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Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Friday Feature: Andrew Jackson Riding the Tiger

An etching of the Jackson assassination attempt.

Pictured: an etching of the Jackson assassination attempt.

This week, January 30, is the 178th anniversary of the first recorded attempted presidential assassination.

On January 30, 1835, Andrew Jackson was attending a congressional funeral held in the House chamber of the Capitol. As he exited, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed house painter, approached Jackson and shot at him. Incredibly, his gun misfired. Lawrence pulled out a second pistol and, again, a misfire. By this time Jackson was actively fighting back, reportedly clubbing Lawrence with his walking cane. Bystanders joined in, one of whom was Rep. Davy Crockett of Tennessee, and Lawrence was wrestled to the ground and disarmed.

It's generally accepted that Richard Lawrence was a deeply mentally unstable person, believing that Andrew Jackson was withholding funds that would allow Lawrence to take his rightful place as King Richard III of England (who died in 1485). At his trial, the jury deliberated for five minutes before finding him not guilty by reason of insanity. He spent the rest of his life in mental hospitals, and died in the Government Hospital (later renamed St. Elizabeths Hospital) in 1861.

In the 1930s, the Smithsonian Institution reportedly test fired Lawrence's derringer pistols… both of them fired normally on the first try.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Riding the Tiger Off a Cliff

Unidentified aids deliver pizzas to House Democrats during a late night planning session, 1/1/2013. (Cropped photo from Reuters, featured in MSN PHOTOblog.)

Well, for now, we've avoided cascading off the great "Fiscal Cliff" of 2012/2013. Time will tell if the 11th- (13th?) hour deal will have lasting effects on the state of the economy, or of congressional gridlock, in general. (Prospects aren't looking so good.)

There is one thing we know for sure: at least part of the brainpower stopping us from careening off the cliff was fueled by America's favorite late-night food: pizza. Stacks and stacks of delicious lukewarm delivery pizza.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Reagans Riding the Yuletide Tiger

Ronald Reagan, who is clad in a full Santa Claus suit, holds a smiling Nancy Reagan in his lap.

In the spirit of Nancy Reagan and whoever might be under that beard, best wishes for a joyous and safe holiday.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Betty Ford and Santa Claus Riding the Tiger

First Lady Betty Ford, Santa Claus, and clowns lead a procession of Diplomatic Corps children at a White House Christmas party, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress.

As if the holidays weren't hectic enough, the fiscal cliff and the threat of sequestration looms over the White House and Congress (not to mention citizens and government organizations, large and small).

Despite economic woes, the White House in recent history has always shown a warm embrace of the holiday season. Read about holidays at the White House here.

This season, the White House expects more than 90,000 visitors to come and enjoy the decorations and this year's theme, "Joy To All."

In the embedded photo, Betty Ford and Santa lead a procession of guests and clowns to a Christmas party for Diplomatic Corps children. The theme that year was “An Old Fashioned Children’s Christmas”.

Click through for a few more treats through the years.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Ronald Reagan in Santa Claus Land

Is it holiday time already? Young Ronald Reagan looks surprised by it too in this photo from 1955. He is pictured visiting Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World  Splashin' Safari) in Santa Claus, Indiana. Santa Jim Yellig is on the left, Louis Koch, founder of the park, is on the right.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: President Nixon Riding the Tiger With Elvis

View a larger version of this photo or visit an exhibit from archives.gov, “When Nixon Met Elvis.”

A president rubs elbows with dignitaries, world leaders, and politicians, yes, but a president often also sometimes comes in contact with celebrities who function far outside the traditional political sphere.

This photo of President Richard Nixon meeting Elvis Presley is the #1 most requested image from the National Archive and Records Administration (surpassing even the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution). The meeting took place in December, 1970, after Nixon received a letter from Presley wherein Presley expressed interest in being named "Federal Agent-at-Large" for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, wishing to do his part to fight the war on illegal drugs. The five-page letter is hand-written on American Airlines stationary. 

Interestingly, the meeting between Presley and Nixon was kept secret for two full years until the Washington Post broke the story in January 1972. 1972 was, of course, a big year for Nixon for other reasons… 

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: President Obama to Ride the Tiger for Four More Years

Michelle Obama, President Obama, Joe Biden, and Jill Biden celebrate Tuesday’s victory in Chicago. “Hana Hou” means “repeat,” “one more time,” or “encore” in Hawaiian. The Star-Advertiser is based out of Honolulu.

After a long campaign, President Barack Obama has emerged victorious for four more years of tiger-riding as the American president.

Click through for an array of newspaper front pages from the day after the election. All photos courtesy Newseum, all image rights reserved by original owners.

Friday Feature: Bronco Bama and Mitt Romany

We couldn't resist. This video has been making the rounds this week and we here at the Miller Center couldn't agree more. Don't worry, Abby. Lots of us are crying. It'll be over soon. 

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history (or, in this case, presidential [very, very,] present).

 

Friday Feature: Riding the Vice Tiger

Biden photos courtesy Talk Radio News Service, Ryan photos courtesy Talk Radio News Service and Gage Skidmore

Today's Friday Feature is a dedication to the Veep—who rides a tiger all his own.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Pete the Squirrel, Riding the Tiger

Edwin Denby feeds Pete the squirrel.

Edwin Denby and Pete, c. 1921-1923

Pets edition!

This is Navy Secretary Denby with Pete, Warren Harding's pet squirrel, on the White House Lawn. American Presidents have had a wide range of "First Pets"--including Calvin Coolidge and his Raccoon, Rebecca. Coolidge also had a bobcat, two lion cubs, a wallaby, and a miniature hippopotamus.

Here's a collection of "Wonderful and Wacky First Pets" from Reader's Digest. Thanks to @BuzzFeedAndrew for circulating the photo of Pete the Squirrel this week and drawing our attention to an important and oft-overlooked facet of Presidential life through history.

 

 

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

 

Friday Feature: Dwight Eisenhower Not Riding a Tiger

Prime Minister Laurent waves from a golf cart, seated next to President Eisenhower. A small crowd looks on.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower rides a golf cart with Louis St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada, c. 1956. President Eisenhower hosted PM St. Laurent at the Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Ronald Reagan Not Riding a Tiger

A young Ronald Reagan in a plaid shirt makes a turn in a bicycle.

As weather cools all over the country, it's a great time for a bike ride with a young Ronald Reagan.

In the 1940s Reagan even appeared in a few advertisements for Schwinn bicycle company. He stipulated, though, that he would use his own bicycle in the ad—not the free bike offered by the company.

There's more cycling Reagan after the jump.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: President Obama Not Riding a Tiger

Surely, most days, our "Riding the Tiger" quotation rings true:

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

But maybe, just maybe, it's occasionally like riding a skateboard.

This animated gif image was cleverly edited to make it appear that President Obama skirted across the Nuclear Security Summit stage on a skateboard. The animation first appeared on Jay Leno's nighttime talk show. Here's a collection of other humorous gif images for your Friday entertainment.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight a whimsical item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: President Clinton Not Riding a Tiger

Bill Clinton sits atop a white horse in a wide green field.

Clinton on horseback, near Billings, MT, 1996

Former President Bill Clinton made quite a showing this week at the DNC. Here's a shot from a rare quiet moment during his presidency.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history.

Friday Feature: Candidate Romney Not Riding a Tiger

Mitt and Ann Romney on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. July, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Is Romney ready for the tribulations of "riding the tiger" in the role of U.S. President? He seems to have a good grip on this wild ride.

Stay tuned! Every Friday we'll highlight an interesting item from presidential history (or future!).