Mar. 4, 2000

May I Have This Dance

by Diana Der-Hovanessian

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: March 4, 2000

Poem: "May I Have This Dance?" by Diana Der-Hovanessian from The Circle Dancers (The Sheep Meadow Press).

This day used to be INAUGURATION DAY; until 1933, most presidents were sworn in on March 4. But there were exceptions, such as when the 4th fell on a Sunday. The Continental Congress scheduled the first inauguration for March 4, 1789, but they couldn't count the ballots as quickly as they assumed they would. By the time they notified General George Washington he had won, and he made the trip from his home in Virginia north to the new capitol in New York City to be sworn in, it was April 30. His inaugural address was 137 words long.

After his inauguration on March 4, 1829, President Andrew Jackson invited the entire crowd at the Capitol to come celebrate at the White House. They stampeded the place, ruining the furniture; Jackson fled through a window while the butlers moved tubs of liquor onto the south lawn to draw the crowd outside.

By the time Abraham Lincoln was first inaugurated, on this day in 1861, seven Southern states had just seceded from the union, in opposition to Lincoln's refusal to allow slavery to expand in the West. With sharpshooters watching the crowd in front of the Capitol, he said he would not use force to maintain the Union or interfere with slavery where it already existed. Calling for compromise, he said: "We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." But he went on to say that he would retain federal property, and a month later, when he refused to surrender Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the Confederates launched the first attack of the Civil War.

It's the birthday of British writer ALAN SILLITOE, born in Nottingham (1928). In 1958 he came out with his first and best-known book, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

On this day in 1887, 23-year-old William Randolph Hearst bought a struggling penny-newspaper called the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, and started to build the Hearst newspaper empire.

On this day in 1519, HE RNANDO CORTEZ LANDED IN MEXICO to begin his conquest of the Aztec Indians and claim Mexico for Spain.

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