace without hope and a rotting corpse without redemption.

So what do we celebrate on this day set aside for an independence that does not exist?

Most likely, the populace will act like it usually does by ignoring reality.  People will shoot off fireworks and make noise for invalid reasons.  Politicians will lie about freedoms that vanished long ago and the media will act like America still stands for something and has reason to party.

When the Titanic sank, a group of musicians played on until the water engulfed them and the drowned.

At our home, the American flag usually flies on a pole in the front yard.

On Thursday morning, I will raise that flag but it will be displayed upside down — the universal signal of distress.

America is a nation in distress and we cannot, and will not, practice hypocrisy on a day set aside for a reason that is now invalid.


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Boston bombers planned July 4th attack

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L), 26, is pictured in 2010 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is pictured in an undated FBI handout photo in this combination photo.  (REUTERS/The Sun of Lowell, MA/FBI/Handout)
Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L), 26, is pictured in 2010 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is pictured in an undated FBI handout photo in this combination photo.
(REUTERS/The Sun of Lowell, MA/FBI/Handout)

The two brothers suspected of carrying out the deadly attacks on the Boston Marathon had originally planned to set off their bombs on July 4, a law enforcement official said.

The official said the suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, advanced the date of their attack because they completed building bombs more quickly then they originally anticipated. The official declined to be identified and did not offer more details.

Police say the brothers detonated two bombs made with pressure-cookers in the April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and wounded 264.

An attack on Boston’s packed July 4 celebrations would have carried the extra symbolism of disrupting the city’s widely followed Independence Day celebrations.

Citing unnamed officials, The Boston Globe reported on its website that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother who was captured by police four days after the bombing, told investigators the pair discussed detonating their explosives at the city’s famed celebration on its Charles River Esplanade.

News of the alleged July 4 attack plan and other details supplied by Tsarnaev to investigators was earlier reported by The New York Times and other media outlets.

NBC News, also citing unnamed officials, reported Tsarnaev told investigators the bombs were made in the home of his brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police early on April 19.

The Times reported the ethnic Chechen brothers also considered suicide attacks and that they had viewed online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born cleric who was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen in 2011. There is no indication the brothers communicated with Awlaki, however, the newspaper reported on its website.

What, if any, ties the two suspects had with foreign militants is a key question for investigators trying to determine how the pair became radicalized. How they selected their target would also shed light on their mindset.

Mitch Silber, executive managing director at K2 Intelligence and former head of intelligence analysis at the New York City Police Department, said a July 4 attack in Boston might have been more deadly given the fact that greater numbers of people gather for the city’s annual celebration.

Former federal prosecutor Mark Rasch said a July 4 attack would have sent a stronger message.

“The essence of terrorism is all about symbolism,” Rasch said. “The Boston Marathon just does not have as much of a symbolic feeling as the Fourth of July to the United States.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was 26 when he was killed in the shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was wounded in the shootout and captured later that day.

Both are also suspected of killing a university police officer. Another officer was badly wounded in the Watertown confrontation.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with crimes in connection with the bombing that could carry the death penalty if he is convicted, and is being held at a prison medical facility in Devens, Massachusetts.


Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s remains were claimed on behalf of his family on Thursday. His body had been kept at a Boston facility for more than a week.

Terrel Harris, a spokesman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Massachusetts, said a funeral services company retained by the family had claimed the body. Harris declined to provide details including the cause of death or where the body had been taken.

On Tuesday, Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, said through an attorney that she wished his remains to be released to the Tsarnaev family.

Russell’s attorney could not immediately be reached on Thursday.

Investigators have questioned Russell as they seek clues about how the suspects allegedly built the two bombs used in the attack and whether they had help.

The Tsarnaevs’ parents previously lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but have since returned to Russia. Other relatives remain in the United States, including an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Maryland.

Officials said on Thursday that three men who had been charged with interfering with the investigation of the bombing were in custody at a jail in Middleton, Massachusetts, a small town about 20 miles North of Boston.

The three 19-year-olds – Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos – had been transported to the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton on Wednesday after they were charged in Boston. Authorities have described them as college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.


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Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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