Day By Day

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

This Day In History

Today is "Bean Day"! Hooray! It's a day for consuming beans in any of their many varieties [Adzuki, Black, Cannellini, Fava {my personal favorite, always to be enjoyed with an old friend and a glass of good chianti}, Garbanzo, Great Northern, Kidney, Lentil, Lima, Mung, Navy, Pinto, Red, Soy, and a host of others]. Bake them, broil them, refry them, however. Enjoy. You might, however, want to keep the "Beano" handy.

If you are in search of ideas check out the Bean Bible here.

It may be just coincidence or part of a conspiracy so broad and deep as to stagger the mind, but today is the birthday of Rowan Atkinson, the British comic who plays "Mr. Bean".

On this date in 1066 Harold Godwinson was crowned King Harold II of England in Westminister Abbey, the first coronation to take place there. His was not a happy reign. Immediately his claim to the throne was challenged by William, Duke of Normandy who began building a fleet and assembling an army to invade England. All through the summer Harold and his army waited for the Normans to arrive, but they didn't come. Finally, running out of provisions, Harold was forced to disband his army and return to London. Then he was blindsided. A Viking army led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway invaded Britain and joined with Harold's brother Tostig who also wanted to be King. Hastily reassembling his forces Harold marched north and decisively defeated Tostig and Harald at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. But while Harold was occupied in the north William was able to cross the English Channel with his army. Harold marched south to confront him and the two armies met at Hastings on October 14th. After nine hard hours of fighting Harold was struck by an arrow and killed. At that point the Saxon army collapsed and William of Normandy became William the Conqueror.

On this date in 1759 George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. She was quite a catch for an ambitious and talented guy like George. She was 27, the widow of one of the wealthiest men in Virginia [Daniel Parke Custis], and [this is important] had full control over his estates. In one step George went from being a young up and coming guy with modest means to being a wealthy and powerful figure in colonial affairs. Not that he was completely obscure.

By the age of 27 George already had quite a career. As a boy he had ingratiated himself with the powerful Fairfax clan and served in various capacities promoting their interests. This connection brought him to the attention of Governor Dinwiddie who appointed George to act as an envoy to French forces in the Ohio country. At the age of 20 he was appointed Adjutant General in the Virginia militia with the rank of Major. In his early twenties joined the Freemasons, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the militia, led an unsuccessful military expedition against the French at Ft. Duquesne, served as aide to British General Edward Braddock in his unsuccessful attempt to take Ft. Duquesne [during which Washington distinguished himself for his bravery], and had taken command of the Virginia frontier forces. Eventually he was raised to the rank of full Colonel with command over the entire Virginia militia. In 1758, at the age of 26 Washington finally tasted victory when he was commissioned Brigadier General and participated in General John Forbes' successful assault on Ft. Duquesne. Obviously the people who mattered in colonial Virginia had gotten to know young George and liked what they saw. By the time he and Martha hooked up he was already famous and widely celebrated for his military valor. She probably looked on him as a very good catch too.

And on this date in 1945 George Herbert Walker Bush, an ambitious young war hero, married Barbara Pierce in Rye, New York. That match turned out pretty well too. Happy Anniversary President and Mrs. Bush.

And a very Happy Birthday to Earl Scruggs. He's 86 today.