History Matters
November 1 to November 15, 2020

Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future
By John Grimaldi and David Bruce Smith

Americans assume that eligible voters have always participated in national elections, but–in a quirky 1801 act of congress–the residents of Washington, D.C. were barred from casting their ballots. The restriction was not revoked until the 23rd amendment was ratified in 1961; but the privilege to pick a president did not take effect until November 3, 1964.

In 1971, the District of Columbia was finally allowed to have one non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives. That status of neglect—comparable to a United States territory– has not wavered.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice, from Student Elections to the Supreme Court by Thomas A. Jacobs, J.D., and Natalie Jacobs.

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History happened on November 4, 2008 when 47-year-old Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, the first black American to ascend to the office. He defeated the war hero/senator, John McCain, from Arizona.

According to History.com, “During the general-election campaign, as in the primaries, Obama’s team worked to build a following at the grassroots level and used what his supporters viewed as the candidate’s natural charisma, unique life story and inspiring message of hope and change to draw large crowds to his public appearances, both in the United States and on a campaign trip abroad. His team also worked to bring new voters–many of them young or black, both demographics they believed favored Obama–to become involved in the election. Additionally, the campaign was notable for its unprecedented use of the Internet for organizing constituents and fundraising.”

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, with a forward by President Obama.

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On January 2, 1892, Annie Moore, a 15-year-old girl from Ireland, became the first immigrant to be “processed” at Ellis Island, in New York. The “people demand” peaked in 1907, but by then, more than one million prospective Americans had passed through.

Eventually, the kinetic activity was curtailed by World War I, and draconian congressional legislation to limit the number of people permitted entry into the country.

By 1954, the facility –which had welcomed 12 million potential new citizens—closed–and was converted into a detention center. In 1990, it re-emerged—after a $160 million renovation–as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum; two million persons visit each year.

According to History.com “an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices by Gwenyth Swain.

 


History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

 

Published on October 29, 2020

Contact

Inquiries from authors, publishers and the media should be directed to:

John Grimaldi      917.846.8485