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STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE KENNETH B. KEATING ON RESOLUTIONS DESIG
NATING THE ROSE AS THE NATIONAL FLOWER OF THE UNITED STATES, JUNE 30, 1958
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate very much this opportunity to present my views on the various resolutions designating the rose as the national flower of the United States. This is a project which has interested me for some time, and it has my wholeheated backing.
My interest originally stemmed from two sources. First, my own personal preference for the rose. And second, from the fact that the rose capital of America, Newark, N. Y., is in my congressional district. The garden of the Jackson & Perkins Co., in Newark, is said to contain over 36,000 varieties of the queen of flowers. Recently, I participated in the far-famed annual rose festival in Newark—the 27th to be held.
The rose has, of course, a long and proud history. For centuries it has held a high position in the hearts and minds of men. No flower has been more closely linked with human affairs than the rose. It has influenced the lives and customs of people and nations. Down through the ages of history, the influence of this bloom is recorded in religion, in art, in music, in song, in story, and in legend.
The evolution of roses in the past and in the present must be credited to those who love the flower. Since the latter part of the 19th century, a great revival in rose interest has taken place. The work of rose hybridists has greatly enhanced the beauty, fragrance, and the varieties of roses that are now grown.
It seems, in fact, that it is almost possible to use the rose as an index of human progress. As civilizations have emerged, risen to their height and fallen, so has interest in the rose followed a parallel course.
There seems little question that the rose today is America's favorite bloom. Poll after poll demonstrates the truth of that statement. Estimates range as high as 20 to 1 in gaging the margin of America's preference for the rose.
Several of our States, including my own State of New York, have designated the rose as their symbol.
Curiously, the United States has never chosen a flower as a national symbol. Because of the many associations which surround the rose, and because it is so clearly the overwhelming favorite of our people, I believe Congress should hesitate no longer in designating the rose as our national flower.
Such a designation would be particularly fitting in our cold-war world because of the traditional association of the rose as a symbol of peace. It would equally demonstrate to the world our dedication to the ideals of love, courage, loyalty, and devotion-all of which are normally linked with the rose.
Perhaps the naming of the rose as our national flower could in its small way demonstrate to the world that we Americans are not completely dedicated to the crass and the material, as we are so often depicted overseas. Perhaps it could show the world that we do retain an appreciation and love of beauty, of fragrance, of gentility, of the aesthetic, and of the finer things in life. )
Mr. Chairman, I note that the resolutions pending before this committee are stated in general terms and do not specify the type or color of the rose which is to serve as our national symbol. I should like to suggest that the committee consider the possibility of specifying the red rose for the national flower. From all indications, this is the particular favorite of the American people.
In fact, a recent poll in This Week magazine revealed that over half of those questioned preferred a red rose grown in Newark, N. Y. Although it would be perhaps presumptuous of me to suggest that any measure reported by this committee state that the national flower should be a red rose from Newark, at least I urge strongly that you state the national symbol will be a red rose.
I am certain that if at least the red rose is selected as our national badge, many of those chosen to fill this role will come from Newark, N. Y. From that village come the finest roses grown anywhere in the world today. Their unexcelled beauty, fragrance, and color have gained for the roses of that area an enviable worldwide reputation.
Mr. Chairman, I want to commend this committee for its initiative in taking up these measures. I am extremely hopeful a measure will be reported out before the end of this session.
Certainly, the many pleasant associations traditionally connected with the rose would be enhanced by its designation as our national flower. The homeage and love given the rose has always remained the same. Now, as in the past, it remains the queen of flowers because it is the most beautiful and charming of all blooms. It would serve as a fitting symbol of the world's most beautiful land.
The rose unites elegance and beauty with the freshness and brilliance of its its colors and to all this nature has added a delightful perfume. These attributes emphasize the validity of the rose's claim to be our national flower. Truly, no other bloom has been able to match the qualities of the fairest flower of them all—the rose. May the day be not long delayed when it will reign as our national flower,
JUNE 14, 1958. The Honorable MEMBERS OF CONGRESS,
Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: Though the parent organization of the Minnesota Federation of Women's Clubs recently adopted a resolution naming the rose its choice for a national floral emblem, Minnesota and several other States prefer the corn tassel. This will then constitute a minority report and some of the reasons for preferring the corn tassel are as follows:
1. Corn is basic to the economy of the United States. The accompanying chart gives you the figures for your State. Add to this figure that of meat and dairy production in your State and you will see how dependent upon corn you
İt is because of the success of our basic corn economy that we can afford the luxury of roses, orchids, lilies, and other fiowers.
2. A national emblem should symbolize the country it represents. It should bespeak the history, the people, and the economy. The corn tassel does all this and its adoption as our national emblem does not subtract nor detract from the beauty, fragrance, or decorative quality of any other flower.
3. The corn tassel is unique while the rose is already the emblem of seven other countries, therefore, the symbol of none.
4. Because of corn, the Pilgrims, Jamestown, and other colonies were able to survive the rigors and hardships of the wilderness to establish this great country of ours.
The gardens of our forebearers were for food, not flowers. Let us pay tribute to their memory by naming the corn tassel our national floral emblem.)
5. The corn plant is native to the Western Hemisphere and to the United States. It was here thousands of years before the white man came. It is the gift of the red man to the white man. Let us pay tribute to the minorities in our population today by adopting the gift of one of them as our national emblem.
6. Corn is not only a food in multitudinous forms, but it is also the feed that is basic to all meat, poultry, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese production. Besides, it has many other uses not the least of which is in penicillin as well as a binding substance in paper, Without corn our whole economy could be upset and education and communications set back.
7. Corn is grown easily in every State in the Union.
8. This is a time when United States needs friends all over the world. Is it not conceivable that the adoption of a humble floral emblem like the corn tassel, quitely symbolizing food to starving millions everywhere, would win more friends for the United States than the adoption of the rose, a symbol of wealth, luxury, beauty, and elegance?
May I urge you to please give heed to logic and reason by naming the corn tassel the national floral emblem thereby, out of gratitude, honoring it as the very foundation of all we hold worthwhile as well as the very key to a better understanding of the United States in a hostile world. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely,
Mrs. KERMIT V. HAUGAN, Immediate Past President, Minnesota Federation of Women's Clubs.
STATEMENT OF Miss Chloe GIFFORD, PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL FEDERATION
OF WOMEN'S CLUBS The General Federation of Women's Clubs is an organization chartered by Congress in 1901. We have 572 million members in the United States, including our associates.
The legislation policy of the general federation is determined by resolutions passed at national conventions, annually. The proposed resolutions are studied by club members previous to convention and delegates vote in accordance with the instructions of their club membership. The action taken is therefore the democratic expression of the will of a large segment of our population.
At the general federation national convention, held in Detroit, June 1958, the following resolution was passed:
"THE ROSE-OUR NATIONAL FLOWER
"Whereas the United States of America has no national flower; and
"Whereas the rose grows in profusion in all States and blooms in all seasons of the year and lends itself to multiple use; and
"Whereas the rose by its beauty has won a place in the hearts of the American people; therefore
“Resolved, That the General Federation of Women's Clubs, in convention assembled, June 1958, urges the Congress of the United States to designate the flower commonly known as the rose as the national flower of the United States."
We urge this committee, therefore, to report favorably on House Joint Resolution 465 designating the rose as the national flower of the United States.
ROSE LEGEND—FROM UNITED STATES SENATOR MARGARET CHASE SMITH WASHINGTON.-I wear a red rose on my left shoulder so often that it has almost become a trademark for me or for my appearance. Many people have remarked about it. To be quite honest about it, I prefer a single red rose any time to a corsage or to an orchid. So often when I speak at a dinner or other kind of gathering, I am given a corsage or an orchid. While I appreciate both, and even more the thought behind the giving of them, I much prefer one red rose. I like its simplicity, I like its unmatched beauty, I like it because it is not "showy."
The other day I received a letter from Mr. J. L. Megahan, of Altoona, Pa., which gave very interesting observations about the red rose, He wrote:
"I have noted for some time, that you wear a red rose, and I've wondered if you were acquainted with its legend, which goes in part
“ 'I am the Red Rose-Mother, and first of all roses-mother of men, presented to the Holy Mother, among the gifts of the Wise Men. I have become symbolic of all that is good and fine in Womanhood. I make lesser men great, and great men inspired.'
“Down through the ages, men have kept this legend alive, by presenting the red rose to women, as a token of the highest esteem.
“Governor Winthrop carried it to the shores of New England. The Pennsylvania Dutch planted its seeds with other nationalities in Lancaster County, Pa. Today its custom and practice are carried through throughout our Nation. In honor of that great wonderful body of American womanhood, it was chosen as the national flower. An old songwriter wrote, “They hitched their wagon to a light in the western skies, put up with what the menfolk did—and with the menfolks too. Did you know that Mrs. Cleveland held aloft one red rose as her husband, Grover, was sworn in as President? Did you read how a group of American soldiers in Korea sent each day a red rose to the little girl dying in an eastern hospital of the dread disease of cancer as a token of her courage and of the inspiration she gave them?
"Today in America the red rose has become to millions of men symbolic of what is good and fine in womanhood. It has a language all of its own which speaks and brings faith, hope, and trust in a better tomorrow. We hope and pray that your work today will fill your tomorrows with beautiful memories of your yesterdays.”
BILLS PROPOSING TO DESIGNATE A NATIONAL FLOWER FOR THE UNITED
May 19, 1919 (columbine), 66th Congress, H. R. 531.
April 11, 1949 (rose), 81st Congress, House Joint Resolution 220 (introduced by Representative John J. Allen, Jr., of California).
January 10, 1955 (rose), 84th Congress, House Joint Resolution 102 (introduced by Representative Frances P. Bolton, of Ohio. Referred to committee: Daily Congressional Record, p. 185).
January 10, 1955 (rose), 84th Congress, Senate Joint Resolution 11 (introduced by Senator Margaret Chase Smith, of Maine. Referred to committee: Daily Congressional Record, p. 131).
July 11, 1955 (rose), 84th Congress, Senate Joint Resolution 88 (introduced by Senator Dennis Chavez, of New Mexico. Referred to committee: Daily Congressional Record, p. 8691).
June 11, 1957 (corn tassel), 85th Congress, House Joint Resolution 360 (introduced by Representative Walter Judd, of Minnesota).
January 7, 1958 (rose), 85th Congress, House Joint Resolution 465 (introduced by Representative James C. Davis, of Georgia).
January 23, 1958 (rose), 85th Congress, House Joint Resolution 514 (introduced by Representative Hugh C. Scott, of Pennsylvania).
June 12, 1958 (rose), 85th Congress, House Joint Resolution 625 (introduced by Representative Robert J. McIntosh, of Michigan).
June 26, 1958 (corn tassel), 85th Congress, House Joint Resolution 639 (introduced by Representative Leo E. Allen of Illinois).
Except for the hearings represented by this volume, there is no record of any action or debate on any of the above bills and resolutions,
(Congressional Record, April 4, 1955)
EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. FRANCES P. BOLTON OF OHIO IN THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 1955 Mrs. FRANCES P. Bolton. Mr. Speaker, on January 10 I introduced House Joint Resolution 102, to designate the rose as the national flower of the United States. An identical measure was introduced simultaneously in the Senate by Senator Margaret Chase Smith.
Since then there has been a great deal of public interest in this legislation, but at the same time many misconceptions have arisen. Several of my colleagues have expressed a personal interest in this bill and I understand that most Members of this House have received mail on the subject. To assist them in answering inquiries from their constituents, I am offering some further information about this resolution.
FOUR-TO-ONE SUPPORT The mail I have been receiving on this legislation is about 4 to 1 in favor-with many of those in support representing large organizations and societies. I have been very free in permitting news correspondents to examine this mail, which has made the rose the subject of many fine news stories. These, in turn, have stimulated newspaper editorials in all parts of the United States.
However, some of these stories have emphasized the small proportion of mail which is opposed to the rose and thus gave the impression that this legislation is. controversial. One article warned jokingly that a new war of the roses was about to break out in the Congress. Then, one of the most reputable newspapers in the country published an item that the House hopper began to receive bills proposing the national designation for everything from the Easter Lily to the stinkweed. This is completely false, since there have been no other bills on the subject.
OBJECTIONS TO ROSE
What are the objections to the rose as our national flower? The one most frequently raised is that it is not truly native to our soil.
It is difficult to find anything more native to America when you realize that fossils have been found in Oregon indicating that the rose was here as early as 6 million years ago.
Roses have contributed their special beauty to all of American history. An early visitor noted their presence in New Amsterdam and we have evidence that they were also grown in the gardens of old Virginia, New England, and South Carolina.
William Penn was a rose enthusiast and I am told that to this day his heirs. annually accept a single red rose in payment for rent on certain Pennsylvania properties.
George Washington may have been one of the earliest rose hybridizers in this country. His agricultural experiments are well known, and in Mount Vernon's gardens there are plants named Martha Washington and Mary Washington. While their origin is not definitely established, there is reason to believe that the General himself created them.
Rose hybridizing got an early start in America. A South Carolinian named John Champney created Champney's Pink Cluster around 1810, and the Reverend William Harrison, of New York's Trinity Church, originated Harrison's Yellow about 20 years later.
By the time of the Civil War, hybridizing techniques had improved and Robert Buist published a Manual of Roses listing more than 900 varieties. Another author who contributed to the literature on the rose was the famous Francis Parkman who wrote the Book of Roses about his hobby.
Today the people who grow roses in the United States are legion. It is estimated that there are more than 30 million rose gardeners in this country and the number is growing each year.
OTHER NATIONS' INSIGNIA Another objection is that the rose is the national flower of England. However, some type of rose is also the national flower of Honduras, Iran, and Luxembourg But all of these have been adopted so long ago that we would not recognize them as the cultivated rose know today.
Nor do we have the exclusive rights on several other national insignia. The red, white, and blue colors are used in the flags of 17 countries: Burma, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Panama, France, Liberia, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Thailand, and United Kingdom.
And the eagle is used in the coats of arms of at least six countries, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Poland, Syria, and Spain.
You might be interested to know that other national insignia of the United States, which we take almost for granted today, were the centers of considerable controversy before they were adopted.
FRANKLIN WANTED A TURKEY
On July 4, 1776, Congress set out to acquire a great seal for the new Government. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were appointed as a committee to bring in a design for a seal. Each submitted a different design and one using the eagle, was finally adopted on June 20, 1782. But the venerable Franklin was very much opposed to the eagle. His choice was a turkey. Franklin wrote in 1784:
I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, whe too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives hiin out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the kingbirds from our country; though exactly fit for that order of knights which the French call Chevaliers d'Industrie./ am, on this account, not displeased that the figure (as represented on the medals or badges of the Order of Cincinnatus) is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey. For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. * * * He is, besides, (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that), a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.
The Star-Spangled Banner was not accepted as our national anthem for more than 100 years after it was first proposed in Congress in 1830.
The song was the object of furious attacks. Its words were termed too belligerent and too bumptious. The music was branded as inappropriate and above all “utterly unsuitable” since some of it was said to lie beyond the range of the average voice.