The Arrest of Helen Keller

By 1953, Helen Keller had attained nationwide fame as a celebrated author and the first deafblind person to graduate from college. Her celebrity earned her a visit to the White House to speak with President Eisenhower, during which she was arrested.

At the outset of her meeting with the President, Helen began a technique of communication she had learned at an early age: She touched the President’s lips and throat in order to communicate with him. However, the Secret Service agents assigned to President Eisenhower had not been notified of Keller’s communication technique; the agents rushed Helen and threw her to the ground. Before the President could stop the arrest, an agent rattled off the Miranda Rights which stated that Keller had the right to remain silent.

keller-assault

Because of federal laws, Keller was taken to a holding cell after her arrest despite the pleas of Eisenhower and Keller’s companions. She spent the night and was allowed to leave the following afternoon after the charges of assault and battery were dropped.

In a letter to the White House staff, Keller forgave them for failing to alert the proper personnel of who she was and how she communicated. In the letter she displayed her wry sense of humor by saying, “…I will also forgive the agents who, for the lack of a better term, blind-sided me.”

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19 Responses to “The Arrest of Helen Keller”


  1. 1 Nathan November 6, 2008 at 12:44 am

    This is the pinnacle of everything you’ve done. Everything after this one HAS to be downhill. Yeah, it’s that good.

  2. 2 Mari November 6, 2008 at 1:12 am

    This is hilarious. I especially like the spirit of Helen Keller that the picture helps communicate. However, I have to disagree with Nathan in that while this was great, I really, really enjoyed the expose you did on the Bob Jones Underground Art Gallery. I appreciate the journalistic courage you showed by uncovering for the public one of the many hidden mysteries surrounding Bob Jones University.

    Keep up the ironic wit and fantastic stories.
    Mari Ramler

  3. 3 The History Bluff November 6, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Nathan, thank you for the kind comment. We do feel though that you are misled in your expectations of us. In our stories we do not try to top previous articles published by our writers. However, we do agree with you in that this historical event is much more fantastic than say the Derbyshire Massacre of 1867 – a quite tragic event that no one enjoys reading about.

    Mari, we enjoyed digging up that little nugget about Bob Jones University as they are quite an intriguing topic. However, we must deflect your praise away from us. History itself is the one that has such an ironic wit and created such fantastic stories.

  4. 4 hEllllen k November 6, 2008 at 9:01 am

    fja wekcfjal dfasdk!!!!

  5. 5 Matt November 6, 2008 at 10:06 am

    This is the best post by far. Doesn’t get any better.

  6. 6 Allison November 6, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Since the Miranda rights were not enacted until June 13, 1966, Helen Keller could not have been read the Miranda Rights as stated in this blog. What else is not true?????

  7. 7 The History Bluff November 6, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Looks like we got a comment from Helen Keller. Thank you for that insight, Helen.

    Matt, we appreciate your support.

    Allison, you’re partly correct in your comment. However, the Miranda rights were practiced even as early as the 1940’s. They were not mandated until 1966. Wikipedia doesn’t always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

  8. 8 Emily November 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    This is a very interesting story. I had never heard it before but it shows how being ignorant can get you in trouble. Since the Secret Service was not informed about Helen Keller, she could have pressed charges for unlawfully detaining her.

  9. 9 Jon November 6, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Poor, poor Helen. And poor, poor Allison for not knowing her facts. I loved this piece. I will now read it again.

  10. 10 Ryan November 6, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Excellent work. I had a nice chuckle in my office at work, for which I was promptly reprimanded for “wasting company time.”

    Thanks a lot History Bluff!

  11. 11 The History Bluff November 6, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Jon. We really should not feel bad for Helen. Despite this one mishap, she was a successful author and role model.

    We apologize to Ryan for the decrease in productivity at his office. Take comfort though that you are now enlightened even more about history – your co-workers, however, are not and are to be pitied.

  12. 12 Wally Lamark November 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    The Secret Service needs to learn how to research the individuals and/or groups the President visits! Surely they can do that “secretly” and securely?

    I demand a full-scale investigation of the Secret Service for this oversight! They would have had to be blind to miss such an important individual in the President’s itinerary.

  13. 13 The History Bluff November 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Wally, Wally, Wally, we caught your play on words in the last sentence. Don’t think you slipped that one by us.

  14. 14 Lisa Summers November 7, 2008 at 10:02 am

    You really are a HOOT! My mom, aged 75, laughed so hard at the ones she read last night. She actually wheezed whilst laughing about Helen Keller. . .

  15. 15 The History Bluff November 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any health issues brought about by the contents of the stories, pictures, or opinions found on The History Bluff. If you experience shortness of breath, stomach pains, or other serious conditions while viewing the content of this internet resource please call your physician.

  16. 16 Jim November 8, 2008 at 9:31 am

    This truly was an amazingly ironic piece of history, and I did wheeze a bit as I laughed. However the article “Superman and the Running of the Bulls” had me temporarily blinded by tears and dumb with uncontrollable laughter. Even days later, minding my own business, I would find myself spontaneously bursting into laughter at the remembrance of “superhombre”.

  17. 17 The History Bluff November 8, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Jim, thank you for your kind words, and we too agree that it is an ironic piece of history. History is rather amusing isn’t it?

  18. 18 rb1 July 20, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    hellen keller sucks

  19. 19 music promo kit April 22, 2013 at 1:19 am

    It’s amazing to pay a quick visit this web page and reading the views of all friends on the topic of this piece of writing, while I am also eager of getting experience.


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