In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was ratified today in 1919 and became the law of the land.
Nine months later, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. The Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, repealing prohibition.
Today in 1861, the Crittenden Compromise, the last chance to keep North and South united, died in the U.S. Senate. The vote was 25 against and 23 in favor of it.
The compromise was a series of constitutional amendments proposed by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky to continue the old Missouri Compromise provisions of 1820. The Missouri Compromise was negated by the Compromise of 1850, which allowed a vote by territorial residents to decide the issue of slavery. Four states had already left the Union when it was proposed, but Crittenden hoped the compromise would lure them back. There would be no compromise; with the secession of states continuing, America marched towards civil war.
Today in1991 the war against Iraq began as Allied aircraft conducted a major raid against Iraqi air defenses. The air raid on Baghdad was broadcast live to a global audience by CNN correspondents as operation Desert Shield became Desert Storm.
Today in1938, at New York City’s Carnegie Hall Benny Goodman claimed a new place for jazz on the American cultural in what has come to be seen as the most important jazz concert in history. Benny Goodman was at the height of his legendary career when his publicist suggested they book Carnegie Hall. So outlandish was the suggestion that a jazz band might play inside the citadel of American high culture that “King of Swing” is said to have laughed the idea.
Once he warmed to the notion, however, Goodman threw himself into the task. In addition to numbers from the regular repertoire of his own band—which included the legendary Harry James on trumpet, Lionel Hampton on vibraphone and Gene Krupa on drums—Goodman planned a program featuring a brand-new “Twenty Years of Jazz” piece and an extended jam session featuring stars of the Duke Ellington and Count Basie orchestras and the unplanned piano solo by Jess Stacy “Sing, Sing, Sing,” the evening’s final number The concert sold out weeks in advance, with the best seats fetching $2.75.
All recordings of the show were presumed lost until Goodman’s sister-in-law came across a set of acetates in 1950. The album made from the recovered acetates became one of the first 33 1/3 LPs to sell over a million copies. The eventual discovery of the aluminum studio master recordings led to high-quality CD reissues in 1998, 2002 and 2006 of the legendary Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert.
In 1845 the lines between military exploration and military conquest began to blur when President James Polk sent Captain Fremont and his men on a “scientific” mission to explore the Rockies and Sierra Nevada—with 60 armed men accompanying them. Polk’s ambition to take California from Mexico was no secret, and Fremont’s expedition was clearly designed to place a military force near the region in case of war.
When Mexico and the U.S. declared war in May 1846, Fremont and his men were in Oregon. Upon hearing the news, Fremont immediately headed south. In June, a small band of American settlers seized Sonoma and raised a flag with a bear facing a five-pointed star—with this act, the revolutionaries declared the independent Republic of California.
The Bear Flag Republic was short-lived. In August, Fremont and General Robert Stockton occupied Los Angeles. By January 1847, they had put down the small number of Californians determined to maintain a nation independent of the United States. Stockton agreed to appoint Fremont the territorial governor today in 1847.
A dispute broke out over the legitimacy of the appointment, and Fremont’s detractors accused him of mutiny, disobedience, and conduct prejudicial to military discipline. Recalled to Washington for a court martial, Fremont was found guilty of all three charges, and his appointment of governor was revoked. Though President Polk pardoned him and ordered him back to active duty in the army, Fremont was resigned from the military and returned to California a private citizen.
Today in1970, the seven-time Golden Glove-winning center fielder Curt Flood of the St. Louis Cardinals filed suit in a New York federal court against Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, the presidents of the American and National Leagues and all 24 teams in the Major League Baseball (MLB) organization.
After the Cardinals traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies in October 1969, Flood protested the league’s player reserve clause, which prevented players from moving to another team unless they were traded. Kuhn denied Flood’s request to be made a free agent. In Flood v. Kuhn, Flood argued that the reserve clause violated antitrust laws and violated the 13th Amendment, which barred slavery and involuntary servitude.
After a U.S. district court judge rejected Flood’s claim in August 1970, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled against him in a 5-3 decision in 1972.
By that time, Flood’s career was over. However, Major League Baseball agreed to federal arbitration of players’ salary demands in 1973, and in 1975 an arbitrator effectively threw out the reserve clause, paving the way for free agency in baseball and all professional sports.
Rest in peace Carole Lombard, Hollywood actor and wife of actor Clark Gable, who was killed today in 1942 when the plane she was traveling in with her mother crashed shortly after takeoff near Las Vegas, Nevada. She was age 33. Lombard was born October 6, 1908 at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Search parties were able to retrieve Lombard’s body, and she was buried next to her mother at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, under a marker that read “Carole Lombard Gable.”
Hysterical with grief and adrift, Gable drank heavily and struggled to complete his work on “Somewhere I’ll Find You.” That August, Gable decided to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He spent most of the war in the United Kingdom, and flew several combat missions (including one to Germany), earning several decorations for his efforts. He would remarry twice more, but when he died in 1960 Gable was interred at Forest Lawn, next to Lombard.