1621 The Dutch West India Company received a charter for Nieue Amsterdam.
1808 Jefferson Davis was born. (See February 18th entry.)
1835 P T. Barnum’s circus made its first tour of the United States.
1906 Josephine Baker was born.
1916 The National Defense Act was authorized.
1937 Edward, Duke of Windsor, married Wallis Warfield Simpson. (See June 19th and June 23th entries.)
This is the anniversary of the National Defense Act. It was neither the first, the last, the biggest, nor the smallest defense legislation in our history. But in 1916, this act established the Reserve Officers Training Corps. The ROTC has certainly had its ups and downs, but through it all there has been one concept worth commending today: the idea of a civilian-officer. It meant that the armed forces could benefit from having officers who were not strictly military academy officers.
When Great Britain’s King Edward VIII dramatically abdicated in 1936 to marry the woman he loved, the world gasped and sighed. He chose to live as a commoner rather than to rule England without her. On this day, in 1937, that historic love story reached its moment of romantic glory in Mons, France. Edward, Duke of Windsor, married Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee. They did indeed live happily ever after until his death in 1972.
Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederate States of America, and today is his birthday. born in Christian County, Kentucky, in 1808, Davis was a West Pointer and a brilliant military leader in the Mexican War. He was a Mississippi state senator and later became the U. S. Secretary of War. Then he returned to the Senate. He was not considered an extremist even when he reluctantly followed his state out of the Union. After Robert E. Lee’s surrender, he tried to continue the war long enough to negotiate more favorable terms, but he was captured in May, 1865. Held prisoner in Virginia, he was shackled until public outcry ended that barbarism. He was indicted for treason in 1866, released on bail in 1867, and never brought to trial. Until he died in 1889, the U. S. continued to revoke his citizenship.
Today marks the anniversary of the greatest show on earth. In 1835, P. T. Barnum’s circus made its first tour of the United States. Bamum had made his name by presenting the most unique individuals and deeds at his Manhattan museums. After two infernos leveled those structures, he set his sights on the big top. The circus he created was as much a childhood heirloom as soda fountains and five-and-dime stores for decades. Life under the big top continues to fascinate both young and old audiences alike in such sophisticated metropolises as New York, Paris, Moscow, and London, as much as it does in smaller towns around the world.
When the Dutch West India Company received a charter to establish a New World settlement called Nieue Amsterdam in 1621, neither the government nor the trading company had any idea what would develop from this simple act. On this day, New York City was born. The Dutch West India Company’s settlement quickly outgrew its original boundaries at the southern tip of Manhattan island which had been purchased from the natives for $24 worth of trinkets. Soon it stretched across five boroughs.
A talented actress, comedienne, singer, and dancer who could laugh at herself was born on this day in 1906. Josephine Baker’s long legs, lanky figure, and funny faces didn’t hold much promise in American eyes. It didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams. She landed a job as the dresser for blues singer Bessie Smith and toured Harlem’s thriving 1920s nightclub scene even though she saw more face powder than footlights. One day, she was offered a job as a dancer in a jazz revue that was bound for Paris. Naturally, she took the job. Baker quickly became the toast of Paris’ Follies Bergere. Audiences loved the uninhibited way she sang and gyrated, revealing herself as an accomplished dancer and a natural comic. During the 1940s and 1950s, French film-going audiences flocked to see her. Josephine Baker never became the toast of America, but France proclaimed her their national treasure.