“I Give My Heart. I Give My Soul. I Give Myself.”

Events

May 13th is apparently the day for planets and Civil War related events. In 1781, William Herschel discovers Uranus, and in 1930, Harvard College received a telegraph that Pluto had been discovered.

During the American Civil War, in 1862, U.S. federal government forbids all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, annulling the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation. Three years later, the Confederate States of America agree to the use of African-American troops.

Birthdays

Abigail

Abigail Powers Fillmore (March 13, 1798 – March 30, 1853), wife of Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States, was First Lady from 1850 to 1853. She was the first First Lady to grow up in an impoverished family and rise to a higher socioeconomic level. Despite this, she was well-educated, having access to her deceased father’s large library, as well as learning math, government, history, philosophy and geography.

In 1819, after several years of she began working at the New Hope Academy, a private school in New Hope, New York. There she met her future husband Millard Fillmore, who had enrolled to augment the rudimentary education he had received because of his impoverished upbringing. Though they were separated for three years when his family moved, they corresponded and married in 1826.[1]

In 1848, Millard was chosen as Zachary Taylor’s vice president. The election took place on the first Tuesday of November, but at the time, Inauguration was not until March 4, 1849. After President Taylor died in July, 1850, Millard succeeded him as President and the couple moved to the White House.

Fillmore was the first First Lady to wear clothing made by a sewing machine, a relatively new invention. Unlike previous First Ladies, Abigail attended some public events, including being the only woman present when Sioux leaders signed what may have been the Treaty of Mendota or the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.

Fillmore died just three weeks after she and her husband left the White House. Both Congress and the President’s Cabinet adjourned in mourning.

Deaths

Bidu

Balduína “Bidu” de Oliveira Sayão (pronounced bee-DOO sigh-OWN) (May 11, 1902 – March 13, 1999) was a Brazilian opera soprano. One of Brazil’s most famous musicians, Sayão was a leading artist of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from 1937 to 1952.

She was born to a wealthy family in Rio de Janeiro and began lessons with a former Romanian soprano, Elana Theodorini. By her late 20s, she had sung in many opera houses in Europe and South America. Her first performance in the United States was in 1935. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the title role in Manon. The New York Times review called her a the “crown of the performance….This was the voice, though the voice is a little small, with the expressive qualities needed for the part.” She became so popular, that during the 1940s, a comic was created about her life.

After making her Met debut, Sayão never left the Western Hemisphere, making the Met her base, the San Francisco Opera her alternative headquarters, and traveling only to South America to perform.

She was one of the most popular stars of the Metropolitan Opera from the late 1930s through the 1940s. Her small voice prevented her from singing heavier roles such as Tosca and Madam Butterfly, but her performances as Violetta in La Traviata, Mimi in La Boheme, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and other roles were praised. She was one of the honored guests who sat on stage during the Met’s Centennial Gala in 1983.

Sayão gave more than 200 performances of 12 roles at the Met before she resigned in April 1952. She died at 96 in Maine.

Odette

Odette Sansom Hallowes GC, MBE (28 April 1912 – 13 March 1995), also known as Odette Sansom and Odette Churchill, was an Allied intelligence officer during the Second World War. Her family moved to Boulogne in 1926, where she met English hotelier, Roy Sansom, whom she married in 1931.

When war broke out in 1939, Roy joined the army and his family moved to a small hamlet. In 1942, the BBC appealed on behalf of the Admiralty for listeners to send postcards or photographs of the French coastline to use for intelligence operations. Sansom sent pictures from her time in Boulogne, adding a note explaining that she was French by birth and knew the area well. After accidentally addressing her letter to the War Office, she was recruited for the Special Operations Executive (SOE)’s French Section.

Sansom was one of the first women that the SOE recruited for undercover work. She joined the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), which supplied SOE with drivers, cipher clerks, telephonists and administrators as part of her cover in case she was arrested as a spy in France. Her first assignment was the contact a resistance group on the French Riviera, before establishing a safe house in Burgundy. Her undercover identity was as Madame Odette Métayer, a widow from St Raphaël, and her contact was Captain Peter Churchill, code name ‘Raoul’, head of SPINDLE, an SOE network based in Cannes.

After the Germans invaded southern France in November, Sansom’s situation became very perilous. She and Churchill were captured in April 1943. She was initially placed in solitary confinement at a Paris prison, and after refusing to divulge any information, was transferred to Nazi counter‐intelligence service headquarters. She was tortured, though the extent of her torture is debated.

Eventually, she was sent to Ravensbruck, the women’s concentration camp, where 50,000 died from disease, starvation and overwork and 2,200 were gassed. On May 1, 1945, with the Allies drawing closer, Sansom was handed over to the Allies.

She returned to London a week later to find that Churchill had also survived. She was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1946 and became the first woman to receive the George Cross, the highest non‐military decoration for gallantry.

After she divorced her husband, Sansom married Churchill in 1947. Her story was featured in Jerrard Tickell’s bestselling biography Odette in 1949, and Herbert Wilcox’s film the following year. The couple divorced in 1955. After Wilcox’s film was released, several former resistance members accused Sansom and Churchill of exaggerating their wartime records.

Until she died at 82, Sansom laid a wreath with violets attached, beneath the FANY memorial at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge. After she died, a plaque was placed in her honor. In 2012 Odette was featured in Royal Mail’s ‘Britons of Distinction’ stamp collection.

1. There is a conflict in the date of their marriage. The White House entry on Abigail Powers Fillmore lists their date of marriage as February 1826, but the National First Ladies Library indicates that they married in January 1826.

Written Into Our History

Seventy-six years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, leading thousands of Japanese-Americans to be incarcerated in prison camps. This Executive Order was far from the first anti-Japanese-American law enacted by the United States government. From the Naturalization Act of 1790 to the Immigration Act of 1924,
Japanese immigrants were prohibited from becoming naturalized, owning land, marrying certain people, and eventually immigrating altogether.

In 1936, Roosevelt took his first steps to prepare for incarcerating Japanese-Americans. On August 10, he wrote to his chief of naval operations Admiral William D. Leahy that “every Japanese citizen or non-citizen on the Islands of Oahu who meets these Japanese ships [arriving in Hawaii] or has any connection with their officers or men should be secretly but definitely identified and his or her name be placed on a special list of those who would be the first to be placed in a concentration camp in the event of trouble.

The Alien Registration Act of 1940, required aliens over 14 to register with the government and be fingerprinted. In 1941, Japanese immigrants were subjected to further restrictions when Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8832 on July 26, freezing their assets. In November, he ordered that a list of the names and addresses of all Japanese-Americans, citizens and non-citizens be compiled.

On December 7, 1941, after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, Japanese-American community leaders were arrested and detained. Within forty-eight hours, nearly 1,300 community leaders, including priests, Japanese language teachers, newspaper publishers, and heads of organizations. Most were men who would be incarcerated for the entire war.

Three weeks later, all enemy aliens in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Nevada were ordered to surrender contraband, including short-wave radios, cameras, binoculars, and some weapons. Many Japanese-Americans hid or destroyed family heirlooms and Japanese books to prevent them from being confiscated.

Restrictions did not just apply to civilians. On January 5, 1942, Japanese-American selective service registrants were re-classified as IV-C, or “enemy aliens” and many were discharged or reassigned to menial labor, their weapons confiscated. Some states went further than the American government. Later that month, the California State Personnel Board voted to bar “descendants of natives with whom the United States [is] at war” from all civil service positions. However, this was only enforced against Japanese Americans. The following day, January 29, Attorney General Francis Biddle established prohibited zones that barred German, Italian, and Japanese immigrants, beginning with the San Francisco waterfront.

The Army established 12 “restricted areas” on February 4. Enemy aliens were subjected to a curfew and travel restrictions limited to work and locations no more than 5 miles from their homes. Soon, Japanese-Americans would be excluded from these areas completely.

On February 19, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, leading 120,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast to be incarcerated. Over the next few weeks, Japanese-Americans were given days to leave their homes. Some “voluntarily” moved outside the restricted areas, but most stayed. A few weeks later, the
government ended the “voluntary” relocation program and began removing citizens from their homes with only a few days’ notice. Families lost business, homes, and most of their possessions, much of which they would never recover. The property loss is estimated at about $400 million.

During the summer of 2016, I had the privilege of interning for the National
Museum of American History, working on the “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” exhibit” exhibit, which opened on February 17, 2017 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. I researched and wrote about donated objects and their owners, most of which were from the three years of incarceration. They ranged from journals to report cards, letters, and hand-made crafts and clothes. There were also programs for pilgrimages and high school reunions for former inmates and their families. I also cataloged objects into the Smithsonian’s database.

One of the most poignant objects was a letter written by a mother to her thirteen-year-old son’s teacher, asking for his records as the family would be removed from their home in the next few days. The letter dated April 27, 1942, reads:

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Dear Mr. Hayes,

Because of the recent evacua-tion orders, we will have to leave Berkeley on May 1; therefore, I would like to have Harold Hayashi, adv. #205, leave school to help me pack from today.

I would also like to ask for a transfer for Harold so he may enter a school at the camp.

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Harold beside a copy of the letter

This was a unique object among the three hundred or so that I worked with for several reasons. First, it was one of the few handwritten objects. Second, the ink, unlike any other example I saw was blue instead of black. And, three, it was the only object that was written on behalf of someone else.

According to National Archive Records, Harold and his family were sent to the Tanforan temporary detention center and then to the Topaz incarceration camp.

Thirty-four years later, President Gerald Ford formally rescinded Executive Order 9066 by Proclamation 4417.