Day By Day

Friday, October 02, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "National Custodial Worker Day" so do something nice for the people who clean up your messes.

On this day in 322 BC Aristotle expired under suspicious circumstances [officially he died of a "stomach ache" but it was no secret that Alexander the Great wanted him out of the way]. He was one of the greatest founding figures of Western philosophy. He was a student of Plato and mentor of Alexander [the ungrateful]. He articulated a comprehensive system of philosophy that encompassed ethics, politics, logic, aesthetics, science and metaphysics. You can read a nice short summary of his thought here.

On this day in 1263 Alexander III repelled Haakon IV at Largs on Clyde. Today the site is marked by "The Pencil". [Check it out here].

Happy Birthday Montreal [1535].

On this day in 1800 Nat Turner was born. In 1831 he led a slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia. For two days he and his followers traveled from house to house, freeing the slaves and killing all Whites they encountered. Ultimately, 55 white people died. The rebellion was brutally suppressed by the local militia but Turner escaped and eluded capture for several months during which time panic ruled in the area and nearly 200 Blacks were tortured and killed. When finally apprehended Turner was tried, sentenced to death, hanged, flayed, beheaded and quartered. His lawyer, Thomas Ruffin Gray, later published The Confessions of Nat Turner, based on conversations he had with his client. You can read it here.

Historians note that in the wake of Turner's rebellion the slave system in the Upper South became much more rigid, that free Blacks lost many rights, that slaves by the hundreds of thousands were transported out of the region to new owners in the Deep South, and that the southern anti-slavery movement was, to all intents and purposes, extinguished. It was a deeply polarizing event that contributed greatly to raising the tensions that ultimately led to Civil War.

And on this day in 1869 Mahatma Mohandaschand Karam Gandhi was born in Porbandar, India. One of the greatest spiritual and political leaders of the Twentieth Century, and the foremost exponent of the tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience [ahisma], Ghandi is today revered in India as the "Father of the Nation" for his inspirational role in the Indian independence movement. You can read his "Freedom's Battle" commentary here.

Happy Birthday, Groucho! [1890]

On this day in 1967 ground was broken to build Veterans Stadium. Ah, the memories! And on the very same day Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as America's first Black Supreme Court Justice. Coincidence? Maybe. I report, you decide.

On this day in 1980 my former Congresscritter, Michael "Ozzie" Myers, was expelled from the House of Representative, the first to suffer that punishment since 1861. The reason? He had been filmed taking a $50,000 bribe from an FBI agent posing as an Arab sheik. Yes folks, that was the ABSCAM scandal. Ozzie's finest moment was when he was seen on the tape telling an undercover agent that "Money talks, and bullshit walks". I have the unenviable distinction of once having lived in the districts of two ABSCAM sleazeballs, Ozzie and Jack Murtha.