February 17th in history:
Thomas Jefferson was elected president by the U.S. House on this date in 1801. The House had to break an electoral tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. As a result, Burr became vice president.
A helicopter buzzed the White House on February 17th, 1974, during the final months of Richard Nixon’s presidency. The chopper was stolen and flown by a disgruntled Army private named Robert Preston.
Actor Robert Preston was starring in the original Broadway production of “The Music Man” in February of 1958. For those who couldn’t go to Broadway, television was growing in popularity as an entertainment medium. On February 17th, 1958, Pope Pius XII declared St. Clare of Assisi the patron saint of television.
If there were no such thing as TV, there would be no “Larry the Cable Guy.” Larry, known in real life as Dan Whitney, celebrates his birthday on this day (1963).
December 24 in history:
Millions of Americans spent part of their Christmas Eve in 1968 watching a TV broadcast from a spaceship circling the moon. That day, the astronauts of Apollo 8 became the first humans to orbit the moon. In the evening, the crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders concluded a broadcast to Earth by reading from the Book of Genesis as they photographed the lunar surface from inside the spacecraft.
The Apollo 8 mission figured into the plot of a 1988 episode of “The Wonder Years,” in which Kevin tries to work up the courage to call a girl he met at school. Although the episode clearly identifies the flight as Apollo 8, the kids in the show are watching the launch on TV at school (the launch was on a Saturday), and when the Arnold family watches the Christmas Eve broadcast, it appears to be just a regular school night.
The Apollo 8 message from the moon reached the earth very quickly in 1968. When the U.S. and Great Britain signed a treaty in Europe to end the War of 1812, word of the treaty took about two months to reach America. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on Christmas Eve of 1814. The Battle of New Orleans was fought two weeks later.
The Library of Congress had been burned earlier in 1814, when British forces set fire to the U.S. Capitol. The second major fire at the Library happened on December 24th, 1851. Many of Thomas Jefferson’s personal books donated to the Library were destroyed in that blaze.
Contrary to popular belief, the Library of Congress does not keep a copy of every book published in the U.S., but it just might have some copies of the popular Twilight books about modern-day vampires. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer was born on December 24th, 1973.
October 28 in history:
The Statue of Liberty was completed and dedicated in New York harbor on October 28th, 1886. It was built in France, and then taken apart, boxed up, and the pieces were sent by ship to America.
The statue is considered a national monument, as is the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, a memorial to Thomas Jefferson. On this date in 1965, the final piece of the 630 foot high steel arch was lifted into place.
The original concept for a riverfront memorial in St. Louis was proposed in 1933, the year that Prohibition ended. The ban on alcohol in the U.S. took effect with passage of the Volstead Act on October 28th of 1919, followed shortly after by the 18th Amendment.
The year 1933 also was when Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt moved into the White House. Actress Jane Alexander is famous for playing Mrs. Roosevelt in two TV mini-series, and she has served as head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Alexander was born October 28th, 1939.
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.”
June 11th in history:
On June 11th, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed five delegates to draft a declaration of independence from England. Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman were joined on the committee by three other men better known to modern Americans: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.
The right to freedom of speech was the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court when it released a decision on flag-burning, on this date in 1990. The Court struck down a federal law which prohibited desecration of the flag.
June 11th is Montana’s birthday – Joe Montana, that is. Quarterback Montana (born 1956) led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl championships. It’s also the birthday of the Green Bay Packers coach whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy, Vince Lombardi (1913).
March 10th in history:
Nineteen years later, Jefferson was president of the United States, and negotiated the purchase of the Louisiana territory from France. The purchase was made official in St. Louis on March 10th, 1804.
And the French Foreign Legion was established by King Louis-Philippe on this day in 1831.