John’s Believe It Or Not… June 18th

John Fioravanti teaching at the blackboard.

It’s Father’s Day Sunday! Did you know…

* 1812 War of 1812 begins. (The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law–and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the “War Hawks” had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial land gains for the United States.

In the months after President Madison proclaimed the state of war to be in effect, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were decisively unsuccessful. In 1814, with Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire collapsing, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers.

In September, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough’s American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain. The invading British army was forced to retreat back into Canada. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, formally ending the War of 1812. By the terms of the agreement, all conquered territory was to be returned, and a commission would be established to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada.

British forces assailing the Gulf Coast were not informed of the treaty in time, and on January 8, 1815, the U.S. forces under Andrew Jackson achieved the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. The American public heard of Jackson’s victory and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.)

The Fall Of Washington Or Maddy In Full Flight, Cartoon Showing President James Madison And Probably John Armstrong, His Secretary Of War, Both With Bundles Of Papers, Fleeing From Washington, With Burning Buildings Behind Them.
The Fall Of Washington Or Maddy In Full Flight, Cartoon Showing President James Madison, And Probably John Armstrong, His Secretary Of War, Both With Bundles Of Papers, Fleeing From Washington, With Burning Buildings Behind Them. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

* 1815 Napoleon defeated at Waterloo. (At Waterloo in Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history.

Exiled to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean, he escaped to France in early 1815 and set up a new regime. As allied troops mustered on the French frontiers, he raised a new Grand Army and marched into Belgium. He intended to defeat the allied armies one by one before they could launch a united attack.

On June 16, 1815, he defeated the Prussians under Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher at Ligny, and sent 33,000 men, or about one-third of his total force, in pursuit of the retreating Prussians. On June 18, Napoleon led his remaining 72,000 troops against the Duke of Wellington’s 68,000-man allied army, which had taken up a strong position 12 miles south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo. In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry. The delay in fighting gave Blucher’s troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon.

In repeated attacks, Napoleon failed to break the center of the allied center. Meanwhile, the Prussians gradually arrived and put pressure on Napoleon’s eastern flank. At 6 p.m., the French under Marshal Michel Ney managed to capture a farmhouse in the allied center and began decimating Wellington’s troops with artillery. Napoleon, however, was preoccupied with the 30,000 Prussians attacking his flank and did not release troops to aid Ney’s attack until after 7 p.m. By that time, Wellington had reorganized his defenses, and the French attack was repulsed. Fifteen minutes later, the allied army launched a general advance, and the Prussians attacked in the east, throwing the French troops into panic and then a disorganized retreat. The Prussians pursued the remnants of the French army, and Napoleon left the field. French casualties in the Battle of Waterloo were 25,000 men killed and wounded and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost about 23,000.

Napoleon returned to Paris and on June 22 abdicated in favor of his son. He decided to leave France before counterrevolutionary forces could rally against him, and on July 15 he surrendered to British protection at the port of Rochefort. He hoped to travel to the United States, but the British instead sent him to Saint Helena, a remote island in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Napoleon protested but had no choice but to accept the exile. With a group of followers, he lived quietly in St. Helena for six years. In May 1821, he died, most likely of stomach cancer. He was only 51 years old. In 1840, his body was returned to Paris, and a magnificent funeral was held. Napoleon’s body was conveyed through the Arc de Triomphe and entombed under the dome of the Invalides.)

Napoleon at the start of his ‘100 days’
Napoleon at the start of his ‘100 days’ (taringa.net)

* 1798 Adams passes first of Alien and Sedition Acts. (President John Adams passes the Naturalization Act, the first of four pieces of controversial legislation known together as the Alien and Sedition Acts, on this day in 1798. Strong political opposition to these acts succeeded in undermining the Adams administration, helping Thomas Jefferson to win the presidency in 1800.

At the time, America was threatened by war with France, and Congress was attempting to pass laws that would give more authority to the federal government, and the president, in particular, to deal with suspicious persons, especially foreign nationals. The Naturalization Act raised the requirements for aliens to apply for U.S. citizenship, requiring that immigrants reside in the U.S. for 14 years before becoming eligible. The earlier law had required only five years of residence before an application could be made.

Adams, in fact, never enforced the Naturalization Act. Nevertheless, he came under heavy fire from the Republicans, led by Vice President Thomas Jefferson, who felt that the Naturalization Act and its companion legislation was unconstitutional and smacked of despotism. So disgusted was Jefferson with Adams’ enthusiastic support of the law that he could no longer support the president and left Washington during the Congressional vote. Former President George Washington, on the other hand, supported the legislation. Adams signed the second piece of the legislation, the Alien Act, on June 25. This act gave the president the authority to deport aliens during peacetime. The Alien Enemies Act, which Adams signed on July 6, gave him the power to deport any alien living in the U.S. with ties to U.S. wartime enemies. Finally, the Sedition Act passed on July 14, gave Adams tremendous power to define treasonable activity including any false, scandalous and malicious writing. The intended targets of the Sedition Act were newspaper, pamphlet and broadside publishers who printed what he considered to be libelous articles aimed primarily at his administration. Abigail Adams urged her husband to pass the Sedition Act, calling his opponents criminal and vile.

Of the four acts, the Sedition Act was the most distressing to staunch First Amendment advocates. They objected to the fact that treasonable activity was vaguely defined, was defined at the discretion of the president and would be punished by heavy fines and imprisonment. The arrest and imprisonment of 25 men for supposedly violating the Sedition Act ignited an enormous outcry against the legislation. Among those arrested was Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, who was the editor of the Republican-leaning Philadelphia Democrat-Republican Aurora. Citing Adams’ abuse of presidential powers and threats to free speech, Jefferson’s party took control of Congress and the presidency in 1800.)

A cartoon depicting a fight in Congress regarding the Alien and Sedition Acts, 1798.
A cartoon depicting a fight in Congress regarding the Alien and Sedition Acts, 1798. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

* 1983 First American woman in space. (From Cape Canaveral, Florida, the space shuttle Challenger is launched into space on its second mission. Aboard the shuttle was Dr. Sally Ride, who as a mission specialist became the first American woman to travel into space. During the six-day mission, Ride, an astrophysicist from Stanford University, operated the shuttle’s robot arm, which she had helped design.

Her historic journey was preceded almost 20 years to the day by cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, who on June 16, 1963, became the first woman ever to travel into space. The United States had screened a group of female pilots in 1959 and 1960 for possible astronaut training but later decided to restrict astronaut qualification to men. In 1978, NASA changed its policy and announced that it had approved six women to become the first female astronauts in the U.S. space program. The new astronauts were chosen out of some 3,000 original applicants. Among the six were Sally Ride and Shannon Lucid, who in 1996 set a new space endurance record for an American and a world endurance record for a woman during her 188-day sojourn on the Russian space station Mir.)

For whatever reason , I didn t succumb to the stereotype that science wasn ' t for girls . Astronaut Sally Ride
For whatever reason, I didn’t succumb to the stereotype that science wasn’t for girls. Astronaut Sally Ride (fatherly.com)

* 1928 American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the 1st woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. (Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. In 1935, Earhart became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor to aeronautical engineering and a career counselor to women students. She was also a member of the National Woman’s Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career, and disappearance continues to this day.)

Amelia Earhart (pictured) was a U.S. aviation pioneer born on July 24 1987, who disappeared on July 2 1937. She was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic
Amelia Earhart (pictured) was a U.S. aviation pioneer born on July 24, 1987, who disappeared on July 2, 1937. She was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic (dailymail.co.uk)

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/

* Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia                   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart

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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.

10 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 18th”

    1. Many of us here in Canada were watching that launch live as well. Sad that it took NASA two more decades to select qualified women as astronauts but happily, that hurdle is behind us. Lots more hurdles to go yet! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jennie.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Jennie, gender equity is an issue dear to my heart. I try not to preach with these daily posts, but I’ll often select a story because it parallels something that’s happening today, or because it highlights an issue that needs to be tackled – and hope my readers will pick up on that in their comments.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m greatly comforted by lively exchanges of views in an elected assembly – it means that freedom of speech is alive and well and that we still have some semblance of democracy. Hopefully, pistols and swords are checked at the door…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Amelia Earhart and her disappearance have always intrigued me. Fascinating person… BTW, I didn’t know about the Alien and Sedition act, but reading about the uproar and the fallout brought me into today’s political unrest. As much as I don’t like the turmoil, I’m grateful we have a voice – and a means to evoke change. Thank you, John, for today’s post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gwen. I thought there was a parallel to the Adams mess today – except that John Adams had more class. It is so sad that there is so much ethnocentrism, racism, religious intolerance and gender discrimination in our society today. We can outlaw it, but if it is still taught in the home and on the streets, it will flourish. The bright side is that we do have a voice – as you say, dear!

      Liked by 1 person

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