John W. Marshall had developed a partnership with John Sutter, the founder of Sutter’s Fort, California to build a sawmill. The area around Sutter’s Fort would eventually become Sacramento. Marshall’s job was to oversee the construction and operation of the mill. The location where they decided to build the mill was around 40 miles from Sutter’s Fort along the American River. Work began on the mill in August of 1847, but it was a small discovery on January 24, 1848 that changed the the area, California and the United States. He discovered some shiny rocks in the channel. These rocks were gold.
When the discovery of gold was made, California was still part of Mexico, although it was under the protection of the United States military as a result of the Mexican-American War. It wasn’t until a little over a week later on February 2, 1847 that the treaty ending the war was signed.
Sutter had the dreams of building the area into an agricultural empire and feared that the announcement of gold being discovered would cause a mass search for gold and ruin his plans. Even though he tried to keep the discovery quiet word got out and the search for gold was on. By the end of 1849 the European (American) population had grown to over 100,000 from 15,000. The city of San Francisco alone grew from a quiet, nearly ghost town with an economy based on the sea of around 1000 in 1848 to a booming 25,000 by 1850. San Francisco was the major sea port for imports and exports of the area.
At the time that gold was discovered in California, William T. Sherman, yes the same Sherman who marched across Georgia in 1864 during the Civil War, was a Lieutenant stationed in California. By 1853 he had resigned his commission and became the President of the Bank of San Francisco. The bank would fail in 1857 and he left California for Kansas and then Louisiana, before going north after Louisiana seceded. The rest as they say is history.
1849 was the year of the gold rush and those who went to California in 1849 are commonly known as 49ers. Today many of the gold rush towns such as Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, Coloma, Jackson, and Sonora are connected by California route 49.
However, Marshall’s life, as did Sutter’s, was negatively effected by the discovery of gold. The sawmill failed when all able-bodied men left in search of gold. By the end of his life Marshall was penniless. But he is still remembered since in 1890 a monument was built over his grave that overlooks the area where he discovered the gold. On top of the monument is a statue of Marshall pointing to the spot where he found the gold.
About two and a half years after the US Congress authorized the construction of a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus was officially launched into the Thames River in Connecticut on January 21, 1954.
The name Nautilus was selected to be the name of the submarine with the announcement on December 12, 1951. It was the sixth US Navy vessel so named following a 12-gun schooner of 1799, a 76-foot survey schooner of 1838, the first military submarine in 1911, a 66-foot patrol/escort of 1917, and a Narwhal class submarine built in 1930.
The nautilus is a mollusk found in the Indian and Pacific oceans. They have a spiral, pearly-lined shell with a series of air-filled chambers.
Later in 1954 on September 30th the submarine was commissioned, beginning its first assignment on January 17, 1955. At 11:00 the ship radioed command with the message “Underway on nuclear power.”
During the summer of 1958 the sub began her history-making polar transit, operation “Sunshine”. She submerged in the Barrow Sea Valley on August 1st setting a course that would take her under the ice to the North Pole. She reached the North Pole, the first water craft to accomplish that goal, on August 3rd at 11 am EST.
The Nautilus was decommissioned on March 3, 1980. During it’s 25 year career the sub traveled half a million miles. The Secretary of the Interior, James G. Watt, declared the sub a National Historic Landmark on May 20, 1982. Currently the Nautilus serves as a museum of submarine history in Groton, Connecticut. She opened to the public on April 11, 1986, eighty-six years to the day after the birth of the Submarine Force.
January 19th 2017 is the 210th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee. Lee was born in 1807, the son of Henry “Light Horse Harry) Lee III, a general of the American Revolution. He was raised mostly by his mother since his father died in 1812 from a mob attack on him in Baltimore.
Robert E. Lee would be considered one of the best General’s in United States history had it not been that he lead the southern forces during the Civil War. He graduated 2nd out of the 46 graduates of the Class of 1829. He was a superb Army Engineer serving in the Mexican War with General Winfield Scott. He served as Commander of West Point, bringing it up to a rank equal to any of the best military schools.
Lee was in command of the military force that was sent to Harper’s Ferry in 1859 to put down the rebellion of John Brown. Lee was against the notion of secession, but he turned down the offer to command the United States Army and resigned his commission when his home state of Virginia left the Union. He offered his services to Jefferson Davis, newly elected President of the Confederate States of America. His first duties were more as a advisor to Davis until he finally took command of the Confederate Army.
During the War, the home that he shared with his wife was seized. His wife was Anna Randolph Custis, the Great Granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington. She had inherited the estate, called Arlington House from her father when he died in 1857. The estate’s property is now known as Arlington National Cemetery.
Due to a clerical error, Lee was not granted amnesty after the war, although he declared his allegiance to the United States and filled out the forms of The Amnesty Oath. The oath had been filed away, perhaps thought to have been a copy and not the original until it was discovered in 1970 among State Department records. In 1975 Robert E. Lee was granted his pardon with full rights of citizenship. At the August 5, 1975 signing ceremony president Ford remarked, “General Lee’s character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride.”
In 1889 the State of Virginia created a holiday that celebrated Lee’s Birthday of January 19. In 1904, another native Virginian, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was added to the holiday, making it Lee-Jackson Day. Jackson’s birth was January 21, 1824. When it was decided to make a holiday around Martin Luther King birth of January 15, for a few years the holiday was in honor of all three of these men. However, due to the fact that Lee-Jackson and King are considered to be from two different ends of a political climate, Virginia moved Lee-Jackson Day to the Friday nearest to Lee’s Birth. This would either be the Friday before or the Friday after Martin Luther King Day. This year it was held on January 13th.
Almost from the beginning as a nation the United States the manufacturing, sales and use of intoxicating liquor has been a political issue. Early in the Washington Administration, George Washington needed to deal with the issue with what is commonly known as the Whiskey Rebellion. This was as a result of the taxing of whiskey.
Throughout the 19th century groups, the temperance movement, worked toward having alcohol use prohibited. On January 16, 1920 Wyoming, the 36th state to do so, ratified the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. This amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.
Intoxicating Liquors is defined in the “Volstead Act,” passed by congress overriding the Veto of President Woodrow Wilson on October 28, 1919. The act defined intoxicating liquor as any beverage containing over 0.5% alcohol.
Prohibition helped to bring to the front Organized Crime. Not only did criminal gangs create underground drinking establishment, at times with support of local politicians and authorities, these gangs fought each other for control. The 1920s in the United States was a very violent decade with many citing Prohibition as a major cause.
Distilleries and breweries in other countries such as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished during this period. Much of their products were either consumed by Americans, either while visiting these countries or illegally imported to the United States.
By 1933 public support of Prohibition was very small and on February 20th Congress proposed a repeal of the 18th Amendment. Ratification came quickly and on December 5th Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21th Amendment. The 18th Amendment is the only amendment to the US Constitution to have been fully repealed.
Sophie Tucker, billed later in her career as the Last of the Red Hot Mommas, was born Sophie Kalish in Russia as her parents were immigrating to the United States on January 13, 1884. When the family arrived in America her father decided to adopt the name Abuza.
One could say she was destined to become an entertainer. While working at the diner her parents owned and operated, she sang songs as she waited tables. This earned her applause and tips.
After separating from her first husband, Louis Tuck, she found herself on the vaudeville stage. She performed songs wearing blackface and with a southern accent until one day when her suitcase arrived late she went on stage declaring to the audience, “You all can see I’m a white girl. Well, I’ll tell you something more: I’m not Southern. I’m a Jewish girl and I just learned this Southern accent doing a blackface act for two years. And now, Mr. Leader, please play my song.”
Still she enjoyed singing songs that had African-American roots. Many of these songs, including her signature song Some of These Days written by Shelton Brooks, which she purchased exclusive rights to sing.
Tucker was proud of her Jewish heritage and one of Tucker’s best know songs is My Yiddish Momme written for her in 1925 by Jack Yellen. The song has both Yiddish and English verses. At first she sang this in concert only when she felt the audience understood Yiddish, but later she would include it in her act. When Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany he ordered all copies of the song destroyed.
Tucker never retired from entertainment. She performed in the movies, on the radio and on television as well as on the stage during her long career. She died at the age of 82 on February 9, 1966, in New York City, just a few weeks after her last performance.
As most of the United States is frozen we are going to look back on a football game that was played in cold weather. The Cincinnati Bengals hosted the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship game on January 10, 1982. The game has been called the Freezer Bowl with air temperatures at -9 with sustained wind of 27 miles per hour.
San Diego, a warm weather team, had advanced to the AFC Championship game by defeating the Miami Dolphins, in the heat and humidity of Miami in overtime in a game that had set playoff records for the most points scored by both teams (79), most total yards by both teams (1,036), and most passing yards by both teams (836). Two weeks. Two extremes. Both times away from home.
Cincinnati reached the AFC Championship game by winning against the Buffalo Bills 28-21. This was their first ever playoff win and it came in part as a result of forcing Buffalo to turn the ball over on downs during their final drive.
Cincinnati head coach Forrest Gregg was a player on the Green Bay Packers in 1967 when the Packers played the Dallas Cowboys on the coldest ever game in the Championship Game on December 31. This game played at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field with a game time temperature of −13°F.
In the Freezer Bowl the Cincinnati Bengals won the game 27-7 and advanced to their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl XVI.
Two week later the Bengals played the NFC Champs San Francisco 49ers. Even though they scored more touchdowns and had more yards gained, they lost by the score of 26-21. This came as a result of San Francisco forcing 5 turnovers in the game and leading 20-0 at the half.
When looking back on the career of Elvis Presley, it’s not hard to break it down into six stages.
The Beginning. (1954-1955)
Elvis was first discovered by Sam Phillips of Sun Records and for the first months of his career he performed throughout the south.
The Hits. (1956-1958)
Once Elvis was under the management of Colonel Parker his career skyrocketed with hit after hit on his new record company RCA records.
The Army. (1958-1959)
Many thought that after Elvis was drafted by the United States Army his career was over. It turned out to be just a short break. One where he would discover his future bride.
The Movie Years. (1960-1969)
While many of the movies seemed to be remakes of themselves, he enjoyed big screen stardom and with all of the films made, he will be around forever, even if it will be on late night television.
The Comeback. (1968-1970)
Once he decided that the movie career was enough and what he really wanted as well as what he was best at was being a singing star, he reestablished his recording and concert career. Some of his best songs were done live on stage during this comeback stage.
The Concert Years. (1971-1977)
Elvis was a performer and when he was on stage in the middle of a song you have to believe that was when he was the happiest. He wanted to please and for many of those years that’s exactly what he did.
These could be classified as six stages in his career when he was alive. In many ways he is more popular now more than 35 years after his death. Opinions are those of the author and any error are mine.
Thirteen may be an unlucky number to some, but in any long list there is an item 13. The 13th President of the United States was Millard Fillmore. Fillmore was elected to be Zachary Taylor’s Vice President in 1848 and became President upon Taylor’s death on July 9, 1850.
Millard Fillmore was born on January 7, 1800 in Loche, New York. His family was poor even though they were farmer. He studied Law and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1823.
The most significant event of his time in office was the Compromise of 1850 which admitted California to the Union as a free state, Texas was compensated for giving up claims to lands with the territories of Utah and New Mexico established, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, which required the US government to assist in the return of runaway slaves and abolished the Slave Trade in Washington DC.
Members of President Zachary Taylor’s cabinet had been involved in scandals and it was thought that Taylor was in the process of replacing many of them. When Millard Fillmore took office, he did clean house, with not one of Taylor’s Cabinet appointments remaining.
Fillmore was a member of the Whig Party, but because of his actions regarding the Compromise of 1850, especially the Fugitive Slave Act, the party bypassed him in 1852 and nominated Winfred Scott instead.
Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.
Many of the Christmas traditions come from pagan practices. The date of Christmas was the date that Roman pagans celebrated the Birthday of the Invincible Sun God.
It’s possible that December 25 was selected as the date of Christ’s birth in the early days of Christianity as a way for all to participate.
Yule is one of the pagan holidays and the idea of the Yule log came from that.
Decorating a tree has its origins with the Druids who saw evergreen as symbols of everlasting life and decorating the trees may have also come from the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, a celebration of the Winter Solstice.
Mistletoe is from an ancient Druid custom at the winter solstice with kissing under the mistletoe coming from the Druids as well.
December 7, 1941 will forever be remembered as an day of infamy. It was on that day that Japan attacked the military bases on the Hawaiian Island of O’ahu. Pearl Harbor Naval Base, where many of the United States Pacific fleet were docked on that day, and Hickham Field, which adjoins the Naval Base, were the two major points of attack.
It was a quiet Sunday morning when the Japanese launched 2 waves of attacks. The first wave reached the Island at 7:54 am local time with the second arriving about 15 minutes later. The raids lasted until 9:45 am.
The first attack targeted airfields and battleships. The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities. After the dust had cleared eight battleships were damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels were lost along with 188 aircraft.
The Japanese lost 29 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor.
The casualty list numbered 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with another 1,178 wounded. Nearly 1/2 of those killed were on the Battleship USS Arizona with 1,104 men killed. The Japanese lost 65 men.
This attack was one of multiple attacks by the Japanese. During a two day period they also launched attacks in the Pacific against Malaya, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippine Islands, Wake Island and Midway Island.
The aircraft carriers Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, part of the Japanese targets, were not in port that day. Also escaping damage were the fuel storage, maintenance, and dry dock facilities.
On December 8, President Roosevelt delivered his famous speech to congress requesting a Declaration of War.
Yesterday, 7 December 1941-a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government had deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives were lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.
This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces-with the unbounded determination of our people-we will gain the inevitable triumph-so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, 7 December, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.