Today in History: September 9, 1776 – United States Officially Named
245 years ago today, the Continental Congress officially names their new union the United States of America.
“That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.”
Meeting in Carpenter’s Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the 56 delegates of the Continental Congress met to find a new for the union of the colonies. Important members of the Congress included Colonel George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Adams, his cousin Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson, Peyton Randolph, and Joseph Galloway.
“That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”
Description: This is one of those books that follows several main protagonists. For myself, I find that this adds an extra depth and understanding that cannot be achieved with only one point of view. I’ll keep it short: Maria’s father, Ivan, has managed to survive Babi Yar, but is now a broken man. Shortly thereafter, Maria is sent to Germany as a slave worker. Luda, despite abuse from German officers, may have finally found a family and love. And, of course, there is the token arrogant German officer, here Frederick, who is really using his arrogance to cover up his true emotions.
Background: In 1922, Ukraine was unified with Russia, making it part of the Soviet Union. Then, on September 1, 1941, after Operation Barbarossa Ukraine had become a separate civil German entity. Hitler’s Plan? To exterminate, expel, or enslave most or all Slavs from their native lands so as to make living space for German settlers.
On August 14, 1941, Hitler ordered that Kiev be bombed. However, due to insufficient materials, the plan was never carried out. Instead, they decided to starve the city. That being said, Kiev was under siege from August 15 – September 19. During this time 65,000 Soviet troops were captured. [Below, Kiev burning]
With the arrival of the Germans, some Ukrainians saw their liberation from the Soviets. As a result, some 4,000 operated under the Germans, some even under a German SS unit, the Waffen-SS and the 4. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS. There was no true collaboration, however, between the Ukrainians and the Germans, since the Germans saw the Ukrainians as inferior. In fact, Göring suggested that “all Ukrainian men should be killed, and the SS men be sent in to re-populate the land with German blood” (Source). Conversely, some 4,500,00 Ukrainians served with the Soviet army. 1,400,00 of them killed in service. Ultimately, this meant that Ukrainians were fighting and killing one another in their separate fights for liberation and freedom.
Atrocities against the Ukrainians are thought to be some of the greatest that took place during the war. For starters, it is estimated that 3-4 million Ukrainians and non-Jews were killed, with another 850,000 to 900,000 (possibly even up to 1,000,000) Jews. Within Hitler’s Generalplan Ost, 65% of the 23.2 million Ukrainians were to be killed through genocide or ethnic cleansing. These tortures included imprisonment, mass shootings, concentration camps, ghettos, forced labor, starvation, torture, and mass kidnapping. In addition, over 2,300,000 Ukrainians were deported for slave labor camps. [A chart can be found of the total percentages of the different Slavic ethnic groups Hitler planned to eliminate here]
Considered to be “the single largest massacre in the Holocaust,” Babi Yar took place in Kiev from September 29-30, 1941 (Source). 33,771 Ukrainians were shot, most of them Jewish. Additionally, the Nikolaev Massacre took place in Mykolaiv from September 16-30, 1941. 35,782 were killed. Again, mostly Jews.
Massacres were “carried out by a mixture of SS, SD, security police, and Ukrainian Auxiliary Police” (Source). This meant, again, that Ukrainians were killing their own people. In total, there were 14 massacres on Ukrainian soil. The list can be found [here: Massacres]. Then, “when the Soviet Army approached in 1943, the Nazis tried to cover their tracks by ordering the concentration camp prisoners to dig up the corpses and burn them, after which the prisoners were killed” (Source).
Although it took place before the war officially began, the Holodomore needs to be counted amongst the atrocities the Ukrainians were forced to endure. The Holodomore or The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933 was a man-made famine planned by Stalin to eliminate the Ukrainian independence movement. It included the “rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs, and restriction of population movement confer intent, defining the famine as genocide” (Source). The famine killed 2.5-2.7 million Ukrainians.
From 1932-1933, Stalin murdered 7 million Ukrainians and sent 2 million more to concentration camps. “Ukraine was sealed off. All food supplies and livestock were confiscated. NKVD death squads executed ‘anti-party elements.’ Furious that insufficient Ukrainians were being shot, Kaganovitch – virtually the Soviet Union’s Adolf Eichmann – set a quota of 10,000 executions a week. Eighty percent of Ukrainian intellectuals were shot. During the bitter winter of 1932-33, 25,000 Ukrainians per day were being shot or died of starvation and cold. Cannibalism became common. Ukraine, writes historian Robert Conquest, looked like a giant version of the future Bergen-Belsen death camp. The mass murder of seven million Ukrainians, three million of them children, and deportation to the gulag of two million more (where most died) was hidden by Soviet propaganda.” (Source). Reports about Stalin’s atrocities did not start coming out until the 1990′s. More on that later.
Because of being hit from both sides as well as being occupied by two separate oppressors, after the war, Ukraine saw 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages destroyed. However, despite their large death toll and their destruction, 2,544 Ukrainians helped save Jewish lives. [Below, the Lvov Ghetto]
60 years ago, during the night of August 12-13, the Soviet Union built the Berlin Wall, dividing a beautiful city, to keep East Berliners escaping Communist tyranny into West Berlin to freedom.
Families were torn apart. Friends and neighbors now found themselves on opposite sides of the wall. Every window that faced the West was sealed, to prevent citizens from escaping. Barbed wire was put up on roof tops. Minefields were built in the countryside. Watchtowers were built. Those who tried to escape were shot on sight. Over time, the wall became more heavily armed and security became tighter.
In June 1961, some 19,000 people fled to freedom. In July, 30,000. From August 1-11, another 16,000. On August 12 alone, 2,400. That very night, Premier Khrushchev decided to act. He wanted to prevent the flow of immigrants from his communistic stronghold, into the Western sector. They began work immediately. Two weeks later, a makeshift barbed-wire and concrete block wall was complete.
Kennedy, alerted by the wall, was furious. But, he later had to concede that “A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” He had, just 2 1/2 weeks prior, on July 25th, addressed the nation on the Berlin Crisis. Speech can be found here.
• The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 by Frederick Taylor
• Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner
On Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on “the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the Asch Building, at 23–29 Washington Place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan” – these three floors housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (Source). This factory, like many others, was known for it’s poor conditions, long hours, and poor treatment of the young women who worked there making shirtwaists (slightly different from what we know as shirtwaists today).
Though textbooks site the fire as the event that led to workplace safety as we know it today, this is not entirely true. In all actuality, the fire “brought attention to the events leading up to the fire” – such as the locked fire exits, flames and flammable objects in close proximity (one story talks about a heaters being brought in), too long hours, inadequate heating, etc (Source).
Girls as young as 15 “worked seven days a week from 7 am to 8 pm with a half-hour lunch break” (Source). They were paid from $7-12 a week. Some factories required them to bring their own needles, thread, irons, and even sewing machines. The factories were unsanitary, at best. The exits were locked because the management did not want the girls’ work days to be interrupted, even by using the restroom. [Below: The building in use by the Triangle Factory works & the building on fire.]
More about the Fire:
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was “the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city and one of the deadliest in U.S. history” (Source). It caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – “who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths” (Source).
“The fire flared up at approximately 4:40 pm in a scrap bin under one of the cutter’s tables at the northeast corner of the eighth floor… . The Fire Marshal concluded that the likely cause of the fire was the disposal of an unextinguished match or cigarette butt in the scrap bin, which held two months’ worth of accumulated cuttings by the time of the fire. Beneath the table in the wooden bin were hundreds of pounds of scraps which were left over from the several thousand shirtwaists that had been cut at that table. The scraps piled up from the last time the bin was emptied, coupled with the hanging fabrics that surrounded it; the steel trim was the only thing that was not highly flammable. Although smoking was banned in the factory, cutters were known to sneak cigarettes, exhaling the smoke through their lapels to avoid detection. A New York Times article suggested that the fire may have been started by the engines running the sewing machines.” (Source).
A bookkeeper on the 8th floor was able to alert those on the 10th floor via telephone, but otherwise, there was no form of alarm. Additionally, the man who held the key to the locked exits had already escaped!
The building that housed Triangle was not actually up to code in that it did not have the required three sets of stairways, only two. Additionally, one of the two usable stairwells was locked, as were the fire escapes – although the stairwells were impassable with fire after just three minutes. However, some girls were able to escape via the single exterior fire escape – this, however, was “a flimsy and poorly anchored iron structure which may have been broken before the fire. It soon twisted and collapsed from the heat and overload, spilling about 20 victims nearly 100 feet (30 m) to their deaths on the concrete pavement below” (Source). Other girls were able to escape by climbing to the roof before the Greene Street stairwell became impassable. Still more girls were rescued by elevator operators Joseph Zito and Gaspar Mortillalo, who travelled up to the 9th floor three times to rescue girls before the rails of Mortillalo’s elevator collapsed under the heat. Some girls attempted prying open the door and jumping down the empty shaft of Zito’s elevator, “trying to slide down the cables or to land on top of the car. The weight and impacts of these bodies warped the elevator car and made it impossible for Zito to make another attempt” (Source).
The rest of the girls, however, were trapped. Even though firefighters did arrive on the scene quickly, their ladders were not nearly tall enough to reach the top floors – leaving the girls to jump to their deaths. Firefighters did try catching them, but the height was so great that they broke through the fabric of the life nets. “Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street” (Source). In total, 146 garment workers died that day, most of whom were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged 16-23.
“Bodies of the victims were taken to Charities Pier (also called Misery Lane), located at 26th street and the East River, for identification by friends and relatives. Victims were interred in sixteen different cemeteries. Twenty-two victims of the fire were buried by the Hebrew Free Burial Association in a special section at Mount Richmond Cemetery. In some instances, their tombstones refer to the fire. Six victims remained unidentified until Michael Hirsch, a historian, completed four years of researching newspaper articles and other sources for missing persons and was able to identify each of them by name. Those six victims were buried together in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn. Originally interred elsewhere on the grounds, their remains now lie beneath a monument to the tragedy, a large marble slab featuring a kneeling woman” (Source).
A week after the fire, wealthy suffragists, Ann Morgan and Alva Belmont, hosted a meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House, demanding “action on fire safety” (Source). Days later, “more than 350,000 people participated in a funeral march for the Triangle Dead” (Source).
Thanks to pressure from the activists, three months later, the Factory Investigating Commission was created. The building is now designated a National Historic Landmark. [Below: The charred remains of the 10th floor.]
120 years ago, after the first electoral tie in American history, Thomas Jefferson is elected the 3rd president of the United States.
The 1800 election was the first vicious election in American history. Thomas Jefferson, c0-founder of the Democratic-Republican party, announced a run against then Federalist president, John Adams. This election foreshadowed what future American elections would look like: highly partisan jabs, high contentious electoral cycles, and bitter feelings of the losing party.
Thomas Jefferson was very popular candidate, and no stranger to high office. After all, he’d been the first Secretary of State under George Washington, and the 2nd Vice President under John Adams. He’d also served in two Continental Congresses. Not only this, but Jefferson had much to offer the young country: Limited government, for staters. He also was in favor of State’s Rights, in great opposition to a federal bank, and a very strong supporter of an agrarian economy. All of these aspects are still highly viewed in today’s country. So, it’s no wonder he was popular in 1801, before the unset of too much federal government and too many unelected bureaucrats.
At the end of a bloody election cycle, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr emerged tied at 73 electoral votes each, with poor John Adams coming in at 65. For the very first time, Congress would have to decide would would rule the country. Mercifully, our Founding Fathers foresaw such a situation, and wrote the rules clearly into the Constitution. The House of Representatives voted from Jefferson, thanks to Alexander Hamilton’s slightly uncouth insistence.
In his Inaugural Address two weeks later, Jefferson declared: “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” a call that would be mimicked throughout history by American leaders in times of great distress, even abroad.
The Sabbath Day seems like a good day for a parable.
Now, no one on the Right believes that Donald J. Trump is the “savior” of the world. What many do believe, though, is that he was hand-picked by God to serve this country and protect His people.
Donald J. Trump lived in the lap of luxury. He had everything he wanted or needed. And whatever he didn’t have, he could probably buy. He had a good job, he had a gorgeous wife, loving children, and adorable grandchildren. What about this luxurious lifestyle would he want to give up to have the worst job in history?
The job of President of the United States is the hardest, loneliest job in the world. President Eisenhower once explained that only the hardest problems make their way to the desk of the US President. Anything easier is solved further down the line.
And from day one, Donald J Trump (DJT to his most loyal supporters) was mocked and ridiculed. From that day he came down the elevator, newscasters and commentators around the global laughed at him. Declared that he couldn’t possibly be serious about running for president. Exclaimed that he’d never win.
But they greatly underestimated him, for Donald J Trump is not one to be hindered by the thoughts or words of others. And he always plays to win.
So, he set off on his journey around the country, visiting states long neglected by politicians. Speaking to crowds the size Americans hadn’t seen since Ronald Reagan, his predecessor. He spoke to Americans who had spent their lifetime feeling neglected by The Capitol. Flyover states, who had never benefited from Government Aide. He showed Americans in Flyover Country that they were loved. That they did have a voice. That they mattered. Their vote mattered. Their voice mattered. Their needs mattered. Maybe not to Washington D.C., but they did matter to him.
And that is why Donald J. Trump won on election night 2016. Because he reached out to people who needed to be reminded that they were loved and that they mattered. He spoke to their greatest needs – and, yes, even their wants. He wanted to touch their lives and make life easier for them.
But all along the way, he was taunted and scorned. He was called names. He was misrepresented. He was slandered. He was despised.
And when he won, the ridicule and hatred only grew in those who despised him. They upped their game of lying and sneering. They tried to impeach him. They probably even tried to take his life.
But his supporters never wavered. They ignored the lies and the hatred, even when it was directed at them, his supporters. Finally, for the first time in 30 years (for the first time in some of their lives), they had someone in the White House who cared about them. Who put them first. Who loved them.
He fought for them. Not just at home, but across the sea. He negotiated trade deals that would benefit the lives of every American. He created jobs. Brought jobs home from foreign countries. He made sure they were safe from both foreign and domestic threats. He fought for better schools. He fought for religious liberty. He fought for free speech and liberty for all.
In short, he loved them. He loved America and, more importantly, he loved the American people. That’s why he did it. To see their lives improved. To give them hope.
And, in return, his supporters loved him back. Unconditionally. They saw his flaws, but loved him anyways. Because he was willing to sacrifice; to give of himself for them.
They understood that he did it for them. Stepped down and gave up the life of luxury. He was willing to sacrifice for them. He was willing to be mocked and scorned and despised for them. He was even willing to be their human shield against the hatred of The Capitol. They understood that he did it and endured it because of his love for them.
But then the 2020 election rolled around. The people who hated him upped their game of lying and jeering even more. They did everything in their power to stop him. They tried to impeach him. They created rules that would trip him up and cause his supporters to hate him.
But even that couldn’t stop him. On election night, Donald J. Trump won in a landslide. But the American people knew something was wrong. States were called for his opponent while Trump was winning. Vote tallies switched. Then, the counting stopped all together. And, in the middle of the night, massive vote dumps that took away his lead in numerous states.
But he didn’t give up.
He continued to fight for the American people. He sought lawyers, but they, too, were mocked and ridiculed. No one would listen to them.
The American people tried to make their voices heard. But The Capitol insisted on taking it away. Finally, in a desperate move, The Capitol staged an event to silence them all for good. Blamed the violence on Trump’s supporters.
They’d stolen the election and removed him from office, sent him off into exile, cutting him off from his supporters for good.
But here’s the part of the story The Capitol can’t control. God’s not finished yet. He chose a flawed men. A flawed man who was willing to step down from a life of luxury and sacrifice everything. Helped him reach tens of millions of people. Put him in the White House.
Along the way, this man was mocked and ridiculed. He was lied about. He was slandered. He was hated. His life was threatened. His family’s lives were threatened. But he continued to put the lives of others first. He continued to fight and speak the truth. And he went down fighting.
60 years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave one of the most famous Farewell speeches in American history. Ike – like his predecessors Washington and Grant – won office because of his military status. He was one of the most beloved men in the world. And, although Ike was hated by Washington for not being a “politician” he was still loved by the American people after presiding over 8 peaceful and prosperous years.
On Tuesday, January 17th, at 8:30PM, Americans tuned in to watch their beloved Ike give his last speech as president. They willingly decided to forgo episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Red Skelton Show, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Today, Eisenhower’s speech is mostly remembered for his warning of the military-industrial-complex. Though those weren’t the words he wanted to use. Initially, his plan was to warn of the military-industrial-scientific-complex, but his scientific advisors warned against it. So, he changed it to the military-industrial-congressional-complex. Again, certain parties objected, so Ike was forced to settle for the military-industrial-complex, a term we still use (and warn against) today.
245 years ago today, Thomas Paine published his 47-page pamphlet, Common Sense, advocating the independence from Great Britain as not only achievable but inevitable. Descent had already been growing for some time, but Common Sense served to unite Patriots in the common cause of Independence.
Even George Washington praised it: “I find that Common Sense is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men. Few pamphlets have had so dramatic an effect on political events.”
Common Sense is still considered one of the most important documents in American history.
In September of 1775, General George Washington approached Congress with the proposition that Benedict Arnold, under the command of General Philip Schuyler, should begin the invasion of Canada. This being decided, Arnold and some 1,100 men began their march through the wilderness just as winter was approaching.
Their plan was to reach their destination in a mere 20 days, not a mere 3 ½ months. These plans were based off a map drafted by Captain John Montresor back in 1760. A map with more mistakes than details. Which was power for the course in a plan were everything that could go wrong, did.
The terrain and the march were both difficult. Supplies and men were dwindling fast. This, in part, thanks to the sinking of supplies in ships commissioned by Arnold, but built by a British loyalist, who used green wood to hamper the American expedition. Looking for guidance and hoping for some valuable intelligence, Arnold wrote to a friend residing in Quebec, John Dyer Mercier. Unfortunately, though, his letter never reached Mercier, but instead landed in the hands of the British.
This, of course, meant that now the British were aware of Arnold’s approaching assault, giving them plenty of time to prepare for the Patriots’ advance.
By the time Arnold and his men reached the south bank of the St. Lawrence River – behind schedule – the British had already destroyed all of their boats. Thus, they were forced to move down the Chaudière, arriving at Pointe-Levi on November 9, a journey of approximately 350 additional miles.
Finally crossing the St. Lawrence during the night of November 13th and 14th, Arnold immediately demanded the garrison surrendered. When the commander, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Maclean refused, Arnold, with a raw militia of a mere 1,050 men, was given no choice but to withdraw and await backup.
Which didn’t arrive until December 3rd. Brigadier General Richard Montgomery arrived with only 300 men. Along the way, he’d been able to capture Fort St. Jean, but this also meant that he’d had little choice but to leave men behind as garrisons at various points along their route.
Nevertheless, the two American generals evaluated the situation, deciding to attack Quebec on December 30th. But the battle went very poorly and tragically for the Americans. Arnold took a bullet to the leg, while Montgomery (and most of his officers) was killed by cannon fire.
By this point, of Arnold’s already rag-tag militia of 300 men was down to 100 men. This was worsened by the fact that many men began to depart as their conscriptions expired. But Arnold refused to give up, moving a single cannon around the outskirts of the fort to give off the illusion of a full invading army. Amazingly, they were able to hold until spring.
Then, with the arrival of 4,000 British troops under the command of Major General John Burgoyne, Arnold was really left with no further choices.
He officially surrendered and retreated in June of 1776. The invasion of Canada had failed.
The morning follow Paul Revere’s famous ride, Revere left Lexington, hiding important documents. As he was fleeing, he passed the gathering militia. What followed as the Battle at Lexington and Concord.
The British intended this to be a secret plot, where they would capture Sam Adams and John Hancock in Lexington, then travel to Concord, where they would seize the Patriots’ gunpowder. However, thanks to Revere and the Sons of Liberty, Patriots were warned in time.
Word that the Regulars were coming spread quickly, so that the American militia were ready, at dawn, on April 19, when 700 British troops descended upon 77 militiamen on the town green.
No one knows exactly where the first shot came from. What we do know, though, is that the Regulars quickly responded with a volley of fires into the militia troops. Before order could be returned to the ranks, eight militiamen were killed and nine more were wounded. Only one Regular was injured in the melee.
Following this, the Regulars continued on through Concord, searching mostly for arms. Thanks to the forewarning, though, the militiamen were able to hide most of their weapons. In retaliation, the Regulars (and some Loyalists) set fires to what gun carriages they did find. Meanwhile, the militiamen took up positions on a hill across from the Old North Bridge. During this time, the Concord militia was mercifully joined by the militias from neighboring towns.
By this time, they began to notice smoke. Moving closer to the bridge, the militia saw some 90-95 British troops advancing across the river. With an army now up to 400 men, the militia engaged with the British at the Old North Bridge.
What followed is what is commonly remembered as “the shot heard round the world.” The British fired upon the Americans and then retreated. The Minute Men advance, firing volleys of fire upon the British. Three Regulars were killed and nine more wounded before the British retreated back into town.
The Regulars finally decided to flee back to Boston, but once again, the Minute Men were ready for them. The Regulars ran into 2,000 militiamen, with more backup pouring in all the time. Another round of fighting broke out, with the militia hiding behind stone walls or inside houses. Eventually, the British reached Lexington, where they met their own backup forces. By the time all was said and done, The Regulars lost 73 men and the Patriots lost 49 men.