Today in History, February 6, 1952:

Treetops Hotel, Kenya.

While on a tour of colonial assets, Princess Elizabeth is notified that her father, King George VI, had passed, ascending her to the throne. She chose to keep her name, becoming Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, including England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Commonwealth. At that time the Empire included many other nations that have since become independent.

Queen Elizabeth, who had been the heir apparent since 1936, still reigns after 68 years, making her the longest reigning sovereign of the British Empire.

The Boston Tea Party – Saying No to Tyranny

Today in History, December 16, 1773:

The Boston Tea Party. In an effort to bolster the struggling British East India Company, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773, refunding taxes the company paid in England while retaining those paid by American colonists. The debate concerning taxation without representation had been raging for years, and this was, in a way, the last straw. In several cities protests had forced cargo ships to return to England with their holds still full of tea. But in Boston the British Governor of Massachusetts refused to allow 3 ships there to leave. So on this date Sam Adams led a contingent of the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Mohawk Indians aboard the ships and dumped their cargo of tea into Boston Harbor. This enraged Parliament, whose responses would light the fuse on the American Revolution.

Desist from Treasonable Acts and Doings…

Today in History, November 30, 1776:

The Howe Brothers, Admiral Richard and General William, in command of the Engliah Army and Navy in the Americas issue a proclamation that American colonists who will “desist from treasonable acts and doings” would receive a pardon.

Of course, most of the colonists were determined. After the British signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783, those “Tories” that had accepted the offer, mostly New Yorkers, were evacuated by the British to Canada.

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.)