History… December 29


1170 – St. Thomas à Becket, the 40th archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights acting on Henry II’s orders.

1812 – The USS Constitution won a battle with the British ship HMS Java about 30 miles off the coast of Brazil. Before Commodore William Bainbridge ordered the sinking of the Java he had her wheel removed to replace the one the Constitution had lost during the battle.

1813 – The British burned Buffalo, NY, during the War of 1812.

1837 – Canadian militiamen destroyed the Caroline, a U.S. steamboat docked at Buffalo, NY.

1845 – U.S. President James Polk and signed legislation making Texas the 28th state of the United States.

1848 – U.S. President James Polk turned on the first gas light at the White House.

1851 – The first American Young Men’s Christian Association was organized, in Boston, MA.

1860 – The HMS Warrior, Britain’s first seagoing first iron-hulled warship, was launched.

1888 – The first performance of Macbeth took place at the Lyceum Theatre.

1890 – The U.S. Seventh Cavalry massacred over 400 men, women and children at Wounded Knee Creek, SD. This was the last major conflict between Indians and U.S. troops.

1895 – The Jameson Raid from Mafikeng into Transvaal, which attempted to overthrow Kruger’s Boer government, started.

1911 – Sun Yat-sen became the first president of a republican China.

1913 – “The Unwelcome Throne” was released by Selig’s Polyscope Company. This was a moving picture and the first serial motion picture.

1934 – The first regular-season, college basketball game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. New York University defeated Notre Dame 25-18.

1934 – Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

1937 – Babe Ruth returned to baseball as the new manager of the Class D, De Land Reds of the Florida State League. Ruth had retired from baseball in 1935.

1940 – During World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.

1945 – The mystery voice of Mr. Hush was heard for the first time on the radio show, “Truth or Consequences”, hosted by Ralph Edwards.

1945 – Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville, TN.

1949 – KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first ultrahigh frequency (UHF) television station to begin operating on a regular daily schedule.

1952 – The first transistorized hearing aid was offered for sale by Sonotone Corporation.

1953 – Jean Stapleton debuted in her first Broadway play, “In the Summer House”, which closed after only 55 performances.

1972 – Following 36 years of publication, the last weekly issue of “LIFE” magazine hit the newsstands. The magazine later became a monthly publication.

1975 – A bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. 11 people were killed.

1985 – Phil Donahue and a Soviet radio commentator hosted the “Citizens’ Summit” via satellite TV.

1986 – The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL, reopened for business after eighteen years and $47 million expended on restoration.

1989 – Following Hong Kong’s decision to forcibly repatriate some Vietnamese refugees, thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ battled with riot police.

1989 – Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia by the country’s Federal Assembly. He was the first non-Communist to hold the position in more than four decades.

1996 – The Guatemalan government and leaders of the leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union signed a peace accord in Guatemala City, ending a civil war that had lasted 36 years.

1997 – Hong Kong began killing 1.25 million chickens, the entire population, for fear of the spread of ‘bird flu.’

1998 – Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives.

1999 – The Nasdaq composite index closed at 4,041.46. It was the first close above 4,000.

1876 Indian Removal … others say Grant Extends Indian Reservation Deadline


1876 – All Native American Indians were ordered to move into reservations.

In a move that prevented open war across the Northern Plains, President Ulysses S. Grant issued an executive order extending the deadline set previously for all Native Americans to return to their reservations. The initial date for the deadline had been carefully calculated two months before by Grant and his generals Philip Sheridan, commander of the Division of the Missouri, and George Crook, commander of the Department of the Platte, to be unreachable by the Indians, who had settled into their winter quarters. When the Indians did not move (General Sheridan noted that the Indians would not move no matter the date, though Lakota leaders had already decided they would travel to the agencies that spring), they would march troopers into the Indian camps and force them into submissive positions on the reservations.

The matter at the core was gold. White encroachment on Indian lands had gone on for decades, and the Indians had gradually migrated and dealt with the growing White settlement. Several wars had raged, but none were as large as the surprise attack Sheridan and Crook were planning to clear the Indians quickly and effectively out of the Black Hills, where gold had been discovered by the Custer Expedition in 1874. A gold rush was in full sway and expected to boom. The Federal government had ended stopping trespassers onto the Sioux hunting grounds as an initial part of the plan and offered to pay the tribes $25,000 and reservations south in Indian Territory. Spotted Tail summarized the feelings of the Sioux leaders who had traveled to Washington with, “You speak of another country, but it is not my country; it does not concern me, and I want nothing to do with it. I was not born there.”

Yet, the land was needed both to open for the glut of would-be miners following the Panic of 1873 as well as for railroad projects. Grant had previously reversed the objectives of the Federal government, which had been anti-Indian since its founding. Johnson’s order to General Sheridan years before about the Cheyenne and Arapaho had been, “I want you to go ahead, kill and punish the hostiles, capture and destroy the ponies.” Grant later confronted Congress on the policies, saying, “Wars of extermination are demoralizing and wicked” and “A system which looks to the extinction of a race is too horrible for a nation to adopt without entailing upon itself the wrath of all Christendom.” Despite his advances in upholding treaties, in his second term the question of the Black Hills had turned him to the same policies he had derided.

In late January, a telegram from the US Indian Agent at Standing Rock reached the president, saying that his requests to extend the deadline had been repeatedly denied despite that travel in the midst of winter was impossible. He noted that any God-fearing, decent man would be reasonable rather than start a war, and Grant felt his spark of conscious. The Whiskey Ring scandal that had implicated his secretary Orville E. Babcock had destroyed Grant’s popularity among Republicans, and he decided that acting in favor of the Indians could not do any more damage, saying famously, “If I’m going to be unpopular, I might as well do the right thing.”

In spring of 1876, the majority of the Indians came to their reservations as had been agreed. Sheridan and Crook were allowed to mop up the stragglers and then ordered to maintain some kind of peace amid the Indians and the swarms of prospectors centering on Deadwood. Methods of herding the remaining buffalo were organized by the Sioux and government agents, who finally were able to work a deal for the Northern Pacific Railroad giving the Indians a toll based on transport. When the gold began to give out, the prospectors deserted, and the Sioux gradually came back into control over much of the area. Conservationist Theodore Roosevelt hunted the buffalo in 1893, and his political actions back East helped give funding to rebuilding the Northern Buffalo Herd, which had been barely saved from the extinction that had struck the Southern.

Despite decades more of politics and needless violence, the White and Native Americans gradually learned to live alongside one another, perhaps best exemplified by the peaceful demonstrations at Wounded Knee in 1890 where invited government officials understood the severity of breaking up the Great Sioux Reservation and determined to honor the previous treaty.

In reality, the request for an extension was firmly denied. The Great Sioux War began, leading to nearly double the casualties of American soldiers as Sioux (such as in the disastrous Battle of Little Bighorn), but firmly establishing the US Army’s control over the Indians. The buffalo were systematically eradicated, leaving the Native Americans no choice but to depend upon the Federal Agencies for supplies. Policies of assimilation continued for decades on the reservations, especially after the cultural misunderstanding of the Ghost Dance that led to the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

December is Universal Human Rights Month


Wethepeople

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 without a dissenting vote. It is the first multinational declaration mentioning human rights by name, and the human rights movement has largely adopted it as a charter.