It’s Tuesday! Did you know…
* 1814 – British, Canadians Win Firefight at Lundy’s Lane and Americans Retreat. (There had been much fighting at close quarters. Veteran British officers, who had fought against French armies in the Peninsular War, were horrified at the carnage they had witnessed at Lundy’s Lane. Drummond reported, “Of so determined a Character were [the American] attacks directed against our guns that our Artillery Men were bayonetted by the enemy in the Act of loading, and the muzzles of the Enemy’s Guns were advanced within a few Yards of ours”. The battle confirmed that the American regular forces had evolved into a highly professional army. Scott is widely credited for this progress, having modeled and trained his troops using French Revolutionary Army drills and exercises, although not all the American units present at Lundy’s Lane had benefitted from his personal training.
Evidence compiled by Donald Graves, a Canadian historian employed at the Directorate of History, Department of National Defence Canada, argues that General Drummond failed to use skirmish pickets to protect his guns, which were consequently captured by the Americans. Drummond also showed little tactical finesse during his counter-attacks, not using his light infantry to their best advantage and mounting only straightforward frontal attacks. American historian John R. Elting suggests that if Drummond had instead concentrated on the vulnerable American left flank, he might have won a decisive victory. (Drummond had much administrative experience, but had previously seen action only in the abortive Flanders Campaign in 1794 as a comparatively junior officer, and in the Egyptian campaign in 1801 as commander of a battalion.)
In respect to the effect of the battle on the War, the British won a strategic victory, since the Americans on the Niagara had suffered so many casualties that they were now badly outnumbered, and were forced to retire to Fort Erie. Richard V. Barbuto says, “On 26 July, Brown’s plan to advance on Burlington Heights was irretrievably shattered… Drummond had secured the forts at the northern end of the Niagara, and he had blunted an American advance. Although there was still a lot of fight in both forces, the balance of combat power on the Niagara Peninsula had swung from the invaders to the defenders”. )
* 1990 – Lucien Bouchard founds the Bloc Québecois after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord. (The movement favoring Quebec independence from Canada began in the 1960s. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, elected Prime Minister in 1968 was an avowed federalist and was dedicated to stamping out Quebec separatism. In 1976, a separatist provincial political party, the Party Quebecois, won the election in Quebec and promised to lead Quebec out of Canada. In 1980, Premier Rene Levesque called a referendum vote on his proposal for Sovereignty-Association with Canada. Lucien Bouchard was appointed by Levesque to chair the committee that would organize the “Yes” forces in the referendum campaign. Trudeau told Quebeckers that he would never negotiate the breakup of Canada. Quebeckers voted 60% against the referendum proposal. Trudeau retired in 1984 and Progressive Conservative Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister and wooed his friend Lucien Bouchard to abandon the separatist camp.
In July 1985, Mulroney appointed Bouchard the Canadian ambassador to France, a position he held until March 1988. As part of his duties, he presided over the International Preparation Committee of the second Summit of La Francophonie, which took place in Québec City in September 1987. Mulroney then found him a place in the federal Cabinet as Canada’s Secretary of State, and later as Minister of the Environment. Also serving as the Conservative government’s Québec lieutenant, he was a member of the committee on federal-provincial relations, the committee on operations and the committee on economic policy, as well as president of the committee on the environment. However, Bouchard became increasingly frustrated by the growing resistance of certain federalists to the Meech Lake Accord and what he perceived to be Mulroney’s willingness to compromise on the accord to ensure it would pass.
On 21 May 1990, Bouchard resigned from the Cabinet and the Progressive Conservative Party and sat as an independent. Within a few weeks, he gathered a group of MPs from Québec (Conservatives as well as Liberals, including Jean Lapierre) who shared his ideas and formed the Bloc Québécois (BQ). Lucien Bouchard was elected president and leader of this new federal political party during the founding meeting held on 15 June 1991 in Sorel-Tracy.
Amid the atmosphere of betrayal and distrust that followed the rejection of the Meech Lake Accord, Bouchard became very popular in Québec. In the October 1993 general elections, the Bloc easily won the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean, which Bouchard had won as a Conservative in 1988. He led the Bloc to an extraordinary result of 49.3% of the popular vote in Québec, and the resulting 54 seats made the party the Official Opposition in Ottawa, a position it maintained until the June 1997 general elections (see Leader of the Opposition).
* 1978 World’s First Test Tube Baby Born. (On this day in 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.
Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier. Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.
The Browns had a second daughter, Natalie, several years later, also through IVF. In May 1999, Natalie became the first IVF baby to give birth to a child of her own. The child’s conception was natural, easing some concerns that female IVF babies would be unable to get pregnant naturally. In December 2006, Louise Brown, the original “test tube baby,” gave birth to a boy, Cameron John Mullinder, who also was conceived naturally.
Today, IVF is considered a mainstream medical treatment for infertility. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world have been conceived through the procedure, in some cases with donor eggs and sperm.)
* 1853 Head of frontier bandit placed on display. (Frontier bandit Joaquin Murieta’s head is placed on exhibit in the Northern Californian town of Stockton. Murieta, who was known as the “Terror of the Stanislaus,” had been disrupting the burgeoning gold trade and intimidating the public, along with his gang of thieves. The first celebrity outlaw in the new state of California, various legends sprung up about Murieta’s life.
On May 17, 1853, the state of California placed a $5,000 bounty upon Murieta and authorized Harry Love to lead a team of 20 rangers to bring him in, dead or alive. This elite law enforcement team caught up with a man they presumed to be Murieta a month later on the Tejon Pass, killed him, and brought his head back to display to the relieved public. (There was, and remains, some dispute over his identity.) Murieta’s henchman, Three-Fingered Jack, was also killed; his telltale hand was cut off and exhibited for public viewing.
The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit by San Francisco journalist John Rollin Ridge, gave rise to much of Murieta’s legend. According to this unsubstantiated story, he had come to the Stanislaus River near San Francisco to prospect for gold during the great gold rush. However, Murieta’s Mexican heritage caused him to be beaten and severely whipped, his wife raped, and his brother-in-law killed in an unprovoked attack by racist Americans working their own claims. Vowing revenge, Murieta formed a gang of Mexicans who roamed the frontier towns and terrorized prospectors and new communities.
Ridge’s book was so successful that it inspired several copycat works. Murieta was characterized as a Robin-hood type figure, a Mexican rebel leader, or a vicious outlaw, depending on the author’s perspective. In the 1997 film Mask of Zorro, Murieta appears as Zorro’s brother. In Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, he is a Chilean hero. Stories about Murieta have continued to this day.)
* 1965 Dylan appears at Newport Folk Fest. (On this day in 1965, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan rocks the world of folk music when he performs at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and abandons his acoustic guitar for an electric one. By going electric, Dylan eventually moved rock and folk music closer together. He also infused rock and roll, known then for its mostly lightweight lyrics, with a more intellectual, poetic sensibility.
In 1965, Dylan released “Bringing It All Back Home,” a half-acoustic, half-electric recording in which he was backed by a nine-piece band, a departure from his previous pared-down performances. That summer, he made his historic live performance with an electric guitar at the folk festival in Newport, where he played such songs as “Maggie’s Farm” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Some fans reportedly booed Dylan at the time, although it’s long been a topic of debate as to whether the crowd was unhappy with Dylan or the poor sound system. Regardless, after Newport, Dylan’s popularity continued to soar as his musical style continued to evolve and he became known for his innovative, poetic and sometimes cryptic lyrics.
Dylan, who has a reputation for being reclusive and mysterious, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Today, he is a music icon whose successful career has endured for over 40 years.)
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lundy%27s_Lane
* The Canadian Encyclopedia http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/lucien-bouchard/
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/