In 1701, on this day the Roman Catholic monarch, James Stuart, King of Ireland died in his official residence at Dublin Castle.
The Great PretenderHe was succeeded by his thirteen year old son James Francis Edward Stuart who also became the Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England and Scotland. And just six months later, the usurper William of Orange was killed by a Velvet Coated Assassin, thrown from his favourite horse Sorrel when he stumbled into a mole's burrow at Windsor Park. This misfortune brought his sister-in-law and cousin Anne Stuart to the throne, because William's wife, and her sister, Mary II had died in 1694.
Anne's turbulent rule lasted but a dozen years, and upon her death, George I, Elector of Hanover looked set to inherit the British Crown pursuant to the Act of Settlement 1701. It was then that her half-brother James Francis Edward Stuart made his dramatic bid for power.
In 1988, the United States announced it would resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba in January, ending a break of more than 28 years between Washington and Havana; with the Soviet Union having dissolved and economic assistance negotiations with France having been stalled since 1986, there was considerable sentiment on both ends of the Florida Straits in favor of resuming formal U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties.
Elián González SurfacesWhile the announcement drew vehement protests from Florida's Cuban exile communuity, most other Americans welcomed the end of the U.S.-Cuba estrangement. One sector of American society was especially happy with the decision -- the re-opening of Cuba's borders paved the way for Major League Baseball to bring a huge new influx of Cuban players into the United States, and that influx would have a dramatic impact on MLB pennant races in the next two-plus decades.
The newly restored bonds between the United States and Cuba would be further solidified in 1999 when a joint U.S.-Cuban naval search & rescue mission retrieved the survivors of a shipwreck; one of those survivors, a six-year-old boy named Elián González (pictured), would later grow up to become a pivotal figure in the movement to end one-party rule in Cuba.
In 1920, a little after noon, while crowds of businessmen were leaving their offices for lunch all along Wall Street, an unassuming horse and wagon exploded just outside the Morgan Building. Later analysis proved the bomb to be set with a timer and loaded with iron weights as shrapnel. Thirty-eight people were killed and hundreds more injured.
Bomb Blast in New York Sparks War on Terror The attack was a tragedy, but the overall desire was to return to "business as usual". With a bombing so close to the stock exchange, leaders were fearful of a panic, and so the damage was cleaned overnight. The board of governors for the stock exchange opened on the 17th without a problem. Rumors circulated that the explosion had been an accident. Soon, however, the Bureau of Investigation released flyers discovered in a nearby post office box with the cryptic message, "Remember. We will not tolerate any longer. Free the political prisoners or it will be death for all of you. American Anarchist Fighters!"
As the investigation continued quietly, people assumed it may have been an attack in reaction to the Sacco and Vanzetti, who had been arrested for murder in Massachusetts. People rallied behind the market in face of these "reds", and the celebration for Constitution Day continued at the same spot. Despite police surveillance, a package bomb exploded from a garbage bin, killing an additional seven. In Boston at the Farmer's Market, Washington, D.C., outside the Capitol, and San Francisco near the Mint, similar explosions followed.
The press seized the news, and the populace began to demand action. Wilson's term in office was nearly over, and the extremely ill president did not seem able to confront the issue of safety. Quoting the Washington Post, presidential hopeful Warren G. Harding said, "This is an 'act of war', and if it's war they want, it's war they'll get!" His words were dangerous in a world so soon after the Great War, but the gamble paid off, and he was elected in the largest majority since Washington. Immediately, Harding and his cabinet set upon establishing Security for Our Homeland. To prevent further plots, security checkpoints were set up at all train stations with passengers and baggage checked as well as bags being searched at important facilities such as museums, libraries, and public offices. Immigration came into heavy suspicion, especially as alcohol was run across the Canadian border, prompting many to call for a wall to be built.
Investigations pointed to Galleanists conducting the plot. All known accomplices were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and spirited to federal penitentiaries. The leader, Luigi Galleani (pictured), had been deported to Italy, where he had been further exiled to an island and watched by government officials. Harding demanded that Galleani return for trial on conspiracy to commit murder. When the Italian government did not move quickly enough, he sent Marines to collect the anarchist personally. Foreign reporters described the action as an "invasion", but Harding refused to acknowledge that he had done anything beyond justice.
As his term progressed, Harding approached the League of Nations with evidence (which many critics said was scant at best) that the Bolsheviks of Russia had been responsible and were preparing more "actions of mass destruction". He encouraged other nations to redouble their support in the Russian Civil War, but if they refused, America would "do it alone". The Russian War, as it was called but never officially since Congress did not declare war, simply funded the American Expeditionary Force for Freedom. Many suspected Harding's administration of corruption, but most vocal opinions were drowned out by cries of patriotism.
Through the 1920s, the sense of panic would gradually subside in America while the war in Russia continued in a dogged fight against urban and guerrilla warfare. Many would call for a withdrawal of American soldiers by letting the Russian Republican Army defend the country itself, but neither Harding, Coolidge, nor Hoover fulfilled the promise to establish a timetable. The economy made a swift downturn in 1929, and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 began the steady withdraw. America was ready for a time of isolationism, but the world dragged them back to action as the 1940s began the Second World War. Hitler's Fascists stormed Russia in 1941, citing the same principles of security Harding had and conquering it within a matter of months. Though over a million German troops would be caught up in the bloody occupation of Russia, further Germans would storm the beaches of Britain. Faced with overwhelming odds, the Allies would fight at tremendous losses until the tide of the war changed with the Atomic Bomb.
Beleaguered, economically depressed, and bringing up a generation calling for renewed isolationism, America would spend the rest of the twentieth century as something of an unwilling patron, constantly at guard for another attack by terror in a post-colonial world.
In 1914, two Russian armies (1st and 2nd) smashed the German 8th Army at the Battle of Allenstein, thus realizing the worst fears of the German General Staff - a stalemate in the West, and a Slavic steamroller in the East.
Battle of Allenstein by Zach TimmonsAlthough the French had been pressing the Russians to speed up their mobilization in order to take pressure off of the Allies on the Western Front, the Russians stuck doggedly to their pre-war schedules, with the 1st Army advancing east from Vilnius, and the 2nd Army marching north from Warsaw, with their objective being either to destroy the German army or drive it into the defenses of Königsberg, rendering it useless. The 8th Army had no intention of fighting, however; their orders were to fall back towards the Vistula River, in order to avoid being flanked and wiped out.
After a defeat at the battle of Gumbinnen, the commander of the 8th, General von Prittwitz ordered the retreat; however either through miscommunication or deliberate inaction by their commander, his I Corps never fell back, and was annihilated at the Battle of Insterburg, with the remnants retreating into Königsberg. This, combined with a drive around the German right flank by the 2nd Army, enabled a brilliant pincer move by the Russians at Allenstein, leaving almost the whole of East Prussia defenseless. The German 9th Army raced east as a stopgap; this, combined with reinforcements from the Western Front, allowed the Germans to hold the line of the Vistula.
Along with the decisive victory in the battle of Lemberg, Russian morale soared, and although the Eastern Front would essentially remain on the Vistula-Carpathian line until the war's end in 1917, Russians wholeheartedly supported the conflict. A move by Germany late in the war to foment political unrest in Russia failed badly when their agent, V.I. Ulyanov, received little support and was quickly arrested and executed on arrival. At the Treaty of Krakow in 1918, Germany and Austria-Hungary were forced to cede large sections of their Polish territories, which the Russians used to create an independent Polish buffer state. By war's end, Russia's industrial base was one of the largest in the world, and it only continued to grow; by the time of the outbreak of the 2nd Russo-Japanese War it had surpassed the United States for industrial supremacy.
In 1919, the American Legion was founded. The patriotic organization would play a crucial role in the so-called "Red Scare" of 1919-20, operating as a quasi-official arm of the U.S. government with the approval of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and conducting raids, often violent in nature, against suspected "subversive" individuals and groups.
Birth of the American Legion by Eric LippsThrough the 1920s. the Legion would swell in size and power. After the stock-market crash of October 1929, however, it would come into its own as the armed wing of a new right-wing party, the American Party. In 1932, in a bitterly contested three-way race, American Party candidate Ralph T. O'Neill, an admirer of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, would win the U.S. presidency, defeating both the discredited Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover and his Democratic challenger, New York's Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the Electoral College.
President O'Neill would emulate many of the policies of Mussolini, including his regime's official persecution of Jews, whom O'Neill considered "un-American". In 1935, he would join with Mussolini, Germany's Adolf Hitler, and Japan's Hideki Tojo in forming the so-called "Anti-Comintern Pact". This alliance would prove decisive when, in 1939, Soviet Russia invaded Poland, claiming a need for a buffer against invasion. The Second World War which followed would end in the fall of 1941 with Pact tanks rolling through the rubble of Moscow.
By then, President O'Neill, who had been re-elected in 1936 and, citing "wartime emergency", had suspended the 1940 election, had effectively negated the U.S. Constitution. Dissent was officially illegal, and government critics risked deportation to "correction camps" in Alaska and the Florida Everglades. The Legion's original patriotism had morphed into something much darker which cast a shadow not only over the former "land of the free" but over the rest of the world as well.
In 2001, President Gore praises Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Ashaikh (Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Senior Ulama) for his formal response to the downing of Flight 93. Respect by Eric Lipps
Delivered the previous day, al-Ashaikh's statement was a blistering condemnation of the attack: "Hijacking planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood constitute a form of injustice that can not be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts. "
"In these words," the President says, "we hear the answer to those who say that Islam is always and forever an enemy to the West, always and forever a religion of violence. Shocked as we are at the cruel act committed against defenseless people on September 11, we must remember these words when we are tempted to blame all Muslims for the acts of fanatics. " Gore is excoriated by conservative critics in America and in Israel for his "naive" view of Islam in the wake of the Flight 93 attack. His words are much better received, ironically, in Saudi Arabia, home of the leader of Al Qaeda, where his praise for a highly respected religious figure is appreciated.
In 2009, (UPI-London) published the following feature article dated Sept. 16 ~ Scottish Villages to be Abandoned in Wake of Millipede Invasion. Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced today that the villages of Droman, Balchrick and Blairmore will be abandoned at least temporarily following the failure of efforts to thwart the invasion of resident's homes by swarms of millipedes.Black Millipede strikes by Eric LippsThe failure of insecticides, barriers and even a wartime-style blackout (millipedes are attracted by light) to stop the insect incursions has left locals desperate for a solution. National authorities are said to be considering a range of solutions, from introducing insectivorous animals known to prey on them to the mass spraying of he affected communities with caustic chemicals to, as a last resort, "dusting" the affected area with highly radioactive isotopes.
Scottish Villages to be Abandoned in Wake of Millipede InvasionThe chemical and radiological options are opposed by the local villagers because contamination would render the area uninhabitable for humans for many years and would sterilise the soil, ruining it for agriculture even after the contaminants themselves decayed to harmlessness or were removed. Residents fear their communities might become permanent ghost towns, as was the fate of many towns and even some cities surrounding the former Soviet Union's nuclear facility at Chernobyl following the 1986 disaster there.
A government spokesman announced that residents will be provided with temporary housing at government expense, and that if it proves impossible to render their homes fit for them to return, compensation will be provided to allow them to purchase new residences elsewhere. A fund for this purpose is to be established by order of Parliament. The intended size of this fund was not revealed. Some citizens' groups warn that the government's offer should be viewed with caution; they point to the unhappy outcome of a similar disaster relief effort in the United States following the devastation of New Orleans and other communities by Hurricane Katrina several years ago.
In 2001, Emperor Hirohito visited New York City to pay his respects to the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks.
This visit reciprocated a similar journey former US President Bill Clinton had made to Japan six years earlier following the Tokyo subway gas attack.
On this day in 1919, American League president Ban Johnson announced that if the White Sox and Tigers were still tied for first in the AL standings at the end of the regular season, a special one-game playoff would be held in Chicago on October 2nd to break the tie.
Chicago's mayor, anticipating a White Sox victory, declared October 3rd a civic holiday; Detroit's mayor did likewise in expectation of a Tigers win.
|Ban Johnson |
On this day in 1944, Allied troops in Italy occupied the tiny enclave of the Republic of San Marino.
In 1788, New Hampshire becomes the ninth state to ratify the new U.S. Constitution, placing it into effect. Congress schedules the presidential election for the first Tuesday in November. President of the Congress Cyrus Griffin will serve as acting president until the first Constitutional president is sworn in, which is expected to be sometime in the first week in March (Congress has not specified an exact date) to allow time for the new administration to be assembled and for its members to travel to New York, which is serving as a temporary capital.
It is generally expected that George Washington will be chosen president. That expectation proves true, as Washington receives a unanimous vote in the electoral college. Under the lifetime tenure provision of the Constitution, he will remain in office until his deaath in 1799.
In 1970, a demonstration against the Vietnam War and in favor of emergency aid to North Vietnam at Ohio State University's main campus in Columbus, Ohio swells to several thousand people. After several incidents in which demonstrators yell obscenities at campus and local police called in to "maintain order", Columbus's mayor Maynard E. Sensenbrenner calls for the assistance of the National Guard.
The following day, tensions at OSU-Columbus escalate when, just prior to the arrival of National Guard troops requested by Mayor Sensenbrenner, the campus Reserve Officer Training Corps erupts in flames. Attempts to put out the blaze are hampered by demonstrators, who throw rocks and bottles at police and firemen trying to extinguish it. When the Guard troops arrive, they set up headquarters on campus and make numerous arrests, employing tear gas and bayonets on the crowd. One student is injured by a bayonet.
Three days later, with demonstrators and National Guard troops still facing off on the OSU-Columbus campus, Guard troops read the assembled protesters a formal order to disperse or face arrest. When the protesters do not back down, the Guard troops advance on them. The student demonstrators retreat until they find themselves boxed in by a chain-link fence, at which point some of them begin moving forward, attempting to get out of the cul-de-sac. Several Guardsmen, apparently interpreting the students' forward motion as the start of an attack, fire their weapons into the crowd.
Chaos ensues. The crowd surges forward as the demonstrators, many of whom now fear they have been herded into a trap to be shot down en masse, try to break out. The opposing Guardsmen, none of whom have been trained in riot control, panic and begin firing indiscriminately. Eight students are killed and several dozen injured; of the slain, two are found to have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than active participants in the protest. Two Guardsmen are also killed, one apparently by fire from another Guardsman's rifle, and several others are hurt.
The violence changes the political dynamic within the U.S. antiwar movement, escalating the importance of the Southeast Asian conflict, which until then had most often taken a back seat to the much closer war in Cuba.
On this day in 1917, former RMS Titanic lookout Frederick Fleet committed suicide in Manchester, England. Fleet, riddled with guilt because he was convinced he was responsible for the ocean liner's sinking by a German U-boat, had lapsed into alcoholism after the ship was sunk; he blew his brains out with a .38 revolver.
In 1810, political dissidents in Mexico proclaim the colony's independence from Spain.
Armed conflict immediately erupts between the would-be independentistas and royalist forces loyal to Madrid. It is subsequently learned that expatriate American colonials, among them James Madison and Aaron Burr, have played an active role in encouraging the independence movement. This discovery will lead Britain to offer aid to Spain in suppressing the rebellion.
a few minutes before 5 a.m. on September 16, 1977,
a purple Mini 1275GT driven by Gloria Jones hit a tree
(now the site of Bolan's Rock Shrine), at Barnes Bridge, Barnes, South West London. She died instantly, less than a mile from her boyfriend Marc Bolan's home at 142 Upper Richmond Road West in Richmond. Jones had been drinking at the Speakeasy and then dining with David Bowie at Morton's club on Berkeley Square, central London, and should have been accompanied by her boyfriend.
On 7 September 1977 Bolan scheduled the final episode of Marc, a long-awaited performance with his old friend David Bowie. As they begin their duet at the show's finale, Bolan tripped and fell off the stage. Bowie smiled and the credits abruptly rolled whilst Bolan was taken to a West London hospital with a broken hip.
Jones died two weeks before his 30th birthday. Bolan had never learned to drive a car, and was known to fear them for he had visions all his life of dying in a car crash (references to which appear in some of his lyrics, notably 1972's 'Solid Gold Easy Action').
In a radio interview with Nicky Horne in 1973, Horne asked, 'Where does Marc Bolan hope to be in five years time?' Bolan replied, 'I hope to be alive still, that's all I can say'. Bolan is reported to have told Gloria Jones he didn't expect to see 30 or his son's second birthday. However, it is also widely accepted he was planning to marry Jones in early 1978. The rock star once described himself as a 'gypsy explorer' in the lyrics to Dandy in the Underworld. The site of Jones's fatal accident is between Rocks Lane and Gypsy Lane. A copy of the NME found in Bolan's wrecked Mini car was open at an interview with Pete Townshend, the headline on the interview reading, 'Hope I don't Die Before I Get Old'.Story Chunk 2
In 1914, Prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith of Great Britain and Ireland orders secret back channel talks with the Germans to be started.
In 1524, Tomas de Torquemada, High Inquisitor, is approached by a man dressed entirely in red while meeting with the Pope. This man claims to have possession of Torquemada's soul, and in full view of many priests, bishops, cardinals and His Holiness, is dragged by the man in red into a flaming hole that appears in the floor.
In 1968, attempting to show his lighter side to the voters, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon appears on the comedy-variety show Laugh-In, voicing their stock line, 'Sock it to me.' After he loses the election, Nixon decides to leave politics. His fun with the Laugh-In crowd leads him to pursue television production, and he produces several hit series in the 70's, such as Charlie's Angels and M*A*S*H.
In 1956, mercurial actor Phil Rourke, Jr. was born in Schenectady, New York. At times more a brawler than an actor, Rourke thrilled audiences in such films as An Officer And A Gentleman, Angel Heart, and The Pope Of Greenwich Village, which earned him an Oscar nomination. In 1991, Rourke became a professional boxer; six months into his new 'career', he was knocked into a coma, and died shortly thereafter.
In 1940, Communist Representative Bill Munro of Texas became the Speaker of the House. He held this position until he retired from his seat in 1962 to teach at the University of Texas. Comrade Munro was responsible for Texas' leading role in electronics, space travel and computers.
Later that afternoon with the Germans already in Trafalgar Square and advancing down Whitehall to take their position in the rear, the enemy unit advancing across St. James 'Park made their final charge. Several of those in the Downing Street position were already dead... and at last the Bren ceased its chatter, its last magazine emptied. Churchill reluctantly abandoned the machine-gun, drew his pistol and with great satisfaction, for it was a notoriously inaccurate weapon, shot dead the first German to reach the foot of the steps. As two more rushed forward, covered by a third in the distance, Winston Churchill moved out of the shelter of the sandbags. as if personally to bar the way up Downing Street. A German NCO, running up to find the cause of the unexpected hold-up, recognised him and shouted to the soldiers not to shoot, but he was too late. A burst of bullets from a machine-carbine caught the Prime Minister in the chest. He died instantly, his back to Downing Street, his face toward the enemy, his pistol still in his hand.
~ How Britain Fell by Norman Longmate
In 1920, Enrico Caruso recorded his first album for Edison Records, Thomas Edison's record company. Edison himself had negotiated the deal which brought Caruso in, because of the enormous prestige the greatest singer in the world could give to his company. Unfortunately, Caruso's first record with Edison was also his last, as he died a few days later.
In 904, the infidel Tomas de Torquemada, murderer of hundreds of faithful Muslims, was put to the death by Caliph Faris bin Yusuph in Cordoba. Torquemada had been the leader of a handful of Christian extremists who had terrorized the Spanish peasants for years, attempting to turn them from the true faith to his false one.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont dramatically appeared on the steps on Number 11 Downing Street to announce Today has been an extremely difficult and turbulent day
. Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown said the government's policy had failed; 'they have lost control of the economic situation,' he told the BBC shortly before broadcasting was suspended. Standing behind Lamount was his new boss, General Sir Peter Edgar de la Couer de la Billiere. The entire reserves of the Bank of England had been spent during the European Exchange Rate Mechanism
. Horrified by the incompetence of 'professional' politicians, the establishment had launched a military take-over to protect the nation from bankruptcy You could say it was cheating, but some bets you just had
to welch on - and no better example could be found than gambling the nation's reserves with George Soros.
the Pound Sterling is forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday
by currency speculators and is forced to devalue against the Deutschmark. The authority of Neil Kinnock's Labour Government is shattered. From the Opposition benches, John Major prepares for a return to Government. Major was fully cognisant that the '92 election was a poison chalice over the explosive issue of Europe, which as expected had blown up in the Government's face.
In 1918, a final, massive push into the Jezreel Valley from the west, through the Carmel Ridge meant that the conquest of Palestine was within reach of General Edmund Allenby. British Forces looked set to engulf the Turkish forces in the valley of Meiggido.
In 445, on this day the life of Buda (aka Bleda) the Hunnish King was saved by the timely intervention of his companion, the Moorish dwarf Zerco (pictured).
The premature death of Attilla the HunA hot dispute had arisen on a hunting trip on the banks of the Danube River where the monarch had sanctimonously announced his plans to reconsecrate the new town of Sicambria in his own name to "Budapest" as the capital of the Hunnic Empire. Because their uncle Rugila had bequeathed them joint rulership of the united Hunnic tribes, this was too much for his younger brother Attilla and the sibling rivalry immediately developed into a vicious fight to the death. Attilla attacked first, and would surely have triumphed, if not for the actions of Zerco, underestimated as a mascot dressed up in armour for amusement. Because as the dispute had began to escalate, Zerco had quickly made his own calculations, figuring that should Attilla prevail, then he himself would most likely be spending the night on the bed of the Danube River alongside his dead master.
Of course he had watched the resentment reach boiling point ever since the failed campaign in the East. And now Buda made his own calculation, realizing that his own rage was driven by the frustraton of Sicambria was a commiseration prize. The result was that Buda dumped the dead body of his brother into the river and mustered the army. Marching east, they set about installing Constantinople as the glittering capital of their Hunnic Empire.
Unfortunately for their recent opponents, a recent earthquake had breached the previously impregnable walls of the city. The prefect Constantinus had actually started their reconstruction, but because he was not expecting the Huns to return so quickly, he was forced to rely upon Isaurian troops under the command of the magister militum per Orientem Zeno. The city fell, and the Huns finally had a capital city worthy of their vast empire.
In 994, on this day the Byzantines and their Hamdanid allies relieved the city of Apamea which had been laid under siege by forces of the Fatimid vizier of Damascus.
Relief of ApameaMichael Bourtzes the doux of Antioch had come forth to the aid of the Hamdanid dynasty, the masters of Aleppo. Because the continued existence of this Byzantine vassal state was threatened by the Fatimid vizier of Damascus, the formidable Turkish general Manjutakin.
The clash of arms occurred across two fords on the Orontes. Having anticipated that Manjutakin would prey upon his weaker allies, he concealed the prescence of significant elements of the main Byzantine Army inside the Hamdanid Forces. This defensive mechanism maintained the shape of Bourtzes forces, and the eventual result was a resounding triumph for the Byzantines and their allies.
Victory marked a significant change of fortunes in the long-running war in Syria, a strategic area for the Byzantines due to their food dependency on Egyptian Granaries.
In 1488, on this day the Italian navigator Cristoforo Colombo entered the Lisbon quarters of his brother, the cartographer Bartolomeo with an application for royal funds to be presented at the English Court.
How the English Discovered AmericaNarrowly escaping the clutches of pirates, the map-maker arrived safely in Bristol where old shipmates and acquaintenances were easily found. These men would ultimately crew the St Mary, the Galway, the Painted and the St Clare. But first he had to travel to the English Court looking for money and support.
Of course, Henry VII had the necessary intelligence to see the benefit of an English-financed voyage of discovery, but the King was cautious about investing money in doubtful enterprises. Ultimately he was persuaded by the testimony of the Bristol mariners, who substantiated Bartolomeo's broader arguments with specific witnessed accounts of red dye from Brazil and fishing stocks off the coast of Newfoundland.
And so Batolomeo was issued with a royal letter of patent, charging the Colombo brothers with "free authority, faculty and power to sail to all parts, regions and coasts of the eastern, western and northern sea, under our banners, flags and ensigns, with five ships or vessels of whatsoever burden and quality they may be, and with so many and with such mariners and men as they may wish to take with them in the said ships, at their own proper costs and charges, to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to all Christians".
By 1861, California posed a new problem to the United States. While territories connected it with the East, California gained statehood almost spontaneously in 1850 thanks to the gold rush, becoming the first state separate from the Capital. Communication was difficult, to say the least.
Air Mail Route from San Francisco Opens The new technology of telegraphs and railroads offered possibilities, but the lines would have to be constructed at immense cost. Wells, Fargo, & Company held a virtual monopoly on the task of express mail with a sea-and-land route across the Isthmus of Panama, cutting months off the journey around South America. An overland route would be even faster, and Congress sought a solution with a pledge of $600,000 in yearly subsidies. In 1858, the solution was found with the Overland Mail Company, a start-up with William Fargo on the board of directors. Over one million dollars would be spent improving its route across the West, which included way stations, horse corrals, and defenses against highwaymen and rogue Indians.
A new story by Jeff ProvineWhile mail could now be delivered, however expensively, by brave and hardy men, the passenger service was troubling. People were crammed into tiny carriages that bounced and rocked with every step the racing horses took. While some way stations offered places to sleep, coaches were hot-seated by their drivers and horses, and no one knew exactly when the next coach would come through, leaving passengers stuck in the middle of the West for days at a time. Food was expensive and notoriously bad. The option of crossing the Isthmus of Panama took much longer, but the comfort made it seem more practical.
Aeronauts John Wise and John La Mountain approached Fargo with a solution. As a pioneering American balloonist, he had made his first flight in 1835. Over the next years, he continued a serious study of aeronautics as well as making grand performances at county fairs. When the Civil War began, he was in competition with Thaddeus Lowe for the Army Balloon Corps to aid the Union with reconnaissance from the air. Lowe had beaten him to the Battle of Bull Run, but Wise had papers giving him the right of way. As Wise launched his balloon, it became entangled in brush and destroyed, ending his career for the Civil War. Lowe would go on to be Chief Aeronaut for the Union.
Wise planned to return to a normal life for some time, using balloons as perhaps a map-making tool, but the showman La Mountain met with him, inspired about the West. Years earlier, the two had worked on a transatlantic project, but the balloon had crashed and nearly ended their partnership. On his own in 1859, Wise had made the first air mail delivery in the United States, delivering 123 letters from Lafayette to Crawford, Indiana. Why could they not do the same for overland delivery over the Rockies?
They posed the question to Fargo. A smooth, peaceful sail over the mountains with no threat of robbery or attack sounded like a much more reasonable trip to Fargo, though the idea of balloon passenger service was uncanny. La Mountain suggested it could be at the very least a public relations demonstration, which caused Fargo to agree. The two set off on a ship through Panama, arriving in San Francisco and immediately launching their balloon on the third anniversary of the Overland Mail to the shock of newspapers around California. Newspapers in the East did not know the story until the balloon arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 20. They had touched down twice at way stations to replenish fuel and food for their passenger, newspaperman and adventurer Bret Harte. The press latched onto the story from Harte's accounts, and Fargo was impressed enough to send Wise and La Mountain back with supplies for a larger balloon.
By spring of 1862, Wise and La Mountain had created a two-story balloon with privies and a lounge for their passengers. The balloon, dubbed the California, carried as many as fifteen passengers in comfort as well as whatever mail could be used as ballast. For years, the eastbound California would fly, landing in Kansas or sometimes Missouri, depending upon the wind. Wise and La Mountain improved their steering capabilities, but the possibility of floating west was made impossible by the "high winds" (what we now know as the jet stream).
On May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed. Fargo pulled funding from the expensive, though pleasurable, balloon project despite Wise and La Mountain's pleadings. Progress had changed the world, Fargo explained, even the Overland Mail Company was being shut down. Armed with their savings, they built the Odyssey and began their transatlantic attempt in 1873 from New York. Neither was heard from again. The Atlantic would not be crossed until British aeronauts made a west-heading route to Barbados in 1958-9.
In 1792, on this day at the Port of Dover in Kent, republican intellectual Thomas Paine was arrested on charges of seditious libel.
Bring it on HomePaine had been charged with "inflammatory eloquence" at a gathering of the "Friends of Liberty" on September 12th. As he rose to leave, William Blake laid his hand on the orator's shoulder, saying, "You must not go home, or you are a dead man".
"Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens ... It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set foot for the promotion of idolatry"Paine planned to flee the country along with his companions Frost and Audibert. However, they never made it to France because the collector of customs had received general instructions to be vigilant, and searched the three men, even to their pockets. Whereupon sealed letters were discovered, given into Paine's charge by the American minister in London, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. One letter was addressed to the American minister at Paris, the other to a private gentleman; a letter from the president of the United States, and a letter from the secretary of State in America. Whilst his friends attempted to intercede on his behalf, Paine's warrant arrived and he was put under arrest. Had he arrived just twenty minutes earlier, Paine would most likely have missed the order and made it to Revolutionary France.
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly"On 18th December Paine was charged at The Guildhall, London, that he "being a person of a wicked, malicious and seditious disposition" etc "did publish that the crown of this kingdom was contrary to the rights of the inhabitants" and so forth. The Attorney-General, who prosecuted, said that he would not read out the many "false, wicked and scandalous assertions" but would read only a few more, such as "to inherit a crown is to inherit the people, as if they were flocks and herds". The famous Thomas Erskine defended Paine but the carefully selected jury, which received two guineas each and a free dinner for a conviction and nothing otherwise, decided to return a verdict of guilty. Paine was hung, and laws were soon passed to restrict free speech and publication. Almost inevitably, martyrdom transformed Paine into a rallying point for English revolutionaries. And so after his death, his revolutionary agenda would overthrow the British monarchy.
During the 1960s, Socialist Prime Minister Tony Benn would often refer to Paine's punchy political language and his inspirational quest for accountable government, presenting copies of Common Sense, Rights of Man and The Age of Reason to the Heads of State from Developing Nations.
In 2008, (UPI) Authorities in Caracas, Venezuela, denounced as 'superstitious rumor' the claim widely circulating in their country that a number of individuals recently reported as having died following attacks by vampire bats have 'returned to life' and begun exhibiting predatory behavior toward others.Superstitious Rumor by Eric Lipps
One Caracas tabloid claims that the bat attacks have been spreading a new virus, which it claims was developed in biological warfare laboratories. The outward signs of infection, the paper claims, are hypersensitivity to sunlight, bleached hair and skin, a loss of appetite for normal food and a pathological craving for blood. Some of these symptoms resemble those of porphyria, an enzyme disorder which may be either inherited or acquired and which some scientists have speculated may account for traditional vampire and werewolf legends. (Symptoms of porphyria can include a craving for blood or raw meat, as well as abnormal hair growth.)
Reports that an entire village has been cordoned off by the Venezuelan military have been vigorously denied by the country's Interior Minister, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin.
Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia declined to comment on the Venezuelan situation.
In 2001, at a National Security Council meeting, President Gore expresses frustration at the failure of the previous day's raid in Afghanistan.Afghan Options by Eric LippsDefense Secretary Webb observes that bombings of that sort are notoriously ineffective; even the massive air raids of World War II, he reminds the President, failed to knock out German industry, while the bombing raid on Tripoli during the Reagan years which had been intended to kill Libyan dictator Muammar Kaddafi failed to do so.
JCS chairman General Hugh Shelton insists that since the Kabul government has refused to cooperate with the U.S. in rooting out Al Qaeda, the only workable option is to immediately send in a large ground force to do the job. "We've discussed this already, at our meeting on October 7," he reminds the President.
President Gore is still reluctant to invade Afghanistan. Turning to CIA Director George J. Tenet, he asks whether the Agency can mount a covert operation to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Tenet responds that it is possible, but warns that if the operation is exposed the U.S. will be forced to move immediately to open military action. He advises that preparations for a full-scale invasion continue, and stresses the need to keep those preparations secret.
On this day in 1967, an Iraqi military junta calling itself the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) seized power in Baghdad, seeking to undo what it called "the stain on our honor and that of our Arab brothers" inflicted by the Arabs' defeat in the Sinai War. The RCC's number two man was a then little-known army officer named Saddam Hussein, who just over a decade later would become head of the group and thus ruler of Iraq.
On this day in 1968, General William Westmoreland retired from active duty with the U.S. Army following the successful completion of the withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from South Vietnam.
In 1607, on this day the British government organized an expedition to establish its third permanent settlement in the New World at the site of what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts.
In 1951, on this day the beleaguered Syrian government feld to Palmyra as Israeli ground forces overran Syria's temporary provisional capital of Aleppo.
In 2001, President Gore asks General Henry H. "Hugh" Shelton to stay on for another term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The General agrees.
On this day in 1974, the Dallas Cowboys opened their '74 NFL season with a 27-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
In 1960, the New York Post published an editorial titled "Wagner Has To Go" which called for Mayor Robert F. Wagner to resign and make way for a new mayor who could do a more efficient job of directing the flow of post-storm recovery aid to New York City's residents.
|New York Major|
|Robert F. Wagner|
In 2003, in an interview for the fourth season of The Michael Richards Show sitcom, the titular star reveals he and Jerry Seinfeld, his co-star on Seinfeld, are no longer on speaking terms.
"A few years ago, Jerry was disappointed I wasn't interested in doing a Seinfeld movie, because I wanted do my own show, and I guess he just took it the wrong way".
However, Richards says he has nothing but good memories of his time on the show, and particularly with it's leading man, "We had a lot of laughs.
And Jerry was to thank for a lot of the family unity we had in the cast and crew. I still talk to Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] and Jason [Alexander] a lot. They know I never said never to never playing Cosmo again, so the ball's in Jerry's court if he wants to call me".
On this day in 1941, the Japanese expeditionary force in Siberia was handed its first serious defeat when Soviet troops repulsed an Imperial Army attempt to seize Petropavlovsk.
In 2001, US President George W. Bush used the political gift certificate he was granted on September 11, when he could have asked Americans to do almost anything in the name of fighting terrorism, to impose a $1.50 'War on Terror' tax on a gallon of gas, doubling it to $3.00.
In 2008, Michael Kinsley described the long-term consequences of this action ~
"People screamed with pain, then started adjusting. Demand went gone down, and today gas is selling for less than the $4 per gal. Not only that, but $1.50 of that price is staying here in the U.S. instead of going to Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or Bahrain. To the rest of the world, we look like protectionists. In fact, regarding oil, we've made a smart move". ~ Michael Kinsley, Time Magazine July 7th 2008
In 1485, King Richard III of England died of the sweating sickness.
Only two weeks before, Richard had won the Battle of Bosworth Field. At a critical point the King settled the issue at a stroke by driving through to Henry Tudor and killing him. The War of the Roses had reached an unexpected decision - a Hapsburg England - gifting the throne to Maximilian I, King of the Romans.
In 1914, Siege of Paris starts. Germany does not attack the city, but leaves it unharmed. The Ambassador of the German Empire in London hints to the British government that peace talks about the west could have a chance.
In 1944, composer and band leader Glenn Miller disappeared over the English Channel. He had been appointed a Captain in the Army Specialist Corps whose job was keeping the troops' morale high, and was embarking on a tour of Europe. 20 years later, Miller and his plane reappeared on the French coast, not having aged a day. Neither Miller nor his crewmates could remember what had happened to them, in spite of many inducements to do so. The reappearance of the jazz legend brought his music back into style, and jazz experienced a renaissance.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson successfully negotiated the freedom of French Indochina. Wilson had become convinced to intervene on the behalf of the colonial possession since receiving a letter from a young Vietnamese man, Ho Chi Minh, and the assistance America had given France during the Great War gave him the necessary leverage to pull off the diplomatic coup. The area became strong allies of the United States, and assisted the Allied forces in Asia during World War II with distinction.
In 1915, the Boston Pilgrims beat the Jefferson City Nickels by the incredibly lopsided score of 20-1. Town Ball has seen few such blowouts since then, and the Nickels have never been beaten as badly.
the Soviet ship Poltava heads toward Cuba, one of the events that set into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis
. President Kennedy disregarded forged reconnaissance data presented by hawks who sought open war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Kennedy also ignored warnings that compromise was impossible. Instead he prevented a third world war more horrible than the second, in which he had lost his eldest son. The President could hardly be accused of inconsistency; he had after all supported appeasement since 1940 when he was the United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James.
In 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charles de Gaulle met in Quebec as part of the Octagon Conference to discuss strategy. With the Pacific War heading towards an end game, FDR agreed to land American Forces in North Africa as part of Operation Torch. Unfortunately for de Gaulle, FDR was defeated in the November Presidential Elections, and Charles Lindbergh pursued a very different US Foreign Policy. Winston Churchill could only wring his hands in New Britain, having refused to travel to New France for the Octagon Conference.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.