Carl Spaatz, Pioneer of Air Power

Today in History, July 14, 1974:

General Carl Spaatz dies.

Spaatz was a fighter pilot in his youth during WW1. He remained in the Army Air Corps, and when WW2 began went to England.

As German bombs fell on London during the Blitz and everyone else ran for the shelters, Spaatz sat on rooftops to gain knowledge of German tactics by watching their bombers and fighters in action.

When America entered the war, he became the commander of the Eighth Air Force as it began daylight bombing raids over Germany.

After the war, the Army Air Corps was separated from the US Army and became its own military branch, the US Air Force in 1947. Spaatz was it’s first Chief of Staff.

Turns Out…”Perpetual Peace” Born of Marriage Lasts About Ten Years and Ends Badly….Hmmm…

Today in History, May 28, 1503:

King James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor of England marry, fulfilling an international agreement which had been sanctioned by the Pope, The Treaty of Perpetual Peace between England and Scotland.

As it turns out, “perpetual” peace is good for about 10 years. In 1513 James declares war on England in support of France, who Scotland had a previous treaty with…and England had declared war on France.

The Pope would excommunicate James IV for going back on his word, and he would soon die during the Battle of Flodden Field, becoming the very last Monarch of the British Empire to die in battle.

“Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” –Militiaman Capt. John Parker, on Lexington Green

Today in History, April 19, 1775:

“Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” –Militiaman Capt. John Parker, to his troops on Lexington Green.

When the 700 British troops reached Lexington, they were confronted with a mere 77 minutemen who had managed to convene there. The British plan was to capture an American armory and arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

Thanks to the “midnight ride”, the armaments had been dispersed, Adams and Hancock sprited awat.

Capt. Parker, knowing that the British mission had already been rendered pointless, was not eager to risk the lives of is men. He had them form in ranks on Lexington Green, where they could give an expression of dissention without blocking the road to Concord.

The British commander decided to confront them anyway. With an expression of great insult, the British commander ordered the “damned rebels” to disperse. Parker directed them to do so as the well trained British regulars approached.

Nobody knows who fired the “shot heard ’round the world”. The Americans, of course, believed it was and over eager British soldier; the British believed it was from a minuteman; some speculation is that it was fired from the safety of a nearby tavern.

Whoever fired that first shot, it resulted in the British cutting down nearly a dozen minutemen, and one injured British soldier. The British then marched past the dead and injured on their way to Concord. 

The Brits, emboldened, marched on Concord. When they got there they were confronted with more than 300 minutemen. The outcome was quite different than at Lexington.

The British were quickly repelled, and decided to return to Boston.

As they completed the long march back to Boston, the minutemen continuously fired upon them from behind trees, rocks, fences, etc. By the time the regulars made it back to Boston, they had lost over 300 men.

Why was it the “shot heard ’round the world”? Not just because of the American Revolution. The acts of the revolutionaries did not affect only the “Colonies”. The French were encouraged to aid the Americans with their fleet eventually.

Other portions of the British Empire were encouraged to revolt. King George didn’t know it, but on this date, thanks to a few farmer and merchant “peasants”, the sun had begun to set on the British Empire.

The Statute of Anne…Authors Get Rights!

Today in History, April 10, 1710:

The Statute of Anne. The English Parliament passes the first statute awarding authors rights of copy.

Prior to this act, what little rights or restrictions on copying books and other works that existed in England protected the Stationer’s Company, and was enforced by the company.

With the Statute of Anne, the government enforced the rules, and gave the original author rights to copy their work for 14 years, after which they could obtain another 14. After the 28 years lapsed, the work defaulted to the public domain.

Much as we have seen with internet hijacking of artist’s work today, author’s work was being reproduced in poor or changed quality, taking away creative incentive. The Statute of Anne was revolutionary in publishing.

Other nations followed suit in the coming years (America in 1790). In 1886 the Berne Convention in Switzerland led to an agreement among several nations to recognize each other’s copyrights. The US would not join until 1986 (according to Britannica.)

“So. You’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this big war?” – A. Lincoln

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.

How to Destroy Your Career in 10 Seconds…

Today in History, March 12, 2003:

The British tabloid “The Guardian” publishes comments made by American Country star natalie maines of the dixie chicks group to a London audience,

“‘Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”

Much to their chagrin, these three soon found that loyal Americans didn’t appreciate “Americans” who spoke poorly of their own overseas. Especially when their customer base were conservative Country music listeners.

They were boycotted and chastised by those that were supposed to be their supporters…because you don’t bad mouth your family to others. Of course Hollywood has since embraced them, the same as “Hanoi Jane.”

Unlike popular Henry Fonda’s daughter, the Dixie Chicks never saw a resurgence in their careers.

Tragedy for Christmas

Today in History, December 15, 1944:

Think of any of your favorite singers, musicians, or groups, roll them altogether, and they aren’t as popular as Glenn Miller and his band were from 1937 to 1944.

In September of 1942 Miller, at the apex of his popularity, gave up the luxuries of home and entered the US Army Air Corps as a Captain to lead the US Army Air Corps Band. He and the band went to England and gave concerts to the troops, which was richly received.

On this date in 1944, Miller took off in a single engine aircraft from England en route to Paris to set up a show for the troops who had just taken that city back from the Nazis. Its the last time Miller was heard from, his plane went down over the English Channel; his remains nor his plane were ever found.

I can’t listen to this song without picturing all of the men and women…girls and boys…who put their lives on hold and saved the world during World War II, from Normandy to Iwo Jima to the Homefront.  Glenn Miller represented them, they were listening to his music before the war at High School dances and on radios before they went into combat.  Thank you, Mr. Miller.

  https://youtu.be/FhZ-yTIXXYI