Ken Tooke

About Ken Tooke

Ken is a graduate of The University of Texas with Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology. He also holds an Associate of Science Degree in Electronics and is a 12 year veteran of the United States Air Force. Married to the former Gretchen May Kimbro he has five children who bring much joy to his life.

5 Facts About The First U.S. Presidential Election

On this day in 1789, America’s first presidential election was held. As expected, George Washington won, and he would win a second term in the next election, but his rise to the presidency wasn’t like the presidential campaigns of today. Here are five facts about the first presidential election…

Washington Didn’t Really Want to Be President

George Washington accepted the presidency out of a sense of duty—not out of desire. He actually didn’t want to be president, citing his age, his preference for his farm and being retired, and the dual fears that people would oppose him and that his politics-retirement-politics back and forth would make people think he was too inconsistent to be president. However, when he was elected anyway—and he didn’t do any campaigning before this—he accepted because he felt he had to answer to the will of the people.

He Was the Only President Ever Elected Unanimously

All the electors in the electoral college voted for George Washington in that first election. Since then, there have been no unanimous electoral votes, though there have been some very close ones. For example, in 1984, Ronald Reagan won his re-election by capturing 49 states (only Minnesota went for his opponent, Walter Mondale).

Martha Washington Got Her Own Inaugural Celebration

First ladies didn’t have a formal swearing-in ceremony akin to the presidential inaugurations of today, but Martha Washington’s arrival in New York capped off 11 days of celebrations along the route she took and included gun salutes, cheering crowds, ringing church bells, fireworks, serenades, parades, and receptions. And some shoe shopping; she wanted to send gifts back to two grandchildren who did not make the trip with her.

Washington Almost Ended up With the Title of “Your Highness”

The word “president” is not a new one, but Washington’s first term was the first time a country had had a president. Previously, presidents merely “presided” over meetings and similarly smallish events. No one had any idea of what title to use for Washington, with some even suggesting “Your Highness,” which no doubt frustrated those who wanted to get away from monarchies. Eventually, someone came up with “president,” which was low-key and non-royal enough to give Washington a title that indicated leadership without veering into monarchy territory.

Electoral Voters Chose Two Candidates Instead of One

We’re used to a presidential candidate choosing a vice-presidential candidate, and then both running on one ticket now. Yet in earlier elections, presidents and vice presidents were often elected separately, resulting in some contentious administrations. In the very first election, the electoral college voted for two candidates, with the majority winner becoming president.

Declaration of Independence Reaches London!


On August 10, 1776, news reaches London that the Americans had drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Until the Declaration of Independence formally transformed the 13 British colonies into states, both Americans and the British saw the conflict centered in Massachusetts as a local uprising within the British empire. To King George III, it was a colonial rebellion, and to the Americans, it was a struggle for their rights as British citizens. However, when Parliament continued to oppose any reform and remained unwilling to negotiate with the American rebels and instead hired Hessians, German mercenaries, to help the British army crush the rebellion, the Continental Congress began to pass measures abolishing British authority in the colonies.

In January 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, an influential political pamphlet that convincingly argued for American independence from the British monarchy. It sold more than 500,000 copies in just a few months. By the spring of 1776, support for independence had swept through the colonies, the Continental Congress called for states to form their own governments and a five-man committee was assigned to draft a document declaring independence from the British king.

The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. In justifying American independence, Jefferson drew generously from the political philosophy of John Locke, an advocate of natural rights, and from the work of other British theorists. The declaration features the immortal lines “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It then goes on to present a long list of grievances that provided the American rationale for rebellion.


Credits: A&E

George Washington Creates the Purple Heart Medal

George Washington Creates the Purple Heart Medal

August 7, 1782

On this day in 1782, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, creates the “Badge for Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face in silver. The badge was to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action” and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree’s name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a “Book of Merit.”

Washington’s “Purple Heart” was awarded to only three known soldiers during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. The “Book of Merit” was lost, and the decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to “revive the Badge of Military Merit.” In 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington’s 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”

In addition to aspects of Washington’s original design, the new Purple Heart also displays a bust of Washington and his coat of arms. The Order of the Purple Heart, the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. It is also awarded to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.


Credits:  A+E Networks