SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Sawad

Sawad was the name used in early Islamic times for southern Iraq. It means "black land" or "arable land" and refers to the stark contrast between the alluvial plain of Mesopotamia and the Arabian desert. Under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, it was an official political term for a province encompassing most of modern Iraq; as a generic term in Arabic and Persian, sawād was used to denote the irrigated and cultivated areas in any district. Unmodified, it always referred to southern Iraq, the sawād of Baghdad, it replaced the more narrow term Rādhān. Schaeder, H. H.. "Sawād". In Bosworth, C. E.. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume IX: San–Sze. Leiden: E. J. Brill. P. 87. ISBN 90-04-10422-4. Michele Campopiano, “Land Tax Alā l-misāḥa and muqāsama: Legal Theory and Balance of Social Forces in Early Medieval Iraq ”, in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 54/2, 2011, 239-269

Thomas B. Turley

Thomas Battle Turley was a Tennessee attorney who served as a Democratic United States Senator from 1897 to 1901. Turley was born in Memphis and attended public schools and was a private in the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War, spending part of that conflict as a prisoner of war. Upon its conclusion he attended the University of Virginia law school in Charlottesville, completing his studies in 1867. In 1870 he began practicing in Memphis. A prominent attorney, upon the death in office of Senator Isham G. Harris, Turley was appointed by governor of Tennessee Robert L. Taylor to the vacancy, he was subsequently elected to the balance of the term by the Tennessee General Assembly. Turley declined to stand for any further service in the Senate once the balance of the term to which Harris had been elected had expired, serving in the Senate from July 20, 1897 to March 3, 1901, he returned to his Memphis law practice until shortly before his death in 1910. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, the final resting place of many West Tennessee political figures.

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture United States Congress. "Thomas B. Turley". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

Wilson desk

The Wilson desk is a large mahogany desk used by Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the Oval Office as their Oval Office desk. One of only six desks used by a President in the Oval office, it was purchased between 1897 and 1899 by Garret Augustus Hobart, the 24th Vice President of the United States, for the Vice President's Room in the United States Capitol. Nixon chose this desk for the Oval Office because of his mistaken belief that former President Woodrow Wilson had used it there. In 1971 Nixon had five recording devices secretly installed in the Wilson desk by the United States Secret Service; these recordings constitute some of the Watergate tapes. Nixon referred to the desk in 1969 in his "Silent majority" speech, stating "Fifty years ago, in this room and at this desk, President Woodrow Wilson spoke words which caught the imagination of a war-weary world." In actuality, the desk was never used by Woodrow Wilson in the Oval office. Nixon was informed by one of his speech writers, William Safire, that the desk was used by Vice President of the United States Henry Wilson during President Ulysses S. Grant's administration.

This appears to be untrue, since the desk wasn't ordered until 1897 or more than 22 years after Henry Wilson's death. The "Wilson Desk" appears to be a misnomer, as it has never been continuously used by anyone with the last name of "Wilson." The Wilson desk is a double-pedestal desk built of mahogany. Its workspace is 58 1/4 inches by 80 3/4 inches and it is 31 inches high, it has drawers in both pedestals, the knee-hole extends all the way through the desk. During its time in the White House a glass top was used on top of the desk; this sheet of glass covered the whole workspace of the desk. According to the book Presidential anecdotes by Paul F. Boller, Nixon enjoyed working in the Oval Office with his feet propped up on the Wilson desk and, in spite of the glass cover, Nixon's "...heels began leaving scars on the top of it." Someone at the White House noticed the marring of the historic desk and, while Nixon was out of the United States, had it refinished. When Nixon returned and saw what had been done he stated, "Dammit.

I didn't order that. I want to leave my mark on this place just like other Presidents!" Garret Augustus Hobart, the 24th Vice President of the United States, served from 1897 to 1899 under President William McKinley. While in office he purchased and ordered many lavish furnishing for the Vice President's Room of the United States Capitol the official office for the vice president; the furnishings either purchased or ordered by Hobart included Persian rugs, mohair carpeting, Neapolitan silk curtains, "a silk velour slumber robe" to match the velour cushions on his office sofa, a $600 floor clock from Harris and Schafer jewelers, a large mahogany desk, now known as the Wilson desk. The desk which Hobart bought remained in the Vice President's Room and continued to be used by each Vice President until 1969, including the future presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, by Nixon himself; when Nixon became president the desk was placed on loan to the White House, became the Oval Office desk for his presidency.

Nixon took a liking to the desk during his terms as Vice President because he was under the incorrect impression that it was used by Woodrow Wilson during his term as President. During February 1971, Nixon had a secret audio recording system installed in the Wilson Desk; the president's offices in the White House, Camp David, the Old Executive Office Building all had hidden microphones installed by the United States Secret Service, some of the recordings created by this system make up the Watergate tapes. There were seven microphones in total installed in the Oval office, one on either side of the fireplace and five located within the Wilson Desk; these microphones, as well as recording devices in the Cabinet Room were all wired to central mixers and recorders in "an old locker room in the White House basement." Not long after April 9, 1973 a switch was installed in the desk to allow Nixon to turn the microphones on and off at will. They turned on automatically whenever someone began talking.

Throughout Nixon's presidency he referred to the Wilson desk hundreds of times in official speeches, such as the "Silent majority" speech, in talks with high ranking visitors. During official White House tours, guides wrongly told of; this misconception was first discovered to be untrue by an assistant curator at the White House. This assistant curator came to yet another incorrect conclusion about who had used the desk; this curator wrongly stated that the desk was not used by Woodrow Wilson, but instead by Vice President Henry Wilson, under President Ulysses S. Grant's administration; the assistant curator enlightened Cecilia Bellinger, a chief researcher in the writing operation at the White House, about the mistake who in turn told William Safire, one of Nixon's speech writers. It fell to Safire to inform Nixon about the mistake in the provenance of the Wilson Desk. Safire was chosen to inform the President of the issue because he was, "the most frequent Wilson-quoter on the writing staff."

Safire wrote a memo to Nixon explaining that it was Henry Wilson, not Woodrow Wilson, who sat at the desk, listed a litany of character traits and virtues of the other "Wilson." Safire heard nothing back from the White House about the memo. The only recognition Nixon's White House gave to their major mistake in the provenance of the desk was in 1969 when on page 909 of that year's edition of Public Papers of the Presidents there is a footnote to Nixon's "Silent majority" speech which states, "Later research indicated that the desk had not been Woodrow Wilson's as had long been assum