This Day in American History

This Day in American History

1744 – Gerry Elbridge, Fifth Vice President of the US (1813—14), born at Marblehead, MA. He was a well-known “gadfly” and signer of the Declaration of Independence. His name became part of the language (gerrymander) after he signed a redistricting bill favoring his party while Governor of Massachusetts in 1812. 000139

1763 – Birthday of John Jacob Astor, Germany, fur trader who become a banker, at one time, the richest man in US. One of the victims with his wife, Mary, aboard “Titanic”.

1794 – African Church of St Thomas in Philadelphia is dedicated

1794 – Richard Allen organizes Philadelphia’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

1821 – Spain ceded Florida to the United States.
1821 – Andrew Jackson became the Governor of Florida.
1854 – King’s College opened in New York City. It later changed its name
to Columbia University (lower half of:

1861 – Congress authorizes paper money. The notes were $5 (Hamilton), $10 (Lincoln), and $20 (Liberty). They were called “demand notes” because they were payable on demand at certain designated subtreasuries. They were not legal tender when first issued but were made so by the act of March 17, 1862.
1862 – Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts introduced and Congress passed the military act to authorize military service by African-Americans. President Abraham Lincoln signed it. The act empowered the president to accept “persons of African descent for the purpose of constructing entrenchments or performing camp competent”. There was debate on blacks serving in the military, primarily from states that had seceded from the Union. There was a contingency of African-Americans who originally were going to fight on the side of the Confederates, primarily thought to protect their homes, property, and family. The government of the Confederate States refused to accept blacks into the Confederate army, whether “free man” or “slaves”, plus issued a declaration of forfeiture to those who joined the Union army.

1863 – Harriet Tubman led Union Army guerillas into Maryland ,
freeing more than 700 slaves
1863 – Battle of Honey Springs, largest battle of the war in Indian Territory
1864 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaces General Joseph Johnston with John Bell Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee. Davis, impatient with Johnston’s defensive strategy in the Atlanta campaign, felt that Hood stood a better chance of saving Atlanta from the forces of Union General William T. Sherman. For nearly three months, Johnston and Sherman had maneuvered around the rugged corridor from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Although there was constant skirmishing, there were few major battles; Sherman kept trying to outflank Johnston, but his advances were blocked. Though this kept losses to a minimum, there was also a limit to how long Johnston could maintain this strategy as each move brought the armies closer to Atlanta. By July 17, 1864, Johnston was backed into the outskirts of Atlanta. Johnston felt his strategy was the only way to preserve the Army of Tennessee, but Davis felt that he had given up too much territory. In a telegram informing Johnston of his decision, Davis wrote, “you failed to arrest the advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, far in the interior of Georgia, and express no confidence that you can defeat or repel him, you are hereby relieved from command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you will immediately turn over to General Hood.” Davis selected Hood for his reputation as a fighting general, in contrast to Johnston’s cautious nature. Hood did what Davis wanted and quickly attacked Sherman at Peachtree Creek on July 20 but with disastrous results. Hood attacked two more times, losing both and destroying his army’s offensive capabilities. The next day the city was occupied by Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
1867 – Harvard School of Dental Medicine was established in Boston, MA. It was the first dental school in America.
1867 – Linda Anne Eastman birthday- U.S. librarian. LE developed the children’s rooms at the Cleveland Public Library, developed library extensions in hospitals, and developed a Braille collection. In 1918, she became the first woman to head a metropolitan library system that, under her tutelage, became one of the largest and most complete library systems in the United States. Its collection grew from 57,000 volumes to more than 2,000,000.
1870 – A drunken brawl turns deadly when “Wild Bill” Hickok shoots two soldiers in self-defense, mortally wounding one of them. William Hickok had earned his reputation as a gunslinger a decade earlier after shooting three men in a gunfight in Nebraska. He parlayed his standing as a sure-shooting gunman into a haphazard career in law enforcement. In 1869, he was elected interim sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. Hays City, the county seat, was a rough-and-tumble frontier town, and the citizens hoped Hickok could bring order to the chaos. Unfortunately, after Hickok had killed two men in the line of duty after just five weeks, they concluded that he was too wild for their tastes and they elected his deputy to replace him in November. Unemployed, Hickok passed his time gambling, drinking, and occasionally working as a hunting guide. He quickly became bored and was considering taking work at the nearby Fort Hays as an army scout. On this day in 1870, Hickok had been drinking hard at Drum’s Saloon in Hays City. Five soldiers from the 7th Cavalry stationed at Fort Hays were also at the bar. They were drunk and began to exchange words with the notoriously prickly “Wild Bill.” A brawl broke out, and the soldiers threw Hickok to the floor. One trooper tried to shoot Hickok, but the gun misfired. Hickok quickly pulled his own pistols and opened fire. He wounded one private in the knee and wrist, and another in the torso. The three remaining soldiers backed off, and Hickok exited the saloon and immediately left town. A clear case of self-defense, Hickok was cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, one of the soldiers, Private John Kile, later died of his wound and Hickok’s chances of becoming an army scout evaporated. He spent the next six years working in law enforcement, gambling, and appearing in Wild West shows. He was murdered in a Deadwood, South Dakota, saloon in 1876.
1877 – Riots and violence erupted in several major American cities stemming from strikes against railroads in protest of wage cuts. Strikes started against the Baltimore & Ohio, and quickly spread west, with riots erupting in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis. Nine were killed when Federal troops were sent into Martinsburg, West Virginia. On July 21, 26 were killed and the Union Depot and machine shops were burned down.
1889 – Erle Stanley Gardner (yes, Erle) American author of detective fiction, born at Maiden, MA. Best remembered for his series about lawyer-detective Perry Mason, Gardner also wrote novels under the pen name A.A. Fair.
1891 – Anna Moscowitz Koss birthday – social-minded U.S. judge who devoted much of her private life to working for improving the services for women, juveniles, and children
1897 – The Steamer Portland arrived into Seattle from Alaska with 68 prospectors carrying more than a ton of gold. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer announced that men with gold from Alaska were landing. This unleashed the Klondike gold rush and tens of thousands headed for the Yukon. The Klondike gold rush gave America and Canada a psychological boost in getting the economy moving again after the terrible depression that followed the 1893 crash.
1898 – Birthday of Berenice (sic.) Abbott, at Springfield, OH. She went on to become a pioneer of American photography. She is best remembered for her black and white photography of New York City in the 1930’s, many of which appeared in the book “Changing New York”. After publishing this collection, she began photographing scientific experiments that illustrated the laws and processes of physics. She died at Monson, ME on December 11, 1991. Her work was once described by an art critic as “…a chess game between light and shadow.” Her portraits are among the most outstanding ever done, although she is best known for her studies of New York City.
1899 – Birthday of American dancer and actor Jimmy Cagney.
1912 – Birthday of American TV host Art Linkletter.
1920 – Sinclair Lewis finished the now-famous novel, “Main Street”.
1921 – Birthday of guitarist Mary Osborne, Minot, ND
1925 – Birthday of singer Jimmy Little Scott, Cleveland, OH
1926 – Birthday of trumpet player Ray Copeland, Norfolk, VA.
1928 – Birthday of drummer Joe Morello, Springfield, MA.
1933 – Birthday of drummer Ben Riley, Savannah, GA.
1933 – Dr. Albert Ernest Forsythe of Atlantic City , NJ , became the first African-Americans to make a transcontinental flight ( made by African-American Charles Alfred Anderson of Bryn Mawr , PA. ) He left Atlantic City on July 17 at 2:49am and arrived at Los Angeles, CA, on July 19 at 5:30pm.
1934 – One of the worst heat waves in the history of the nation commenced. During the last two weeks of the month extreme heat claimed 679 lives in Michigan, including 300 in Detroit alone.
1934 – Birthday of trumpet player Bobby Bradford, Cleveland, MS.
1935 – Birthday of actress Diahann Carroll.
1935 – Birthday of actor Donald Sutherland.
1936 – General Francisco Franco led an uprising of army troops based in North Africa against the elected government of the Spanish Republic. Spain was quickly divided into a Nationalist and a Republican zone. Franco’s Nationalists drew support from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Many saw this as a war to follow in Europe later. The USA had their foreign policy as “Me First.” Ernest Hemingway is best known as a correspondent covering this war and for his short stories and novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” On Apr 1, 1939, the Nationalists won a complete victory when they entered Madrid. Franco ruled as dictator in Spain until his death in 1975.
1938 – Douglas Grace Corrigan, an unemployed airplane mechanic, left Brooklyn, NY’s Floyd Bennett field, ostensibly headed for Los Angeles, CA, in a 1929 Curtis Robin monoplane. He landed 28 hours, 13 minutes later at Dublin, Ireland’s Baldonnel airport, after a 3,150 mill nonstop flight without radio or special navigation equipment and in violation of American and Irish flight regulations. Born at Galveston, Texas, January 22, 1907. Corrigan received a hero’s welcome home; he was nicknamed “Wrong Way” Corrigan because he claimed he accidentally followed the wrong end of his compass needle. Died at New York, NY December 9, 1995.
1939 – Charlie Barnet Band records “Cherokee” (Bluebird 10373)
1941 – A prolonged heat wave over Washington State finally came to an end. Lightning from untimely thunderstorms was responsible for 598 forest fires.
1941 – Birthday of Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica Oakland Raider and Buffalo Bill QB (AFL leading passer 1967) .
1943–WAYBUR, DAVID C. Medal of Honor Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 3d Reconnaissance Troop, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Agrigento, Sicily, 17 July 1943. Entered service at: Piedmont, Calif. Birth: Oakland, Calif. G.O. No.: 69, 21 October 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy. Commander of a reconnaissance platoon, 1st Lt. Waybur volunteered to lead a 3-vehicle patrol into enemy-held territory to locate an isolated Ranger unit. Proceeding under cover of darkness, over roads known to be heavily mined, and strongly defended by road blocks and machinegun positions, the patrol’s progress was halted at a bridge which had been destroyed by enemy troops and was suddenly cut off from its supporting vehicles by 4 enemy tanks. Although hopelessly outnumbered and out-gunned, and himself and his men completely exposed, he quickly dispersed his vehicles and ordered his gunners to open fire with their .30 and .50 caliber machineguns. Then, with ammunition exhausted, 3 of his men hit and himself seriously wounded, he seized his .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun and standing in the bright moonlight directly in the line of fire, alone engaged the leading tank at 30 yards and succeeded in killing the crewmembers, causing the tank to run onto the bridge and crash into the stream bed. After dispatching 1 of the men for aid he rallied the rest to cover and withstood the continued fire of the tanks till the arrival of aid the following morning.
1944–Two ammunition ships explode at Port Chicago, California and kill 322, including 202 African-Americans assigned by the Navy to handle explosives. The resulting refusal of 258 African-Americans to return to the dangerous work forms the basis of the trial and conviction of 50 of the men in what is called the Port Chicago Mutiny. The glare of the explosion could be seen in San Francisco, some 35 miles away. It was the worst home-front disaster of World War II. Officially, the world’s first atomic test explosion occurred on 16 July 1945 at Alamogordo, New Mexico; but the Port Chicago blast may well have been the world’s first atomic detonation.
1950 – Top Hits
“Bewitched” – The Gordon Jenkins Orchestra (vocal: Mary Lou Williams)
“My Foolish Heart” – The Gordon Jenkins Orchestra (vocal: Eileen Wilson)
“Mona Lisa” – Nat King Cole
“Mississippi” – Red Foley
1952 – George Shearing Quintet records “Lullaby of Birdland” (MGM 11354)
1952-Birthday of David Hasselhoff, Baltimore, Maryland. Best known
for “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch.”
1953 – The first Navy ace in Korea was Lieutenant Guy Bordelon, who achieved his fifth victory in a World-War-II-vintage propeller-driven F-4U Corsair. He was awarded the Navy Cross
1953 – PENDLETON, CHARLES F. Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Corporal. U.S. Army, Company D, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Choo Gung-Dong, Korea, 16 and 17 July 1953. Entered service at: Fort Worth, Tex. Born: 26 September 1931, Camden, Tenn. Citation: Cpl. Pendleton, a machine gunner with Company D, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and indomitable courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. After consolidating and establishing a defensive perimeter on a key terrain feature, friendly elements were attacked by a large hostile force. Cpl. Pendleton delivered deadly accurate fire into the approaching troops, killing approximately 15 and disorganizing the remainder with grenades. Unable to protect the flanks because of the narrow confines of the trench, he removed the machine gun from the tripod and, exposed to enemy observation, positioned it on his knee to improve his firing vantage. Observing a hostile infantryman jumping into the position, intent on throwing a grenade at his comrades, he whirled about and killed the attacker, then inflicted such heavy casualties on the enemy force that they retreated to regroup. After reorganizing, a second wave of hostile soldiers moved forward in an attempt to overrun the position and, later, when a hostile grenade landed nearby, Cpl. Pendleton quickly retrieved and hurled it back at the foe. Although he was burned by the hot shells ejecting from his weapon, and he was wounded by a grenade, he refused evacuation and continued to fire on the assaulting force. As enemy action increased in tempo, his machine gun was destroyed by a grenade but, undaunted, he grabbed a carbine and continued his heroic defense until mortally wounded by a mortar burst. Cpl. Pendleton’s unflinching courage, gallant self-sacrifice, and consummate devotion to duty reflect lasting glory upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service.
1954 – The First Newport Jazz Festival. The 1956 movie “High Society” made this a worldwide event each year.
1954 – The first major league baseball game in which the majority of the players on one team were African-American was played between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves at Milwaukee, WI. the Braves won 6-to-1. The black players on the Brooklyn team were Donald N. Newcombe, pitcher; Roy Campanella, catcher; James William Gilliam, second base; Jackie Robinson, third base, and Edmundo Isasi Amoros, left field.
1955 – Disneyland, America’s first theme park, opened at Anaheim, CA. I remember visiting it in 1956 and playing Dixieland at the Frontier Saloon, and watching it grow into an international attraction and destination site. Many did not know that Walt Disney had an apartment there and supervised all during the week. He would stay some weekends, and since the saloon originally did not serve anything alcoholic, he would attend some Dixieland sets with his famous paper cup.
1958 – Top Hits
“The Purple People Eater” – Sheb Wooley
“Hard Headed Woman” – Elvis Presley
“Poor Little Fool” – Ricky Nelson
“Guess Things Happen that Way” – Johnny Cash
1960 – Birthday of Scott Norwood, NFL kicker (Buffalo Bills-Super Bowl XXV goat). With seconds remaining on the clock, Norwood’s 47 yard FG try to win the game sailed wide right, giving the NY Giants their second SB win in 1991.
1961 – Motown Records releases The Supremes’ second single, “Buttered Popcorn” with “Who’s Loving You” on the flip side. The record, featuring Florence Ballard on lead vocal, would be a total flop.
1961 – Roger Maris loses a HR (of his 61) due to a rain-out. Ford Frick rules that if anyone breaks Babe Ruth 60 HR record, it must be done in 1st 154 games. For years, Maris’ record carried an asterisk because he failed to accomplish the feat in Frick’s timetable. The asterisk was subsequently removed by MLB. For many baseball purists, Maris’ record is still the record given that those who surpassed him did so allegedly while using banned substances.
1966 – Jim Ryun sets mile record (3:51:03)
1966 – Allen Ginsberg read poetry and Sopwith Camel performed in concert at the San Francisco Fillmore, to benefit Artist Reorganization Throughout San Francisco (A.R.T.S.). Gary Goodrow of The Committee emceed.

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