Today in History with a Twist: September 23, 2013
1780 - British Major John André is arrested as a spy by American soldiers. He is carrying papers that expose Benedict Arnold's plans to surrender West Point to the British and desert to their side. At the time west Point was not the famous military school that it is today it was a fortified position on the Hudson River that controlled the river. If the British would have gained control of West Point it would eventually lead to them taking control of the entire Hudson River Valley and giving them a major strategic advantage in the war. - Who processed Arnold's security clearance? USIS?
Arnold's moves were like those in a chess game but today is Checkers Day! Surprisingly, Checkers Day (also known as Dogs in Politics Day) is not named for the classic game. On September 23, 1952, vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon gave a speech to address growing public concern about his use of campaign funds. He assured the public that he had not misused the funds, but that he intended to keep one gift - a little dog that the Nixon children named Checkers. The “Checkers speech” was a political triumph and the public responded with overwhelming support. (Punchbowl.com)
1779 - On the high seas a true American hero, John Paul Jones, fought and won the Battle of Flamborough Head. In a desperate fight in which his flagship, USS Bonhomme Richard, was actually sinking Jones outfought the British and captured the British 44-gun escort ship H.M.S. Serapis and a supporting sloop. The Serapis took serious damage also but the Americans gained the advantage when the Frigate Alliance joined the duel. Seeing that he could not win the battle when the Alliance joined the fray the British Captain surrendered. - We rarely hear that last part.
1338 - The Battle of Arnemuiden was the first naval battle of the Hundred Years' War and the first naval battle using artillery, as the English ship Christofer had three cannon and one hand gun. - But what ever happened to Greek fire?
1409 - After Mongol leader Bunyashiri had been crowned with the title of Öljei Temür in 1403, the Yongle Emperor (Ming Dynasty) sent an envoy to congratulate and demand submission of him. The Mongols rejected the offer and the Chinese sent an army of 100,000 to subdue the Mongols however the Mongols lured them into a trap and wiped them out at the Battle of Kherlen (1409). - The Chinese should have read Sun Tzu as closely as the Mongols did.
1992 - A large Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb destroys the forensic laboratories in Belfast. - How do you solve a crime when they blow up the British CSI?
1845 - The Knickerbockers Baseball Club, the first baseball team to play under the modern rules, is founded in New York. - Abner Doubleday is nowhere to be seen.
Today we celebrate the birthdays of:
63 BC - Augustus - Roman emperor (d. 14) - Must have been pretty good he got a whole month named after him.
1215 - Kublai Khan - Mongolian emperor (d. 1294) - Kublai was a grandson of Genghis Khan. He succeeded his older brother Möngke as Khagan in 1260, but had to defeat his younger brother Ariq Böke in a succession war lasting till 1264. This episode marked the beginning of disunity in the empire. Kublai's real power was limited to China and Mongolia, though as Khagan he still had influence in the Ilkhanate and, to a far lesser degree, in the Golden Horde. If counting the Mongol Empire at that time as a whole, his realm reached from the Pacific to the Black Sea, from Siberia to modern day Afghanistan - one fifth of the world's inhabited land area. In 1271, Kublai established the Yuan Dynasty, which ruled over present-day Mongolia, China, Korea, and some adjacent areas, and assumed the role of Emperor of China. By 1279, the Yuan forces had overcome the last resistance of the Southern Song Dynasty, and Kublai became the first non-Chinese Emperor to conquer all of China. He was also the only Mongol khan after 1260 to win new conquests. - Many would say he became too Chinese!
To learn more about the above topics check out the following books from the Library's collection: