Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Center intern Steven Robles.
Today marks the anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s nomination of Keith Glennan as NASA’s first administrator. Eisenhower submitted the nomination to the Senate for confirmation on August 8, 1958. Glennan’s appointment ended a tumultuous year during which Americans and their government struggled to respond to the Soviet Union’s unprecedented achievement of 1957, the launch of the satellite Sputnik. Between Eisenhower’s stoic leadership and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson’s deft political maneuvering in Congress, Americans soon had their own civilian space program, NASA, with heady goals to surpass the Soviets. But the work had hardly begun.
In its first tempestuous years, the young NASA incorporated many disparate pieces and had to devise a structure that put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to efficient use. Some of the early plans for the new civilian space program were modeled off its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. But quickly, politicians and policymakers realized that the daunting tasks facing the new space program would require a single authoritative administrator rather than a committee of advisors, like the one that had presided over NACA. Equally important to this decision about core structure, then, was the appointment of the first Administrator himself. Glennan’s successful presidency of Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, his involvement as member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and his history of service made him an ideal candidate for the post.
After Eisenhower submitted his nomination of Glennan, the Senate had the task of either confirming or denying the appointment. The poll sheet, shown above, documents an important step in the Senate’s process. Here the Senate Special Committee on Space and Astronautics, chaired by Lyndon Johnson, unanimously voted to recommend the nomination’s confirmation to the Senate at large, which accepted the recommendation and confirmed Glennan just five days later on August 19. In the three short years that Glennan served as Administrator at NASA, he oversaw the incorporation of installations such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center into NASA. Glennan’s contribution helped to ensure the space program’s success throughout the 1960’s and to secure NASA’s place in the history of great scientific achievements.
Nomination of T. Keith Glennan to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 8/8/1958, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 306360)
Poll Sheet of Members of the Senate Special Committee on Space and Aeronautics relating to Nominations of T. Keith Glennan, 8/14/1958, Records of the U.S. Senate
Forty-five years ago today, Thurgood Marshall was nominated to the Supreme Court:
Message of President Lyndon B. Johnson nominating Thurgood Marshall of New York to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 06/13/1967
Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by the Senate on August 30, 1967, following his nomination by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13. Marshall was the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court. His nomination followed a long and distinguished career as a prominent civil rights lawyer, and he argued more than 30 cases before the Supreme Court, including the famous and influential case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
Frustrated by the perceived failures of a series of senior generals during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Ulysses S. Grant to be Lieutenant General of the Army in this message dated February 29, 1864. The Senate confirmed Lincoln’s nomination in March, and General Grant went on to carry the Union to victory.
Message of President Abraham Lincoln Nominating Ulysses S. Grant to be Lieutenant General of the Army
You can see that Grant was confirmed just three days after this message was received by looking at the “Conf March 2” written in pencil to left of President Lincoln’s signature.
On September 11, 1789 George Washington nominated Alexander Hamilton to be the first Secretary of the Treasury. The Senate approved the nomination that same day. Hamilton resigned as Secretary of the Treasury in 1795.
Nomination message, 9/11/1789, SEN 1B-A1, U.S. Senate