It’s Thursday! Did You Know…
* 1701 – Cadillac arrives at Detroit with a fleet of settlers.
Antoine Laumet, dit de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac 1658-1730, soldier, explorer, and French colonial Governor, born March 5, 1658 at Les Laumets, Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave, Gascony, France, the son of Jean Laumet, an assistant magistrate in the local court; died October 15, 1730 at Castelsarrasin, France. Cadillac is educated in a military school, then joins the regiment of Dampierre-Lorraine. Legend says he possessed a very long nose that supposedly inspired Edmond Rostand’s play, Cyrano de Bergerac, and that he inspired King Louis XIV with his wit, courage, honesty, and swordsmanship. He was sent to New France to work under Governor Frontenac as investigator for the king, reporting on corruption in the colony.
In 1683 he arrives in New France and Count Frontenac makes him a captain. He begins calling himself Lamothe, the name of a nobleman of his home region (de Lamothe-Bardigues) and borrowed that family’s coat of arms. On June 25, 1687, marries Marie-Thérèse Guyon, niece of New France privateer, Denis Guyon, whom he met at the Governor’s ball at Château St. Louis. He signs the marriage license “de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac”, the name Cadillac referring to a hamlet near the town of Montech, not far from Laumet’s birthplace].
In 1688 he receives a land grant to Donaquec which included part of the Donaquec River (now the Union River) and the island of Mount Desert in the present-day U.S. state of Maine. In 1688 moves with his family to Quebec and the following year he returns to France to report to the king, then goes back to New France in 1690. In 1691 he is commissioned in the Troupes de la Marine and from 1694-99 he is the commander of Fort Michilimackinac until troops are withdrawn.
In 1701 Cadillac convinces Count de Pontchartrain to found a settlement and fort at “les Étroits” (the narrows) on the St. Clair River between Lakes Erie and Huron. In 1701, July 19, he and his lieutenant Alphonse de Tonty arrive at Detroit with a fleet of 75 canoes, bringing 50 settlers, 50 soldiers, and two priests and starts building Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit behind a 3-meter high picket. His 9 year rule as governor is marked by conflict with officials in Paris and Quebec, and with a local Native tribe. In 1701 he fights with Jesuit Father François Vaillant de Gueslis who arrives to set up a mission, and who abandons his mission after a few months and returns to Montreal. In 1710 he is replaced by Charles Regnault, Sieur du Buisson, and named governor of Louisiana. In 1717 he returns to France and is briefly jailed in the Bastille for speaking against financier John Law who was raising a scheme to settle the Mississippi River valley. His name lives on in General Motors’ Cadillac automobile, the town of Cadillac, Michigan, and in Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island in Maine.
* 1799 Rosetta Stone found.
On this day in 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.
When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art, and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for France. Pierre Bouchard, one of Napoleon’s soldiers, was aware of this order when he found the basalt stone, which was almost four feet long and two-and-a-half feet wide, at a fort near Rosetta. When the British defeated Napoleon in 1801, they took possession of the Rosetta Stone.
Several scholars, including Englishman Thomas Young, made progress with the initial hieroglyphics analysis of the Rosetta Stone. French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), who had taught himself ancient languages, ultimately cracked the code and deciphered the hieroglyphics using his knowledge of Greek as a guide. Hieroglyphics used pictures to represent objects, sounds, and groups of sounds. Once the Rosetta Stone inscriptions were translated, the language and culture of ancient Egypt were suddenly open to scientists as never before.
The Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum in London since 1802, except for a brief period during World War I. At that time, museum officials moved it to a separate underground location, along with other irreplaceable items from the museum’s collection, to protect it from the threat of bombs.
* 1979 Oil tankers collide in Caribbean Sea.
On this day in 1979, two gigantic supertankers collide off the island of Little Tobago in the Caribbean Sea, killing 26 crew members and spilling 280,000 tons of crude oil into the sea. At the time, it was the worst oil-tanker accident in history and remains one of the very few times in history when two oil tankers have collided.
It was early evening when the two large carriers of crude oil collided. The Atlantic Empress had 275,000 tons of oil aboard; the Aegean Captain was carrying 200,000 tons. After the collision, fires broke out all over the Atlantic Empress and on the bow of the Aegean Captain. The Aegean managed to control the fire and then was towed toward Trinidad. Some oil was spilled during the towing, but a fair portion of the cargo was transferred successfully to other vessels.
The Atlantic Empress, however, had more difficulties. While it was still burning, it was towed toward the open sea. Oil continued to leak, burning on top of the ocean waters. Four days after the collision, with the fire still out of control, an explosion rocked the ship. There was another explosion the next day. Still, efforts to stop the fire and prevent more oil from spilling into the ocean continued. On July 29, 10 days after the fire began, another powerful explosion ended hopes of containing the blaze. On August 3, the Atlantic Empress sunk to the ocean bottom, leaving only a burning oil slick behind.
* 1848 Seneca Falls Convention begins.
At the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y., a woman’s rights convention–the first ever held in the United States–convenes with almost 200 women in attendance. The convention was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two abolitionists who met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. As women, Mott and Stanton were barred from the convention floor, and the common indignation that this aroused in both of them was the impetus for their founding of the women’s rights movement in the United States.
In 1848, at Stanton’s home near Seneca Falls, the two women, working with Martha Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt, sent out a call for a women’s conference to be held at Seneca Falls. The announcement, published in the Seneca County Courier on July 14, read, “A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July current; commencing at 10 o’clock A.M. During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and other ladies and gentlemen, will address the Convention.”
On July 19, 200 women convened at the Wesleyan Chapel, and Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances,” a treatise that she had drafted over the previous few days. Stanton’s declaration was modeled closely on the Declaration of Independence, and its preamble featured the proclamation, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” The Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances then detailed the injustices inflicted upon women in the United States and called upon U.S. women to organize and petition for their rights.
On the second day of the convention, men were invited to intend–and some 40 did, including the famous African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That day, the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was adopted and signed by the assembly. The convention also passed 12 resolutions–11 unanimously–which called for specific equal rights for women. The ninth resolution, which declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise,” was the only one to meet opposition. After a lengthy debate, in which Douglass sided with Stanton in arguing the importance of female enfranchisement, the resolution was passed. For proclaiming a women’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in America.
The Seneca Falls Convention was followed two weeks later by an even larger meeting in Rochester, N.Y. Thereafter, national woman’s rights conventions were held annually, providing an important focus for the growing women’s suffrage movement. After years of struggle, the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, granting American women the constitutionally protected right to vote.
* 2003 Thousands of fans join the Miami funeral procession of Celia Cruz.
On July 19, 2003, three days after her death from cancer at the age of 77, Latin music legend Celia Cruz has one of her final wishes granted when her body is flown to Miami, Florida, for a special public viewing by tens of thousands of fans prior to her burial in New York City. It was as close as the legendary Queen of Salsa could get to her beloved homeland of Cuba.
Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1925, one of 14 children raised in a family that was poor, but in a time and place that was rich with musical activity. Cruz’s talent was recognized early on. The story she told was that her first pair of shoes were given to her by a tourist for whom she had performed on the streets of Havana, and she was a regular winner of local singing contests in which the grand prize was usually a cake. Exposed to a wide range of music by the radio and by an aunt who would take her around to Havana’s cabarets, Cruz sang in every style from tango to mambo to son cubano—all of which would contribute to the later development of her signature style, salsa.
After training in Cuba’s National Conservatory, Cruz got her big break in 1950, when she was invited to join one of Cuba’s most popular orchestras, the Sonora Matancera, with whom she would perform throughout Latin America for the next 15 years. Cruz was abroad with the Sonora Matacera in 1959 when Castro took power, and she never returned to her native Cuba, settling permanently in the sizable Cuban community near Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Recording almost exclusively in her native Spanish, Celia Cruz built a career over the next 40-plus years that made her one of the best-known Latin music stars in history. Her famously warm and gracious personality also made her one of the most beloved, as evidenced by the outpouring of grief that greeted her death from cancer. Among those lining up in Miami on this day in 2003 to pay their respects were many Cuban Americans for whom the music of Celia Cruz was an important cultural connection to Cuba. As one told The New York Times that day, “I call her and people like her, the last of the true Cubans. She was part of the Cuba of our parents, a Cuba we didn’t really know and that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the Cuba of our imagination.”
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/