Today in History with a Twist: December 6, 2013
1865 - Slavery is officially banned with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. - A lot of blood had to be spilled to get it done.
St. Nicholas Day is today. Yes, there really was a Christian Saint Nicholas. He lived in the country of Greece, just a couple hundred years after the birth of Christ. This day is in honor of Saint Nicholas and his life. Saint Nicholas became a priest, and later, a Bishop of the early Catholic Church. True to the Christian concept of giving up belongings and following Christ, St. Nicholas gave up all of his belongings. He was well known for giving to needy people, especially children. There are many stories and tales of him helping out children in need. The practice of hanging up stockings originated with Saint Nicholas. As the ancient legend goes, Saint Nicholas was known to throw small bags of gold coins into the open windows of poor homes. After one bag of gold fell into the stocking of a child, news got around. Children soon began hanging their stocking by their chimneys "in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there". It wasn't until the 1800's that the spirit of St. Nicholas' life evolved into the creation of Santa Claus. And, this happened in America. Santa Claus emerged (or evolved) from the stories and legends of St. Nicholas. Santa Claus was kind and generous to children. Unlike "St. Nick", Santa Claus is largely a non-religious character. St. Nicholas Day has been celebrated for hundreds and hundreds of years. It commemorates the death of this very special, very holy person on December 6th. Record keeping was not perfect in his time. His death is believed to have been in either 345A.D. or 352 A.D. Source: http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/December/stnicholasday.htm
1240 - The Rus city of Kiev under the command of Danylo of Halych and Voivode Dmytro falls to the Mongols under Batu Khan after eight day siege. This would effectively end Rus/Kievian opposition to the Mongols and open Europe to the Mongol invasion. Only the death of the Great Khan Ogedai stopped the invasion in 1241 when the Mongols had to return to Mongolia to elect a new Khan. The Mongols would never resume their invasion of Europe instead concentrating their efforts into the richer Middle East and Egypt. - Go where the gold is.
1648 - Colonel Thomas Pride of the New Model Army purges the Long Parliament of MPs sympathetic to King Charles I of England, in order for the King's trial to go ahead; came to be known as "Pride's Purge". The purge occurred during the Second English Civil War, when troops under the command of Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly removed from the Long Parliament all those who were not supporters of the Grandees in the New Model Army and the Independents. It is arguably the only military coup d'état in English history.
Historical note: The Long Parliament was established on 3 November 1640 to pass financial bills, following the Bishops' Wars. It received its name from the fact that through an Act of Parliament, it could be dissolved only with the agreement of the members and those members did not agree to its dissolution until after the English Civil War and close to the end of Interregnum on 16 March 1660. It sat from 1640 until 1648, when it was purged. In the chaos following the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, General George Monck allowed the members barred in 1648 to retake their seats so that they could pass the necessary legislation to allow the Restoration and dissolve the Long Parliament. This cleared the way for a new Parliament, known as the Convention Parliament, to be elected.
Weird note: One of the laws passed by the Convention Parliament in 1660 prohibits Tobacco Plantations in the British Isles. - All this stuff about Parliaments is making my head spin, I glad we revolted.
1768 - The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica is published. It was only three volumes. - Guess parliament got involved after that.
1884 - The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. is completed. The monument is 555 feet 5 1/8 inches (169.294 m) tall making it the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk. It is made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. Taller monumental columns exist, but they are neither all stone nor true obelisks. Construction began in 1848 but was interrupted several times for a variety of reasons including the Civil War and intervention of the 'Know Nothing' party (there's an interesting topic if anyone wants to enlighten us further.) - Needed to complete though because the masons needed some place to place their greatest secrets.
1969 - 18-year-old African-American Meredith Hunter is killed by the Hells Angels during a The Rolling Stones' concert at the Altamont Speedway in California. The Hell's Angels had been hired to serve as ushers and security guards for the Altamont Free Concert. During the performance by The Rolling Stones, Hunter attempted to climb on stage, and was driven off by the Hell's Angels. He subsequently returned to the stage, drew a revolver, and was stabbed to death by Hells Angel Alan Passaro. His motivations - whether an intent to shoot a member of the Hell's Angels, or as self-defense against the Hells Angels - have been widely speculated on since the event. - Which ever it was really dumb to go back. The incident was caught on camera and became a central scene in the documentary Gimme Shelter. Passaro was charged with murder. After an eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for 12 and a half hours, following 17 days of testimony, Passaro was acquitted on grounds of self defense. - Hells Angels as security? What were they thinking??
1421 - Henry VI of England (d. 1471) - King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the dynastic wars, such as the Wars of the Roses, which commenced during his reign. His periods of insanity and his inherent benevolence eventually required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom, which contributed to his own downfall, the collapse of the House of Lancaster, and the rise of the House of York. - Too much inbreeding?
1805 - Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, French magician (d. 1861) - He is widely considered the father of the modern style of conjuring. Erik Weisz took his stage name, Harry Houdini, from a mistaken idea that the 'i' ending meant like Houdin in French. He had been inspired by Robert-Houdin as a youth but as he grew older he found that his greatest trick was to steal ideas from other magicians and not credit them. Houdini would write a book, 'The unmasking of Robert-Houdin, discrediting his former idol. Fun fact: It is incorrect to refer to Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin as "Houdin". His last name was Robert-Houdin. His birth name was Jean Eugène Robert. He married Mademoiselle Houdin and, under special dispensation from the French government, was allowed to use the hyphenated last name.
To learn more about the above topics check out the following items from the Library's collection.