Today in History – December 31st

335: Death of St. Sylvester I, Pope

406: Vandals, Alans and Sueves invade Roman Gaul

1775: The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

1775: George Washington orders recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the army.

1862: President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.

1862: The USS Monitor sinks off Cape Hatteras, NC., losing sixteen.

1877: President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first U.S. President to celebrate his 25th silver wedding anniversary in the White House. The President and his wife reenacted their marriage ceremony

1879: Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1889: George Catlett Marshall, Chief of Staff who led the U.S. Army to victory in World War II and later became Secretary of State for President Harry Truman born. Won Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan.

1890: Ellis Island (NYC) opens as a US immigration depot

1897: Brooklyn, New York, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.

1946: President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War Two.

1955: General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year. The company’s annual report to stockholders listed a net income of $1,189,477,082 in revenues

1961: The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

1962: Governor Edmund G. Brown, of California, announced that his state was now the most populous of the 50 United States. New York’s governor, Nelson Rockefeller, disagreed and refused to concede.

1965: California becomes the largest state in population

1974: Private US citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years

1983: The court-ordered breakup of the American Telephone and Telegraph company took effect at midnight.

1986: The State of Florida passed Illinois to become the fifth most populous state in the country. In the lead California, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

1987: Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s first executive president.

1987: One second is added to the year to compensate for precession of earth’s axis.

1988: President Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev exchanged New Year’s messages in which both leaders expressed optimism about future superpower relations.

1998: Europe’s leaders proclaimed a new era as eleven nations merged currencies to create the euro, a shared money they said would boost business, underpin unity and strengthen their role in world affairs.

1999: Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation.

1999: The United States prepared to hand over the Panama Canal to Panama at the stroke of midnight.

Today in History – December 30th

39: Titus 10th Roman Emperor, conqueror of Jerusalem born

274: Death of St. Felix, Pope

1803: The United States takes possession of the Louisiana area at New Orleans with a simple ceremony, the simultaneous lowering and raising of the national flags.

1853: The United States bought 45,000 square miles of land along the Gila River from Mexico for $10 million. The deal is known ao the Gadsden Purchase. The area is now southern Arizona and New Mexico.

1862: The draft of the Emancipation Proclamation is finished and circulated around Lincoln’s cabinet for comment.

1911: Sun Yat-sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China.

1932: The USSR bars food handouts for housewives under 36 years of age. They must now work to eat.

1935: Sandy Koufax Dodger pitcher (Cy Young ’63, ’65, ’66) born

1947: King Michael of Romania agreed to abdicate, but charged he was being forced off the throne by Communists.

1972: After two weeks of heavy bombing raids on North Vietnam, President Nixon halts the air offensive and agrees to resume peace negotiations with Hanoi representative Le Duc Tho.

1990: Iraq’s information minister (Latif Nussayif Jassim) said President Bush “must have been drunk” when he suggested Iraq might withdraw from Kuwait, and added “We will show the world America is a paper tiger.”

1993: Israel and the Vatican agreed to recognize one another.

Book Review: 1812: The War That Forged a Nation

I read 1812: The War That Forged a Nation a while ago and never got around to posting a review.

I got interested in this book when I viewed the History Channel documentary “First Invasion” on the War of 1812 that I presume was based on this book since they had similar theses. I really enjoyed that program and it spurred my interest in making a trip to Fort McHenry, which I did back in August. (Definitely worth the trip, by the way.)

While I found the documentary interesting, I wasn’t as impressed by the book. I didn’t think it defended it’s main thesis all that well. It argued that the War of 1812 was the war that made Americans stop thinking of themselves as citizens of their state and start thinking of themselves as Americans. Given that it’s the Civil War that’s traditionally given credit for that destruction of state loyalties, this point should have been made more convincingly. As a counter-example to the book’s argument, Robert E Lee fought for the Confederacy because he thought of himself as a Virginian, even though he served in the United States Army prior to the Civil War and opposed slavery. The thesis of the book is largely dealt with only in the early chapters and then in the conclusion, and not at all convincingly.

Furthermore, I found the descriptions of some of the battles too detailed. I really didn’t find it interesting to know how ships tacked during the naval battles. That was just too much detail. The book was about 300 pages and might have been better served being shorter.

One thing the author did cover well was the divisiveness and anger that the war engendered among the American people and the politicians of the day. It almost makes today’s loony left look calm and reasoned. Let’s hope we come together as well as our forefathers did almost 200 years ago following the divisive war of their time.

I’ve passed this book on to Ryan, so it will be interesting to see his review of it when he gets a chance to read it.

Today in History – December 29th

1170: Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in England.

1607: Powhatan, the Indian Chief, spares John Smith’s life after the pleas of his daughter Pocahontas. born

1778: British troops, attempting a new strategy to defeat the colonials in America, capture Savannah, the capital of Georgia. In some of the bloodiest fighting of the Revolutionary War, American and French troops failed to take Savannah.

1808: Andrew Johnson, 17th president of the United States born

1809: British statesman William Gladstone born

1813: The British burned Buffalo, New York, during the War of 1812.

1845: Texas (comprised of the present State of Texas and part of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming) admitted as the 28th state, with the provision that the area (389, 166 square miles) should be divided into no more than five states “of convenient size.”

1848: Gas lights were installed at the White House for the first time. (some sources 1849)

1851: The first American Young Men’s Christian Association was organized, in Boston.

1890: The last major conflict of the Indian wars takes place at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota after Colonel James W. Forsyth of the 7th Cavalry tries to disarm Chief Big Foot and his followers. Some 300 Sioux Indians were killed by US troops sent to disarm them.

1934: Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

1940: In a radio interview, President Roosevelt proclaims the U.S. is the arsenal of democracy.

1940: During World War Two, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.

1948: Tito declares Yugoslavia will follow its own Communist line.

1956: President Eisenhower asks Congress for the authority to oppose Soviet aggression in the Mideast.

1981: President Reagan curtails Soviet trade in reprisal for Polish policy.

1983: The United States announced its withdrawal from UNESCO.

1992: The United States and Russia announced agreement on a nuclear arms reduction treaty.

1998: Two top Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the deaths of as many as two million people during their regime in the 1970s, and asked Cambodians to forget the past.

Today in History – December 28th

418: Election of Boniface I as Pope

856: The Vikings burn Paris

1594: 1st known Shakespearean production, “Comedy of Errors” at Gray’s Inn

1622: Death of St. Francis de Sales

1688: William of Orange makes a triumphant march into London as James II flees.

1832: John Calhoun, at odds with President Andrew Jackson, became the first U.S. vice president to resign.

1846: Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union.

1856: Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States born

1882: Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, English astronomer who confirmed Eisteins theory of relativity. born

1922: Writer for Marvel Comics Stan Lee born

1945: Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States.

1948: Premier Nokrashy Pasha of Egypt is assassinated by a member of the outlawed Moslem Brotherhood because of his failure to achieve victory in the war against Israel.

1950: Advancing Chinese troops crossed the 38th Parallel, dividing line between North and South Korea, to help the communist North Koreans fight American-led United Nations forces.

1971: U.S. Justice Department sues Mississippi officials for ignoring the ballots of blacks.

1973: Alexander Solzhenitsyn published “Gulag Archipelago,” an expose of the Soviet prison system.

1989: Alexander Dubcek, the former Czechoslovak Communist leader who was deposed in a Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, was named chairman of the country’s parliament.

Anticommunism’s Triple Threat

OpinionJournal – Leisure & Arts

I just picked up this book (The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister) up and hope to start it as soon as tonight. (I have a few books I’d like to read so it comes down to which one strikes my fancy at reading time.) As I’ve thought more about it, it’s hard to say which of three were most important. As this review seems to indicate, the book argues that each of them was essential to the ultimate defeat of Communism.

I’ll let you know how it is once I’ve finished it.

Today in History – December 27th

388: Death of St. Fabiola

537: Justinian dedicates Hagia Sophia

1512: The laws of Burgos give New World natives legal protection against abuse and authorize Negro slavery

1558: Queen Elizabeth of England issues a Proclaimation forbidding any other kind of worship other that that used at the close of the reign of Henry VIII

1571: Johannes Kepler, discovered planets travel in eliptical orbits. born

1822: Scientist Louis Pasteur in Dole, France. He developed the pasteurization process and rabies vaccination. born
1831: Naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific aboard the HMS “Beagle.” (Darwin’s discoveries during the voyage helped formed the basis of his theories on evolution.)

1845: Dr. Crawford Williamson Long used anesthesia for childbirth for the first time, when he delivered his own child in Jefferson, Georgia.

1941: Japanese war planes bombed Manila in the Philippines, even though it had been declared an “open city.”

1945: 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank.

1945: Foreign ministers of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union agree on a plan to take over Korea for five years.

1947: The children’s television program “Howdy Doody,” hosted by Bob Smith, made its debut on NBC. It showed under the title “Puppet Playhouse.” It was aired for 13 years.

1956: Segregation on Tallahassee, Florida buses is outlawed.

1971: Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Woodstock of Charles Schulz’ famous “Peanuts” comic strip made the cover of “Newsweek” magazine.

1979: Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.

1983: President Reagan takes all responsibility for the lack of security in Beirut that allowed a terrorist on a suicide mission to kill 241 Marines.

1984: Four Polish officers are tried for the slaying of Reverend Jerzy Popieluszko.

1984: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was the woman most admired by the American people, according to a Gallup Poll. It marked the third consecutive year that the `Iron Lady’ received that honor.

1985: Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of twenty people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel. [But terrorism’s all about Iraq!]

1989: Romanias National Salvation Front names a new government headed by President Ion Iliescu, a day after announcing the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu.

1994: Four Roman Catholic priests – three French and a Belgian – were shot to death in their rectory in Algiers, a day after French commandos killed four radicals who had hijacked an Air France jet from Algiers to Marseille. [But terrorism’s all about Iraq!]

2001: U.S. officials announced that Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners would be held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

2001: President Bush extended permanent normal trade status to China.