Friday, September 24, 2010

July 14th in History

1099 Jerusalem was captured by Christian Knights in the 1st Crusade led by Godfrey of Bouillon, using 3 tall seige towers to get over the fortified walls.  They promptly began massacring tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews. (bonus history points if you know how many crusades, and over what span of years these occurred).

Click on the thumbnail picture for a better look; people looked different back then.

1789 Parisians storm the Bastille fortress and notorious prison for political prisoners, petty criminals, and Hugeunots. The mob sought the gun powder and weapons stored inside. There were only 7 prisoners, none of them major figures in political opposition. Ninety-eight attackers, and one defender died in the actual battle; after surrendering, the local mayor, the governor of the prison and some half dozen others were also killed despite having surrendered to avoid further killing.

1790 Parisians hold the first "La Fete National" to celebrate the storming of the Bastile, and subsequently, to commemorate the chain of events leading to the modern nation, somewhat equivalent to our Independence Day in the United States. In 1790, the celebration was over becoming a constitutional monarchy. The famous General, Gilbert de Motier, Marquis de Lafayette of American Revolutionary fame, swore his oath to the Constitution, followed by King Louis XVI of France. That didn't work out, courtesy of Madame la Guillotine and the rest of the very bloody French Revolution. Lafayette attempted to flee during the Revolution when events descended completely into chaos, intending to return to the U.S. He was captured and imprisoned in Austria, and subsequently freed by Napoleon. And the rest is history, including Lafayette's career during the Bourbon restoration, both of the First Republics of Napoleon, the chance to become dictator during the 1830 Revolution, the return of Louis-Phillipe I as the King of the French instead aka 'the July Monarchy' (although it lasted more than a month, from 1830 to 1848).
So, it all ties into July history, and the American Revolution. And the July 11th, 1859 publication of Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities".

Tying it all together even more - here are the historic flags of France, beginning with the flag of Charlemagne, left;  and continuing in chronological order:

the Medieval Flag of France, featuring the royal Fleur de Lis
to the right.

On the left, the flag of France from 1790 to present, known simply as the "Tri-Couleur".

Right, the flag of the Free French during WW II,  is below, under the leadership of General de Gaulle, with his personal standard, the Croix de Lorraine superimposed over the french  Tri-couleur.  It is interesting how very many countries, especially following the American Revolution selected some version of Red, White and Blue, changing the arrangement and order. 

1798 The 5th Congress of the United States, primarily the Federalist members, passed the Sedition Act, making it a federal crime to publish false, scandalous or malicious writing about the U.S. government.  President John Adams, Jr., the second President in our history, signed it into law; it should be noted that Adams had been the Vice President to George Washington -  Vice Presidents becoming Presidents is something of a theme today. (strong family resemblance between father and son, isn't there)   It was not challenged in front of the Supreme Court, which consisted entirely of Federalists; it subsequently expired in 1801.  It is an interesting piece of legislation that pertains to current events both because of the issues of inciting sedition and issues of free speech, as represented by some of the more intemperate tea partiers, and the concern with aliens -although in this case it was ostensibly to protect American roman catholics from foreigners.  Jefferson objected to it over Tenth Amendment Rights issues as well as First Amendment Rights.  The primary objection was that our own founding fathers attempted to drastically limit the very 'freedoms' of our Constitution that they had written in, and did so successfully -- an argument that should be contemplated when one hears the claims made by many of the tea party movement speaking of what our freedoms are and should be, and the intentions of the "Founding Fathers".  Due process and the citizenship process were roughed up a bit as well.  There were actually 4 separate bills involved.  The first was the Naturalization Act which made the requirement of being a resident for 14 years; it was repealed in 1802.  The second was the Alien Friends Act, which pretty much permitted the President to round up and deport anyone he considered dangerous or a threat without any other process of appeal or determination of status.  It doesn't sound very 'Friends' oriented, does it?  The third bill was the Alien Enemies Act, which gave the president the authority to round up the citizens of any country with which we were at war; it remains in effect to this day.  At the time, the concern was that we might go to war with France, despite France having been one of our largest allies previously in the American Revolution.  And the 4th bill was the Sedition Act, which criminalized publishing 'false, scandalous and malicious writing' against the government or its officials.  That one expired the day before Adams left office, in 1801.  Just think where newspapers, blogs, Fox News, the Daily Show, and especially editorial cartoons would be if this hadn't expired.  Seriously. This was in the earlies days of the existence of this country, and the issues are still pertinent today.  The response to them at the time is clearly not.

1834 Birth of American artist James Abbot McNeill Whistler, left, famous for his famous and much-parodied painting widely known as "Whistler's Mother", which is really titled "Arrangement in Grey and Black: the Artist's Mother".  Not all his work is this somber. He was considered a wit, something of a dandy; he lived and worked a large part of his life in England rather than the United States.  I love his painting but I find his naming of them a bit tedious - most of them are symphony this, nocturne that, arrangement something else.

1862 Birth of  Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, of the Vienna Secession movement, remarkable for a career bridging several major developments in art from the 19th, into the 20th century.  He combined ornamentation, dynamic movement in the composition of static forms, with a uniquely Viennese sensuality.  He painted mythological and conceptual subjects, and created texture and reflective properties with layers of gold leaf over paint.  Many of his subjects were first painted as nudes before the textures and ornamental layers were applied over them, as evidenced by the preliminary drawings.  The ornamental aspects of his art display many of the abstract and non-objective qualities that would follow in later schools of painting.  The photo at the left was taken in 1908.

1913 Birth of Gerald Ford, born Leslie Lynch King, and subsequently adopted by his step father.  Ford assumed the presidency as the 38th President, when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974; he was the first Vice President to come into office after a resignation.  Ford served in the navy, and attended Yale law school, working part time as a male model (Scott Brown is not the first or only Republican pretty boy) although Ford appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, in his uniform during WW II, not naked in the centerfold.  He was a congressman from Michigan for 25 years before jumping to the executive branch.  Ford had stepped in to fill the Vice Presidency after Spiro Agnew resigned over a tax evasion scandal.  Lots of resignations going on in the early 70's in Republican elected office.  Nelson Rockefeller stepped in to fill Ford's shoes as Vice President. Ford escaped resigning, and also escaped not one but two assassination attempts. Gerald Ford was the president who apponted Justice Stevens to the Supreme Court, who has only recently retired.  Ford subsequently lost his run for the presidency in his own right in 1976 to Jimmy Carter after beating out Ronald Reagan for the candidacy.  Senator Bob Dole replaced Rockefeller as his Vice Presidential running mate, to satisfy the more conservative wing of the GoP for Ford beating out Reagan.

1918 Birth day of Jay Wright Forrester, a U.S. electrical engineer, responsible for the invention of random-access core memory, or RAM, used in computers.  If you are enjoying this post through any kind of computer access, take a moment and honor this scientist.

1921 Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted in Dedham, Mass., of killing a shoe company paymaster, Frederick Parmenter and his guard, Allesandro Berardelli (everyone remembers the names of the killers, too often the victims drift into obscurity).  Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in 1927. Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, however their trial is still regarded as controversial, and the validity of their guilt or innocence is still being disputed because of contradictory evidence.  The argument essentially boils down to were they fairly convicted of murder, or were they really convicted for being anarchists and Italian immigrants.

1933 All German political parties except the Nazi Party were outlawed.

1958 The army of Iraq overthrew the monarchy.

1976 Jimmy Carter won the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's convention in New York City, and subsequently beat Gerald Ford in the Presidential general election (see above).

1999 Race-based school busing in Boston ended after 25 years.

2003 Journalist Robert Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his newspaper column, citing two Bush administration officials.  The reason behind outing Plame was that her husband had drawn attention to the campaign of misinformation and possibly disinformaiton regarding yellow-cake uranium that the Bush administration had used, in part, to promote the war in Iraq.

2004 The Senate voted 50-48 against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

2009 Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff arrived at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina to begin serving a 150-year sentence.  This is his official Department of Justice photograph.

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