Day By Day

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "World Smile Day" so make like Tony Perkins and do it. Just do it!

First, for the patriots among you:

On this day in 1765 the Stamp Act Congress convened in New York. Representatives from nine of the thirteen colonies attended to discuss how to respond to the recent imposition of a tax on legal papers, cards, dice, newspapers and pamphlets. Americans protested the tax, but were more concerned with the enforcement mechanism. Violators would be tried in British Admiralty courts [perogative courts without jury trials] and this provision of the act was widely seen as an unwarranted extension of British authority into colonial affairs. The Congress debated in secret, but drew up a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances that laid out some important points of agreement -- (1) the right to trial by jury, (2) only colonial assemblies could tax colonists, (3) since colonists could not vote for members of Parliament, it could not represent them, and (4) colonists were entitled to all the rights of free Englishmen.

And on this day in 1777 Continental troops under General Horatio Gates drove the British regulars commanded by Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne back from Bemis Heights near Saratoga, New York. This was the decisive engagement of the Revolutionary War. To that point it had seemed that the rebels could not win, but Burgoyne's defeat convinced French King Louis XIV that the revolution was not a lost cause. Negotiations began that soon produced a Franco-American alliance and France's entry into the war. Britain was forced to divert most of its military and naval resources away from the colonies to meet the French threat.

And on this day in 1780 patriot militia defeated a force of loyalist militia at the Battle of Kings Mountain in North Carolina. British General Charles Cornwallis had been depending on loyalist militia to support his North Carolina campaign but the loss at Kings Mountain coupled with the loss of many regulars in battle with Nathaniel Greene's Continentals forced him to change his plans. Instead he marched into Virginia and we all know how that turned out.

Today, those of you who lean to the Left can celebrate the birth of two heroes.

On this day in 1879 Joe Hill [Joel Emmanuel Hägglund] was born in Sweden. As a young man he emigrated to the United States, became an itinerant worker, folk singer, and labor organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World [the "Wobblies", a radical labor union]. In 1914 he was arrested in Utah and put on trial for a double murder. The union claimed that he was being framed because of his radical labor ties and the trial became a national sensation. He was convicted and hanged and remains today a martyr in the eyes of some of the less sane precincts of the political Left. There have been poems, songs, even a movie about him. I remember during the Sixties hearing Pete Seeger singing "I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night." Funny how these things stick with you.

And on the very same day Lebya Davidovich Bronstein [better known as Leon Trotsky] was born in Russia. While at school in Odessa, he became involved in radical politics and eventually embraced Marxist and became a leader of the Bolshevik political movement. He spent most of the early years of the Twentieth century in exile and arguing with Vladimir Illich Ulyanov [Lenin]. When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917 Trotsky reconciled with Lenin and played a major role in bringing the Bolsheviks to power. He served as foreign minister, then as leader of the Red Army. In the contest for control after Lenin's death in 1924 Trotsky was outmaneuvered by Josef Jugashvili [Stalin], was marginalized and driven into exile. For more than a decade he wandered the world, finding support from radical groups in a number of countries. Then in 1940 one of Stalin's assassins finally caught up with him in Mexico and drove an ice pick into his brain. Ever since Lefty loons who were repulsed by the excesses of Stalin's terror state have tried to argue that Trotsky was a humane alternative to Stalin's brutality, but the historical record shows that during the years when he wielded power, Trotsky was every bit as ruthless and inhumane as Stalin. Trotsky was one of the Twentieth Century's great monsters but many on the Left still see him as a heroic figure.

And on this day inn 1907 Chuck Klein was born. Before Mike Schmidt, he was the greatest hitter in Phillies history. He had a lifetime batting average of .320 and hit 300 home runs. He led the league in home runs four times, twice in RBIs, and won one batting title. And he was more than just a slugger; he could run. In 1932 he led the league in stolen bases and finished third in triples and was the NL MVP. Quite a guy!

And maybe the most important date of all:

On this day in 1952 a teenage dance show named "American Bandstand" began broadcasting from "Studio B" on the 4500 block of Market Street in West Philadelphia [just a few blocks from where I used to live]. Originally it was a local show hosted by Bob Horn and Lee Stewart, but in 1957 a new host, Dick Clark, took it national. The rest, as they say, is history.

Have a good day!