By Jody Brumage
Five years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, Philadelphia physician, educator, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, lamented “Among the defects which have been pointed out in the federal constitution by its antifederal enemies, it is much to be lamented that no person has taken notice of its total silence upon the subject of an office of the utmost importance to the welfare of the United States, that is, an office for promoting and preserving perpetual peace in our country.” Printed by the African American publisher Benjamin Banneker in his 1793 almanac, the sentiments expressed by Rush are the foundation of a movement that has persisted to the present day in the United States: the goal of creating a Department of Peace. West Virginia has played a significant role in advocating for this cause.
In his capacity as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China in 1975, Bush traveled with Senator Byrd and West Virginia Congressman John Slack on a delegation to China as America worked to open diplomatic relations with the nation. As Vice President on January 6, 1989, Bush administered the oath of office to Senator Byrd as he assumed the role of President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate. During his term in office, President Bush and Senator Byrd worked together to reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Development Act, providing funding for critical infrastructure, education, and healthcare projects in the state.
By Ray Smock
As I retire as Director of the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education after sixteen years, I want to thank all the people who have made these years so satisfying, both professionally and personally. I cannot begin to name everyone. But it includes four presidents of Shepherd University, many fine administrators, and the outstanding faculty of this gem of a liberal arts university. And it includes the students of Shepherd too, those who have been in the classes I have taught over the years, but especially to those who have served as interns at the Byrd Center. I am proud of all of them. Many of our interns have said that their experiences working with the Byrd Center, helping us process Senator Byrd’s vast archive, learning how an archive really works, and being given important tasks to do, was one of their most rewarding experiences during their college years.
By Jody Brumage
Click here to read the first part of this blog series on the Tug Fork Valley Floods.
Hundreds of residents of the Tug Fork Valley converged on Washington DC in April 1978. Tired of unfulfilled promises of federal assistance for flood control, they marched to the Capitol to demand that Congress appropriate funding for infrastructure that could tame the Tug Fork River and lessen the impact of future floods. They were addressed by members of their congressional delegation, including Senators Jennings Randolph, Robert C. Byrd, and Congressman Nick Joe Rahall.
By Jody Brumage
On the morning of January 26, 1978, after returning to Washington D.C. after a tour of flood-ravaged towns in the Tug Fork Valley, Senator Byrd’s office sent a telegram to state agencies notifying them that President Carter had been briefed on the disaster and that assistance was being sought immediately. This message was less than reassuring to its recipients who had heard similar promises frequently over the past several years. The January 1978 flood was the tenth major disaster to impact the Tug Fork region in a decade. The previous year, the worst of these floods, with waters rising in excess of 56 feet, struck the valley in April. For residents in the Tug Fork, promises of “immediate action” were appreciated, but permanent flood control infrastructure in the valley was greatly needed.
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