The Children were Dying in Nome

Today in History, February 2, 1925:

The children were dying. The last ship had left, and they were iced in. They may as well be living on Mars, considering the distance and conditions.

It was 50 below, windswept and icy. By the time the ice thawed and the next ship arrived, they would most likely all be dead, here within a few miles of the North Pole.

A diphtheria epidemic had begun in Nome, Alaska. The only doctor, in desperation, sent a telegraph message,

“An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here STOP

I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin STOP

Mail is only form of transportation STOP

I have made application to Commissioner of Health of the Territories for antitoxin already STOP

There are about 3000 natives in the district.”

The native population was unaccustomed to diseaseā€¦and would most likely be wiped out completely.

Supplies of medicine were sent to the Port of Seward, and after many rough men and their teams of Huskies forced their way across 674 miles of the most harsh territory on Earth, the antidote was delivered to Nome on this date in 1925.

Had it been a decade in the future, an aircraft could have easily delivered the medicine, but not in 1925. Then it took heroes to save 10,000 souls and perhaps more had the virus spread.

A hazardous trip across mountain ranges and frozen tundra that normally took 30 days was made in FIVEā€¦because it had to be done. Thus was born the modern Iditarod Race, to commemorate the event.

Joseph Hunt…Sports Star

Today in History, February 2, 1945:

Joe Hunt won the U.S. Boy’s Tennis Championship.

Joe Hunt won the U.S. Junior’s Tennis Championship.

Joe Hunt won the U.S. Collegiate Tennis Championship.

Joe Hunt won the U.S. Men’s Singles Tennis Championship.

Joe Hunt won the 21st Annual Bayview Park Tennis Championship.

He was the only person ever to achieve all of these titles.

Why have you not heard of Joe’s name alongside Arthur Ashe, Billy Jean King, John McEnroe, and Serena Williams?

Because at the height of his career in 1938, Joe Hunt transferred from the University of Southern California to another prestigious college…the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Joe wanted to serve his country. He continued to excel at Tennis, and at Football for the USNA.

When war broke out Lieutenant Hunt served in destroyers in the Pacific and the Atlantic.

He won the US Men’s Championship while home on leave.

But destroyer duty, escorting convoys in the Atlantic wasn’t enough for the aggressive athlete…after several requests he finally got the opportunity to earn his wings and take the fight to the enemy in the air…what he really wanted to do.

Joe won his last championship against other former champions serving in the military at a match held near the Pensacola Naval Air Station where he was training.

And on this date in 1945, Joe’s F6F Hellcat fighter crashed into the Atlantic during a training accident. He never got to take the fight to the enemy from a carrier. His meteoric rise in Tennis was cut short.

How much potential did we lost during our nation’s wars? How can we possibly repay such sacrifice? Of course we cannot.

But in 2019, the U.S. Tennis Association demonstrated THEY have not forgotten. They named their Military Appreciation Day in honor of Lieutenant Joseph Hunt, USN.

Kicking the Abolition Can Down the Road…

Today in History, March 2, 1807:

The US Congress passes a law abolishing the transatlantic slave trade in the US, “An Act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States, from and after the first day of January, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight.”

Congress began the habit of “kicking the can down the road” from the very beginning. When the Constitution was ratified, a clause was included that prohibited any laws affecting slavery for 20 years, or 1808.

The clause was included to ensure that southern states would sign off on the union.

By 1794 abolitionist groups were already forming to push for action once the time was up; in 1805 Senator Stephen Row Bradley of Vermont announced his intention to present the bill described here, and did so. The British also outlawed the slave trade in 1807.

However the importation of slaves continued in Central and South America, especially in Brazil where it had begun, until 1860 (officially).

Even this step by US lawmakers was a bit of a cynical compromise…the South signed off on the new law easily because they had enough slaves already in the country that they didn’t feel they needed to import them anymore.

They Found What on The Land We Sold??

Today in History, February 2: 1812 –

The Russian government establishes Fort Ross…just north of San Francisco on the California coast. The Russians had been in western America since 1741 (Alaska) and needed Ft. Ross as a base and farming area to supply their sea otter operations farther north.

The farming in the area proved poor, the competition with Mexican nationals and Americans moving west proved too much. In 1841 Russia sold the fort to American John Sutter for $30,000 which he reportedly never paid. He used the supplies at the fort for his Sacremento Valley settlement where gold would be discovered 7 years later.