On March 2…
“Thank God for 9/11. Thank God that, five years ago, the wrath of God was poured out upon this evil nation. America, land of the sodomite damned. We thank thee, Lord God Almighty, for answering the prayers of those that are under the altar.”
Westboro Baptist Church 2006
1807 – President Thomas Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves.
The act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United State…from any foreign kingdom, place, or country,” and took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution.
The domestic slave trade within the U.S. was not affected by the law. Indeed, with the legal supply of imported slaves terminated, the domestic trade increased in importance. So while many in Congress believed the act would doom slavery in the South, they were mistaken.
Historians estimate that up to 50,000 slaves were illegally imported into the United States after 1808, mostly through Spanish Florida and Texas, before those states were admitted to the Union.
South Carolina Governor Henry Middleton estimated in 1819 that 13,000 smuggled African slaves arrived every year.
1836 – At the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the Republic of Texas declared its independence from Mexico.
The declaration officially established the Republic of Texas, although it was not officially recognized at that time by any government other than itself. The Mexican Republic still claimed the land and considered the delegates to be invaders.
In fact, the convention took place while the defenders of The Alamo – which had been under siege since February 13 – were just four days away from being annihilated.
Independence Factoid: Sixty men signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Three of them were born in Mexico. Fifty-seven of the sixty moved to Texas from the United States.
That meant that the vast majority of signatories had moved to Texas after the Law of April 6, 1830 – banning immigration – had taken effect, meaning that the majority were citizens of the United States, occupying Texas illegally.
1877 – The U.S. Congress declared Republican Rutherford B. Hayes the winner over Samuel J. Tilden in the 1876 presidential election.
The results of the election remain among the most disputed ever, although it is not disputed that Tilden outpolled Hayes in the popular vote.
After a first count of votes, Tilden won 184 electoral votes to Hayes’ 165, with 20 votes from four states unresolved. A candidate needed 185 electoral votes to win.
In Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon, each party reported its candidate had won the state. An informal deal was struck to resolve the dispute: the Compromise of 1877, which awarded all 20 electoral votes to Hayes.
In return for the Democrats’ acquiescence to Hayes’ election, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.
1933 – King Kong premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The film had its official world premiere on March 23, 1933 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and opened nationwide on April 10.
Filmed on a budget of $675,000, the movie was a huge box-office success, earning over $2.5 million on its initial release.
It is well known for its groundbreaking use of special effects, such as stop-motion animation, matte painting, rear projection and miniatures, all of which were conceived decades before the digital age.
King Kong did not receive any Academy Awards nominations. Several attempts were made to nominate the crew for a special award in visual effects but such a category did not exist at the time.
1944 – Train Number 8017 left Salerno, Italy heading for the rural area south of the city through the Apennine Mountains.
It was raining as the train began to ascend the Galleria delle Amri tunnel pass just outside of Balvano. Almost immediately, it was forced to stop.
Why this happened has never been determined, but either the train was unable to pull the overloaded freight cars up the slope or the train stopped to wait for another train descending in the opposite direction.
In any case, the train sat idling in the tunnel for more than 30 minutes, and approximately 520 of the train’s passengers were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide, overcome so slowly that they failed to realize what was happening to them.
Due to the large number of corpses, the wartime lack of resources, and the poverty of many of the victims, most of the dead were buried without religious service in four common graves at the Balvano cemetery.
1944 – At the 16th Academy Awards, Casablanca won for Best Picture.
Paul Lukas won the Best Actor award for Watch On The Rhine, stunning movie fans who were convinced Humphrey Bogart would win for his performance in Casablanca.
The Best Actress award went to Jennifer Jones for The Song Of Bernadette.
Ingrid Bergman, who had co-starred with Bogart in Casablanca was nominated for Best Actress, but not for that film. Her nomination was for her role opposite Gary Cooper in For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Let’s Get Home Early Factoid: Jack Benny served as master of ceremonies for the event, which lasted fewer than 30 minutes.
1949 – Captain James Gallagher landed his B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, TX after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight in 94 hours and one minute.
The mission required a double crew with three pilots, under the command of Capt. Gallagher. The crews rotated in shifts of four to six hours.
1960 – Elvis Presley left Germany after serving two years in the Army. During a stop in Prestwick, Scotland to refuel the plane, Presley greeted fans through a fence.
At the time, Prestwick was home for the 1631 USAF unit and was a convenient stopover point for aircraft traveling from mainland Europe to North America. Despite the information about his visit and flight being restricted, rumors that Elvis was arriving in Scotland soon leaked out.
During the stopover, Presley briefly spoke to journalists, saying, “I kind of like the idea of Scotland. I’m going to do a European tour and Scotland will certainly be on my list.”
The promised tour and the Scottish dates were, of course, never to happen.
That stopover was the first and only time in his life he ever stood on British soil.
1962 – Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in a 169–147 win over the New York Knicks.
The game was not televised, and no video footage of the game exists. The NBA was not yet recognized as being a major sports league. The league occasionally played games in remote towns to attract new fans. This was the Warriors’ third “home” game of the season in Hershey, PA, which was 85 miles from Philadelphia
The attendance at the game, played at Hershey Sports Arena, was 4,124, half of capacity, and no members of the New York press were in attendance.
Chamberlain’s 100 points is widely considered one of basketball’s greatest records. The closest any player has come to the record was the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who scored 81 in a 122–104 win over the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006.
Chocolate Factoid: The Warriors’ Tom Meschery, while impressed with his teammate’s stunning performance, was not at all happy about playing in Hershey, calling the arena “a god-forsaken place. The town of Hershey was built around a huge chocolate factory; everything there became permeated with the smell of chocolate. I was just dreaming to leave the place as fast as I could.”
1965 – The U.S. began Operation Rolling Thunder, a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam.
The initial airstrikes of Operation Rolling Thunder were restricted to the southern portion of North Vietnam; however, U.S. leaders eventually moved the target area steadily northward.
By mid-1966, American planes were attacking military and industrial targets throughout North Vietnam. The only areas considered off limits for the bombing raids were the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong and a 10-mile buffer zone along the border of China.
With assistance from China and the Soviet Union, the North Vietnamese constructed a sophisticated air-defense system.
As a result, pilots and aircraft weapon systems operators accounted for the majority of the American prisoners of war who were captured and held by North Vietnam – including Medal of Honor recipient James B. Stockdale and Senator John McCain.
The sustained bombing of North Vietnam lasted for more than three years. Johnson finally halted the campaign on October 31, 1968, in order to pursue a negotiated settlement with the Communists.
Historians argue that rules of engagement put in place to avoid provoking communist China and to minimize damage to Hanoi and Haiphong made it impossible for the U.S. air strikes to hit a number of important targets, including airfields, shipyards, power plants and oil storage facilities.
They also assert that U.S. leaders failed to coordinate the bombing campaign in North Vietnam with the ground operations in South Vietnam.
The U.S. strikes dropped 864,000 tons of bombs and missiles on North Vietnam.
In comparison, 653,000 tons of conventional bombs were unleashed during the three years of the Korean War, and 503,000 tons were dropped in the Pacific theater during more than three years of World War II.
1965 – The movie version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound Of Music premiered at the Rivoli Theater in New York City.
After its Los Angeles premiere on March 10, the film, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, opened in 131 theaters in the United States, and after four weeks, became the number one box office movie in the country, holding that position for thirty out of the next forty-three weeks.
The film would win five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Wise), Best Music Score, Sound Editing, and Film Editing.
Although Andrews was nominated for Best Actress, the Academy Award was won by Julie Christie for Darling.
Soundtrack Factoid: The soundtrack album was in the U.S. Top Ten for 109 weeks – from May 1, 1965 to July 16, 1967 – reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 in November 1965 – knocking the Beatles’ Help! soundtrack off the top of the charts.
It was the best-selling album in the United Kingdom in 1965, 1966 and 1968, spending a total of 70 weeks at #1 – including January 1968 when it briefly knocked Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from #1 – in the UK Album Charts.
1967 – It was a big night for Frank Sinatra at the 9th Grammy Awards.
He won Album of The Year (A Man And His Music), Record of The Year and Best Male Performance (both awards for Strangers In The Night).
For the record (pun intended), Sinatra despised Strangers In The Night, calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst song that I have ever heard.”
John and Paul Factoid: The Song of The Year Grammy went to John Lennon and Paul McCartney for Michelle.
Grammy Snub Factoid: Guess who won Best Performance by A Vocal Group.
No, it wasn’t the Association (Cherish),the Beach Boys (Good Vibrations), the Mamas & Papas (Monday, Monday), or the Sandpipers (Guantanamera).
It was the Anita Kerr Singers (A Man And A Woman)!
Grammy Snub Factoid #2: Sinatra’s win in the Album of the Year category came at the expense of the Beatles’ Revolver … but at least that album was nominated.
Here are just a few albums that didn’t receive a nomination: Bob Dylan (Blonde On Blonde), Simon & Garfunkel (Sounds Of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme), Mamas & Papas (If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears), Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), and the Byrds (Fifth Dimension).
1967 – Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York) proposed a three-point plan to help end the Vietnam War.
The plan included suspension of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam and the gradual withdrawal of U.S. and North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam with replacement by an international force.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk rejected Kennedy’s proposal because he believed that the North Vietnamese would never agree to withdraw their troops.
1978 – In one of history’s most famous cases of body-snatching, two men stole the corpse of actor Charles Chaplin from a cemetery in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, located in the hills above Lake Geneva, near Lausanne, Switzerland.
The comedian, who owned a mansion in the village, had died just two months earlier.
After a five-week investigation, police arrested two auto mechanics – Roman Wardas, of Poland, and Gantscho Ganev, of Bulgaria – who on May 17 led them to Chaplin’s body, which they had buried in a cornfield about one mile from the Chaplin family’s home in Corsier.
1987 – Actor Randolph Scott died of heart and lung ailments at the age of 89.
Out of his more than 100 film appearances, over 60 were in Westerns, including Frontier Marshal, Virginia City, Jesse James, Abilene Town, Seven Men From Now, Decision At Sundown and Ride The High Country.
1992 – Academy Award winning actress Sandy Dennis died from ovarian cancer at the age of 54.
She starred in Splendor In The Grass, The Four Seasons, Up The Down Staircase, and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, which earned her an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.
1999 – Singer Dusty Springfield died at 59 of breast cancer.
She was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the UK Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989.
Her first success came in 1962 as a member of pop-folk vocal trio, The Springfields (Silver Threads and Golden Needles).
Her solo career began in 1963 with I Only Want To Be With You. Among the hits that followed were Wishin’ and Hopin’ , You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Son of A Preacher Man.
She died in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on the day she was scheduled to go to Buckingham Palace to receive her award of Officer, Order of the British Empire. Before her death, officials of Queen Elizabeth II had given permission for the medal to be presented to her.
Springfield passed away 10 days before she was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2008 – Blues/rock guitarist Jeff Healey died at 41 of cancer.
Healey, who had a #5 hit in 1989 with Angel Eyes, began playing guitar when he was three, developing his unique style of playing the instrument flat on his lap.
Along with his bandmates, bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen, Healey had numerous acting scenes in the movie Road House with Patrick Swayze, as the band played the role of the house cover band for the bar featured in the movie.
Rock Factoid: When he was almost one year old, Healey lost his sight to retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes. His eyes had to be surgically removed, and he was given ocular prostheses.
2011 – The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church had a First Amendment right to picket the funeral of a Marine.
The ruling, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
The decision ended a lawsuit by Albert Snyder, who sued church members for the emotional pain they caused by showing up at his son Matthew’s funeral in Westminster, Maryland in 2006.
As they have at hundreds of other funerals, the Westboro members held signs with provocative messages, including “Thank God for dead soldiers,” ”You’re Going to Hell,” ”God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11.
Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, said Snyder wanted only to “bury his son in peace.” Instead, Alito said, the protesters “brutally attacked” Matthew Snyder to attract public attention. “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,” he said.
In Case You Didn’t Know Factoid: Under the “leadership” of Fred Phelps – the founding pastor of the Topeka, Kansas church – Westboro members are well known for their use of inflammatory hate speech, especially against Gay and LGBTQ people, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Atheists, Muslims, Jews, and U.S. soldiers.
Basically, anyone and everyone who opposes their views.
As for funerals of fallen soldiers, they claim, “When a nation rises up in pride against God, one of the ways that God punishes that nation is by killing her men of war (‘She hath been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day’).”
Fred Factoid: Fred Phelps – who was excommunicated from the church after advocating a kinder approach to LGBTQ activists – died in March 2014.
The Westboro Baptist Church – with membership (consisting of primarily of members of Phelps’s extended family) – having dropped to 60 members after a high of 80 in 2010 – remains in operation.
It continues to conduct regular demonstrations outside movie theaters, universities, government buildings, and funerals in Topeka and elsewhere, and is still characterized as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2020 RayLemire.com / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.