Today in1781, Maryland became the 13th and final state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, almost three years after the official deadline given by Congress of March 10, 1778.
The Continental Congress drafted the Article of Confederation in a disjointed process that began in 1776. In November 1777, Congress put the Articles before the states for ratification. As written, the Articles made the firm promise that “Each state retains its sovereignty.”
Virginia was the only state to ratify the Articles by the 1778 deadline. Most states wished to place conditions on ratification, which Congress refused to accept. Ten further states ratified during the summer of 1778, but small states with big neighbors and no land claims–Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland–still refused. Maryland held out the longest, only ratifying the Articles after Virginia relinquished its claims on land north of the Ohio River to Congress. The Articles took effect on March 1, 1781.
The Articles of Confederation remained the law of the land for only eight years before the Constitutional Convention rejected them in favor of a new, more centralized form of federal government. They crafted the current U.S. Constitution, which took effect in 1789, giving the federal government greater authority over the states and creating a bicameral legislature.
Today in 1835 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol, President Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, survived the first attempt against the life of a U.S. president.
Richard Lawrence discharged two separate pistols in the direction of President Jackson. Both weapons misfired, and Lawrence was promptly subdued and arrested. During the subsequent criminal investigation, the suspect was found to be insane and sent to a mental prison.
Today in 1933 the stirring notes of the William Tell Overture and a shout of “Hi-yo, Silver! Away!” of The Lone Ranger debuted on Detroit’s WXYZ radio station.
Created by station-owner George Trendle and writer Fran Striker, the “masked rider of the plains” became one of the most enduring western heroes of the 20th century. Joined by his trusty steed, Silver, and loyal Indian scout, Tonto, the Lone Ranger battled evil outlaws and Indians, generally arriving on the scene just in time to save an innocent golden-haired child or farm wife.
Neither Trendle nor Striker had experience with the cowboys, Indians, and pioneers of the real West, but that didn’t matter. The men simply wanted to create an American version of Zorro, made popular by Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro.
Fidelity to the strict code of conduct was established for their character. The Lone Ranger never smoked, swore, or drank alcohol; he used grammatically correct speech free of slang; and, most important, he never shot to kill. More offensive to ethnic sensibilities was the Indian scout Tonto, who spoke in a comical Indian patois unrelated to any Indian dialect, uttering ludicrous phrases like “You betchum!”
The radio program was an instant hit. Soon picked up for nationwide broadcast, over 20 million Americans were tuning into The Lone Ranger three times a week by 1939. The producers also licensed the manufacture of a vast array of related products, including Lone Ranger guns, costumes, books, and a popular comic strip.
The televised version of The Lone Ranger, staring Clayton Moore as the masked man, became ABC’s first big hit in the early 1950s. Remaining on the air until 1957, the program inspired dozens of imitators like The Range Rider, The Roy Rogers Show, and The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok. Although the Lone Ranger disappeared from American television and movie screens by the 1960s, he lived on in a popular series of comic books well into the 1970s.
Today in 1994, the American speed skater Dan Jansen set a new world record of 35.76 at the World Sprint Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
In December 1992, Jansen became the first man ever to skate 500 meters in less than 36 seconds, when he set a new world record mark of 35.92 seconds in Hamar, Norway. The January 30, 1993 finish marked the sixth time that Jansen had either tied or broke the world record in the 500 meters. He had come to dominate that event and the 1,000 meters in international competition, but an Olympic medal still eluded him.
The next Winter Olympics–Jansen’s fourth–were held in 1994, in Lillehammer, Norway. By that time, he had won an overall total of seven World Cup titles and set seven world records. After he slipped in the 500 meter skate, it looked like Jansen’s hopes for Olympic glory might be shattered. When he took to the ice for the 1,000 meter event four days later, he skated to a world record finish of 1:12.43 to finally win Olympic gold. He retired from competition after the Lillehammer games.
Today in 1973 during the Watergate scandal, Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted of burglary, wire-tapping and attempted bugging of the Democratic headquarters inside the Watergate building in Washington, D.C.
Liddy was sentenced to 20 years in prison; later commuted to 8 years by Jimmy Carter; and paroled after serving 4 ½ years. His radio show was syndicated in 160 markets by Radio America and on Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio. stations in the United States. He has been a guest panelist for Fox News Channel in addition to appearing in a cameo role or as a guest celebrity talent in several television shows.
Happy birthday Gene Hackman , actor, born today in 1930 at San Bernardino, California.
Hackman has been nominated for an Oscar five times and won two; Best Actor for “Popeye Dole” (1971) and Best Supporting actor for “Unforgiven” (1992). He also won three Golden Globes. His first “breakout” major role in a movie was character Buck Barrow in “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967), which earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
Though he has not “officially” retired from his nearly 50-year acting career, Hackman said in the spring of 2008 that he no longer wanted to act in films and would instead concentrate on writing. With a co-author, Daniel Lenihan, he has published several novels, including the Civil War-era thriller Escape from Andersonville (2008).
“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself; nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” (March 4, 1933)
“The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative…
Wise and prudent men — intelligent conservatives — have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, ‘The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve.’ ” (September 29, 1936)
Happy birthday Franklin Delano Roosevelt, assistant secretary of Navy, governor of New York and 32nd president, born today in 1882 at Hyde Park, New York.
Despite crippling polio, Roosevelt led America out of the Great Depression and through World War II and is widely considered to be one of America’s three greatest presidents (along with Washington and Lincoln). He has the distinction of being elected to four terms (1933-1945).
Roosevelt died in office during his fourth term at Warm Springs, Georgia. He was age 63. He is buried in the family plot at Hyde Park.