It’s Friday! TGIF! Did You Know…
* 1774 – Parliament passes the Québec Act – backs Catholic religion and the French civil code.
Question: Why was Quebec allowed to maintain its French character while Louisiana could not?
n 1763, after a century of imperial warfare in North America, which included a decisive British victory at the Plains of Abraham, France ceded much of its North American territory, including Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), Canada and its holdings in the Great Lakes Basin and east of the Mississippi (except New Orleans), to Great Britain with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (see also Conquest). Subsequently, the Royal Proclamation (also adopted in 1763) integrated these new territorial gains and its people into Britain’s North American empire.
Generally, the Royal Proclamation aimed to assimilate the local French-speaking population. Predicting a massive influx of English-speaking Protestant settlers, English laws, customs and practices were established in the colony. In time, the local French-speaking population was expected to assimilate in order to survive. This also created an environment in which British merchants gained a stranglehold on the colony’s economy, particularly the fur trade. In practice, however, things were very different. Since English-speaking immigrants were not arriving en masse, Governor James Murray realized that assimilation was impractical: French speakers outnumbered English speakers and Murray depended on their cooperation to govern. As such, though he introduced English criminal law, he retained French property and civil law. According to historian Donald Fyson, French-speaking Catholics even held public offices.
In June 1774, the Quebec Act was first passed by the House of Commons and later adopted by the House of Lords. It received Royal Assent on 22 June 1774 and put in effect on 1 May 1775. In many ways, Murray and his successor Guy Carleton’s experiences in the colony shaped the Act. The slow arrival of English-speaking immigrants meant that colonial officials depended on local French-speaking colonists. Governor Carleton even warned authorities in Britain that Quebec was “a province unlike any other, and its distinctive circumstances needed to be acknowledged.…”
Carleton, therefore, argued that maintaining local French Canadian customs was a much more practical option and spent years convincing British officials to abandon their assimilationist policies. Add to that the growing tensions in the Thirteen Colonies during this period, and the fear that French Canadians might join a potential revolt, it was imperative that Britain gain the loyalty of the French Canadian population.
* 1633 Galileo Galilei forced to recant his Copernican views that the Earth orbits the Sun by the Pope (Vatican only admits it was wrong on Oct 31, 1992!)
Today marks the 378th anniversary of the day the Inquisition forced Galileo to say he was wrong— that the Earth did not revolve around the sun. Galileo had made the proclamation in his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, and whether he really believed what he was saying that summer day is debatable. Legend has it that after he recanted his views, Galileo muttered, “And yet it moves,” under his breath, but David DeVorkin, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum, says there’s no historical basis for that claim.
“I would never say he didn’t say it,” DeVorkin said, “but the best historians say there’s no proof.”
The atmosphere in Italy at the time that Galileo was writing his book was tense. The Roman Inquisition was underway, and even more significantly, the bubonic plague was sweeping the country, making travel and communication extremely difficult and creating a sense of fear in the population.
Before Dialogue was published, Galileo was favored by the Church, even earning a pension from the pope, but officials were angered by the book’s content. The plot featured three characters: a simpleton, a student, and a sage, who debated the structure of the solar system. The simpleton supports an Earth-centered view of the solar system and is subsequently proven wrong and ridiculed by the other characters. This was considered to be heresy because it ran contrary to the modern views of the Church, which supported that vision. It also undermined contemporary ideas about the structure of the universe and the placement of heaven and hell.
“It made the universe physical,” DeVorkin said, “and then people had to ask, where in the world is heaven?”
In addition, several officials were offended as they believed the character of the simpleton was, in part, a representation of themselves.
“The real issue was the nature of the Dialogue that seemed to lampoon some sensitive personalities who were either on the Inquisition or were advisors or patrons or something,” DeVorkin said. “They did not want to be made out as fools.”
Galileo was found guilty of heresy and sentenced to house arrest, where he remained until his death in 1642. Today, he is featured in two of the National Air and Space Museum’s exhibits, Explore the Universe and Exploring the Planets. which tell the still-evolving story of the way we see our solar system and the universe as a whole. Galileo’s assertion that the planets revolved around the sun, in addition to his myriad other contributions to science, was an integral part of that evolution.
* 1611 Hudson set adrift by mutineers
After spending a winter trapped by ice in present-day Hudson Bay, the starving crew of the Discovery mutinies against its captain, English navigator Henry Hudson, and sets him, his teenage son, and seven supporters adrift in a small, open boat. Hudson and the eight others were never seen again.
Two years earlier, in 1609, Hudson sailed to the Americas to find a northwest passage to Asia after repeatedly failing in his efforts to find a northeast ocean passage. Exploring the North American coast, he entered the present-day Chesapeake, Delaware, and New York bays, and then became the first European to ascend what is now called the Hudson River. His voyage, which was financed by the Dutch, was the basis of Holland’s later claims to the region.
His fourth expedition, financed by adventurers from England, set out from London on April 17, 1610. Sailing back across the Atlantic, Hudson resumed his efforts to find the northwest passage. Between Greenland and Labrador, he entered the present-day Hudson Strait and by it reached Hudson Bay. After three months of exploration, the Discovery was caught too far from open sea when winter set in, and in November Hudson’s men were forced to haul it ashore and set up a winter camp. Lacking food or supplies, the expedition greatly suffered in the extreme cold. Many of the crew held Hudson responsible for their misfortune, and on June 22, 1611, with the coming of summer, they mutinied against him. The Discovery later returned to England, and its crew was arrested for the mutiny. Although Henry Hudson was never seen again, his discoveries gave England its claim to the rich Hudson Bay region.
* 1962 Mysterious crash in Guadeloupe
On this day in 1962, an Air France Boeing 707 crashes on the island of Guadeloupe, killing all 113 passengers and crew members aboard. This crash was only one of five major accidents involving Boeing 707s during the year. Altogether, the five crashes killed 457 people.
The Boeing 707 was built as a modification of the KC-135 military tanker and bomber. The design was altered so that it could carry passengers and it proved to be very popular with the exploding commercial-aviation industry. Although it burned more fuel, the 707 was faster than other commercial jets of the time.
Part of the French West Indies, Guadeloupe is a small island in the Caribbean. Its airport is located in a valley ringed by mountains. Pilots generally dislike the steep descent required for landing. On June 22, the Air France flight failed to descend correctly and crashed directly into a peak call Dos D’Ane, or the Donkey’s Back. The plane exploded in a fireball; there were no survivors.
The flight occurred before the advent of the black box flight recorder and no reason for the crash was ever found.
It was the third deadly crash of a Boeing 707 in a month. On May 22, 45 people died when a plane went down in Missouri and on June 3, another Air France 707 crashed in Paris killing 130 people. No evidence was ever found that connected the accidents.
* 1937 Louis becomes champ
In Chicago’s Comiskey Park, Joe Louis wins the world heavyweight boxing title when he defeats American Jim Braddock in an eighth-round knockout. Louis was the first African American heavyweight champ since Jack Johnson, who lost the title in 1915. During his subsequent reign, the longest in the history of the heavyweight division, Louis successfully defended his title 25 times, scoring 21 knockouts.
Joe Louis, born in 1914, was the seventh son of a sharecropping family that worked in the cotton fields of Lexington, Alabama. His family moved to Chicago when he was 10, and two years later Louis dropped out of school to work in a Ford factory. He took up boxing at the Brewster East Side Gymnasium and at age 16 entered his first amateur tournament. He proved an outstanding amateur, winning the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union light heavyweight crown in 1934. On July 4, 1934, he defeated Jack Kracken in his professional debut. Louis went on to win his first 27 professional fights, beating the likes of former heavyweight champions Primo Carnera and Max Baer, both by knockouts.
Remembering the experience of Jack Johnson, who fled the United States in 1912 to escape persecution stemming from his marriage to a white woman, Louis’ black managers instructed their protege to keep a tight lip, never be photographed with a white woman, and never smile after knocking down a white man. On June 19, 1936, Louis met Max Schmeling, a former heavyweight champ from Germany, at Yankee Stadium. Schmeling handed Louis his first defeat, knocking him out in the 12th round. Many white Americans celebrated the victory of Schmeling, a dutiful Nazi at the time, over the previously invincible Louis.
Joe Louis, however, did not stay down for long, and on June 22, 1937, he met champ Jim Braddock in Comiskey Park for a title fight. Louis was dropped early in the bout, but he rose from the canvas to knock out Braddock in the eighth round. After easily defeating two challengers, Louis met Schmeling for a dramatic rematch at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 1938–exactly one year after he won the heavyweight title. By the summer of 1938, Adolf Hitler was menacing Europe, and America found itself changing loyalties to root for Louis over Schmeling, who was condemned as a symbol of Nazi oppression. It took Louis two minutes and four seconds to defeat the German. Louis, already a great hero of African Americans everywhere, was hailed as a hero for all Americans.
Joe Louis went undefeated in his nearly 12-year heavyweight reign, defeating a total of 25 challengers. During World War II, he was inducted into the U.S. Army, and he traveled extensively, staging matches, giving boxing exhibitions, and refereeing bouts. After the war, he defended his title a few more times and in March 1947 announced his retirement. In September 1950, he returned to boxing but lost to his successor as champ, Ezzard Charles, in a 15-round decision. He won eight more fights during the next year but in October 1951 was knocked out in the eighth round by the up-and-coming Rocky Marciano. He retired permanently after this comeback attempt. In his retirement, Joe Louis suffered from tax problems and financial difficulties. He later worked as a host at a Las Vegas casino. He died in 1981.
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* The Canadian Encyclopedia https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/quebec-act/
* 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/