This Day in History
1791 — Big Bottom Massacre. This took place in Ohio and was part of the territorial confrontations known as the Northwest Indian wars. The newly formed U.S. government was selling land in Ohio to developers and settlers were moving in also. A coalition of Native American tribes formed to try stop this encroachment on their land. Warriors from the Lenape and Wyandot tribes attacked a blockhouse near Marietta, Ohio and killed about fourteen settlers including one woman and two children. Nine years earlier there had been another massacre at Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Ninety-six men, women and children of the Moravian tribes had been killed by U.S. militia. The Moravians had converted to Christianity, were pacifists, unarmed and offered no resistance, but were still killed. This incident helped unite other tribes in their resistance and prolonged the Northwest Indian wars.
I imagine at the time the incident at Gnadenhutten was viewed as necessary while Big Bottom was an unforgivable display of inhumanity carried out by soulless savages.
1920 — Palmer Raids. There had been a series of bombings across the nation aimed at law enforcement, judges and politicians, including U.S. Attorney General George Palmer. He enlisted the aid of a young Justice Department lawyer named John Edgar Hoover. Violent labor strikes had ignited a “Red Scare” and Hoover created a new bureau, a forerunner of the FBI, to investigate the bombings. A series of raids against anarchists, communists and other radicals was launched. The raids took place in 30 cities in 23 states after Hoover had successfully lobbied to deny those arrested their rights to an attorney. 10,000 were detained but most of the cases were thrown out of court because of illegal warrants. A judge in dismissing a number of cases wrote: “a mob is a mob, whether made up of Government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals and loafers and the vicious classes.” A total of four pistols and several iron balls which the Justice Department first tried to pass off as bombs, were all the weaponry that was collected. In response to the raids the A.C.L.U. was founded.
Unintended consequences. Instead of solving a problem the Justice Department created a tireless thorn in their side.
2018 — Senator Al Franken resigns. Accused of sexual improprieties Franken resigned from the U.S. Senate. On a USO tour in 2006, the former Saturday Night Live writer allegedly planted an unwanted kill on Leeann Tweeden. Given that Tweeden was a conservative talk radio host and a critic, Franken might have withstood that charge had not seven more women came forward with accusations. Pressured by fellow Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Franken succumbed. The process was quick, from the first accusation to the resignation only three weeks, and Franken later regretted his decision. He wished he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee instead of being judged in the press. A number of Senators who had forced him out also later regretted their action. Instead they wished they had moved forward with due process and had an investigation.
Maybe the results would have been the same. Franken’s fall from grace was a bit ironic given that the sitting president at the time had openly bragged about where he could grab women. Democrats are usually their own worst enemy.
1835 — Charles Russell Lowell. Union general. Lowell was from the upper class in Boston and a railroad executive when he joined the Union army. He was happy to be an officer, believing that status would keep him from ever personally killing anyone. In the cavalry he had seen action at Antietam and helped repulse a raid on Washington D.C. by Confederate Jubal Early. Lowell had taken a break from fighting and was back home in Boston recruiting a new regiment. Irish immigrants were already resentful toward the rich ruling class and further incensed when the new conscription law allowed a draftee to buy his way out by paying $300 to have someone else serve in his place. They thought abolitionists were elitists and couldn’t accept why they, the Irish, should have to fight to free the enslaved while they were living in poverty themselves. Lowell arrived one morning at a barracks where a mutiny was taking place. The men had refused to let a sergeant arrest a drunken recruit. Lowell confronted the men with a pistol, threatening to shoot but he was ignored. One man rushed the sergeant with a saber, cutting him on the arm. Lowell fired, shooting the man dead and quelling the mutiny. A number of mutineers were arrested and the ringleader executed. Those participating in the mutiny probably rejoiced a year later when Lowell was killed in action.
The draft has always been unfair but to have a provision to pay 300 dollars to get out of it, that’s pretty blatant. In the 1960s it was more subtle. Take the equivalent of that 300 dollars, give it to an institution of higher learning, and bingo, you’re safe.
1886 — Apsley Cherry-Garard. Antartica explorer. Cherry-Garard was part of Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition in that ill-fated attempt to reach the South Pole. Cherry-Garard came from wealth and contributed a large sum in order to be on the expedition. While in Antartica he and two other members made a side trip to gather an Emperor penguin egg in a scientific quest. He wrote a book about that experience titled “The Worst Journey in the World.” Cherry-Garard was in the support team and was not in the group who made the final push to the South Pole, from which nobody returned alive. He was part of the search team that found the bodies of Scott and his companions. Due to the trauma and harsh environment Cherry-Garard suffered both physically and mentally for the rest of his life. He tried to serve in WWI but his mental and physical health cut short that effort. Cherry-Garard died in London in 1959.
I’ve read “The Worst Journey in the World” and the book is aptly titled.
1902 — Barry Goldwater. Politician. Goldwater was a Senator from Arizona and in 1964 he made an unsuccessful run for president as the Republican candidate. He is credited with launching the present day conservative movement. At one point in his run for president he made the observation that the U.S. would be better off if the Eastern seaboard was cut off and floated out to sea.
I became eligible to vote just weeks before the 1964 election. I thought his comment about the East Coast was funny so I voted for him. I also voted for liberal Eugene McCarthy for the Senate. At that point in my young life I was still obviously politically uninformed.