“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
George Orwell’s Animal Farm
WARNING: Some photos in this column may disturb readers. I don’t post them for thrills. I post them because as brutal as they may be, they are reality … and sometimes reality isn’t a pretty thing.
1862 – Minnesota erupted in violence as desperate Dakota Indians – better known as Sioux – attacked white settlements along the Minnesota River. Four young Dakota warriors were returning from an unsuccessful hunt when they stopped to steal some eggs from a white settlement. The youths soon picked a quarrel with the owner, and the encounter turned tragic when the Dakotas killed five members of the family.
Sensing that they would be attacked, Dakota leaders determined that war was at hand and seized the initiative. Led by Little Crow, the Dakota attacked local agencies and the settlement of New Ulm. Over 500 white settlers lost their lives along with about 150 Dakota warriors.
President Abraham Lincoln dispatched General John Pope, fresh from his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, to organize the Military Department of the Northwest.
Some Dakota fled to North Dakota, but more than 2,000 were rounded up and over 300 warriors were sentenced to death. President Lincoln commuted most of their sentences, but on December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were executed at Mankato, Minnesota. It was the largest mass execution in American history.
1915 – A mob in Cobb County, Ga., lynched Jewish businessman Leo Frank, who had been sentenced on flimsy evidence for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan.
The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of Jim Conley, an admitted accomplice after the fact who many historians consider the real culprit of the murder. After Frank’s conviction, Governor John M. Slaton – believing Conley’s testimony was flawed, at best – commuted Frank’s sentence from capital punishment to life imprisonment.
The case attracted national press, with many deeming the conviction a travesty. Within Georgia, this outside criticism fueled anti-Semitism and hatred toward Frank.
A crowd of 1,200 marched on the governor’s mansion to protest the commutation. Two months later (on this date), Frank was kidnapped from prison by a group of armed men and lynched at Marietta, Phagan’s hometown.
1943 – U.S. General George S. Patton and his 7th Army arrived in Messina several hours before British Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery and his 8th Army, winning the unofficial “Race to Messina” and completing the Allied conquest of Sicily.
1945 – George Orwell’s Animal Farm was published.
Not a novel in the usual sense, it was an explicit political fable – an unmistakable allegory of the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism – in which the characters are transparent symbols of historical individuals (Old Major/Karl Marx, Napoleon/Joseph Stalin, Snowball/Leon Trotsky, Mr. Frederick/Adolf Hitler).
The political significance of Animal Farm far outweighs and in a sense is out of all proportion to its artistic significance. It may be the most popular and influential piece of literary propaganda produced in English, perhaps in any language, in the twentieth century. The sheer scale of the book’s success is astonishing.
Orwell Factoid: The book was originally titled Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but the subtitle was dropped by American publishers in 1946 and omitted by all but one of the translations during Orwell’s lifetime.
1962 – East German border guards shot and mortally wounded 18-year-old Peter Fechter, who had attempted to cross over the Berlin Wall into the western sector.
Fechter and a companion attempted to scramble to freedom across the wall. The companion was successful in climbing the last barbed wire fence and, though suffering numerous cuts, made it safely to West Berlin. Fechter was shot by machine guns on the East Berlin side. He fell but managed to stand up again, reach the wall, and begin to climb over.
More shots rang out. Fechter was hit in the back, screamed, and fell backwards off of the wall. For nearly an hour, he lay bleeding to death and crying for help. West German guards threw bandages to the man, and an angry crowd of West Berlin citizens screamed at the East German security men who seemed content to let the young man die.
He finally did die and only then did an East German guard remove his body.
1977 – Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD) reported the number of orders for flowers to be delivered to Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion and to Forest Hills Cemetery (where Presley was originally buried) following his death the day before had surpassed the number for any other event in the company’s history.
1987 – Rudolf Hess, the last member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, died at Spandau prison in West Berlin at the age of 93.
He was found strangled to death in a cabin in the exercise yard at the prison. The official story is he choked himself to death with an electrical cord he found there. Some suspected – and still do – foul play.
Held in Britain after a self-styled (and failed) mission to negotiate a peace between Britain and Germany in 1941, Hess was tried at Nuremberg after the war with other top Nazis. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was held in Spandau Prison in Berlin. The USSR, United States, Britain, and France shared responsibility in guarding him.
1992 – Actor-director Woody Allen, then 57, admitted being romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn, the 22-year old adopted daughter of his longtime companion, actress Mia Farrow.
In a press release, Allen wrote: “Regarding my love for Soon-Yi: It’s real and happily all true. She’s a lovely, intelligent, sensitive woman who has and continues to turn around my life in a wonderfully positive way.”
They were married in Venice, Italy on December 23, 1997.
1998 – President Bill Clinton admitted in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary’s alleged involvement in several scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment, potentially illegal real-estate deals and suspected “cronyism” involved in the firing of White House travel-agency personnel.
On the same day he admitted before the nation that he “misled people” about the relationship.
Please Note: There will be no lessons this weekend. I’ll be back on Monday.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2018 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.