October 16 in history:
“Antoinette, dainty queen, with her quaint guillotine…” That line from the musical “Damn Yankees” refers to France’s Marie Antoinette meeting her fate on this date in 1793. The queen was beheaded nine months after her husband, King Louis XVI.
The American colonies effectively cut themselves off from the King of England by winning the Revolutionary War. On October 16th, 1783, Army commander George Washington captured Yorktown, Virginia, in the final battle of the war.
The English once beheaded their own king, Charles I, in the 1600s and tried life without royalty for a few years. It didn’t stick, and the royal family returned during the Restoration. A popular novel about the Restoration, “Forever Amber,” was a best seller in the 1940s. “Amber” author Kathleen Winsor, born in 1919, shared an October 16th birthday with the actress who played the lead in the movie version of the novel, Linda Darnell (1923).
September 24 in history:
On September 24th, 1789, President George Washington signed the Judiciary Act, creating the U.S. Supreme Court and the office of Attorney General.
The Attorney General can investigate cases of treason and espionage. The office was created too late for the Benedict Arnold case. On this date in 1780, Arnold fled to a British ship on the Hudson River after his plot to surrender West Point to the British was foiled.
The government conspiracy thriller “Three Days of the Condor”, starring Robert Redford as a CIA employee, was released on this day in 1975. The movie opened a year after Redford starred in “The Great Gatsby,” based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was born on September 24th, 1896.
September 13 in history:
New York City became the first official capital of the United States on September 13th, 1788. George Washington was sworn in as president there the following year. By 1790, the capital was moved to Philadelphia.
Margaret Chase Smith was a pioneer at the U.S. Capitol. Mrs. Smith had succeeded her late husband in the House, and on September 13th, 1948, she was elected to the U.S. Senate from Maine. That made her the first woman to be elected to both houses of Congress.
Maine was not a state yet during the War of 1812, so it was not represented on the “star-spangled banner” that flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore on this date in 1814. Francis Scott Key wrote his famous poem about the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that continued to fly over the fort after a British attack.
Lincoln and Booth were together every week in the ’60s…the 1960s. On your TV screen. Raymond Massey…famous for playing Abraham Lincoln on stage and film…portrayed Dr. Gillespie on “Dr. Kildare.” NBC followed “Kildare” on Thursday nights with “Hazel,” starring Shirley Booth. The two shows debuted on the same night in 1961, and remained together on the NBC schedule until “Hazel” moved to CBS in 1965. Both stars were born on August 30th…Massey in 1896, and Booth in 1898.
For much of the run of “Dr. Kildare,” “Lincoln” (Massey) was competing with “Steven Douglas” for Thursday night viewers. Fred MacMurray, born Aug. 30th, 1908, starred as Steve Douglas on “My Three Sons,” which was often scheduled on ABC opposite NBC’s “Kildare.”
One hundred years after Lincoln was president, a famous telephone was installed at the White House on August 30th, 1963. It was the first hotline between Washington and the Kremlin, designed to help communications between East and West and avoid international incidents. It wasn’t a direct phone line between the U.S. president and the Soviet leader. The Pentagon acted as a go-between.
George Washington got a message, a peace offer, from a British general on this date in 1776. General William Howe offered to let Washington and his army escape from Brooklyn Heights before a possible British attack. Washington rejected the offer, and sent it to the Continental Congress.
August 7 in history:
George Washington established one of the highest U.S. military awards on this date in 1782, when he ordered the creation of the Purple Heart for the Continental Army. It became a permanent honor after World War I.
High-wire walker Philippe Petit walked for 45 minutes between the rooftops of the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York on this date in 1974. His feat was immortalized in the 2008 documentary “Man on Wire.”
Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants achieved baseball immortality on August 7th, 2007, by breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. Bonds hit homer number 756 against the Washington Nationals.
Another baseball star with an achievement yet to be equaled was born on this date in 1929. Pitcher Don Larsen remains the only person to throw a perfect game in a World Series, doing it for the Yankees in 1956.
July 4th in history:
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. Two leaders of the independence movement, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, coincidentally died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.
Thomas Jefferson’s face would eventually be carved onto Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, and unveiled in the fall of 1936. George Washington’s face was the first to be unveiled on the mountain, on Independence Day of 1934. That was the 10th birthday of actress Eva Marie Saint, who climbed near the Rushmore faces with Cary Grant in the movie “North by Northwest.” Saint won an Oscar for her role in “On the Waterfront”.
The U.S. military academy at West Point was founded on the 4th of July in 1802.
It was on this date in 1817 that construction of the Erie Canal began.
And on July 4th, 1862, English writer Charles Dodgson first told a story about a girl named Alice, to a girl named Alice (Liddell). Dodgson turned the story into a book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which was published July 4th, 1865, under the pen name “Lewis Carroll.”
July 3rd in history:
George Washington took command of the Continental Army of the colonies on July 3rd, 1775.
Four score and eight years later, the Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3rd, 1863, with the Army of the Potomac defeating Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Seventy-five years after the battle, President Franklin Roosevelt lit an eternal flame at the Gettysburg memorial in Pennsylvania.
George M. Cohan wrote about being “born on the Fourth of July” in the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” But official records show that he was born on July 3rd, 1878. And the star of the movie “Born on the Fourth of July,” Tom Cruise, was a July 3rd baby in 1962.