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.
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
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!
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.
Today in History, June 19, 1864:
The Battle off Cherbourg. In 1861 the screw sloop CSS Alabama was launched in England, which was just the beginning of the intrigue involving the Confederate cruiser that wreaked havoc on Union shipping until her demise on this date in 1864.
The British gov’t had ordered no ships be built or sold to the rebels, but the company that built the Alabama did so clandestinely. During the intervening years the Alabama, which had both steam engines and sails, circled the globe sinking Union merchant shipping (60 at least) and a Union warship.
She had put in at Cherbourg, France for much needed repairs, but was rebuffed. Before she could leave, the Union screw sloop USS Kearsarge arrived outside the harbor.
Capt. Charles Pickering and many other Union Captains had been searching for the infamous Alabama and Capt. Raphael Semmes for years. Semmes set out to engage the Kearsarge, firing the first shot. The two ships parried, but the Kearsarge had some advantages; powerful new “Dahlgren” guns and chains draped over her sides for protection. Within an hour the Kearsarge’s crew sent the Alabama to the bottom. Semmes escaped on a passing British ship to England with 41 of his crew.
Today in History, June 6, 1944:
The skies overhead filled with aircraft…thousands of bombers, transports, fighters. The British populace watched the boys board transport ships bound for France…and wept. Their towns, so long filled with those damned Americans were now quiet and empty. They wouldn’t be coming back. Many would fill cemeteries across Europe; others would be headed home for the US after fighting their way to Germany.
In America, as the news was broadcast that the invasion had begun at long last, businesses, theaters, and other workplaces emptied and closed…and the churches filled to capacity.
Americans prayed for their sons, husbands and fathers. I’m sure they prayed not to see the Western Union courier on their street in the coming days.
The Allies had been planning, working for and arguing over this day since America had entered the war. Americans had wanted to make the assault on Europe as early as 1942. Stalin in Russia had been pushing for another front to be opened to relieve pressure on his country which had suffered incredible losses.
The British General Staff and Churchill had won the argument, which saw to fighting in Africa, Sicily and Italy first.
By 1944, as America provided more and more supplies…and troops…to the war, the invasion of France was planned.
The largest, most complex invasion in history began on June 6, 1944 with Americans, British, Canadians and troops from the occupied nations of Europe.
The world was saved by boys who should have lived long, happy lives.
We owe a debt we cannot possibly repay.
On that day, my father would be recognizing his 17th birthday. I don’t know when he shipped out, but that is the year he began his service in the Pacific.
Today in History, May 26: 1940 – Operation Dynamo, or the Evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France at Dunkirk, begins. The BEF had been sent to France after years of appeasement, when Hitler had invaded Poland in September of 1939. On May 10th Germany invaded France, which, although considered the largest army in Europe, promptly folded like an old lawn chair. The British, French and Belgian troops retreated to Dunkirk, where they faced certain defeat. The idea now was the evacuate across the English Channel, but the first day’s effort on saw the evacuation of 9,000 or so men. A call for assistance went out, and every Royal Navy vessel that could sail, every civilian yacht, fishing vessel and others that could sail for Dunkirk, did so. In the end, 9 days later, more than 338,000 soldiers had been rescued; the best and brightest of the British armed forces that would be needed in the years to come.