Monday, April 12, 2010

The Most Interesting Thing I Read Today

In light of the recent controversy over the reaction of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito during President Obama's State of the Union address, consider this excerpt from John Milton Cooper, Jr's Woodrow Wilson (Knopf 2009, p. 385)). President Wilson is making a speech to a joint session of Congress in April 1917, asking for a congressional declaration of war against Germany. 
When Wilson rejected 'the path of submission,' Chief Justice Edward White, who was sitting in the front row, dropped the big hat he was holding and raised his hands above his head to give an explosive clap. That broke the suspense. The chamber erupted into a prolonged road of applause and then lapsed back into silence.

Wilson now came to the action portion of the speech, which he introduced in a somber tone, noting the 'profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step that I am taking.' He advised Congress to declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany. At this point, the chief justice, with tears streaming down his cheeks, again led the applause with his hands above his head.

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