The editor’s opinion from Marketplace, Northeast Wisconsin’s business magazine. (Obligatory disclaimer: Most hyperlinks go to outside sites, and we’re not responsible for their content. And like fresh watermelon, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes and sweet corn, hyperlinks can go bad after a while.)
June 3, 2008
This day in history
350 A.D.: Nepotianus proclaims himself emperor of Rome, backed up by the parade of gladiators who accompany him into Rome.
1083: Henry IV of Germany storms Rome, capturing St. Peter’s Cathedral.
1509: Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon, his first (but not last) wife.
1539: Hernando de Soto lands at Ucita, Fla., and claims Florida for Spain.
1540: Having taken a year to get there, de Soto is the first European to cross the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina — a trip that now takes about 11½ hours by car.
1621: The Dutch West India Company receives a charter for New Netherlands, known today as New York City.
1800: President John Adams moves to Washington, D.C., and lives in a tavern, because the White House isn’t finished yet. Adams moved in later in 1800, only to move out after he lost the 1800 presidential election to Thomas Jefferson.
1804: Richard Cobden, British economist and statesman known as the Apostle of Free Trade, is born.
1808: Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, is born.
1851: The New York Knickerbockers baseball team wears a straw hat, white shirt and long blue trousers — the first recognized baseball uniform. (Presumably previous teams wore clothes, but not uniform clothes.)
1861: Stephen A. Douglas, who defeated Abraham Lincoln for the U.S. Senate in 1858 after the Lincoln–Douglas debates, but was defeated for president by Lincoln in 1860, dies. (Here’s a historical what-if for you: Douglas, the Northern Democratic candidate for president, received just 12 electoral votes, finishing fourth. But what if Douglas had won, and then died three months after taking office, in the midst of tensions that led to the Civil War? The Civil War began before Douglas’ death, but one wonders if an insurrection wasn’t inevitable regardless of who was elected president, given that Southern Democrats bolted both Democratic conventions — the first one was adjourned after 57 ballots for the presidential nomination — and nominated their own candidate, Vice President John Breckinridge. The 1860 northern Democrats’ vice presidential candidate was Georgia Gov. Herschel Vespasian Johnson, chosen to balance the ticket.)
1864: On Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ 56th birthday, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee wins his last victory of the Civil War at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Va., where more than 6,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded in one hour. That same day, Ransom Eli Olds, who created the Oldsmobile car and REO truck (for which the rock group REO Speedwagon) was born.
1876: Harper’s Weekly publishes a front-page cartoon by Thomas Nast about Congress’ attempt to impeach President Ulysses Grant. Congress had just impeached Grant’s war secretary, William Belknap, despite the fact that Belknap resigned before the impeachment vote. Other Congressional attempts to impeach Grant focused around an accusation that Grant had used public funds for his 1872 reelection campaign, an accusation that foundered when the accuser was discovered to be an escapee from an insane asylum, and a complaint that Grant had been out of Washington an excessive number of times. (You cannot make these things up.) A century later, Richard Nixon was impeached, an impeachment attempt was made against Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton was impeached, and impeachment attempts have been made against George W. Bush.
1881: A 55-year-old Japanese giant salamander, believed to have been the oldest amphibian, dies in a Dutch zoo.
1888: Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat” is published in the San Francisco Examiner.
1904: Charles Richard Drew, who pioneered blood plasma research, is born.
1906: Singer Josephine Baker is born.
1925: Actor Tony Curtis is born, presumably not wearing women’s clothes.
1929: Producer Chuck Barris, creator of The Gong Show, is born. (If you’ve never heard of The Gong Show, or you think TV is bizarre now, watch this and this.)
1946: Members of three iconic classic rock groups are born today — Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople, bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, and drummer Michael Clarke of The Byrds
1949: “Dragnet” premieres on radio in Los Angeles, the start of a franchise that included four TV series and two movies, and those are just the facts.
1954: Dan Hill, who foisted the horrifyingly bad “Sometimes When We Touch” on radio listeners, is born.
1957: Howard Cosell’s first TV show premieres. Complaints about Cosell begin approximately 12 seconds after the show begins.
1964: The Rolling Stones begin their first U.S. tour with Johnny Rivers and Bobby Goldsboro. (Putting the Stones and Goldsboro in the same concert would be like putting Korn and Michael Bolton in the same concert today.)
1965: American astronaut Edward White, having flown into space on Gemini 4 earlier in the day, makes the first U.S. spacewalk. In a hospital room in Madison, a nun shoos the people watching the spacewalk out of the only room on the nursery floor with a TV, so that the new mother inside can get some rest before her constantly hungry newborn son wants to eat again.
1969: The last, and arguably worst, episode of “Star Trek” airs on NBC.
1989: Chinese troops kill hundreds of pro-democracy students in Beijing. The same day, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran dies.