Today in 1789 George Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States by all 69 presidential electors who cast their votes. John Adams of Massachusetts, who received 34 votes, was elected vice president. The electors, who represented 10 of the 11 states that had ratified the U.S. Constitution, were chosen by popular vote, legislative appointment, or a combination of both four weeks before the election.
New York failed to choose its eight presidential electors in time for the vote on February 4, 1789. Two electors each from Virginia and Maryland were delayed by weather and did not vote. In addition, North Carolina and Rhode Island had not ratified the Constitution and so could not vote.
Today in1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term.
Today in 1861 delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana convened In Montgomery, Alabama to establish the Confederate States of America. By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated in March 1861, Texas had joined the Confederacy.
On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began when Confederate shore batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. Within two months, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee had all joined the embattled Confederacy.
Today in 1974 Patricia Hearst, 19-year-old daughter of publishing billionaire William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California, apartment. Stephen Weed, Hearst’s fiance, was beaten unconscious by the two abductors. Soon, a ransom demand came from the Symbionese Liberation Army, a radical activist group led by Donald DeFreeze.
DeFreeze had formed the SLA in 1973 after he escaped from prison. About two years before Hearst’s kidnapping, an SLA bomb-making factory had been discovered by the police.
The SLA instructed William Hearst to distribute $70 in food for every poor person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. Hearst agreed to give away $2 million to the poor in Oakland to have Patty released. (The Black Muslims, Malcolm X’s former organization, were chosen to manage the food distribution.) Afterwards, the SLA demanded an additional $6 million giveaway. Hearst refused and they did not release Patty.
Events took an unexpected turn two months after the abduction, when the SLA robbed the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. The surveillance cameras clearly showed that Patty Hearst was one of the machine gun-toting robbers. [Another source says Patty carried a military M-1.] Soon after followed a taped message from the SLA in which Hearst claimed that she had voluntarily joined the SLA and was now to be known as “Tania.”
On May 17, 1974, police were tipped that the SLA leaders were at a Los Angeles home. With 400 police and FBI agents outside the house, a tremendous gun battle broke out. The police threw gas canisters into the house and then shot at them, sparking a fire in which DeFreeze and five other SLA members died. However, Hearst was not inside the house. She was not found until September 1975.
Patty Hearst was put on trial for armed robbery and convicted, despite her claim that she had been coerced, through repeated rape, isolation, and brainwashing, into joining the SLA. (A conversion known as Stockholm syndrome.)
Prosecutors believed that she actually orchestrated her own kidnapping because of her prior involvement with one of the SLA members; that she was a rebel looking for a cause. Despite any real proof of this theory, she was convicted and sent to prison. President Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence after she had served almost two years. Hearst was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.
Hearst married her body guard Bernard Shaw and lives a private life today.Hearst’s autobiography, Every Secret Thing (1982), was made into the movie Patty Hearst (1988).
Today in 1938 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, was released in theaters. Walt Disney’s decision to make Snow White, which was the first animated feature to be produced in English and in Technicolor, flew in the face of the popular wisdom at the time. Naysayers, warned him that audiences, especially adults, wouldn’t sit through a feature-length cartoon fantasy about dwarfs. But Disney put his future on the line, borrowing most of the $1.5 million that he used to make the film. Snow White premiered in Hollywood on December 21, 1937, earning a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd. When it was released to the public the film quickly grossed $8 million, a staggering sum during the Great Depression and the most made by any film up to that time.
Disney won an honorary Academy Award for his pioneering achievement. The studio re-released Snow White for the first time in 1944, during World War II; thereafter, it was released repeatedly every decade or so, a pattern that became a tradition for Disney’s animated films. For its 50th anniversary in 1987, Snow White was restored, but cropped into a wide-screen format, a choice that irked some critics. Disney released a more complete digital restoration of the film in 1993.
Its power continues to endure: In June 2008, more than 60 years after its U.S. release, the American Film Institute chose Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the No. 1 animated film of all time in its listing of “America’s 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres.”
Today in 1826, The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper (1789-1851) was published; one of the earliest distinctive American novels.
When Cooper was about 20, his father died, and he became financially independent. His first novel, Precaution(1820), modeled on Jane Austen, was not successful, but his second, The Spy (1821), influenced by the popular writings of Sir Walter Scott, became a bestseller, making Cooper the first major American novelist.
He continued to write about the American frontier in his third book, The Pioneer (1823), which featured backcountry scout Natty Bumppo, known in this book as “Leather-stocking.” The character, representing goodness, purity, and simplicity, became tremendously popular, and reappeared, by popular demand, in five more novels, known collectively as the “Leather-stocking Tales.” The second book in the series, The Last of the Mohicans, is still widely read today. The five books span Bumppo’s life, from coming of age through approaching death.
Rest in peace Karen Anne Carpenter, singer, musician, and recording artist, who died today in 1983 at Los Angeles, California, succumbing to heart failure brought on by her long, unpublicized struggle with anorexia. She was age 32.
Carpenter was born March 2, 1950 at New Haven Connecticut. She and her brother Richard were a popular duo in 1970s. “Now”(1982) was the last song Carpenter recorded.
She was buried in Cypress, California. In 2003, Richard Carpenter had Karen re-interred, along with their parents, in the Carpenter family mausoleum at Westlake Village, California.
Karen’s death contributed to the public awareness of the disease anorexia nervosa.
Happy birthday Lawrence Julius “L.T.” Taylor, NFL player, born today in 1959 at Williamsburg, Virginia.
Taylor played his entire 13-season professional career with the New York Giants and is credited with redefining the position of outside linebacker and terrorizing a generation of NFL quarterbacks. Before retiring after the 1993 season, L.T. was named to the All-Pro team 10 times and recorded 132.5 sacks (which doesn’t include his 9.5 sacks in 1981, as the NFL didn’t make sacks an official stat until 1982) 1,088 tackles, 11 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions.
In 1987, he tested positive for cocaine use and the following year, after failing a second drug test, received a 30-day suspension from football. In his autobiography, “L.T.: Over the Edge,” (2003), he admitted to cheating on NFL drug tests by using urine from other players. He did stints in rehab and was arrested several times on drug charges before getting sober. In 1999, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
“If I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this; I am absolutely convinced Lindbergh is a Nazi.”
— FDR to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthaw, May 1940.
Happy birthday Charles Augustus Lindbergh, pioneering aviator, social activist, and author, born today in 1902 at Detroit, Michigan.
Highlights of Lindbergh’s life include the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic to Europe (1927); as an Air Corps Reserve officer was awarded the Medal of Honor for the flight; the kidnapping and death of his infant son, the “crime of the century” (1932); promoted the development of commercial aviation and Air Mail services (late 1920s-early 1930s); outspoken advocate of keeping the U.S. out of the world conflict; combat pilot in the Pacific Theater of World War II (FDR refused to reinstate his Army Air Corps colonel’s commission that he had resigned in1941.); his book The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), recounting his transatlantic flight, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954; Dwight Eisenhower restored Lindbergh’s assignment with the U.S. Air Force and made him a Brigadier General in 1954.
Lindbergh received many awards, medals and decorations, most of which were later donated to the Missouri Historical Society and are on display at the Jefferson Memorial, now part of the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. The original The Spirit of St. Louis currently resides in the National Air and Space Museum as part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
Lindbergh died August 26, 1974 at the Hawaiian island of Maui. He was age 72. He is buried at Kipahulu, Maui. His epitaph on a simple stone which quotes Psalms 139:9, reads: “Charles A. Lindbergh Born Michigan 1902 Died Maui 1974″. The inscription further reads: “… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea …”