Thursday, July 10, 2014

Memorable Firsts

"This Day in History"

July 10, 1934

It is not uncommon for a President of the United States to achieve many ‘firsts’ while in office. It is just the nature of the job when you are responsible for the execution of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory, and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers (Wait! There’s more!). Plus the more active the President, the more chances for Presidential firsts. One of the most active Presidents in our history was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. He served four terms from March 1933 to his death in April 1945. His Presidency dealt with the majority of the Great Depression and World War II. President Roosevelt was the first President to set up the precedent of the first hundred days. He is the only President to serve more than two terms in office (a first and only because it led to the 22nd Amendment, limiting the terms of a President to two.) So it would be logical to assume that his Presidency came across many firsts.

"To reach a port we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor.  Sail, not drift." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

July of 1934 saw three firsts. July 1, 1934, President Roosevelt boarded USS Houston (CA-30), which was a Northampton-class heavy cruiser nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast" and a personal favorite of Roosevelt. The voyage departed from Annapolis, Maryland, went to the Caribbean, South America, and Hawaii before returning to Portland, Oregon, on August 2, 1934. This month long journey could have been easily accomplished in one day aboard Air Force One today.

USS Houston (CA-30) in Honolulu, Hawaii
The first ‘first’ was July 10, 1934, when Roosevelt became the first United States President to visit South America while in office. Houston docked at Cartagena, Columbia, and entertained President Enrique Olaya Herrara and Mr. Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Minister to Columbia. Afterwards, President Roosevelt went ashore and visited the countryside for a few hours. The President departed Columbia aboard Houston the same day.

President Roosevelt's Schedule on July 10, 1934.
The second ‘first’ was the next day, July 11, 1934, at the Panama Canal. While other Presidents visited the canal, Roosevelt was the first sitting United States President to traverse the canal. Houston began her transit at 10:00am and concluded at 6:00pm. That evening Roosevelt dined with the President of Panama aboard Houston, docked at Balboa, Panama. The cruiser departed the next day.

President Roosevelt in Panama departing USS Houston.
The third ‘first’ was July 24, 1934, when President Roosevelt became the first United States President to visit Hawaii. He visited various locations across the Territory such as Kailua-Kona, Hilo Harbor, Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu. His visit to Hawaii determined the need for greater military presence at the islands because it was America’s primary outpost to the Pacific.

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."  -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The interesting thing about these ‘firsts’ is that this was done on Roosevelt’s vacation. This was a fishing expedition to Hawaii. What better time than summer to make memorable ‘firsts’. We at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum want you to make memorable vacation ‘firsts’ as well. If you have not visited us and taken a tour aboard USS Razorback (SS-394), then we recommend you to come and have yourself a memorable ‘first.’

Author: John Jones

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