John’s Believe It Or Not… June 12th

In 1811 – Lord Selkirk Granted Land in Red River for a Colony Called Assiniboia. In 1381 Peasants’ Revolt: in England – rebels arrive at London. In 1987 Reagan challenges Gorbachev. In 1942 Anne Frank receives a diary. In 1963 Medgar Evers assassinated.

John Fioravanti teaching at the blackboard.

Oh-oh, it’s Monday again! Did you know…

* 1811 – Lord Selkirk Granted Land in Red River for a Colony Called Assiniboia. (The Red River Colony, a key part of Manitoba’s rich history, was a settlement on the Red and Assiniboine rivers whose boundaries crossed parts of what are now Manitoba and North Dakota. Founded in 1812 by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, the colony grew through times of extreme hardship into a multiracial society. It was the site of the Red River Resistance before reluctantly joining Canada as the province of Manitoba. Since 1801 the Earl of Selkirk had sought British support for a settlement in the region occupied by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), but it was not until he and his family had gained control of the company in 1810 that his scheme became practical. In 1811, the HBC granted Selkirk some 300,000 km2 of the land it had claimed in the Winnipeg Basin, which he called Assiniboia. Under Miles MacDonell, Selkirk’s choice as governor, an advance party was sent from Scotland to Hudson Bay in July 1811 and finally arrived on the Red River on 29 August 1812. A second group joined them in October. MacDonell established his base near the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers (now downtown Winnipeg) with a subsidiary center 130 km south at Pembina (North Dakota).)

Red River Colony, Map
(The Canadian Encyclopedia)

* 1381 Peasants’ Revolt: in England – rebels arrive at London. (The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is one of the most dramatic events of English history. The immediate cause of the revolt was the unprecedented amount of taxation the peasantry faced from the Government. The poll tax of 1380 was three times higher than that of the previous year and, unlike its predecessor, taxed rich and poor at the same rate. Hence, it was very unpopular with the peasantry. What began as a local revolt in Essex quickly spread across much of the southeast of England, while some of the peasants took their grievances direct to the young King, Richard II, in London. The revolt began in Essex when locals in Brentwood reacted to an over-zealous poll-tax collector. From Brentwood, resistance to tax collectors spread to neighboring villages, while across counties such as Kent, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Norfolk, armed bands of villagers and townsmen also rose up and attacked manors and religious houses. It was the rebels of Essex and Kent who marched on London. By 12th June, the Essex men were camped at Mile End, in fields just beyond Aldgate, and on the following day the Kentish men arrived at Blackheath. Incredibly, neither the government nor the city of London authorities seems to have been prepared, although the king was moved from Windsor to the Tower of London. During the next few days, the different bands of rebels from Essex and Kent were joined by some of London’s poor, and they set about attacking political targets in the city. They burned down the Savoy Palace, which was the home of John of Gaunt – Richard II’s uncle, and probably the most powerful magnate in the realm. They set fire to the Treasurer’s Highbury Manor, opened prisons and destroyed legal records.)

King Richard II meets the rebels at Smithfield, Peasants' Revolt, 1381
King Richard II meets the rebels at Smithfield, Peasants’ Revolt, 1381 (Alamy)

* 1987 Reagan challenges Gorbachev. (On this day in 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany. In 1945, following Germany’s defeat in World War II, the nation’s capital, Berlin, was divided into four sections, with the Americans, British and French controlling the western region and the Soviets gaining power in the eastern region. In May 1949, the three western sections came together as the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) being established in October of that same year. In 1952, the border between the two countries was closed and by the following year, East Germans were prosecuted if they left their country without permission. In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected by the East German government to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West. Between 1949 and the wall’s inception, it’s estimated that over 2.5 million East Germans fled to the West in search of a less repressive life. With the wall as a backdrop, President Reagan declared to a West Berlin crowd in 1987, “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He then called upon his Soviet counterpart: “Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace–if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe–if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Reagan then went on to ask Gorbachev to undertake serious arms reduction talks with the United States.)

Photo: Reagan's speech challenging Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
(History Channel)

* 1942 Anne Frank receives a diary. (On this day, Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl living in Amsterdam, receives a diary for her 13th birthday. A month later, she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in rooms behind her father’s office. For two years, the Franks and four other families hid, fed and cared for by Gentile friends. The families were discovered by the Gestapo, which had been tipped off, in 1944. The Franks were taken to Auschwitz, where Anne’s mother died. Friends in Amsterdam searched the rooms and found Anne’s diary hidden away. Anne and her sister were transferred to another camp, Bergen-Belsen, where Anne died of typhus a month before the war ended. Anne’s father survived Auschwitz and published Anne’s diary in 1947 as The Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been translated into more than 60 languages.)

Photo: 1942 Anne Frank receives a diary
1942 Anne Frank receives a diary. (

* 1963 Medgar Evers assassinated. (In the driveway outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi, African American civil rights leader Medgar Evers is shot to death by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. During World War II, Evers volunteered for the U.S. Army and participated in the Normandy invasion. In 1952, he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a field worker for the NAACP, Evers traveled through his home state encouraging poor African Americans to register to vote and recruiting them into the civil rights movement. He was instrumental in getting witnesses and evidence for the Emmitt Till murder case, which brought national attention to the plight of African Americans in the South. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was killed. After a funeral in Jackson, he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President John F. Kennedy and many other leaders publicly condemned the killing. In 1964, the first trial of chief suspect Byron De La Beckwith ended with a deadlock by an all-white jury, sparking numerous protests. When a second all-white jury also failed to reach a decision, De La Beckwith was set free. Three decades later, the state of Mississippi reopened the case under pressure from civil rights leaders and Evers’ family. In February 1994, a racially mixed jury in Jackson found Beckwith guilty of murder. The unrepentant white supremacist, aged 73, was sentenced to life imprisonment.)

Medgar Evers stands near a sign of the state of Mississippi in 1958. (AP Photo/Francis H. Mitchell - Ebony Collection, File)
Medgar Evers stands near a sign of the state of Mississippi in 1958. (AP Photo/Francis H. Mitchell – Ebony Collection, File)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* The Canadian Encyclopedia              

* Britannia’s Gateway                                        


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

17 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 12th”

  1. Another great post, John. I vaguely recall the assassination of Medgar Evers and the horror over such an event. It’s hard to understand anyone who imagines that they are somehow better than another – because of position or color of skin. Thank you for reminding us events that led to where we are now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gwen, I appreciate your insights. It is so disheartening when we confront discrimination and violence based on the differences between people. It has been culturally ingrained in our society for so many centuries and will take a long time to eradicate.


  2. Thanks for all these interesting Monday historical titbits, John. I loved history as a subject at school, but I’m sure you also enjoyed it as a teacher. The Anne Frank story is just beyond sad, but I found the 1381 Revolt against London fascinating. Of course, I’m trying to catch up on all this wonderful, intriguing history, not having been schooled in UK, I had less exposure to much of it – very intricate and detailed to make sense of – truth be told! This past weekend I found a short write-up about an Elisabeth and followed the link: Caroline Elisabeth (1713-1757), daughter of George 11, born in the Hanover dynasty (in itself fascination reading), but from this Elisabeth, I ended up reading more about another one, Elisabeth or Sisi, Queen of Austria and later, Hungary whose husband was Frank Joseph, not sure if he was the one assassinated in 1912. Will read some more next week!
    Meanwhile. Thanks for your lively blogposts which I enjoy and thank you too, for popping in at my. Logs from time to time. Much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Maretha. Where were you schooled? Yes, Franz Josef was on the throne of Austria-Hungary and his son, Franz Ferdinand heir to the throne, was assassinated in 1914 – June 28th. I’m sure you’ve discovered that most of the royal families of Europe were related – intermarriage to seal treaties and alliances, etc. I’m glad you’re enjoying these posts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks John, I’ve forgotten how important one’s first thoughts are. I had 1914 down first, but then thought the assassination had to have taken place sometime BEFORE WW1 broke out. I was schooled in South Africa, partly in Girls’ High School, Worcester and Matriculated at Paarl Gymnasium and after I started working I studied at The University of South Africa in Pretoria.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, you were right the first time – the assassination was the immediate cause of the war, mind you, it wouldn’t have taken much to ignite the powderkeg that was Europe in 1914. South Africa, eh? I know a guy who immigrated to my area from Durban back in the 80’s, I believe. I must admit, I know precious little about South Africa.

          Liked by 1 person

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