On June 28…
“Quit? Quit? We keep score in life because it matters. It counts. Too many people opt out and never discover their own abilities, because they fear failure. They don’t understand commitment. When you learn to keep fighting in the face of potential failure, it gives you a larger skill set to do what you want to do.”
1776 – Thomas Hickey went to the gallows in New York City after one of the quickest – and most unfair – trials in American history.
Hickey had deserted from the British Army and become a member of the Life Guard which protected General George Washington, his staff, and the Continental Army’s payroll. After being arrested for passing counterfeit money, he allegedly talked to another prisoner about a plot to kidnap or assassinate Washington.
The counterfeiting charges quickly became secondary and after a speedy trial, he was convicted of “mutiny, sedition, and treachery” even though much of the testimony against Hickey was suspect and he was not assigned a defense attorney.
Washington ordered that all men not on duty be present at Hickey’s execution in the hopes that Hickey’s “unhappy fate” would “be a warning to every soldier in the Army.” Citizens were also invited to the execution. 20,000 people watched as Hickey mounted the scaffold and died.
The length of time between the start of his trial to his hanging was two days.
1836 – James Madison, drafter of the Constitution, recorder of the Constitutional Convention, author of the “Federalist Papers” and the 4th president of the United States, died at Montpelier, his tobacco plantation, at the age of 85.
1863 – A messenger from President Abraham Lincoln arrived to inform Maj. Gen. George Meade of his appointment as Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s replacement to take command the Army of the Potomac.
Meade was taken by surprise and later wrote to his wife that when the officer entered his tent to wake him, he assumed that Army politics had caught up with him and he was being arrested. He had not actively sought command and was not the president’s first choice.
John F. Reynolds, one of four major generals who outranked Meade in the Army of the Potomac, had earlier turned down the president’s suggestion that he take over.
And In The Evening…
1863 – Henry Thomas Harrison, a scout hired by Confederate General James Longstreet to observe the movement of Union troops, reported to Longstreet that the Union army had moved into Frederick, Maryland, and was moving northward, as well as the fact that Major General Joseph Hooker had been replaced as commander of the United States Army of the Potomac by Major General George Meade.
Longstreet passed the information on to General Robert E. Lee, who was initially skeptical of the report but lacked any concrete information from General J.E.B. Stuart, the Confederate Army’s “eyes and ears” who had failed to contact Lee for several days.
Lee used the information to order his army to concentrate in the vicinity of Cashtown, eight miles from Gettysburg, thereby triggering the events that led to the Battle of Gettysburg.
Lee said after hearing the news from Harrison, “A battle thus became, in a measure, unavoidable.”
1894 – Labor Day became an official U.S. holiday.
In 1887, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey all declared a special legal holiday in September to celebrate workers. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, but it took a strike to make it a national event.
A strike (over wage cuts) by the American Railway Union vs. the Pullman Company in the spring of 1894 triggered a nationwide transportation nightmare for freight and passenger traffic. At its peak, the strike involved about 250,000 workers in more than 25 states. President Grover Cleveland called in Army troops to break the strikers.
Something had to be done and it took a bill which had languished in Congress for ten months to do it.
After being introduced in August 1893, S. 730 had sat without debate in the Senate. At Cleveland’s urging, Senate leaders finally brought it to the floor where it quickly passed.
On this date, President Cleveland signed the act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday nationwide. Today it marks the traditional end of summer … politicians use it for speeches.
1902 – The U.S. Congress passed the Spooner Act, authorizing President Theodore Roosevelt to acquire rights from Colombia for the Panama Canal.
A canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was originally planned to go through Nicaragua, but the owners of the French New Panama Canal Company lowered their sale price from $109 million to $40 million, making the Panama route more attractive in terms of both length and cost.
An amendment (known as the Spooner Amendment after Senator John Spooner of Wisconsin) to the Hepburn Bill on this date authorized President Theodore Roosevelt to purchase the company’s rights for $40 million and negotiate with Colombia over land cession.
1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were assassinated by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The deaths provided the trigger that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August.
The archduke was in Sarajevo to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The annexation had angered Serbian nationalists, who believed the territories should be part of Serbia.
A group of young nationalists hatched a plot to kill the archduke, and after some missteps – such as a poorly tossed bomb – 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to shoot the couple at point-blank range, while they traveled in their official procession. They both died within minutes.
Princip was arrested and died in prison from tuberculosis in April 1918.
Austria-Hungary, like many in countries around the world, blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the question of Slav nationalism once and for all.
As Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention – which would likely involve Russia’s ally, France, and possibly Britain as well.
On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and World War I had begun.
The car the couple were riding in (shown above) is in the Museum of Military History in Vienna.
1919 – Although the armistice signed on November 11, 1918, had ended the actual fighting, the Treaty of Versailles, signed on this date, officially ended the state of war between Germany and the Allies of World War I. The signing came exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which directly led to the war.
Of the many provisions in the treaty, Article 231, one of the most important and controversial, required Germany to “accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage” during the war.
This article later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers.
In 1921 the total cost of the reparations was assessed at 132 billion marks (then $31.4 billion or roughly equivalent to US $442 billion in 2018).
1950 – Seoul was captured by North Korean troops. The South Koreans had no way of stopping the onslaught of tanks as they rolled into the city. In addition, the South Korean forces had blown up the Hangang Bridge across the Han River, trapping their own soldiers and killing hundreds of refugees evacuating the city.
Once the army had decided to destroy the bridge to stop the North Korean invasion (they didn’t), they planted 3,600 pounds of explosives at the bridge. At 11:30 pm, the demolition warning order was issued. However, the South Korean Army didn’t announce the demolition to Seoul citizens. The bridge was filled with 4,000 refugees when it was demolished, and 800 were killed.
1953 – Workers at a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan, assembled the first Corvette, a two-seater sports car that would become an American icon. The first completed production car rolled off the assembly line two days later, one of just 300 Corvettes made that year.
1965 – In the first major offensive ordered for U.S. forces, 3,000 troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade – in conjunction with 800 Australian soldiers and a Vietnamese airborne unit – assaulted a jungle area known as Viet Cong Zone D, 20 miles northeast of Saigon.
The operation was called off after three days when it failed to make any major contract with the enemy. One American was killed and nine Americans and four Australians were wounded. The State Department assured the American public that the operation was in accord with Johnson administration policy on the role of U.S. troops.
1971 – Franz Paul Stangl, the commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps during the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust, died of heart failure at Düsseldorf Prison in West Germany.
At the end of the war, Stangl escaped from Austria, aided by Roman Catholic Bishop Alois Hudal, a Nazi sympathizer (forced in 1952 to resign by the Vatican), and eventually made his way to Brazil. He was tracked down by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and arrested in 1967.
He was tried in a West German court in 1970 and found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment for responsibility in the murder of at least 900,000 men, women and children.
1975 – Rod Serling, screenwriter and producer best known for the Twilight Zone television series, died of a heart attack while undergoing open-heart surgery. He was 50 years old.
Over the course of its five seasons, The Twilight Zone won two Emmys for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama, and three Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation. In 1970 he tried to repeat this success with a similar series, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, but it lasted only until 1972.
A former boxer, paratrooper and general all-around angry young man, Serling was one of the radical voices of television. The Twilight Zone featured forays into controversial grounds like racism, Cold War paranoia and the horrors of war. His maverick attitude and constant battles with network executives eventually drove him (willingly) from network television.
1997 – Mike Tyson was disqualified in the third round for biting – and tearing off a piece of – Evander Holyfield’s ear.
Tyson and Holyfield had fought seven months earlier in Las Vegas, with Holyfield stopping the defending champion in the 11th round. In the rematch, Tyson began the third round with a furious attack.
With forty seconds remaining in the round Holyfield got Tyson in a clinch, and Tyson rolled his head above Holyfield’s shoulder and bit Holyfield on his right ear, tearing a one-inch piece of cartilage from the top of the ear, and spitting it on the ring floor.
Referee Mills Lane’s original decision was to immediately disqualify Tyson, but after the ringside doctor determined that Holyfield was able to continue despite the massive bite, Lane announced he would be deducting two points from Tyson and the fight could continue.
During another clinch in that third round, Tyson bit Holyfield again, this time on his left ear. Holyfield threw his hands around to get out of the clinch and jumped back. Lane did not see the foul and the fight continued. When the two boxers walked back to their respective corners, the second bite was discovered and Tyson was immediately disqualified.
2010 – Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving senator in the nation’s history, died in Fairfax, Va., at 92.
In the early 1940s, Byrd – highly influenced by his racist father – joined the Ku Klux Klan. In a Dec. 11, 1945 to to segregationist Mississippi Senator Theodore G. Bilbo – a letter which would not become public for 42 years – Byrd wrote:
“I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
Over time, Byrd consistently worked to make up for what he called, “the foolish indiscretions of youth.” For the 2003–2004 session, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People rated Byrd’s voting record as being 100% in line with the N.A.A.C.P.’s position on the thirty-three Senate bills they evaluated.
In June 2005, Byrd proposed an additional $10,000,000 in federal funding for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., remarking that, “With the passage of time, we have come to learn that his Dream was the American Dream, and few ever expressed it more eloquently.”
Late in life, Byrd called joining the KKK “the greatest mistake I ever made. I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.”
2016 – Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore, guitarist best known for backing Elvis Presley during the early days of Presley’s career, died at the age of 84.
A 2000 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Moore backed Presley on dozens of legendary songs, including That’s All Right, Heartbreak Hotel, Mystery Train, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Little Sister, and (You’re The) Devil In Disguise.
2016 – Pat Summitt, legendary women’s basketball coach of the University of Tennessee, died at the age of 64 after a five-year battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
She co-captained the United States women’s national basketball team as a player at the inaugural women’s tournament in the 1976 Summer Olympics, winning the silver medal. Eight years later, she coached the U.S. women’s team to an Olympic gold medal.
Summitt spent 38 seasons at Tennessee, compiling an astonishing 1,098 wins, 16 SEC championships, and 8 National championships. She was named NCAA Coach of the Year 7 times. In 2009, the Sporting News placed her at number 11 on its list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time (in all sports).
In 1999, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class, and in 2000 she was inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – the same year she was selected as the Naismith Women’s Collegiate Basketball Coach of the Century.
Summitt is the only person to have two courts used by NCAA Division I basketball teams named in her honor: “Pat Head Summitt Court” at the University of Tennessee at Martin (her alma mater), and “The Summitt” at the University of Tennessee.
I could have used a photo of Pat smiling sweetly, but that wouldn’t be right. I chose the photo above because that’s how all basketball fans will (and should) remember her … the icy glare. The fantastic icy glare.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2018 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.