Grateful American Book Prize

History Matters
November 1 to November 15, 2021

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

On November 7, 1944, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the only president in history elected to a fourth term.

There was no law against unlimited tenure, but after George Washington declined to run a third time in 1796, each succeeding Chief Executive abided by his example.

President Roosevelt might have rebuffed the “Rule” because of the dire worldwide conditions. America was lifting out of its Great Depression, but it still had to contend with the aggressive behaviors from Germany and Japan.

In 1945, the war ended. Two years later, Congress proposed the 22nd Amendment, which limited presidential service to two, four-year terms; the bill was ratified by the states on February 27, 1951.

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Michael A Schuman’s Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Four-Term President.

Last photograph of Roosevelt, taken April 11, 1945, the day before his death


On November 4, 1869, Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 in America’s very first college football game. It was a grudge match precipitated by an 1866 baseball game in which Princeton prevailed in a 40-2 rout. But football was different tin those days; it was played with a soccer ball.

Rutgers’ description of the football game virtually admits the players were engaged in a version of soccer: “The ball could be advanced only by kicking or batting it with the feet, hands, heads, or sides.” (As adapted from the London Football Association.)

The NCAA football record book recognized it as part of college football history until the 1880s; then, a great rugby player from Yale, Walter Camp, pioneered rule changes that slowly converted it to American Football.

The Hall of Fame provides another piece of American football history; John Brallier, a quarterback at Indiana College in Pennsylvania became the first “pro football player” when he accepted “$10 and ‘cakes’ (expenses) to play for the Latrobe, PA, town team against neighboring Jeannette on September 3, 1895.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends How Football Became Football: 150 Years of the Game’s Evolution by Timothy P. Brown.

Painting by Rutgers graduate, William Boyd, depicting the game.


On November 11, 2021, America will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—a ceremony over which President Warren Harding presided. Now, the annual commemoration has been absorbed into a part of Veterans Day.

According to History.com, the first “unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater [in Arlington National Cemetery]. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Unknowns: The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home by Patrick K. O’Donnell.

Thousands — including President Harding — gather for the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 1921. (Library of Congress)


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