Day By Day

Monday, September 28, 2009

This Day In History

I missed this earlier -- on this day in 1924 Marcello Mastrionni was born and ten years to the day after that Brigitte Bardot was born. They just don't make people any more beautiful than those two.

Today is "Ask a Stupid Question Day" (presumably in honor of the Washington Press Corps) so let's all get out there and be ourselves. Actually, the day was originally thought up by a classroom teacher trying to get students to ask more questions in class.

On this day in 1066 William, Duke of Normandy [also known as "William the Bastard" and "William the Conqueror"] landed troops at Pevensey Bay in Sussex, England. His purpose -- to challenge Harold Godwinson for the throne of England. Thus began the Norman Conquest.

And on this day in 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay and claimed California for Spain.

And on this day in 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie, "The Young Pretender" [Charles Edward Stuart, or in Gaelic Teàrlach Eideard Stiùbhairt] became King of Scotland. He then decided to invade England. That didn't work out very well, so he fled to France and spent the rest of his life drinking and fornicating.

And on this day in 1781 the Siege of Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, began.

And on this day in 1787 the Federal Constitution, having been approved by the Confederation Congress, was sent to the States for their approval. Thus began the long ratification debate that was not concluded until 1789. Few people today pay much attention to the ratification debate, preferring instead to focus on the deliberations at the Constitutional Convention or to simply read one set of documents produced during the debate, the "Federalist Papers". This is unfortunate because it was during the long public debate that the real meaning of the provisions of the Constitution was hashed out and the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights articulated. If you want to understand the full meaning of the Constitution as it was understood by the Founders and their contemporaries, you have to consider the full range of opinion expressed in the debate, not just a few of the Federalist editorials. Fortunately, the most important of these documents have been collected by Harvard historian, Bernard Bailyn and are available in a two volume work titled Debate on the Constitution. It is part of the "Library of America" series. I recommend it very highly, especially for anyone who is interested in constitutional issues. It should be required reading in every law school in America.

And on this day in 1820 Fredrich Engels, who collaborated with Karl Marx on the Communist Manifesto was born.

And on this day in 1895 three Baptist groups met in Atlanta to form the National Baptist Convention. Today it is still the largest African-American religious demonination in America and, for that matter, in the world.

And on this day in 1902 Mansfield State Normal School in Mansfield, PA, played the first night football game against Wyoming Seminary at Smythe Park. Neither team was able to score, presumably because nobody could see what was happening, and the game was stopped at the half. Still, it counts as another Pennsylvania first. [read about it here]

On this day in 1919 the Giants defeated the Phillies 6-1 in 51 minutes -- still the fastest major league game on record.

On this day in 1941 the Phillies lost their 111th game of the season -- still a club record.