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This Day In History: 03/30/1981 - President Reagan Shot


On March 30th, well-liked Queen Elizabeth passed away at the age of 101. Russ Mitchell recaps this and other events that occurred on March 30th in this video clip from This Day In History. Another event being the patent of the pencil eraser. The patent was done by Hymen Lipman. The right to vote was given to black men in the 15th Amendment. Also, in an attempt to impress Jodi Foster, John Hinckley shot president Ronald Reagan. He failed to assassinate him, which was his goal, but managed to be confined to a mental institution.


This Day In History: 03/30/1981 - President Reagan Shot - HISTORY

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside the Washington Hilton, hotel by a deranged drifter named John Hinckley Jr.

The president had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel and was walking with his entourage to his limousine when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and critically wounded, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the side, and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahaney was shot in the neck. After firing the shots, Hinckley was overpowered and pinned against a wall, and President Reagan, apparently unaware that he’d been shot, was shoved into his limousine by a Secret Service agent and rushed to the hospital.

The president was shot in the left lung, and the .22 caliber bullet just missed his heart. In an impressive feat for a 70-year-old man with a collapsed lung, he walked into George Washington University Hospital under his own power. As he was treated and prepared for surgery, he was in good spirits and quipped to his wife, Nancy, ”Honey, I forgot to duck,” and to his surgeons, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.” Reagan’s surgery lasted two hours, and he was listed in stable and good condition afterward.

The next day, the president resumed some of his executive duties and signed a piece of legislation from his hospital bed. On April 11, he returned to the White House. Reagan’s popularity soared after the assassination attempt, and at the end of April he was given a hero’s welcome by Congress. In August, this same Congress passed his controversial economic program, with several Democrats breaking ranks to back Reagan’s plan. By this time, Reagan claimed to be fully recovered from the assassination attempt. In private, however, he would continue to feel the effects of the nearly fatal gunshot wound for years.

Of the victims of the assassination attempt, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. policeman Thomas Delahaney eventually recovered. James Brady, who nearly died after being shot in the eye, suffered permanent brain damage. He later became an advocate of gun control, and in 1993 Congress passed the “Brady Bill,” which established a five-day waiting period and background checks for prospective gun buyers. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

After being arrested on March 30, 1981, 25-year-old John Hinckley was booked on federal charges of attempting to assassinate the president. He had previously been arrested in Tennessee on weapons charges. In June 1982, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In the trial, Hinckley’s defense attorneys argued that their client was ill with narcissistic personality disorder, citing medical evidence, and had a pathological obsession with the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which the main character attempts to assassinate a fictional senator. His lawyers claimed that Hinckley saw the movie more than a dozen times, was obsessed with the lead actress, Jodie Foster, and had attempted to reenact the events of the film in his own life. Thus the movie, not Hinckley, they argued, was the actual planning force behind the events that occurred on March 30, 1981.

The verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” aroused widespread public criticism, and many were shocked that a would-be presidential assassin could avoid been held accountable for his crime. However, because of his obvious threat to society, he was placed in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a mental institution. In the late 1990s, Hinckley’s attorney began arguing that his mental illness was in remission and thus had a right to return to a normal life. Beginning in August 1999, he was allowed supervised day trips off the hospital grounds and later was allowed to visit his parents once a week unsupervised. The Secret Service voluntarily monitors him during these outings. If his mental illness remains in remission, he may one day be released.


80s History – 03/30/1981 The Ronald Reagan Assassination Attempt

The assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan happened on March 30, 1981, just 69 days after he stepped into office. While the president was leaving a speaking engagement in Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., he together with three companions were shot. A little bit past two o’clock in the afternoon, he left the hotel via the “President’s Walk”. His would-be shooter waited with a crowd of people outside. The president then walked directly in front of the shooter who fired his .22 long rifle revolver six times in a matter of seconds.

Who Tried to Assassinate President Reagan and Why?

It was later discovered that a man named John Hinckley Jr. was the culprit behind this attempted assassination. Hinckley claims that what motivated him to do it was his desire to get the attention of Hollywood actress Jodie Foster. After watching the film Taxi Driver, Hinckley developed a liking for the actress that later on morphed into an obsession. He used to live in Hollywood in the late 70s and claimed to have seen the film about fifteen times. He also said that he strongly identified with the character of actor Robert De Niro.

James Brady suffered the most serious injury in the group. It was so serious and had such a huge impact on Brady’s life that his death decades later was due to complications from the assassination attempt. In 2015, federal prosecutors made the announcement that there would be no charges filed against Hinckley for the death of Brady, even though a medical examiner stated that Brady’s death can be ruled as a homicide.

President Reagan took a bullet in his chest, and also near his left underarm. Because of the shots, he had a punctured lung and serious internal bleeding. But thanks to quick medical attention, the president was able to recover swiftly.

How It Happened

Hinckley arrived by bus to Washington two days before the assassination attempt and checked in at Park Central Hotel. By reading the Washington Star, he found the schedule of the president and made a decision to act. He knew his chances of surviving after shooting Reagan wasn’t high, so he wrote a letter to Foster a few hours prior. He stated in the letter that he wanted to impress the actress. The letter was never mailed.

During the attempted assassination attack, there was no formal invocation of presidential succession. It was reported, however, that Alexander Haig, Secretary of State, claimed that he was the one in charge while then Vice President George H. W. Bush was going back to Washington.

Fortunately, no one died that day. John Hinckley Jr. was declared insane by a court of law, which led to a not guilty verdict. Up to this day, he stays in a mental institution.


1981: John Hinckley Shoots President Reagan and James Brady

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library/NARA President Reagan waves to the crowd outside the Washington Hilton moments before being shot.

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest by John Hinckley Jr., a college dropout hoping to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley shot three others during the assassination attempt, including Press Secretary James Brady, who was left permanently paralyzed.

Reagan Survives Assassination Attempt

Ronald Reagan had been in office for just 70 days when he traveled to the Washington Hilton to speak to union representatives. After the speech, as Reagan walked out of the Hilton to his limousine, John Hinckley Jr. stepped forward from a crowd and fired six shots with a .22-caliber gun.

The first shot hit Press Secretary James Brady in the head. Ensuing shots hit police officer Thomas Delahanty and a Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy. The sixth shot ricocheted off the limousine and struck Reagan in the chest, missing his heart by just an inch.

Reagan was shoved into the limousine by Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr and taken to George Washington University Hospital. Reagan recounted in his autobiography, “An American Life,” that he did not know he had been shot he believed that he had broken a rib when Parr tackled him during the shooting. Reagan managed to walk out of the limo and into the hospital before collapsing.

Reagan underwent emergency surgery to remove the bullet and repair a damaged lung. The severity of his condition was not known to the public and Reagan maintained a sense of humor throughout the life-threatening ordeal. When his wife Nancy arrived to see him, he remarked, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” He also told a doctor, “I hope you’re a Republican,” to which the doctor replied, “Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.”

While Reagan recovered from his injuries at Camp David, he called in to the White House Correspondent’s dinner on April 25 to deliver his remarks. Just months later he addressed Congress to promote his economic plan and received a rapturous ovation. The public image of Reagan became stronger than ever concerns about the 70-year-old’s vitality faded and he earned “his reputation for toughness, humility, and strength,” writes the Miller Center for Public Affairs.

But according to biographer Edmund Morris, the shooting weakened Reagan considerably. “His thoughts became slower, his speech became slower, he deliberated more. He hesitated more when he spoke. He lost his quickness,” he told PBS. “And for the rest of the presidency, it was a very, very slow and steady mental and physical decline.”

Sources in this Story

Alexander Haig and the Confusion Over Succession

As the president underwent surgery, Secretary of State Alexander Haig appeared to believe that, with the president in the hospital and Vice President George Bush temporarily out of touch, he assumed the powers of the president. In fact, under the 25th Amendment, Haig was fourth in the chain of succession behind Bush, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and President Pro Tempore Strom Thurmond.

The confusion among Cabinet members over who was in charge is illustrated in tapes released in 2001 by National Security Adviser Richard Allen. After the meeting, Haig went before a press conference and declared that he was “in control.” He was widely ridiculed for the statement, which contributed to a career decline.

Hinckley’s Motivation

John Hinckley Jr. was a depressed and mentally unstable loner who got the idea to assassinate the president from the movie “Taxi Driver,” which he watched 15 times in the years leading up to his assassination attempt.

In the movie, protagonist Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) plots to gain the attention of a political campaign worker (Cybil Sheppard) by trying to kill a candidate she works for. His assassination attempt fails, but he becomes a hero and earns Sheppard’s respect when he kills the pimp of a 12-year-old prostitute played by Jodie Foster.

“Hinckley began to emulate Bickle, accumulating an arsenal of weapons and fixating on Jodie Foster,” writes PBS. “Foster would not be his target, but his inspiration: To ‘rescue’ her, he began to stalk Jimmy Carter during the 1979 presidential campaign.”

He also began hanging around Yale University, where Foster was a student. After failing to gain her attention through letters and phone calls, he decided to needed to carry out a noteworthy act to win her affection.

The night before he shot Reagan, Hinckley wrote a letter to Foster: “I will admit to you that the reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you. I’ve got to do something now to make you understand, in no uncertain terms, that I am doing all of this for your sake!”

Hinckley finally met Foster when she testified at his trial. Foster made no eye contact with Hinckley and said that she had no relationship with him, prompting Hinckley to shout, “I’ll get you, Foster!”

Presidential Assassinations

Hinckley would be found not guilty by insanity on 13 criminal counts. The verdict sparked a national uproar and led to legislation making it more difficult to be acquitted on the insanity defense.

Hinckley was placed in a mental hospital. After three decades of treatment and gradually being allowed greater and greater freedom, Hinckley was released from the hospital in 2016 and allowed to live with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia.

James Brady and the Brady Bill

Although the president recovered from the shooting, his press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head and barely survived. He was permanently paralyzed on his left side.

Brady and his wife Sarah devoted themselves to campaigning for stricter gun control laws after 10 years of work, they were able to get President Bill Clinton to pass the Brady Bill in 1993. The law requires a five-day waiting period and a background check before the purchase of a gun.

James Brady died in August 2014 at the age of 73. His death was ruled a homicide, due to the injuries he sustained in the shooting. Sarah Brady died in 2015. The advocacy the started continues today at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Biography: Ronald Reagan

In 2012, we published this article about this historic event on the New York Times Learning Network. This article connected the event to current issues and offered reflection questions to help the reader think about its relevance today.


1981 President Reagan shot

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by a deranged drifter named John Hinckley Jr.

The president had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel and was walking with his entourage to his limousine when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and critically wounded, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the side, and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahaney was shot in the neck. After firing the shots, Hinckley was overpowered and pinned against a wall, and President Reagan, apparently unaware that he’d been shot, was shoved into his limousine by a Secret Service agent and rushed to the hospital.

The president was shot in the left lung, and the .22 caliber bullet just missed his heart. In an impressive feat for a 70-year-old man with a collapsed lung, he walked into George Washington University Hospital under his own power. As he was treated and prepared for surgery, he was in good spirits and quipped to his wife, Nancy, ”Honey, I forgot to duck,” and to his surgeons, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.” Reagan’s surgery lasted two hours, and he was listed in stable and good condition afterward.

The next day, the president resumed some of his executive duties and signed a piece of legislation from his hospital bed. On April 11, he returned to the White House. Reagan’s popularity soared after the assassination attempt, and at the end of April he was given a hero’s welcome by Congress. In August, this same Congress passed his controversial economic program, with several Democrats breaking ranks to back Reagan’s plan. By this time, Reagan claimed to be fully recovered from the assassination attempt. In private, however, he would continue to feel the effects of the nearly fatal gunshot wound for years.

Of the victims of the assassination attempt, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. policeman Thomas Delahaney eventually recovered. James Brady, who nearly died after being shot in the eye, suffered permanent brain damage. He later became an advocate of gun control, and in 1993 Congress passed the “Brady Bill,” which established a five-day waiting period and background checks for prospective gun buyers. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

After being arrested on March 30, 1981, 25-year-old John Hinckley was booked on federal charges of attempting to assassinate the president. He had previously been arrested in Tennessee on weapons charges. In June 1982, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In the trial, Hinckley’s defense attorneys argued that their client was ill with narcissistic personality disorder, citing medical evidence, and had a pathological obsession with the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which the main character attempts to assassinate a fictional senator. His lawyers claimed that Hinckley saw the movie more than a dozen times, was obsessed with the lead actress, Jodie Foster, and had attempted to reenact the events of the film in his own life. Thus the movie, not Hinckley, they argued, was the actual planning force behind the events that occurred on March 30, 1981.

The verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” aroused widespread public criticism, and many were shocked that a would-be presidential assassin could avoid been held accountable for his crime. However, because of his obvious threat to society, he was placed in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a mental institution. In the late 1990s, Hinckley’s attorney began arguing that his mental illness was in remission and thus had a right to return to a normal life. Beginning in August 1999, he was allowed supervised day trips off the hospital grounds and later was allowed to visit his parents once a week unsupervised. The Secret Service voluntarily monitors him during these outings. If his mental illness remains in remission, he may one day be released.


This Day In History: 03/30/1981 - President Reagan Shot - HISTORY

“I looked up at the presidential box above the stage where Abe Lincoln had been sitting the night he was shot and felt a curious sensation … I thought that even with all the Secret Service protection we now had, it was probably still possible for someone who had enough determination to get close enough to the president to shoot him.”

Ronald Reagan (March 21 1981)

March 30 2021 — On this day 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan narrowly escaped becoming the fifth US president to be assassinated. It is only through sheer luck that Reagan was not killed. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

At 2:27 p.m.,Reagan exited the Hilton hotel through “President’s Walk” on Florida Avenue, where reporters waited.

He left the T Street NW exit toward his waiting limousine as John Hinckley waited within the crowd of admirers.

The Secret Service had extensively screened those attending the president’s speech, but greatly erred by allowing an unscreened group to stand within 15 ft (4.6 m) of him, behind a rope line.

As several hundred people applauded Reagan, the president unexpectedly passed right in front of Hinckley.

Reporters standing behind a rope barricade 20 feet away asked questions.

As Mike Putzel of the Associated Press shouted “Mr. President—”, John Hinckley fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 LR blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds.

The last of the bullets had ricocheted off the presidential limousine, hit Reagan under the left arm, penetrated his lung and lodged an inch from his heart.

Sheer Luck [The Fifth Bullet]

The fifth round hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open rear door of the limousine as Reagan was passing behind it.

Last week, while reading a book about Medical Intelligence, I stumbled on a piece of information I had never read anywhere else.

The limousine used by the Secret Service protection team on that day was the only one in their fleet having the rear door opening towards the back.

Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose. A meeting with Pope John Paul II reinforced his belief.

Four sitting presidents have been killed: Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901), and John F. Kennedy (1963).

Additionally, two presidents have been injured in attempted assassinations: Theodore Roosevelt (1912 former president at the time) and Ronald Reagan (1981).

More than 30 attempts to kill an incumbent or former president, or a president-elect have been made since the early 19th century.

And, for the conspiracy-minded among you, I will point out that the circumstances surrounding the strange death of President Harding (1930) led serious historians to suspect that he had been poisoned.

Obviously, the US Presidency is a very dangerous job! Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States. Do the math…

The probability that Biden is assassinated is about 9%, which is higher than the Coronavirus death rate, even for a 78 year old.


30 March 2009

Gunmen attack the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore, Pakistan.

At 7:31 am on 30 March 2009, the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore, Pakistan was attacked by an estimated 12 gunmen. The perpetrators were armed with automatic weapons and grenades or rockets and some were dressed as policemen. They took over the main building during a morning parade when 750 unarmed police recruits were present on the compound’s parade ground. Police forces arrived 90 minutes later and were able to take back the building by 3:30 pm. Five trainees, two instructors and a passer-by were killed. A suspect was captured alive in a field near the school. Three of the attackers blew themselves up to avoid arrest while three others were taken into custody as they tried to escape in police uniforms. The four were taken to undisclosed locations for interrogation by the security forces according to local media.

he Manawan Police Academy is a training school of the Pakistan Police located on the outskirts of Lahore. At around 7:30 am local time at least 12 gunmen, some dressed in police uniform, attacked the academy during the morning drill hour when around 750 unarmed police recruits were on parade. The gunmen apparently gained access to the site by scaling the perimeter wall before causing three or four explosions on the parade ground, using grenades or rockets, and opening fire with automatic weapons. Several civilians on the road adjacent to the compound were hit by fire from the gunmen apparently when the gunmen attacked a police guard detachment near to a gate.

The academy had only been in a peacetime defensive stance and probably contained just a small armoury of outdated weapons. The attackers proceeded across the parade ground and stormed the academy building, taking hostages from the police trainees and establishing three or four defensive positions including one on the rooftop.

Red star depicts the Manawan Police Training School.The vertical line on right is Border with India
Elite Forces of Punjab Police arrived on the site within 90 minutes of the attack and were cheered on by a crowd of spectators. The security forces took up position on rooftops around the compound, firing on the gunmen and sealing off any escape routes. The gunmen returned fire with automatic weaponry and grenades and also shot at a police helicopter. Several hours into the attack security forces used explosives to storm the building and retake it from the gunmen after ten to fifteen minutes of sustained firing, capturing the building by 3:30 pm. During the course of the attack and siege eight police personnel, two civilians and eight gunmen were killed and 95 people injured. At least four of the gunmen have been captured alive by the security forces.

A curfew was imposed in the area surrounding the academy. Several hundred civilians poured in from close-by localities to watch the operation despite the ‘curfew-like’ conditions in the area. Elite forces declared victory signs on completion of the successful operation. Punjab Police resorted to aerial firing and chanted slogans of Allahu Akbar after the siege successfully ended and hostages were freed and at least three of the would-be suicide bombers were caught alive.

The leader of Tehrik-i-Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud took responsibility for the attack. “Yes, we have carried out this attack. I will give details later,” Mehsud, an al Qaeda-linked leader based in the Waziristan tribal region told Reuters by telephone. He also said that his next target would be Washington D.C.

Mehsud was also accused by the government of Pakistan for carrying out the attack that killed popular Pakistani political leader, Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

Fedayeen al-Islam, a previously unknown group, claimed responsibility for the assault and added that it would carry out more attacks unless Pakistani troops withdraw from the tribal areas near the Afghan border and the end of US drone attacks in the country.

A person named Hijratullah, believed to be part of the group of attackers, was apprehended by local citizens when he was seen hiding in the nearby fields at first and then moving slowly towards the rescue helicopters with two grenades in his hand. He was confirmed by authorities as a resident of Paktika province of Afghanistan. Authorities also confirmed later to have arrested 3 more attackers after the Rangers forced them to lay down their arms. Another gunman Hazrat Gull of Miranshah in Waziristan was also arrested. 10 suspects belonging to a religious organisation were arrested from Sukkur. Police also arrested Qari Ishtiaq, who was said to be the commander of the Punjabi Taliban. He was arrested from Bahawalpur on the information provided by the Hijratullah who was jailed for 10 years due to his role. 7 other militants were arrested from different parts of Punjab on his information him.


Medicare And Mayhem – August 21, 1983

Benino Acquino assassination – the mayhem portion of the day.

A day of stark contrasts from opposite sides of the world, this August 21st in 1983.

At home, attention was on Capitol Hill and the current set of negotiations on the state of Medicare in this country. Social Security was under the magnifying glass some days earlier, but now the focus was on Medicare and what to do about it.

And as is usually the case, when some piece of legislation possesses the potential of being a hot-button topic, the White House sends out a few emissaries to test the waters.

In this case it was Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler, a Reagan appointee who represented something of a vanishing breed within the Republican Party – a moderate.

The program was CBS News‘ Face The Nation, and Heckler gives her spin this way:

Margaret Heckler: “I think the Social Security crisis was a subject of more doom and gloom in the political rhetoric than probably any other issue ever discussed. What we learned that, despite that doom and gloom, that Social Security did survive. And I would say that, at this point, Medicare is as important a fixture in our statute books as any program yet devised. I do think there are problems. There has to be a bi-partisan solution to the problem, but yes I would reassure people that the Medicare program will survive to meet the needs of the elderly in the future as it has the last twenty years, in the sense that the program is important, it will be restructured with a bi-partisan debate but it will survive.”

Meanwhile, at Manila International Airport another drama was being played out. This one having to do with the assassination of a popular opposition leader to Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Benino Acquino. Acquino, returning to Manila after a three year exile in the U.S. Cut down by bullets shortly after his arrival in the tarmac, Acquino’s death sparked a widespread protest which eventually led to the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos, who was often speculated, but never proven to have ordered the assassination.

At the time of this newscast, right after the Face The Naton interview with Margaret Heckler, the news was fresh and still unclear what had taken place. It was only in later hours the story would completely unfold for the rest of the world to learn about.

And that’s pretty much how it went on this August 21st in 1983 as reported by CBS News and Face The Nation along with the Hourly news.

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Bush, not Reagan, was the 'Acting' President

Q: Is it true that George H.W. Bush was "acting president" for one day while Ronald Reagan was in surgery? Has anyone ever been "acting president" before? -- Tom Adams, Fort Mill, S.C.

A: The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1967, states, "In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected."

Also, when sending in a question, please be sure to include your city and state.

The first time this was ever put into use came on July 13, 1985, when President Reagan underwent colon cancer surgery and Vice President Bush became "acting president." Just prior to the operation, Reagan sent letters to the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore advising them he "will be briefly and temporarily incapable of discharging the Constitutional powers and duties of the office of the president of the United States," and thus "Vice President George Bush shall discharge those powers and duties in my stead commencing with the administration of anesthesia to me in this instance." This transfer of power lasted all of eight hours -- from 11:28 a.m. until 7:22 p.m. -- after which Reagan sent follow-up letters stating he was able to resume the duties. Various press reports say that for most of his tenure as acting president, Bush played tennis.

Vice President Dick Cheney is the only other person to serve as "acting president." On June 29, 2002, President George W. Bush underwent a colonoscopy, during which Cheney assumed the duties for two hours and 15 minutes.

Q: Did Ronald Reagan graduate from Eureka College, or did he drop out to work for a radio station? -- Barbara Strickland, West Palm Beach, Fla.

A: Reagan graduated from Eureka College in Eureka, Ill., on June 7, 1932, with a B.A. in sociology and economics.

Q: What were the final figures for President Bush and Sen. John Kerry in the New Jersey presidential primaries on June 8? -- Barbara Bennett, Neptune, N.J.

A: Bush was unopposed on the Republican side. Kerry won the Democratic primary with 92.1 percent of the vote, or 191,816 votes. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich finished second, getting 9,074 votes (4.4 percent), followed by Lyndon LaRouche with 4,528 votes (2.2 percent) and George Ballard III with 2,758 votes (1.3 percent). Democrats have carried the Garden State in the last three presidential elections.

Q: I became a "political junkie" when, as a child, I watched Gov. Frank Clement of Tennessee on black and white television give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. I was mesmerized. My question: what year was this, 1952 or '56? I remember that Adlai Stevenson was running for president, but I don't remember much else. -- Connie Templeton, Seattle, Wash.

A: It was 1956, in Chicago. Stevenson was once again selected by the Dems to run against Dwight Eisenhower, and the highlight of the convention was when Stevenson threw open the choice of his running mate to the delegates they picked Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

The Bible-thumping Clement sure did give a passionate and memorable speech the evening of Aug. 13, 1956, but the 36-year-old "boy governor" may not have appreciated all the reviews. It was truly a red-meat speech, in which he referred to Nixon and Eisenhower as the "vice hatchet man slinging slander and spreading half-truths while the top man peers down the green fairways of indifference." Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia remembers being so enthralled with the speech that he missed the birth of his second son.

But the general consensus is that Clement's keynote may have been one of the worst in history. In his over-the-top, hour-long attack on the Eisenhower administration, he kept saying, "How long, O Lord, how long?" Eventually, as the speech went on and on, the delegates were asking the same thing of him. Red Smith, a New York sports writer, described Clement's speech as "slaying the Republicans with the jawbone of an ass."

Q: Your March 10 column listed presidential running mates with the same first name, but you forgot about the Democratic ticket of 1912 and 1916. Woodrow Wilson's given first name was Thomas, and thus the ticket was Thomas Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall. -- Joshua Davey, Eugene, Ore.

A: OK, you got me on that one. Speaking of presidents' forgotten first names -- at least, forgotten by me! -- did you know that Ulysses Grant's name is actually Hiram Ulysses Grant? At Grant's birth on April 27, 1822, his parents had not decided what to name him, so each family member wrote a name and put it in a hat. They drew out "Hiram" and then "Ulysses," and that's how he got his name. So the real answer to the perennial "who's buried in Grant's tomb?” is a guy named Hiram.

Also, for the record, Grover Cleveland's real first name is Stephen, and Calvin Coolidge's is John. Until his adoption in 1917, Gerald Ford was Leslie King Jr.


On this day, March 30 … 1981: President Ronald Reagan is shot and seriously injured outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John W. Hinckley Jr. White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and a District of Columbia police officer, Thomas Delahanty, are also injured. Also on this day: 1822: Florida becomes a [&hellip]

On this day, March 25 … 1965: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leads 25,000 people to the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery after a five-day march from Selma to protest the denial of voting rights to blacks. Also on this day: 1634: English colonists sent by Lord Baltimore arrive in present-day Maryland. 1865: During [&hellip]