A Hero Lost

Today in History, March 22, 1820:

Stephen Decatur, Naval hero of the first and second Barbary Pirate wars, and of the War of 1812, hero and example to many of the U.S. Navy, is killed in a senseless duel.

In 1807 Commodore James Barron refused to defend his ship, Chesapeake, against British attack and was court-marshaled; Decatur, an old friend had to sit on the court-marshal board.

Suspended from the Navy for 5 years, Barron chose to wait until after the War of 1812 to be recommissioned. His cowardice was called, and he challenged Decatur, former comrade, to a duel.

Decatur, U. S. Navy hero, was mortally wounded. Such a shame. Decatur was a swashbuckler, a fierce fighter for his country.

Only 41-years-old, Decatur had untold potential remaining in his life. Such a waste.

The Prolific Life of a Prolific Author Begins…Louis L’Amour

Today in History, March 22, 1908:

Louis L’Amour is born in Jamestown, North Dakota.

Ditching school at age 15, he spent the next twenty plus years traveling the world, working as a cowboy, a longshoreman, a sailor, prizefighter, miner, and a World War II tank crewman in Europe.

When he came home from the war, he began writing. 108 books and 225 million copies later, he was recognized as the most prolific Western writer in America.

His narrative was gritty and quick…and many of us loved them.

Many in Hollywood would be honored to portray his characters…it made some careers. Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, John Wayne, George Peppard, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Debbie Reynolds and so many others.

My second favorite movie, “How the West Was Won” was based on one of his books. What a life!

Fighting the Good Fight…and Consequences

Today in History, March 22: 1871:

North Carolina Governor William Holden (no, not THAT William Holden) is removed from office by impeachment…the first US Governor to receive this punishment.

His crime? Holden was a Republican and an abolitionist…during his tenure as Governor he hired two dozen detectives to hunt down the leaders of the NC KKK, got a bill passed that called out the militia against the KKK, and suspended habeas corpus to enhance his ability to prosecute the leaders of the Klan.

In 1870 the state’s Democrats won the legislature and quickly moved to impeach Holden for his hard-handed tactics against the KKK.

Holden had enacted these actions to counter the assassination of a Republican Senator and the hanging of an African-American police officer, amongst other crimes. In 2011, the entirety of the North Carolina Senate voted to pardon Holden.