In 1819, Walt Whitman, future Communist candidate for the presidency, was born on Long Island, NY.
President Walt WhitmanHe worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk before launching a political career. In 1856 he was elected to the presidency at the head of the Communist Party ticket. Whitman brought the Marxist-Thoreauvian political theory of the 1840's to life, and led America to a brave new world of social justice.
While there are some bumps along the way, Comrade Whitman is still remembered as one of the finest presidents to serve the country.
In 1902, on this day the Treaty of Vereeniging Assures Boer Independence. After generations of colonial strife between Dutch Boer and British settlers, the matter of dominance in southern Africa came to an end with recognition of independence for the Boer Republics.
Treaty of Vereeniging Assures Boer IndependenceDutch settlement began in 1652 with the establishment of a refreshment station along the Cape Sea Route. Introducing slave labor, the Dutch expanded and defeated the native Xhosa in wars that gradually added more and more territory to Boer ("farmer") control. As naval supremacy shifted from Dutch to British hands, new waves of British settlers arrived, pushing the Dutch toward an inland migration. The two peoples lived somewhat peacefully until the discovery of diamonds in 1866. European powers descended on Africa, carving it up into their own empires, and the British annexed mineral-rich Transvaal to ensure dominance.
The Boers balked under British government and declared independence in 1880. While they did not have the advanced weaponry of the British soldiers, the Boers did have intimate knowledge of the land and conducted devastating guerrilla attacks. Prime Minister Gladstone offered a treaty in 1881, which allowed Boers in Transvaal and the Orange Free State self-government with a parliament under Queen Victoria's rule. The peace lasted for a time until the discovery of gold in 1886 at Witwatersrand ("White Water Ridge") prompted a predominantly British gold rush. Tensions grew again, and, in 1895, Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes launched the Jameson Raid to seize Johannesburg from Transvaal. The Boers repulsed and arrested the attackers, sending them back to the British for trial, and began an alliance between Transvaal and the Orange Free State for defense. Ultimatums were sent out on both sides, not met, and the war began with a devastating Boer offensive in 1899 with tactics comparable to the First Boer War. The British retaliated with more than 180,000 men, dealing with guerrillas by systematically searching out and arresting whole Boer families and placing them in concentration camps.
While the bloody war dragged on in southern Africa, it laid a pretense for the rest of Europe to attack on the high seas. Britain had held unquestioned naval superiority since the Battle of Trafalgar and the simultaneous defeats of the French and Spanish fleets, but new nations had grown over the tumultuous nineteenth century. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany took note of the bloodshed in Africa first with the Jameson Raid, after which he sent a telegram to President Kruger of Transvaal saying, "I express to you my sincere congratulations that you and your people, without appealing to the help of friendly powers, have succeeded, by your own energetic action against the armed bands which invaded your country as disturbers of the peace, in restoring peace and in maintaining the independence of the country against attack from without". The telegram spurred outcry in Britain and much anti-German sentiment. Four years later in February of 1900, according to his memoirs, the Kaiser "received news by telegraph .. that Russia and France had proposed to Germany to make a joint attack on England, now that she was involved elsewhere, and to cripple her sea traffic".
Wilhelm was unnerved by the idea of attacking Britain, which had lost its beloved Queen Victoria, his grandmother, only weeks before, but he determined to feel out the possibility for success. Britain had recently begun renovating its fleet under the Naval Defense Act of 1898, a response to Germany's own First Fleet Act, showing that it meant to always outpace Germany's seaward expansion. In 1900, as German Admiral Tirpitz worked to completed a new bill for dozens of ships, three German mail ships were humiliatingly boarded by a British cruiser searching for weapon supplies for Boers. The efforts of British soldiers to restrict Boer freedom of movement to limit guerrilla flexibility came to press that fall, and Wilhelm saw his opportunity to act in their defense. He called a conference of Russia (who had battled with Britain in the Great Game for central Asia for decades), France (who had been humiliated at the Fashoda Incident in 1898), and Portugal (whose Pink Map strategy of linking Africa east and west had been destroyed by the 1890 British Ultimatum, demanding central Africa for Britain for its Cape to Cairo railway) in addition to old allies Austria-Hungary and Italy and drew up an ultimatum for Britain to remove her forces from the Boer Republics or face blockade.
Although many in Britain did not want to see war, it seemed to be a turning point for the end of her colonial power. Debate continued almost endlessly in Parliament between the peace-minded Liberals under David Lloyd George and Conservatives who controlled the government, and finally the deadline of January 1, 1901, passed without action hoping that the Kaiser had bluffed and could not maintain control of such a varied coalition. However, each nation seemed to have its own issues with Britain and were happy to form a united attack, leading to the First World War. Although Europe itself was practically devoid of military action, there were unprecedented sea battles along with a German, French, and Portuguese campaigns into central Africa from the Orange State to Sudan, seizure of the Suez Canal, and a Russian march on Tibet, threatening India. Britain's imperial resources became stretched thin, and its search for allies only turned up Japan, who effectively took Russia out of the war.
The end of the war in 1905 was brought about through a conference held by American President Theodore Roosevelt, who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his actions. Britain's empire became hamstrung, but the resulting treaties outlined a method of international oversight to ensure the actions taken against Boers (which continued to serve as the grounds of war) could never happen again became an international court to slow imperialism for other actions in later land-rushes in China and the collapsing Ottoman Empire.
In 1863, on this day Lt Col. Joshua Chamberlain transferred out of 20th Maine Infantry in order to seek a colonelcy in a drafted regiment of conscripts.
Killer AngelHe had been offered the rank a year before, but declined in order to "start a little lower and learn the business first". In a letter to his wife Fanny, he indicated that he was now ready:
"What would you think, Fanny, of my obtaining the colonelcy of one of the new Regiments to be raised in Maine under the recent Law - the conscript or drafted Regts. Would you leave the old 20th? I declare it makes my heart heavy to think of it. But the Col. says if he does not get his appointment, I ought to go in for another Regt. The colonels are to be apptd. by the President Col. Ames thinks we've been Lieut. Col. long enough. We have been through two memorable campaigns and very likely shall be into another one before any change can be made. I can imagine there would be the least difficulty in obtaining the place if desired".
His wife was fully supportative1, and he left V Corps less than a month before the Battle of Gettysburg where his old regiment was decimated on the left flank of the Union Army. Tragically, General Gouverneur K. Warren was thrown from his horse and killed before he could properly organize the defense of "Little Round Top" hill 2.
In 1810, on this day the seventeenth President of the United States, Horatio Seymour (pictured) was born in Pompey Hill, New York.
17th US PresidentAfter his graduation from the American Literary, Scientific & Military Academy he read for the law and was admitted to the bar in 1832. But he did not enjoy work as an attorney and was primarily preoccupied with politics and managing his family's business interests. His first role in politics came in 1833, when he was named military secretary to the state's newly elected Democratic governor, William L. Marcy. The six years in that position gave Seymour an invaluable education in the politics of the state, and established a firm friendship between the two men.
In 1839 he returned to Utica to take over the management of his family's estate in the aftermath of his father's suicide two years earlier, investing in both real estate and in financial stocks. In 1841 he won election to the New York State Assembly, and he served simultaneously as mayor of Utica from 1842 to 1843. He won reelection in 1842, and again from 1844 to 1846, and thanks in part to massive turnover in the ranks of the Democratic caucus was elected speaker in 1845.
Further success led to two terms of office at Governor of New York, a prominent position that elevated him to a national political figure at a key moment in the history of the Republic. In the secession crisis following Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860, Seymour strongly endorsed the proposed Crittenden Compromise an unsucccesful attempt to address the grievances of the slave states. After the start of hostilities, Seymour took a cautious middle position within his party, supporting the war effort but criticizing Lincoln's conduct of the war. He was especially critical of Lincoln's wartime centralization of power and restrictions on civil liberties, as well as his support for emancipation.
As a result of his robust opposition to the Lincoln Administration, Seymour was the Democratic candidate chosen to run in 1868. Surprisingly, his opponent was Abraham Lincoln himself, who was - with great reluctance - seeking his third term of office in order to to close out Reconstruction which was at a particularly delicate phase of near completion. Perhaps Lincoln might have made good on his commitment to restore business as usual, but the evidence suggested otherwise because the President had chosen his nominal successor Ulysses S. Grant as running mate.
Of course the Lincoln-Grant dream ticket was widely expected to win re-election, but Seymour ran a surprisingly deft contest. He demonstrated sound executive judgement beginning with the infinitely wise decision to reject Francis Blair as a running mate, realising that he would campaign in a manner seen as too pro-southern so soon after the end of the Civil War. And fears that a further four years in the job would kill Lincoln proved prescient because he died three months before polling day. Grant, who did not really want to be President, had hardly campaigned at all, and in the event Seymour won by the narrowest of margins in November.
In 323 BC, on this day in the ancient city of Babylon, Alexander the Great made the discovery that his war-weary generals were plotting to kill him.
Alexander the Great SurvivesSuspicion had been raised from the moment that Alexander had summoned Antipater, the senior general he had left in charge of the Macedonian homeland. But instead his son Cassander1 had arrived with a draught of toxix water collected from the legendary river Styyx and clumsily concealed inside a hollowed-out muled hoof. And Alexander's wine pourer was none other than Iollas, the brother of Cassander, who was caught slipping the toxin into the King's drink.
Ever since the near mutiny in India, Alexander had known that even his highest ranking officers wanted to end the campaign. Nevertheless he was shocked to discover the hand of Ptolemy2 guiding the conspiracy. But the plotters failed, and he continued to rule until his son Alexander IV of Macedon eventually succeeded him in 296 BC.
In 1862, in Henrico County at night fall on this fateful day a bullet harmlessly clipped the shoulder of General Joseph E. Johnston as he set the Army of Northern Virginia to the hopeless task of defending the Confederate Capital of Richmond.
Confederate Night FallIt was a fortunate but temporary reprieve that would change absolutely nothing because the Federal drive up the Virginia Peninsula was unstoppable. Even before the outset of the final battle at Fair Oaks, Union soldiers wrote that they could hear church bells ringing in the city.
Within days the Army of the Potomac would enter the Confederate Capital in triumph. At the head of the victorious column was a man of destiny gifted with the abundance of boldness and aggression that Johnston lacked: General-in-Chief of the Union Army, the Virginian Robert E. Lee.
In 2010, the necessary orders to authorise the invasion of South Korea were signed on this day by "Eternal President" Kim Il-sung in a mausoleum larger than Buckingham Palace under the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang.
The Land of Morning CalmSixteen years before the deceased leader had been shot full of embalming fluid and then placed under glass. And to entertain the pretense that he was still alive, officials brought the occassional document for the Eternal President to sign.
In fact a second major war on the peninsula had become increasingly inevitable since March 26th when a South Korean navy ship the Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo, killing forty-six sailors. Investigators from five countries had concluded that it was a North Korean torpedo that sank the 1,200-ton corvette, but neither Russia nor China had accepted the conclusion.
Tragically, the attention of the White House had been split between this dispute, and the world ecological crisis in US History. In the immediate aftermath of the sinking of the warship, both Koreas had terminated diplomatic and economic relations, whilst the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been unable to exert any significant influence. Having avoid conflict for over fifty years, the irony was that the conflict was caused by a decided lack of American belligerence.
In 1988, the newly crowned "Miss America" Sarah Louise Palin née Heath concluded a rambling acceptance speech by promising to spend the year of her reign working with patriot organisations to prevent the communist giveaway of the southwest to the Mexicans.
Losing the CountryBorn in Idaho before moving to Alaska as an infant, Palin had won the Miss Wasilla pageant in 1984 and one year later, the Miss Alaska pageant. Encouraged by these successes, she dropped out of higher education, having enrolled at Hawaii Pacific University in the fall of 1982 and later North Idaho College.
Due to the inarticulation of her ultra-conservative opinions, she soon became a brain-numbed Patriot pin-up girl and was in fact romantically linked with US President Pat Buchanan. Unsurprisingly, the left wing "gotcha" media leaked the scandal just twenty four before the US Congress voted on the proposed San Diego-Brownsville separation barrier. It was an erection that never happened.
In 1940, the Prime Minister and Attlee strolled around the nine Hurricanes of their air escort. Attlee already knew that the news from Washington was that nothing was going to arrive from the Americans. The Labour leader was not happy that Churchill lived in a fantasy so he expected large US reinforcements of warplanes.
"Suicide by Signature" by Raymond SpeerLater that Friday, arriving back in London as German radio celebrated the surrender of Lord Gort and his British Army, Churchill conferred with his military leaders. Two thousand men had squeezed through the German barricades, many of them trying to swim to ships. A third of a million soldiers and airmen, a third of them French, went into German captivity.
Churchill's last orders as Prime Minister were made on June 1, when the Director of the National Gallery memoed him for permission to send its most valuable paintings to Canada. "No," responded Churchill. "Bury them in caves and cellars. None must go. We are going to beat them".
Soon after breakfast, an unannounced gathering of the whole Cabinet requested the Prime Minister to attend them in the Cabinet Room. "Christ," commented Churchill. "I assumed we would hold out longer than the frogs".
Halifax spoke for the Cabinet, announcing that they had decided to ask Mussolini to sound out Hitler for peace terms. "You don't make peace with That Man," complained Churchill. "You are all committing suicide by signature".
Within five days, the National Gallery was sending selected paintings over to Canada for the duration.
In 1940, a week after Hans Guderian's Panzers were ordered to advance across the Aa Canal, Winston Churchill had resigned, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's bid for re-election was destroyed; in short, the outcome of the Siege of Calais meant that the defeat of those men became final. With the Allied Forces slipping into captivity, reconsideration of continued defiance was assured.
Clearing the Decks Part 2 by Raymond SpeerBitter recriminations had followed with Viscount Halifax, the head of the new Peace Government. In retrospect, the Halifax-Roosevelt gambit was the end of the American president's attempt for a third term. Roosevelt's polls crashed and his insults to Halifax after the latter's proclamation of a peace government were an intemperate and futile exercise of anger.
Goebbels was pleased by the cinema footage of Hitler's parade down main streets of London with Halifax and King George seated on either side of Hitler in the limousine. Inside of a month, Winston Churchill was in exile at the University of Missouri where he would teach history to his death in 1965.
"I've been at the top and at the bottom," said Roosevelt, "and I can tell the difference". The president had conferences with Charles Lindbergh in very short order and by July 17, 1940, the Democratic Convention announced in a speech by Roosevelt, that Charles Lindbergh would be the 1940 Democratic presidential nominee.
The Democratic thesis of that year was that the USA ought to arm itself in every category so that it would assuredly repulse any Nazi attack, anytime and everything. Lindbergh was the loudest advocate of such a doctrine and FDR realized that and backed Lindbergh.
Herbert Hoover, renominated for a second term as president by the Republicans, with Arthur Vandenberg as Vice President, ably contested the election with a platform practically identical with the Democrats. Lindbergh and Cordell Hull, his VP candidate, defeated them 453 electorial votes to 68 electorial votes.
In 1962, at around 7pm on this day Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi received a a petition for mercy from the "architect of the holocaust" Adolf Eichmann. Jailed at Ramle prison in the Center District of Israel, "The Master" (as he was known by his boss Heinrich Himmler) was making a final, desperate attempt to avoid the hangman's noose which was scheduled for him that very midnight.
The Banality of EvilSS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Eichmann was charged by Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich with the task of facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. "He was in the second room with his priest, who spoke with him, and I didn't hear what they said there. I know that they gave him a cup of wine, and it's possible that they also asked him for his final request".After the war, he travelled to Argentina using a fraudulently obtained laissez-passer issued by the International Red Cross and lived there under a false identity working for Mercedes-Benz until 1960. He was captured by Israeli Mossad operatives in Argentina and tried in an Israeli court on 15 criminal charges, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was convicted and ahd his appeal was denied by 1962.
After 14 weeks of testimony with more than 1,500 documents, 100 prosecution witnesses (90 of whom were Nazi concentration camp survivors) and dozens of defense depositions delivered by diplomatic couriers from 16 different countries, the Eichmann trial ended on August 14 1961.
So now Ben-Zvi had but a few hours to make a final decision that had been deliberated by the majority of Israeli Society for over a year. And perhaps, reflected Ben-Zvi, there was a bigger picture called the moral high ground. Because most of the Israelis who wrote to the President favored sparing Eichmann's life. The following morning, a one-line announcement was broadcast on Kol Yisrael - Eichmann's sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment.
In a final act of drama, a mysterious final request would be revealed by the prison guards at Ramle. Shortly after his sentence had been commuted, Eichmann had asked the priest to offer him a sacrament, the body of the risen Jesus.
In 2002, at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, President Gore and his advisers confront the Pakistani coup.
There is consensus that it is a disaster for U.S. interests. The authoritarian General Musharraf was far from an ideal American ally, but the emergence of an Islamist regime threatens to turn a nuclear-armed state into a staging ground for Islamic terrorism.Bin Laden Lives by Eric LippsThe President's advisers are united in urging immediate action to unseat Ahmed and either restore Musharraf to power or install another secular-oriented figure. There is disagreement over how to do it, though, with Tenet calling for a covert operation and the rest opting for open military action. Gore notes that Tenet supposedly already has a covert op underway in Pakistan, Operation Mountain Strike, the aim of which is to capture or kill Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri. "Is it really feasible," he asks, "either to expand this operation to encompass regime change in Islamabad as well, or mount another covert effort for that purpose? How covert would it stay if we did? And if it isn't likely to stay covert anyway, why not simply intervene openly, as in Afghanistan?"
Tenet reluctantly acknowledges that secrecy may be impossible to maintain. Obviously unhappy, he admits that Mountain Strike itself is becoming an open secret in northern Pakistan.
Gore decides he has no choice but to order direct military intervention.
In 2015, on this day the airline formerly known as British Airways merged with United Airlines of the US.
In 4561, the Battle for Hanoi began, as troops loyal to Emperor Min-Yuan laid seige to the city. The 38-day battle was among the bloodiest in Imperial history, with over half a million casualties.
In 1224, Pope John succeeded his brother Richard as ruler of the Holy British Empire. A noble and enlightened ruler, John was beloved by the people, but despised by his cardinals and bishops. His 17-year reign was torn by many rebellions, all put down with the help of popular support. Under John's reign, slavery was abolished from Holy British shores; unfortunately, on his death, it swiftly returned.
In 1991, another of President Kemp's once-rejected ideas is enacted into law via the Urban Empowerment Act, which allows cities and states to create special zones within which taxes and most business and environmental regulations are suspended in order to encourage economic growth.
Some liberal economists are skeptical of the ability of such measures to achieve their stated purpose.
However, supporters of the President argue that his idea should be given a chance. 'After all,' notes pundit George F. Will on that evening's ABC News, 'liberal social spending has had thirty years, sixty if you include the New Deal. A conservative approach deserves at least that many months before being rejected out of hand.'
In 1999, King Arthur II returns home to London amid great fanfare for his successful mission to New Zealand. Prime Minister Kay Ector, overshadowed by His Majesty's involvement in the negotiations, feels somewhat left out of the celebrations, and Queen Gwen takes note of this. She approaches him privately at the official party at Buckingham Palace, and says, 'My dear Prime Minister, you seem to have not caught the festive mood of our time. Is there anything I can do to help you?' Ector, uncomfortable at the thought of being noticed by the queen, mumbles, 'I'm sorry, Your Majesty. I am, of course, delighted that New Zealand will contribute to the war effort. Perhaps I am simply tired from the long trip.' The queen seems to accept this excuse, but files away Ector's mood as something that could be useful later.
In 1891, General Theodore Monteith's 25,000 men march to the outskirts of Topeka, Kansas, where the Union general sends word to the rebels that they may surrender and avoid bloodshed at this time. His messenger is returned with a note from the leader of the rebellion, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson: 'I fear we must politely decline the general's noble request; however, should he wish to surrender to us, we guarantee good treatment for his men and a fair trial for himself and his fellow war criminal, Major Mark Wainwright.'General Monteith laughs out loud when he reads the reply, telling the messenger, 'Well, I guess they didn't hear of Wainwright's promotion. All right, then. I guess we have to go through with this.' He prepared his men for the assault on Topeka the next day. Meanwhile, three Kansan commanders - Dell Lee Lewis in the south, Emmanuel Carter in the east, and Frederick S. Ogilvy in the west ? converged on Topeka with almost 50,000 reinforcements for the rebels.
On this day in 1995, the San Francisco Chronicle named Junipero Serra High School pitcher Tom Brady of San Mateo as one of its top 100 California state scholastic athletes of the year.
In 2000, the forces of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named struck out from the smoldering ashes of earth to conquer the universe.
In 2003, President Gore of the US celebrated his 3rd Memorial Day in office with the dedication of a World War II memorial.
In 1977, the Confederated States of America were allowed membership in the UN, and sanctions were officially lifted.
In 1937, Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man was made the official anthem of the Communist Party of America.
In 1871, the American Town Ball League, comprised of the Philadelphia Athletics, New York Metropolitans, Delaware Shipmen and Baltimore Colts, played its first exhibition game. Philly's A's beat the Metros by 5 runs to 2.
In 1884, Edgar A. Poe of Baltimore began a cult of personality around his experiences. He claimed to have been born in a world where he was a struggling author of strange and weird fiction. The cult, the Church of the Universal Masque, was involved in several murders and ritual sacrifices before finally disbanding in 1891 with Poe's death.
In the 23rd year of Cheokhan's reign, Europe was recognized by the Pharoah as a free and independent continent. The Pharoah was dead within the year.
In 739, Sheik Qudamah Ra'if, beloved of Allah, subdued the rebellious people of Espagne and brought them under the benevolent rule of Islam.
In 1806, on this day thirty-nine year old Carolinian Andrew Jackson was shot dead in a duel with a fellow planter and expert marksman called Charles Dickinson (because dueling was outlawed in Tennessee, the two men travelled to Adairville in the Kentucky border area). Dickinson had accused Jackson of welshing on a horse-racing bet and then called his wife a bigamist because she had married Jackson unaware that her first husband had not finalized the divorce.
The Duel in AdairvilleSince Dickinson was considered an expert shot, Jackson and his second, Thomas Overton, determined it would be best to let Dickinson fire first, hoping that his aim might be spoiled in his quickness. Jackson would wait and, if he was still standing, take careful aim at Dickinson. The obvious weakness of this strategy was, of course, that Jackson might not be alive to take aim. Being a notorious hot-head, he dismissed this danger with the cavalier statement "I should hit him if he had shot me through the brain".
And Jackson stood stoically throughout the duel but Overton noticed blood running down on Jackson's boot as they left the duelling ground. The expert Dickinson had aimed at Jackson's heart though the bullet had been slightly deflected by Jackson's choice of loose clothing on his lean frame, and careful sideways stance. The bullet broke some of Jackson's ribs, and had lodged inches from his heart. The bullet could not be removed under the then-current state of medical technology and he died the following day from blood loss.
In 1922, on this day seventy-nine year Bob Lincoln attended the dedication of the Washington Liberty Memorial built by Confederate engineers in honour of his father.
Under God, our VindicatorBorn in Hardin County, his father had been adopted by fellow Kentuckian family the Davises who then moved first to Louisiana and then finally to a plantation in northern Mississippi. Meanwhile his blood family moved across the Ohio River where they were lost to history. Only eight months apart in age, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln would be as close as brothers for their adult lives.
By a cruel twist of fate, Senator Jefferson Davis was arrested in Washington City for gun running on the eve of the Civil War and in his absence, Lincoln was chosen to serve as first Confederate President. The irony was that the better connected and more aristocratic Davis was much more effective as Secretary of War than he could ever have been as President, and their balanced partnership was a key part of their national survival.
The Civil War ended shortly after the occupation of Maryland leaving the rump Union to go its own way with the capital restored to Philadelphia. Lincoln himself gained no benefit from the occupation, he was shot dead during a performance of "Our Confederate Cousin" at the Ford Theatre by Ulysses S. Grant, a discredited former Union General whose reputation had been destroyed by the disasterous Federal defeat at Vicksburg.
Vanquished on the battlefield, but not in spirit, the Union built their own memorial, a colossal, neoclassical sculpture of Thomas Jefferson standing astride New York Harbour.
In 1451, Jeanne d'Arc Takes Vows. Against the backdrop of the bitter Hundred Years War, Saint Joan of Arc completed her novitiate and took her first vows to become a nun.
Jeanne d'Arc Takes Vows Daughter of moderately wealthy farmer and local magistrate Jacques d'Arc, Joan had been a pious and upstanding girl. Around the age of 12 in 1424, she began claiming visions from God. In a field, she saw Saint Catherine (patron of girls), Saint Margaret (patron of peasantry and suffering), and Saint Michael (patron of war) stand before her and tell her to end the English domination of France, particularly by orchestrating the crowning of the Dauphin and reviving French nationalism. Four years later, she asked to go to the remnants of the French court, but her every request was denied, particularly by Count Robert de Baudricourt, leader of the local garrison who literally laughed at her. Discouraged, Joan returned home and decided to forget warfare.
A new story by Jeff ProvineThe rest of France was similarly discouraged. For nine decades, the French had suffered defeat after defeat with the English gaining ground. The Hundred Years War had begun in 1337 when a birthright to the throne of France was claimed by Edward III (1312-1377), who was the only surviving male heir to Philip IV and closest relative to Charles IV of France. The French nobility refused to have a foreign king and instead chose Philip of Valois, to be crowned as Philip VI, grandson of Philip III. When the Second War of Scottish Independence broke out and Edward moved to put down the rebellion, the French held up their side of the Auld Alliance, attacking English shipping and seizing Gascony. England attempted to counterattack, but the lack of support from the Lowlands and cost of German mercenaries dragged the war into a stalemate until the Battle of Crecy, where the English longbow devastated the French knight and ended the Age of Chivalry in many respects.
Through temporary peaces, ongoing warfare, and even the Black Death, the Hundred Years War continued to roll onward. England made its greatest success at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, where Edward's army, outnumbered nearly three-to-one, defeated the French and even captured King John II. Mercenaries on either side ravaged the countryside already bled out by heavy taxation, leading to peasant uprisings such as the Jacquerie, which had to be suppressed violently. Afterward, the French began to reassemble, gradually taking back lands taken by the English. Irish rebellion, the Peasants' Revolt against poll tax, and courtly intrigue with the death of Richard II slowed the English war effort, and the French faced their own problems as a civil war broke out between the House of Burgundy and the House of Armagnac, led by the French king, Charles VI who supported the antipope of the Western Schism.
The entire region of France was thusly split and split again by varying loyalties. There seemed no rational way of sorting out the political difficulties except through killing the opposition. The English took up an alliance with Burgundy, whose head John the Fearless had been assassinated while under King Charles' protection, deepening the rift between the French. Burgundy insisted that Charles was illegitimate, and England hoped to use the division to firmly conquer France.
Joan wished to aid the French war effort, but her exclusion seemed final, and instead she turned toward aiding the national spirit through the Church. The French, meanwhile, pieced together an expedition in 1429 to lift the siege of Orleans and capitalize on the death of English King Henry V in 1422. Though it is questionable what impact an untrained girl could have had to change it, the expedition was a catastrophe. While the French initially made great impact on the English forces, the English stand at the fort of St. Loup turned back the tide. French troops, disheartened by the seemingly unbreakable English hold on France, retreated and suffered great causalities. The new English king, Henry VI, did not seem to have the heart to continue the bitter wars as his forefathers had, giving over rule increasingly to regents and his Burgundian allies.
Finally, in 1453, the war came to an end with a divided France. England faced bankruptcy and an empire that it could not afford to control. Instead, it sold much of its southerly holdings to Burgundy, who established their own kingdom in the north, creating a buffer between England and France proper, which stretched from Chinon southward. The two French kingdoms would routinely fight wars, finding themselves on either side of international conflicts in the coming centuries: the English Wars of the Roses, colonial wars among the Spanish, Dutch, and English, and the Republican War of 1789-95.
Through all of them, nuns of the famous Order of Joan would aid both sides with food and care, encouraging French cooperation and brotherhood. Visions of reunification, however, would not become realized, even after the toppling of communist south France in 1990.
In 1934, the first human being to set foot on the Moon Soviet cosmonaut Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov was born on this day in the small settlement of Listvyanka in the Kemerovo Oblast.
MoonshotThe former Air Force Major General was selected for this signature honour in part because of the outstanding courage he had demonstrated in conducting the first very space walk on 18 March 1965. His spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, and was barely able to get back inside the capsule.
The other reason for his selection was the tragic accidental death of Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin on 27 March 1968, seven years after he became the first human being to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth.
But in a larger sense, the triumphant conclusion of the Soyuz Programme was due to the genius of the leading rocket engineer and designer of the Soviet Union, Sergey Korolyov. Unbeknown to the rest of the world, Korolyov had his own brush with death on 5 January 1966 when after being admitted to hospital with a bleeding polyp in his large intestine a surgeon's incompetence induced a second, and near fatal cardiac arrest.
If the Soviet Union had scored a triple set of firsts in the Space Race, then surely the United States had to score next time, and big. Nothing less than a mission to Mars would enable America to take the lead in the space race.
This strategic objective fired the imagination of California Governor Ronald Wilson Reagan as he stared at the stars on the fateful night that Leonov landed on the Moon. He was a man who believed in cutting through the obfusication to arrive at an action item. His achievement in winning the Space Race, and in so doing bankcrupting the Soviet Union into losing the Cold War, would ensure that "the Gipper" became not only the greatest President in US History but also the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.
A cowboy, said the Ayatollah dismissively, a crazy, crazy old space cowboy yahooing it around outer space. Perhaps some space indians might turn up and save humanity from the Great Satan..
In 1806, on this day the proud and volatile former militia leader, senator and representative of Tennessee Andrew Jackson was fatally wounded in a duel at Harrison's Mills on Red River in Logan, Kentucky.
Death of Old Hickory"Old Hickory" had called for the duel after his wife Rachel was slandered as a bigamist by the lawyer Charles Dickinson, who was referring to a legal error in the divorce from her first husband in 1791. The allegation was made with reasonable justification: Jackson and his wife Rachel Donelson first married in 1792, however they had to remarry two years later when Rachel discovered that she was still legally married to her first husband.
Harrison's Mills was one of several duels Jackson was said to have participated in during his lifetime, the majority of which were allegedly called in defense of his wife's honor. However, this time he met his match because Dickinson was a master of firearms, regarded as one of the best pistol shots in the area.
Ed. & Eric LippsIn accordance with dueling custom, the two stood twenty-four feet apart, with pistols pointed downward. After the signal, Dickinson fired first, grazing Jackson's breastbone and breaking some of his ribs. Jackson maintained his stance and fired back, fatally wounding his opponent. Only later would it become clear that Jackson had also suffered critical injuries.
Rachel died a widow in 1829 in a United States that Jackson had he lived would barely recognise. As a fearless militia leader, doubtless his skills - and anger - might have been better directed at defending his nation, rather than his wife's honour, by fighting the invading army of British North America just six years after his tragic death.
In 2001, human freedom fighters enter underground bases in the hollow earth to battle with their reptilian overlords who have secretly controlled the planet since their arrival from the Alpha Draconis star system some five thousand years ago.
Death to the LizardsFollowing a fierce series of battles, the aliens are finally defeated and their shape-shifting humanoid leader George W. Bush slain.
With the worldwide conspiracy seemingly over, a new threat to humanity soon emerges. Inadvertently the conflict unleashed the infamous lava men. They emerge from beneath the world to fight humanity for the mastery of the planet.
In 1940, Gort informed Churchill that the Expeditionary Force was out of supplies and was sorely pressed by German forces that were concentrating on their perimeter.
Fighting On by Raymond SpeerOn May 30's afternoon, Churchill authorized Gort to capitulate formally and to avoid needless slaughter. But by dinnertime that early evening, Churchill was speaking of contaminating the beaches with poison gas "if that should be to our advantage".
Churchill chose to fly to Paris the late evening of May 30 in order to encourage resistance by the ally. Prime Minister Churchill left behind a Cabinet worried about the soundness of his judgment, knowing that Churchill would risk poisoning his own soldiers in hopes of killing some number of Germans.
In Paris, Churchill and his companion, Clement Attlee, looked to Premier Reynaud and General Petain like civilians dumbfounded by their loss of their Land Army. A call up of civilians for national defense would raise three divisions. Also Canada could be expected to raise an infantry force that could be shipped to France to carry on opposition to Germany from western France.
"All we have to do is fight on," said Churchill, "and we will conquer". The translator for Churchill broke down and openly cried. "If either of us collapse, we shall be vassals and slaves forever".
In 1970, in the wake of the national scandal arising from the Apollo Moon Landing Hoax, Richard M. Nixon announced his resignation from the Presidency effective from 3pm.
The Resignation of Richard NixonThe American mindset in 1969 was very much that the superpower that won the Space Race would also win the Cold War. The President was advised that the probability of the Apollo 11 astronauts returning safely was less than 0.1%. And what was worse - in his mind at least - was that the chances of photographics footage being received from the Moon was even more remote. Nixon realised that he would almost certainly be denied the fanfare he required to shift the focus away from the Vietnam War, and that outcome was completely unacceptable.
"Plan B" was required. And now a fiendish idea took shape, because by incredible good fortune (or so it seemed), Stanley Kubrick was filming Space Odyssey 2001 and had already created a moon landing set in England. NASA secretly approached Kubrick to direct the first three Moon landings - the launch and splashdown would be real but the spacecraft would have remained in Earth orbit while the fake footage was broadcast as "live" from the lunar journey. Click to watch Moon Landing A Fake or Fact part1
Problem was Nixon's level of cunning was matched only by his paranoia. Gripped with anxiety over the possibility of a leak, he ordered the assassination of Kubrick and the three NASA actors. The order was ignored by his General Staff, but due a miscommunication, performed by a branch of the CIA.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was so incensed by the hoax that he resigned from both NASA and the US Air Force, descending into alchoholism. The Russians werent fooled. Inside of two hours, the KGB determined that the film footage was a fake due to the wind-flapping America flag, absence of stars and odd reflections in the camera. However Nixon's fate was sealed by a picture that clearly showed a photograph of Stanley Kurbick on the lunar surface.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot and fatally wounded by former mental patient John Hinckley, who had decided to assassinate him as a way to impress the actress Jodie Foster, on whom Hinckley had developed a fixation after seeing her in the movie Taxi Driver.
Zero Curse by Eric LippsReagan became the eighth victim of the so-called "zero curse," in which U.S.presidents elected in years ending with zero died in office. The others, in order, were:
- William Henry Harrison, elected 1840, died 1841 of pneumonia after only a month in office
- Abraham Lincoln, elected 1860, assassinated 1865
- Grover Cleveland, elected 1880, assassinated 1881
- William McKinley, (re)elected 1900, assassinated 1901
- Warren Harding, elected 1920, died 1923
- Franklin Delano Rooseelt, elected 1940 (3rd term), died 1945 (fourth term; cerebral hemorrhage)
- John F. Kennedy, elected 1960, assassinated 1963.
Vice-President George Herbert Walker Bush was sworn in as the forty-first U.S. President March 31. His would be a troubled presidency, assailed from left and right alike. Only the Democrats' unwise choice of the colorless Walter Mondale as their nominee in 1984 would enable him to secure a second term.
In the 1990s, speculation would run rampant as to what would happen to the winner of the approaching 2000 election.
In 1940, on this day bitter recriminations were exchanged between President Roosevelt and Viscount Halifax just twenty-four hours after his Peace Government accepted overlordship and protection from Nazi Germany.
Clearing the DecksThroughout the summer, Winston Churchill (pictured) had warned that "the British Fleet would be the solid contribution with which [a] Peace Government would buy terms".
And despite the expectation that a defeated Britain and France would continue the fight from their respective Empires, Churchill had already informed the Canadian Ambassador that "There is no question to make a bargain with the United States .. our despatch of the Fleet across the Atlantic should the Mother Country be defeated..I shall myself never entry into any peace negotiation with Hitler, but obviously I cannot bind a future Government, which if we were deserted by the United States and beaten down here, might very easily be ready to accept German overlordship and protection".
Matters came to a head when the British Army capitulated at Dunkirk. Between May 24 and 28th, British Ministers were locked in a closed session during whilst Churchill and Halifax struggled for control of events. Backed by King Edward VIII, Halifax would emerge as the victor by using the familiar language of appeasement to convince the Cabinet that the British Government should at least ascertain what Hitler might be willing to offer Britain if they sued for terms. Recognising the inevitable trajectory of such a next step, and having set his face against negotiation, Churchill had no choice but to resign. British capitulation was complete after a humiliatingly short period of armed struggle against Hitler.
By theatrically raging against the British Peace Government, Roosevelt had to shore up his own crumbling position in advance of the 1940 Presidential Election. And the threat from individuals such as Herbert Hoover, Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy who favoured the establishment of a similiar administration in Washington.
Yet in the midst of this struggle, emerged a third group who had shared Churchill's view that America would stand alone against a Nazified "United States of Europe". Their immediate concern was the threat posed by a combination British and French Fleet in Nazi Hands, albeit deployed around the world. And the nightmarish possibility of the need for a pre-emptive cowardly strike by the US Navy on the moored fleets of her former allies..
In 2015, on this day Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg was wounded in an assassination attempt during a party rally in Manchester.
|Lib Dem Leader|
The would-be assassin, who subsequently fled to the US and spent three months in hiding before he was arrested in New York City on an unrelated charge, was a British National Party fanatic who blamed Clegg and other prominent left-wingers for the collapse of the United Kingdom.
On this day in 1983, Rick Steamboat took on Roddy Piper in a rematch of Steamboat's NWA world title defense the week before on WCW. Piper thought he'd won the return bout only to have the decision reversed and the victory awarded to Steamboat on a disqualification when it was learned that Piper's cornerman for the match, Rick Rude, had interfered to keep Steamboat from escaping a pin attempt by the Rowdy Scot.
That same night on Raw, defending WWF world heavyweight champion Terry "Hulk" Hogan said he would put his belt on the line in two weeks against former champion Tommy Rich in a no-holds barred match. That bout would in turn set the stage for a final showdown between Hogan and Rich at Summerslam II.
On this day in 1967, Israeli paratroopers captured East Jerusalem from Arab forces.
In 1922, Astrid Pflaume took a young Lance Corporal of the Austro-Hungarian empire hostage, for reasons known only to her and the people she eventually negotiated his release with. The hostage, Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler, achieved quite a bit of fame on returning back to Austria, and went into politics.
In 1903, one of Britain's most beloved comics was born in London, England. Leslie Hope began in vaudeville, and later moved to radio and then movies and television. His radio shows and shows for the troops during World War II were credited by King George as being 'as much aid as two divisions.'
In 1887, the Eddie got its first competitor, in the form of the French Pascal Difference Engine. The PDE was a full ton lighter than the Eddie, a valuable selling point, as many buildings had to be reinforced before an Eddie could be placed in them. This hidden cost of owning an Eddie had made sales slower than they might have been, and spurred Edison to drive his engineers to work on miniaturizing the Eddie.
In 1999, King Arthur II joins his prime minister, Kay Ector, on a mission to New Zealand to convince the island nation to contribute aid to the war effort. The presence of the king in the British delegation sways New Zealand's parliament, and they throw all of the resources they can spare into helping oust the last remnants of the Central European Empire's stranglehold on the world. The Kiwi troops join Sir Lance du Lac's Round Table Corps, and become the spearhead for clearing out the CEE's Asian possessions.
In 1891, Union scouts return to General Theodore Monteith with reports of massive troop movements along the Kansas borders. 'They know where we're headed, Mark,' he says to his aide, Lt. Colonel Mark Wainwright. 'And, damned if they aren't going to fight us for it. You know what this means, don't you?' Colonel Wainwright nods and says, 'Plan B.'
On this day in 1973, as part of research for his book Jerusalem's Lot, author Stephen King interviewed the retired Maine state trooper who supervised the exhumation of the bodies of Charles Boone and Calvin McCann in 1950.
That same day he got a letter from a Seattle woman who indicated that she had evidence an offshoot of the demonic cult to which Philip Boone had once belonged might have been involved in the unexplained disappearance of society woman Ellen Rimbauer in 1948.
|Ill-equipped Rough Riders|
In 1898, Teddy Roosevelt was the first American to head off to Spain to see the wondrous gadgets from the future that had settled the Spanish-American War. An Assiti Shards event caused the Spain of 1960 (with Portugal) to be swapped holus-bolus for Spain on the day of the USS Maine's explosion. The Spaniards rickety old ships were upgraded to the Spanish fleet of 1960 which was more than able to deal with the 1898-era US Navy. TR's interest was more than curiosity, he was determined to equip the Rough Riders with Me-109s and T-26s.
|Massacre at San Juan Hill|
In the 43rd year of Mikhaol's reign, European forces laid siege to the capital city on the Central Continent. This would eventually drive Pharoah Mikhaol into exile on Harmakhis, and from this planet, he would plan his return to power.
In 2000, the unspeakable followers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named took up their residence on the burnt-out cinders of the earth.
In 1969, the construction began on the Hollywood set they used to fake the moon landing.
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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.