It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…
* 1961 – CCF changes name to New Democratic Party (NDP) – chooses Tommy Douglas as the leader.
(Political parties are organizations that seek to control government and participate in public affairs by nominating candidates for elections. Since there are typically multiple groups that wish to do this, political parties are best thought of as part of a party system, which is the way political parties conduct themselves in order to structure political competition. After Confederation in 1867, Canada had a two-party system featuring the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party.
Other parties were formed during the 20th century to challenge the dominance of the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) grew from the Progressive Party, a farm-based party led by Thomas Crerar from Manitoba and Henry Wise Wood in Alberta, radical populists who fought against the influence of the large financial interests such as banks and railways. As a national party, it survived for about 15 years, until some Progressive and United Farmers of Alberta MPs helped found the CCF in 1932.
The CCF’s Regina Manifesto of 1933 defined the party as social democratic. Tommy Douglas led the party to power in Saskatchewan in 1944, where it became the first democratically elected social democratic government in North America (see Tommy Douglas: “Greatest Canadian”). It remained the leading party of the left until it faced near electoral annihilation in 1958. It then decided to ally with the recently formed Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to form a new party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), in 1961. The NDP provided Canada with a “two-and-a-half-party” system until the 1990s, a system in which the two large parties — the Liberals and Conservatives — were joined by a smaller party. Then a combination of weak leadership, scandals at the provincial level, competition from other protest parties and trade union dissatisfaction seriously weakened the party to the point where some, including its own members, questioned its survival.
The NDP experienced a revival under the leadership of Jack Layton, who became party leader in 2003. Layton’s likable image, combined with his efforts to professionalize the party’s electoral machinery, helped to restore the NDP’s place in the party system. In 2011, Layton led the NDP to its best ever election result, as the NDP finished second and became the Official Opposition. Much of the NDP’s breakthrough came from Québec. Layton became seriously ill after this election breakthrough and died. The party slipped back into third place in the House of Commons in the election of 2015.)
* 1958 Nautilus travels under the North Pole.
(On August 3, 1958, the U.S. nuclear submarine Nautilus accomplishes the first undersea voyage to the geographic North Pole. The world’s first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus dived at Point Barrow, Alaska, and traveled nearly 1,000 miles under the Arctic ice cap to reach the top of the world. It then steamed on to Iceland, pioneering a new and shorter route from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Europe.
The USS Nautilus was constructed under the direction of U.S. Navy Captain Hyman G. Rickover, a brilliant Russian-born engineer who joined the U.S. atomic program in 1946. In 1947, he was put in charge of the Navy’s nuclear-propulsion program and began work on an atomic submarine. Regarded as a fanatic by his detractors, Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world’s first nuclear submarine years ahead of schedule. In 1952, the Nautilus’ keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it was launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. Commissioned on September 30, 1954, it first ran under nuclear power on the morning of January 17, 1955.
Much larger than the diesel-electric submarines that preceded it, the Nautilus stretched 319 feet and displaced 3,180 tons. It could remain submerged for almost unlimited periods because its atomic engine needed no air and only a very small quantity of nuclear fuel. The uranium-powered nuclear reactor produced steam that drove propulsion turbines, allowing the Nautilus to travel underwater at speeds in excess of 20 knots.
In its early years of service, the USS Nautilus broke numerous submarine travel records and on July 23, 1958, departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on “Operation Northwest Passage”–the first crossing of the North Pole by submarine. There were 116 men aboard for this historic voyage, including Commander William R. Anderson, 111 officers and crew, and four civilian scientists. The Nautilus steamed north through the Bering Strait and did not surface until it reached Point Barrow, Alaska, in the Beaufort Sea, though it did send its periscope up once off the Diomedes Islands, between Alaska and Siberia, to check for radar bearings. On August 1, the submarine left the north coast of Alaska and dove under the Arctic ice cap.
The submarine traveled at a depth of about 500 feet, and the ice cap above varied in thickness from 10 to 50 feet, with the midnight sun of the Arctic shining in varying degrees through the blue ice. At 11:15 p.m. EDT on August 3, 1958, Commander Anderson announced to his crew: “For the world, our country, and the Navy–the North Pole.” The Nautilus passed under the geographic North Pole without pausing. The submarine next surfaced in the Greenland Sea between Spitzbergen and Greenland on August 5. Two days later, it ended its historic journey at Iceland. For the command during the historic journey, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decorated Anderson with the Legion of Merit.
After a career spanning 25 years and almost 500,000 miles steamed, the Nautilus was decommissioned on March 3, 1980. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982, the world’s first nuclear submarine went on exhibit in 1986 as the Historic Ship Nautilus at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.)
* 1861 Last installment of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is published.
(The last entry of the serialized novel Great Expectations is published on this day in 1861. The book had been serialized in Dickens’ literary circular, All the Year Round. The novel tells the story of young Pip, a poor orphan who comes to believe he will inherit a fortune.
Dickens had become one of the most popular writers in England nearly three decades earlier with the publication of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. The short sketches, which Dickens published under the pseudonym “Boz,” were originally commissioned as captions for humorous drawings.
Dickens was born in 1812 and attended school in Portsmouth. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was thrown in debtors’ prison in 1824, and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children and the institution of the debtors’ jail became topics of several of Dickens’ novels.
In his late teens, Dickens became a reporter and started publishing humorous short stories when he was 21. In 1836, a collection of his stories, Sketches by Boz, was published. The same year, he married Catherine Hogarth, with whom he would have nine children.
In 1838, Dickens published Oliver Twist, followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1839). In 1841, Dickens published two more novels, then spent five months in the U.S., where he was hailed as a literary hero. Dickens churned out major novels every year or two, usually serialized in his own circular. Among his most important works are David Copperfield (1850), Great Expectations (1861), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859).
In the late 1850s, he began a series of public readings, which became immensely popular. He died in 1870 at the age of 58, with his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, still unfinished.)
* 1996 “The Macarena” begins its reign atop the U.S. pop charts.
(If pop songs, like hurricanes, were rated on an objective scale according to their ability to devastate the pop-cultural landscape, then the song that reached the top of the American pop charts on this day in 1996 was a Category 5 monster. It first made landfall in Florida as a seemingly harmless Spanish-language rumba, but in the hands of a pair of Miami record producers, it soon morphed and strengthened into something called “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix),” a song that laid waste to all competition during a record-setting run at #1 that began on August 3, 1996.
The group that gets credit for the song that spent more time on the Billboard Hot 100 (60 weeks) than any other in history was Los Del Rio, but their smash-hit record received some critical assistance on its way to the top of the charts. Los Del Rio was the name under which two middle-aged Spaniards named Antonia Romero and Rafael Ruiz had been performing together since 1962. In 1992, while attending a private party of political and cultural heavyweights in Caracas, Venezuela, Romero was inspired to ad lib a spoken verse in honor of a flamenco dancer named Diana Patricia following a spectacular live performance. Addressing her by the name “Magdalena”—a reference to Mary Magdalene that connotes sultriness—Romero said “”Dale a tu cuerpo alegría, Ma’dalena, que tu cuerpo e’ pa’ darle alegría y cosa’ buena.” When they later recorded a song based on this line, Los Del Rio changed the name Magdalena to “Macarena,” the name of a neighborhood in their native Seville, but the chorus otherwise remained unchanged: “Give joy to your body, Macarena, for your body is for giving joy and good things.”
The original Los Del Rio recording of “Macarena” was a hit in Latin America and gained some measure of popularity in pockets of North America, but when a DJ named Jammin’ John Caride at Miami’s Power 96-FM asked to add the song to his rotation, station managers told him that their policy was not to play songs sung exclusively in Spanish. Enter producers Carols De Yarza and Mike Triay, who wrote and recorded English-language verses for the female voice of Macarena and remixed the tune to make it more dance club-friendly. Within days, their version of the single, now called “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” was a local smash.
Thirty-three weeks later, helped along by New York radio station WKTU as well as by a popular music video and a dance so easy that anyone could do it, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” reached the #1 spot on the Billboard pop chart on August 3, 1996.)
* 1982 Sodomy arrest sparks controversy.
(Michael Hardwick is arrested for sodomy after a police officer observes him having sex with another man in his own bedroom in Georgia. Although the district attorney eventually dropped the charges, Hardwick decided to challenge the constitutionality of Georgia’s law.
“John and Mary Doe,” who joined in Hardwick’s suit against Michael Bowers, the attorney general of Georgia, maintained that the Georgia law “chilled and deterred” them from engaging in certain types of sex in their home. But in 1986, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, ruling by a 5-4 vote that states could continue to treat certain types of consensual sex as criminal acts.
Apparently, Justice Byron White had characterized the issue not as the right to privacy in one’s own bedroom, but rather as the right to commit sodomy. Viewed in this narrow manner, it was no surprise that he was unable to find such a clause in the Constitution. Justice Lewis Powell, who also voted to uphold the law, later called his vote a mistake.
In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law under which two men had been arrested for having consensual sex at home. The 6-3 Lawrence v. Texas decision reversed the infamous 1986 Bowers decision and finally dealt a death blow to sodomy laws throughout the country.)
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* The Canadian Encyclopedia http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/party-system/
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/