John’s Believe It Or Not… June 15th

In 1846 U.S.-Canadian border established. In 1215 Magna Carta sealed. In 1946 The United States presents the Baruch Plan. In 1300 Dante is named prior of Florence. In 2015 Real estate mogul Donald Trump launches his campaign for US President.

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John Fioravanti teaching at the blackboard.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1846 U.S.-Canadian border established. (Representatives of Great Britain and the United States sign the Oregon Treaty, which settles a long-standing dispute with Britain over who controlled the Oregon territory. The treaty established the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Georgia as the boundary between the United States and British Canada. The United States gained formal control over the future states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, and the British retained Vancouver Island and navigation rights to part of the Columbia River. In 1818, a U.S.-British agreement had established the border along the 49th parallel from Lake of the Woods in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. The two nations also agreed to a joint occupation of Oregon territory for 10 years, an arrangement that was extended for an additional 10 years in 1827. After 1838, the issue of who possessed Oregon became increasingly controversial, especially when mass American migration along the Oregon Trail began in the early 1840s. American expansionists urged seizure of Oregon, and in 1844 Democrat James K. Polk successfully ran for president under the platform “Fifty-four forty or fight,” which referred to his hope of bringing a sizable portion of present-day Vancouver and Alberta into the United States. However, neither President Polk nor the British government wanted a third Anglo-American war, and on June 15, 1846, the Oregon Treaty, a compromise, was signed. By the terms of the agreement, the U.S. and Canadian border was extended west along the 49th parallel to the Strait of Georgia, just short of the Pacific Ocean. Please keep in mind that at this time, the political entity we call Canada did not yet exist – not until 1867. In 1846 it was simply a collection of separately governed British colonies that were collectively known as British North America. Foreign policy for the colonies was decided by Parliament in England until Canada was granted independence in 1931.)

Map of Oregon boundary dispute between U.S. and Britain
Map of Oregon boundary dispute between U.S. and Britain (users.humboldt.edu)

* 1215 Magna Carta sealed. (Following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John puts his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter.” The document, essentially a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation’s laws. Although more a reactionary than a progressive document in its day, the Magna Carta was seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England by later generations.

John was enthroned as king of England following the death of his brother, King Richard the Lion-Hearted, in 1199. King John’s reign was characterized by failure. He lost the duchy of Normandy to the French king and taxed the English nobility heavily to pay for his foreign misadventures. He quarreled with Pope Innocent III and sold church offices to build up the depleted royal coffers. Following the defeat of a campaign to regain Normandy in 1214, Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, called on the disgruntled barons to demand a charter of liberties from the king.

In 1215, the barons rose up in rebellion against the king’s abuse of feudal law and custom. John, faced with a superior force, had no choice but to give in to their demands. Earlier kings of England had granted concessions to their feudal barons, but these charters were vaguely worded and issued voluntarily. The document was drawn up for John in June 1215, however, forced the king to make specific guarantees of the rights and privileges of his barons and the freedom of the church. On June 15, 1215, John met the barons at Runnymede on the Thames and set his seal to the Articles of the Barons, which after minor revision was formally issued as the Magna Carta.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimized…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

In immediate terms, the Magna Carta was a failure–civil war broke out the same year, and John ignored his obligations under the charter. Upon his death in 1216, however, the Magna Carta was reissued with some changes by his son, King Henry III, and then reissued again in 1217. That year, the rebellious barons were defeated by the king’s forces. In 1225, Henry III voluntarily reissued the Magna Carta a third time, and it formally entered English statute law.

The Magna Carta has been subject to a great deal of historical exaggeration; it did not establish Parliament, as some have claimed, nor more than vaguely allude to the liberal democratic ideals of later centuries. However, as a symbol of the sovereignty of the rule of law, it was of fundamental importance to the constitutional development of England. Four original copies of the Magna Carta of 1215 exist today: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral, and two in the British Museum.)

 

June 15, 1215: Magna Carta sealed.Following a revolt by the English nobility
June 15, 1215: Magna Carta sealed.Following a revolt by the English nobility (Pinterest)

* 1946 The United States presents the Baruch Plan. (The United States presents the Baruch Plan for the international control of atomic weapons to the United Nations. The failure of the plan to gain acceptance resulted in a dangerous nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, becoming the first and only nation to use nuclear weapons during wartime. The successful use of the bombs not only ended World War II but also left the United States with a monopoly on the most destructive weapon known to humankind. As Cold War animosities between the United States and the Soviet Union began to develop in the months after the end of the war, a sharp discussion ensued in the administration of President Harry S. Truman. Some officials, including Secretary of War Henry R. Stimson and Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace, argued that the United States should share its atomic secrets with the Soviets. The continuing U.S. monopoly, they argued, would only result in growing Russian suspicions and an eventual arms race. Others, such as State Department official George F. Kennan, strenuously argued against this position. The Soviets, these people declared, could not be trusted and the United States would be foolish to relinquish its atomic “ace in the hole.”

The battle between these two groups was apparent in early 1946 when the United States proposed the formation of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) to establish an international control over the spread and development of nuclear weapons and technology. Bernard Baruch, a trusted adviser to U.S. presidents since the early 20th century, was tapped to formulate the American proposal and present it to the United Nations. Baruch sided with those who feared the Soviets, and his proposal reflected this. His proposal did provide for international control and inspection of nuclear production facilities but clearly announced that the United States would maintain its nuclear weapons monopoly until every aspect of the proposal was in effect and working. The Soviets, not surprisingly, rejected the Baruch Plan. The United States thereupon rejected a Soviet counterproposal for a ban on all nuclear weapons.

By 1949, any discussion of international control of nuclear weapons was a moot point. In September of that year, the Soviets successfully tested a nuclear device. During the next few years, the United States and the Soviet Union raced to develop an ever-more frightening arsenal of nuclear weapons, including the hydrogen bomb, MIRV missiles (missiles with multiple nuclear warheads), and the neutron bomb (designed to kill people but leave structures standing).

Graph: Comparison of US and USSR nuclear warheads from 1950 to 2000
(Wikipedia)

* 1300 Dante is named prior of Florence. (On this day, poet Dante Alighieri becomes one of six priors of Florence, active in governing the city. Dante’s political activities, which include the banishment of several rivals, lead to his own exile from Florence, his native city, after 1302. He will write his great work, The Divine Comedy, as a virtual wanderer, seeking protection for his family in town after town.

Dante was born to a family with noble ancestry whose fortunes had fallen. His father was a moneylender. Dante began writing poetry in his teens and received encouragement from established poets, to whom he sent sonnets as a young man.

At age nine, Dante first caught a glimpse of Beatrice Portinari, also nine, who would symbolize for him perfect female beauty and spiritual goodness in the coming decades. Despite his fervent devotion to Portinari, who did not seem to return his feelings, Dante became engaged to Gemma Donati in 1277, but the two did not marry until eight years later. The couple had six sons and a daughter.

About 1293, Dante published a book of prose and poetry called The New Life, followed a few years later by another collection, The Banquet. It wasn’t until his banishment that he began work on his Divine Comedy. In the poem’s first book, Dante takes a tour through Hell with the poet Virgil as his guide. Virgil also guides the poet through Purgatory in the second book. The poet’s guide in Paradise, however, is named Beatrice. The work was written and published in sections between 1308 and 1321. Although Dante called the work simply Comedy, the work became enormously popular, and a deluxe version published in 1555 in Venice bore the title The Divine Comedy. Dante died of malaria in Ravenna in 1321.)

Divine Comedy Fresco
Divine Comedy Fresco (Florence Inferno)

* 2015 Real estate mogul Donald Trump launches his campaign for US President. (Donald Trump, the real estate mogul, reality television star and hair icon, today announced he is taking his first run at the White House. From the iconic Trump Tower in New York City, the Donald told his supporters he is “officially running for president of the United States.”

“We are going to make our country great again,” Trump, who turned 69 on Saturday, declared. He added, “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

In 2012, Trump launched a Presidential exploratory committee and visited key battleground states before bowing out in May 2011. This time though, Trump says he’s in it for the long haul; he plans to step away from the day to day management of The Trump Organization, and hand the reigns over to his children: Ivanka, Donald Jr, and Eric. He has also chosen to step aside from his hit reality show, “The Apprentice.”

“They all said, a lot of the pundits on television, well, Donald will never run, and one of the main reasons is he’s private and he’s probably not as successful as everybody thinks,” said Trump, who has never held public office before. “So I said to myself, you know, nobody is ever going to know unless I run because I’m really proud of my success.” 

“Sadly the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back, bigger, and better, and stronger than ever before,” Trump said today to a packed room of supporters.

Last month, Trump told ABC’s Rick Klein, “Politicians are all talk, no action. They do a terrible job; a tremendous disservice to the country. And I know them better than anybody, and I love them – I think they’re great. It’s easy to make money with politicians. But, the fact is that it’s all talk and no action…and the country’s going to hell.”)

Watch Donald Trump Go Full Nativist In Presidential Campaign Launch
Watch Donald Trump Go Full Nativist In Presidential Campaign Launch (Counter Information – blogger)

Today’s Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology  http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport       http://www.onthisday.com/

* This Day In History – What Happened Today   http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

* ABC News                                                     http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-announces-2016-presidential-campaign-make-country/story?id=31799741

 

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 (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

16 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 15th”

  1. Your post was very interesting, John, and so are the comments. It is just as interesting to see which particular item catches people’s attention the most. In this post it seems to have been the piece about Dante. For me, however, I found the information about King John and the Magna Carta to be my personal highlight as I really enjoy English history. The piece about Donald Trump, at the end there, also caught my attention but I think anything about Mr Trump is of interest to all of us whose lives he influences (that is everyone in this world!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robbie, my favorite piece was the one about Magna Carta too. Since the Ontario government eliminated the survey course in British history, I made sure that I taught about Magna Carta each time I taught the Civics course – it is the foundation of the Rule of Law. I enjoy the comments too and thank you for sharing yours.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the reference, John! I figure I’ll set up one device with the text and the other device with a translation of it 😉 That way I’ll get the full understanding of the text. Great that you’re so well read. That’s a marvelous quality!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Thursday, John. Very interesting today with almost a theme tied to governing in one way or another. The piece on Dante was most interesting. I had no idea he wandered basically homeless for so long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Mae! I didn’t know that Dante led that kind of life – which must have been difficult with a large family. But artists were especially dependent on patrons and often victimized by powerful nobles who took offense. For example, publishing political satire back then got you a death sentence, imprisonment, or exile. For all that’s wrong with our world today, I’d never wish to time travel to earlier periods in history – the survival rates were awful! Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another intriguing post! I was particularly intrigued to read about the establishment of the Canadian and U.S. border and fascinated by the Dante story. Thank you, John. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gwen, it’s interesting that the border was pretty much fixed before the British North American colonies began to unite in 1867 and form the beginnings of modern-day Canada. This year is the 150th anniversary of that event – big celebrations in Ottawa on July 1st! Thanks for your comment!

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