“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
~President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
1863 – At the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history.
Using just 271 words, Lincoln articulated the meaning of the Civil War for a public that had grown weary of the conflict, and in doing so, he brilliantly and movingly reminded the nation why the Union had to fight, and win, the war.
The speech reflected his redefined belief that the Civil War was not just a fight to save the Union, but a struggle for freedom and equality for all, an idea Lincoln had not championed in the years leading up to the war. This was his stirring conclusion…
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
1887 – Emma Lazarus, an American poet best known for her sonnet, The New Colossus, died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 38.
Her famous sonnet was written in 1883. Its lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Among those splendid words are these:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
1915 – Joel Emmanuel Hägglund (better known as Joe Hill, a labor activist, songwriter and member of the Industrial Workers of The World) was executed by firing squad for the murder of John G. Morrison and his son Arling in their Salt Lake City grocery store. The prevailing theory today is that Hill was framed for the murders.
Hill was memorialized in a tribute poem written about him by Alfred Hayes, titled “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night”.
The poem was later made into a song which remains popular among union activists.
1954 – The first automatic tolls collection station in the U.S. went into service at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway.
Motorists dropped coins into a wire mesh hopper, triggering a green light that prompted them to proceed.
The idea soon caught on at toll roads around the country, reducing the number of booth attendants and propelling cars and trucks on their way.
1959 – Rocky & His Friends premiered on ABC.
The show aired twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, following American Bandstand at 5:30pm (ET), where it was the highest-rated daytime network program.
When the show moved to NBC in 1961, it was renamed The Bullwinkle Show.
1969 – Apollo 12 astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad and Alan Bean became the third and fourth men to stand on the surface of the Moon.
When Conrad, who was somewhat shorter than Neil Armstrong – the first man to ever set foot on the lunar surface – stepped onto the lunar surface, his first words were “Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.”
1975 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest opened in theaters.
Directed by Milos Forman and based on a 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, the film starred Jack Nicholson and was co-produced by actor Michael Douglas.
The film went on to become the first film in four decades to win in all five of the major Academy Award categories: Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director, Best Screenplay (Adapted) and Best Picture.
1977 – In an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat traveled to Jerusalem to seek a permanent peace settlement with Israel after decades of conflict.
Sadat’s visit, in which he met with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and spoke before the Knesset (Parliament), was met with outrage in most of the Arab world.
1983 – Musician Tom Evans, bass guitarist and vocalist with Badfinger, died by suicide at the age of 36.
Evans co-wrote Without You – a worldwide smash hit for Harry Nilsson – with bandmate Pete Ham, and sang lead on Badfinger’s first hit, Come And Get It. Weighed down by bad contracts and the worst management in rock history, Ham hanged himself in 1975.
Seven years later, there was still no money – despite the fact the band had sold more than 14 million records – and Evans (pictured above in front of Ham) also hanged himself.
1984 – A series of explosions at the Pemex Petroleum Storage Facility at San Juan Ixhuatepec in Mexico City ignited a major fire.
The explosions consumed one third of Mexico City’s entire liquid petroleum gas supply, killed 500–600 people, and left 5000–7000 others with severe burns.
The San Juanico disaster was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in world history.
1992 – Singer/songwriter Bobby Russell died of coronary artery disease. He was 52.
As a singer, his biggest chart was his self-penned Saturday Morning Confusion, a top 25 country hit and #28 pop hit in 1971.
But his real claim to fame came as a songwriter.
Russell wrote many hits over quite a few genres, the most notable being The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia (a #1 hit for his then-wife Vicki Lawrence), and Little Green Apples, which won a Song of the Year Grammy Award for him in 1969 – beating out Hey Jude by the Beatles, Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel, and Honey (also written by Russell) by Bobby Goldsboro.
1997 – The world’s first surviving septuplets were born by Cesarean section to Ken and Bobbi McCaughey of Carlisle, Iowa.
There were four boys (Kenneth, Brandon, Nathan and Joel) and three girls (Alexis, Natalie and Kelsey). The infants ranged in weight from 2 pounds, 5 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces and were born over a period of six minutes.
The seven newcomers joined a family that already included one daughter, Mikayla – and an undoubtedly stressed pair of parents.
1998 – Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr laid out his evidence against President Bill Clinton for actions related to the Monica Lewinsky scandal during a daylong appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.
Clinton was subsequently impeached by the House of Representatives on December 19, 1998 on grounds of perjury to a grand jury (by a 228–206 vote) and obstruction of justice (by a 221–212 vote).
The Senate trial began on January 7, 1999. On February 12, the Senate emerged from its closed deliberations and voted on the articles of impeachment. A two-thirds vote, 67 votes, would have been necessary to convict and remove the President from office.
The perjury charge was defeated with 45 votes for conviction and 55 against, and the obstruction of justice charge was defeated with 50 for conviction and 50 against.
2004 – Terry Melcher, best known for producing the Byrds’ first two albums Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!, as well as most of the hit recordings of Paul Revere & the Raiders, died at the age of 62 after a long battle with melanoma.
Melcher – the son of actress Doris Day – had a well-documented association with the Manson Family. For a time, Melcher was interested in recording Charlie Manson’s music, as well as making a film about the family and their hippie commune existence. Manson met Melcher at 10050 Cielo Drive, the home that Melcher shared with his girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, and musician Mark Lindsay.
Melcher eventually severed his ties with Manson, and soon after, Melcher and Bergen moved out of the Cielo Drive home. The house’s owner, Rudi Altobelli, then leased it to film director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. Manson was reported to have visited the house on more than one occasion asking for Melcher, but was told that Melcher had moved.
And we all know what happened after that.
2007 – Actor Dick Wilson (long-time television character actor but forever remembered for his role of finicky grocery store manager “Mr. Whipple” in over 500 Charmin commercials) died of natural causes at the age of 91.
2014 – Director Mike Nichols died of a heart attack at the age of 83.
Among the many films he directed were Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, The Birdcage and The Graduate, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Director.
2017 – Country music singer/songwriter Mel Tillis died of respiratory failure at the age of 85.
In his six-decade career, he recorded over 60 albums, notched three dozen Top 10 singles – including These Lonely Hands of Mine, Good Woman Blues and Coca-Cola Cowboy.
Tillis wrote over 1,000 songs, several of which — I Ain’t Never (Webb Pierce), Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town (Kenny Rogers & The First Edition) and Detroit City (Bobby Bare) – are now regarded as classics.
2017 – Singer/Actress Della Reese died at the age of 86.
Reese began her career in the late 1950s, releasing the top 20 hit And That Reminds Me in 1957. Her career took off after signing with RCA Records, thanks to the track that would become her signature, 1959’s Don’t You Know.
By the late 1960s Reese switched careers and began pursuing acting, in both sitcom and drama work, including a recurring role on Chico and The Man, and guest spots on dozens of shows.
Her most iconic acting role came in 1994, when she took the lead as the “supervising angel” in the CBS TV drama Touched By An Angel.
Let’s end with some happy news…
2017 – Charles Manson died from cardiac arrest resulting from respiratory failure and colon cancer. He was 83.
The cult leader of the “Manson Family” was a career criminal and unrepentant racist who masterminded the Tate-LaBianca killings in 1969 and became one of the most reviled figures in American pop culture.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2023 RayLemire.com / Streamingoldies. All Rights Reserved.