Day By Day

Friday, January 08, 2010

This Day In History

Today is for the ladies. They have designated it "Bubble Bath Day" or, alternatively, "Male Watchers Day". So, depending on your inclination, head for the bathroom and pamper yourself, or go on out there and harass some construction workers. Sadly there is no corresponding "Girl Watchers Day" for us guys, but, as one source pointed out, for us every day is Girl Watchers Day.

On this day in 1786, Nicholas Biddle was born in Philadelphia. He would grow up to be the President of the Second Bank of the United States, headquartered in Philadelphia, that served as the nation's central bank. Destruction of Biddle's Bank was a major goal of Andrew Jackson's administration, and his withdrawal of federal revenues from the bank, in the mind of many historians, was a major factor in precipitating a horrifyingly deep depression in 1837.

Happy Birthday to the "Pride of Tupelo", the "once and future king of rock and roll", Elvis Presley (who is seventy five years old!!! today). True fans know he's still out there wandering the highways and byways of this great nation of ours. Come back to Graceland, Bubba, all is forgiven.

On this date in 1815 "we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip...." Yep this is the anniversary of Andrew Jackson's victory in the Battle of New Orleans. As everyone knows, the War of 1812 was already over, but none of the participants had gotten the memo. Jackson's victory, while of little or no military or diplomatic significance, became a tremendous rallying point for American nationalists in a period when the federal union was constantly facing threats of disintegration, and it made Jackson the great hero of his day. His victory at New Orleans was the one thing that Americans could point to with pride in a problematic war. For a good look at how historians today view Jackson's achievement check out the second chapter of Daniel Walker Howe's What Hath God Wrought.(Oxford: 2007)

And on this day in 1918 President Woodrow Wilson stood before Congress and announced a program he called the "Fourteen Points" adherence to which, he argued, would bring lasting peace in the wake of the Great War.

Like most Progressive reforms Wilson's Fourteen Points sounded good, but were wildly impractical. At the Paris peace conference where the end of the war was negotiated his principles, one by one, were rejected by the European powers and his key point, the creation of the League of Nations, was rejected by the U. S. Senate.