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:
Amazon Amazon Says:
At long last the true Richard Nixon can be revealed. The man known as "Tricky Dick," who is seen today as the greatest villain in the history of American politics, actually b more...
At long last the true Richard Nixon can be revealed. The man known as "Tricky Dick," who is seen today as the greatest villain in the history of American politics, actually began his amazing career as a principled campaigner and a scrupulously honest member of Congress. Sadly, the first real reassessment of Richard Nixon's early career -- his Congress years -- had to wait until after his death in 1994. Only then was Pulitzer Prize-nominee Irwin F. Gellman able to get the documentary access of which previous Nixon biographers could only dream. Gellman became the first historian to have complete and unfettered access to (among other sources) the 1946, 1948, and 1950 campaign files in the National Archives; papers from the executive sessions of HUAC; and every document dated through July 1952 in the Nixon Library & Birthplace. All told, Gellman scoured millions of pages in dozens of collections, the vast majority of which have never before been used. Gellman's research revealed that much of the work done on Nixon was not only based on incomplete information but was wrong. The legend of "Tricky Dick" was little more than a series of myths. For example: The "Committee of 100" did not buy Nixon his 1946 upset of Jerry Voorhis. Nixon did not unfairly smear Helen Gahagan Douglas. There was no secret funding of his Senate race in 1950. Nixon did not out-McCarthy McCarthy on HUAC. And finally, Nixon was true to Earl Warren at the 1952 convention -- there was no secret deal made for the vice presidency. As Gellman irrefutably shows, each of these myths has been built on guesswork or faulty sources. Who then was the real Richard Nixon? Other historians have given us ominous hints and vague charges of financial and moral misconduct. Gellman shows otherwise, and the proof is in the details. In 1946 Nixon used his own meager savings in a shoestring campaign. In 1950, operating with a budget in the low six-figures -- high for the time, but many times lower than other estimates -- he reaped the benefits of his opponent's bruising primary. And the Red bashing? On HUAC Nixon was a moderate who won universal praise for his even-handedness. Behind the scenes he cautioned McCarthy against his excesses. Even during the incredible success of Nixon's Congress years there are occasional lapses of judgment. But, as Gellman shows, it was innocence and energy -- not deceit -- that made a fresh-faced Richard Nixon the victor against great odds in contest after contest. Here are the triumphs of the early years of a young man that we can unabashedly admire. Here is the rise of Richard Nixon, from nobody to vice president, that makes all previous biographies obsolete. Here is the Nixon that history will now remember. less...
Amazon Amazon Says:
John Paul Jones, at sea and in the heat of battle, was the great American hero of the Age of Sail. He was to history what Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey and C. S. Forester's H more...
John Paul Jones, at sea and in the heat of battle, was the great American hero of the Age of Sail. He was to history what Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey and C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower are to fiction. Ruthless, indomitable, clever; he vowed to sail, as he put it, "in harm's way." He never flinched or turned back. Evan Thomas's minute-by-minute re-creation of the bloodbath between Jones's Bonhomme Richard and the British man-of-war Serapis off the coast of England on an autumn night in 1779 is as gripping a sea battle as can be found in any novel. Thomas draws on Jones's wide-ranging correspondence with some of the most significant figures of the American Revolution -- John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson -- to paint a compelling portrait of a tortured warrior who was that most interesting and essential of American figures, the entirely self-made man. The son of a Scottish gardener (or possibly the bastard son of the lord of the manor), Jones fought his way up from second mate on a slave ship to become a mythic figure, hailed as the father of the navy, buried in a crypt (modeled after Napoleon's Tomb) beneath the chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy. Along the way he was an accused murderer (forced to flee to America under an assumed name); a notorious rake in Parisian society; and an admiral in the navy of Catherine the Great, fighting against the Turks in the Black Sea. He was a singularly successful naval officer during the American Revolution because he was both bold and visionary. John Paul Jones is more than a great sea story. Jones is a character for the ages. John Adams called him the "most ambitious and intriguing officer in the American Navy." The renewed interest in the Founding Fathers reminds us of the great men who made this country, but John Paul Jones teaches us that it took fighters as well as thinkers, men driven by dreams of personal glory as well as high-minded principle to break free of the past and start a new world. Jones's spirit was classically American. Evan Thomas brings his skills as a biographer to this complex, protean figure whose life and rise are both thrilling as a tale of dauntless courage and revealing about the birth of a nation. less...
Amazon Amazon Says:
Emerging out of the vast steppe grasslands of Central Asia in the early 1200s, the Mongols, under their ferocious leader, Genghis Khan, quickly carved out an empire that by th more...
Emerging out of the vast steppe grasslands of Central Asia in the early 1200s, the Mongols, under their ferocious leader, Genghis Khan, quickly carved out an empire that by the late thirteenth century covered almost one-sixth of the Earth’s landmass—from Eastern Europe to the eastern shore of Asia—and encompassed 110 million people. Far larger than the much more famous domains of Alexander the Great and ancient Rome, it has since been surpassed in overall size and reach only by the British Empire. The Rise and Fall of the Second Largest Empire in the World recounts the spectacularly rapid expansion and dramatic decline of the Mongol realm, while examining its real, widespread, and enduring influence on countless communities from the Danube River to the Pacific Ocean. less...