Day By Day

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Day In History

Today is a very special day here in the Gorgeous Commonwealth. It is the first day of Deer Season. When I was a kid growing up in Western Pennsylvania it was a school holiday. There was no point in having classes because most of the students would be absent anyway. I don't know if they still do that, but if they don't they should. Just be sure that if you have to be out in the woods and fields tomorrow and aren't carrying a gun you wear bright colors. That way you make an easy target.

On this day in 1782 Britain recognized American independence -- well, sort of. The process was actually quite protracted. Military operations against the colonists effectively ended at Yorktown in October, 1781; then political support for the war collapsed in Britain, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Lord North in March, 1782; one month later the Commons voted to end the war; and negotiators meeting in Paris signed preliminary peace articles on November 30th. The Treaty of Paris formally ending the war and recognizing American independence was not signed until September of the following year, and the Confederation Congress did not ratify it until January, 1784. But it is safe to say that the matter of American independence was not an issue after the signing of the preliminary articles of peace.

Entering the Building:

Jonathan Swift [1667] still the greatest satirist in the English language.

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) [1835] not bad at satire himself and still IMHO the greatest American writer.

Theodore Mommsen [1817] German historian of Rome, revered in his day, and still considered important. One of his biggest fans was Mark Twain who once wrote, "I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him...."

Winston Churchill [1874] who in a recent poll was voted the "Greatest Englishman of All Time". He may well be. He distinguished himself as a statesman and orator, as a military officer, historian, journalist, and artist. Like Mommsen he won the Nobel Prize for literature. In government he held positions as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, and Chancellor of the Exchequer before being elected Prime Minister in 1940. He was one of the great war leaders of modern times. He has his detractors, many of them, but nobody can dispute that he was one of the greatest figures of modern times. If you want to learn more about him this is a good place to start.

And a very "Happy Birthday" to Radu Lupu pianist extraordinare. I had the privilege of hearing him perform last year. It was a great experience. I would post a link to one of his performances but all of his solo work seems to have been removed from the internet.

Leaving the Building:

Cleopatra VII [30 BC]. Last of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, consort of Caesar and Antony, and one of the most romanticized figures in history. This site has links to a lot of online resources on her. Oh, by the way, she was not black -- she was Macedonian, a descendant of Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals.