3761 BC: The “epoch reference date” for the modern Hebrew calendar.
1226: Death of the monk Francis of Assisi (b.1181), who renounced a life of wealth and soldiering in favor of a life of pious poverty and prayer. His Franciscan Order grew to be one of the most influential in Europe, with its ministry structured on the simple precept: “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps,” the injunction being drawn from Francis’ reading of Matthew 10:9. The current Bishop of Rome took Francis’ name when he ascended to the papacy in 2013.
1535: Publication of the Coverdale Bible, the first English printing of the complete 66 canonical books plus the Apocrypha. Translator Miles Coverdale used William Tyndales’s New Testament translations, in addition to Tyndale’s translation of the book of Jonah. The rest of the Old Testament he translated himself from German texts and the Latin Vulgate.
1571: Battle of Lepanto– The last exclusive galley-versus-galley naval battle, fought between the navies of the Ottoman Turks and a Christian coalition formed by Don Juan of Austria. The lopsided victory stopped the Ottoman coastal surge in its tracks, and is considered one of the three great battles (along with the Battles of Tours (10 Oct 732) in the West, and Vienna in the East, the three of which halted the aggressive expansion of the Caliphate along all three of its potential lines of approach into the European heartland) that ensured the continued development of a Christian Europe under the spiritual guidance of the Pope, as opposed to a Muslim Europe under the political and spiritual control of the Caliphate of Ottoman Turkey.
1574: Six years into what would become the Eighty Years War (also known as the Dutch War of Independence) a flat-bottomed fleet of boats and ships, collected and led by Prince William the Silent of the House of Orange, and manned by the Watergeuzen, lifts the Siege of Leiden, and saves the university city from certain desolation from the hand of the Spanish Duke of Alva. The dynastic ebbs and flows of the 16th and 17th Centuries provide much fodder for our lingering cultural sense of what is good and what is not. It always struck me as odd that the 17 provinces of the Netherlands were under Spanish rule, unless you remember that Spain was, itself, ruled by princes from the Austrian House of Hapsburg, who schemed long enough to see their dynasty completely surround their arch-enemy, France. The economic power of this tiny region provided an unusually lucrative income for the Spanish throne, and they took great pains to keep it under the Spanish thumb, both politically and economically. William of Orange tapped into the stirrings of Dutch nationalism and led a rebellion against Spanish rule that would eventually lead to the independence of the Netherlands in 1648, but that’s another story. Back to the Siege of Leiden: this beautiful and strategically located city was a hotbed of independent thinking and support for the rebellion, and Alva was especially ruthless in his attempts to beat them down. The city’s outstanding defensive dispositions- walls and moats- protected it from Alva’s first investment a couple years earlier, and again during this siege. But the city’s situation also made them terribly isolated from William’s relieving force. William finally sent a carrier pigeon into the city, telling them to hang on for three more months, at which point he would arrive by boat with a relieving force. To do so, he broke the dykes between the North Sea and Leiden, and systematically sailed his fleet across the flooded polderland, driving Alva’s forces from the field and relieving the city, eventually unloading tons of herring and white bread for the starving citizens. The event remains a Big Deal in the Dutch psyche, and includes those odd little bits that you sometimes wonder about. For example, if Dutch children are bad at Christmastime, they are threatened with being fed to the Black Prince (Alva always wore black), or they are threatened with being sent off to Spain, which would have been a terrifying proposition in 1574. The day is celebrated today with meals of herring and white bread, and a carrot & onion stew called “Hutspot,” which was actually a Spanish meal, abandoned hot by the defending army at the sudden appearance of the rising waters that carried in the watergeuzen.
1691: Great Britain issues a Royal Charter establishing the Province of Massachusetts, ‘way across the sea in the New World, where the Plymouth Plantation was continuing to prosper.
1763: King George III issues the Royal Proclamation of 1763 stating, among other things, that aboriginal lands north and west of the Appalachians and Alleghenies were closed to white settlement. The edict came on the heels of the Treaty of Paris that ended the 7 Years War (a.k.a. French and Indian War), which ceded to Britain all French claims to the eastern drainage of the Mississippi River. The king and Parliament reasoned that by keeping white settlers out, it would not only stabilize relations with the Indian tribes of the Ohio Valley, but would inhibit the rampant land speculation that was sure to get worse as the new territory was surveyed. British colonists along the seaboard did not see it quite that way, helping set the conditions for further unrest and dissatisfaction with the Crown in the years to come.
1780: At the Battle of Kings Mountain, near Blacksburg, South Carolina, an American Patriot militia, loosely organized as a collection of scores of smaller militias from “over the mountain” regions, and under the nominal command of ten different colonels, decisively defeat a superior force of Loyalist militia under the command of British Major Patrick Ferguson. The Loyalist force was part of Lord Cornwallis’ Southern Strategy, which attempted to exploit Loyalist sentiment in the coastal regions by creating local militias that would take the fight to- and thence out of- their Patriot-leaning neighbors inland, led and supported by British Regulars. The previous months saw repeated vindication of this strategy with the capture of Charleston, the Battle of Camden, the Battle of Waxhaws, and Tarleton’s Massacre. Major Ferguson expected to make a short, violent thrust inland from the Waxhaw area to put down the last of the Patriots. What he didn’t know is that the news of Tarleton’s Massacre inflamed Patriots hundreds of miles away, and the intervening weeks gave the distant militias time to gather and loosely organize a defense. Ferguson finally learned of the gathering force, and took a strong defensive position atop Kings Mountain. When the Patriot attack started, Ferguson rode up & down the line, fully exposed to fire, blowing commands with a silver whistle. The Patriot militias, meanwhile, broke into 20 separate groups and charged screaming up the hill, pausing behind rocks to load their rifles, carefully aiming at and picking off individual Loyalists, and eventually Ferguson himself. It was a terribly lopsided victory, completely unexpected by either side, but it unleashed Patriot momentum throughout all the colonies, and most especially in the Carolinas, where Cornwallis’ Regulars were on the cusp of an even more strategic defeat at Cowpens.
1789: President George Washington signs the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation.
1793: The National Convention of France formally adopts a legislative program to de-Christianize France. Rather than pursuing the American precedent of separating the offices of Church and State, and thus allowing the free exercise of religious conviction, the Convention reasoned that there should be no public acknowledgment or display of religion at all, even in churches. The program opening this day entailed: 1) Confiscation of all church properties, to be held by the State as collateral on its new currency; 2) Removal of all silver, gold, art, and any other iconography from places of worship; 3) Removal and destruction of any crosses, bells or other external signs of worship being conducted; 4) Establishment of civic cults, specifically designed to incline the heart toward the virtues of the benevolent State through the Cult of Reason and the Cult of the Supreme Being (more in November); 5) Most importantly, holding all non-jury (i.e., will not vow obedience to the jury of the civil government) priests liable for death. If this sounds a little harsh to you, that’s because it is; and it is also the logical extension of where led the French Revolution’s obsession* with Reason as the arbiter of all things.
1795: The young French general (age 26) Napoleon Bonaparte, fresh from suppressing counter-revolutionary insurrection down in Toulon, arrives in Paris to suppress an even more dangerous insurrection that physically threatens the National Convention. He orders several batteries of artillery into position in the streets of the capital to protect the Tuilieries Palace. The cannons are not loaded with normal cannonballs, but with thousands of small pellets, making them the equivalent of giant shotguns. Bonaparte’s artillery mows down over 1,400 royalists, tidily ending the revolt. His actions today quickly became known as the “whiff of grapeshot…” the expression of which you will still hear today.
1813: Death of the Indian warrior Tecumseh (b.1768), in the Battle of the Thames, near present-day Chatham, Ontario.
1861: Birth of the great American artist Fredric Remington (d.1909) whose eye for our Western heritage was unparalleled.
1863: President Abraham Lincoln signs a proclamation designating the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
1883: First continuous run of the Orient Express, that is, the original Orient Express, which set the standard for intrigue and luxury travel between Paris and Istanbul.
1884: Under the tutelage of Commodore Stephen Luce, the United States Naval War College is established in Newport, Rhode Island. The school nurtured among it first faculty Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, one of the most brilliant intellects ever to don a Navy uniform, and developer of the seminal theory of naval warfare that holds naval fleets as the key to controlling events ashore. A “Mahanian Navy” is one comprised primarily of capital ships that can duke it out on the high seas with other capital ships, after which they can turn their attention to the land campaign, if necessary.
1888: Birth of Henry Wallace (d.1965). Wallace served as Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President, 1941-45. He was the 1948 nominee for President of the Progressive Party. He was a Socialist through and through, regularly alienating his own Democrats, to say nothing of the rest of the country, with his outspoken admiration for the advances of the Soviet Union.
1889: American inventor Thomas Edison publicly displays his motion picture device for the first time.
1892: Death of British Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson (b.1809).
1902: Birth of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc (d.1984).
1904: Death of Austrian chemist Carl Bayer (b.1847).
1908: The government of Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina into their polyglot empire. The two provinces are normally always mentioned in tandem, although those of you who have been over there know that the people who actually live in the places would rather not be connected with each other. Think back to DLH 8/12 Addendum, and the multiple threads of conflict that led to the final outbreak of open war.
1905: During their Huffman Prairie flying period outside of Dayton, Wilbur Wright sets an airplane endurance record of 26 miles traveled over the ground in 39 minutes.
1914: Less than 10 years after Wright’s record flight, a French pilot, Louis Quenact, opens fire with a machine gun to shoot down a German pilot interfering with his reconnaissance duties. This is widely regarded as the first day of intentional aerial combat.
1927: Opening night for The Jazz Singer, starring the versatile Al Jolson. The movie was the first commercial presentation of a “talkie” where sound and music were synchronized with the visual images on the screen. It didn’t take long for the silent movies to go away, along with a number of silent movie stars whose voices didn’t quite fit in with their on-screen images.
1935: Fascist Italy, governed by the internationally popular Progressive reformer Benito Mussolini, opens its invasion of Abyssinia, an eight-month conflict that ended with the region’s annexation into the Italian Empire as Italian East Africa. The glory days were brief, as the colonies were stripped away from Italy by the Allies of World War II, and granted independence as Ethiopia and Somalia. As if more evidence were needed, this war also underlined the futile efforts of the League of Nations to create a viable forum for settling international disputes.
1940: Publication of a secret memorandum by LCDR Arthur H. McCollum, in which he outlines the depth and breadth of the Japanese Empire’s advance throughout “the Orient,” and offers a prescription for what the United States should do about it, namely, generate enough of a confrontation with Japan that they will attack U.S. interests somewhere. Such an attack would ease the U.S. entry into the burgeoning World War, and free us up to materially and overtly support Britain in her life & death struggle with Germans. The McCollum Memo is often bandied about as a “smoking gun” that proves Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attack in advance and did nothing to stop it, among other flawed theories. McCollum worked as an analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence on the desk that monitored the Orient.
1957: The Soviet Union successfully launches Sputnik 1 into orbit, creating a little beep heard ‘round the world. You youngsters may find it hard to believe, but that little ball of aluminum turned the United States inside out until we launched a little satellite of our own. Part of the angst was the realization that the Russians had the rocket technology to lob a bomb across the planet at us, and we had nothing in return.
1957: The first broadcast of Leave it to Beaver. The program ran 234 episodes, up through 1963. [“With Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont… and Jerry Mathers, as The Beaver”]
1962: Navy Commander Wally Schirra blasts into orbit aboard Sigma-7 the fifth flight of the Mercury space program. The six-orbit mission lasted a little over 9 hours. The Sigma-7 mission was distinctive from the engineering perspective as it tested the suitability of spacecraft systems for progressively longer-duration missions. The tests did not make for much drama (other than the fact of orbiting in space), as Schirra spent much of the mission doing essentially nothing, either permitting the spacecraft automated flight controls to maintain its positioning, or shutting down the system entirely for hours at a time, and then seeing what happened when it was re-engaged. It provided proof of concept for the remaining Mercury flight (22 orbits) and the much more ambitious planning for the Gemini program. Schirra was the only one of the original astronauts to fly on all three of the United States’ original space programs.
1962: Birth of American race car driver Michael Andretti, son of Mario, father of Marco.
1962: Opening night for the first James Bond story converted to the big screen, Dr. No.
1977: The Supreme Soviet adopts the 4th Soviet Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
1981: Death of Anwar Sadat (b.1918), President of Egypt, at the hand of a core of Army officers egged on by an Islamist fatwa issued by Omar Abdel-Rhaman, a.k.a. “The Blind Sheikh” who also was also convicted for the first attack on the World Trade Center. Sadat’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel negated in Islamist’s eyes any gains he made by launching the 1973 Yom Kippur War against the Jewish state. In 2017 Abdel-Rhaman died in a federal prison in NC, finally putting to an end issuing fatwas against the West and any Muslim who would dare to resist the Islamist movement.
1985: The Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro is hijacked by terrorists of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The cretins who captured the ship took wheelchair-bound American tourist Leon Klinghoffer to the upper deck, shot him in the head, and then rolled him and his chair into the cold Mediterranean.
1990: The final day of existence for the not-to-be lamented the German Democratic Republic. VESTRI ANIMUS MOS PUTESCO IN ABYSSUS.
1995: The blood-soaked and shrunken leather glove didn’t fit, so Heisman Award winner O. J. Simpson is acquitted of murdering his wife and houseguest, freeing him to find the “real killer” on golf courses and memorabilia shows all around the warmer tier of the country.
2001: NATO confirms Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty for the first and only time. You remember that Article 5 is the core of the treaty, stating that an attack on one is an attack on all. Although it was designed to counter a Soviet attack on Western Europe, it was actually the United States who invoked it after 9/11. Germany responded right away by deployin g NATO AWACS to U.S. airspace, and the rest of the European allies did their bit by supporting our engagement in Afghanistan.
2004: Death of actress Janet Leigh (b.1927), probably best known for her shocking movie death in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), and for being the mother of Jamie Leigh Curtis.