Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Fun and frolics with the Tories

Dear Munguin,

If you've ever had your heart set on an official Conservative Party mug, an 'It's time for a Change' baby-grow, or even a 'Honk for Change' car sticker, then I've got some good news for you.

Because today the online Conservative Shop has officially opened up for business.

There's a great range of products to choose from, including old favourite like diaries, umbrellas and ties, fun stocking-fillers like fridge magnets and posters, and stylish T-shirts and sweatshirts.

You can also buy the two winners of our recent T-shirt competition: 'Don't blame me I voted Tory' and 'Release your inner Tory'.

All proceeds go to the Party, so as well as getting yourself some great Conservative-branded goodies, you'll also be helping our campaign to win the next election.

And if you're one of the first 100 customers, you'll get a free set of limited edition 'Make your own Gordon Brown speech' fridge magnets, the must-have item from this year's Party Conference.

So head down to the Conservative Shop now and start Shopping for Change.

Yours, Eric Pickles MP

P.S. Lots of you have asked for our Ready for Change video from Conference. You'll be pleased to know that it's now on YouTube.
Thanks very much for this e-mail Eric, at least I will know where to go for those much needed stocking fillers this year.


  1. Hey Munguin, does the shop take visa debit?

    I like the umbrealla btw, should go with my new suit.

    Mung, Niko will be over like a wobbly jelly and calling you a toff!!!

  2. Oh Munguin....

    Honk for change? Does that mean you don't wash?

    If Spooky's having the brolly, then I'll have the T-shirt with "Release your Inner Tory" on it, as a reminder to let Mrs Thatcher out of Jail, in 25 years' time!

    We'll make a fine pair out on the town so attired, what think you?

  3. I've already got three tory t-shirts. [yes I am that sad], and tory pens posters, jackets, fleese ... a CF exec committee scotland member must lead by example dont you find?

    I do like the idea of 'release your inner tory'...it makes me think of an army of michael howards coming out of the woodwork. ARHH

  4. I’m sorry all, I forgot to say that this is an e-mail that I received from one Eric Pickles. I’m sorry I made a bit of a pigs backside of this post, it has no title and I have left our Eric’s signature. Terrible: I give it nothing out of 10.

  5. I've fixed it now. AMW: I am sure that the Conservative Party will be happy to take all forms of plastic. I hope that you have taken a page out of the good old Tories book and not bought an off the peg suit.

  6. Tris: yes I wish I had known about that T-shirt contest I can think up quite a few suggestions. I can just see that vast container ship filled with nasty cheap tat leaving Shanghai, with Oak Tree beer mats and nodding William Hagues just ready for the Christmas rush.

  7. Dean; yes I’m sorry but that “release your inner Tory” line is just spooky. I would also love a brolly but unfortunately I live in Dundee and if I took that out with me I hate to think where it might end up.

  8. OMG Dean, what the well dressed young Tory is wearing..... I hope they don't have the blessed Margaret's head on them.... do they?

    The idea of Michael Howard coming out of the woodwork is just plain evil, and I'm sure you only mentioned it to ensure that I can't sleep for the next three weeks.

  9. Munguin: Smarten up a bit... no heading, no pic, no signature and no idea of where it had come from....

    You need to take more water with with it, methinks

  10. BTW... why are you getting emails from the Tories????

  11. Sorry Tris, what can I say? I don't know why the Tories have me on their mailing list. Particularly why they would think I would want to buy any of their tat (sorry quality merchandise). Perhaps it is something to do with that copy of the new years honours list with 2008 crossed out and 2010 penciled in, a photo of me and a cheque for £50K

  12. Yes the Howard line was cruel lol

    Oh and there are t-shirts with Maggies face on them! Its a chevara t-shirt but with Maggies face. Its rather amusing infact.
    I however refused to have one of those.

  13. LOL.... Maggie's face on a tea shirt Dean... that would keep the mice at bay...

    Och, go on buy one... If you don't like it you can always give it to me for Christmas....:-)

    I have loads of mice.....

  14. Munguin....

    Yeah... I know how it is when somehow you get on to a mailing list. I wrote to Nigel Griffiths, I think that's his name, and told him what a complete tosser I though he was for spending the evening of Remembrance Sunday drunk with some tart, naked in his office. He declined to answer me.

    However, shortly after that I found out I had inadvertantly found my way on to his email list when he wrote and asked me to sign something he was involved in. As you can imagine I hit the roof. I don't want my computer soiled with mail from the likes of him.... yeauch!

    The little twerp continued to send me mail... until I was obliged to send him a very stiff note telling him, in choice words, NOT TO.

    So, there you go... Maybe Mr Pickles, who's a decent enough fellow, is gonna be a e-pal for you.... Sweet!

  15. 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 22, 2009 5:38 am

    Over here in the colonies, I was working on what "tat" is. But I read that it is "sorry quality merchandise." OK, we uncouth Americans call that "c**p".

    Then I see that the Tories are using the word "change." I really had believed that Mr. Obama and the Democrats had secured a political copyright on that word ....as in "CHANGE We Can Belive In." We'll let the "change" thing go, but if the Tories ever try using something like "YES WE CAN," there will be serious trouble with the Democratic National Committee.

    As for the Emails. The surest way to secure immortality for our otherwise mortal souls is to send an Email to a political party AND attach a monetary contribution. YES....you will continue to receive political propaganda and urgent requests for further funds well into perpetuity and beyond.

  16. 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 22, 2009 6:17 am

    Excuse a second comment, but I reflected on the question of political "tat." I find that the Democrat and Republican websites are no longer pushing their old c**p from the 2008 Presidential campaign.

    But the Tories may wish to scan the "Obamagearonline" website for ideas from currently available t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, and lapel buttons from 2008. The items personalized with Barack Obama's name will be of no help. (Why do I doubt that the Tories will EVER field a candidate with an African name?)

    However, "CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN" t-shirts are still available. Here is the current list of available tees:

    1) Change We Can Believe In
    2) Got Hope?
    3) Obama 08
    4) Go Green Black (Green is lined out)
    5) Obama Is My Homeboy
    6) Barack and Roll
    7) I Love Obama
    8) Obama / Hillary 2008: The Dream Team
    9) Once You Go Barack...You Never Go Back
    10)Obama Girl

    Actually, the Tories might better look to the bitter right wing American Republicans for more appropriate ideas. Their slogans are more along the lines of "Vote Republican - Or The Democrats Will Kill You."

  17. Well they don’t do things by halves in the US. But if you will forgive me did they not invent political tat and you can get it going all the way back to William Henry Harrison?

    Either way I would rather have an e-mail from the Democrats and President Obama than from the Tories and jolly Eric Pickles. You will note from his picture that he is possibly the jolliest of the Tories, I cannot imagine an e-mail from Michael Gove (Shadow Health) or Chris Grayling (Shadow Home Sec) doing the same job. You would not buy a second hand car from either of them believe me. I really don’t know what it is with the Tories and their Homes Secretaries but Grayling so reminds me of Kenneth Baker (now Lord Baker) who had the same job under John Major in the early 90s. He was portrayed by Spitting Image (a political satire show that used puppets) at the time as a great big slimy snail that simpered and oozed slime. Grayling fits that bill almost perfectly.

  18. He He Danny... I mean your Earlness...

    What on earth is a "homeboy"?

    To be honest I think that all this tat or crap or quality money raising stuff came from America (I mean the idea, the actual tat comes from China of course). It wouldn't have been quite the thing to flog off stuff here. Now they are all at it.

    The Tories aren't the only ones. The SNP have a "shop" too, and the tat is every bit as tatty and every bit as expensive. I haven't been to Labour's site (don't think my computer could stand that), but I'm betting they have one too.

  19. 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 22, 2009 12:01 pm

    I have no problem believing that America may have invented political tat. As early as 1789, with George Washington's inauguration, there were clothing buttons which proclaimed "GW - Long Live the President." By 1828, Democrat Andrew Jackson was handing out snuff boxes, clothing buttons, ribbons and tokens.

    But by 1840, William Henry Harrison (Old Tippecanoe), with his VP John Tyler, hit it big with the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" emblazoned on all sorts of tat. He also used his log cabin birth as a political symbol.....the applicable political tat being log cabin shaped bottles (to hold his signature hard cider).

    Abe Lincoln and the Republicans picked up on that Log Cabin symbolism big time in 1860.

    As for the physical appearance of the candidates, I WAS really taken with how jolly Mr.Pickles appears....for a Tory I mean. Really, he is not my idea of what a Tory ought to look like.

    Here in the states we recently had a Vice President who had a snarling, sneering appearance which fairly froze the soul. He was given the pseudonym "Darth Vader"....but Darth actually appeared quite a bit more pleasant and cheerful in countenance than VP Cheney.

  20. 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 22, 2009 12:17 pm

    Hey Tris....

    Homeboy is urban slang commonly used in the African American (and Latino) communities. Often contracted to homie or homey, it is a term of favor and approval.

  21. Thanks your lordship... I had an idea it was a kinda friendly reference.

  22. I’ll bet that Old Tippecanoe tat (if you want to call it that) is worth a fortune now. Our equivalent would be Sir Robert Peel (also a Tory) but can’t see any “honk for change” stickers for old Sir Bob.

    Poor old Harrison wasn’t his inauguration speech longer than his actual presidency? I think he only signed one bill and he does not have a library or indeed anything to commemorate him. So at least he has his election tat to be remembered by. Is he the Moose Murders of presidents? Or is that Bush number two?

  23. Honk for change...maggie t-shirts.. Michael Howards [plural!] coming out of the woodwork and now Lord Baker....arrchhhhh

    Stop, please this isnt just scaring the mice away!

    p.s. [Obama is my homeboy? Is that really a product being sold?!]

  24. 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 22, 2009 10:52 pm

    Yes, Governor Harrison maintained his health well enough while fighting the American Indians on the Tippecanoe River, but his presidency was another matter. He delivered the longest inaugural speech in American history (more than two hours) in a cold rain, wearing neither coat nor hat. He caught a cold, then pneumonia, and lived 32 days….the shortest presidency in American history. His only official act was to call a special session of Congress.

    Indeed there is little to commemorate the first president to die in office. Only four of the 43 presidents are memorialized in Washington, and the presidential library system wasn’t established until 1939. As for the Moose Murders of presidents, he’s not even in the running. He just didn’t have the opportunity to screw things up. There were presidential crooks, scoundrels, and incompetents who DID have such an opportunity. Bush #2 would certainly be in the running…..LOL.

  25. LOL... Dean... you've even scared yourself now....

    Never mind. I'll see if I can get you a Nichola Sturgeon t-shirt....

    Hows that?

  26. I looked President Harrison up and it seems he does have a memorial where he is buried in North Bend, Hamilton County, Ohio. I guess that was because he was a Congressman from Ohio as well as a Senator although he was born in Virginia. It looks nice from the pictures nothing too grand but after all the man was the 9th President of the US. I bet he does not even get a mention on presidents day. Maybe your Lordship could suggest the best candidate as the Moose Murders of Presidents. Maybe Taft or Coolidge?

    [I should explain what Moose Murders means: this refers to the worst staged show ever produced on Broadway which I think opened on 15 February 1983 and closed the next day. It was so bad that it has, I think, been accepted into the American lexicon as a euphemism for the very worst of anything.]

  27. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 23, 2009 1:04 pm

    Munguin.....my view of the “Moose Murders” of presidents? Nice of you to ask, but it’s impossible to pick just one. Presidents have been so creative in finding ways to be really bad.

    I might say that being from a family of Democrats, I was horrified as a child to learn that arguably our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, was (OMG) a REPUBLICAN....that many Democrats supported slavery and secession, and that the Republicans abolished slavery and saved the nation. Oh the bitter ironies of history! And this takes us to the really bad presidents. For pure Moosiness, it’s hard to find worse presidents than a number of Democrats before Lincoln, who let the nation slide into the bloodbath of the Civil War....600,000 dead (more than all the American dead of WW II)....2% of all Americans alive in 1860. And the worst of the pack was James Buchanan (1857- 1861) who sat in the White House and calmly watched the beginnings of Southern secession....the collapse of the American Union itself.

    For corruption, the award goes to Warren G. Harding (1921-23) who busied himself with golf and mistresses while his cronies looted the federal treasury in creative ways. For criminal misconduct and general weirdness, Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974). “I am not a crook,” he said. Yes he was....obstruction of justice....a felony. Only Gerald Ford’s pardon saved him from a criminal trial. And for ineptitude and inaction in the face of economic calamity, Herbert Hoover (1929-1933). He sat in the White House waiting for Franklin D. Roosevelt in much the same way that Buchanan sat there waiting for Lincoln.

    You asked about Taft and Coolidge. Not too bad in my view. Taft was an honest, capable administrator who suffered from his presidential position which followed the activist Teddy Roosevelt. Coolidge was a good and decent man who simply didn’t see the calamity which would come in 1929.

    Where is George W. Bush on the list? For war crimes, subversion of the constitution, and general stupidity, he should definitely be on a list of worst presidents. But we need some time for passions to cool. In the historians’ pantheon of the presidents, he will have to jockey for his position among the really bad ones. But it was always fun to hear DubYa try to form a sentence and express a thought. I still think of him working to put food on his family. And commenting on his presidential legacy, he said “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.”

  28. LOL, Danny. I would have thought you could have found a particular "Moose Murders" award for misuse of the English language, and given that to "Bush the Stupider".

    Although, in fairness, Mr Bush did seem to be able to read upside down.....

  29. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 23, 2009 1:35 pm

    Indeed Munguin, Harrison has a fairly impressive tomb and memorial in North Bend, Ohio. As an elected head of state, the president is considered a pretty big deal here. So even the minor ones have impressive tombs and memorials....usually in the states where they were born or lived. In addition, their birthplaces and family homes are often maintained as historic sites....frequently under state or other local supervision. And of course there are lots of presidential statues scattered around. For example, Old Hickory (Andrew Jackson) sits atop a rearing horse in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. And Old Tippecanoe is sitting on a horse in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

    The next step up from these local memorials and historic sites are the presidential libraries. Starting with FDR, the papers of retired presidents have been maintained in “presidential libraries and museums” which tell the history of their administrations. Administratively, these libraries are branches of the National Archives. (The papers of some earlier presidents reside in locally maintained libraries and memorials which are not a part of the National Archives system.)

    And the pinnacle of presidential glory is a great national memorial in Washington, on or near the National Mall. Residing in no state, these memorials are located in the District of Columbia....the Federal City of Washington. Four Presidents have been so honored....Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

  30. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 23, 2009 2:01 pm

    LOL Tris....
    I see your point. I suppose that even at this early date, some sort of a special Moose Murders award should have been devised for DubYa. Perhaps something which combines crimes against humanity with crimes against grammar and syntax.

    But I had always imagined that holding the children's book upside down was...well...kinda dumb. It really hadn't occurred to me that a very special reading skill was being demonstrated....LOL.

  31. Thanks very much for that excellent explanation. I thought about it too and merely came up with Gerald Ford him not being elected and all, and of course his cataclysmic mistake in pardoning Nixon. Other than that did he really do anything other than fall down steps etc? But I guess that precipitating a civil war must come before all Fords buffoonery and George W has two on his card, both arguably illegal. Whether 2 illegal wars in the Middle East equals one Civil War at home I suppose, as you say, only time will tell. Incidentally, do you include Jefferson Davis as a President?

  32. If they all have monuments, tombs or libraries I guess it would be quite a feat to go visit them all. Five of them are still alive (I think) so that’s 39 memorials (unless some have 2 or more). That does not happen with PMs the more important ones get a statue in London but I have never heard of anyone wanting to visit their graves. Leastways only for the ones that are still alive, I can think of quite a few people who want to visit (that’s a nice way of putting it) Mrs Thatcher’s grave for example

  33. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 24, 2009 1:33 pm

    Nope.....Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America (1861-1865), is not considered by the United States to have been a president of anything, except a rebellion within the Southern states. He was indicted for treason and imprisoned in 1865. But, after two years he was released on bail, and the treason charges were dropped in 1869. He continued to lead an active life into his old age and died in 1889.

    BTW, there are indeed five living Presidents, but only 38 dead ones. Yep while Obama is numbered the 44th, only 43 men have actually held the office. Grover Cleveland held two non-consecutive terms in 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, and is counted as both the 22nd and the 24th president of the United States.

    Loved your comment about your feelings for Mrs. Thatcher...LOL. As for the president, he catches all the political flak from his position as head of government. But he’s also an elected head of state, and is accorded quite some reverence when he acts in that formal and ceremonial capacity. Maybe some of this spills over into his historical context.

    BTW, I’ve always though that the story of Gerry Ford....the ineffectual presidential bumbler....has an interesting constitutional and political back story. Will post separately so it can be more easily ignored by those for whom American history is a big snooze.

  34. LOL... The Thatcher thing is good.

    Recently it was revealed that Mr Brown had been in talks (presumably with the Queen) about giving Mrs Thatcher a state funeral, an honour accorded to Winston Churchill and (I think) The Duke of Wellington, along only with senior royals. (Even the Queen Mum didn't get one).

    Anyway, many people were outraged that this woman who did so much harm in her prime ministership of 10 years and then was dumped, not by the country, but her own party!, would have such an huge honour... whilst others thought that as long as it happened tomorrow it would be fine!!!!

  35. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 24, 2009 2:10 pm

    Gerald Ford was unelected and bumbling and ineffectual as a President, but he was chosen to be just that. After the ratification of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution in 1967, Vice Presidential vacancies were no longer left unfilled....as they had throughout history. After 1967, a VP vacancy was filled by presidential appointment, subject to ratification by a majority vote of both houses of Congress.

    So, in late 1973, a vice presidential vacancy was created when Richard Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned his office and pleaded no contest to charges of bribery and corruption (having accepted $30,000 in bribes while Governor of Maryland.) So Richard Nixon....deep under the cloud of Watergate and only 10 months from resigning the presidency....was the guy who would name the next Vice President. More to the point, people realized that the crook Nixon would quite simply be NAMING his own successor as President, if he (Nixon) were forced out of office.

    In this touchy political climate, the only type of man who could possibly get ratified by both houses of the Democrat controlled Congress would be a political nobody. Somebody honest and well liked, but who would only be a caretaker president if Nixon were forced out of office. The Democrats smelled blood in the water and wanted no serious competition from a strong incumbent Republican president in the upcoming presidential election of 1976.

    And Gerald Ford filled the bill to perfection. A 25 year member of the House of Representatives, he was well liked and known to be no serious political threat to anyone. He was easily ratified for Vice President by the Congress, and then became the 38th President of the United States upon Nixon’s resignation the following year. He thus became the only president in US history who had never been elected to either the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. He did run (stand) for the office in 1976, but lost to the Democrat Jimmy Carter.

    He deserved to lose of course. Gerald Ford had pardoned the crook Nixon WHO HAD APPOINTED HIM. And that 25th Amendment to the Constitution had seemed like such a GOOD idea back in 1967.

  36. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 24, 2009 2:40 pm

    Tris......it all comes down to the timing I guess....LOL.

    I knew that Wellington, Churchill, Nelson, Newton, etc., had state funerals, but I had assumed that all the royals had them. I think I read that they don't use horses to draw the gun carriage at a state funeral, but that sailors of the Royal Navy draw it instead.

    I was also reading about the Iron Duke. Why was he called the IRON Duke? Something about beating Napoleon at Waterloo? Nah....

    He went into politics, became Prime Minister, and angry constituents started throwing things through his windows. So, he had iron shutters installed on his house. Must be true...you can't make up something like that.....LOL.

  37. Grover Cleveland's memorial must be quite unique then, here lies 2 Presidents.

  38. Your Gracious Earlness...

    I thought maybe he was testing the name out for the Iron Lady?

    Nah, I joke. I got this answer on Wiki:

    "An opponent of parliamentary reform, he was given the epithet the "Iron Duke" because of the iron shutters he had fixed to his windows to stop the pro-reform mob from breaking them."

    So, in fairness, it wasn't ordinary constituents that were breaking the poor man's windows.


    I believe that only monarchs are entitled to state funerals as of right, but I can't find a reference for it. Sorry.... Wikipedia let me down....

  39. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 25, 2009 1:11 am

    Thanks Tris....

    And I guess that strictly speaking, "constituents" implies the people who vote in your ....well....constituency. But as an hereditary peer, I suppose that he was Prime Minister in the Lords.

    Munguin....I'll check out Grover Cleveland the next time I'm in New Jersey and let you know.....LOL.

  40. I looked online again and all I can find for Cleveland is a very simple affair indeed in Princeton Cemetry, much simpler than Harrison's. Have I looked at the wrong thing? The inscription on his grave does not even mention him having been President never mind having been two. That can't be right, did he give instructions for such a simple grave? I have a feeling that Gladstone refused a state funeral before he died.


  41. It would have been very difficult indeed for the Iron Dukes constituents to break his windows not just because at that time less than 15% of population could actually vote, there being a very strict property qualification. But as his name suggests he was a duke and therefore did not need to be elected at all. He was a lovely man who described his men as “the scum of the earth” and resisted tooth and nail the 1832 Reform Act, if I had been there I would have broken his windows as well.

  42. So I wasn't far off when I suggested he was trying the name out (or at least the "iron" part of it) for Mrs Thatcher, the Iron Lady. I must admit, sexist though it may appear, that it would have been a good idea if the only iron she had known was the one she could use to do Dennis's shirts with! It would have saved us all a load of pain.

  43. I can well imagine that Mrs Thatcher liked to associate herself with Wellington as much as she did with Churchill. She loved to liken herself to the most masculine of leaders especially if they had been successful in war as both Wellington and Churchill arguably were. Even if both had unpalatable character traits. Lets face it she did not emulate those aspects because she had many, many of her own. All three were right wing bigots of various waters but Wellington and Churchill were defenders of the status quo and resisted change whereas Thatcher was a reactionary intent on change and like all reformist zealots the longer she ruled the more difficult it was to maintain that reform agenda, until she was looking for things to reform, hit on the wrong one (poll tax) and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

  44. LOL Munguin. What a lovely puff of smoke that must have been...

    .... when they all "stabbed her in the back".

    Oh joy.

    Although she does turn up from time to time as a guest of Gordon and Sarah brown. I think they like to have her round for tea and get some advice from her on how to mess up the country, her being an expert.

  45. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 26, 2009 9:24 am

    Munguin....on presidential tombs and memorials....I’ve never been there, but that simple tombstone in the Presbyterian Church cemetery at Princeton is indeed the grave of the 22nd (and 24th) President. Seems like they would have mentioned the Presidency....LOL.

    I imagine that this is quite a bit more modest than most of the presidents....even the minor ones. Although one of the “giants” prescribed what words were to be inscribed on his tombstone, and as he said, “not a word more.” And it didn’t say anything about being President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson (third President) was one of the “founding fathers”....the revolutionaries who declared American independence at Philadelphia in 1776. He was the one who wrote the Declaration of Independence document itself. (Soaring rhetoric....along with some nasty words about King George.) Anyway, famously, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the 50th anniversary of American independence, TO THE DAY, July 4, 1826. Jefferson was buried in the cemetery of his Monticello estate in Virginia under a large, but plain tombstone. And the epitaph he prescribed was:

    Here was buried Thomas Jefferson
    Author of the Declaration of American Independence
    Of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom
    And Father of the University of Virginia

    Not a word about being president.

    As for George Washington, he lies in a white marble sarcophagus within a very plain brick structure on his Mount Vernon estate....on the Potomac in Virginia, near Washington. I’ve been there, and only remember the name WASHINGTON on the top of the sarcophagus. Actually I don’t remember if anything about being the first President of the United States is inscribed there or not. It’s all very plain.

    But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Although his will specified burial at Mount Vernon, Martha agreed that he could be entombed in a magnificent crypt below the rotunda of the Capitol Building. But, this central construction of the Capitol wasn’t completed until about 1827, 28 years or so after his death. By then, the family decided to keep him at Mount Vernon. So there is a magnificent crypt for Washington under the Capitol rotunda, but George isn’t there. (Some nice pictures of the Capitol crypt on Wikipedia.)

    On the other extreme, Abraham Lincoln lies in presidential splendor (splendid by American standards....but of course we couldn’t possibly compete with the royals) in a magnificent tomb in a cemetery at Springfield, Illinois. Amidst marble and gold, and bronze statuary, you make your way to the tomb chamber at the rear....with its huge red granite tombstone inscribed simply LINCOLN 1809-1865. Illinois....and Springfield....went all out for its favorite son. (He was actually born in Kentucky.) He is buried ten feet below the floor of the tomb chamber in a steel reinforced concrete slab.

    There’s a reason for the ten foot deep concrete slab burial. He was originally in a sarcophagus in the tomb chamber. But grave robbers broke in to steal the body and hold it for ransom. They had the coffin part way out of the building before they were caught. Then the authorities restored the sarcophagus in its original location. But secretly, for reasons of security, Lincoln’s coffin was put in a shallow grave in the basement....and covered with building debris. It resided there for many years, unknown to visitors to the tomb. Then it was discovered that the original tomb structure was falling down and had to be entirely rebuilt. So Lincoln’s body was moved again while they rebuilt the structure. Finally, when they moved back into the new building about 1910, they REALLY wanted Lincoln to finally stay put. So his body was buried in steel reinforced concrete where it surely remains today....LOL.

    There is a nice virtual tour of the exterior and interior of the Lincoln tomb online:


  46. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 26, 2009 9:46 am

    Poor Wellington.....Napoleon must have been so much easier to deal with than British politics....LOL.

    Years ago, before Tris educated me about Mrs. Thatcher's actual political record, I made a comment on a Blog which was mildly complimentary about her....reflecting the uneducated American view of the time. There were lots of UK participants there. They didn't boot me off.....but there were a number of comments directed toward me that were just slightly milder than death threats.

    Tris....as for being "stabbed in the back", I seem to recall that she was in tears at the climactic cabinet meeting. Seemed odd for a major politician.....especially for the so-called "Iron Lady." She had to know that her enemies were just waiting for the opportunity.

  47. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 26, 2009 11:06 am

    Some pictures of Washington's tomb (including the old tomb) are on findagrave:


  48. It seems a bit sad that a man who has a unique place in presidential history should have such a simple grave as Cleveland. I suppose Harrison has a unique place as well what with being the shortest Presidency and the longest inaguration speech.

    Maybe someone should think about doing a tour of their graves and memorials, or do I just have a morbid interest in the dead?

  49. Lord Danny:

    I'm not surprised you got trouble if you were praising Thatcher. A detailed discussion over her is probably for another thread, although it does bring us back to the "Fun and Frolics with the Tories". But you're right the Iron Lady in tears... tut tut. When she left Downing Street there was another emotional outpouring, along with a speech saying that "WE leave the country in a better state than....." Mrs Thatcher had a sense of self importance like you wouldn't believe, including assigning for herself, the Royal WE.

    Of course, whether the country was or was not in better shape kinda depended on whether you were a stock broker or a steel maker!!! Rather like the current government!!!

  50. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 26, 2009 3:25 pm

    Munguin....I too have a great interest in presidential history and memorials, and have visited the sites when and where I can. The only practical limitations are distance and time. The 43 presidents were born in 21 states (or colonies which became states), spanning roughly 2500 miles east to west, and 1500 miles north to south.

    The four major presidential memorials in Washington are a "must" on a tour of the Federal City. But Woodrow Wilson is the only president buried in Washington, D.C. (At the National Cathedral.) However, two presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery directly across the Potomac River in Virginia....John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft. Most presidents are buried in their home states.....some at their presidential libraries...some at family estates, etc.

    For the presidents back to Herbert Hoover, a tour of their 13 (soon to be 14) presidential libraries and museums would be a great historical tour. (It'll become harder to do if Obama eventually builds his library in Hawaii.) Of the 13 presidents with libraries, nine of them are deceased, and seven of these nine are buried at their presidential libraries. The Eisenhower library at his boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas, is very interesting. (He was born in Texas, BTW.) Lots of material there from his period as World War II supreme commander of the European theater. He was buried in a simple WW II era uniform, in an $80, standard issue, military casket.

    Then, you have wide ranging possibilities of birthplaces, historical sites, and resting places. Very first choice for me.....go to Springfield and visit the Lincoln sites. (I loved reading his moving "farewell to the citizens of Springfield" from a bronze tablet on the wall of the train station building, from where he left for Washington in 1861....and to which his body returned in 1865.) And being from Missouri, I've visited all the Harry Truman sites in the Show Me State. His birthplace is in the south of the state at Lamar. Then his boyhood home is up in the northwest of the state at Kansas City. And, as an adult, he lived and worked in Independence, just to the east of Kansas City. The Truman home at Independence is open for tours and maintained by the US Park Service. He is buried at his presidential library and museum, also at Independence.

    BTW, I read that only 100 people attended Grover Cleveland's funeral services. Not a great president of course, but noteworthy today for his non-consecutive terms. And, in the period of Republican domination after Lincoln, he was the only Democrat to be elected president between Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson. And he and Wilson were the only two Democratic presidents between Lincoln in 1865 and FDR in 1933.

    William Henry Harrison seems to have an impressive burial site in Ohio. No presidential history really, but known for his early death in office. It was the first time that such a thing had happened, and much of the precedent for Vice Presidential succession was set then. The constitution only said that upon a vacancy in the presidency, the duties of the office "shall devolve on the Vice President." OMG....what does that mean people wondered? Does he literally become THE PRESIDENT.....or just an ACTING president until a by-election can be held? If THE PRESIDENT....is he in office until the next regular election? In it's original form, the issues of Vice Presidential succession got hammered out upon the death of Old Tippecanoe. It was essentially decided that the VP becomes THE PRESIDENT in every respect, until the next regular election.

  51. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 26, 2009 3:34 pm

    Oh....as for presidential succession issues:

    I'm always amused that on the big night of the President's annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, one cabinet secretary does not attend, and remains in a secret, undisclosed location. Why? Well, presidential succession after the VP, goes through the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.....and then down through the cabinet secretaries. And they're ALL there at the Capitol (but one) on the night of the President's speech....with all members of both houses of Congress and the entire Supreme Court of the federal judiciary. So, a well placed bomb in the Capitol building would totally decapitate all three branches of the United States Government. And that lone cabinet secretary, in his secret location, would be President of the United States....with absolutely no one to help him pick up the pieces. WOW!!!

  52. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 26, 2009 3:53 pm

    Tris...In my own defense, I can only plead my youthful ignorance about Mrs. Thatcher. Without personal recollections of her as PM, I was apparently influenced by the Ronald Reagan view of Thatcher which had became prevalent in the US.....in her role as a fellow warrior against the "evil empire" in the latter days of the cold war. Maggie and Ronnie were apparently very close buds.

    I didn't realize that she had ever been so grand as to adopt the royal "We." I loved a time on one of her state visits here when the Queen said that "We have enjoyed our visit here. And I should make it clear that I AM referring to me AND my husband." She occasionally gets off a good one....LOL.

  53. Danny

    I'm sure the Queen will be happy to know you think that she "gets off a good one" LOL.

    But back to Mrs T. When her odious criminal monkey of a son had a child, she came out of Downing Street and announced to the world "We have become a grandmother", which sent the world roaring with laughter. Uness Dennis had become a grandmother too, she must have assumed royal status. I bet there's a clip on youtube!!

  54. Yes indeed, as I recall when President Tyler (Harrison's VP) received any mail addressed to Acting President Tyler he returned it unopened and marked “addressee unknown”. Tyler was not much of a President and not very popular even among his own party especially after he vetoed the Whig programme to establish a Bank of the US, but he helped establish the boundary between Maine and Canada and began the process of absorbing Texas into the Union. He died in 1862 while serving on the Confederate Congress and so was ignored by the Union which refused to sanction a memorial on his grave until 1915. Here it is:


    Nicer than Cleveland’s don’t you think? But not as nice as Harrison’s.

    Anyway his place in history is established as having defined the role of the VP and clearing up that little fudge in the Constitution.

  55. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksOctober 28, 2009 2:13 am

    Yep, Tyler got a pretty nice grave memorial. Seems like he was determined to be the President in every way....and that precedent filled in the Constitutional gap, until the 25th Amendment in 1967.

    Until the 25th Amendment, a vacancy in the VP office was not filled until the next election. The office was empty 18 times, usually upon death of the President or VP. Yet the presidency has never gone to the third in line.