My posts in recent months have been very deep, dark, and intense due to the midterm elections. I thought I would lighten it up a bit today and do one that should prove to be FUN for all of you for a change. It will require a little bit of effort from you, but I'm sure you will find it very enjoyable, as I did.
But first, I need to reveal something about myself to you:
As of this writing, we have had 44 Presidents in our nation's history, and I HAVE HEARD THE ACTUAL SPEAKING VOICES OF EXACTLY HALF OF THEM!
No, I'm not lying; I'm not nuts; I'm not special; I don't have a time machine. But it's true: I have heard the actual real, live speaking voices of 22 of our Presidents, and so can you.
Some time ago, I was on a hunt to find the earliest color photographs of our former Presidents. I knew experimental color photography had been around since the latter 1800s, and I was hoping to see an actual color photo of someone like Chester A. Arthur, or Grover Cleveland, or William McKinley. But instead I stumbled on something FAR more meaningful and important: sound recordings of the speaking voices of former Presidents, dating from the 1880s all the way up to the advent of motion pictures with sound in 1927!
For some real fun, here's all you have to do: Go to google.com, or, even better yet, YouTube.com, and key in the President's name whose voice you want to hear followed by the words "voice recording." VOILA! A number of selections you can choose for each President you key in will come up, and you'll be on your way to an entertaining hour or so of enjoyment! Here is a listing of Presidents prior to the talking-pictures age for you to check out and listen to:
Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President (1889-1893), Republican
A mere 24 years after the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison was able to make a sound recording of President-elect Harrison speaking, on January 20, 1889 - an actual President's voice from a full 121 years ago! This is the oldest sound recording of a U. S. President in existence. CHECK IT OUT!
Grover Cleveland, 22nd AND 24th President (1885-1889) AND (1893-1897), Democrat
The first Democrat elected President since before the Civil War (and the last one until Woodrow Wilson a decade and a half later), and the only President ever elected to two separate, non-consecutive terms, can be heard as he campaigns for that second term from an 1892 recording.
William McKinley, 25th President (1897-1901), Republican
Hear candidate McKinley, very aristocratic and eloquent, as he campaigns from his front porch in Ohio in 1896 for his first term. He won election that fall and successfully guided us through the Spanish-American War in 1898, only to be re-elected, but then assassinated only three years later.
Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President (1901-1909), Republican
Listen to this articulate and aristocratic-sounding trustbuster as he speaks in 1912, running again unsuccessfully for President after having had four years off. (His entry into the race created a split among Republicans which enabled Woodrow Wilson to become the first Democratic President in 16 years).
William Howard Taft, 27th President (1909-1913), Republican
Hear the very last progressive Republican President, and the only President ever to subsequently serve on the Supreme Court, giving a very articulate and eloquent anti-war speech in 1909!
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President (1913-1921), Democrat
Hear the President who guided us through World War I, who created the Federal Reserve Board, and the man who was President when our modern income tax came into being. as he campaigns in 1912 for his first term!
Warren G. Harding, 29th President (1921-1923), Republican
Hear him campaigning for the presidency in 1920. You'll soon hear he's every bit as dull and uninspiring as a conservative Republican can be. Here's your cure for insomnia, folks!
Calvin Coolidge, 30th President (1923-1929), Republican
Hear this tight-lipped, very conservative Republican with the nerdy voice speaking early in his presidency, in 1924. His message sounds as tired then as it does today, and provides proof that our current Tea Party and conservative politicians are peddling the very same unoriginal philosophy Coolidge was back then!
Herbert Hoover, 31st President (1929-1933), Republican
I saw an actual film clip with sound of him campaigning for his first term in 1928. VERY midwestern-sounding! Check it out for yourself and hear what I mean!
When we look at photos of these old Presidents, it is easy for us to think of them as stodgy, lifeless, cold statues with no human warmth or feel. But when we actually hear them speak, their expression, tonality, and even their individual accents bring them to life as no photo or old film clip can! I have given all of you this little portal of time to explore. I hope each of you will step through it and listen to each of these men speak. You will be astounded at the lack of hyperbole, the civility, and the intelligent and reasonable tone of voice each uses when speaking, especially when you contrast them with modern political speakers like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or Mitt Romney. I hope each of you will undertake this listening endeavor and then give me YOUR impressions of what you have found! ENJOY!!!