As the Clinton Presidential Library/Museum does not open until 1:00PM on Sundays, we spent part of the morning walking through the Riverwalk Park along the banks of the Arkansas River. Here, Little Rock is no exception to the national trend of using public art to transform urban landscapes. What began as just six bronze sculptures in 2004 now consists of more than over 100 pieces. A small sampling includes;
Some interesting flowers and
The supports of the bridges cross the river to North Arkansas are protected by giant concrete pilings …
In the wake of a number of bridge collapses, specifically including when a barge-bridge accident in 1980 in Oklahoma had become the nation's third-deadliest to that time.
Interspersed with among sculptures, flowers and insects are items that depict the early history of Little Rock.
Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe was the first Europeans explore to record the existence of a large rocky bluff on the north bank of the Arkansas River. According to his journal, La Harpe named it le Rocher Francçais (the “French Rock”) on April 9, 1722. It later became known as the Big Rock. The French referred to the smaller outcropping on the couth bank as le Petit Rocher (the “Little RockJ. The name first appeared on a 1879 map of the area.
Today, only a very small portion of the “Little Rock” can be seen.
In 1818, the U.S. policy on Indian Removal restricted the Quapaw to a reservation in Arkansas. The western boundary, of Quapaw Line (remnants are still on view in Riverwalk Park)
began at “the Little Rock”. This Treaty of 1818 was the first known official use of the name Little Rock. In 1824, a new treaty pushed the Quapaw out, marking the beginning of the Indian Removal in Arkansas. In the 1830s, nearly all of the Indians in the southeastern U.S. came through Little Rock on their way to Indian Territory. Hundreds of men, women and children were transported on steam boats. Then north side of the Arkansas River at Little Rock became a major supply point. Contractors made fortunes providing rations to Indians. On February 24, 1839 the Little Rock Times reported that the “last of the 288 emigrating Cherokees arrived at this place on the steamer Victoria. Nine deaths have occurred since the commencement of their journey; buy in general they look well and enjoy good health. In the company is the celebrated [Cherokee] chief John Ross, who buried his wife in this city on Sunday”.
Making our wayback to the our car along President Clinton Avenue
After lunch, we visited the Clinton Library …
as with the presidential libraries we’ve visited, it is the museum we were here to see as the libraries are used for research and, while available to the public, require a formal request including the reason for accessing the files.
The walk from teh parking lot take you past a memrial garden dedicated to Anne Frank, the Japanese who were interend during World War II, Native Americans who were involuntarily relocated as a result of the period of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Central High School Integration Crisis.
When it came to designing the facility, Bill Clinton’s inspiration was the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin which he visited during his year as a Rhodes Scholar.
Our first stop was a well-done, 20-minute video presentation narrated by President Clinton.
The permanent exhibits at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum reflect the events, ceremonies, day-to-day workings of the White House, the lives of the President and the First Family, and the accomplishments and work of the Clinton Administration. The exhibits display the story of President Clinton’s life before becoming president, during his terms in office, as well as his post-presidential work.
In 1993, three Cadillac Fleet wood limousines were built in Warren, Michigan for the day to day travel needs of the President. The project to build the vehicles took three years to complete and each was outfitted with state of the art protection and communication systems that allowed for communication anywhere in the world. The limousine has seating for six in the back, with three forward seats and three backwards facing seats. One of the limousines is on display in the museum lobby.
The highlight of the second floor is an exact replica of the Cabinet Room as it was during Clinton’s presidency.
The busts of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin sit on either side of the fireplace.
The Secretary of State, ranking first among the department heads, sits on the President's right. The Secretary of the Treasury, ranking second, sits to the Vice President's right. The Secretary of Defense (third) sits to the President's left, and the Attorney General (fourth) sits to the Vice President's left. Other cabinet officials seat outward in a similar order based on when their Cabinet Offices were created. When Cabinet members conclude their terms of service, they are permitted to purchase their cabinet chairs, which bear brass plates indicating their cabinet position or positions and dates of service
The remainder of the floor is composed of a series of alcoves, each with a different theme (Economy, Environment, World Leaders, Science and Education, Crisis Resolutions, the First Family and others. Each contains relevant artifacts, document and audio/visual exhibits … although they were very difficult to photograph as they were behind glass panels and caught the reflection from the large windows throughout the building. Even looking on-line at sites on the Library, their photos suffer from the same problems;
and one display covering Vice President Al Gore's role during Clinton's two terms.
As with all presidential Museums, the highlights of their Administration’s accomplishments are hyped.
One special alcove was dedicated the Little Rock Nine …
who first integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. In 1998, they were awarded the congressional Gold Medal. One anonymous member of that group (apparently not even President Clinton knows the person’s identity) donated his/her medal to the Clinton Museum
The timeline is one of the centerpieces of the permanent exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library. It is divided into the separate years of the Clinton presidency, each year displays pictures and text about some of the most influential events that took place during that year.
Additionally, the timeline contains the daily schedule of the nearly 3,000 days that President Clinton held office. Visitors are encouraged to look through these daily schedules to gain an impression of what the day to day life of the President is like.
The blue bound books which searate the alcoves are collections of thousnads of letters and other correspoindence received from the public asking for assistance to problems and issues they are having with the Federal Government.
This area of the permanent exhibit covers the lives of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton prior to the Clinton Presidency. Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946, a few months after his father was killed in a car accident.
The first exhibit case is devoted to his childhood in Hope and Hot Springs. The second case covers Bill Clinton’s education, from his years at Hot Springs High School to his college years at Georgetown and Oxford Universities. The third case highlights Bill Clinton’s political career in Arkansas, moving from his unsuccessful run for Congress in 1974 to his years as Attorney General and Governor. The final case in this area focuses on Hillary Rodham Clinton, from her childhood in Illinois, to her education at Wellesley College and Yale, to her time as First Lady of Arkansas.
The four exhibit cases tell the story of the Clintons using photos, memorabilia from the Clintons’ childhoods and school days, letters, newspaper clippings, and political campaign memorabilia.
Gifts from the Public (just two of hundreds):
Gifts from Foreign Dignitaries (only a very few on display):
A replica of the table setting on the 200th anniversary of the opening and occupancy of the White House by President John Adams in 1800.
There are also some very funny video clips with Bill Clinton.
However, as with several of the other Presidential Libraries we’ve visited, an exact replica of the Oval Office was the highpoint.
All the furniture are exact replicas of those used when Clinton was president, the books are the ones he had on his shelves of as close to reproductions as could be found, the upholsteries and curtains made by the firm which had made those actually used and the room’s dimensions accurate to wit in 1/8”.
President Clinton used the “Resolute” desk during his two terms.
Many presidents have used the Resolute desk in the Oval Office or their study in the Residence. It was made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, an abandoned British ship discovered by an American vessel and returned to the Queen of England as a token of friendship and goodwill. When the ship was retired, Queen Victoria commissioned the desk from and presented to President Rutherford Hayes in 1880.
The desk has been modified three times. Franklin Roosevelt requested that the kneehole be fitted with a modesty panel carved with the presidential seal (he preferred people not see his leg braces and often placed a waste basket in front of his desks), but he did not live to see it installed.
However, President Truman liked the eagle motif and had it installed when he came into office in 1945. Since this was prior to Truman's decision to turn the head of the eagle in the presidential seal to face the olive branch of peace, the eagle in the Resolute's modesty panel faces the arrows of war.
President Reagan had a two-inch riser added to the bottom of the desk to accommodate his height and allow him to comfortably get his legs under the knee hole.
Every president since Hayes… except Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford … has used the Resolute desk, although some chose to use it in their private study in the Residence. The desk was made famous in part by a photograph of John Kennedy at work while his son, John Jr., peeked out the front through the kneehole panel.
NO … the
All in all, it is very well done. However, as with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, there is a noticeable absence of attention given to the more controversial aspects of President Clinton’s Administration.