“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.”
~Francis Pharcellus Church
Editorial Writer, New York Sun
1780 – American General Benedict Arnold met with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army.
Arnold had one very motivating factor behind his treason. In 1777, five men of lesser rank were promoted over him and his growing resentment – even after being given command of West Point – led to his turncoat decision.
However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and executed. Arnold, the former American patriot, fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut.
He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British.
1897 – The “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial was published in the New York Sun. Responding to a letter from eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon about the existence of Santa Claus, editor Francis Church took the opportunity to rise above the simple question and addressed the philosophical issues behind it, ending with this immortal paragraph.
“No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever! A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
Santa Factoid: Church was a hardened cynic and an atheist who had little patience for superstitious beliefs, did not want to write the editorial, and refused to allow his name to be attached to the piece.
More than a century later it is the most reprinted editorial in any newspaper in the English language.
1904 – Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph died on the Colville reservation in northern Washington at the age of 64.
He led his band of warriors during the most tumultuous period in their history when they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in Oregon to a reservation in Idaho Territory.
Chief Joseph was no warrior, and he opposed many of the subsequent actions of the Nez Perce war councils. Joseph’s younger brother, Olikut, was far more active in leading the Nez Perce into battle, and helped them successfully outsmart the U.S. Army on several occasions as the war ranged over more than 1,600 miles of Washington, Idaho, and Montana territory.
Chief Joseph was the only major leader to survive the war, and it fell to him to surrender the surviving Nez Perce forces to Colonel Nelson A. Miles at the Bear Paw battlefield in northern Montana in October 1877.
“From where the sun now stands,” he promised, “I will fight no more forever.”
1937 – J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published for the first time, with a print run of 1,500 copies which sold out by December because of enthusiastic reviews.
Since then, The Hobbit has sold over 100 million copies and been translated into fifty languages.
Tolkien Factoid: The Lord of the Rings began as a sequel to Tolkien’s Hobbitt, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.
1938 – Without warning, a powerful Category 3 hurricane slammed into Long Island and southern New England, causing 600 deaths and devastating coastal cities and towns.
Also called the Long Island Express, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 was the most destructive storm to strike the region in the 20th century.
The hurricane gained intensity as it passed into Rhode Island. Winds in excess of 120 mph caused a storm surge of 12 to 15 feet in Narragansett Bay, destroying coastal homes and entire fleets of boats at yacht clubs and marinas.
The waters of the bay surged into Providence harbor, rapidly submerging the downtown area of Rhode Island’s capital under more than 13 feet of water. Many people were swept away.
The hurricane then raced northward across Massachusetts, gaining speed again and causing great flooding. In Milton, south of Boston, the Blue Hill Observatory recorded one of the highest wind gusts in history, an astounding 186 mph.
Boston was hit hard, and “Old Ironsides” – the historic U.S. S. Constitution – was torn from its moorings in Boston Navy Yard and suffered slight damage. Hundreds of other ships were not so lucky.
The hurricane lost intensity as it passed over northern New England, but by the time the storm reached Canada around 11 p.m. it was still powerful enough to cause widespread damage.
The Great New England Hurricane finally dissipated over Canada that night.
1949 – At the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Peking (now Beijing), Mao Zedong announced that the new Chinese government would be “under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.”
The conference was a celebration of the communist victory in the long civil war against Nationalist Chinese forces which had driven the Nationalist government onto the island of Taiwan.
Mao also claimed that communism would help end reputation as a lesser-developed country.
“The era in which the Chinese were regarded as uncivilized is now over. We will emerge in the world as a highly civilized nation.”
1957 – Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr (with Barbara Hale as legal secretary Della Street), premiered on CBS.
The program ran for nine seasons and became one of the five most popular shows on television.
1970 – Monday Night Football debuted on ABC. The original trio in the booth were Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and “Dandy Don” Meredith.
ABC Sports producer Roone Arledge had tried to lure Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully to ABC for the play-by-play role, but settled for Jackson after they proved unable to break their respective existing contracts with NBC and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Frank Gifford would replace Jackson in 1991.
By the way, the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets, 31-21.
1972 – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation № 1081, placing the entire country under martial law and marking the beginning of his authoritarian rule.
The decree extended the president’s rule beyond the constitutional two-term limit. Marcos closed down Congress and media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists.
Marcos would retain U.S. backing for fourteen years, arguing essentially, that he had to destroy democracy in order to save it. By 1977, over 60,000 Filipinos had been arrested for political reasons.
In 1981, Vice President George H. W. Bush praised Marcos for his “adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic processes”.
No American military or politician in the 1970s ever publicly questioned the authority of Marcos
1974 – Actor Walter Brennan died from emphysema at the age of 80. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor three times: Come And Get It, Kentucky, The Westerner, and was nominated for a fourth for Sergeant York.
All of that aside, he perhaps is best remembered for his role on television’s The Real McCoys
1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.
She served until 2006 when she retired to spend more time with her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nearly twenty years until his death in 2009.
O’Connor has said she regrets the Court hearing the Bush v. Gore case in 2000.
“Maybe the Court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”
1983 – In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Interior Secretary James G. Watt mocked affirmative action with his description of a department coal leasing panel: “I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple.”
Even for that less politically-correct era, it was a stupendously idiotic remark to make in a public speech. Three weeks later, under pressure from President Ronald Reagan, Watt resigned.
Watt’s remark at that Chamber of Commerce speech wasn’t his only ridiculous remark.
For example, in 1981, he created controversy when he said, “I never use the words Democrats and Republicans. It’s liberals and Americans.”
In January of 1983, Watt said, “If you want an example of the failures of socialism, don’t go to Russia, come to America and go to the Indian reservations.”
Later that year, he angered rock and roll music fans by prohibiting The Beach Boys from playing their annual Fourth of July concert at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. His reason? “Rock concerts attract an undesirable element.”
1998 – President Bill Clinton’s videotaped grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal was publicly broadcast.
He was forced to defend previous statements about his affair with Lewinsky by quibbling over the precise definition of his words.
“It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If ‘is’ means ‘is and never has been’ that’s one thing. If it means ‘there is none’, that was a completely true statement.”
2001 – America: A Tribute To Heroes was broadcast live – uninterrupted and commercial-free – on the four major American television networks and virtually all of the cable networks in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC.
Done in the style of a telethon, it featured a number of national and international entertainers performing to raise money for the victims and their families, particularly but not limited to New York City firefighters and New York City police officers.
The 90-minute event raised over $200 million in donations.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2018 RayLemire.com / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.