It’s Friday! TGIF! Did you know…
* 1755 – Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence gets approval to deport Acadians who refuse oath of allegiance. (The French authorities were well aware of the travesties the English could inflict upon another race or culture. A report the French Governor and the Intendant at Quebec had submitted in 1745, ten years before the Expulsion, stated:
“We cannot imagine that they could entertain the idea of removing those people [the
Acadians] in order to substitute Englishmen in their stead, unless desertion of the
Indians would embolden them to adopt such a course, inhuman as it may be.”
Though these French authorities could not imagine such an inhuman act, the English could. The event made famous by the American poet Longfellow in his poem “Evangeline” was soon under way. In early 1755 the Acadian Deputies were summoned to Halifax by Governor Lawrence and ordered to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. They refused, contending, as they had with Cornwallis in 1749, that if they did so the French would set the Indians against them and they would be massacred.
The English lost no time in responding. On July 28, 1755, Lawrence got the full approval of Nova Scotia’s Colonial Council to start dispersing the Acadians among the American Colonies. He sent Colonel Robert Monckton to Chignecto and Chepody, Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow to Minas, Pisiquid, and Cobequid, and Major John Handfield to Annapolis Royal to carry out the orders.
Colonel Robert Monckton rounded up the Acadians in Chignecto, while Colonel John Winslow ordered those at Minas to assemble at Grand Pré. They were loaded into the holds of ships and scattered to the four corners of the world. Families were separated, never to see one another again, and untold numbers died in transport. This included those who had sworn allegiance to the British Crown, there were no exceptions.
The Mi’kmaq faithfully stuck by their Acadian allies to the bitter end. Some of the Acadians tried to escape and were aided and protected by them to the best of their ability. They also joined forces with them to drive back the British, as was reported by the French Governor:
The British burned the Village, including the Church at Chipoudy and was responded to thus. Mr. Boishebert, at the head of 125 Indians and Acadians, overtook them at the River Pelkoudiak, attacked and fought them for three hours, and drove them vigorously back to their vessels. The English had 42 killed and 45 wounded. Mr. Gorham, a very active English Officer, was among the number of the wounded. We lost 1 Indian, and had three others wounded.
Many Acadians went into hiding among the Mi’kmaq and remained with them until the British and French ended their hostilities in 1763. A group of several hundred were hidden by the Mi’kmaq in the area known today as Kejimkujik National Park.
Note: Many of these expelled Acadians were also transported to Britain and France – and many of those found their way to the French colony of Louisiana, where they became known as the ‘Cajuns’.
* 1917 Silent Parade organized by James Weldon Johnson. (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Silent Protest Parade, also known as the Silent March, was held in New York City on Saturday, July 28, 1917, on 5th Avenue. This parade came about because the violence acted upon African Americans, including the race riots, lynching, and outages in Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, and other states.
One incident in particular, the East St. Louis Race Riot, also called the East St. Louis Massacre, was a major catalyst of the silent parade. This horrific event drove close to six thousand blacks from their own burning homes and left several hundred dead.
James Weldon Johnson, the second vice president of the NAACP, brought together other civil rights leaders who gathered at St. Phillips Church in New York to plan protest strategies. None of the group wanted a mass protest, yet all agreed that a silent protest through the streets of the city could spark the idea of racial reform and an end to the violence. Johnson remembered the idea of a silent protest from A NAACP Conference in 1916 when Oswald Garrison Villard suggested it. All the organizations agreed that this parade needed to be comprised of the black citizens, rather than a racially-mixed gathering. They argued that as the principal victims of the violence, African Americans had a special responsibility to participate in this, the first major public protest of racial violence in U.S. history.
The parade went south down 5th Avenue, moved to 57th Street and then to Madison Square. It brought out nearly ten thousand black women, men, and children, who all marched in silence. Johnson urged that the only sound to be heard would be the “the sound of muffled drums.” Children, dressed in white, led the protest, followed by women behind, also dressed in white. Men followed at the rear, dressed in dark suits.
The marchers carried banners and posters stating their reasons for the march. Both participants and onlookers remarked that this protest was unlike any other seen in the city and the nation. There were no chants, no songs, just silence. As those participating in the parade continued down the streets of New York, black Boy Scouts handed out flyers to those watching that described the NAACP’s struggle against segregation, lynching, and discrimination, as well as other forms of racist oppression.
James Weldon Johnson wrote in his 1938 autobiography, Along This Way, that “the streets of New York have witnessed many strange sites, but I judge, never one stranger than this; among the watchers were those with tears in their eyes.”)
* 1868 14th Amendment adopted. (Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.
Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”
In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of the law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.)
* 1945 Plane crashes into Empire State Building. (A United States military plane crashes into the Empire State Building on this day in 1945, killing 14 people. The freak accident was caused by heavy fog.
The B-25 Mitchell bomber, with two pilots and one passenger aboard, was flying from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. As it came into the metropolitan area on that Saturday morning, the fog was particularly thick. Air-traffic controllers instructed the plane to fly to Newark Airport instead.
This new flight plan took the plane over Manhattan; the crew was specifically warned that the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the city at the time, was not visible. The bomber was flying relatively slowly and quite low, seeking better visibility, when it came upon the Chrysler Building in midtown. It swerved to avoid the building but the move sent it straight into the north side of the Empire State Building, near the 79th floor.
Upon impact, the plane’s jet fuel exploded, filling the interior of the building with flames all the way down to the 75th floor and sending flames out of the hole the plane had ripped open in the building’s side. One engine from the plane went straight through the building and landed in a penthouse apartment across the street. Other plane parts ended up embedded in and on top of nearby buildings. The other engine snapped an elevator cable while at least one woman was riding in the elevator car. The emergency auto brake saved the woman from crashing to the bottom, but the engine fell down the shaft and landed on top of it. Quick-thinking rescuers pulled the woman from the elevator, saving her life.
Since it was a Saturday, fewer workers than normal were in the building. Only 11 people in the building were killed, some suffering burns from the fiery jet fuel and others after being thrown out of the building. All 11 victims were workers from War Relief Services department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, into the offices of which the plane had crashed. The three people on the plane were also killed.
An 18 foot by 20-foot hole was left in the side of the Empire State Building. Though its structural integrity was not affected, the crash did cause nearly $1 million in damages, about $10.5 million in today’s money.)
* 1976 Worst modern earthquake. (At 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattens Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the streets, the quake was especially costly in terms of human life. An estimated 242,000 people in Tangshan and surrounding areas were killed, making the earthquake one of the deadliest in recorded history, surpassed only by the 300,000 who died in the Calcutta earthquake in 1737, and the 830,000 thought to have perished in China’s Shaanxi province in 1556.
Caught between the Indian and Pacific plates, China has been a very active location for earthquakes throughout history. Earthquakes have also played a significant part in China’s culture and science, and the Chinese were the first to develop functioning seismometers. The area of northern China hit by the Tangshan earthquake is particularly prone to the westward movement of the Pacific plate.
In the days preceding the earthquake, people began to notice strange phenomena in and around Tangshan. Well-water levels rose and fell. Rats were seen running in panicked packs in broad daylight. Chickens refused to eat. During the evening of July 27 and the early morning hours of July 28, people reported flashes of colored light and roaring fireballs. Still, at 3:42 a.m. most people were sleeping quietly when the earthquake struck. It lasted for 23 seconds and leveled 90 percent of Tangshan’s buildings. At least a quarter-of-a-million people were killed and 160,000 others injured. The earthquake came during the heat of midsummer, and many stunned survivors crawled out of their ruined houses naked, covered only in dust and blood. The earthquake started fires and ignited explosives and poisonous gases in Tangshan’s factories. Water and electricity were cut off, and rail and road access to the city was destroyed.
The Chinese government was ill-prepared for a disaster of this scale. The day following the quake, helicopters and planes began dropping food and medicine into the city. Some 100,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were ordered to Tangshan, and many had to march on foot from Jinzhou, a distance of more than 180 miles. About 30,000 medical personnel were called in, along with 30,000 construction workers. The Chinese government, boasting self-sufficiency, refused all offers of foreign relief aid. In the crucial first week after the crisis, many died from lack of medical care. Troops and relief workers lacked the kind of heavy rescue training necessary to efficiently pull survivors from the rubble. Looting was also epidemic. More than 160,000 families were left homeless, and more than 4,000 children were orphaned.
Tangshan was eventually rebuilt with adequate earthquake precautions. Today, nearly two million people live there. There is speculation that the death toll from the 1976 quake was much higher than the official Chinese government figure of 242,000. Some Chinese sources have spoken privately of more than 500,000 deaths.)
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* Daniel N. Paul http://www.danielnpaul.com/AcadienExpulsion-1755.html
* 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/