Today in History, June 8, 1968:
What a busy news day this must have been?!
James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr is arrested in London, England where he was attempting to make his way to an African nation run by racists (ironic). He would eventually be convicted of assassinating Civil Rights leader King.
On the same day…..
…another civil rights activist is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Robert F. Kennedy would be laid to rest within 30 yards of his brother John, assassinated only five years earlier.
Today in History, April 26, 1865:
Union Army forces track down John Wilkes Booth 12 days after he assassinated President Lincoln.
In the meantime, he had been hidden by Confederates, treated by Doctor Samuel Mudd (your name is mud) and hidden in a barn on the Garrett farm in Virginia, where he was found. The barn was set afire and his associate surrendered.
Booth refused…a Union soldier, Boston Corbett, saw Booth inside the barn and fired his Colt revolver…causing a mortal wound to Booth.
Many Confederates saw Booth as a hero. However many Southerners wept openly at Lincoln’s death, and Confederate Generals, including Lee and Johnston, denounced Booth’s actions.
Fortunately, in the interim between his deed and his death, Booth was able to see news accounts that recorded his benefactor’s denunciation of his act. So when he died, he knew what he was.
Today in History, April 19, 1775:
Today in History, April 14, 1865:
Within a week of the surrender at Appomattox, a coward assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
If you were old enough on 9/11, you experienced the indescribable loss, grief, and helplessness we all experienced.
I use this in an attempt to fathom the emotions Americans must have felt at the loss of Lincoln. He had led them through the most traumatic time in our nation’s history…the times ahead were still uncertain. How would the North and South reunite? Was the war really over? They needed his steady hand on the rudder stearing the ship of state more than ever.
And suddenly Abraham was gone.
I post “O Captain! My Captain!” By Walt Whitman almost every year on this date, because I believe he came closest to capturing the grief the nation must have felt.
TODAY IN HISTORY, MARCH 24, 1981:
“Nightline”, an ABC news show, premieres, according to Historyorb.com.
The most interesting part of this story is that “nightline” with Ted Koppel actually began in November 1979 with the Iran Hostage Crisis. But then, that was focused on the Democrat administration of Jimmy Carter, so we can’t report that accurately.
The program had its beginnings on November 8, 1979, just four days after the Iran hostage crisis started. ABC News president Roone Arledge felt the best way to compete against NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was to update Americans on the latest news from Iran. At that time, the show was called:
“The Iran Crisis—America Held Hostage: Day xxx” where xxx represented each day Iranians held hostage the occupants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Originally, World News Tonight lead anchor Frank Reynolds hosted the special report. Shortly after its creation, Reynolds stopped hosting the program.
Ted Koppel, then ABC News’s State Department Correspondent, took on the hosting duties. It wasn’t until a few days later that a producer had the idea of displaying the number of days on “America Held Hostage”: Day 15, Day 50, Day 150, and so on.
The show continued to run as Nightline after the hostages were freed, and Ted Koppel became one of America’s most respected journalists.
Today in History, March 20, 1852:
“So…you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”
President Abraham Lincoln greets Harriett Beecher Stowe at the Presidential Mansion in 1862, ten years after her novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was first published.
I am amazed at the foresight and courage displayed by this woman, a school teacher turned author.
By her own admission, in the epilogue of the book, for the first part of her life, she knew of slavery, disapproved of it, but being a Northerner, it was distant and she felt that the problem would be resolved eventually on it’s own.
How many of today’s injustices do we see the same way? Between meeting some runaway slaves, becoming familiar with the Underground Railroad, and stories from her family and friends, and finally the Compromise of 1850 (in which the government promised to return runaway slaves in exchange for new limitations on slavery expansion), she became an avid abolitionist.
She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin to illustrate the aspects of slavery that most did not understand at that time.
As slaves, a mother’s children were often sold off, never to be seen again.
Women were sold into prostitution, to be used until their value had diminished.
If a good and kindly “master” came on hard times, he might sell a good man “down the river” to cruel and harsh masters, as “Uncle Tom” was.
With her novel, Mrs. Stowe humanized the slavery issue, brought it home to people and chastised them for not living up to their Christian values.
The novel would become the best selling novel of the 19th century and would inspire abolitionist views amongst Americans. It was certainly far from the only cause of the Civil War…but the novel played it’s part in American History.
One has to wonder if this “little woman” had any idea of the importance her words would have. If you haven’t read (or listened to) this novel, you should.ance her words would have. If you haven’t read (or listened to) this novel, you should.