Day By Day

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "National Mincemeat Day", so get out your chopping block and implements. Here's a nice little recipe from the Sixteenth Century:
Pyes of mutton or beif must be fyne mynced & seasoned with pepper and salte and a lytel saffron to colour it / suet or marrow a good quantitie / a lytell vynegre / pruynes / great reasons / and dates / take the fattest of the broath of powdred beefe. And if you will have paest royall / take butter and yolkes of egges & so to temper the floure to make the paest. (Pie filling of mutton or beef must be finely minced and seasoned with pepper and salt and a little saffron to colour it. [Add] a good quantity of suet or marrow, a little vinegar, prunes, raisins and dates. [Put in] the fattest of the broth of salted beef. And, if you want Royal pastry, take butter and egg yolks and [combine them with] flour to make the paste. )[1]
Source: Wikipedia.

On this day in 1682 William Penn gained clear title to land along the Delaware River. He decided to call it New Wales, then changed his mind and called it "Sylvania", but King Charles changed the name to "Pennsylvania" to honor Penn's father, the Admiral William Penn. So Billy Penn is not the guy the State is named after -- it's his father, and Penn didn't do the naming.

On this day in 1774 the First Continental Congress adjourned at Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia. It had drawn up a formal protest against the "Intolerable Acts", couching its objections in terms of the rights of Englishmen, it had proposed a restructuring of the relations between Britain and her colonies [an "Act of Union"], it had organized a continental boycott of British goods to apply economic pressure to the mother country, and it called for a second Congress of all the continental colonies [including Florida and Canada] for the following year.

Not bad.

And on this day in 1825 the Erie Canal opens for business. Huge advantage to New York in its continuing rivalry with Philadelphia.

And on this day in 1881 the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" took place between the Earps [and Doc Holliday] and the Clantons in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. It was the most famous, if not the most lethal shootout in the history of the "Wild West". Here is a decent online source if you want to go through the details of the encounter. Here's a good link to several of the primary sources. There have been a number of attempts by serious historians to place the gunfight in a cultural, political or social context [my favorite, just for the laughs, is an explanation that the Earps were agents of Republican oppressors of the people, and the Clantons were freedom-loving Democrats] and, of course, there have been numerous books and movies based on the incident. My personal favorite is "Tombstone" [that's the one with Val Kilmer] although Kevin Costner's "Wyatt Earp" is in many ways more interesting. Rent either one and enjoy. And, if you want to see a great filmic shootout, rent "Open Range". The gunfight there is legendary even if tere aren't any Earps involved. If you were wondering why Wyatt Earp became so famous consider this. In his old age he moved to Hollywood and made friends with lots of actors, including William Hart and young Marion Morrison [you know him as "John Wayne"].

And on this day in 1911 Philadelphia defeats New York in the World Series, 4 games to 2. Don't get excited -- it was the Athletics who beat the Giants.

And on this day in 1942 the Battle of Guadalcanal was raging on both land and sea. The eventual American victory there was, in the minds of many, the turning point of the War in the Pacific. Yes, I know about Midway, but it was Guadalcanal that convinced President Roosevelt to switch from defense to offensive operations in that theater. There are several good online sources on the battle. I would recommend this one by the Army as a good starting point.

And on this day in 1954 Walt Disney's "Disneyland" premiered on ABC TV.

And on this date in 1962 Nikita Khrushchev offered to withdraw nuclear missiles from Cuba if JFK removed them from Turkey and guaranteed never to invade Cuba. This was the deal that finally resolved the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy and Khrushchev went eyeball to eyeball and JFK blinked and accepted Russia's terms. The US backed down, but the administration kept all the negotiations secret for fear of looking weak and instead published self-serving accounts of how Kennedy had stood up successfully to the Communists and to his own advisors. The truth didn't come out until two decades later.

And on this day in 1982 Philly Steve Carlton won his fourth Cy Young award, the first pitcher to do so.

Happy Birthday Hillary [1947] and to John Cardinal Krol [1910], former Archbishop of Philadelphia, and to the Minute Men [1774]. Also born on this day, Leon Trotsky [1879], one of the most loathsome figures of the Twentieth Century; Lauren "LoveBoat" Tewes [1954, the Pride of Braddock, PA]; Shah Reza Palavi [CIA stooge who used to run Iran before the Mullahs took over]; and Desideratus Erasmus [1466], one of my favorite Renaissance characters.