Day By Day

Thursday, October 08, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "American Touch Tag Day" so try to reach out and touch someone [in an entirely appropriate manner, of course].

On this day in 1823 New York Governor, DeWitt Clinton, inaugurated the Erie Canal [it took two more years to complete its whole length] linking the Hudson River with Lake Erie. Once finished this canal changed the face of America. Before it, Philadelphia was America's largest and most dynamic city; after it, New York was. The canal spurred the economic development of the midwest, gave American farmers access to world markets, made New York the primary import-export hub of the nation and its financial center, and stimulated America's first great investment in infrastructure development as other states and cities sought to emulate its success. Clinton's "Big Ditch" was probably the most effective and profitable instance of public investment in the nation's history.

On this day in 1871 the Great Chicago Fire began. By the time it was over more than one third of the city was destroyed. 250 people died, about 100,000 were homeless. It seems that the fire started in or near a barn owned by Patrick and Katherine O'Leary [the story was that Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern, but that was made up by a local reporter]. The fact is that we don't know for sure what happened and speculation runs rampant. One theory is that it was caused by a Jewish gambler. Alternatively it was blamed on an impoverished Irish immigrant trying to steal milk. Historians are quick to point out that there is a degree anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, or anti-Jewish sentiment on display in these stories. They don't however mention anti-bovine bias. Wonder why?

On this day in 1915 the Phillies, after 32 years of futility, won their first World Series game. They would not win another until 1980. Think of that -- one win in 97 years. Just think of that!

On this day the "Murderers Row" Yankees completed a four game sweep of the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series. That's all right -- the Bucs got their revenge in 1960.

And on this day in 1950 the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers met for the first time. Cleveland won, 30-17.

On this day in 1935 Ozzie married Harriet.

Happy birthday to the Rev. Jesse Jackson [born in 1941]. And also to Juan Peron [born in 1895] the man who took Argentina from being one of the richest countries in the world to abject poverty. Many in Latin America and a number of U.S. intellectuals still see him as a heroic figure who stood up to the United States and international capitalism, and blame the United States for destroying the Argentinian economy.

On this day in 1956 Don Larson of the Yankees pitched a perfect world series game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Have a nice day.