Today in 1935 in partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer. Within three months, over 80 percent of distributors were handling Krueger’s canned beer, and Krueger’s was eating into the market share of the “big three” national brewers–Anheuser-Busch, Pabst and Schlitz. Competitors soon followed suit, and by the end of 1935, over 200 million cans had been produced and sold.
By the late 19th century, cans were instrumental in the mass distribution of foodstuffs, but it wasn’t until 1909 that the American Can Company made its first unsuccessful attempt to can beer. In 1933, American Can developed a can that was pressurized and had a special coating to prevent the beer from chemically reacting with the tin. Popularity continued to grow throughout the 1930s, and then exploded during World War II, when U.S. brewers shipped millions of cans of beer to soldiers overseas. Today, canned beer accounts for approximately half of the $20 billion U.S. beer industry.
Today in 1781, Lieutenant Colonel “Light Horse” Henry Lee and Brigadier General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion of the South Carolina militia combined forces and raided Georgetown, South Carolina, defended by 200 British soldiers. Marion and Lee managed to arrive undetected and captured at least three officers, including the British commander.
Marion won fame and the Swamp Fox moniker for his ability to strike and then quickly retreat into the South Carolina swamps without a trace. His military strategy is considered an 18th-century example of guerilla warfare and based loosely—very loosely– for the film “The Patriot,” starring Mel Gibson.
The following month, Lee’s cavalry was able to defeat a band of Loyalist cavalry by surprising British Colonel John Pyle’s men at Haw River, North Carolina. Losing three fingers and blinding one eye in the course of combat, Colonel Pyle survived by hiding in what is now known as Pyle’s Pond.
Today in 1865, the Confederate Congress agreed to continue prisoner exchanges, a process that had operated only sporadically for three years.
In the first year of the Civil War, prisoner exchanges were conducted primarily between field generals on an ad hoc basis. The Union was reluctant to enter any formal agreements, fearing that it would legitimize the Confederate government.
The issue became more important as the campaigns escalated in 1862. In July 1862, Union General John Dix and Confederate General Daniel H. Hill reached an agreement in which each soldier was assigned a value according to rank. For example, one private was worth another private; corporals and sergeants were worth two privates; and lieutenants were worth three privates. A commanding general was worth 60 privates. Under this system, thousands of soldiers were exchanged rather than languishing in prisons like those in Andersonville, Georgia, or Elmira, New York.
The system was really a gentlemen’s agreement, relying on the trust of each side. It broke down in 1862 when Confederates refused to exchange black Union soldiers. From 1862 to 1865, prisoner exchanges were rare. When they did happen, it was usually because two local commanders came to a workable agreement. The result of the breakdown was the swelling of prisoner-of-war camps in both the North and South.
The end of the war was so close that it did not make much difference when prisoner exchanges resumed.
Today in 2006, Pixar was sold to the Walt Disney Company, their longtime distributor, for a staggering $7.4 billion.
Since 1993, when Disney and Pixar signed their first three-picture deal, Pixar’s films had won 19 Academy Awards and grossed more than $3 billion at the box office. Their pioneering techniques in digital animation–Toy Story was the first animated film to be completely computer-generated–had set a new standard. The two companies remained physically separate; with Pixar maintaining its headquarters in Emeryville, California (Disney is based in Burbank).
In June 2007, Pixar and Disney released Ratatouille, which would become Pixar’s third-highest grossing film, behind Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, and win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Today in 1848 the California gold rush began with the accidental discovery of the precious metal near Coloma during construction of a Sutter’s sawmill. An announcement by President Polk later in the year caused a national sensation and resulted in a flood of “Forty-niners” seeking wealth. A millwright named James Marshall discovered gold along the banks of Sutter’s Creek in California, forever changing the course of history in the American West.
Today in 1895 Hawaii’s monarchy ended as Queen Liliuokalani was forced to abdicate. Hawaii was then annexed by the U.S. and remained a territory until statehood was granted in 1959.
On this day in 1970, President Richard Nixon travels to Philadelphia to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Eugene Ormandy, the world-renowned conductor and music director of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was designed to acknowledge “meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Nixon broke with protocol by traveling to Philadelphia to bestow the medal because Ormandy insisted that he could not attend the traditional ceremony at the White House unless he could invite all 105 members of his orchestra. White House space constraints made this impossible, so Nixon made the journey to honor Ormandy in person in Philadelphia on the symphony’s 70th anniversary.
Happy birthday Edith Wharton, novelist and short story writer, born today in 1862 at New York City. She is known for her themes of divorce, unhappy marriages, and free-spirited individuals trapped by social pressures and expectations of women in her time. Wharton was born to a wealthy family and expected to fill a role of typical wife, mother, and hostess. Her writing is critical of upper-class society. She married Edward Wharton at the relatively late age of 23. She moved to France when they divorced in 1913.
In addition to novels, she wrote magazine articles for women’s magazines, at least 85 short stories and at least 9 nonfiction works. Her novel The Age of Innocence (1920) won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, the first woman to win the award.
She remained in France and was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1916 for her work for war refugees.
Edith Wharton died in 1937 at Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France, August 11, 1935, at age 75. The street is today named rue Edith Wharton. She is buried in the American Cemetery at Versailles, France.