1611 Henry Hudson was set adrift. (See August 3rd and September 3rd entry.)
1921 Joseph Papp was born.
1937 Joe Louis became world heavyweight boxing champion.
1938 J°e Louis defended his title as world heavyweight boxing champion and won.
1964 Three civil rights workers were slain in Mississippi.
1970 The voting age was lowered to eighteen by law.
1985 President Ronald Reagan honored the remains of four Marines.
There is a story about an old vaudevillian whose act was falling flat—so flat that he was yanked off the stage and a local youngster was brought in as an emergency fill-in. The youngster was a smash hit and the next day the local critic wrote that the old vaudevillian ’s act “had died that others might live.” We are inclined to take some martyrs’ deaths that lightly—but not others. In one of history’s more somber notes, on this date in 1964, three civil-rights workers disappeared in Mississippi. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory convinced publisher Hugh Hefner to post a $25,000 reward and eventually their murderers were found. The bodies were discovered two weeks later.
One reason not all people are alike is that we come from different generations. In 1970, on this day, President Richard M. Nixon lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen years old. There were those who saw disaster ahead. After the Twenty-sixth Amendment ratified the law on June 30, 1971, young adults could vote not only in national elections, but state and local elections as well.
If it’s worth doing well, it’s worth doing twice, and today’s anniversary will prove this point. Joe Louis became world heavyweight boxing champion on this day in both 1937 and 1938. He won the title when he knocked out James Braddock in Chicago. The next year, he knocked out German contender Max Schmeling in New York City.
On this day in 1611, Henry Hudson, his son, and six other crew members were set adrift by mutineers in what is now called Hudson’s Bay. The explorer had been commissioned by the Russian Muscovy Company and the Dutch East India Company to find the fabled Northwest Passage to Asia. He had discovered the island of Manhattan and the Hudson River. But drifting aimlessly during a long, harsh winter on this huge inland sea—which eventually bore his name—tempers flared among the crew of his ship, Discovery. A mutiny resulted. Hudson and his crew were never found. The mutineers sailed back to England, but the ringleaders did not return. They were killed in a battle with Inuit tribesmen.
On this day in 1985, President Ronald Reagan received the coffins of four Marines killed in an attack on a San Salvador cafe. At the ceremony, the president solemnly
Vowed that the slayers of these brave man would “not evade justice on earth any more than they can escape the judgment of God.”
When Joseph Papp was born on this day in 1921, most Americans still thought of Shakespeare’s plays as generally unentertaining, long-haired, intellectual stuff. But when Papp opened New York’s Public Theater and produced the acclaimed summertime Shakespeare in the Park series, a lot of Average Joe’s changed their minds. Papp’s productions brought Shakespeare and other playwrights’ works to modern audiences in much the same way Shakespeare himself presented his plays at the Globe Theater. The sets weren’t elaborate; the actors were talented but relatively unknown; the tickets didn’t cost a fortune; the shows were highly entertaining on many intellectual and nonintellectual levels. As a result, American theater gained a whole new audience.