Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information
Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information
Ed Sullivan was a legendary showman who grew up in Port Chester. His career and his decision-making were influenced by his upbringing in what was a small Westchester village when the Sullivan family lived there.
Ed Sullivan. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Edward Vincent Sullivan and his twin brother, Danny, were the third and fourth children born to Elizabeth Smith Sullivan and Peter Sullivan, who lived on 114th Street in Harlem, a neighborhood that was a mixture of Irish and Italian immigrants. Ed’s twin died before the boys celebrated their first birthday in 1902, and after losing another child in infancy, Peter Sullivan decided to move the family out of the city. He chose Port Chester, New York, to be their new home.
Ed was the middle child of the surviving five children; he had an older sister, Helen, an older brother, Charles, and two younger sisters. In his autobiography, Always on Sunday, Sullivan wrote: “I still recall the excitement of Helen, Charles, and me en route to Port Chester, when we first saw cows grazing in the country fields.” The family lived on the top floor of a two-family house at 53 Washington Street. At the time of their arrival, Port Chester was a small village, with tree-shaded streets, a village smithy and a doctor who made house calls via a horse-drawn carriage.
The entire family loved music, and someone was always playing the piano or singing. A phonograph was a prized possession; the family loved playing all types of records on it. His mother hoped that Ed would master an instrument, and she gave him money for piano lessons when she could. Ed dutifully left the house, but he went to the nickelodeon near Liberty Square instead!
While father Peter worked as a customs agent, the children understood the importance of contributing to the family income. When Ed was still in grammar school, he and Charles would meet after school and walk the three miles to the Apawamis Club in Rye, where they served as golf caddies for 35 cents a round.
Ed and his siblings attended St. Mary’s Catholic School and then Port Chester High School. Sullivan was a gifted athlete in high school, earning 12 athletic letters. He played halfback in football; he was a guard in basketball; in track he was a sprinter. With the baseball team, Ed was catcher and team captain, and he led the team to several championships.
Baseball made an impression on him that would affect his career as well as the culture of America. Sullivan noted that in high school sports integration was taken for granted: “When we went up into Connecticut, we ran into clubs that had Negro players. In those days this was accepted as commonplace; and so, my instinctive antagonism years later to any theory that a Negro wasn’t a worthy opponent or was an inferior person. It was just as simple as that.” Later, when Sullivan was a successful producer of his own television program, he defied the wishes of advertisers who wanted white talent only, and he had everyone from Nat “King” Cole and the Supremes to Pearl Bailey on his program. These performers got the same handshake or kiss on the cheek as any of the white performers. By giving black talent equal status with white, Sullivan was instrumental in diversifying American entertainment.
As the United States prepared to enter World War I, Sullivan wanted to be part of the action. He was turning 16, and when he was turned down by the local draft board, he traveled to Chicago, thinking that no one would know him there and he would be too far away for his family to stop him. Recruiters in Chicago would not accept him without proof of age, so he got a job as a busboy and worried about what to do next. After about six months, he contacted his brother Charles for money to buy a ticket home, and he returned to Port Chester. His father was so overcome with emotion at Ed’s return that Ed escaped punishment for running away.
He returned to high school and continued to play sports and also wrote about sports for the school newspaper. During his senior year, he approached the Port Chester Daily Item and asked them to run a column on high school sports that he would write. The editor agreed, and he was paid on a per column basis. Though an uncle offered to pay for Sullivan to attend college, Ed had tasted the life of a newspaperman, and he wanted to begin work right away. And who could blame him? One of his early stories for the Item was an interview with Babe Ruth who was in town for an exhibition game.
In 1919 he was hired by The Hartford Post. That paper folded almost immediately, and Sullivan moved on to The New York Evening Mail. When the Evening Mail closed, Sullivan worked for a succession of newspapers, including writing for the Associated Press. He eventually found a home at The Evening Graphic, where he wrote for the sports section, eventually becoming the sports editor. When Walter Winchell moved from the Graphic to the New York Daily News, Sullivan moved into Winchell’s spot, writing about Broadway and show business celebrities.
Eventually the Graphic folded, and Sullivan’s column, “Little Old New York,” was picked up by the New York Daily News, where he found a home and stayed for 40 years—throughout all of his years on television. His last column appeared in the paper the day after he died.
Like newspaper people today, Ed Sullivan found he needed to find ways to make additional money. He wrote screen plays for B-level movies at one time, and then in 1942 started doing a radio show, “Ed Sullivan Entertains.” Modeling himself very much after Winchell, who headquartered at the Stork Club, Sullivan based his shows at El Morocco. He also began producing vaudeville shows, serving as master of ceremonies as well. He was also a willing volunteer, and he put together benefit shows for various causes. During the war years, he was particularly in demand for this work.
In 1947 he was serving as master of ceremonies of the Harvest Moon Ball, an annual event sponsored by the New York Daily News, which was held at Madison Square Garden. CBS was televising the event—their very first remote broadcast—when CBS executive Worthington Miner saw ability in Sullivan and hired him to host a show CBS wanted to launch called “Toast of the Town.” Sullivan was 46 when he first hosted the program, and soon found himself not only the talk of the town but the talk of the whole country. The show ran on CBS from June 1948 to 1971, a very successful 23-year run of what Sullivan pronounced as “a rilllly big shew!”
Sullivan served as both host and impresario for “Toast of the Town,” nailing down the guests he wanted to have on the air. Long before “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” was even a glimmer in any producer’s eye, Sullivan was picking and choosing acts, and he soon became known as a starmaker. If you appeared on Sullivan, your future as a performer was secure. In 1955 the title of the show was changed to “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
The show was broadcast from CBS Studio 50 at 1697 Broadway at 53rd Street, and eventually settled into its long-running time slot—Sunday night from 8-9 ET. When asked by a reporter from The Coronet to explain his success, Sullivan shared his secret: “Open big, have a good comedy act, put in something for children and keep the show clean. I believe in getting the best acts I can, introducing them quickly, and getting off.” In short, he believed in something for everyone. He also gave credit to the medicine men who used to stop in Port Chester to peddle their wares: “Those medicine men were my first contact with great showmen. They had pace and great authority with an audience.”
Between 45 and 50 million people tuned in weekly to see live performances of the biggest music acts, performances of numbers from Broadway musicals, an array of stand-up comedians, magicians and jugglers, as well as ventriloquists, dog acts, Chinese tumblers and drill teams. But Sullivan had his “misses” as well. He tried to introduce opera to middle America, but families either changed channels or quickly turned off the set.
Steve Allen actually was first to bring Elvis Presley to television, and when he beat Sullivan in the ratings, Ed was on the phone to Presley’s manager within 24 hours. Presley was booked immediately for three Sullivan appearances, and for a princely fee. The Fab Four, the Beatles, appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show on February 9, 1964, in a television moment that anyone alive at the time will not forget.
Ed Sullivan with The Beatles, 1964.
Sullivan became a legend, but the key to his success was booking legends, and sometimes legend-to-legend battles occurred. If a singer insisted on introducing a new song when Sullivan expected him to perform an old favorite, then that performer (including Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan and Bo Diddley) soon found he wasn’t invited back.
Sullivan himself received mixed reviews. Critics described him as “wooden,” and said that his eyes “popped out of their sockets” and that he looked like a man “sucking a lemon.” He was awkward and could garble almost anything at any moment. One night he offered, “Right here in our audience, the late Irving Berlin!” And he introduced one musical theater star as “now starving on Broadway.” While his mannerisms and awkwardness were pure Ed, some of his physical traits had an explanation. In 1956 he had been in a serious car accident; his sternum and ribs were crushed inward, and his front teeth were knocked out. When asked how to explain Sullivan’s success, comedian Alan King said: “Ed Sullivan does nothing, but he does it better than anyone else on television.”
In 1971 CBS cancelled the show because they were looking to find a younger audience. Sullivan felt so betrayed that he refused to do a final show for the season. However, he and CBS finally agreed to a truce, and Sullivan subsequently produced and hosted a number of specials.
On April 28, 1930, he married Sylvia Weinstein. They had one daughter, Betty, who eventually married “The Ed Sullivan Show” producer, Bob Precht. For many years, Ed and Sylvia lived at the Demonico Hotel in New York City, and he was said to call Sylvia after every show to get her comments.
While Sullivan’s life was mostly centered in Manhattan in later years, he returned to Port Chester occasionally to help out with local benefits. In 1965 he was honored by the village with Ed Sullivan Day, and it was celebrated with a big parade.
Sullivan died of esophageal cancer (age 73) at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital on October 13, 1974. His funeral, attended by 3,000 people, was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He was then returned to Westchester, where he is interred in a crypt at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale.
Ed Sullivan brought popular culture to all of America at a time when families were excited to gather around the living room television set just to see what Mr. Sunday Night had to offer them. It was always a really big show.
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He prevailed upon the senate to decree divine honours to his grandmother Livia, with a chariot in the Circensian procession drawn by elephants, as had been appointed for Augustus, and public offerings to the shades of his parents. Besides which, he instituted Circensian games for his father, to be celebrated every year, upon his birth day, and, for his mother, a chariot to be drawn through the circus; with the title of Augusta, which had been refused by his grandmother. To the memory of his brother, to which, upon all occasions, he showed a great regard, he gave a Greek comedy, to be exhibited in the public diversions at Naples, and awarded the crown for it, according to the sentence of the judges in that solemnity. Nor did he omit to make honourable and grateful mention of Mark Antony; declaring by a proclamation, “That he the more earnestly insisted upon the observation of his father Drusus’s birth-day, because it was like wise that of his grandfather Antony.” He completed the marble arch near Pompey’s theatre, which had formerly been decreed by the senate in honour of Tiberius, but which had been neglected. And though he canceled all the acts of Gaius, yet he forbade the day of his assassination, notwithstanding it was that of his own accession to the empire, to be reckoned amongst the festivals.
Allied aircrew shot down during World War II were incarcerated after interrogation in Air Force Prisoner of War camps run by the Luftwaffe, called Stalag Luft, short for Stammlager Luft or Permanent Camps for Airmen. Stalag Luft III was situated in Sagan, 100 miles south-east of Berlin, now called Zagan, in Upper Silesia, Poland. It was opened in 1942 with the first prisoners arriving in April of that year, and was just one of a network of Air Force only PoW camps. The Germans treated captured Fleet Air Arm aircrew as Air Force and put them all together. There is no obvious reason for the occasional presence of a non-airman in the camps, although one possibility is that the captors would be able to spot “important” non-Air Force uniformed prisoners more readily.
It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe, who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the PoWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food. Prisoners were handled quite fairly within the guidelines of the Geneva Convention, and the Kommandant, Oberst (Colonel) Freidrich-Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, was a professional and honourable soldier who won the respect of the senior prisoners.
He was 61 when the camp opened in May 1942, a capable, educated man who spoke fluent English. Having joined the army in 1908, and after being wounded three times in WW1, winning two Iron Cross awards, he left in 1919 and worked in several civilian posts, meanwhile marrying a Dutch baroness, whilst trying to steer clear of Nazi politics. Eventually he joined the Luftwaffe (the least Nazified of the three German forces) in 1937 as one of Goering’s personal staff. Refused retirement, he found himself posted as Sagan Kommandant, with Major Gustav Simoleit as deputy. The first Kommandant, Colonel Stephani, had been quickly replaced when found to be unsuited to the task.
Security was strict, but life was not intolerable, except for those for whom escape was a restless itch… this was reckoned to be just 25 percent of the camp population, and only 5% of those were considered to be dedicated escapers. The others would, however, work in support of any escape attempts.
After several major expansions, Luft III eventually grew to hold 10,000 PoWs; it had a size of 59 acres, with 5 miles of perimeter fencing.
Elizabeth Custer was the wife of General George Armstrong Custer. She followed him as he moved about on military assignments, and after his death she was instrumental in shaping his public memory. She also campaigned for better benefits for military widows.
Although she is strongly associated with the West through her life with Custer, Elizabeth considered Westchester County her home for almost 50 years. Her connection to Westchester was rooted in a childhood friendship with Sarah Bates, one of several Bates children with whom she had grown up in Monroe, Michigan, who eventually settled in Bronxville. Libbie Custer started coming as a frequent visitor and eventually bought the first of two homes she owned in the area.
George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth Bacon Custer. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Libbie Custer was the only daughter of a wealthy and well-respected judge in Monroe, Michigan. George Custer (1839-1876) was a young man attending West Point when he began visiting his half-sister who lived in Monroe, and he met Libbie on one of his visits. Her father did not feel a common military man and son of a smithy was right for his daughter, so he asked Libbie not to see or write to Custer.
If the country had not been entering the Civil War, George Custer’s military fate would have been very different; he graduated at the bottom of his class at West Point, but military officers were badly needed so Custer was pressed into service and he proved his value through his fearlessness. Custer soon became known for numerous daring exploits. He was featured in Harper’s Weekly, one of the most prestigious publications of the day. This kept him in the public eye and heightened his standing among residents of Monroe, which probably explains Libbie’s willingness to continue the relationship from afar, with messages traveling via a go-between, young Monroe resident Nettie Humphrey.
In September 1863 George and Libbie met again at a masquerade ball in Monroe. Afterward, Custer wrote to Judge Bacon for permission to correspond directly with his daughter. Shortly after this, Custer was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General, and Judge Bacon relented. Libbie and George corresponded for a time, and were married on February 9, 1864.
When the Army reorganized after the Civil War, Custer was assigned to the Seventh Cavalry, and he was returned to his former rank of Lieutenant Colonel; his promotion to general had been intended for the war years only. The Custers did not like to be separated, so Libbie stayed at forts near where George was assigned. Libbie wrote: “It is infinitely worse to be left behind, a prey to all the horrors of imagining what may be happening to one we love.”
Other officers’ wives stayed at the forts some of the time, and the Custers’ rooms, or their tent, if staying on the plains, was frequently the center of camp social life. Libbie often accompanied the cavalry for the first day of each march; then someone would escort her back to the fort where she was staying.
In 1873 Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were sent to the Northern Plains where there were several skirmishes with the Lakota in the Yellowstone area. Then in 1874 Custer broke a treaty the U.S. had signed with the Lakota in 1868 by leading an expedition into the Black Hills. Gold was discovered on the expedition and when the news got out, the Black Hills Gold Rush began. Since the 1868 treaty had signed the entire area over to the Lakota, tensions between the U.S. and the Plains tribes became more inflamed, and violence and acts of depredation on both sides were common.
Tensions continued to rise, and led to the campaign of 1876. The campaign was part of the Grant administration’s plan to round up all the remaining Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Indians and force them to report to their designated reservations. However, Sitting Bull, the leader of the Lakota, had called together a large gathering of Plains Indians to discuss what to do about the white men; it was this group of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians whom Custer battled at Little Bighorn.
The American plans for the maneuver involved a three-pronged attack, and though an order of attack had been carefully planned, Custer impulsively moved his group forward before the other soldiers were in place. The results were disastrous. On June 25, the Indian tribes massacred Custer’s entire group, including several Custer family members: Custer, two of his brothers, a brother-in-law and his nephew all died. When the military finally discovered what had happened, the men were quickly buried in shallow graves at the site. (Custer’s remains—what little was left of him—were eventually exhumed, and he was reburied at West Point.) News of the massacre did not reach Libbie and others at Fort Abraham Lincoln in Bismarck, North Dakota, for three weeks.
This circa 1908 view of Lawrence Park shows Elizabeth Custer’s house at right. Photo courtesy Bronxville Public Library Local History Room.
Libbie was only 34 at the time of her husband’s death. Widows at the time generally remarried, as they had few other options. Libbie returned to Monroe, Michigan, but she soon saw that her financial situation was grim. Her military widow’s pension was $30 per month, and after cashing in George’s $5,000 life insurance policy, she was left with only $4,760, as the company had deducted $240 because Custer was in a dangerous line of work. She sold one of Custer’s horses and auctioned off interest in a family farm, but she knew it wasn’t enough to last long. At first Libbie accepted cash gifts from family and friends, but she wanted a better solution.
While women of the day were not supposed to work, Libbie felt that if any place offered her better opportunity, it would be New York. In 1877 she found a part-time job as a secretary at the Society of Decorative Art, an organization that trained impoverished gentlewomen in practical arts (such as needlework) so they could earn a living. (The organization was founded by Candace Wheeler, who went on to be a partner of Louis Comfort Tiffany.) Libbie remained in her position for over five years.
In 1881 she traveled to Washington to ask for increases in military widows’ pensions. Because women weren’t supposed to talk about money, this was a difficult effort for her, but she was effective. In 1882 her pension increased to $50; by 1890 the government was paying widows $100 per month in benefits.
As adults, members of the Bates family who had grown up with Libbie in Michigan had established themselves in Bronxville, which meant that Libbie became a frequent visitor. The first to arrive was Agnes Bates (Mrs. Arthur Wellington); Agnes then persuaded her older sister Sarah and her husband WilliamVan Duzer Lawrence (also from Monroe) to buy property in the area.
Cover of The Book of Words for the Westchester County HIstorical Pageant.
William Lawrence had netted good profits from a pharmaceutical company he ran in Canada, and since Sarah was eager to return to the United States, Lawrence purchased a farm near the train station where he intended to build a family home as well as a community for artists and writers. He loved the natural landscaping of the area, now known as Lawrence Park, and he had the streets laid out according to the natural flow of the land. Lawrence also brought in another fellow from Monroe, architect William A. Bates (no relation to the other Bates family) to help develop the community.
After visiting frequently, Libbie finally bought land in Lawrence Park in 1896. Her first house was at 20 Park Avenue, next door to Agnes Bates Wellington. In 1902 she built a bigger home nearby at 6 Chestnut, and named it Laurentia in honor of Sarah and William Lawrence. After living there for a few weeks, she began to rent it out for extended periods of time. If the house was rented during periods when she wanted to be in Bronxville, she took up residence at the Hotel Gramatan.
Perhaps because she traveled, often to speak about Custer, she may have considered Bronxville a quiet get-away; however, she did some entertaining there and was often invited to area socials and teas in the area. In 1909 she helped organize a four-day event to raise funds for what would become Lawrence Hospital. One of the events was a historical pageant about Westchester, for which she wrote a section of the script. The event was held on Memorial Day in a large outdoor amphitheatre built on an estate adjoining Lawrence Park. More than 300 costumed citizens, including Libbie, performed scenes depicting the early settlement of Westchester. New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes and area dignitaries joined an audience of several thousand to see what was described as the “largest production of its kind ever held in the county.” Libbie Custer eventually served as a member of the hospital board.
Shortly after Custer’s death, Libbie had been approached by a writer who wanted her to help him write a book about her husband, but after initially agreeing, Libbie realized that the best thing to do was to write the book herself. Detractors, including President Ulysses S. Grant, denounced Custer for having moved forward at Little Big Horn ahead of time, thereby causing his soldiers to be massacred. Libbie quickly rose to his defense, speaking publicly and eventually writing about her life with him. Her first book was Boots and Saddles (1885), followed by Tenting on the Plains (1887) and Following the Guidon (1890).
Mrs. Custer wrote “The Presentation of the Fatted Calf” for the Westchester County Historical Pageant.
By 1885 she began to receive book royalties. In 1886 her stepmother left her a $5,000 trust, and by 1890 her military pension had risen to $100. All these pieces together finally provided Libbie with income for a decent lifestyle.
She worked tirelessly to raise money to erect monuments in Custer’s honor. Her efforts were nationwide, but there were also a few local ways Custer was honored. There is a Custer Place in Bronxville, and before the United States entered World War I, youths in the neighborhood were encouraged to join “Custer’s Cadets.” The group drilled twice weekly, using wooden rifles, at Christ’s Church in Bronxville.
Until 1930, Libbie maintained a residence in Bronxville, but during her later years she lived primarily in New York City, residing at 71 Park Avenue. She was in poor health during her final years, but on days when she was feeling well enough, the New York Times reported that she could be seen strolling along Park Avenue with an aide or going to the Cosmopolitan Club.
On May 12, 1933, a report in the New York Times cited details from Elizabeth Custer’s will, dated November 18, 1926. The article reported that the table on which Lee’s surrender was signed at Appomattox and two flags of truce, “one made of a white linen towel and the other of a white handkerchief” that were used on that occasion and had been given to George Custer by Ulysses Grant, were already in the Memorial Hall of the War Department building, and the will specified they should remain there. Today, however, these items are part of the collection on view at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. Custer’s sword and uniforms and a large oil portrait of him that adorned the wall in the living room of the Chestnut Avenue house in Bronxville are also at the Smithsonian. At least one of Libbie’s own dresses from her time in the West can be seen on occasion at the Women of the West Museum in Los Angeles.
Because Elizabeth Custer was so devoted to maintaining Custer’s image, historians avoided stirring up trouble during her lifetime. Only after her death in 1933 did historians begin to re-examine what happened at Little Bighorn. Elizabeth Custer is buried at her husband’s side at West Point.
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As Part 2 opens, Scarlett is shown picking cotton in the fields at Tara. Later, when she goes inside, a Yankee straggler comes in and tries to steal what’s left of their money, but Scarlett kills him and takes all of his looted money.
The war is finally over!! (1865) Frank Kennedy wants Suellen to marry him, and Ashley comes home to Tara. But there is trouble, the Yankee carpetbaggers and southern scalawags have raised the taxes on Tara. Now they are $300 — an unreachable amount of money. Ashley and Scarlett talk at the barn. Scarlett confesses her love for him again He says that he admires her fearlessness. They kiss, and then Scarlett asks Ashley to run away, then he says that she can’t go because she has too much honor to leave Tara. Emmy Slattery and Mr. Wilkinson come to Tara and offer to buy it from them. Scarlett tells them to leave. Gerald gets on his horse to chases them away, but he falls off and dies from a fall while he is jumping.
Scarlett decides that she’ll go see Rhett in Atlanta and ask him for the $300. She dresses up in a dress that she made out of curtains. Rhett is in jail, and he says that he can’t get his money out because it is hidden in Europe. After this Scarlett runs into Frank Kennedy. She marries him for the $300 , and then she starts a lumber business with Ashley. As Scarlett is on her way to the mill, she is attacked by hobos, but Big Sam saves her life.
Later that night, the women are all together, and India tells off Scarlett for all of the things that she has done. The husbands have gone to the woods to attack the men who attacked Scarlett. Rhett tries to save them from doing it but it is too late, Ashley was shot and Frank Kennedy was killed. (Poor Scarlett, widowed again!) Rhett makes up a lie to tell the Yankees of them being at Belle Whatley’s house, so that they can get back inside without Ashley getting arrested. Melanie invites Belle to her house to thank her for saving Ashley’s life.
Scarlett and Rhett are talking and he again asks her to marry him, and this time she says yes. They go on a grand honeymoon to New Orleans. Scarlett wants to go back to Tara. They go back, and build a mansion in Atlanta. They have a baby girl named ‘Bonnie Blue’ Butler. Scarlett doesn’t want to have anymore children because she is still in love with Ashley. They separate, and Rhett goes to see Belle and she convinces him to go back, because the Bonnie needs him. Rhett gets drunk one night after Melanie’s party and he wants to rid Ashley in Scarlett’s mind forever. This is the famous ‘carry her (to bed) up the Grand Staircase’ scene.
The next morning he apologizes then says he is going to London and taking Bonnie with him. Bonnie hates it there and says that she wants to go home and see her mother. Rhett takes Bonnie home, and then says he’s leaving. Scarlett tells him that she is pregnant, they both say that they don’t want the baby and Rhett says maybe Scarlett will have an accident. As he says this she falls down the stairs. Scarlett lost the baby. After some time, Mellie tells Rhett that Scarlett is better. They are on the patio talking and watching Bonnie, when Bonnie decides that she will jump. But she does not make it and dies, just like Gerald.
Mammy calls on Mellie to help her, because Scarlett and Rhett are both distraught. But Mellie is very ill, and falls when she is at their house and never recovers. Mellie dies shortly after. Scarlett realizes as Mellie dies that her love for Ashley never existed, and that she really loves Rhett. She rushes home to tell him, but it is too late. He has already made up his mind to go to Charleston. Scarlett begs him not to go, “where shall I go …. what shall I do?” But Rhett says, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Scarlett believes that she needs to get him back so she says she’ll go to Tara to think, to the place that gives her strength. “After all,” Scarlett says, “tomorrow is another day.”
Barack Obama, an African-American, steps into the vortex of power as America’s 44th president, with high hopes of bringing change not just to his country but the whole world.
It was a momentous event presaged by black civil rights leader, the late Martin Luther King Jnr, 46 years ago. And the outpouring of emotions, the joy, the celebrations all over the world, from Kenya, his father’s birth place to Japan, Indonesia, from the streets of New York, to London, Berlin and Paris—all underscored its historic significance. As Barack Obama, 47, stepped forward to be sworn in as America’s first black president on 20 January, hope in a new global chapter under his leadership was unmistakable. More than two million people crammed into Capitol Hill and other streets of Washington to watch Obama’s inauguration and listen to his speech. On television worldwide, about 1.5 billion watched the event. Such is the awesome response to Obama the world over.
Even in the Arab world where America is intensely disliked because of the foreign policy errors of past administrations, there is hope, as is the case in other parts of the world, that with Obama as the leader of the free world, change will come. And his middle name, Hussein, also makes him difficult to hate in the Muslim world. Salah al-Mohaisen, a Saudi man who runs a jewelry store in Riyadh said he was overjoyed at Obama’s election. “I feel that he could understand Arab suffering” he said, in apparent reference to the suffering of Palestinians, under Israel occupation.
In Iran, many of the citizens hope Obama will bring about a significant change in US policy and perhaps restore diplomatic relations between both countries. Muna Abdul Razak, a 37-year-old primary school teacher in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosal expressed the hope that “Obama will be more responsible than Bush who destroyed Iraq. “Everybody likes him. I am hopeful that he is really going to change things for the better, by transforming US policy towards the Middle East’’.
That the emergence of Barack Obama is not just a welcome departure from the brutish politics and war mongering that his predecessor, George W. Bush represented, the ascent of an African-American as president shows the country has buried many decades of racism and is poised to turn a new chapter of racial harmony.But the success story of the 47-year-old junior senator from Illinois began with the keynote address he read at the Democratic Convention in Boston in the summer of 2004. Before then, he was largely unknown outside his state of Illinois, where as a youth he cut his teeth as a community mobiliser. But that changed moments after he mounted the podium and delivered a moving speech about the American spirit and the artificial divisions working against the realisation of its full destiny.
“I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on earth is my story even possible,” the young senator said.
Many who listened to his speech truly thought that he had a great future in politics, but not many would immediately tip him for the presidency. But Obama on 10 February 2008 announced his candidacy for the US top job. He had not even spent a full term as senator. He alluded to his inexperience when he said, “I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been here long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.” He faced Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, in the contest for the Democratic Party’s nomination. All political pundits and pollsters pointed to a Hillary Clinton victory against a man still seen as a political upstart.
But against all odds Obama prevailed. He trounced Clinton in the opening caucuses at Iowa, built up momentum and eventually beat her to the party’s ticket. His giant killing did not end there. For the presidential election proper he was up against Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who had spent close to 25 years in Congress. Though so much capital was made of Obama’s inexperience, he ran an aggressive, effective and technology-driven campaign, reaching out to Americans from all races and age, preaching the gospel of change. In mobilising Americans for the change he envisions, Obama also raised an unprecedented campaign funds of close to a billion dollars, from the people. He drove the point home that four more years of a Republican administration would be suicidal for the American people, as the ruling party had failed spectacularly to manage the economy, resulting in massive job and home losses. He made a good job of convincing Americans that McCain is not different from Bush
The rest is history. Four more years of an administration akin to that of Bush was inconceivable for Americans and so on 4 November, they gave Obama a landslide victory. His ascendance also redefined America’s electoral geography, as he won in states hitherto dominated by the Republicans.