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December 11: ON THIS DAY in 1941, U.S. declares war on Axis

December 11, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle

ON THIS DAY IN 1941, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “London, Dec. 11 (U.P.) — Prime Minister [Winston] Churchill, addressing the House of Commons today as Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, said the British Empire, America, Russia and China were fighting for their lives ‘and will go forward to victory — not over Japan alone but over the Axis and all its works. Our foes are bound by their ambitions and their crimes implacably to the destruction of the English-speaking world and all it stands for,’ he said. ‘It may well be that we shall have to suffer very considerable punishment, but we shall defend ourselves everywhere with the utmost vigor and close co-operation with the United States and the Netherlands Navy … I know I speak for the United States as well as for the British Empire when I say we would all rather perish than be conquered … It would indeed bring shame on our generation if we did not teach the enemy a lesson which will not be forgotten in the records of a thousand years.’”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1860, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “The committee of the South Carolina Senate, on federal relations, to whom was referred the portion of the late message of Gov. [William Henry] Gist on such topics, have made a long report, in which they take the ground that the federal government is hostile to the south, that the states have a right to secede and that now is the time to do it.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1863, the Eagle published part one of its two-part serialization of Edward Everett Hale’s short story “The Man Without a Country,” which first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly. The protagonist, Army Lt. Philip Nolan, renounces his country while on trial for treason and is sentenced to spend the rest of his life at sea, completely cut off from any knowledge of events that take place in the United States. As the years pass, he fully realizes the consequences of his actions and longs to return home. A Civil War allegory, Nolan’s plight is seen as a case for the preservation of the Union.

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ON THIS DAY IN 1876, a week after fire destroyed the Brooklyn Theatre, the Eagle reported, “It will be a long time ere oratory or supplication be needed to fill the memory of Brooklyn with the terrible features of this theatrical holocaust. Every little neighborhood has chairs made vacant by it, in almost every street desolate fireplaces tell the story of the catastrophe, and in every church the lamentations of widows for their husbands and children for their fathers are heard. Whenever the alarm of fire is sounded, for many months to come, the heart of our people will be beset by the ghosts of the three hundred victims who perished last Tuesday night, and the agonies, which no living physically eye looked upon, will be revealed to the imagination by the glare of every uncurbed flame.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1918, the Eagle reported, “Air mail service between New York and Chicago will begin Dec. 18, with the expectation that a nine-hour schedule will be maintained except when the airmen encounter severe head winds. Postmaster General [Albert S.] Burleson, in an order today fixing the time for inauguration of the service, said the first machines would leave Elizabeth City, N.J., and Chicago at 6 a.m.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1935, the Eagle reported, “On the eve of his 86th birthday, Eugene Tollner, former partner in the Gage & Tollner Restaurant at 374 Fulton St., was confined to bed today at his home … under the care of day and night nurses as the result of an accident attributed to his continued devotion to his old business. While waiting for a DeKalb Ave. trolley Wednesday morning to go to the restaurant, Mr. Tollner slipped and fell on the street. He continued to the restaurant and refused medical aid, but that night fell down a flight of stairs, causing further injuries.”

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