The Annual White House Ball
Mon, Oct 5, 2020 11:09 am
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Sent: Mon, Oct 5, 2020 10:54 am
Subject: A Story written 'long ago"
Email Address: Elanda2@aol.com
Date: August 16, 2017
Darrel Miller wakes up from a groggy sleep and looks around the bedroom. There were horns, and ribbons, and confetti, costume masks and tall hats, all manner of evidence of the annual costume ball strewn around the bedroom. It's a holiday weekend and the annual ball often continues into the next 24 hours. Miller looks at the clock on the bedstand next to the four poster. It's 7:45am. Breakfast is being left someplace in the house to the remnant party goers and the decision must be made to continue or call it a Happy New Year.
Miller, with morning vision, looks around the bedroom at photographs of his wife and children throughout stages of their marriage and growth of their three children. The little ones are now in their early 30's. His wife is not next to him. Miller managed to take off his costume of Abraham Lincoln and drop it on the floor next to the bed and find himself dressed in white jammies. His black robe has been placed across the bottom of the large bed.
Miller is known for sleeping in different bedrooms on occasions when tempers are high in congressional settings, or his attempts at convincing congress to agree to his presidential directives or ideas have failed. After his second year of being president, he's not certian if congressional members take him seriously. He reads newpaper articles that have deemed him the "President of non-sense," with unflattering photographs of his long blond hair flying in the wind, and he knows he has to convince his constituents and foreign diplomats that he truly considers himself POTUS and the best president of the modern era.
Miller knew better than to expect the usual coffee, cream cheese and bagels with fresh fruit at the small breakfast table facing the window overlooking the gardens after the costume ball. On the table, instead, was a list of guests and their costume choices. No point in not knowing who you're talking to through a costume mask.
Reflecting on memories of the party, there were the generals' daughters dressed as handmaidens and princeses; sons of statesmen dressed as their fathers, chacing the maids and princeses; and jesters chasing wives of statesman, or so it would appear. There were simulated battles out in the snowy courtyards with fallen soldiers and generals claiming victory; and British generals and their soldiers engaged in battle with Pilgrims and Indians using light sabers for weapons; Classical music filtering through the gardens and the white house signaling the glory of victory and pain of defeat; African-American servants dressed in wigs and white gloves intentionally spilling drinks on the guests and feigning immediate apology, obsequiously using large white handkerchiefs to slap away the excess, sometimes chasing the guest through the party angrily waving handkerchiefs in defiance of slavery.
"The Guest List"
1. James Buchanan 1857-1861, 15th President of the United States. Played by Senator Paul Wilson of North Carolina.
2. Franklin Pierce 1853-1857, 14th President of the United States. Played by William Gaines, Senate Democrat of New Hampshire.
3. James K. Polk 1845-1849, 11th President of the United States. Played by Hillman Price, a Tennesee Statesman.
All these presidents were controversial in shaping the future of the U.S. Miller wondered why they chose the worst Presidents to characterize.
Buchanan was considered one of the worst, if not the worst, President of the U.S. His presidency precede Abraham Lincoln, a hard act to precede. He served as secretary of state under Pres. James Polk, five-time member of the House of Representatives, and U.S. Minister to Great Britain. Buchanan then defeated John C. Fremont, of the newly formed Republican Party, in the 1856 presidential election. He became the President in 1857-1861 but Buchanan's presidency was downhill after that.
He stated in his inaugural address that the territorial issue of slavery was, "Happily, a matter of but little practical importance." He supported the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision by the Supreme Court that states have the right to determine if they would allow slavery. The Dred Scott solidified Buchanan's republican opponents and drove a wedge in the democratic party while the country went into recession as the Civil War approached. Buchanan stated in his State of the Union address that the federal government had no power to stop the institution of slavery in the states. And that slave states have contended to be left alone to manager their own domestic institutions in their own way. And that the people of the North have no more fight to interfere than they would have with like institutions of Russia or Brazil. He stated that it is beyond the power of the Presidency to restore peace and harmony among the states. And that the president alone can accomplish very little for good or for evil on such a momentous question.
Because of Buchanan's inaction and refusal to give up Fort Sumter, the Confederacy had plenty of time to reorganize for battle. Buchanan was more than happy to hand the Presidency off to Lincoln and stated that he hoped Lincoln was as happy moving in as he was moving out of the White House.
William Gaines chose Franklin Pierce. Gaines is a democrat from New Hampshire. Franklin Pierce, also one of the worst Presidents, was the son of a one-time New Hampshire governor, served as a state legislature speaker before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1833. He served twice in the House and once in the Senate before returning to his law practice and became the democratic presidential candidate in 1852. In 1854, Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which enraged anti-slavery northerners and brought about the emergence of the New Republican Party. Pierce, unable to handle the Kansas disarray, was denied the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1856.
The Kansas-Nebraska act is a story about the breakup of the Democratic Party. Stephen Douglas, a democratice senator from Illinois, who was attempting to spread the country westward and organize the territories in the former Louisianna Purchase between the Mississippi River and the pacific coast to overcome the debates about slavery. He suggested that the people who lived there can decide for themselves the issue of slavery called "Popular Soverienty." This was in violation of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The Missouri Compromise stated that all of the Louisiana Purchase territory north of the southern boundary of Missouri, "The 36-30 Line," would be restricted to the spread of slavery. Northern Democrats despised this idea and fought against, hated and critisized this legislation. Franklin Pierce and Stephen Douglas made it a test of the Democratic Party to support this legislation and the Northern Democratic Party was decimated and broken apart. Former democrats and anti-slavery democratics reformed into the "Emerging Republican Party" which resulted in the break-up of the Union.
Hillman Price of Tennesee chose James K. Polk to mimic.
Under James K. Polk, the United States grew more than a million square miles into Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, part of Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. "Manifest Destiny," a phrase coined by Jacksonian Democrat, John L. O'Sullivan, expressing the conviction that "Providence had foreordained the United States to spread republican institutions across North America."
James K. Polk accomplished every major goal he set out to accomplish, including successfully waging war against Mexico by lying to Congress and stating that, "Mexico has passed the boundaries of the United States and has shed American blood on American territory," when in fact, the battle that ensued was on Mexican territory not owned or purchased by the United States. The result was the obtaining of most of the United States present boundaries. Before the war with Mexico, Polk campaigned and pledged to settle the boundary of the Oregon Territory, and once in the Presidential office, acquired the sole title to Oregon. Both Britain and the United States jointly occupied the region since 1818. The slogan adopted in the 1844 campaign was "54 degrees, 40 feet, or fight!" Polk wanted the western United States coast of Northern America and possibly even including Mexican-controlled California.
The British offered to support the independence of Texas in return for the abolition of slavery in the area. Before settling the Oregon question, Polk sent troops in the disputed territory north of the Rio Grande with a special envoy, John Slidell, to Mexico. Slidell offered to buy California with powers to settle boarder claims. Slidell's arrival into Mexico triggered a revolt against the Mexico President, who indicated willingness to deal with Slidell. The revolt included army officers who pledged to recover the "stolen province of Mexico."
In April 1846, Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande and killed U.S. soldiers. Polk requested a declaration of war against Mexico from Congress stating Mexicans had
shed the blood of fellow citizens on American soil." This was not true. The territory was still in dispute. By May 13, 1846, both nations officially were at war.
The walls of the capitol building were resounding with dispute. The war was opposed by most of the Whigs. But all remembered how the nation turned on the Federalists following their opposition to the War of 1812. As a result, only 14 members of the House and two senators voted against the declaration of war with Mexico. Abraham Lincoln, a first term Whig congressman from Illinois, condemned the war as "unconstitutional." Lincoln challenged Polk to take him to "the spot" on which Mexicans shed American blood. This position proved unpopular with western constituents and figured into Polk's decision not to run for a second term.
In seven months, the U.S. Army defeated the larger Mexican army on Mexican soil in three successful military campaigns. The victories were at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterrey by September 1846.
Disheartened Mexican generals and mexican soldiers chasing their generals with glasses of sloshing red wine meant for the faces of Mexican generals for making a deal with the Gringos; wives dressed in British wigs chastising their husbands; young maidens emerging from closets with a look of satisfaction, followed by the second leutenant.
The staff would leave everything in the double door kitchen refrigerator for wandering guests in need of sustenance and rehydration after absorbing an array of alcoholic beverages the night before. Edible party foods would be left on the counters in the kitchen for a quick grab, and coffee and hot water for tea set on timer througout the day.
During the ball, Miller, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, discovered fierce arguments about slavery and territorial boundaries, flailing of arms, throwing of coats and snatching of wigs, and wrestling matches, crashing of dishes and glassware, and brandishing of plastic flatware. The partygoes obviously decided to make this year's costume ball a realistic and lively occasion. Miller chuckles at discovering how the Democratic party emerged from the Republican party, of which he is a card-carrying member.
President Miller rises from the four-post bed covered in thick pillows and white cotton sheets, surrounded by thick drapes blocking the morning sun. He pulls back the drapes and looks out onto the gardens for a moment taking in the beauty of the snowy winter scene. He steps to the bathroom where he showers and dresses for breakfast, expecting to see the table set for him when he comes out. He comes out, but still no table setting.
He walks to a desk and reviews the matters of state from the last council meetings and briefings to be managed for the coming week.
He steps out of the bedroom and down the long hall toward the oval office hoping to find food and people. The president expects to see the usual people milling about, preparing for a press conference scheduled at 11am bringing in the New Year for the nation and the world, but there's no one milling about, no staff preparing for the press conference, and no one giving the president words for the opening of the new year.
He continues down the hallway to the oval office where the press secretary should be waiting and the chief of staff briefing him on what to say. Promptness is first for this president, but no one is on time this morning.
He stops to listen and hears an errie sound of absolute silence.
He always enjoys stopping to chat with the Marine standing at the doorway to the oval office. But the Marine isn't there this morning and no one is exchanging words on cell phones, or hurridly shuffling about and giving the president the appearance of being busy. No one anywhere!
The president proceeds to the oval office and shuffles through papers from the night before looking for press conference notes. He discovers that the topic for discussion last evening was how to manage strikes experienced in the production of steel and housing starts in the industry and what the nation should expect for the new year. He's expected to quell the uncertainty with his speech, but no speech has been written for him. It is now 9:30am.
He proceeds to the kitchen. Perhaps, some unforseen event has unfolded during the night and the staff is still gathered there. The kitchen is empty. There a dishes in the enormous sink, pots and pans sitting on the stove, washed and cleaned, but not put in their proper places. No sounds and no smells of breakfast from the staff. The president opens the large refrigerator doors and helps himself to cheese and fruit left over.
He proceeds through the kitchen into the staff area where they usually gather to eat. No one there either. The president decides to call his chief of staff from his cell phone but the lines seem interrupted by static. Has some tragedy befallen the nation since he fell asleep last night? Pres. Miller picks up the remote for the breakfast room TV, pushes the on button, but nothing but snow appears on the screne.
Outside the oval office in the garden is a gathering of press reporters, cameras, trucks with satellite equipment, and a small crowd of people waiting. He stands peering through the windows of the oval office waiting for assistance. 10:00am approaches and passes and still no offering of guidance from the press secretary. It is now 10:45am.
The President decides to prepare himself to meet the press outside of the Oval Office at the designated place staged for every press conference. This is something he has been assisted with since he became president. He's unprepared and nervous but steadys himself as he approaches the garden doors. He opens the doors, himself, rather than being assisted by a Marine, approaches the podium alone, unassisted, with papers in hand. A lone Marine stands at the outside entrance to the press garden, stoic, expressionless, and silent. He does not look at the president, nor acknowledge his presence.
President Miller approaches the podium and begins his speech. Speeches written in the past have addressed the occasion with the proper introduction and the President mumbles and fumbles about searching for the right words. At a loss, he begins the address with: "We are gathered here together today to address the pressing issues of a strike in the manufacturing industry."
He continues by giving assurances that the issues will be addressed by capable people in the industry who are skilled at settling issues and getting the industry back to production.
The public has been unhappy with how the president has handled other issues and are concerned about his ideas to handle this one. But without a proper briefing, the president cuts short the press conference and hurrys back into the white house doors.
Lunch and supper approach and still no one has reported to work. The light is fading and the pathways are lit with reserved lighting. The shadows lenghthen and darkness falls.
As the president slinks around the whitehouse looking for signs of people and life, he comes upon the rooms of past presidents. He looks into Washington's bedroom and sees glimpses of shadows milling about. He jumps into the room in relief and sees a group gathered around the table near the fire having a heated discussion. He approaches and joins in the discussion, but those present don't seem to notice him. They continue their heated debate and the president chimes into the discussion. He is ignored. The discussion is about how to clean up the mess at the Boston docks. He is struck by a discussion that took place over 100 years ago and asks, "Why are we talking about this! We have industries to rebuild and crouds to quell who expect us to act!" But no one reacts to him and no one answers his quiry.
He looks closer into the faces of those present and sees members of staff and past presidents of the era of the Boston Tea Party. He jumps back, grabs his stomach and realizes he's traveled back in time and the white house is filled with past ghosts. He slaps his own face and pinches himself to make sure he's not still sleeping.
He backs out of the room and back into the hallway. He notices a haze has fallen on the view and gas lighting has replaced electricity. His face whitens and he runs from room to room looking for living people. He calls out the names of his staff and sees someone entering the oval office. He runs down the hall and approaches this person and yells out to him, "Hey! Wait! Stop!" But the person continues into the oval office. President Miller quickly approaches the oval office and turns into the doorway. In the gas and fireplace lighting, he sees several military personnel dressed in military garments from several presidencies. No one acknowledges him.
They have all gathered around a large framed photograph of President Miller surrounded by a massive floral arrangement.
At the bottom of his photograph appears: "President Darrel Miller, 47th President of the United States, 2019-2021." His birthday is stamped on the frame, "January 1948". His death is stamped as well, "December 2020." He realizes he has passed away on