Today in 1764, the British Parliament expelled John Wilkes from for his reputedly libelous, seditious and pornographic writings. Over the next 12 years, Wilkes’ name became a byword for Parliamentary oppression both in Britain and in the American colonies. In his newspaper, “The North Briton,” in 1763, he impugned the integrity of King George III and his closest advisor, a Scot, John Stuart.
The government responded by having the newspaper’s offices searched and its staff arrested under a general search warrant; a judge deemed the warrant illegal and dismissed the charges. When Wilkes was subsequently taken into custody under a special warrant, the judge released him on the grounds of parliamentary privilege. Wilkes continued to irk the King’s leading minister. By this time, his place among London artisans as an icon of liberty confronting parliamentary injustice was already assured.
In 1764, Wilkes moved to France, just as Grenville’s Sugar Act was rankling colonists. He returned to Britain in 1768, as opposition to the Townshend Acts, which taxed British imports to the American colonies, including tea and paper. Wilkes managed to simultaneously win re-election to Parliament and serve a prison term, but Parliament refused to allow him to take his seat despite three electoral victories, giving the position to the loser. Soldiers killed six of his supporters and wounded 15 who had gathered in front of Wilkes’ prison to protest his plight.
Colonial protestors across the pond quickly joined the rallying cries of “Wilkes and liberty!” In Boston, colonists devised a Wilkite Apostle’s Creed and, in South Carolina, the assembly sent money for Wilkes’ legal defense fund.
Today in 2007 the capital city of Beijing, China, got its first drive-through McDonald’s restaurant. The opening ceremony for the new two-story fast-food eatery included traditional Chinese lion dancers and a Chinese Ronald McDonald. According to The Associated Press: “China’s double-digit economic growth has created a burgeoning market for cars, fast food and other consumer goods. The country overtook Japan last year to become the world’s second-biggest vehicle market after the U.S., with 7.2 million cars sold, a 37 percent growth.”
Fast-food chains from foreign countries first came to China in 1987, with the opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. In 2005, McDonald’s launched its first drive-through in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province, near Hong Kong. The Beijing drive-through was McDonald’s 16th Chinese drive-through. In September 2008, Chinadaily.com reported that other than America, “China is the No. 1 growth market for McDonald’s, with 960 restaurants and over 60,000 employees.”
Today in 1840 Captain Charles Wilkes sighted the coast of eastern Antarctica and claimed it for the United States. Wilkes had set out in 1838, sailing around South America to the South Pacific and then to Antarctica, where they explored a 1,500-mile stretch of the eastern Antarctic coast that later became known as Wilkes Land. In 1842, the expedition returned to New York, having circumnavigated the globe.
Antarctica was discovered by European and American explorers in the early part of the 19th century, and in February 1821 the first landing on the Antarctic continent was made by American John Davis at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. During the next century, many nations, including the United States, made territorial claims to portions of the almost-inhabitable continent. During the 1930s, conflicting claims led to international rivalry, and the United States enacted a policy of making no territorial claims while recognizing no other nation’s claims. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty made Antarctica an international zone, set guidelines for scientific cooperation, and prohibited military operations, nuclear explosions, and the disposal of radioactive waste on the continent.
Today in 1977, President Gerald R. Ford pardoned Tokyo Rose. The nickname originally referred to several Japanese women who broadcast Axis propaganda over the radio to Allied troops during World War II. It became synonymous with a Japanese-American woman named Iva Toguri. On the orders of the Japanese government, Toguri and other women broadcast sentimental American music and phony announcements regarding U.S. troop losses in a vain attempt to destroy the morale of Allied soldiers.
When an elderly aunt living in Japan became ill, Toguri’s family sent Toguri to take care of her. She left the United States in July 1941 carrying an identification card, but no passport. When rumblings of war between Japan and the U.S. reached a crescendo later that year, she tried to return to the U.S. but was denied because she did not have proof of citizenship.
The Japanese government considered her an enemy alien and unsuccessfully tried to force her to renounce her U.S. citizenship. They also refused her request to be interned as a foreign national. Left to fend for herself in Japan, she found a job as a translator and typist for Radio Tokyo. When the war ended, intense efforts to capture the notorious broadcasters began.
Upon her capture in 1945, Toguri was labeled a traitor for airing songs like My Resistance is Low. After a year’s imprisonment in Japan, Toguri was released and returned to the United States, only to be promptly re-arrested for treason. The judge sentenced her to 10 years in prison and fined her $10,000. She was released early in 1956 for good behavior, but was immediately given an order deporting her back to Japan.
Over the next 20 years, Toguri fought for a pardon from three presidential administrations. Finally in 1977, President Ford granted her clemency just before leaving office.
Today in1974, the University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team defeats the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) 71-70, in South Bend, Indiana, snapping UCLA’s record-setting 88-game winning streak.
Happy birthday Robert Edward Lee, Confederate General, born today in 1807 at Stratford Hall, Virginia.
Lee served in the U.S. Army for 25 years preceding the Civil War. He was offered command of the Union Army, but declined and instead accepted command of the military and naval forces of Virginia. After the war, Lee was President of Washington and Lee University.
Lee died October 12, 1870 at Lexington, Virginia. He is entombed in Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University.
Happy birthday Edgar Allan Poe, poet and author, born today at Boston Massachusetts.
Poe is known for his dark horror stories such as “The Fall of the House of Usher.” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and his famous poem “The Raven.’
Circumstances are unclear, he began drinking at a party in Baltimore and disappeared, and found incoherent in a gutter three days later. Taken to the hospital, he died on October 7, 1849, at age 40. Poe is buried at Baltimore.