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Torbert Macdonald

Torbert Macdonald


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Torbert Hart Macdonald was born in Everett, Middlesex County, Massachusetts on 6th June, 1917. He met John F. Kennedy while Harvard University and this became a life-time friendship.

Macdonald served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War as a PT boat commander in the Pacific (1942-44) and was awarded the Silver Star Combat Award.

After the war he worked as a lawyer in Boston. A member of the Democratic Party he was a member of the National Labor Relations Board for New England area (1948-1952). He was also delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1960, 1964 and 1968. He also represented Massachusetts, 1955-76 (8th District 1955-63, 7th District 1963-76).

Torbert Hart Macdonald died in Bethesda on 21st May, 1976.

The final player in the Diem saga in the fall of 1963 was Torbert Macdonald, Jack Kennedy's roommate from college and one of his closest friends. Macdonald, a member of Congress from Massachusetts, died in 1976; he is one of those mystery men who played a major role in Kennedy's life about whom very little can be learned. He was not mentioned in Arthur Schlesinger's memoir, and was mentioned only casually by Ted Sorensen. Macdonald's oral interview with the Kennedy Library was originally sealed; upon being opened in 1995 it turned out to be innocuous. His collected papers from his ten terms in Congress say nothing about his relationship with Jack Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy, in his oral history for the Kennedy Library, did not mention Macdonald.

What could be learned during reporting for this book was that Macdonald was one of Jack Kennedy's playpals - a regular at the afternoon White House pool parties and a partner in many of Kennedy's escapades, especially in Hollywood. He was trusted, a trust that he validated after Kennedy's assassination. Macdonald remained in the Congress until his death - he became an increasingly effective legislator - and he never talked. Joe Croken, a Boston politician who long worked as Macdonald's administrative assistant, told me in a 1997 interview for this book that there were many secrets between Macdonald and Jack Kennedy - "certain things they didn't talk to anybody about."

Just four days after he had arrived in Palm Beach for a rest, and eight days after the election, Mr. Kennedy was off to the LBJ Ranch. Possibly for moral support, he took with him his house guest and former Harvard roommate, Congressman Torbert Macdonald. When they returned back the next evening both were exhausted. "We'll fill you in tomorrow," Torb said, "but right now we need some sleep."


Veterans Day: Celebrating Veterans from the Kennedy Family Collection Nitrate Negatives

“Today we are here to celebrate and to honor and to commemorate the dead and the living, the young men who in every war since this country began have given testimony to their loyalty to their country and their own great courage.” — President John F. Kennedy, November 11, 1961

The first commemoration of what is now Veterans Day was November 11, 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson established a holiday called Armistice Day to remember those who lost their lives in World War I—a war that had ended on November 11 of the previous year. After the subsequent wars in Europe and Korea, Congress changed the holiday’s name to Veterans Day in order to honor all veterans, not just those killed in the “Great War.”

Military service was a significant part of the Kennedy family’s legacy. Both the future president and his older brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., were decorated lieutenants in the United States Navy during World War II many of their friends also served. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library would like to commemorate this Veterans Day by sharing photographs from the Kennedy Family Collection that feature the President, his brother, and some of their fellow military members. These images, digitized from nitrate negatives in the collection, provide glimpses into the lives of these men during their military careers, both in military dress and in casual dress, both in more formal poses and at social gatherings. They reveal the everyday humanity of men who served their country, some of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice.

KFC2719N. William John Robert Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. April 1944 © John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Major William John Robert Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (1917-1944) , served in the Coldstream Guards regiment of the British Army during World War II. On September 9, 1944, he was killed in action by a sniper in Belgium while his battalion, the 5th of the Guards Armoured Division, attempted to liberate the town of Heppen. He died four months after marrying Kathleen Kennedy.

Lieutenant William Caldwell Coleman, Jr. (1918-1945) , served in the United States Navy Reserve during World War II. In September of 1941, Coleman became a member of the midshipmen’s school aboard the USS Prairie State. A few years later, he was killed during a routine combat training flight off the coast of Melbourne, Florida, on January 24, 1945.

Lieutenant Paul Burgess Fay, Jr. (1918-2009) , served in the United States Navy Reserve in the South Pacific during World War II. He was executive officer of PT-174 and later captain of PT-167, based in the Solomon Islands. Fay received a Bronze Star for his actions when the boat he was assigned to was disabled by a torpedo dropped from a Japanese plane. Fay went on to serve as Under Secretary and then Acting Secretary of the Navy, during President John F. Kennedy’s administration. He died at his home in Woodside, California, on September 23, 2009.

Lieutenant John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) served in the United States Navy Reserve during World War II. He was assigned as commander of a patrol torpedo boat, the PT-109, in the South Pacific. On August 2, 1943, the PT-109 collided with a Japanese destroyer. Kennedy’s actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of the boat earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the collision. Kennedy went on to serve as the 35th President of the United States from January 20, 1961, until his assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

KFC1782N. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., in Washington, D.C. Circa November 1941-June 1942 © John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (1915-1944) , served as a pilot in the United States Navy during World War II. Awarded his wings in May 1942, he flew Caribbean patrols and in September 1943 was sent to England with the first naval squadron to fly B-24’s with the British Naval Command. He died a year later when his plane exploded during a dangerous secret mission in Europe, on August 12, 1944. Kennedy was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and the Air Medal and in 1946 a destroyer, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., was launched at the Fore River shipyards as the Navy’s final tribute to his service.

Lieutenant Tom Killefer (1917-1996) served as a pilot in the United States Navy with carrier and land-based fighter squadrons in the Southwest Pacific and European theaters, during World War II. Killefer was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Navy Air Medal for heroism and extraordinary achievement in combat flight against Japanese forces, and earned the Purple Heart for wounds received in action. He died at his home in Portola Valley, California, on June 16, 1996.

KFC1686N. Demarest Lloyd, Jr., in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. August-September, 1941 © John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Lieutenant Demarest Lloyd, Jr. (1919-1944) , served in the United States Navy Reserve in the Pacific during World War II. He was killed in action on June 12, 1944, and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal and Air Medal with 6 Gold Stars. Lloyd’s name is memorialized in the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Lieutenant Torbert Hart Macdonald (1917-1976) served in the United States Navy during World War II, as a PT boat commander in the Southwest Pacific from 1942 to 1944. He was awarded the Silver Star Combat Award and the Presidential Citation. Macdonald later became a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, serving the state of Massachusetts from 1955 until his death in 1976. He died in Bethesda, Maryland, on May 21, 1976.

KFC1733N. George Houk Mead, Jr., in Washington, D.C. Circa November 1941-June 1942 © John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Lieutenant George Houk Mead, Jr. (1917-1942) , served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He was called to active duty November 1, 1941, and was killed in action fighting Japanese troops in Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, on August 19, 1942. Mead was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, for heroism and distinguished service as Executive Officer of Company L, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division.

KFC1815N. Charles Alfred Pillsbury in Washington, D.C. Circa November 1941 June 1942 © John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Lieutenant Charles Alfred Pillsbury (1917-1943) served as a pilot in the United States Navy Reserves during World War II. The plane he was piloting on November 21, 1943, went missing near Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea. Pillsbury was declared missing in action and later officially declared dead on February 8, 1946, with his death date listed as November 21, 1943. His plane’s wreckage was discovered at Kangu Beach on Bougainville Island on September 4, 1968.

Second Lieutenant Morgan O’Brien Preston (1918-1944) served in the United States Army Infantry during World War II. He was deployed to the Mediterranean, in January 1944. Preston died while leading a battle patrol near Valmontone, Italy, on June 2, 1944.

KFC1655N. Stanley Rogers Resor at Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota. Circa July 3-6, 1941 © John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

Officer Stanley Rogers Resor (1917-2012) served in the United States Army in the European theater during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was wounded in the siege of Bastogne, Belgium. Resor was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart, for his service. Resor went on to serve as Secretary of the United States Army from 1965 to 1971. He died in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2012.

Commander Benjamin Atwood Smith II (1916-1991) served in the United States Navy in the Pacific as commander of an anti-submarine, anti-torpedo vessel , during World War II. Smith later became a politician, serving the state of Massachusetts as Unite d States Senator from 1960 to 1962. He died in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on September 26, 1991.


History

The Capitol Hill Chapter was formally constituted on January 16, 1963, in response to the recognition by members of the DC Chapter of the need for a chapter to serve the special requirements of Capitol Hill lawyers. Six years earlier, in 1957, a Capitol Hill section of the DC Chapter had been established to acknowledge the different functions performed by the legislative lawyer and the executive branch lawyer. The first section President was Congressman Torbert Macdonald (D-MA). Former Congressman William Hungate (D-MO), who later served as a Federal judge, was a subsequent Chapter President.

The original Capitol Hill section listed a membership of approximately 40 lawyers. Today, the Chapter has approximately 180 members. At its inception in 1963, the Chapter had a governing Council of 14 persons that included representatives from the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Library of Congress-then the component organizations constituting the Chapter. In 1972, the FBA National Executive Committee added the Supreme Court to the Chapter’s component jurisdiction, and the Court’s Justices were made honorary members of the Chapter. The General Accounting Office (now Government Accountability Office) became a Chapter component soon thereafter followed by the Government Printing Office. The Chapter’s constitution was amended in 1996 to add to the Chapter’s governing Council a component unit consisting of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Sentencing Commission, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The Chapter’s constitution was again amended in 2013 to allow attorneys working for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Architect of the Capitol, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Capitol Police to join the Chapter’s Council as voting members.

The Capitol Hill Chapter has been known for the relatively high number of Chapter officers and members who have gone on to assume national office in the FBA. Marian Herring, in 1973, was the Chapter’s first woman President.

Capitol Hill Section of the DC Chapter, Federal Bar Association, established in 1957

1957-59 Torbert H. Macdonald (D-MA)
1959-60 James E. Palmer
1960-61 Cyril F. Brickfield
1961-62 Edward McCue III

Capitol Hill Chapter, Federal Bar Association, established January 16, 1963

1962-63 Thomas P. Kerester
1963-64 Erwin Krasnow
1964-65 Vincent A. Doyle
1965-66 Francis Rosenberger
1966-67 Frank R. Hammill, Jr.
1967-68 George Pavlic
1968-69 Justinus Gould
1969-70 Waldo Moore
1970-71 William Hungate (D-MO)
1971-72 John J. Kominski
1972-73 James A. Lanigan
1973-74 Marian Herring
1974-75 Herbert L. Spira
1975-76 Lee McElvain
1976-77 Joseph E. Ross
1977-78 Paul G. Dembling
1978-79 William P. Shattuck
1979-80 Paul S. Wallace
1980-81 Charles O. Campbell
1981-82 Mary Ann Gilleece
1982-83 Robert E. Feidler
1983-84 Patrice A. Lyons
1984-85 Charles L. Browne, III
1985-86 Janice E. Rubin
1986-87 Raphael Perl
1987-88 Kenneth E. Swab
1988-89 Francis J. Lorson
1989-90 Elaine L. Sierra
1990-91 Robert A. Lincoln
1991-92 Jackie A. Goff
1992-93 Herbert I. Dunn
1993-94 Ralph Oman
1994-95 Gregory A. Scott
1995-96 Craig Winslow
1996-97 Craig Winslow
1997-98 Anthony J. Zagami
1998-99 Melanie Gilbert
1999-00 Adam Vodraska
2000-01 Melissa Mueller
2001-02 Bruce Kasold
2002-03 William K. Van Horne
2003-04 Diane Wolf
2004-05 James G. Scott
2005-06 Warren Burke
2006-07 Susan Sawtelle
2007-08 Adam Bramwell
2008-09 Paul Vamvas
2009-10 T.J. Halstead
2010-11 Anthony Ogden
2011-12 Matthew McGhie
2012-13 Elizabeth Pugh
2013-14 Amy Bowser
2014-15 Jeff McDermott
2015-17 Geoff Cheshire

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD

Federal Bar Association
MERITORIOUS NEWSLETTER AWARD (Capitol Assets)

Federal Bar Association

SPECIAL RECOGNIATION FOR FBA SECTION/DIVISION and CHAPTER PROGRAM COLLABORATION (Capitol Hill Chapter/Criminal Law Section/Environmental and Natural Resources Section/International Law Section)

International Legislative Drafting Conference

2012
Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Federal Bar Association
MERITORIOUS NEWSLETTER AWARD (Capitol Assets)

2011
Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD

2010
Federal Bar Association
PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of “A Luncheon with Justice Sotomayor.”

2009
Federal Bar Association
OUTSTANDING NEWSLETTER RECOGNITION AWARD

Federal Bar Association
PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of “A Luncheon with Sam Donaldson, ABC News Correspondent”.

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Presented in recognition of “The FBA Capitol Hill Chapter Facebook Page”.

2007
Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Presented in recognition of the Capitol Hill Chapter’s accomplished chapter activities in the areas of Administration, Membership, Outreach and Programming

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of program on “How Capitol Hill Really Works: The Legislative Drafting Process”.

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of luncheon with Joan Winship, Executive Director, and Anne Goldstein, Human Rights Education Director, International Association of Women Judges.

2006
Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Presented in recognition of the Capitol Hill Chapter’s accomplished chapter activities in the areas of Administration, Membership, Outreach and Programming

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of annual luncheon at the Supreme Court of the United States.

2005
Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Presented in recognition of the Capitol Hill Chapter’s accomplished chapter activities in the areas of Administration, Membership, Outreach and Programming

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of luncheon with Director Leonidas Ralph Mecham, Administrative Office of the Courts.

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of annual luncheon at the Supreme Court of the United States..

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of luncheon with Hon. David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States.

2004
Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Presented in recognition of the Capitol Hill Chapter’s accomplished chapter activities in the areas of Administration, Membership Outreach and Programming

Federal Bar Association
CHAPTER ACTIVITY PRESIDENTIAL CITATION AWARD
Presented in recognition of the Catered Luncheon with Justice Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court of the United States


Clan Donald is a now global clan with ancient roots in the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland and County Antrim of Northern Ireland. In the 1100s, the warrior Somerled secured dominion over the Western Isles for Clan Donald. A century later, their lands grew when Robert the Bruce granted Clan Donald more territory on the mainland including Lochaber and Glencoe. In the 1330s, its territory would expand further to Skye and Lewis.

Mountains of North Harris in the Western Isles. Photo by Derek Voller / CC BY-SA 2.0


Remembering the Dark Side of the Space Race

NASA is commemorating the this month’s 50 th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing with a full slate of activities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and locations around the country. The lunar mission was a proud moment in American history, one that filled the world with awe as the first images of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon’s surface were beamed back to earth. But the decades leading up to that moment were marked by the political and cultural tensions of World War II and the Cold War. In his new book, Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket, Fraser MacDonald reminds readers about the shadowy aspects of the space race — including lying and spying — that ruined some careers while launching others. MacDonald, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, joined the [email protected] radio show on SiriusXM to talk about his book. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

[email protected]: Can you tell us about your book?

Fraser MacDonald: My book deals partly with the dark aspects of space exploration, but also the stuff that people tend to not know about. With the Apollo anniversary coming up, we were mindful of what an amazing human achievement it was to get onto the moon, and many people are aware of the legacy of that achievement. A lot of it gets credited to famous German engineer, Wernher von Braun.

What my book does is uncover the previous history that has kind of been forgotten but also slightly repressed, because it is actually quite a difficult history to know about. Before America got hold of the German engineers that took Apollo to the moon, America had its own space program at Cal Tech. The problem is that many of these engineers had joined the Communist Party. That is really the focus of my book, is uncovering the awkward, slightly difficult history of a bunch of left-wing graduate students who pioneered America’s first space program but have been written out of the story on account of their politics.

[email protected]: This was during the Cold War and McCarthyism, which had to be an influencing factor in why these engineers have been forgotten.

“There is this strange paradox that the Cold War is a lot more complex than we make it out to be.”

MacDonald: Right. A lot of the engineers I am talking about — including the main character in my book, a really smart and gifted engineer named Frank Malina who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory — all of these people were caught up in McCarthyism. But their story precedes that. This is going to sound ridiculous, but they really joined the Communist Party before it was controversial. They joined in 1938, and they joined in order to fight fascism abroad.

Many of these engineers were Jewish, profoundly concerned about what was happening in Europe. They also wanted radical change at home. To give an example of that, they campaigned against the racial segregation at their local swimming pool. This is in Pasadena and Los Angeles, where the pool had a blacks-only session on a Wednesday afternoon, after which the pool was drained and cleaned for whites to return on Thursday morning. They just found this utterly abhorrent. They saw the Communist Party at that time as a vehicle for real change, and that is why they joined. Of course, later in the McCarthy era, all of that caught up with them.

[email protected]: Did some of your research come from FBI files that had been locked away?

MacDonald: I first got hold of the FBI file for Frank Malina, and I realized there are just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages of phone transcripts and informant testimonies. I just kind of blinked at some of the allegations that were contained in this FBI file. Not only was he an alleged member of the Communist Party, but he was accused of espionage. Part of my hunt in this book is trying to work out the background to that, as I conclude there wasn’t really any good evidence against him.

His politics were not particularly controversial at the time it was just that later during the McCarthy era they became much more of concern to the FBI. But yes, a lot of my archives were based on trying to get files declassified for a lot of these left-leaning graduate students.

[email protected]: Tell us more about Frank Malina, who left engineering and became a painter.

MacDonald: It’s such an unusual story. I see him as the most important engineer you’ve probably never heard of. He’s the first person in the United States to make rocketry successful. To the extent that people know about the history of space exploration, they maybe know a bit about von Braun, they might know about Robert Goddard, who was an early experimenter with liquid propulsion. But Goddard was not successful. He was a pioneer he did some important experiments, but he never got a rocket high.

It was Malina — he was the first person to manage that in the United States. Not only does he do that with his rocket called the WAC Corporal, but he then founds the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is even today among the most important institutions for interplanetary exploration.

[email protected] High School

Malina was quite an ordinary student. He was clever, but he was also determined. He had a certain kind of tenacity. He was from Texas but with a Czech background. And yeah, he had this strange career where he was incredibly successful in rocketry, only to leave the United States in a hurry as things got a little bit politically hot. But also because he felt disillusioned that the very rocket that he had created was likely to become a vehicle for the world’s first nuclear missile. It was about to become weaponized, and he wanted to work for peace. He worked for UNESCO, and then eventually he became a painter.

[email protected]: Tell us about Jack Parsons, who was a friend of Malina’s and a unique individual as well.

MacDonald: That’s a little bit of an understatement. There is this big TV series on CBS at the moment called Strange Angel, which is all about Parsons. He is pretty off the wall. He is not an engineer. He is not of a great education. He is a self-taught chemist, but also an occultist. He is an explosives expert who is also deeply into the occult practices and knowledge of an English magician called Aleister Crowley. In Pasadena, he is part of this underground occult group that uses ritual sexual magic as part of their religious practice. But there is also a sense in which Parsons actually uses some of that magic as a prelude to rocket tests, which is unusual in engineering.

There is quite a lot written about Parsons. His story is well known it’s just that for the most part it’s wrong. He tends to get cast as this charismatic sexual hero. In fact, he is a genuinely much darker figure, as well as being an FBI informant who all along is informing on his friend, Frank Malina.

“The idea of rocket science in the 1930s was ridiculous. It was for cranks and fantasists and charlatans.”

[email protected]: Let’s go back a little bit. You mentioned that there is a link between the Nazi Party and the Jet Propulsion Lab. Can you explain?

MacDonald: There is not an exact link between the Nazis and JPL, but rather the link is more extraordinary than that, which is in the aftermath of the World War II, when the Americans realized the extent of Hitler’s V2 Rocket Program. The V2 was a rocket that Hitler was keen to have built by Wernher von Braun, and it rained terror on London and Antwerp in the last year of the war. Because it was such a weapon of terror, the whole thing about the V2 was you couldn’t hear it coming. It was supersonic. It was just death from the unknown.

The U.S., unsurprisingly, was really keen to get a hold of that kind of technology. So, they just took 1,600 engineers from Germany over to the United States under the auspices of an operation called Operation Paperclip. Many of these engineers were Nazi Party members, they were SS members. Von Braun was a member of both the Nazi Party and the SS. It is that strain of engineering that is extremely important in the later development of the Apollo program. Sometimes it is acknowledged, but I think not acknowledged enough. And the really crazy thing is that none of that political baggage held back Wernher von Braun. He is still celebrated as a creator, and a movement is named after him.

But there was the other kind of political baggage that Malina was bearing. That is to say he joined the Communist Party to fight racial segregation, which meant he was absolutely persona non grata. He really was out in the cold and has been largely written out of the story of American space exploration, and that is kind of not ideal.

[email protected]: What was China’s role in this?

MacDonald: There’s another one of these unexpected links that I initially thought, “Oh, maybe there’s something there,” and then it turned out to be massive. One of Malina’s colleagues at Cal Tech is another very smart engineering student named Hsue-Shen Tsien from China. He comes to work with Malina’s supervisor, Theodore von Karman.

Theodore van Karman is one of the great aeronautical engineers. He gives us the swept back lines of the modern jet aircraft. Tsien, the Chinese rocketeer, was close to Malina and helped a lot in the more theoretical aspects, the mathematical aspects of designing the first rockets. Like Malina, he was very successful and quickly rose up the ranks of Cal Tech.

But once Malina had left the United States, and once Malina’s colleagues started making allegations of espionage, the entire security apparatus descended on Tsien, who was still at Cal Tech. Malina had gone to Paris, but Tsien was still working at Cal Tech. As I see it, he was really unfairly accused of being a spy.

The United States couldn’t quite work out whether to deport him or, because he had such valuable expertise, to detain him. In fact, they did both. They detained him for four years and eventually deported him to China, which was delighted to receive this dividend of rocket expertise. Tsien then becomes the founder of the Chinese space program. So, it was an incredibly strategic blunder on the part of the United States, which is that they handed over the expertise to a rival space program, to a communist adversary, yet all under the guise of trying to contain domestic anti-communism at home.

[email protected]: What was Russia’s involvement at this time?

MacDonald: Russia developed its own space program. Russia, Britain and the United States were all scrambling after V2 technology from Germany. But Russia had its own quite long tradition of rocket engineering going back to the famous theoretician, [Konstantin] Tsiolkovsky. But I would say that their engineering is much slower to get off of the ground, if you pardon the pun, than the United States.

I think the real paradox here is that when we think of the Cold War, we think of it as being United States versus the Soviet Union in terms of rocket engineering. Yet the great surprise to me was there was also a debate internal to the United States between conservatives and socialists about the direction of space exploration, and also what it was for.

For Malina and many of the others involved in his program at Cal Tech, they wanted space exploration not as a weapon of war, not to just kill people and break things, but they wanted rocket engineering as a vehicle for civilian science and improving ordinary people’s lives. From their perspective, it’s not like rocketry was a massive proletarian kind of necessity, but they could see at the same time it was able to provide potential applications for civilian life that would genuinely make a difference to ordinary people. Like weather forecasting, for instance, which of course turned out to be completely accurate.

“What we can learn from the Tsien episode is that in trying to act in America’s self-interest, you can end up doing exactly the opposite.”

So yes, there is this strange paradox that the Cold War is a lot more complex than we make it out to be, and that the division is not just a division of superpowers, but a division within the United States.

[email protected]: Florida and Texas get much of the attention, but I think we sometimes forget about the important role that California has played in the space program.

MacDonald: It’s really interesting. Los Angeles is known as a center for airplane design, and that is why the rocket work starts there. There is a cluster of engineers at Cal Tech who are really trying to pioneer things like propeller design and air foil design, and they’ve got the tools to do that. It is that very expertise that ends up becoming really important, being able to take it to rocket research. But I guess it’s that other thing going on Los Angeles, which is just the kind of kookiness, the kind of eccentricities, the colorful characters, all of which does play a role in this story.

We now think of rocket science as a shorthand for complexity. “It’s not rocket science” — [meaning] it’s not complicated, right? But those words didn’t even belong in the same sentence together. The idea of rocket science in the 1930s was ridiculous. It was for cranks and fantasists and charlatans. Yet it is quite interesting that it is in California and in Los Angeles that you have the outsiders who are willing to give this a try. It is no coincidence that it starts there, because it takes slightly unconventional types, first of all, to be attracted to this domain of science, then to make it work, which they did.

[email protected]: What happened to Tsien?

MacDonald: He had a long career in the United States. He didn’t leave until the mid-1950s. But he lived to a very ripe old age and became the founder of China’s space program. It is interesting that China is very careful to credit Tsien as the founding father of their own space program in ways that are quite different from the United States in acknowledging essentially the same history. Malina is regarded as being a very marginal figure. He tends not to be remembered. Yet they are doing the same engineering, are part of the same program.

The great irony is Tsien then designs rockets for China that end up getting passed on to states with even less cordial relationships with the United States. For instance, Tsien’s silkworm missile ends up getting fired back at the United States in the first Iraq War, and as recently as 2016 by Houthi rebels in Yemen firing a rocket that is essentially a Tsien design coming originally from China. The circularity there is a little bit bizarre.

But yes, it’s a remarkable history and, to reiterate a point I made earlier, just a great strategic mishap to deport for no good reason an engineer that actually hands on such important technology to what was then a rival communist state.

[email protected]: Are some of these political dynamics that were in play back in the 1930s and 1940s still around today?


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Macdonald was born in Everett, Massachusetts, in 1917 and grew up in Malden. After several years in public school, he entered Phillips Academy in Andover. Macdonald attended Harvard University, where he was captain of the Crimson football team and the roommate of John F. Kennedy. They remained close friends throughout their lives, with Macdonald serving as an usher at then-Senator Kennedy's wedding and as an honorary pallbearer at President Kennedy's funeral. At Harvard, Macdonald earned his B.A. in 1940 and his LL.B. in 1946 from its law school.

Macdonald served in the United States Navy as a PT boat commander in the Southwest Pacific theater from 1942 to 1944, and was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Presidential Unit Citation. He was admitted to the bar in 1946 and commenced the practice of law in Boston as a partner in the firm of Stoneman, Macdonald & Chandler. Macdonald was a member of the National Labor Relations Board for the New England area from 1948 to 1952, and he was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1960, 1964, and 1968.

Macdonald was elected as a Democrat to the 84th Congress in 1954. During his career, he served as majority Whip, and as ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. He was often referred to as the "Father of Public Broadcasting", since he was one of the legislators primarily responsible for Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. He was also responsible for the "sports blackout bill" which provides for the broadcast of local sold-out sporting contests. Another focus was his effort to reform campaign broadcasting practices, addressing his concern that competent candidates were being priced out of the process, and others were buying their way in. While recognized as an active legislator, he was also justly noted for his high level of service to individual constituents and their problems. His sharp wit and sense of humor garnered him among his Congressional colleagues the nickname "The Needle". He was reelected ten times, and died in office on May 21, 1976, [1] in Bethesda, Maryland.

Personal life Edit

Macdonald married actress Phyllis Brooks on June 23, 1945, in Tarrytown, New York. [2] They remained married until his death. They had four children, the eldest of whom was President Kennedy's godson. Macdonald was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden, Massachusetts. He was portrayed by actor Stan Cahill in the 1993 television miniseries JFK: Reckless Youth.


Torbert Hart Macdonald

Nicknamed Torby, was a politician from Massachusetts. He served as a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives.

Macdonald was born in Everett, Massachusetts in 1917 and grew up in Malden, Massachusetts. After several years in public school, he entered Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Macdonald attended Harvard University, where he was captain of the football team and the roommate of John F. Kennedy.They remained close friends throughout their lives, with Macdonald serving as an usher at then-Senator Kennedy's wedding and as an Honorary Pallbearer at President Kennedy's funeral. At Harvard , Macdonald earned his B.A. in 1940 and his LL.B. in 1946 from its law school.

Torby served in the United States Navy as a PT boat commander in the Southwest Pacific from 1942 to 1944 and was awarded the Silver Star Combat Award, Purple Heart and Presidential Citation. He was admitted to the bar in 1946 and commenced the practice of law in Boston, Massachusetts as a partner in the firm of Stoneman, Macdonald & Chandler. Torby was a member of the National Labor Relations Board for New England area from 1948 to 1952, and he was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1960, 1964, and 1968.

Macdonald was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-fourth Congress in 1954. During his career, he served as Majority Whip, and as ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. He was often referred to as the "Father of Public Broadcasting", since he was one of the legislators primarily responsible for Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. He was also responsible for the "sports blackout bill" which provides for the broadcast of local sold -out sporting contests. Another focus was his effort to reform campaign broadcasting practices, addressing his concern that competent candidates were being priced out of the process, and others were buying their way in. While recognized as an active legislator, he was also justly noted for his high level of service to individual constituents and their problems. His sharp wit and sense of humor garnered him among his Congressional colleagues the nickname "The Needle". He was reelected ten times and died in office on May 21, 1976, in Bethesda, Maryland.

He was married to the actress Phyllis Brooks from 1945 until his death. They had four children, the eldest of whom was President Kennedy's godson.


Clan MacDonald history

Clan MacDonald (or Clan Donald) is one of Scotland’s largest clans, with over 40 tartans and incorporates the senior branches of Keppoch, Sleat, Clanranald, Glengarry and Glencoe.

Its origins, like those of Clan MacDougall, go back to Somerled, a warrior born about 1113. He was styled Lord of the Isles, and was killed at the Battle of Renfrew. His son was Dòmhnall Mac Raghnuill, whose son, in turn, gave the clan its name. The MacDonald lands covered most of western Scotland and the northwest seaboard, and the clan was so powerful that its chief wielded almost as much power as the king.

The Maclan MacDonalds will forever be known for the fate that befell them at the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, but the MacDonalds were no angels, frequently attacking and capturing Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, for instance – on one occasion in 1545 they stripped Urquhart of its furniture, canon and gate.

Perhaps the best known MacDonald was Flora, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie cross from the island of Benbecula to Skye after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Finlaggan Castle on Islay, and Armadale Castle on Skye, are considered the spiritual homes of the clan.

The current High Chief of Clan Donald is Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald, 8th Baron Macdonald.

There are many official MacDonald tartans depending on the clan sept. The main ones are MacDonald Ancient, MacDonald Modern and MacDonald Weathered. There are numerous family crests, including “Or, a hand in armour fess ways holding a cross-crosslet fitchee gules” and “argent, a lion rampant gules, armed and langued azure”. The motto is “Per Mare per Terras” (“by sea and by land”).

Torbert MacDonald

A roommate of John F. Kennedy at Harvard University, Torbert MacDonald was an All-American halfback and captain of the Harvard football team. He spent three years playing professional baseball, debuting in the 1937 Can-Am League, which he split between three teams, hitting .280.

Three years later MacDonald played briefly with the Easton Yankees of the Eastern Shore League (hitting just .214) and with the Can-Am League's Amsterdam Rugmakers, batting .379. The speedy outfielder hit .300 for Amsterdam the next season. Studying at Harvard law school in the off-season, MacDonald passed the bar in 1946.

In 1942 Torby joined the US Navy and commanded a boat in the south Pacific. While directing an attack on a Japanese troop transport fleet, MacDonald suffered a leg injury and successfully brought back his crew to their base. He won the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

MacDonald followed JFK into politics and defeated a Republican incumbent for a US House seat in 1954. He served in Congress from 1955-1976 and was known for crafting legislation. He was known for helping set up public television.

In 1976 MacDonald helped become a leading figure for the "right-to-die" movement when he asked to discontinue life-sustaining devices.


Watch the video: Torbert H MacDonald Park (February 2023).

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