Today in 1779 at Morristown, New Jersey, George Washington and his army settled for a second season of winter quarters. The army struggled for the next two months building a 1,000-plus “log city” from surrounding 600 acres of woodland.
The economy was weakened by war, farms were raided by British troops, merchants lost foreign trade, and household income fell by 40 percent. Soldiers went under equipped and underfed and Congress could not pay them.
Enlistment papers showed 16,000 troops in the Continental army but only 3,600 were present for duty. The Continental Army was at risk of disbanding.
Meanwhile, the British army was in a similar crisis. Both English citizens and American loyalists were suffering from lost trade and income and war debt. Desertions among British and Hessian troops were also a problem. The war of attrition was taking its toll on both sides.
Today in 1913 Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line for manufacturing automobiles. The time it took to build a car was reduced from 12 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes.
The assembly line process was not a new idea. It was used by flour mills, breweries, industrial bakeries, canneries, and meat packing plants. Ford adopted the method to manufacturing.
On June 4, 1924 the 10-millionth Model T was produced at the Highland Park assembly line.
Today in 1824 no presidential candidate received a majority of electoral votes and according the 12th amendment, the election went to the House.
Andrew Jackson won 99 electoral votes; John Quincy Adams 84; William Crawford 41; and Henry Clay 37.
As only the top three winning candidates could be considered, Henry Clay backed and lobbied for John Quincy Adams. The House elected Adams February 9, 1825.
Today in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man and was arrested and jailed for violating the city’s segregation laws. The reaction of the black community was to boycott the city bus system. As black citizens were 70 percent of the ridership, the bus system suffered severe income loss.
The popular legend is Parks was simply tired from a long day and refused to give up her seat. In fact, local civil rights leaders had been planning a bus boycott for months, and as a member of the NAACP, Parks was part of the discussions. On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court declared the segregation law violated the 14th amendment and the boycott ended November 21.
Rosa Parks died October 24, 2005. The Senate passed a resolution allowing Parks’ body to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Happy birthday Richard Pryor, trail blazing comic and actor, born today in Peoria, Illinois, 1940. Pryor’s album of raunchy and irreverent humor won a Grammy award for humor. Pryor died of a heart attack December 10, 2005, at Encino, California. He was age 65.
Happy birthday Bette Midler, singer and actor, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, today 1945. Midler won a Grammy in 1973 for Best New Artist; another Grammy for Best Record of the year in 1988 for “Wind Beneath My Wings;” and was the final guest on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”
Happy birthday Lee Trevino, professional golfer, born in Dallas, Texas, 1939. Treino won an impressive 89 professional wins, 29 of them PGA tour titles in his career. He considered retirement in 1999 but continued to tour.