Grateful American Book Prize

February 1
February 15

History Matters

Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future
by John Grimaldi and David Bruce Smith

On February 1, 1790, Chief Justice John Jay opened the Supreme Court’s inaugural meeting on Broad Street in New York.

According to, “The… Court later grew into arguably the most powerful judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the U.S. political order. In times of constitutional crises, for better or worse, it always played a definitive role in resolving the great issues of the time.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends William H. Rehnquist’s The Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Jay


Joe DiMaggio said Leroy “Satchel” Paige was the “best and fastest pitcher I’ve faced.” Even so, it took Paige 50 years to be honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame – on February 8, 1971- as the first Negro League veteran to earn the recognition.

According to, Paige was “a pitching legend known for his fastball, showmanship and the longevity of his playing career. Born in Mobile, Alabama, most likely on July 7, 1906, although the exact date remains a mystery, he earned his nickname, Satchel, as a boy when he earned money carrying passengers’ bags at train stations. Baseball was segregated when Paige started playing baseball professionally in the 1920s, so he spent most of his career pitching for Negro League teams around the United States. During the winter season, he pitched for teams in the Caribbean and Central and South America. As a barnstorming player who traveled thousands of miles each season and played for whichever team met his asking price, he pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had 300 shut outs, and 55 no-hitters. In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched 29 consecutive games.”

For more information, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Satchel Paige throws before a game Aug 1, 1948.

When Theodore Roosevelt refused to slay a bear during a hunting trip, the incident prompted a New York City inventor-toy store owner, Morris Michtom, to fashion two stuffed bears that were approved by the president. On February 15, 1903, he placed them in his window.

According to, “Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.”

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends A Collector’s History of the Teddy Bear by Patricia Schoonmaker.

President Theodore Roosevelt gave permission to Morris Michtom to use his nickname, “Teddy,” for his new stuffed bear toys.

History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

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