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American adventurer. The University of North Carolina prisons American Adventure. Written by Johnny Lee directed by John Clayton American Adventure was produced and recorded by the communications center of the University of North Carolina. Earlier when director. From time to time on these weekly NBC broadcasts American Adventure We'll bring you stories about the birth and growth of this country. Man's greatest adventure in time and space. Some of these stories will be about our American heroes such as Cyrus field Thomas Wolfe and next Thursday's program is about George Washington Carver. But tonight there is a story about the federal lion. It is a true story but none the more believable because of that. The federal land was a Gift of The Emperor of Morocco to President Andrew Jackson. And nobody knew what to do with him not even the consummate Tangiers into whose keeping he first fell. It was no simple matter to inform the Department of State that the president of the United States now own a lion.
Here we have a piece of paper. We are out of paper so I dispatched a young man to buy some more in the market for American paper. You have used all the American paper writing this message I believe to be exact This is the 87 message you have written to the secretary of state. Yes but you see this printed form yes or an order from the present himself to accept no gifts yes or no have the right Washington say I have except to get on the president's behalf. Yes sir. When I was notified about this last message I rode back over the and read it to him and yes. Over here dear Mr. Secretary no wait a minute let me sit down and being back is if I am secretary Ben-Gurion now you are going through the morning. Yes. Let me get a move. I just thought of the France situation yes. And to the English merchant marine problems you say this is a letter from the Council of Ten. Yes Mr. Secretary read it read. Yes sir it is addressed to the secretary of state and I have the honor to
tell you that the highest is within the power of the Emperor of Morocco has been bestowed upon the president of the United States. I had no alternative but. But which is a giant lion named memo. Yes Mr. Van Gogh on the line is something of a problem here at the consulate as you can imagine. It's costing money to feed and care for the animals and I'm told he's a beautiful lion you will understand I'm sure if I give my personal opinion that his beauty hardly offsets other features which are not so attractive. Let me see that. Yes Mr. Bender. But using that would be all for this time thank you later. There are some other letters there and reports from abroad later. Later shall I answer the consulate. Yes we must get to that. Right now I'd better do some thinking about this
lion. Do you consider it a serious problem. I find it rather amusing. So would I if I felt President Jackson would. Yes Mr. President exactly the very same set and I've got no time for jokes and neither have Mr. Jackson. This is no joke. He is a large male lion and he's now owned by you. He's a gift to you Mr. President. Well I don't know what sort of game you're playing mister but I'm not under any obligation to accept this line. And I do not except I see your attitude will of course endanger our relationship with the Emperor of Morocco.
If this is his idea of a president. But you realize that we have for some weeks been interested in a trade agreement with the Emperor. I hope that our Western aversion to lions will not come between yours and the undying friendship especially at this time. Your attitude could go a long way toward being disastrous Mr. President where your attitude isn't exactly clear Mr. Secretary you act as if when I took the oath of office I committed myself to accept whatever animal anybody in the world wanted to know. Not quite. You act as if I should receive this favor exactly Mr. President. At the moment as if I should have been more here in the president's house I would you rather have me send it to the Hermitage in Tennessee. I hope that we can keep our tempers on this Mr. President if we can establish a precedent with this. Maybe we can put him in one of the partners in the White House. So make it known to every emperor and bay and whatnot that we would honor any gift of monkeys or elephants or tigers which they may get to
make. Perhaps this can be the start of a great national menagerie. I believe that idea across the mind of our council and at the close of his letter he mentions reconsider and so can you Mr. Van Buren. Mr. President may I suggest that any case of difficult decision where precedent is not clearly established that this matter be referred to the Congress Congress. Yes Mr. President take care that Mr. van Buren to Congress. But Congress was not to become entangled in this matter. They buried the problem quite deep in a convenient committee and it was still there when they adjourned. Meanwhile the consulate
Tangiers awaited expectantly for spring. He and his household and as soon as practical federal line was put aboard the United States brig William Tell which some weeks later put in it New York the lion and two black Arabian horses which the emperor also sent along were transported noisily to Washington. Gentlemen I don't think we ought to take any more of this cabinet meeting to talk about. I'm afraid the Emperor will be peeved Mr. President if his embassy here reports that the animal is being left in storage. Where can we put it to be able to get rid of it by attaching them to a post office appointment. You can't give it to anybody Mr. President. What do you mean. First it doesn't belong to you. You can't accept gifts without permission of Congress or so the constitution clearly says no members of Congress didn't jump at the chance to give me an African lion until they do it isn't yours. I haven't the slightest idea. Perhaps the attorney general has an idea as to that gentleman.
It is my opinion that moon Bashaw is a lion without a country. Actually I believe a case similar to this came up in Jefferson's administration Jefferson horses Arabian horse. They enclosed two of those for you Mr. President with the shipment of the lot. What did Jefferson do. As I remember he sold the animals and put the money in the Treasury with Congress. As I remember. Yes constitutional. What's a horse or a lion. Nothing significant in politics you know that Mr. President. When the framers of our great Constitution put in this clause that you couldn't accept gifts without the consent of Congress. They had no idea at the slightest that a president would ever be faced with a law of course. Now obviously the proper action is to dispose of these animals by the simplest and quietest way possible and deposit the money to the people.
Cotton found I thought you just told me I don't know you don't legally sell them without owning them so far as the improv Morocco who is probably the owner at this moment. So far as he is concerned you and how is Congress. Not even George Washington was ever sure of that Mr. President I won't touch it. I don't want to discuss it any more. If we don't own that don't own him and don't want him but the Emperor of Morocco had better keep quiet Mr. van Buren a pack he wants. We want him to sign it Mr. President. Send this problem to Congress Van Buren. Tell Congress this line is a present to the American people from the Emperor of Morocco and prompt action is necessary lest we hurt either of their royal feelings. Gentlemen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture there's been a great deal of public comment about this
lie and Bush on a couple of horses. This is not or so it seems to me one of our more important matters so let's move right along. The House has passed a resolution authorizing the president to sell the lion and horses and put the money in the treasury Mr. the senator from New Jersey. Let the chairman I have a motion which I will make before this meeting is adjourned to the effect that the lion should be presented to the proprietors of Peale's Museum in New York City and the two horses should be given to some New York agricultural society. CHAIRMAN The gentleman from Louisiana Mr. Chairman these animals are public property and as such belongs to all of people certainly shouldn't be given to New York the richest state in the union. I agree with the general. I was that's under more I said Alabama. Mr. Chairman New Jersey is perfectly willing to give the lion to Alabama or to Louisiana. Mr. Chairman under no circumstances will Alabama accept that line then why do you object to giving it to New York. We will take those two horses
Arabian horses in Alabama. So with me in New Jersey I wouldn't object to giving the line to New Jersey senator waterholes to Louisiana and Alabama. Perhaps we can swing that Senator. All right Senator Poindexter of Mississippi. Mr. Chairman let's not argue over a line. I feel it in the light of the recent refusal of a European government to pay the debt which they justly rightfully and obviously owe us that we give this lion as a gift to Louis Philippe of France. Yeah yeah yeah. Is that the form of a motion. Let's give it to a woman. We haven't had a fight with England in quite a while. Sergeant would you close that door please. Now gentlemen I think this is very funny. And of course I'm not trying to be an old fogy about this an object of humor but we are senators and this is the Senate Committee on Agriculture and we do have to give away or sell these animals Mr. Chairman Senator from Maine. I wonder I say I wonder nobody made it through.
I wonder if the power of Congress under the welfare clause of the Constitution extends the gratuitous gifts of public property of the United States. Surely Senator you know that question has been before the Senate and the American people for 15 years the age of the question is not what bothers me Mr. Chairman. I'm wondering if the animals do not have to be so since they are certainly public property but Senator where in the Constitution do we find authority to give away public property. Does anybody object to going along with the House resolution and have the president say all these animals what are you going to do with the money Mr. Chairman put it in the treasury. You know that that's constitutional to take public property and sell it to replenish the Treasury. Well that may be your opinion Senator but I know nothing in the Constitution would indicate that you can rob the public domain for temporary tax relief. If we need higher taxes then let's vote on them. Here again gentlemen we're digging up old arguments concerning government policy on
public lands. This is a line we might set a precedent here. I don't see that it matters much what sort of precedent we set as to getting rid of African lion what you can do with a lion. Mr. Chairman you can do with public land. I don't know what the gentleman's experience may be with public land but he's certainly no authority on lions. Well it's my opinion that we can't sell this animal no matter what we do with the money. Why not. Well on principle of common law in order to legally dispose of property one must first be able to hold it. And I don't see any want to here who could possibly hold this lion. Mr. Chairman Mr. Clay how many motions are before this committee. I think only one Mr. Clay. Well let me suggest rather than move this compromise that we sell the horses and give away the lion. That's the answer. Mr. Wright let's move to a vote. First I
think I voiced an opinion about giving federal property to any of the rich states if you know what they perhaps compromise. Let's not worry about who wants to live. Let's dismiss all this right now by putting it down that President Jackson is to dispose of the lion as he thinks best. I don't think best. Why couldn't Congress dispose of this. There were some political considerations Mr. President of course. But suppose the directive I'm not subject to the whims of Congress ever gives this country a creature. Yes Mina wrote the Constitution had no intention of empowering Congress to
the executive branch so that I could not administer the government yes Mr. President. I mean no I don't. I don't know how I notify the secretary of agriculture. No you should not nor anybody in the executive branch. It's up to the congressional committees to feed him it seems to me. Yes I believe. Brown You know it's a problem to Congress and Congress back to me. I wouldn't end up the Supreme Court. You wanted to talk to me about federal law and Mr. Yes
Mr. President I may have misunderstood him but I think he said you wanted him to lie. Yes. Now go on with your story if you will I would be happy to listen to you. Well Mr. President I represent the city off. And I was wondering if a lion wouldn't be just the thing for the children. Well this would make us the only alternate in the world so far as I know that owns a lion. I wouldn't he would be an excellent diversion for the children. He's something we could share with the Catholic off image here too. He might serve to bring us closer together. There are a few enough ties between the Protestants and the Catholics don't you think. I never make comments on questions like that. Oh I'm a politician. In fact the minute you said Protestant and Catholic I began to think with a Catholic orphanage feel slighted if I were to give this line to you and why I don't know whether they want to lie on or not.
I tell you what I could do I could give this line to the to orphanages and then it could serve as a real tie between goodness. I'm not sure so at least as much of a time as any line can be. Yes I suppose and I would be clear clear to press that we could do more with this gift and we're planning to. Mrs. Bamford in a political way I mean how about a parade. So yes I can see a parade very clearly and all of us we can get him in Navan to furnish the music. We can call out a regiment of troops. Put that line in his cage own away and put the kids from the too often into wagons and more perhaps on hate like in a hay ride. Mr. Jackson what do you say. Love parades and I could put a big sign on the side of that lion's cage moon Basho give to Van Drew Jackson to Washington City orphanage Protestant and St. Vincent often Catholic. Then we could roll that kid right past the Capitol as the
senators come out the bands play and you know. But Mr. President could anyone see the line through the sun. Well I'm not trying to show the line I'm trying to show the sign. Why Mr. President. Politics I suppose get it Mr. Bamford I'm just being a politician I guess I would sit back down here and become president again but I do love politics. Don't you think Mr. President that politics makes a sort of comical way. Yes I suppose it does permit us to take our government seriously does it. Well I tell you ma'am it tends to keep us from doing that but I'm not sure we ought to go around with the way the government seen and after all this is a cumbersome system we've got here and there in a democracy. All the
checks and checks and balances in passing around the problem. Yes but we're going to look stupid looking as if we needed a more simple system or not it's a cumbersome. Well there's a little something to that. Suppose Mr. President might seem like we need a smooth operator an absolute monarchy which we don't want to over here. Then I found that sometimes we laugh at what we're the fondest of I've I've heard people laugh at our political confusion and murder. But it it was an affectionate sort. This is ours and we love it. We'll be happy to give you that. Thank you Mr. President. Perhaps the United States government can get back to normal. Just addressed to me.
We are pleased to notify you that the lion you accepted on the Presidents behalf some time ago has been disposed of in the most practical way possible. You want to be complimented on your initiative as displayed in this particular matter but you are again reminded of the State Department rule to avoid accepting any gifts no matter how delicate the situation. Van Buren secretary of state. Yes. Make a copy of this and file one under citation and the other under reprimand. One might think that this is the end of the story of the federal lion but not quite so because President Jackson gave some more thought to the orphanage proposal alive and using kids like that. One of when I'm just too close to him What if he bites one up. Kids can play with lines he's not a not a kid he can't you know be terrible for the little kid be bad publicity too. No I think I think the thing to do is to
sell him and then let the orphanages take the money and buy a pony or something you can afford to fool around with. He could ride around on ponies All right. You just ought to have some ponies around the place. Don't you think Tony's would be better than a lot so President Jackson ordered the lion to be sold at auction and then Bashar was bought by the Boston menagerie company for the surprisingly high price of three thousand three hundred fifty dollars. But then one would expect a federal land to have a high price with me. But even this is not the end of the story a lot. I bought that lion see him out there in the car. You bought a lion not just a lion how many I bought that last look at him. Look at that head on I own him how we own him. Why John I'm going to put him on display here at the end in this cage right out there. You see people are already
gathering while you watch and see a percentage of those people will be in here directly to talk about that one to another and to me. See the talk now and want to say why don't we continue our conversation over a mug of ale. Get out the mugs. But yeah I'll have to put an ad in the papers or perhaps you can advertise it has a line Robin say and have a drink and the Federal Land became in a sense an assistant bartender and out of there lived a happy life in a world of beer wine laughter and song and that's the end of the story. American Adventure is written by Johnny Lee directed by John Clayton produced by the communications center of the University of North Carolina American Adventure is a
study of mad men in the New World. His values and his characteristics who he is what he believes. The series is made possible by the National Association of educational broadcasters and the fund for adult education and independent agency established by the Ford Foundation in the federal law and Johnny Lee was Jackson Fred Young was secretary Van Buren. Charles Headley was the consul of Tangiers and Dorothy O'Sullivan was Mrs. Bunker. The entire cast was composed of students faculty members and townspeople of the University of North Carolina community. American Adventure was produced and recorded on the campus at Chapel Hill. Next Thursday night NBC invites you to hear a story about George Washington Carver the American adventurer.
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American adventure
Federal lion
Producing Organization
University of North Carolina
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A dramatization of a situation where President Andrew Jackson was given a lion as a gift by the Emperor of Morocco.
Series Description
This series studies the values and characteristics of notable figures from America's early years. It is written by John M. Ehle and directed by John S. Clayton.
Media type
Actor: Young, Fred
Actor: Ehle, Gail
Director: Clayton, John S.
Producing Organization: University of North Carolina
Writer: Ehle, John, 1925-
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 5022 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “American adventure; Federal lion,” 1956-06-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “American adventure; Federal lion.” 1956-06-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: American adventure; Federal lion. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from