October 29, 1901: Leon Czolgosz Executed

 

 

The late 19th century witnessed a wave of anarchist assassinations and attempted assassinations as the turbulent 19th century waned into an even more turbulent 20th century.

Among the victims of these actions were a Prime Minister of Spain on August 8, 1897, the Empress of Austria-Hungary on September 18, 1898 and the King of Italy on July 29, 1900. The terrifying aspect of these murders were that they were the actions of loan wolf assassins, inspired by anarchist writings, but not members of organized conspiracies. Security services around the globe were puzzled as to how to combat a group that eschewed organized plotting and celebrated individual violent acts.

If William McKinley was concerned about the prospect of assassination he left no hint of it. Of course he left virtually no personal correspondence in which he expressed his views on any public matters. One of the more enigmatic men to ever be president, McKinley was largely a mystery even to men he had known for decades. Close mouthed, McKinley rarely expressed himself on any issue unless he had to, and always after a period of careful consideration.

Rising from Private to Brevet Major during the Civil War, McKinley began his rise in politics by defending, pro bono, striking workers accused of rioting, obtaining acquittals for all but one of his clients. McKinley served a long political apprenticeship before becoming President: prosecuting attorney, Congress, Governor of Ohio, sometimes meeting with defeat in the politically divided Ohio. When he ran for President in 1896, he won one of the great political victories in American history, establishing Republican political dominance that would endure until 1932. His victory in 1900 was even greater, the GOP winning all but four states outside of the solid South.

His personal life was marked by tragedy. He and his wife had two daughters, one who died in infancy and the other before her fourth birthday. McKinley’s wife, suffering from epilepsy and deep depression, became a semi-invalid, McKinley devoting himself to her care for the rest of his life.

Theodore Roosevelt, the reluctant Vice-President of McKinley, assumed that he would have so little to occupy his time, that he planned on attending law school during his term in office.
Another man who did not have enough to do was Leon Frank Czolgosz. Born to immigrants from Belarus in Detroit in 1873, he worked at the Cleveland Rolling Mill until the Panic of 1893. With economic hard times, Czolgosz became interested in socialism and anarchism. In 1898 he went to live with his father on a 55 acre farm near Warrensville, Ohio that his father had purchased. He came into conflict with his father due to his loafing and his rejection of the fervent Catholicism of his father. Inspired by the assassination of King Umberto on July 29, 1901, he decided, in the cause of anarchism, to assassinate President McKinley. (more…)

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October 26, 1861: Pony Express Ceases Operation

 

 

An American legend, the Pony Express ceased operations on October 26, 1861.  Operating for only 18 months, the Pony Express delivered mail over 1900 rugged miles from San Francisco to Saint Joseph, Missouri in an astonishing 10 days.  Most of the riders were teenage boys, including a 14 year old boy, William Cody, future Medal of Honor recipient,   better known to history as Buffalo Bill.  These young men and boys quickly found themselves national heroes due to their iron determination to deliver the mail swiftly in spite of inclement weather, hostile indians and vast distances.  Each Pony Express rider received a Bible upon being hired and swore this oath: (more…)

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October 24, 1977: Last Veterans Day in October

 

Due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act Veterans Day was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October in 1971-1977.  Veterans’ groups were appalled and the date was shifted back to the traditional November 11 in 1978 where it has remained.

On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford, a Navy combat veteran of World War II, signed the law returning Veterans Day to November 11:

I HAVE signed into law today S. 331, a bill which will return the annual observance of Veterans Day from the Fourth Monday in October to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supports the expressed will of the overwhelming majority of our State legislatures, all major veterans service organizations, and many individuals.

Under a law enacted in 1968, the fourth Monday in October was designated for the observance of Veterans Day. Since that law took effect, it has become apparent that the commemoration of this day on November 11 is a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens. It is a practice deeply and firmly rooted in our customs and traditions. Americans have appreciated and wish to retain the historic significance of November 11 as the day set aside each year by a grateful nation to remember and honor those, living and dead, who fought to win and preserve our freedom.

I believe restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 will help preserve in the hearts and lives of all Americans the spirit of patriotism, the love of country, and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good symbolized by this very special day.

 

Published in: on October 24, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 24, 1977: Last Veterans Day in October  
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The Surrender of Cornwallis

 

Something for the weekend.  The Surrender of Cornwallis to the tune of The British Grenadiers sung by Bobby Horton.  Bonus: World Turned Upside Down song from Hamilton:

 

Published in: on October 21, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Surrender of Cornwallis  
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October 20, 1944: MacArthur Returns

 

 

Mine eyes have seen MacArthur
With a Bible on his knee,
He is pounding out communiqués
For guys like you and me,
And while possibly a rumor now,
Someday ’twill be a fact,
That the Lord will hear a deep voice
Say, “Move over God, it’s Mac!”

Anonymous Marine on Corregidor (1942)

 

The most controversial of American commanders in World War II, MacArthur has always roused strong emotion.  Reviled by some as a supreme egotist and an overrated general, and hailed by others as the greatest general in American history, MacArthur will be fought over in history books from now until Doomsday, a fate which I think would not have displeased him.  However, I suspect critics and admirers alike can agree on one thing.  Seventy-three years ago, October 20, 1944, MacArthur had the supreme moment of his life as he began the liberation of the Philippines: (more…)

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October 19, 1781: British Surrender at Yorktown

 

After the battle of Monmouth in 1778, the time of large scale battles in the north during the American Revolution came to an end.  The subsequent years were frustrating for Washington as he struggled against a collapsing American economy to keep his army from starving, unable to build up the military power necessary to put New York under siege.  The situation altered in 1781. The French navy achieved temporary control of the waters off Virginia, and Washington secretly marched with 8,000 Continentals and 5,000 French from New York to attack the army of General Cornwallis in Virginia.  Besieged at Yorktown, Cornwallis surrendered his 7,000 men on October 19, 1781.  The War would drag on another two years until the British withdrew from New York under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, but after Yorktown everyone on both sides knew that American independence, against the odds, had been achieved.  Here is the text Washington’s letter to Congress announcing the victory: (more…)

Published in: on October 19, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Riot Control

 

Easy to tell that America was entering a rough patch in 1967 just from the above Army training film on riot control.

Published in: on October 17, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Riot Control  
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October 14, 1912: Theodore Roosevelt Shot!

 

A recording of a speech by that force of nature otherwise known as Theodore, he hated being called Teddy, Roosevelt during his “Bull Moose” campaign for president in 1912.  Note the clear delivery and diction.  Note also his references to French history:   politicians did not assume that they had to talk down to the average voter in those days.  By splitting the Republican vote, Roosevelt getting the larger share, Roosevelt’s third party campaign ensured the election of Woodrow Wilson.  Although he failed to win, during the campaign Roosevelt established beyond doubt that he was one of the toughest men ever to be president.

On October 14, 1912, Roosevelt was giving a speech in Milwaukee.  A deranged saloonkeeper, John Schrank, shot him in the chest.  Roosevelt refused to cancel a scheduled speech.  His opening is perhaps one of the most memorable for any speech:

Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet – there is where the bullet went through – and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.

Only after he completed his speech, he spoke for 90 minutes with blood running down his shirt, did he consent to go to a hospital.  The bullet could not be removed from his chest and he carried it in him for the rest of his life.  He was off the campaign trail for a scant one week, a week in which his opponents, sportsmanlike, also left the campaign trail out of respect for him.  What a man!  No matter one’s political views, and Roosevelt held a diverse group of views certain to both offend and inspire virtually all portions of the American political spectrum today, it is hard not to admire him.  As one of his enemies once said about him, “A man would have to hate him a lot, not to like him a little!”

Of course, after his heroics in the Spanish-American War, such behavior was only to be expected.  In 2001 Roosevelt was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the battle of San Juan Hill.  Here is the citation:

Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt distinguished himself by acts of bravery on 1 July 1898, near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, while leading a daring charge up San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, in total disregard for his personal safety, and accompanied by only four or five men, led a desperate and gallant charge up San Juan Hill, encouraging his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside. Facing the enemy’s heavy fire, he displayed extraordinary bravery throughout the charge, and was the first to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault. His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. (more…)

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Of Rainy Days and Mondays

 

 

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Rainy Days and Mondays (1971).  Lots of rain here in Central Illinois this week as October comes in quite wet.  The Carpenters, siblings Richard and Karen, recorded this song in 1971, and it was their fourth number one song.  Actually I rather like rainy days and Mondays are great for me, as any trouble they bring can be written off since it is a Monday and the start of the work week for most, and therefore comes predestroyed as it were.  I always enjoyed Karen Carpenter’s voice and thus was saddened when in 1983 she died of anorexia nervosa and the details of her often sad life came out.  However her art remains and that is not a bad legacy for any artist.

Published in: on October 14, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Of Rainy Days and Mondays  
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Will Success Spoil Jeff Davis?

I was four years old when the Civil War centennial began and eight years old when it ended, but even I recall what a big hoopla it all was.  In the midst of it all, Thomas Lawrence Connolley, who would become the foremost historian of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, brought out a book in 1963 entitled Will Success Spoil Jeff Davis?, a satirical look at the often over the top aspects of the centennial observations.  The book is a howlingly funny look at Civil War mania and still is relevant today.  Here is a tiny sample:

The easiest way to publish something on the War is to submit an article to a historical journal. Better still, start your own journal. There are some two thousand in print and, judging by the tone of the articles, many of them are in need of material. Journal writing has its advantages. If he cannot write good prose, the writer can bury himself in footnotes. The footnote is a clever device, designed to confuse the general reader and absolve the author of any lawsuits. For example, consider a typical footnote to the statement “General Crumbley was a bastard.” 34

34. Ibid, see also, Cornstalk, Bastards in Gray, loc. sic.* op. sit., loc. site, sob. Many maintain that General Crumbley was not a bastard. See Thirty Years  View by Mrs. Crumbley, op. sit., sic. hoc. Major Kumpley maintained that the General may have been a bastard but that he was indeed
a “magnificent old bastard at that/* See diary of Isaac Bumpley, Moose University Archives, XXCI, pt, 2, Sept. 21, 1863. In addition to being a bastard, the General was also a Mason. See diary of Cornelius Kraut, 1st Wisconsin Infantry, SWMVHR (XXI, Je. 45).

(more…)

Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Will Success Spoil Jeff Davis?  
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