Entries by Peter Cates


by Peter Cates Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) first met Mary Todd (1818-1882) at a formal dance in Springfield, Illinois, in late 1839 where he had been practicing law for two years, while she had just recently moved in with an older sister from their home state of Ken­tucky. Despite their vast differences in background […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: William Bradford

by Peter Cates William Bradford Elected 30 times as Governor of the Plymouth Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1621 to 1656, William Bradford (1590-1657) began his massive history Of Plymouth Plantation in 1630 and abandoned further work by 1647. He wrote the following entry on the first Thanksgiving in 1621, one year after the Pilgrims arrived […]


by Peter Cates James Buchanan After the very sad four White House years of Franklin Pierce, that of former 15th President James Buchanan (1791-1868), with the help of his niece/hostess Harriet Lane (1830-1903), began with an inaugural ball described as follows by Christine Sadler in her 1963 America’s First Ladies: “Five thousand revelers danced the […]


by Peter Cates Franklin Pierce The 14th President Franklin Pierce came from New Hampshire, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth having a father who was a big wig in state politics, started practicing law at 22, won a seat in the State House at 24, and became its Speaker of the House […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Millard Fillmore

by Peter Cates Millard Fillmore The 13th President Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) was born into grueling poverty, in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York State, to Nathaniel (1771-1863) and Phoebe Millard Fillmore. Fillmore was truly a self-made man in his endeavors to improve himself. He studied law and clerked for a judge who just […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: President Zachary Taylor

by Peter Cates Zachary Taylor For all the fascination of the first 11 characters to occupy the White House, they did not grab my interest to quite the same degree as #12, Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), affectionately known as “Old Rough-and-Ready”. The unsigned essayist in Volume 4 of the American Heritage Book of the Presidents and […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Conductor: Charles Munch

by Peter Cates Charles Munch Not too long before his death in 1962, Boston Globe music critic Cyrus W. Durgin wrote the fascinating liner notes on the RCA Victor LP recording session for the Schumann Spring Symphony and Manfred Overture featuring Charles Munch(1891-1968) conducting the Boston Symphony. Mr. Durgin is describing the chaotic details of […]