In 1978, on this day Italian Cardinal Albino Luciani, 65, was elevated to the papacy as John Paul.
The glorious thirty year papacy of John PaulThough in sickbed for weeks with a highly mysterious ailment, following just a month of being pope, he made a "miraculous" recovery. Though perceived as an intellectual lightweight and "out-of-his-league" by critics in his first month of his papacy, his brush with death (due to circumstances never fully explained) changed such perceptions. He was one of the longest-serving popes in modern history, dying at the ripe old age of 93, in 2006. He outlived the man he had mistakenly predicted would be pope some day, the conservative Pole, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla.
John Paul was a hugely popular pope with the masses; unpretentious, and a moderate in terms of theology. There was great consternation among conservative elements in the Church when the pope allowed for certain types and uses of contraception. The public cheered him for allowing the Italian police authorities access to information related to the Vatican Bank and its murky relations to the Banco Ambrosiano, data which led to the huge scandal that rocked the Italian government and financial elites for a decade (and led to the disgracing of a media magnate, Berlusconi, for his attempts to protect friends with biased reporting in all his media outlets.)
John Paul was far from popular with many conservative Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, such as President Ronald Reagan; the pope's improving of Church ties to the Soviet Union, and dismissal of many pro-US clergy, seemed to conservatives to be prolonging the Cold War and strengthening the USSR's diplomatic position on the global stage. When John Paul made a public pronouncement against the installation of US Pershing II missiles in West Europe, US and Vatican relations soured for decades (though the US is rumored to have stealthily installed them anyway). The Holy Father's stance towards the Russians was seen as lacking in moral clarity vis a vis which side in the Cold War was more committed to true human freedom - it was 'moral equivocationism', in the words of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, in 1983. The pope was given high marks by most Balkan experts across the political spectrum for his calming, 'non-partisan' pronouncements regarding the possible breakup of Yugoslavia after Marshal Tito's death in 1980 (a breakup which never occurred, ethnic aspirations being assuaged with strongly autonomous ethnic republics that remained within a loose federation.) However, John Paul was criticized for not speaking out against a robust yet ostensibly 'humanitarian' Soviet intervention in 1987 that prevented land-grabbing, 'score-settling', or population-removal attempts, albeit with a marked favoring of the Orthodox Serb (fellow Slav) brethren of the Russians. (This intervention continues to this day; the Russians accuse the US of arming Croatian, Bosnian Muslim, and Kosovo Albanian independence movements that wage armed struggle against the Soviet 'peacekeepers'.)
Though the dream of many neoconservatives, in the successive two-term Reagan, Bush, and Dole administrations, of regime change in Moscow has yet to be realized (as of 2006), most liberals dismiss any conservative carping about the significance of John Paul's "not standing up to the Communists". Many liberals either believe in the moral equivalency promulgated by John Paul, or at least the non-confrontational approach he took toward the Soviets, or feel that the political importance of the Vatican in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries was highly exaggerated by the neocons.
In 1969, former President Kennedy, New Orleans Attourney General Jim Garrison and other notable advocates welcomed home Lee Harvey Oswald at Miami International Airport.
PatsyFollowing on the back of the Apollo Moon Landing, it was a second stunning political "win" for the newly elected Humphrey Administration. Within Washington, D.C. it was better understood that the release of the former US marine was attributable to five and half years of delicate advocacy and diplomacy.
His incarceration was an injustice that two Democrat Administrations
fought to overturn, aided more recently by the rise of a more moderate
government in Cuba. And in so doing the Democrats had managed to avoid
the apocalyptic super-power confrontation sought by rogue Soviet
agents who were embittered by the humiliating outcome of the Missiles
Arrested and charged with the assassination of Fidel Castro,
compelling evidence soon emerged to shed doubt about his role as a lone gunman. Armed only with a surplus Italian Army rifle, and not
being a particularly skilled marksman, it seemed unlikely that he had
managed to pull off the assassination in Havana. Instead, many
suspected that he was merely a "patsy" for anti-Casto Cubans who
wanted to draw the United States into a conflict that would see the
overthrow of the Communist regime.
But the inside story was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong
time, the suspected victim of brain washing by rogue Soviet agents who
had also planted evidence of a trail from his Marine base in Japan to
US, Russia, Mexico and finally Cuba. And in November 1963, having been
drugged and smuggled into Havana, he was programmed into carrying a
set of curtain roads into Revolution Square.
In 1723, on this day the "father of microbiology" Antonie van Leeuwenhoek died in Delft, Dutch Republic. He was ninety year old.
Leeuwenhoek BlindedHe was born in Delft in the Netherlands, the baby seemed well enough: he cried, he reacted to his mother, he ate and grew. As little Antonie grew, his family came upon troubled times. Two of his sisters and his father died, and Antonie suffered a terrible fever that would blind him by his sixth birthday. The boy recovered, but he now faced a terrible handicap.
In 1640, Leeuwenhoek's mother remarried, and he was sent to a monastery in Germany that cared for the blind. While unable to read, Leeuwenhoek would be taught songs and oral passages from the Bible by the monks. He was considered the brightest of the children in the care of the monks, and they came to give him special privileges. Sometime when Leeuwenhoek was about sixteen, he was with a scribe who told him about the illuminations in the book he read to Leeuwenhoek and offered him to touch the gilt and thick medieval paints. Leeuwenhoek's later letters described the sensation of feeling images as almost as if he could see again with his mind's eye.
"When he became sixteen, the monks encouraged Leeuwenhoek to pursue a trade beyond simple manual labor. He considered several options before becoming a draper, being able to measure by a grooved ruler he carved himself, having the monks check its accuracies for him. When his skills were approved, he moved home to Delft and secured an apprenticeship with a cloth merchant. While he worked, he considered his system of grooves and the illuminations, and, by 1653, he developed a method of "writing by texture".
Leeuwenhoek worked in business until he had built enough capital to set himself up as a teacher. He did not know Latin, and he had never attended university, but his drive to develop a written alphabet for the blind pushed him. Over the course of months and perfected over years, he built a set of mirrored letters. His method of writing was to etch each backward to be used as a mold. He experimented with systems of carving wood and pouring wax, but the wax was prone to melt under the warmth and pressure of fingers. Lead proved too soft, and tin plates warped. Finally he settled upon glass, and the glass books he produced became the first written code for the blind.
Leeuwenhoek's school attracted the attention of parents of blind children among the growing middle class of the early Enlightenment, and he soon found himself with no shortage of students. His methods spread across Europe and were translated to match the alphabets of French, English, and German. Only two of his original glass books are known to survive due to breakage and the glass being worn down by generations of fingertips. In place of glass, Leeuwenhoek experimented later with typesetting machines into plates of alloys, adding mechanical engineering and metallurgy to his life's impressive list of feats.
His contributions to science are held among the greatest of the Enlightened Age. Along with the creation of calculus, natural law, and principles of physics. It would not be until the Industrial Revolution that discoveries in biology and anatomy would catch up with the science of microbiology founded in part by Charles Darwin, whose theory of the sexual reproduction of microorganisms would cause scandal among the Victorian world, though later contribute to Sir Alexander Fleming's germ theory.
In 1444, although they exposed the weakness of pike formations against artillery, the outnumbered forces of the Swiss Confederacy were able to safely withdraw from Basel to the small hospital of St. Jakob having earned the huge satisfaction of inflicting a brutal assault upon the invading French army.
Old Swiss Confederacy punish French at St. JakobBut the stoic expression of Swiss military bravery backfired spectacularly because the celebrated French Knight Burkhard VII Münch then rode to court to deliver a report that enraged Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor. His sponsor, Charles VII of France was more philosophical because he had only acted upon the appeal to occupy his unruly Armagnac troops. Nevertheless, the prestige and honour of both monarchs had been seriously impugned, and they were forced to gather overwhelming force of men and artilley for a bolder mission. To relieve the besieged city of Zürich and also inflict a crushing blow upon Berne, the Swiss canton which had contributed the small army.
In 1278, on this day a Bohemian army led by the Přemyslid king Ottokar II (pictured) survived a late ambush from Imperial-Hungarian forces to win the decisive Battle on the Marchfeld fought at Dürnkrut and Jedenspeigen.
Přemyslid Dynasty seize Central EuropeThe Holy Roman Empire had been in acute crisis ever since the deposition of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen by Pope Innocent IV. Several nobles were elected as Rex Romanorum (King of the Romans) and Emperor-to-be. But despite the formation of an alliance with King Ladislaus IV of Hungary, the German king Rudolph I of Habsburg was unable to install his own dynasty as a replacement for the now defunct Royal House of Hohenstaufen. Because his dishonourable ambush was anticipated by Ottokar, who lead a remaining reserve contingent into the rearguard of troops led von Kapellen, Rudolph's field commander. And so he would be known to history simply as a "poor count" from Swabian Habsburg Castle. Instead, it would be Ottokar, the Iron and Golden King, who would be declared Rex Romanorum and his dynasty that would dominate Central Europe through to the twentieth century.
In 1820, on this day the future Prince consort of the United Kingdom Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel (pictured) born at Schloss Rosenau in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld to a family connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs.
This post is an article from the Good Old Willie thread.
Good Old Willie #5At the age of twenty he married his first cousin, Queen Victoria, with whom he would ultimately have nine children. At first, Albert felt constrained by his position as consort, which did not confer any power or duties upon him. Over time he adopted many public causes, such as educational reform and a worldwide abolition of slavery, and took on the responsibilities of running the Queen's household, estates and office. He was heavily involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Albert aided in the development of Britain's constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to show less partisanship in her dealings with Parliament-although he actively disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston's tenure as Foreign Secretary.
But it was the Trent Affair that finally allowed the Prince Albert to emerge from his shadowy position as a foreign figurehead. When the forcible removal of Confederate envoys from a British ship by Union forces threatened war between the United States and Britain, Albert intervened to soften the British diplomatic response. More remarkably, he was at this time gravely ill, having been desperately unwell for two years. Although his physician William Jenner had diagnosed typhoid fever but it finally began to clear up by December of 1861. It would remain a cold, solemn Christmas, but, by spring, Albert would be well among the living.
A decade later, his diplomatic skills would be brought to the fore again during the break-up of the North German Confederation. Not only would he expedite the Hohenzollern flight to England during a naval clash in the North Sea with the Russian Navy, but he would also rise to the putative leadership of the independent German States. And as he increasingly assumed the role of elder statesman, he became a mentor to his eldest grandson, Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht Hohenzollern. By 1897, he was long dead and Britain and France went to war over the Fashoda Crisis. Two years later, Wilhelm Hohenzollern would be crowned King of England. He would need every ounce of his grandfather's diplomatic skills to navigate the ship of state through uncertain waters. And perhaps even seek a restoration of the Prussian monarchy.
In 1768, on this day Sally Fairfax and prominent members of the Loyalist Community bade farewall to George Washington as he boarded the HMS Endeavour and set sail for the south Pacific Ocean under the command of Captain James Cook (pictured).
This post is an article from the Midshipman George Washington thread.
Midshipman George Washington #5As the Second in Command of the combined Royal Navy and Royal Society expedition, Washington had been briefed that the mission objective was to sail to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun. This was to occur on 3-4 June 1769; however Cook had also been provided with secret instructions that he was to open after the solar event.
But when Cook died on Tahiti, the instructions were passed to Washington who was ordered to seek evidence of the "unknown southern land" postulated Terra Australis Incognita. Not only did he discover the Gold Coast, but he also claimed the vast continent in the name of King George III.
As a result of this stunning achievement, he was quickly promoted in the Royal Navy becoming an exception to the normal limitations imposed upon colonial advancement. A decade later, he faced the altogether more difficult task of retaining a continent for the monarch. But instead his defeat at Chesakpeake Bay would lead directly to the surrender at Yorktown which effectively ended the American War of Independence. If there was a positive in this outcome then it was that he now had a great deal of time on his hands to live happily ever after with the widow Sally Fairfax.
In 1346, on this day the urgent need to re-configure the out-dated crossbow and knight combination was demonstrated by the narrow margin of the hard-fought French victory at the Battle of Crécy.
Battle of CrécyPhilip VI of France's much larger force of thirty-five thousand men massively outnumbered an Anglo-Welsh army of fifteen thousand men. And yet the superiority of Anglo-Welsh weapons and tactics brought a decision that was close to call.
But on the day, a favourable turn in the weather, the maneuverability of the French knights and an exceptional performance from the Genoese crossbowmen prevented Edward III of England from pulling off what would have been a stunning victory.
In addition to the required tactical update, Philip VI ordered a development of French armour that could withstand a storm of longbow arrows.
In 1071, on this day Byzantine control of Anatolia and Armenia seem to be assured by the decisive defeat of the Seljuq Turks at the Battle of Manzikert.
Byzantine victory at the Battle of ManzikertThe brunt of the battle was borne by the professional soldiers from the eastern and western tagmata, as large numbers of the mercenaries and Anatolian levies fled early and survived the battle. The army therefore consisted of five thousand professional Roman troops from the western provinces and the same number from the eastern provinces; five hundred Frankish and Norman mercenaries under Roussel de Bailleul; some Turkic (Uz and Pecheneg) and Bulgarian mercenaries; infantry under the duke of Antioch; a contingent of Georgian and Armenian troops; and some (but not all) of the Varangian Guard, to total around forty to seventy thousand men.
That number did not include the scoundrel Andronikos Doukas, the co-regent and a direct rival to the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes. He was relieved of the reserve guard command shortly before the battle commenced. Another potentially fatal mistep was also narrowly avoided by recalling General Joseph Tarchaneiotes. He had been ordered to take some of the Roman troops and Varangians and accompany the Pechenegs and Franks to Khliat. This idiotic misjudgement would have split the forces in half and in all probability would have led to catastrophe.
But in the event, the result was a tremendous victory for the Emperor who reinforced Byzantine prestige further with the capture of the commander of the opposing forces, the Sultan of Seljuq dynasty Alp Arslan (great-grandson of Seljuk, the eponymous founder of the dynasty). That prestige did not last very long.
On the long and difficult march back through Asia minor, furious resentment and indignation amongst his troops finalled exploded over an incident with his luxurious baggage train. Diogenes was assassinated by the Frankish mercenaries who he had angered en route when he confronted them about their plundering. The decision not to dismiss them had ensured full troop strength for the battle, but ultimately led to his downfall anyway.
In 1946, on this day the 4,700 men, 13 ships, and multiple aircraft carriers of Task Force 68 departed from Norfolk, Virginia on a mission to end the Second World War by destroying the Secret Nazi Base in New Swabia, Antarctica.
Battle of AntarcticaUS Navy Secretary James Forrestal had personally supervised the assembly of this huge amphibious naval force, but for the mission itself, the principal leadership figure was Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. who had been given operational command of the Carrier Group.
Forrestal had determined that Byrd was uniquely qualified to succeed in his assigned role in "Operation High Jump". He had already led three missions to Antartica but this would be the first that was funded by the Federal Government. Also, in the 1938 he had travelled to Hamburg where he was invited to participate in the 1938/1939 German "Neuschwabenland" Antarctic Expedition which he been forced to decline with great regret.
And yet the mission itself was uniquely challenging. On the 19th February, 1947 six R4-D planes took off from the carrier "Phillipine Sea" but only five returned. The sixth returned some seven hours later, after Byrd met with the Fuhrer. No details of that meeting have ever emerged, apart from a fragment from Byrd's Missing Diary ~ "There comes a time when the rationality of men must fade into insignificance and one must accept the inevitability of the Truth! I am not at liberty to disclose the following documentation at this writing ...perhaps it shall never see the light of public scrutiny, but I must do my duty and record here for all to read one day. In a world of greed and exploitation of certain of mankind can no longer suppress that which is truth". This article is taken from the NaziUFO thread.
In 2009, on this day Mark Obama Ndesandjo published "From Nairobi To Shenzhen" a diarised account of the twelve month search for the notorious head of the al-Qaeda terrorist network his half brother, Barack Hussein Obama.
Watch the Mark Obama Interview
From Nairobi To ShenzhenThe origin of the world's most radical Islamic terrorist really began in the Menteng neighborhood of Jakarta where Barack and his mother moved after their father returned to Kenya.
Ironically, while he was being educated in a radical Muslim school Barack Obama, Snr was fathering younger son Mark with Ruth Nidesand the daughter of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants.
The explosive climax of the book is a clandestine meeting in an Indian restaurant. Before his arrest by undercover CIA agents, Barack learns the terrible truth, that the absent father that he dreamt of for so many years was in fact a brutal wife-abuser that terrorized the childhood of his half-brothers Mark and David.
In 2010, on this day Don Keko wrote ~ What if Al Gore won the 2000 Presidential Election?
What if Al Gore won the 2000 Presidential Election?The Democratic Party overwhelmingly supported Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky Affair. The president changed the terms of debate from abuse of power and obstruction of justice to "Sexual McCarthyism".
Independents bought into this line of reasoning helping Clinton escape removal from office. By November 2000, many of those independents changed their minds and decided to punish Vice President Al Gore's Presidential Campaign. Democratic support for Bill Clinton during the impeachment crisis cost the party the White House in 2000. In an alternate universe, a Gore Presidency eliminated the excesses of the Bush and Obama years, but experienced the same problems.
A reblogged article written by Don KekoAt the beginning of the impeachment crisis, many Democrats considered abandoning President Clinton. If a key Democrat or two called for the president's resignation, Clinton might have been forced to resign or been removed by the U.S. Senate in 1999. In an alternate scenario, Clinton's removal elevated Al Gore to the presidency. Continuous change is an anathema to American voters. So, those same voters refused to change presidents twice within two years. With the bubble economy continuing to appear strong, only Gore could beat Gore. President Gore earns 55% of the popular vote winning the presidency in his own right.
Gore's election represented a departure from the Clinton Era and a slight change in political and social history. Gore governed more ideologically than Clinton. However, the Republican Congress blocked the president's initiatives. The resulting gridlock eliminated the possibility of any major policy breakthroughs such as a Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit or Obamacare. This conflict helped keep the budget deficit under control, but it did not mean a balanced budget.
Despite the fiscal discipline, a mild recession struck in early 2001 leading to deficit spending. The economy received another shock on September 11, 2001. Nineteen Islamic terrorists hijacked passenger airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Passengers took down a third plane en route for Washington D.C. In response, the United States fired cruise missiles into empty El Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and placed the mastermind Osama bin Laden on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. Several months later, the United States invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government. The Taliban and El Qaeda fled to the hills. President Gore declared victory and ended combat operations.
Despite the apparent victory in Aghanistan, the Middle East remained a problem. Iran continued to support terrorism and marched toward a nuclear weapon. President Gore recommended sanctions, but received little help from the international community. Meanwhile, Iran's neighbor moved toward international acceptance. Saddam Hussein remained an annoyance, but the Gore Administration decided to cultivate a relationship with the dictator as opposed to removing the regime.
By 2004, Gore enjoyed few successes. He handled the 911 crisis well and overthrew the Taliban. The mild recession that followed him into office ended. However, he scored few domestic successes as he fought the Republican Congress. In the general election, Gore defeated Republican Nominee John McCain. McCain ran a poor campaign and voters were loathe to fire the commander-in-chief with a war in Afghanistan. Despite Gore's narrow re-election, the Republicans maintain control of Congress.
After securing re-election, Gore moved to reform social security and health care. The resulting firestorm hampered his administration. Gore's luck changed for the worse when Hurricane Katrina extinguished the social security controversy. In late August 2005, the hurricane destroyed New Orleans leaving the city underwater. Gore declared an emergency, but the federal government responded slowly. The lack of state response accentuated the federal tardiness. Even though the state and local governments were ultimately responsible for the poor first response, voters blamed Gore.
Katrina was not the only storm Gore faced in his second term. The president worried about a second Vietnam in Afghanistan. The country's reputation as the empire's graveyard terrified Gore. In 2004, he began a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops. By 2006, the Taliban began a resurgence. Gore decided to respond with drone and special forces attacks. This strategy proved spotty at best. By 2008, the Taliban conquered Afghanistan undercutting America's earlier efforts.
Gore faced a third storm accompanying Katrina and Afghanistan. In late 2008, the economy collapsed. The housing market and derivatives trading precipitated a major recession. Voters blamed Gore and took their anger out on Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The Republicans captured the White House for the first time since 1988 behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The Democratic Party did not abandon Bill Clinton. As a result, Al Gore never became president. Had he won the presidency, there would not have been so-called health care reform, prescription drug benefit, high deficits, an Obama Presidency, or a Democratic Congress. However, the 911 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and Afghanistan would have all combined to undercut his presidency. Sometimes changing horses does not make a difference.
By 1501, an enormous block of marble nicknamed "The Giant" and "David" had sat unused for some thirty-five years. Agostino di Duccio had been given the block to sculpt into a massive portrayal of the biblical David in 1464, but the death of his master Donatello in 1466 had interrupted the project.
Da Vinci Agrees to Sculpt David Rossellino had been commissioned to continue, but his contract had been terminated. Until 1501, the block sat in the church workshop, cataloged as a certain figure of marble called David, badly blocked out and supine".
Leonardo da Vinci was consulted to work on the marble, but he initially declined. Times had been rough for the Renaissance man: he had fled French troops in Milan the year before and spent the interim in Venice working as a military architect before arriving in Florence. In the meantime, the invading French had used "Gran Cavallo", his massive clay model of a horse (larger even than Donatello's), as a practice target. He was currently working on a cartoon of the Virgin while living at a monastery, and he doubted he could take on the extra work.
"When Leonardo heard that the contract was going to go to the young upstart Michelangelo (who had recently completed the much applauded Piet?), he changed his mind. Michelangelo had insulted him years ago by implying that Leonardo was incapable of casting Gran Cavallo, which, worse, proved true as the bronze promised for the statue was taken to be used for cannon to defend Milan. Leonardo interrupted Michelangelo's contract, offering to do the work for little more than room and board. After a week and a half of the two artists bickering, Leonardo finally blurted, "He might give you a sculpture that can stand, but I'll give you one that can sing!"
Michelangelo scoffed, but the Operai, the commission for overseeing the works of the Duomo, were impressed. They had heard of Leonardo's many inventions and weapons, so they decided to give the man a chance. Leonardo had originally meant the singing to be figurative, but now he was stuck in a contract that would prove to revolutionize the Renaissance world.
Leonardo buried himself in a study of automatons. Stories of Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese machines that looked like men gave precedence but no real mechanical inspiration. The Arab Al-Jazari three hundred years before had built an emulation of a four-piece band that played on a boat as well as a robotic servant for washing guests' hands. Leonardo himself had sketched a series of gears to emulate sitting up and moving arms and legs just a few years before as part of his work with the Vitruvian Man. The impossible task gradually seemed doable.
His first task was to plan the singing David, making countless sketches in a variety of positions, finally planning the David to have his face toward Heaven while stroking a lyre. While assistants carved the marble, Leonardo studied music boxes and the human voice, creating a series of leather tubes powered by a hidden bellows and recorded positions of flaps on metal discs. Tiny levers and tubes would run through hollowed holes in the marble. The final statue (finished in 1507) was unable to produce recognizable words, but his humming was described as "angelic" by all who saw it. David's arm moved on a rotating gear, striking three notes on the carefully crafted enormous lyre that rested in his hands.
The robotic David astounded Florence, spreading Leonardo's fame throughout Europe. King Louis XII brought Leonardo to court, ordering as many moving statues as the artist could produce until his death in 1519. His workshop continued his work afterward, and multiple workshops sprang up emulating their techniques. A fury for automatons ran through Europe, leading to the Clockwork Revolution of the seventeenth century when labor-saving devices were routinely created by out-of-work artists and architects. Self-rising buckets from wells, continually pounding hammers powered by hot air in blacksmiths' forges, and the sewing machine changed life as the Enlightenment blossomed. With the adoption of steam power in the early 1700s, factories began to usher in the Industrial Revolution.
Michelangelo, meanwhile, returned to Rome after creating a bust of Mona, wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, noted for its cryptic frown, almost as if frozen in a sigh. In Rome, he worked mainly on tombstones for the wealthy and powerful while his rival Raphael painted the well received, but not revolutionary, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
In 1861, just four weeks after the chaotic evacuation from Washington City the Union mustered sufficient organisation to reseat the National Government upon the island of Manhattan which became the new Federal District under an emergency cessation by the New York State Legislature.
Crucifixion Day Part 2 by Ed, Stan Brin & Eric LippsThe Union received an immediate setback to its national authority when a few days later the District of Columbia signed an act of retrocession returning the territory to the State of Maryland.
Whilst his murdered predecessor had grappled with the retention of Federal Property in the Confederate States, for President Hannibal Hamlin the game had moved on from Fort Sumter and at a pace. Because George Washington's capital was in the hands of the Confederate troops who had crushed Union Forces at the Battle of Bull Run.
In 2009, family members announced the death of former President Edward M. Kennedy. According to their statement, President Kennedy passed away shortly before midnight on Tuesday, August 25. He had been battling brain cancer since being diagnosed with the disease in May of 2008.
End of the Road at Chappaquddick by Eric LippsKennedy was the last of the four sons of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., the controversial multimillionaire who had served as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain in the 1930s. The eldest brother, Joseph Jr., died in 1944 while on a World War II bombing mission. He was followed by John F. Kennedy, who after entering politics in 1946 served as U.S. representative, senator and finally President of the United States before being assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, and by Robert F. Kennedy, who as a senator from New York ran for president until his own murder on June 5, 1968, just after his victory in the California Democratic primary. Robert Kennedy's death left Edward, commonly known as "Ted," as the last male survivor of his generation of the Kennedy family.
In 1972, Sen. Kennedy ran for president and won the Democratic nomination before being defeated by incumbent President Richard M. Nixon. Following the disgrace and resignation of both Nixon and his first vice-president Spiro T. Agnew, however, Kennedy ran again and once more won the Democratic nomination. As in 1972, he chose Washington Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson as his running mate. It was in some ways an odd match, for Jackson was considerably more conservative than Kennedy on many issues, but where it had failed in 1972 against Nixon, the Kennedy-Jackson ticket prevailed in 1976 over the Watergate-shadowed Gerald R. Ford and his VP choice, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York.
Kennedy would comment to several biographers on the role of sheer luck in his rise to the White House. On June 18, 1972, he had been returning from a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Martha's Vineyard, an intoxicated Kennedy had narrowly avoided a fatal accident when his car almost plunged off a bridge. Had the vehicle actually gone over, Kennedy noted, it was likely that either he, his female passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, or both would have died. Even if he had survived, the President suggested, the death of Kopechne might have permanently tarnished him, making his election to the presidency impossible. Instead, he said, the event helped persuade him to seek help with his growing dependency on alcohol, which had worsened after the death of his brother Robert the year before. His struggle with alcohol would inspire his founding, with his first wife Joan, of the Kennedy Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in 1988.
President Kennedy won reelection in 1980, narrowly defeating former California governor Ronald Reagan. Barely two months after his second inaugural, however, he was shot and seriously wounded by former mental patient John Hinckley, who had attempted to assassinate him to impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had become infatuated. Vice-President Jackson was briefly named acting president under the Twenty-fifth Amendment -- the first time this had been done -- until it was clear Kennedy would be able to return to his duties.
In 1983, Vice-President Jackson himself would die, of an aortic aneurysm, forcing President Kennedy to seek a replacement. He selected Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, who would serve until Kennedy left office in January 1989.
As President, Kennedy would champion a number of causes, including health care reform, education and the environment, resulting in, among other things, the passage in 1984 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Pricing Act empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. He would also face a number of crises, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His decision to selectively support the secular elements of the anti-Soviet mujaheddin would anger U.S. conservatives, already bitter at his decision in 1979 not to permit the deposed Shah of Iran to come to the U.S. For treatment for lymphoma, and would be opposed even by his own CIA director, Stansfield Turner. Kennedy's critics favored the Islamic fundamentalist factions, which they felt were more strongly anti-Communist. Also enraged would be many of those fundamentalists, including a Saudi expatriate named Osama bin Laden, who would go on to form the terrorist network known as Al Qaeda. In 1993 and again in 2001, this group attempted spectacular attacks against the U.S. The first attack, involving a powerful car bomb parked in the basement of the World Trade Center, did limited damage to the Trade Towers, resulting in six deaths; the second would be thwarted altogether after then-President John McCain responded forcefully to warnings that Al Qaeda was planning another strike against the United States.
After leaving the White House, President Kennedy would continue to advocate for his favorite causes, though his support would prove insufficient to overcome GOP opposition to the Nunn Administration's 1993 AmeriCare proposal for national health coverage.
He is survived by his second wife Victoria, two grown sons, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. of Branford, Conn., and United States Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island, two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin, and a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.
In 1944, on this day the French First Army entered Paris with an assorted cortege of jeeps, half-trucks and old Citreon tractions avante led by the open car that General Charles de Gaulle insisted on using. Red Coronation Day in Paris
Preparing to declare himself the President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic in an appropriately symbolic setting, de Gaulle reached Notre-Dame Cathedral after a brief stop in front of Hotel de Ville.
For the rebuilding of French prestige, the General had demanded to lead the liberating army on Coronation Day downplaying the role of his British and Americans allies in a characteristic statement ~
"I was there of course to greet the American division passing through Paris on their way further combat, but I had in no sense asked for their help".
The General soon learnt that the Belgian Government in Exile had permitted Americans forces to liberate Brussels. Astounded by their anglo-saxon arrogance, he responded by immediately despatching General Leclerc's Free French 2nd Armoured Division to Strasbourg. Because de Gaulle quite rightly believed that the British and Americans would not leave continental Europe until they were kicked out. Events would prove this was to be the case although under a rather different set of circumstances.
Yet in his haste to re-establish an autonomous French identity, the General had overplayed his own hand. In fact, the entire Allied command structure had fatally miscalculated the sentiment in liberated Europe. As recounted by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins in Is Paris Burning?, de Gaulle described the scene at Notre-Dame as follows ~
"It was immediately apparent to me that this was one of those contagious shooting matches which high feelings sometimes sets off in over-excited troops on the occasion of some fortuitous or provoked incident. Nothing could be more important for me not yield to the panic of the crowd".
In Crusade in Europe, General Eisenhower later confirmed that de Gaulle refusal of American reinforcements to secure Paris cost the General his life. And within days, Eisenhower would be forced to backtrack himself, ordering an American Division to confront a new Paris Commune. All across north west Europe, the pattern would repeat itself as Operation Overlord proved both a military success and a political failure - Allied Forces were powerless to prevent European Cities being seized by Communists.
In 1503, following his death a week before, Pope Alexander VI was succeeded by his son Cesare Borgia who had used the Armies of the Church to establish his own principality in central Italy. The Mask
At the coronation on this day, French and Spanish allies were shocked to find Borgia trying to hide a syphilis ravaged face.
Niccolo Machiavelli was inspired to write the Mask, a thesis on the manipulation of political power for its own ends. Two episodes were particularly impressive to Machiavelli: the method by which Borgia pacified the Romagna, which Machiavelli describes in chapter VII, and Borgia's assassination of his captains on New Year's Eve of 1503 in Senigallia.
As Machiavelli noted in the introduction, for Borgia it was simply a case of "Aut Caesar aut nihil (either Caesar or nothing)".
On this day in 1944, Allied reconnaissance planes flying over the shrinking Nazi occupation zone inside Belgium spotted massive troop and tank formations gathering east of the recently liberated port of Antwerp for what Allied supreme commander General Dwight Eisenhower and his senior staff rightly suspected was an impending multi-front assault on Allied defenses around the city.
On this day in 1953, Winston Churchill, then in his second tenure as British prime minister, said that Great Britain would support the Eisenhower administration wholeheartedly in any action it sought to take in
response to the Tienanmen Square massacre two days earlier.
In 1914, on this day the Russians 2nd Army defeated the Germans in the Battle of Tannenberg, a decisive engagement which resulted in the almost complete destruction of the German 8th Army.
Inside of three weeks, the Russian Commanders of the 1st and 2nd Armies, Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf would enter Berlin. Such was their triumph that the Generals settled the bitter personal feud that had existed since they fought at the train station at Mukden in 1905.
In 1914, the Russian First and Second Armies led by Generals Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf defeated a much smaller force of German troops at the Battle of Tannenberg. Despite the tactical brilliance of Colonel Max Hoffmann, the new High Command consisting of Hindenburgh and Ludendorff arrived too late to prevent the destruction of German Corps on the Eastern Front. The march on Berlin was relentless, and it would appear that nothing could now stop the Russian Steamroller.
"I wrote the Air Force back then, asking for details about the raid on Dresden, who ordered it, how many planes did it, why they did it, what desirable results there had been and so on.
[I was told] that information was top secret still. Secret? My God ? from whom?" ~ Kurt Vonnegut speaking about the fire-bombing of Dresden, the city he described as the 'Florence of the Elbe'
Kurt Vonnegut was a fourth-generation German-American living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (and smoking too much), who, as an American Infantry Scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden.
In 1968, Kurt Vonnegut would get answers all these questions and more after he was seized by alien occupants of a flying saucer from the Planet Tralfamadore.
In 4687, Prince Zeng-Hou of the Yang Gao colony starts using the alien Y'T'T'li as servants in his household. When they seem to pose no threat, other elected officials also begin using the Y'T'T'li in this manner. The Y'T'T'li seem to have no problem fulfilling this function, often claiming that they are born to serve.
In 1971, fascist defector Charles Lindbergh dies at his home in Nice, France. When the Fascist Control Act was enacted, Lindbergh fled the Soviet States of America for the country that had loved him since he had been the first man to make a solo flight across the Atlantic.
In 1968, Yippie activists manage to break into the opening ceremonies of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In the resulting riot, Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and 14 others are killed. The Democratic Party, in disarray, manages to convince President Lyndon Johnson to accept nomination for another term, which he narrowly wins against Republican Richard Nixon and independent challenger George Wallace.
In 1939, the first major-league Town Ball game to be televised was played at New York Stadium between the Metros and the Toledo Mudhens. Toledo won, 7-3.
In 1933, the last patent issued to Thomas Edison is made for the Radiometric Compass, a device that allows the user to position himself on a globe using radio waves bounced off the horizon. Edison had died 2 years before the patent was issued.
In 1883, Krakatoa, a volcano near the island of Java, was prevented from erupting by Mlosh weather-control technology, but a brief earthquake still hit the island, causing over a hundred deaths. For some reason, this concerned the vulcanologists who had stopped the eruption.
In 698, AUC Julius Caesar attempted to add Britannia to his list of conquests. Fresh from his conquest of Gaul, he felt the island-bound Britannians would be easier, but he met with unexpectedly tough resistance from a Welsh chieftain named Artorius. Caesar was driven off the island in 704 AUC, and Britannia remained free until the 10th century AUC.
the flagging career of Austrian artist, Adolf Hiter, was today given a much needed boost after teenage art lover Oskar Schindler
purchased a number of the young painter's works. Deemed by many as average at best, many were surprised to find so many of AH's works on Schindler's List
- a list, included in his book 'Schindler's Art', of over a hundred works that he fears will be lost as the Dada movement
takes hold. It is reported that this timely intervention has brought an end to the young artist's political aspirations.
on this day the Russians 2nd Army defeated the Germans in the Battle of Tannenberg, a decisive engagement which resulted in the almost complete destruction of the German 8th Army. Inside of three weeks, the Russian Commanders of the 1st and 2nd Armies, Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf would enter Berlin. Such was their triumph that the Generals settled the bitter personal feud that had existed since they fought at the train station
at Mukden in 1905.
Charles de Gaulle marched into Paris at the head of Free French Forces. Of course this would never have been possible without the American entry into the war in 1941. Both nations bonded during Operation Torch, conquered North Africa together and then invaded the soft under belly of Europe before finally defeating Hitler in 1945. Throughout his long-life, and his Presidency, de Gaulle could never forgive perfidious albion
. Lord Halifax had maintained a policy of neutrality as France stood alone, refusing even to supply de Gaulle and the Free French Forces in North Africa with arms during the hard days that followed the Battle of France.
In 1940, Communist Chancellor of the German Republic Ernst Thälmann invited European leaders to seize the historic opportunity presented by the premature demise of the Duke of Guise.
The Plot Against Germany 10As the political violence began to destroy the Third Republic from within a new leader had been sought to fill the political vacuum. Elected President in 1938, foreign leaders had expected the Duke to attempt to restore the House D'Orléans.
Although such a restoration had been put beyond the realms of political possibility, much damage had been done to European security. He had used his authority and prestige to form a robust Cabinet that featured an array of strong national leaders including Petain, Gamelin and de Gaulle. And he signed a tripartite military alliance with Fascist Spain and Italy that brought Europe to the brink of war. A reinvigorated military capability had been established and even if France was unlikely to open hostilities, Stalin's Russia seemed unwilling to wait to find out. To be continued in the Chancellor Ernst Thalmann thread.
In 1939, on this day The Wizard of Oz opened in theaters around the United States.
A Forgettable MovieUnfortunately, the movie production of L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel had been problematic from the start. After protracted haggling over his fee, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had finally agreed to pay up, casting W. C. Fields as a cynical con-man in the signature role.
Even more trouble followed at the audition for the lead part of Dorothy Gale. Ten year old acting sensation Shirley Temple was on loan out from 20th Century Fox in exchange for Clark Gable . She was the logical choice for the role being the box-office champion for the consecutive years 1935-36-37-38. Sporting over fifty locks of curly golden hair, she was just starting to lose her childish looks and producer Arthur Freed got off to a bad start by declaring "First we lose the baby fat". And despite being striking as a "cute kid", her singing was too shrill such that the signature tune "Over the Rainbow" had to be cut from the script.
Over billed as a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer masterpiece, and despite their remarkable star quality, these two first choices fell short in an instantly forgettable kiddies movie. And perhaps the only truly memorable scene was the encounter between Dorothy and the Great and Powerful Oz which in a note of irony contained much of the frustrated dialogue of the pre-production casting.
In 1943, on this day the British dictator Arnold Hiller was the unwelcome guest of radio broadcaster Roy Plomley. According to the popular tradition of the show, he was asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that he would take if he were to be castaway on a desert island, whilst discussing his life and the reasons for his choices.
The Right Honourable Arnold Hiller, M.P
Roy Plomley Will See You Now, Mr. Hiller
Needless to say, his selection of Desert Island Discs was comprised almost exclusively of Wagnerian classics ending with the eponymous Ride of the Valkyries.
However in the few light-hearted moments of the show (such as they were), he broodily reflected upon the troubled nature of his early adult life. Brought up in London in a Bavarian immigrant family, he had been swept into a wave of anti-German anger caused by the Great War. Even the Royal Family had been forced to change their name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the more anglicized name of Windsor (prior to 1917, his own family name had been "Hitler"). Of course that particular issue had been resolved years before. Hiller had manipulated the abdication crisis in order to merge the offices of Head of Government and Head of State, creating an unassailable position of power from which he could order others to do as he pleased. Including Roy Plomley.
In 410 AD, on this fateful day, rebellious slaves were prevented from opening the Salarian Gate to let in Chieftain Alaric's Visigoth army camped outside the imperial city.
Visigoths turned away from the gates of RomeThe city was now fully roused to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia. They mobilized around the leadership of former Emperor's half-sister Galla Placidia. With the Roman Senate unable to
pay the besieging army to go away, and the authorities in Ravenna still unwilling to grant land to the Visigoths, they took matters into their own hands. And made a desperate last stand that brought pride and honor to the eleven hundred and sixty-three year of the city. During the struggle Alaric fell ill and died; his brother Athaulf retreated to south-west France and established his own Kingdom.
In 1914, on this day the German Deputy Chief of Operations, Colonel Max Hoffmann received a new radio intercept of von Rennenkampf's most recent order for the Russian First Army to relieve General Samsonov's beleagured Second Army at Tannenberg.
Marching through East PrussiaThat the Russian Commanders would BOTH send messages in clear text was so unbelievable that his incredulous bosses refused to accept it as a statement of fact. Instead Ludendorff and Hindenburg compounded this error by rejecting Hoffman's plans, and then insisting that German I Corps under Hermann von François press ahead with the attack even before his artillery supplies arrived.
Of course von Rennenkampf and Samsonov had hated each other even before their notorious punch up on the platform of Mukden Station in 1905. But to Hoffman's private exasperation it was Ludendorff and Hindenburg who quarreled over tactics having only just met on the train en route. Ironically, Hindenburg's reactivation from retirement was a desperate measure forced upon the High Command by the panicking aristocracy of East Prussia. And worse, Hoffman's defensive plans were perfectly sound and the interference of the two Generals was not only wholly unnecessary but in fact totally counter-productive.
Fortunately for the Central Powers, the German Army Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke had exercised caution by taking three corps and a cavalry division from the Western front and redeploying them to East Prussia. This order was issued over the head of Ludendorff who had protested that the relief forces would arrive too late to have any effect, while at the same time weakening the German offensive through Belgium against France. Although he was right to argue that this massive redeployment threatened to undo the Schlieffen Plan, the early arrival of these Corps was now key to saving the Eastern Front from collapse.
In 1866, with the US Congress in Philadelphia deeply divided between Free Soil Republicans and Southern sympathizing Tory Democrats the debate over the Reconstruction Programme in the North entered a new phase with the reports of armed clashes in New Mexico between drifting Confederate and settled black Union Veterans.
Bloody New Mexico
By Ed, Armand A. Ruhlman, Jeff Provine and Scott PalterA huge northward exodus of African Americans had begun almost immediately after the signature of the "Two Americas" peace settlement that followed the Southern occuptation of Washington City.
But in the event many parts of the rural and small city North simply banned Freedmen or chased out newcomers. Because the dreadful truth was that much of the North had objected to slavery because they objected to white men having to compete with black labor.
Increased African American representation added a new dimension to the 1866 Congressional elections and the result was a deeply divided governing class that could only seem to agree on the need to prevent the "Second Birth of the Nation" ending in tragedy.
In 1919, on this day the twentieth President of the Confederate States George Corley Wallace, Jr. was born in Clio, Alabama.
George C. Wallace, Jr.
20th Confederate President
March 4, 1969 - 1975Wallace served as the 45th governor of Alabama (1964-1968) before his election as 20th president of the Confederate States of America. He would go on to return to politics as associate justice of the CS Supreme Court, having been nominated by president John Connally in 1982.
Wallace would be best remembered for his efforts for the Nationalist cause which successfully forestalled efforts toward reunification of the Americas for over thirty years. The continued policies of segregation, bordering on racism, were linked to Nationalism due to the concurrence of the Civil Rights Movement in the Confederacy. However, historians have argued, based on Wallace's years as a NAACP supported judge, that Wallace was truly just in favor of separate and equal segregation. These historians hold that the true cause that drove the man was the continuance of the CSA as a "separate and equal" nation. Wallace's subsequent years on the Supreme Court would bear out the truth of these suppositions. A new article from the "Two Americas" thread on Althistory Wikia
Significant international achievements during Wallace's time in Richmond included an end to the Nicaraguan war that had waged since insurgencies in the mid-1950's, and the completion of the manned missions to the moon. In the midst of his term, he was nearly killed by an assassin's bullet while campaigning on behalf of Nationalist party candidates for the Senate in 1972. As a result of the attempt, Wallace would be wheel-chair bound for the rest of his life. Upon leaving Richmond, Wallace would join the board of the Confederate Cancer Society in the wake of his wife's death to the disease during his campaign for president. He would remain unmarried the rest of his life, being an advocate for Cancer research even after joining the Supreme Court in 1982.
The whole alternate biography is available Althistory Wiki.
By 1849, the Hawaiian Islands had increasing connections with the outside world following its discovery by the Englishman Captain James Cook (pictured) in 1778. Known as the Sandwich Isles for some time, Europeans and Americans would make visits for trade on the islands and some to create permanent settlements.
Hawaii Declared Colony of FranceIn 1817, Russians had come to retrieve stolen goods and forced a treaty upon Chief Kaumuali'i of the island of Kauai to establish three Russian forts there. More significant, however, were the missionaries who settled the various islands and worked with natives. As missionaries began to intersect, their differing dogma caused issues between them. Gradually, the Protestant missionaries convinced the king to make Catholicism illegal, causing the imprisonment of Catholic natives and deportation of foreign priests.
In 1839, the French came to the island to defend Catholics' religious freedom. They threatened war, but Kamehameha III staved off battle with the Edict of Toleration allowing some rights to Catholics and paying $20,000 in compensation for damages. Still, Catholics were not given full rights, and, in 1849, French Admiral Louis Tromelin learned about the persecution as well as tariffs against French goods while in harbor at Honolulu. Tromelin drew up a list of grievances and had them delivered to Kamehameha on August 22.
By the 25th, there had been no reply to demands. Feeling that Hawaii must be made safe for French interests, Tromelin decided to seize control of the island nation. With 140 marines, cannon, and a few Hawaiian sympathizers, Tromelin stormed the palace and captured Kamehameha. Riots broke out over Oahu, but generations of plague and the superiority of European weapons stopped the populace from overthrowing the French. Tromelin had marginal control for a few months until reinforcements arrived from Tahiti and France and a more formal colonial government was established. Following the Crimean War, the French also legally controlled the island of Kauai, occupying Russian forts.
Gerrit Judd, an American physician and missionary, left for Paris to plead for the overthrow of Tromelin's action. However, with the testimonies of Admiral Tromelin and William Patrice Dillon, Consult to Hawaii, France decided to uphold the conquest. Over the next years, Hawaii would become an important Pacific port as well as grounds for sugar and fruit plantations. While American businessmen would seek to purchase Hawaii in the 1890s, the French would remain stalwart on the islands.
With the coming of World War II, France would fall to Hitler, and Hawaii would be under the control of Vichy France. In 1940, Japan made agreements with the French to establish bases on the islands, mostly on the Big Island of Hawaii. On December 7, 1941, Japanese fleets would use Hawaii as one of many starting points for a combined force that attacked Midway Island, bringing the United States into the war. From that point, Hawaii would be used as the farthest eastern Japanese military port, launching submarine patrols harassing the American West Coast.
Americans struck back with the bloody Invasion of Hawaii in November of 1943. Throughout the war, liberated Hawaii served as a key base for the Americans and other Allies. When the war was over, Hawaii was granted its independence for the first time in a century, though the Americans signed leases to continue a small airbase north of Pearl Harbor to make up for what was lost at Midway.
Today, Hawaii is a secure republic and leader among the Pacific islands. Its economy is based on tourism from America as well as Japan, despite its lack of first world comforts because of limited political support.
In 1974, on this day thousands of people crowded the heart of London to pay their final respects to slain British prime minister Harold Wilson as his casket was driven through the streets of the British capital prior to his memorial service at Westminster Cathedral.Pinnacle by Chris OakleyThat same day Wilson's KGB handlers, shaken by their contact's untimely demise and fearing their other agents in Britain might have been compromised, ordered all remaining Soviet intelligence personnel in the UK to go to ground immediately.
Classified documents released by the Russian government after the collapse of the Soviet Union would reveal Wilson's handlers had just cause for alarm; three days before the British prime minister's assassination a KGB defector code-named "Pinnacle" by MI-6 had given British intelligence highly detailed and credible reports Wilson was preparing to escape to the Soviet Union before anyone could arrest him for his espionage activities. The information provided by "Pinnacle" enabled British police to arrest hundreds of Soviet agents and forced dozens more to flee the UK.
In 1939, on this day the House of Commons witnessed scenes of uproar which were surely without precedent since the English Civil War.
Countdown to War Part 2: Speak for EnglandThe Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Lord Halifax revealed that it was infeasible for the British and French Governments to assist the beleagured Poles repel the German military which was even now massing on their border. And having re-evaluated the bleak prospects for such a misadventure, a logical decision had now been reached in London and Paris to allow the Polish security guarantee to "lapse".
Privately, Halifax was confident that Mr Hitler had "no plan or blueprint for world conquest". In fact the Swedish businessman Birger Dahlerus was acting as a freelance diplomat, and progress towards a framework agreement had already been made. The outcome would be the so-called "Munich II" Conference in which the Polish Corridor was returned to Germany along with the Port of Danzig.
"You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war"A cross party census was formed by Hawks and Doves alike. With Clement Attlee recovering from an operation, acting Labour leader Arthur Greenwood was given the impossible task of speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Opposition, which was itself deeply divided. From the Conservative back benches Leo Amery cried "Speak for England, Arthur!" Only the previous year, his late colleague Winston Churchill had prophetically stated "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war". But at least for now, more dishonour had been chosen.
In 1814, on this day Elbridge Gerry (pictured) was promptly sworn in as the fifth President of the United States after receiving confirmation of the untimely and tragic death of James Madison at Bladensburg, Maryland. Fleeing the burning capital, Madison had been arrested and subsequently executed as a "traitor to the crown" by the invading British troops who had just torched the White House.
Mr. Madison's War, Part 2 by Ed & Eric LippsSeeking to exploit the atrocious murder of a democratically elected Head of State, Gerry immediately issued an appeal to Britain's traditional enemes. Not only France but also Spain and the Netherlands would view this request as an opportunity to recapture territory lost since Great Britain's stupendous victory in the French-Indian War of 1763, itself a cause of the War of Independence that followed thirteen years later.
Despite this diplomatic "gerry-mandering" and with some justification, Great Britain still held high hopes of recolonising the eastern seaboard whilst holding on to British Canada. Because on November 13th, Gerry would himself die of heart failure, throwing the American government into fresh chaos.
In 1940, the Imperial Government of Japan demanded and received the right to place Vietnam under military occupation, restricting the local French administration to figurehead authority.Old EuropeSeizing the opportunity, the Communists organized the broad Viet Minh Front and prepared to launch an uprising at the war's end. The Viet Minh (short for Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh, or League for the Independence of Vietnam) emphasized moderate reform and national independence rather than specifically Communist aims. When the Japanese surrendered to the Allies in August 1945, Viet Minh forces arose throughout Vietnam and declared the establishment of an independent republic in Hanoi.
Now the Vietnamese and the French shared the common experience of resistance to a fascist occupier. Matters had moved far ahead from the refusal at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference to hear Ho Chi Minh's case for self-determination.
France quickly developed a very independent foreign policy to Anglo-America, demonstrated as recently as 2003 when President Chirac opposed the invasion of Iraq. Bizarrely, Anglo-America described the French's anti-imperialism as the views of 'Old Europe'. Figure that one out.
|Polish Home Army Leader |
On this day in 1944, Polish Home Army leader Thadeusz Bor-Komorowski sent Polish Communist Party chief Wladislaw Gomulka a message warning that any attempt to impose Marxist rule on Poland would be sternly resisted-- by armed force if necessary.
This touched off a diplomatic crisis among the Allied powers that only protacted and delicate closed-door negotiations managed to defuse; even then, there remained noticeable tension between the Communist and non-Communist elements of the Polish anti-Nazi resistance movement.
|Thadeusz Bor-Komorowski |
In 1814, the second war of independence ended in ignominy when Washington, D.C. was burned to the ground and the White House destroyed by British forces during the War of 1812. Arthur Wellesley immediately began the construction of the modern city of Wellington, residence of the Governor-General of the North American Union which bestrides the Potomac River to this day. It was the start of a new phase in the special relationship for Anglo-America.
In 1945, an increasingly desperate American military drop the fourth nuclear bomb, "Tall Boy" on Tokyo.
Surely, this would forces the Emperor of Tokyo to accept unconditional surrender as inevitable.
|Harry S. Truman|
In 1814, Washington, D.C. is burned and White House is destroyed by British forces under the Duke of Wellington. Ostensibly a revenge attack for the destruction of Yorktown (modern day Toronto), the Duke wanted to stamp British authority as he turned the clock back to 1775. The new city of Victoria was built upon ruins of DC and is of course today the residence of the Governor General of New Britain.
A group of people is coming towards us. They're tourists from Saudi Arabia it looks like, on a tour of the historic landmarks of Cambridge, Massachusetts or out for the local colour. They're diminutive and neatly turned out in burqas.
"And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not to display their adornment except that which ordinarily appears thereof and to draw their headcovers over their chests and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons". ~ Qu'ran Sura 24:31
Excuse me,' said the interpreter again, to catch our attention. I nod to show I've heard him. 'She asks, are you happy?'. I can imagine it, the curiosity: Are they happy? How can they be happy?
'Yes, we are very happy, ' I murmur. I have to say something. What else can I say?'
The full article is available at Wikipedia
I went back in time the other day. It was quite an interesting experience. I almost prevented the birth of Hitler, and was an inch away from saving Martin Luther King. And, by the way, it was Oswald, and he was the only gunman. I can say that without fear of contradiction.
I'm not supposed to interfere, but you can't help yourself, really. After all, what's the point of going back if you're not going to try to change things? Time travel is the ultimate wish fulfillment. If you go back far enough, and you know enough, you can be a god.
Marcus had wanted to do that; be a god. He told me that he could bring a few gadgets with him, set up shop in Mesopotamia or someplace like that, and he would never have to worry about anything ever again. I reminded him that modern conveniences like hologames, running water and vaccinations might be missed by someone playing the god for the primitive locals, but he says that he could tough it out. I doubt it.
But, he's been gone for a while now, and I don't think he's coming back. The world hasn't come crashing down around us, so whatever changes he's made, I assume that they've already been taken into account in the time stream. I hope.
That's what we all hope, really. Everybody involved in the project has got to hope that we can't really change the past, at least not in a way that will destroy the present. If we can, then somebody's going to screw us all up any day now.
Maybe they already have.
There are a lot of paradoxes in this line of work, and you really just have to get used to them. I mean, if you try to grasp each set of contradictions that you bring up just by appearing in the past, you'd spend all your time sitting around confused instead of doing something. And that's not very productive.
My main area of focus is on historical accuracy in textbooks. I was the one who got to correct all the assassination buffs who?ve been living on JFK rumors for decades. That was my masterpiece; seventeen cameras along a one mile patch of road in old Dallas. Conclusive proof that the only shots came from the book depository, there was nobody on the grassy knoll, and I got a really good close-up of Lee Harvey himself squeezing the trigger. How they howled. I've now been labeled part of the conspiracy.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.