John’s Believe It Or Not… August 8th

In 1918 – General Arthur Currie mounts an assault with 600 tanks against 20 German divisions along 14 km front at Amiens – the start of Canada’s Hundred Days. In 1925 1st national march of Ku Klux Klan in Washington D.C. In 1974 President Nixon resigns. In 1945 Truman signs United Nations Charter. In 1818 Keats returns from walking tour.

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John Fioravanti standing in fron of his classroom blackboard.

It’s Tuesday! Did you know…

* 1918 – General Arthur Currie mounts an assault with 600 tanks against 20 German divisions along 14 km front at Amiens – the start of Canada’s Hundred Days.

General Sir Arthur William Currie, GCMG, KCB (5 December 1875 – 30 November 1933) was a senior officer of the Canadian Army who fought during World War I. He had the unique distinction of starting his military career on the very bottom rung as a pre-war militia gunner before rising through the ranks to become the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps. Currie’s success was based on his ability to rapidly adapt brigade tactics to the exigencies of trench warfare, using set piece operations and bite-and-hold tactics. He is generally considered to be among the most capable commanders of the Western Front, and one of the finest commanders in Canadian military history.

In August 1918, when Currie was ordered to move the Corps 70 miles (110 km) south to Amiens, the Canadians took pains to camouflage their move. This included sending a radio unit and two battalions to Ypres as a diversion. With no preliminary artillery bombardment at Amiens to warn the Germans, the attack on 8 August was a success. The Canadians were withdrawn from the line and moved to the Somme, where they participated in the attack on the Hindenburg Line at the Drocourt-Quéant Line on 2 September. The assault resulted in the Germans being overrun along a 7,000-yard (6,400 m). Historian Denis Winter called the seizure of the Drocourt-Quéant switch by the Canadian Corps the “greatest single achievement” of the British Expeditionary Force during the entire war and praised Currie for his ability to bring “unprecedented” concentrations of artillery and machine gun together with flexible infantry sections that were adjusted for the situation. The German Seventeenth Army then retreated behind the flooded Canal du Nord. Currie took three weeks to prepare perhaps his most audacious plan: he proposed to have the entire Corps cross the largely dry canal on a front of only 2,700 yards (2,500 m). On 27 September, the entire Corps moved across the canal as planned, and then through the German lines in a series of planned zig-zag maneuvers designed to confuse the Germans as to the Canadians’ objectives. Flushed from their prepared defenses, the German army now staged a controlled retreat over the next five weeks. On 10 November, in what was to be his most controversial decision, Currie, under orders to continue to advance, ordered elements of the Corps to liberate Mons. On the morning of 11 November, as Currie received orders confirming there would be a general armistice at 11:0:00 a.m., the capture of Mons was completed. At 10:58 a.m., George Lawrence Price was killed by sniper fire, the last Commonwealth soldier to die in the Great War.

Map: The Hindenburg Line.
The Hindenburg Line. (Canadiansoldiers.com)

* 1925 1st national march of Ku Klux Klan in Washington D.C.

Historically, the Ku Klux Klan has shown its presence in three distinct entities in the past and present movements, but always with one common thread through its fabric: nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-immigration often propounded and expressed through violent terrorism against individuals or groups who opposed the Klan.

The aim, according to the Klan leaders, has always been a sort of ‘purification’ that they deemed inevitable for the American white working class; a purification from anything and everything non-white, deploying violent measures and destruction.

The origin of the Ku Klux Klan could be traced back to 1860s in the South of the United States; however, this nascent Ku Klux Klan didn’t stick around for too long and fizzled out in the early 1870s.

Not many people know that Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans even proposed a march on Washington and succeeded. A staggering sixty thousand men dressed in terrifying white robes marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in unison much like a military parade.

Hiram Evans wanted to make a point to the ‘nation’ that they were the true defenders of the values and protectors of the borders of the United States that were threatened and breached by the ‘intruders.’

On 8 August 1925, the Ku Klux Klan marched on Washington, what was then considered the largest show of power by the Klan ever when tens of thousands of Klansmen came to Washington on trains and buses. The eerie aspect of the whole affair was that almost all of them brought their families and children along with them as if they were on a day out or a picnic.

While the onlookers and those who saw the event in pictures felt a shiver down their spine seeing what they deemed an ugly side of America, Klansmen celebrated their strength with dances and chants.

The KKK marches on Washington D.C. in 1925
The KKK marches on Washington D.C. in 1925 (spacelyss.wordpress.com)

* 1974 President Nixon resigns.

On this day in 1974, President Richard M. Nixon resigns in the wake of the Watergate burglary scandal. He was the first president in American history to resign.

In a televised address, Nixon, flanked by his family, announced to the American public that he would step down rather than endure a Senate impeachment trial for obstruction of justice. Since 1972, Nixon had battled increasing vociferous allegations that he knew of and may have authorized, a botched burglary in which several men were arrested for attempting to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Between 1972 and 1974, the press, and later a Senate investigation committee, revealed disturbing details that revealed that Nixon had indeed attempted to cover up the crime committed by key members of his administration and re-election committee. The most damning evidence came from subpoenaed tape recordings of Nixon’s White House conversations. Nixon fought the release of the tapes, which led the House of Representatives in 1973 to initiate impeachment charges against the president for obstruction of justice.

During the televised address, Nixon stated that he had never been a “quitter” and that choosing to resign went against his instincts. He refused to confess to committing the alleged high crimes and misdemeanors of which he was accused. He claimed his decision was encouraged by his political base and was in the best interests of the country and said that he hoped it would heal the political and social division caused by the Watergate scandal.

A report by the Washington Post on August 9 revealed the drama that had unfolded in the White House cabinet room an hour before Nixon’s resignation speech. After saying goodbye to 46 members of Congress, including his staunchest supporters, the president told them that the “country could not operate with a half-time President,” broke into tears and left the room.

Nixon announces his resignation surrounded by his family.
Nixon announces his resignation surrounded by his family. (History Since 1945 – blogger)

* 1945 Truman signs United Nations Charter.

President Harry S. Truman signs the United Nations Charter and the United States becomes the first nation to complete the ratification process and join the new international organization. Although hopes were high at the time that the United Nations would serve as an arbiter of international disputes, the organization also served as the scene for some memorable Cold War clashes.

August 8, 1945, was a busy day in the history of World War II. The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan, devastating the city of Nagasaki. The Soviet Union, following through with an agreement made earlier in the war, declared war on Japan. All observers agreed that the combination of these two actions would bring a speedy end to Japanese resistance. At the same time, in Washington, D.C., President Truman took a step that many Americans hoped would mean continued peace in the post-World War II world. The president signed the United Nations Charter, thus completing American ratification of the document. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes also signed. In so doing, the United States became the first nation to complete the ratification process. The charter would come into full force when China, Russia, Great Britain, France, and a majority of the other nations that had constructed the document also completed ratification.

The signing was accomplished with little pomp and ceremony. Indeed, President Truman did not even use one of the ceremonial pens to sign, instead opting for a cheap 10-cent desk pen. Nonetheless, the event was marked by hope and optimism. Having gone through the horrors of two world wars in three decades, most Americans–and people around the world–were hopeful that the new international organization would serve as a forum for settling international disagreements and a means for maintaining global peace. Over the next decades, the United Nations did serve as the scene for some of the more notable events in the Cold War: the decision by the Security Council to send troops to Korea in 1950; Khrushchev pounding the table with his shoe during a U.N. debate; and continuous and divisive discussion over admission of communist China to membership in the UN. As for its role as a peacekeeping institution, the record of the U.N. was not one of great success during the Cold War. The Soviet veto in the Security Council stymied some efforts, while the U.S. desire to steer an independent course in terms of military involvement after the unpopular Korean War meant less and less recourse to the U.N. to solve world conflicts. In the years since the end of the Cold War, however, the United States and Russia have sometimes cooperated to send United Nations forces on peacekeeping missions, such as the effort in Bosnia.

Truman signs the UN Charter
Truman on United Nations Charter (www.history.com)

* 1818 Keats returns from walking tour.

On this day, 22-year-old John Keats returns from a strenuous walking tour of the Lake Districts and Scotland with friends. On the tour, he begins to show symptoms of tuberculosis that will kill him within three years.

Keats, the eldest of five children born to a lower-middle-class family in London, was a highly spirited boy known for fistfights and roughhousing at his private school. Keats’ schoolmasters encouraged the boy’s interest in reading and later introduced him to poetry and theater.

When John was eight, his father fell off a horse and died, launching a long economic struggle that would keep Keats in poverty throughout his life, despite a large inheritance owed to him. His mother quickly remarried, and the five Keats children were sent to live with their maternal grandparents. The marriage failed, and their mother soon joined them. However, she died in 1810, and John’s grandparents died by 1814. The Keats children were kept from their money by an unscrupulous guardian, and John was apprenticed to a surgeon in 1811. Keats worked with the surgeon until 1814, then went to work for a hospital in London as a junior apothecary and surgeon in charge of dressing wounds.

In London, Keats pursued his interest in literature while working at the hospital. He became friends with the editor of the Examiner, Leigh Hunt, a successful poet and author who introduced him to other literary figures, including Percy Bysshe Shelley. Although Keats did not write his first poem until age 18, he quickly showed tremendous promise, encouraged by Hunt and his circle. Keats’ first book, Poems, appeared in 1817. After that, Keats devoted himself entirely to poetry, becoming a master of the Romantic sonnet and trying his hand at epic poems like Hyperion.

In 1818, the same year Keats’ health began to fail, his financial difficulties deepened as his brother Tom also battled tuberculosis and another brother’s poor investment left him penniless in Kentucky. The one bright spot in his life was his fiancee, Fanny Brawne.

From January to September 1819, Keats produced an outpouring of brilliant work, including poems like “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “Ode to a Nightingale,” and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” But in early 1820, Keats’ tuberculosis worsened. Hoping a warm climate would ease his condition, he traveled to Italy, where he died in February 1821, only 25 years old.

Portrait of John Keats
(The Telegraph)

Today’s Sources: 

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

* Wikipedia                                                                                 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Currie

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

* The Vintage News                                                             https://m.thevintagenews.com/2016/01/13/when-the-la/

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

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.

34 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… August 8th”

  1. I can only imagine what else Keats would have penned if the tuberculosis had not taken him so soon… As for Nixon being the first President to resign, I wonder if the second one will be a certain tanned guy?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another great post, John. That’s quite the photo of the Klan marching in D.C….scary! The article on General Currie was excellent. I did not know of the Canadian involvement in the war. Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, Gwen. Canadian troops were one of the smallest armies of the Allied coalition, but by 1915, they had earned the distinction of being the allied Shock Troops. This meant that they spearheaded every major Allied offensive from 1915 until the end of the war. General Currie was one of the reasons for this. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  3. Hey John,

    Aged 25 is far to young to pass: Keats deserved a poem….this is one of my favourites. I hope you’ll not mind 🙂

    ~ Bright Star – By ~ John Keats ~

    Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art-
    Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
    And watching, with eternal lids apart,
    Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
    The moving waters at their priestlike task
    Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
    Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
    Of snow upon the mountains and the moors;
    No-yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
    Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
    To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
    Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
    Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
    And so live ever-or else swoon to death.
    ~

    Thank you for serving another digestible slice of historical cake. History certainly walked a very rocky road on this day. The iconic image of the KKK with the rising white dome in the background is extremely powerful and powerfully disturbing.

    Hoping all is well John and life a bubble floating freely that ‘gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud’ like a star. (Taken from To Hope, by John Keats) Take care of one and all, enjoy your week.

    Namaste 🙂

    DN

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments and the Keats poem – sensuous and lovely. Taking off tomorrow for a 3-day holiday in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Anne’s birthday. It is a gorgeous little town just down the road from Niagara Falls. Have a great week, Devin!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. John, that sounds truly special…and the falls a magical destination for those still young in love to head off to…I imagine Bridal Veil Falls will be on the list 🙂 I trust memories will be made!

        Have a wonderfully enjoyable 3 days! A Fire Woman, Keats, and Falls, and all three in one week! What a ride, what a ride 🙂

        Namaste 🙂

        DN

        Liked by 1 person

        1. P.S: Devin not Dewin…a gently slip of the mouse perhaps and yet thank you John. Devin is from the Gaelic meaning ‘a poet’ 🙂 Must be Keats at work on your subconscious ahead of your trip 🙂 Keat’s poem was written to his great love Fanny Brawne. Aww.

          Namaste 🙂

          DN

          Like

          1. Ah, fair enough! That is too long a day to waste in the car on a 3-day trip. Perhaps you might then go at another time, an anniversary maybe? Or have you been before?

            I was flicking through images of both the Lake and Falls and thought them spectacular. I have only ever visited Victoria Falls in South Africa…allegedly so as I was but a wee dot back then. They have such magnitude and effervescence.

            Tomorrow, comfy in your chair with a view to delight the senses, your Blog will be a million miles away.

            Enjoy the trip out and back again. Best wishes.

            Namaste 🙂

            DN

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I plan to enjoy the trip & check in on the blog. Niagara-on-the-Lake is just under 2 hours from here – to the south. Niagara Falls is another 20 minutes down the road. The town of NOTL is now a tourist attraction, but it was the original capital of the British colony Upper Canada. Because of its proximity to the ever-threatening United States, the capital was moved to York (now Toronto). In 1867, Upper Canada joined the brand new Dominion of Canada as the province of Ontario. The cultural gem of the town is the Shaw Theatre.

              We’ve never visited Bridal Veil Falls – it’s on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. Someday perhaps!

              Liked by 2 people

                    1. 🙂 I trust you, but that is academic to the request for a poem. Ha! Surprise us, perhaps surprise yourself? Surrender and spill from the edges of yourself like rain tumbling into a lake 🙂

                      Namaste 🙂

                      DN

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. lol 🙂 It is not a poetic suggestion 🙂

                      One poem? That is all. Just one little old poem. Deal or no deal? Once you have agreed publically there will be no going back. Be brave, accept your destiny Master Fioravanti!

                      Namaste 🙂

                      DN

                      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Battle of Passchendaele the previous year. The British went in there and got bogged down in the mud. They asked the Canadians to come in and finish the operation – which they did. Shortly thereafter, the British walked away – such a waste of life. Thanks for commenting, Madelyn!

      Liked by 1 person

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