3761 BC: The “epoch reference date” for the modern Hebrew calendar. If you ever wondered why Jewish folks gave something of a “meh-“ reaction to the hysteria of Y2K, it is because it was already Y5K plus (!) by then.
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 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.
1600: The tiny principality of San Marino, a small Tuscan city tucked on the side of a cliff, adopts a written constitution, making it the first republic of the modern age.
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.
1793: In a continuing effort to ensure the citizens of France believe and behave as rationally as possible, the National Convention formally adopts a legislative program to de-christianize [sic] France. Rather than pursuing the American precedent of separating the offices of Church and State, and thus allowing free exercise of religious conviction, the Convention reasoned that there should be no public acknowledgement 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.
1793: Death of the owner of the most famous signature in America, John Hancock.
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 bandied about today.
1813: Death of the great Indian warrior Tecumseh (b.1768), in the Battle of the Thames, near present-day Chatham, Ontario.
1879: At the Battle of Angamos, the Chilean Navy defeats the Peruvian navy in a crucial action that opened up the Bolivian port of Antofagasta to eventual occupation and annexation by Chile. I count myself among those of us Norte Americanos whose knowledge of South American history ends somewhere in the early 1800s when Simon Bolivar forced Spain to begin breaking up their centuries-old overseas empire. “And what happened then?” we ask. Well, without Spain to enforce colonial borders, the newly independent states resorted to the traditional methods of inter-state war to settle competing claims and boundary disputes. In this case, the issue at hand was the lucrative mining regions of the central Pacific coast, nominally under Bolivian control, but claimed as well by Peru and Chile. The naval battle this day provided a huge strategic advantage to Chile, which was eventually codified in the treaty that ended the 1879-83 War of the Pacific, also known colloquially as “The Saltpeter War” or “The Guano War,” due to the nature of one of the mining products in the region.
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 Ray Kroc (d.1984), founder of McD’s.
1904: Death of Austrian chemist Carl Bayer (b.1847).
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.
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.
1912: Opening guns of the 1st Balkan War, where the Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria) initiated combat in a bid for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were no match for the multi-front armies of the four allies, who relatively swiftly defeated their Turkish overlords and then settled into their own rounds of territorial squabbling, aided and abetted by the Great Powers of Europe. You are correct to assume that the formal cessation of hostilities only shifted the focus of long-simmering regional anxieties.
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.
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.
1943: Birth of LtCol Oliver North, USMC (ret)., whose work at the NSC during the Reagan Administration gave proof that the staff Action Officers up in Washington really are the guys who make things happen.
1957(a): 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(b): Happily for the rest of us, this evening gave us the first broadcast of Leave it to Beaver. The program ran 234 episodes, up through 1963.
1962: Birth of American race car driver Michael Andretti, son of Mario, father of Marco.
1967: The communist warlord Che Guevarra, having worn out his murderous welcome in Cuba, is finally captured in Bolivia by soldiers of the next government to whom he was addressing his ministrations.
1969: This day marks the opening of the “Days of Rage,” a “direct action” protest against, take your pick: the war in Vietnam, the draft, corporations, Wall Street, the “man,” suburban life, capitalism, bicameral legislature… any of the normal processes and institutions of national life. Organized by the Weather Underground, its guiding principle (quoted in the estimable Wikipedia) is quite clear: “The Elections Don’t Mean S**t—Vote Where the Power Is—Our Power Is In The Street!” The names of the people who led this movement are still highly influential in remarkably high circles even today.
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.
1993: After 103 days of rain, broken levees and farms and towns wiped off the map, the Mississippi River at Saint Louis finally dips below flood stage.
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.
2001: One month after the attacks of 9/11, the Executive Branch of the US government, with the massive concurrence of both houses of Congress, establishes the Office of Homeland Security, led by former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, and charged with doing for domestic security what DOD does for international security. The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), during the debate on transforming this Office into a Department, he labeled the massive bureaucratic reorganization in a Bill 1,500 pages deep, “…this monstrosity.”