“I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he’d rather I’d shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted – if I could hit ’em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
~Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch
To Kill A Mockingbird
1775 – British general Thomas Gage declared martial law in Massachusetts. The British offered a pardon to all colonists who would “lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects.”
There were only two exceptions to the amnesty: Samuel Adams and John Hancock, if captured, were to be hanged.
1862 – Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart began his ride around the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular campaign in Virginia, after being sent on a reconnaissance of Union positions by Robert E. Lee. Four days later, Stuart had circled the entire Yankee force, 105,000 strong, and provided Lee with crucial information.
General George McClellan had spent the spring of 1862 preparing the Union army for a campaign against Richmond up the James Peninsula. During his reconnaissance, Stuart – pursued by Union cavalry that was commanded, coincidentally, by his father-in-law, Philip St. George Cooke – discovered that McClellan’s right flank did not have any natural topographic features to protect it.
The information provided to Lee helped the Confederates begin an attack that eventually drove McClellan from Richmond’s doorstep.
1939 – The Baseball Hall of Fame was dedicated and the first Induction Ceremony was held in Cooperstown, NY.
The first five men elected (in 1936) were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson; 13 more players, 2 managers, and 7 Executive/Pioneer inductees were selected in 1937-38 before the entire group was inducted at the Hall’s 1939 opening.
1940 – Edsel Ford telephoned William Knudsen of the U.S. Office of Production Management to confirm Ford Motor Company’s acceptance of Knudsen’s proposal to manufacture 9,000 Rolls-Royce-designed engines to be used in British and U.S. airplanes on an expedited basis.
One significant obstacle remained, however: Edsel’s father Henry, who still retained complete control over the company he founded, was known for his opposition to the possible U.S. entry into World War II. As soon as the British press announced the deal, Henry Ford personally and publicly canceled it, telling a reporter: “We are not doing business with the British government or any other government.”
Ford had in effect already accepted a contract from the German government. The Ford subsidiary Ford-Werke in Cologne was doing business with the Third Reich at the time, which Ford’s critics took as proof that he was concealing a pro-German bias behind his claims to be a man of peace.
The photo above lent credence to that theory. In 1938, Ford was presented with the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle on his 75th birthday. He was the first American recipient of this order, an honor created in 1937 by Adolf Hitler.
This was the highest honor Nazi Germany could give to any foreigner and represented Adolf Hitler’s personal admiration and indebtedness to Henry Ford. The presentation was made by Karl Kapp, German consul in Cleveland, and Fritz Heller, German consular representative in Detroit.
Ford later reversed his position when U.S. entry into the war looked ever more certain, and in May of 1941 the company opened a large new government-sponsored facility at Willow Run, Michigan, for the purposes of manufacturing B-24E Liberator bombers for the Allied war effort.
1963 – In the driveway outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi, African American civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot to death by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith.
As a field worker for the NAACP, Evers traveled through his home state encouraging poor African Americans to register to vote and recruiting them into the civil rights movement. He was instrumental in getting witnesses and evidence for the Emmitt Till murder case, which brought national attention to the plight of African Americans in the South.
After a funeral in Jackson, Evers, who was a member of the Normandy invasion forces, was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. President John F. Kennedy and many other leaders publicly condemned the killing.
In 1964, the first trial of De La Beckwith ended with a deadlock by an all-white jury, sparking numerous protests. When a second all-white jury also failed to reach a decision, De La Beckwith was set free. Three decades later, the state of Mississippi reopened the case under pressure from civil rights leaders and Evers’ family.
In February 1994, a racially mixed jury in Jackson found Beckwith guilty of murder. The unrepentant white supremacist, aged 73, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in 2001.
1964 – Anti-apartheid activist and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage in South Africa. Mandela served 27 years in prison, but amid growing domestic and international pressure, and with fears of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990.
Mandela was elected to the presidency of South Africa in 1994, following which he served one term in office (1994–99). He was the first non-white head of state in South African history, as well as the first to take office following the dismantling of the apartheid system and the introduction of multiracial democracy.
1978 – David Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for each of the six “Son of Sam” .44-caliber killings he had committed in New York City.
Berkowitz is entitled to a parole hearing every two years as mandated by state law, but he has consistently refused to ask for his release, sometimes skipping the hearings altogether.
At his 2016 hearing, Berkowitz stated that while parole was “unrealistic,” he felt he had improved himself behind bars, adding, “I feel I am no risk, whatsoever.” His lawyer, Mark Heller, noted that prison staff considered Berkowitz to be a “model prisoner,” but commissioners once again denied a parole.
1987 – In one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.
With the wall as a backdrop, Reagan declared to a West Berlin crowd, “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He then called upon his Soviet counterpart:
“Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace – if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe – if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
The speech foreshadowed events to come: Two years later, on November 9, 1989, joyful East and West Germans did break down the infamous barrier between East and West Berlin. Germany was officially reunited on October 3, 1990.
1994 – Nicole Brown Simpson – the ex-wife of football legend O.J. Simpson – and her friend Ron Goldman were brutally stabbed to death outside her home in Brentwood, California, in what quickly became one of the most highly publicized trials of the century.
The evidence against Simpson was extensive: His blood was found at the murder scene; blood, hair, and fibers from Brown and Goldman were found in Simpson’s car and at his home; one of his gloves was also found in Brown’s home, the other outside his own house; and bloody shoe prints found at the scene matched those of shoes owned by Simpson.
But as we all know, the mountain of evidence didn’t add up to a conviction.
2003 – Actor Gregory Peck died at his Los Angeles home at the age of 87.
Known to many for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of the courageous, dignified lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, Peck’s career was filled with outstanding performances in many classic films:
MacArthur, The Boys From Brazil, The Gunfighter, Guns Of Navarone, The Keys of The Kingdom, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Spellbound, Twelve O’Clock High, Moby Dick, and so many more.
2016 – Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others injured in an attack at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was, at the time, the deadliest shooting by a single shooter in United States history. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was killed in a gunfight with police three hours later.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2018 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.