The Byrd Center joins with the nation and the world as we reflect on the life and legacy of President George Herbert Walker Bush. Before his term as the forty-first President of the United States, George H.W. Bush served in the United States House of Representatives from the ninth district of Texas, played a significant diplomatic role in the opening of relations between the United States and the Peoples Republic of China, headed the Central Intelligence Agency, and served two terms as Vice President during the Ronald Reagan Administration. His lengthy career in public service coincided largely with that of Senator Byrd, and the two served in leadership in the Senate together during the 100th Congress (1987-1988) during Byrd's last term as Majority Leader.
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 Ray Smock
I was honored to attend a wonderful reception on April 28 at the historic Anderson House in DC, in celebration of the completion of a great landmark in documentary editing and congressional scholarship, the 22-volume series on the First Federal Congress. This project, housed at George Washington University and published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, has been the life-long work of the chief editor, my dear friend of many years, Charlene Bickford. Along with her fabulous colleagues Ken Bowling, Helen Veit, and Chuck diGiacomantonio , all top professional editors and historians, this magnificent project collected, researched, edited, and annotated the full record of the First Federal Congress that met from 1789 to 1791. It was the Congress that launched our government and turned the words of the U.S. Constitution into the reality of a working government.
Ms. Welch is a board member of the West Virginia Humanities Council, the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, and the Scarborough Society, which helps support the Shepherd University Library. She is also the co-founder and coordinator of the Shepherdstown Film Society. She and her husband Paul were recipients of the President’s Award in 2015 for their outstanding support of Shepherd University and the community.
By Ray Smock
This article first appeared on the History News Network on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
By Ray Smock
Inauguration Day in the United States of America is always a remarkable event, but it is even more so when the incoming president is of the opposite political party from the incumbent president. What makes the day so remarkable is that we make a celebratory occasion about the peaceful and orderly way we accept the will of the people in electing each new president. In so many countries in the world power changes hands in coups or with troops in the streets and clashing armies. It is not that our inaugurations have not been free of anxiety and high drama, or that there haven’t been protestors as part of the day’s events. Protest too is an essential part of democratic societies and the fact that we tolerate and even encourage dissent, sets us apart.
By Ray Smock
The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States is one of historic proportions that we will be studying and analyzing for years to come, as we do with all our presidential and congressional elections. Here at the Byrd Center our mission has not changed, nor would it change no matter which political party controls Congress or the Executive Branch.
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