Ratification Day marks the day in 1784 when the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, the peace agreement with Britain. The United States officially became an independent country. Thomas Jefferson, chairman of the ratification committee, went through difficult circumstances to get the necessary signatures on the ratification. He needed approvals from nine of the thirteen colonies. However, that winter was extremely brutal, and many delegates struggled to get to Maryland to sign the document. Finally, on January 14th two more delegates arrived, and the minimum nine signatures made the document a real treaty. Three copies of the document were sent on three different ships back to England. Even the journeys to the ships were challenging, and the ocean voyages were unusually difficult. Children can read about the document at: Ratification Day.
James Madison Randolph was born in 1806 in the White House. The grandson of Thomas Jefferson, he was the first child born in the White House. Only one other child was born IN the White House. Who could that person be?
Pecan Day marks the day in 1775 when Thomas Jefferson gave George Washington several pecan trees from his own plantings. Some of Washington’s pecan trees are still alive. The only nut native to North America is the pecan.
Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in 1943 in Washington, DC. This date was picked in honor of Jefferson’s birthday. Construction was started in 1938 and was finished in 1943. A bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson was planned, but World War II intervened and bronze was needed for the war. A plaster statue painted to look like bronze was on display until 1947 when a real bronze statue took its rightful place. Children can visit a website at: http://www.nps.gov/thje/.
Samuel Becket (born Foxrock, County Dublin, Ireland, 1906; died Paris, France, December 22, 1989) wrote books and plays. During World War II he worked with a French resistance group. One of his most famous works is Waiting for Godot.
Gunning Bedford, Jr. (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1747; died Wilmington, Delaware, March 30, 1812) represented Delaware at the Constitutional Convention. During the Revolutionary War he was for a short time an aide to General Washington. A staunch abolitionist, he served as a federal judge for 23 years.
Alfred Butts (born Poughkeepsie, New York, 1899; died Rhinebeck, New York, April 4, 1993) invented the game Scrabble. He invented the game when he was out of a job during the Depression. After he sold the game to a company, he received three cents for each game sold.
Erik Christian Haugaard (born Fredricksberg, Denmark, 1923; died County Cork, Ireland, June 4, 2009) fled Denmark in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. He began writing children’s books in 1963. He received the 1968 Jane Addams Award for The Little Fishes. Children can learn more at: Erik Christian Haugaard.
Marguerite Henry (born Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1902; died San Diego, California, November 26, 1997) wrote 59 books for children and young adults. She received two Newbery Honor Awards, one in 1945 for Justin Morgan Had a Horse and one in 1948 for Misty of Chincoteague. She earned the Newbery Medal in 1949 for King of the Wind. Children can learn more at: Marguerite Henry.
Lee Bennett Hopkins (born Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1938; died Cape Coral, Florida, August 8, 2019) was a poet and novelist. His first career was as a teacher, and he found out how important poetry was to children and to him. He published over 200 books, and one of his works is Good Rhymes, Good Times. He also created the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award to honor the best poetry works of the previously published year. Children could visit the award’s site at: https://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/awards-contests/lee-bennett-hopkins-poetry-award. They could also read a biography of him and a history of the award in Children’s Book Award Handbook, by Diana F. Marks.
Thomas Jefferson (born Albermarle County, Virginia, 1743; died Charlottesville, Virginia, July 4, 1826) was the third president (1801-1808) of the United States. He hoped people would remember him for writing the Declaration of Independence, for writing the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and for founding the University of Virginia. He also made possible the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Children could visit a website at: Thomas Jefferson. Idea: Jefferson invented several items that made life easier, including the swivel chair, a lap desk, and a decoding device. Children could evaluate his inventions and draw diagrams of them.
Rita Williams-Garcia (born Queens, New York, 1957) writes books for young adults. Her book One Crazy Summer won a 2011 Newbery Honor Award, the Coretta Scott King Medal, and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Children can learn more at: http://www.ritawg.com/.
James Monroe, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all died on this day. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hundreds of miles apart but within hours of each other in 1826. James Monroe died in 1831.
George Washington established his first cabinet in 1789.
- Thomas Jefferson became Secretary of State.
- John Jay was appointed the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
- Samuel Osgood was the first Postmaster.
- Edmund J. Randolph was made Attorney General.
- Henry Knox had become Secretary of War on September 12, 1789. The position was renamed many years later Secretary of Defense.
Today the President’s cabinet is comprised of the Vice President and fifteen heads of departments. Children can learn more at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet
Mount Rushmore was completed in 1941. The project, depicting likenesses of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt, began on October 3, 1927. Nearly three million people visit it each year. Children could visit the park’s website at: http://www.nps.gov/moru/.