January 31, 1918: Battle of May Island begins. The combatants for this action were the British Navy and the British Navy. Operation E.C. 1 had several ships from the Royal Navy moving from Rosyth in Scotland to the North Sea for a fleet exercise. The night was foggy or misty and visibility was poor. As the ships moved near the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth (the waters of the estuary from the River Forth where it flows into the North Sea), they began a series of collisions.
Although the date indicates that the “battle” took place during World War I, it was an entirely accidental in nature and there were no enemy ships involved. About forty ships left Scotland in the afternoon and their final destination was to be Scapa Flow in Orkney where they would rendezvous with the entire Grand Fleet the next day. The ships included the 5th Battle Squadron comprised of three battleships and their destroyer escorts, the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron made up of four battleships and their escort destroyers, two cruisers, and two flotillas of K-class submarines each led by a light cruiser. The two flotillas were the 12th Submarine and the 13th Submarine Flotillas each having four subs. These subs were specially designed to operate in concert with battle fleets. They each measured 339 feet long (large for the time) and used steam turbines for power. This gave them a speed of 24 knots and allowed them to keep pace with the fleet.
Around 6.30 PM, the vessels began their journey all in a single file which stretched nearly 30 miles long. Since there was some suspicion of German U-boats in the area, all ships traveled with only a dim stern light and keeping radio silence. As the ships passed the Isle of May, they changed course and speed, increasing to 20 knots. As the first group of subs passed the island, a pair of lights was seen and the flotilla altered course. K14’s helm jammed and the line was broken. As her helm was fixed, she tried to get back in line. A second sub lost sight of the line and veered off, too. The rest of the ships were unaware of the problem.
Within 75 minutes, two subs had sunk, four more had been damaged as had HMS Fearless, the light cruiser leading the flotilla. In all, 104 men died. There were 55 casualties frokm K4, 47 from K17, and two more from K14. The accident was kept secret during the war with a quiet court martial held. Most of the information was not released until the 1990s. Surveyors working the area in 2011 for an offshore wind farm published sonar images of the two submarines lost in the exercise.
The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead. – Albert Einstein
There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed. – Napoleon Bonaparte
There is no such thing as chance; and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny. – Friedrich Schiller
What men call accident is God’s own part. -Philip James Bailey
Also on this day: Sticking to Business – In 1930, 3M marketed Scotch tape.
Radiation Trap – In 1958, James Van Allen was given the means to describe the eponymous bands.
Love Bug – In 747: The London Lock Hospital opened as the first venereal disease clinic.
The Only One – In 1945, Eddie Slovik was executed.
January 30, 1661: Oliver Cromwell is executed – two years after his death. Cromwell was born in 1599 into the middle gentry. He lived a relatively obscure life up until the 1630s when he became in independent Puritan. He became an intensely religious man as well as a military and political leader, believing that God was guiding him to victory. He joined the English Civil War on the side of the Roundheads or Parliamentarians. He was one of the signatories for King Charles I’s death warrant and became the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland on Christmas day in 1653 after dismissing Parliament earlier in the year.
His rule was short lived but during that time he fashioned an aggressive and effective foreign policy. His allies at home were able to help him both domestically and overseas. When he died in 1658 he was buried in Westminster Abbey next to his daughter. He had become ill in the fall with what today is considered to be a relapse of malaria which brought on a kidney or urinary tract infection. His doctors did what they could but were unable to help the suffering man. He died on September 3 from what was probably septicemia (blood infection) secondary to the urinary infection. His son took over the rule of the land but was not as effective as his father. He resigned in May 1659.
Eventually Charles II was invited back from exile to become King and restore the monarchy in 1660. On this day, which is also the twelfth anniversary of Charles I’s execution, Cromwell’s body was exhumed and ritually executed in turn. Posthumous executions have been used many times over history to really get the message out that the dead person is not well liked. This was the third time in this century that the British Empire was upset enough to kill a dead person. Cromwell was hanged in chains at Tyburn, then thrown into a pit after being beheaded. His head was placed on a pole outside Westminster Hall and remained there until 1685.
There is controversy over whether or not the disinterred corpse was really Cromwell or not. It is assumed that the body of the despised regicide practitioner would have been moved between his death and this day to protect it from desecration by Royalists. However, if it was not Cromwell, no one today knows where that body lies. Cromwell’s head was moved about several times until it was eventually buried on the grounds of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1960. The Cromwell vault was used to bury the illegitimate descendants of Charles II. Today, in Westminster Abbey there is stone where Cromwell was first buried which says, “THE BURIAL PLACE OF OLIVER CROMWELL 1658-1661”.
Not only strike while the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.
Do not trust the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you or I were going to be hanged.
The State, in choosing men to serve it, takes no notice of their opinions. If they be willing faithfully to serve it, that satisfies.
I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side, and to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken this government. – all from Oliver Cromwell
Also on this day: “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall’s” – In 1922, Dick Martin was born.
King Richard III – In 1835, an attempt was made to assassinate President Jackson.
Assassination attempt – In 1835, the first US Presidential assassination attempt takes place.
Mr. Music – In 1858, the Halle Orchestra performed.
January 29, 1996: La Fenice is destroyed by fire. Teatro La Fenice (The Phoenix) is an opera house in Venice, Italy. In 1774 Venice’s most famous opera house, San Benedetto Theatre, burned to the ground. It was rebuilt and immediately a legal dispute followed. The company managing the theater and the owners, the Venier family, took their matter to the courts where the Veniers won. Reconstruction had begun in June 1790 and the theater was completed in May 1792 and renamed La Fenice – an allusion to the rising from the ashes of the flames as well as the legal entanglements. The new opera house officially opened on May 16, 1792 with an opera by Giovanni Paisiello.
In just a few short years, the venue had acquired a European reputation for excellence. Rossini and Bellini both opened two major productions there. Donizetti came back to Venice in 1836 after an absence lasting 17 years where he played in Milan and Naples. However, the theater was again burned to the ground in December 1836. This time, the rebuilding was done quickly and the theater reopened on December 26, 1837. Verdi’s association with the theater began in 1844 and over the next thirteen years he opened four operas at La Fenice.
During World War I the opera house closed but reopened afterwards. Many of the world’s greatest singers and conductors gave performances there. The First International Festival of Contemporary Music took place in 1930 and over the years the event brought in many composers such as Stravinsky, Britten, Berio, Nono, and Bussotti. On this day, two electricians, Enrico Carella and Massimillano Marchetti, set a fire which again destroyed the building. They were facing heavy fines on delays with their repair work there. Both men have served prison time, Carella after he was finally captured at the Mexico-Belize border in 2007.
It took five years for rebuilding to begin. In 650 days the building was again ready for use. Over 200 plasterers, artists, woodworkers, and other craftsmen were able to bring the ambience of the old theater back to life at a cost of €90 million. The seating capacity was increased from 840 to 1000. It was rebuilt in 19th-century style with architect Aldo Rossi using old photographs to help with the design. La Fenice opened once again on December 14, 2003 with a concert of Beethoven, Wagner, and Stravinsky. The first opera performed there was La Traviata by Verdi in November 2004. Like a phoenix, once again, the opera house is alive with music.
The opera is to music what a bawdy house is to a cathedral. – H. L. Mencken
No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. – W. H. Auden
People are wrong when they say opera is not what it used to be. It is what it used to be. That is what’s wrong with it. – Noel Coward
Staid middle age loves the hurricane passions of opera. – Mason Cooley
Also on this day: Oh, No – O-Three – In 1978, Sweden became the first nation to ban certain aerosols to protect the ozone layer.
Honorable – In 1856, the Victoria Cross medal was established.
“Nevermore!” – In 1845, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe was printed for the first time.
Nevermore – In 1845, the poem was published (a different look at the event).
January 28, 1878: Yale Daily News is first published. It is and always has been an independent student newspaper published by Yale University students. The University itself was established in 1701 in what was then the Colony of Connecticut. It is the third oldest college/university in the US. Four colleges were founded previous to Yale, but only Harvard and William Mary and still exist. Henricus Colledge was founded in 1618 and closed in 1624. Yale’s chartered name was the Collegiate School and it was established with the goal of training clergy and political leaders for the colony. The name changed in 1718 when Elihu Yale gave a substantial gift to the school.
The Yale Daily News is published Monday through Friday during the academic year. It is financially and editorially independent from the University. The editorial and business staff are all students. It is produced in the Briton Hadden Memorial Building in New Haven and printed off-site at Turley Publications in Palmer, Massachusetts. Reporters, mainly freshman and sophomores, cover stories originating on the campus as well as in the city of New Haven and the state of Connecticut. Monday’s editions have an expanded sport section and Friday’s edition have an Opinion Forum and “WEEKEND” – an arts and living section. On Tuesdays, readers find an Arts & Culture spread with a Science & Technology section on Wednesdays. Thursdays have a Business & Enterprise page.
Once only available through subscription, the paper is now delivered free. The Yale Herald, another student newspaper but published only weekly (and delivered free), had cut into the Yale Daily News’s subscription rate and the lowest number was 570 readers in 1994. The daily paper has served as a training ground for many journalists who went on to work for a variety of papers and magazines including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and The Economist.
This paper, founded in 1878, lays claim to being the “oldest college daily” in the US. However, the claim has detractors. The Harvard Crimson calls itself the “oldest continuously published college daily” since it was founded in 1873. However, its original name was The Magenta and it was only published every two weeks. It did not become a daily paper until 1883. Other papers were published earlier as well, but they were not published on a daily basis until some time after their inception. The Yale Daily News ceased publication briefly during each of the World Wars because their editors volunteered for military service. Today, Julia Zorthian is editor and Julie Leong is publisher for the paper.
The innovation which we begin by this morning’s issue is justified by the dullness of the times, and the demand for news among us. – Yale Daily News editors in the first edition
A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. – H. L. Mencken
I read about eight newspapers in a day. When I’m in a town with only one newspaper, I read it eight times. – Will Rogers
The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character. – Lyndon B. Johnson
Also on this day: Beautiful Snow – In 1887, the largest snowflake on record was found.
Serendipitous Find – In 1754, Horace Walpole coined a new word.
Lighting the Night – In 1807, the first street was lit by gas light.
Challenged – In 1986, the Challenger exploded.
January 27, 1909: Unge Venstre (UV) forms. The literal translation for the Norwegian political group is Young Left, however that gives the English speaker the wrong connotation. They are not Socialists but rather Liberals and so it is more often translated into English as Young Liberals of Norway. They are the youth league of the Norwegian political party Venstre. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to change the name to be more reflective of the ideology but Liberal Ungdom (Liberal Youth) has consistently been defeated in successive congresses.
The UV are strongly in favor of fighting climate change and call it “the greatest threat of our time” on their website. In line with this cause, they support renewable energy and campaign against gas power station construction unless carbon capture and storage are part of the plan. Their goal of protecting the environment works across many different sectors. They believe in free trade and the removal of tariffs and are the most pro-immigrant group in Norway. However, they believe all people seeking citizenship must be able to speak the language. They support Norwegian membership in the EU. They advocate for the decriminalization of all drug use. They support the use of rehabilitation rather than punishment for drug addicts.
While the UV is closely related to Venstre, they are independent from the larger party. They cooperate and the leader of the UV is automatically a member of the Sentralstyret (the central governing body of the party). However, the two groups often differ with their party platforms and have some differing opinions on national policies. Some of the biggest differences revolve around Norway’s joining of the EU and the drug policies supported by the two groups. The younger group wishes to see clean heroin supplied to addicts, decriminalization as listed above, and intellectual property reform, especially with regard to file sharing of music.
The group was formed by Anders L. Kirkhusmo who was also the first President. Since the group is the Young portion of the liberal party, the leaders are only in place for a few years – until they become a bit too old. Kirkhusmo was really a bit too old to have the job. Born in 1865, he was 44 when he created the UV. Today, Tord Hustveit is President and is 22 years old. Alve Eide and Baard Salvesen are the Vice Presidents and are 21 and 23 respectively. Yvonne Ruyter is 19 and the youngest member of the central board and there are two 24 year olds serving, Sindre Horn and Ingrid Keenan.
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. – Friedrich Nietzsche
A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. – William Shakespeare
The duty of youth is to challenge corruption. – Kurt Cobain
Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope. – Aristotle
Also on this day: Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.
It’s All Greek – In 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was formed.
January 26, 1966: The three Beaumont children go missing. Jane Nartare was 9, Arnna Kathleen was 7, and Grant Ellis was 4 when the children went to Gleneig Beach near Adelaide, South Australia. It was Australia Day and the children were permitted to go and play as they had done many times before. The Beaumont family lived in a suburb of Adelaide and often played at the popular beach-side resort. The day was hot and the children rode the bus, a five minute ride, from their home. Jane was in charge of her siblings, just as many times before and just as many older children were in charge of their younger brothers and sisters. They left home at 10 AM and were expected home by noon.
The children did not return home and by 3 PM, Mrs. Beaumont was worried. Police found many people who had seen the children at the beach. Since they went there often, they were well known. They were seen in the company of a tall blond man in his mid-30s and appeared to be playing with him and enjoying their day. Jane went to a local shop to buy food and used a £1 note for the purchase. Her mother had only given her some coins for the bus fare and a smaller amount of food than what she purchased. The shopkeeper knew the children and testified that the children usually ordered less food when there.
The last the children were seen was around 3 PM when they were seen walking alone along Jetty Road and heading away from the beach. The postman saw the kids and stopped to talk to them since he knew them well. He said they seemed cheerful. Several months later a witness reported seeing a man with two boys and girl entering what she thought was an abandoned house. Later, the man chased the boy who was walking alone and forcibly took him back to the house. The next morning the house was again deserted. She had no explanation about her delay in reporting this. The disappearance of the children caused parents around the nation to think about adult supervision at all times for their offspring. Child care would need to be more careful and was changed according throughout Australia.
The case of the missing children was never solved even though it was one of the largest manhunts on the island. Neither their children or any of their possessions were ever recovered. Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont were never criticized in their care of the children. Kids were simply allowed more freedom at the time. There were several other missing children and teens in the following years. Bevan von Einem was charged with the murder of one of them and is a major suspect in this case as well. However, he was only 21 in 1966. Arthur Brown, James O’Neill, and Derek Percy are also suspected in the case but to this day, it remains unsolved.
As long as we have unsolved problems, unfulfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith, we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. – John Ortberg
New York is an exciting town where something is happening all the time, most unsolved. – Johnny Carson
Anyway, it doesn’t matter how much, how often, or how closely you keep an eye on things because you can’t control it. Sometimes things and people just go. Just like that. – Cecelia Ahern
I’m aware of what’s missing from my life. – Ang Lee
Also on this day: The Hills Are Alive – In 1905, Maria von Trapp was born.
Phantom – In 1988, The Phantom of the Opera opened in New York City.
Bald Eagle or Wild Turkey? – In 1784, Benjamin Franklin debates using the eagle as engraved on the national seal.
Brilliant – In 1905, the Cullinan Diamond was found.
January 25, 2005: Hundreds are killed during a stampede at the Mandhradevi temple. The temple is dedicated to Shakti, a Hindu goddess. She is the personification of the divine feminine and is sometimes called The Great Divine Mother. Hinduism has a more fluid canon and a panoply of gods and goddesses. Shakti has four Adi Shakti Pith and 51 different centers of worship are located in the Indian sub-continent. The Mandhradevi temple is located near Wai in the Satara Discrict of Maharashtra in India. It is located about 12.5 miles away from Satara, a larger city in the region.
The temple itself is located on a hill that is 4,650 feet above sea level and overlooks Purandar Fort which has existed in one form or another for nearly 1000 years. According to folklore, the temple is about 400 years old and was built during the Shivaji’s Maratha rule. The title to the land is held by Lord Mandashwar and Kaleshwari Devi. During most of the year, the temple sees little traffic. The Kalubai idol has two silver masks and wears silken clothes. During processions, members of the Gurav family carry the masks since they are seen as the hereditary keepers of the shrine. Since rituals must be carried out, family members are also in charge of these and rotate amongst themselves to make sure the proscribed ceremonies take place.
Once a year, the temple becomes a popular site. Those undertaking the ten-day Kalubai Jatra pilgrimage in January make a stop here. The main event is a 24-hour long festival held on the day of the full moon. Animal sacrifices are carried out as well as other food gifts. Nivad of puran poli and curd rice are offered. Devotees also offer the goddess green sari. The goddess is carried through the village sitting in a silver palkhi. The festival took place on January 16 this year.
On this day, about 300,000 people were at the temple to worship. Since the temple is high atop a hill, stone steps have been carved into the hill to make the ascent easier. These steps were slick with coconut water that had been spilled from fruit offerings to the goddess. Someone slipped on the slick steps causing a chain reaction. The pandemonium caused as people were crushed together was exacerbated by fires which broke out in nearby shops. The fires set off explosions of gas cylinders. Many were crushed by the mob as people panicked and tried to get away from the fires. More people were burned by the fires themselves. Over 300 people died in the stampede.
No matter what cause one defends, it will suffer permanent disgrace if one resorts to blind attacks on crowds of innocent people. – Albert Camus
I get panic attacks in big crowds. – Liev Schreiber
For solving a surprisingly large and varied number of problems, crowds are smarter than individuals. – Michael Shermer
I get very anxious and am scared in crowds and things like that. – Daniel Johns
Also on this day: Moscow University – In 1755, Moscow University was established.
Rebellion – Shays’s Rebellion attacked an arsenal.
First Winter Olympics – In 1924, International Winter Sports Week opens in Chamonix, France.
Payola – In 1960, punishments for those involved in the payola scandal were issued.
January 24, 41 AD: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus is assassinated. He was also known as Caligula and was famous for his eccentricities. He was Roman Emperor for about four years prior to his death. He was from the house of rulers known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His father was the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius. The young boy traveled with his father, Germanicus, on many of his campaigns and was known as Caligula which meant “little soldier’s boot” since caliga was the name of the hob-nailed military boot worn at the time. Germanicus died at Antioch in 19 and his wife, Agrippina the Elder, returned to Rome with their six children.
Agrippina became involved in a bitter feud with Tiberius and after much mayhem, the only male survivor was Gaius. At the age of 18, Caligula was asked to come to the island of Capri where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. In 37, Tiberius died at the age of 77. When the people of the Empire learned of his death they rejoiced only to fall silent when told he had recovered and then rejoiced again when they learned he was truly dead. They welcomed the new Emperors – Tiberius’ will left power jointly to Caligula and Tiberius Gemellus. The first act of Caligula as Princeps was to void the will and kill Gemellus, leaving himself in power.
There are few extant records of Caligula’s reign. It was said that his first six months of rule were a honeymoon phase with the new Emperor seen as a savior who was a wonderful ruler as well as a great human being. He was loved because he was the son of the hero-soldier Germanicus and because he was not Tiberius. The beginning was described as blissful. He was generous in spirit even though his generosity was politically based. In October he fell ill and when he finally recovered, he was seen as a changed man. Instead of the beloved ruler, he was now a diabolical despot as he killed or exiled his enemies who were once his friends. He even had his own adopted son and bloodline cousin executed. This act made their combined grandmother so sad she either killed herself or her grandson had her murdered.
In 39, a financial crises was no longer able to be hidden. All the monies Caligula had paid out either in bribes or extravagant living had exhausted the empire’s coffers. In order to bring in money, Caligula began taxing everything and even auctioned off the lives of gladiators. His other eccentricities included bizarre sexual practices as well as outright cruelty and sadism. His extravagant building projects were more often than not for his own glorification. On this day, fed up with the lunatic ruler in their midst, the Praetorian Guard (his personal bodyguards), as well as members of the Senate rose up against him and he was assassinated. Like the first Julius Caesar, Caligula was stabbed 30 times.
I scorn their hatred, if they do but fear me. – Caligula
I still live! – Caligula’s last words
Power has no limits. – Tiberius
It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them. – Tiberius
Also on this day: Badminton – In 1900, the Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
Be Prepared – In 1907, the Boy Scouts were begun by Robert Baden-Powell.
“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River” – In 1848, James W. Marshall spies gold in the American River, sparking the California Gold Rush.
Never Surrender – In 1972, Shōichi Yokoi was found.
January 23, 1870: The Marias Massacre takes place. Also known as the Baker Massacre, it involved the US Army and Piegan Blackfeet Indians during the Indian Wars. The Blackfoot Confederacy was comprised of Blackfoot, Blood, and Piegan tribes in the Montana Territory. Relations between the tribes and the influx of white settlers has been strained for years. Both sides behaved badly and hostilities escalated.
Owl Child was a young Piegan Blackfoot. In 1867 he stole some horses from Malcolm Clarke, a white trader in the area. Owl Child claimed they were payment for horses he had lost. He blamed the loss on Clarke. The trader and his son tracked Owl Child and found him with a group of Blackfeet. They beat him up. On August 17, 1869 Owl Child and a group of Piegan warriors found Clarke and killed him and seriously wounded his son. There were legends stating that Clarke had also raped a Blackfoot woman who was both a relative of his own wife and Owl Child. Oral history claimed that the woman gave birth as a result of this rape.
Clarke’s death infuriated white settlers of the area who called for the US Army to do something. Mountain Chief was the local leader and the army sent an ultimatum to him. In two weeks he would produce the corpse of Owl Child, or the US Army would attack. The time passed without a corpse being delivered. General Philip Sheridan sent in a squadron of cavalry to take care of the problem. It was led by Major Eugene Baker a known alcoholic. He was to find Mountain Chief. Baker left Fort Ellis on January 6, 1870 and arrived at Fort Shaw to pick up two more companies of cavalry as well as two scouts, Joe Kipp and Joseph Cobell, who were both familiar with the Piegan bands. By order, non-hostile bands were to be left alone.
They left Fort Shaw on January 19. Three days later they saw a small band of Piegan (5 lodges) and were told others considered to be hostile were farther upriver. The company moved along and found a larger camp with 32 lodges. They positioned themselves and Kipp, the scout tried to warn that this was Heavy Runner’s camp and peaceful. Kipp was arrested, Heavy Runner appeared with his document from the Indian Bureau guaranteeing safe conduct. He was killed. Most of the men were out hunting. The US Army Cavalry attacked and killed 173 people – 15 of them warriors and the rest women and children. Later investigation showed that fifty of those killed were under the age of 12.
As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. – Pythagoras
We used to root for the Indians against the cavalry, because we didn’t think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre. – Dick Gregory
When the war of the giants is over the wars of the pygmies will begin. – Winston Churchill
There was never a good war, or a bad peace. – Benjamin Franklin
Also on this day: Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
More Than Vases – In 1368, the Ming Dynasty came to power in China.
Greenbriar Ghost – In 189, Elva Zona Heaster was murdered but did not leave this mortal coil.
Poppies – In 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed.
January 22, 1890: The United Mine Workers (UMW or UMWA) is founded in Columbus, Ohio. The merger of two older labor groups, the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union, formed the UMW. The labor union focused on representing coal miners and coal technicians. It was established with three main items and several lesser items on the agenda. They wanted to develop mine safety, improve mine workers’ independence from mine owners and the company store, and to provide miners with collective bargaining power. It had taken decades to get the miners to join together under one banner but as wages fell, their willingness to work together increased.
The first step towards miner solidarity was taken in 1865 when nearly half of all coal miners joined the American Miners’ Association. The mine owners fought back and members of the AMA were fired and blacklisted. In 1868 the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association was begun and had more success. Their President was John Siney and he worked on making conditions better for miners while helping owners increase profits so both sides won. Franklin B. Gowen, owner of the Reading Railroad, purchased several mines and provided the rail system to transport the coal. His tyrannical business methods destroyed the WBM.
The National Trade Assembly #135, also known as the Knights of Labor, was started around 1870 and was more successful. They used secret local assemblies to help boost the overall power of the larger union. There were only two types of local assemblies and yet they worked as divisive rather than cohesive. The trade LAs were subdivided further and further. The popularity was more based on local leadership than on the cohesive methods of bargaining with mine owners. Locals rose and fell with the personalities of the leaders. They did not use striking as a means of gaining concessions.
The National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers was formed by Knights of Labor leaders who realized secret membership was causing a problem. Their basic platform was to bargain for eight hour workdays and get fair weighing stations within the mines. They were unable to bring in the fair scales and lost momentum with their members. When the UMW formed, they had 11 union goals. Today, the 80,000 members are led by Cecil Roberts. They not only represent miners, but health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing workers, and public employees of the US and Canada. They not only focus on worker rights but also on better roads, schools, and universal health care.
If I went to work in a factory the first thing I’d do is join a union. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Now workers should have the right to join unions. But unions should not be forced upon workers. And unions should not have the power to take money out of their members’ paychecks to buy the support of politicians that are favored by the union bosses. – Mitt Romney
The union movement has been the best middle class job creating program that America has ever had, and it doesn’t cost the government a dime. – Andy Stern
Join the union, girls, and together say Equal Pay for Equal Work. – Susan B. Anthony
Also on this day: Roe v. Wade – In 1973, the Supreme Court decided on the abortion issue, assuring all women a right to privacy.
Bloody Sunday – In 1905, a Russian uprising took place in St. Petersburg.
Pontifical Swiss Guards – In 1506, the first of the Swiss Guards come to protect the Pope.
Football – In 1927, an association football match was broadcast over the radio.