Day By Day

Thursday, November 05, 2009

This Day In History -- The Guyver

Today is Guy Fawkes Day so,
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
And don't forget to give each child you meet today a "penny for the Guyver" and tonight to relax you can build a bonfire and burn an effigy of Fawkes in it.

On this day in 1605 Guy Fawkes and a group of Roman Catholic "restorationists" sought to blow up the Houses of Parliament, killing King James I and the members of Parliament (including many Catholic aristocrats). The conspirators also planned to kidnap the Royal children and hold them hostage and to raise a revolt in the Midlands. Word of the conspiracy leaked, Fawkes himself was caught red-handed in the cellars beneath Parliament surrounded by barrels of gunpowder. The rest of the conspirators fled but were eventually apprehended. They were tried and convicted then hanged, drawn, and quartered and their severed heads displayed on pikes.

This was the infamous "Gunpowder Plot", one of the most fascinating episodes in British history. You can read detailed accounts about it here and here. And, for the curious, I have provided [above] a contemporary print depicting their execution.

"Happy Birthday" to Eugene Debs [1855], President of the American Railway Union and Socialist Candidate for President; and to Leonard Sly [1911] popular singer and actor (you probably know him better under his stage name, Roy Rogers); and Andrea McArdle (Philadelphia, 1963) Broadway actor and singer, and TV star.

Again there is a lot of electoral stuff on this date, but I will refer only to the most interesting. On this day in 1912 Woodrow Wilson, the progressive governor of New Jersey and former President of Princeton University, was elected president defeating the incumbent Republican, William Howard Taft, and the Progressive Party candidate, former president Theodore Roosevelt. This was the "Bull Moose" campaign. It was one of the most exciting campaigns in American history. Not only were there three powerhouse candidates going at each other, but there were fascinating second-line candidates. The most interesting of these was Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party nominee who campaigned from his prison cell. This is the election that returned the Democrats to power after several decades of Republican dominance, and it is the one that gave us the man whom I consider to be by far the worst president in our nation's history.

And some housekeeping. I was too busy yesterday to post so I missed noting that November 4th was the thirtieth anniversary of the Iran Hostage Crisis. Here is a BBC site where you can see pictures of the unfolding crisis. Here is a site that allows you to relive those horrible days through a series of pertinent video clips.