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

“Get off my Lawn!!” – The Roosevelt Corollary

Today in History, December 6, 1904:

The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine had been established to tell European powers to stay out…no Emperialism in the Western Hemisphere. When it was declared, the US didn’t really have the forces to back it up. But, conveniently the Royal Navy agreed and enforced it for their former adversaries.

In 1904 President Roosevelt made an addition to the Doctrine. There had been recent incidents in which European powers threatened actions against South American nations that they felt owed them money. In his annual message to the Congress, TR stated that, should any developing nations in the Western Hemisphere require intervention due to unrest or an inability to handle their financial affairs, it would be the US that would intervene, not foreign nations. This time TR had the Navy to back it up.

Many criticize Roosevelt’s assumption of police powers in the Americas as expansionist, and with the events surrounding the building of the Panama Canal, there is likely some validity to that view. However the primary objective was to ensure that foreign powers knew the US would not tolerate their use of military force in our backyard. And it kept the big kids from taking advantage of the still developing countries in the Western Hemisphere.

http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/life/rooseveltcorollary.htm

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

Today in History, November 5, 1605: …The Gunpowder treason and plot…

The Gunpowder Plot. Several Catholic conspirators had hatched a plan to blow up the Parliament building in London while the king and parliament met.

One of the conspirators told a relative not to attend, and that relative told authorities. On the night of November 5th, conspirator Guy Fawkes was caught lurking in the basement of the building, and subsequently 20 barrels of gunpowder he had hidden there were located.

Fawkes named his conspirators under torture. Several, including Fawkes, were sentenced to be drawn and quartered. As Fawkes climbed a ladder to the gallows, he jumped to his death. Today is Guy Fawkes day in England, celebrating the failure of the plot.

In recent years it seems to have become popular to don a Guy Fawkes mask to render yourself anonymous to protest anything from injustice to prices.

 The Fifth of November

Remember, remember!  
The fifth of November, 
The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
I know of no reason 
Why the Gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot! 
Guy Fawkes and his companions 
Did the scheme contrive, 
To blow the King and Parliament 
All up alive. 
Threescore barrels, laid below, 
To prove old England’s overthrow. 
But, by God’s providence, him they catch, 
With a dark lantern, lighting a match! 
A stick and a stake  
For King James’s sake! 
If you won’t give me one, 
I’ll take two, 
The better for me, 
And the worse for you. 
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, 
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him, 
A pint of beer to wash it down, 
And a jolly good fire to burn him. 
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! 
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! 
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

A Name Change

Today in History, July 17, 1917:

The British Royal family, previously know by their family name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, linked with their cousins of the German and Russian monarchies, changed their name to Windsor, a specifically English surname.

The change was made because Britain was at war with Germany and were bombing England with a bomber named the Gotha.