Today in History, March 10:
I was researching for today and found amazing connections – I love connections in History! This will be a long post, but in summary:
In 1804 a ceremony was held in St. Louis commemorating the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of our young nation overnight.
In 1848 the US Senate ratifies the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, officially ending the Mexican-American War and again doubling the size of our nation.
Many believed the Mexican-American War was an unjust, fabricated conflict, much as many of us argue today about the Iraq War and its costs (not saying what my beliefs are…but I always stand with my beloved country).
Two of the men who felt the Mexican-American War was unjust spoke out vocally about their beliefs. One was a Congressman who disagreed with men he respected on the issue. The other who spoke out was a young Army officer who, in spite of his beliefs, fought courageously during the war.
In 1864 the Congressman, now President, signed documents promoting the young officer to Lt. General of the US Army (a rank only George Washington had previously held as permanent) so no other officer would be his equal. Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant believed wholeheartedly in their cause during the Civil War.
Today in History, March 10, 1804:
In St. Louis (not yet Missouri), an official ceremony is conducted, transferring possession of the “Louisiana Purchase” from Spain to the United States, virtually doubling the size of the American landscape overnight.
Today in History, March 10, 1848:
Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic, or the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican-American War is ratified by the US Senate after several amendments were made by that Congressional body.
The treaty had been negotiated in Mexico, documenting monies to be paid by the United States to Mexico and territories including modern day California, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to be ceded to the US.
Senators to include Thomas Hart Benton, Jefferson Davis, Sam Houston, Stephen A. Douglas, and John C. Calhoun fought over the final draft.
Today in History, March 10, 1864:
President Lincoln signs documents promoting Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Grant was only the second person to hold the rank, the first having been George Washington. Winfield Scott had held the rank in the interim, but only as a “brevet” or temporary rank.
Lincoln wanted his commanding general to have a rank above his other generals for leadership purposes. Grant would answer only to the President. I didn’t find anything to document it, but have to wonder if this was partially because Grant had been promoted over several more senior officers to command the army due to his runaway successes in the west.
Today in History, August 10, 1927:
The Memorial at Mt. Rushmore is dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge. The memorial wouldn’t be declared complete until October 31, 1941, seven months after the man in charge of it’s carving, Gutzon Borglum, had died. His son Lincoln finished the project.
President Washington was chosen for obvious reasons, having led the battles that created our nation;
President Jefferson was chosen due to his instrumental work in creating our Declaration of Independence, which has inspired Democracy around the world;
President Lincoln was chosen for leading the nation through the Civil War, preserving the Union and abolishing slavery;
Theodore Roosevelt was chosen for leading the nation through the industrial revolution of the late 19th century, seeing to the construction of the Panama Canal.
An interesting aside…Mt. Rushmore is named for a young NYC attorney who visited the area in 1884 to check land ownership for some eastern investors. He was impressed with the mountain and asked prospectors what it was called…they replied that it had no name, but since he had asked, they would call it Rushmore Peak…and so it was.
Today in History, August 4, 1752:
21-year-old George Washington becomes a Master Mason, the highest rank of Freemason in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Rather than an evil conspiracy, the Freemasons were (are) a fraternity based on the medieval guild system, thus “masons”.
Their requirements were (are) public service and high moral standards. 14 US Presidents were Freemasons.
Today in History, July 4, 1754:
During the French and Indian Wars, a young colonial member of the British Army abandons “Fort Necessity” after surrendering it to the French the day before.
The officer, 22-year-old Lt. George Washington had also commanded British forces in the first battle of the war on the American continent weeks before. The French and Indian Wars were only part of a global conflict between England and France, the Seven Years War.
His experience here would serve Washington well in our War for Independence. The conflict would also contribute to the American Revolution. The war was very expensive for the Crown, and had to be paid for to save the English economy. The colonialists considered themselves as English subjects; they fought alongside the regulars fighting the French and the Indians, many paying with their lives. After the war the government felt the colonists owed them for their “rescue.” The colonists however, felt the Crown owed them for saving British territory.
The ill feelings between the “homeland” and the colonies would only continue to multiply.
Today in History, June 28, 1862:
Union soldiers inadvertently burn the White House. No, not that White House. In fact, the Executive Mansion which housed the President wasn’t known by that name until 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt renamed it.
Another difference between these “White Houses”, is that George Washington never resided in the Presidential Mansion along the Potomac. His successor, John Adams was the first President to live there.
But he courted and married the widow Martha Custis at and near the White House on the Pamunkey River.
One of General Washington’s officers was Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee. His son, Robert E. Lee, would marry Martha Custis-Washington’s granddaughter, Mary.
Together they would live in Arlington House, overlooking the Potomac…and the Executive Mansion. When the Civil War began, Robert E. Lee chose to support “his country”, Virginia; which also meant the Confederacy. As a result he and his family had to leave Arlington House and move to one of their more southern Virginia properties…the White House on the Pamunkey.
As the Union dead mounted, Union Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered the area around Arlington House to be used as a cemetery so that Lee could never again live there. Today it is Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1862 during the Seven Day’s Battles, Union forces pushed the Confederates back past the Lee family’s new home at White House Landing, using it as a major supply base.
Before she fled further south from yet another home, Mary Lee left a message on the door of the residence, “Northern soldiers, who profess to reverence Washington, forbear to desecrate the house of his first married life, the property of his wife, now owned by her descendants.”
Union soldiers agreed. General George McClellan ordered a guard to posted around the house to prevent looting or vandalism.
McClellan took a lot of heat from the press and DC for the protection of General Washington’s one-time home. It should be used as a hospital for Union soldiers! Even though it had but six rooms.
As was frequent in the Civil War, the lines moved back north after moving south. And on this date in 1862 Confederates took White House Landing back. As the Union Army fled, McClellan ordered all supplies and outbuildings burned to prevent their use by the Confederates…with the exception of the White House, it was to be spared.
As often happens in war, orders from the top rarely get carried out to the letter. The White House was burned to the ground.
Today in History, April 22, 1793:
President George Washington issues a Proclamation of Neutrality, making it clear to the great powers of Europe, and France in particular, that the newly born United States would not participate in a war then sweeping the old countries.
[Philadelphia, 22 April 1793]
“Whereas it appears that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great-Britain, and the United Netherlands, of the one part, and France on the other, and the duty and interest of the United States require, that they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerent powers:
I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid towards those powers respectively; and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsover, which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.
And I do hereby also make known that whosoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations, by committing, aiding or abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles, which are deemed contraband by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States, against such punishment or forfeiture: and further, that I have given instructions to those officers, to whom it belongs, to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons, who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, violate the Law of Nations, with respect to the powers at war, or any of them.
In testimony whereof I have caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the twenty-second day of April, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the seventeenth.”
By the President.