Milestones: Friday, July 7, 2023
SPECIAL TO BROOKLYN — MOTHER FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI, who established a school for the newly-arrived Italian immigrants in Brooklyn and around the world, was canonized as a saint on July 7, 1946, just eight days shy of what would have been her 96th birthday, and the first American to be named a saint. The youngest of thirteen children, Frances Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850 in Italy’s Lombardy region. Although deemed too frail to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart who had been her teachers, she later joined with seven other young women to establish the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She was granted an audience with Pope Leo XIII, who instructed her to go “not to the East (China) but to the West” — New York, where she and her sister companions organized catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants and provided for the needs of the many orphans, overcoming huge obstacles to do so. One of these schools was in the Italian longshoremen’s community of Carroll Gardens, when Fr. Giuseppe Fransioli established the Catholic Mission of the Italian Colony of the City of Brooklyn in 1882.
Mother Cabrini and her sisters established a school in the parish in 1892, which was placed under the direction of her order. Brooklyn’s Bishop McDonnell bought a former church building to be used as the school on Van Brunt Street. It was named the St. Charles School.
ILLUSTRATED THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES — Artist MARC CHAGALL was born July 7, 1887 as Moishe Siegal, the eldest of nine children into a Russian-Jewish family. Their village Vitebsk, in Belarus, which was then part of the Russian Empire, had a strong Jewish community. He was a foremost 20th-century artist and modernist, whose works are described as abstract, surreal and magical. He was accomplished in many art media, from painting to engraving, stained glass and even set design.
Chagall was commissioned in 1931 to illustrate the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) and had the opportunity to do so in Israel, where he immersed himself in retelling, through art, the history of the creation of man.
REPRESSION OF HAWAIIAN CULTURE — THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS were officially annexed by the United States in a Joint Resolution on July 7, 1898. This had followed, 13 years prior, a trade treaty between Hawaii’s King David Kalākaua, and the United States, favoring and in particular the U.S. its interest in the sugar crop. However, this action would lead to the death knell of indigenous and autonomous Hawaiian rule and culture, as the businessmen from the U.S. took control of the government, and trade, and even brought missionaries to convert the non-white Natives. In a series of incidents including the Marines’ takeover and the U.S. government’s seeing Hawaii as a strategic military base, Hawaiians lost their power to self-rule. As Hawaii was a U.S. territory, its people had no vote in the federal government. It took half a century to achieve statehood, partly as a result of dismissed resolutions and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
However, on Aug. 21, 1959, Hawaii was finally granted statehood, under the Eisenhower Administration.
GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM ENGLAND — SOLOMON ISLANDS, only recently, 45 years ago, gained its independence from Great Britain, on July 7, 1978. Situated in the southwestern Pacific, the Solomon Islands is an archipelago nation of six major islands — the largest of which is Guadalcanal —and more than 900 smaller islands in Melanesia. The first European to land on the islands was Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña in 1568, some 20 years before Spain lost its military and exploratory dominance to England. The archipelago became a British Protectorate in 1893. The archipelago’s official name was shortened to “The Solomon Islands” in 1975, with self-government achieved the following year. When independence was obtained, “the” was dropped and the Solomon Islands became a constitutional monarchy.
Further Fun Fact: The Solomon Islands was a strategic battle setting during World War II when the United States launched an offensive campaign.
DEFENDED THE CHICAGO SEVEN — WILLIAM KUNSTLER, born on July 7, 1919, had a reputation as a radical attorney who turned a courtroom into a protest circus when he defended the Chicago Seven and, later, a number of reactionaries suspected member of the mob, and terrorists. The Chicago Seven, which included Yippies Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, along with their attorneys, were found guilty of 175 counts of contempt of court and sentenced to terms between two to four years, as well as being found guilty of inciting a riot. Two years later, a Court of Appeals overturned the convictions and the contempt of court charges were dropped.
Kunstler was iconoclastic toward U.S. policy, particularly the Vietnam War. At one point, he placed a flag of the Viet Cong on the defense side table.
OLDEST DEBUT IN THE MAJORS — LEROY ROBERT “SATCHEL” PAIGE, born on July 7, 1906 was, at age 42, the first Black pitcher in the American League. He played in the Negro Leagues before the Cleveland Indians (now the Cleveland Guardians) recruited him; and on his birthday that year, he signed his first American League contract, for $40,000 for the remainder of that season. He also became the oldest man to debut in either the American or National Leagues. Just over a week later, he scored his first victory in an exhibition game between the Indians and the Brooklyn Dodgers (which Brooklyn lost). He contributed to the Cleveland Indians’ win in the 1948 World Series.
SCOTUS’ FIRST WOMAN JUSTICE — President Ronald Reagan, honoring a campaign promise, on July 7, 1981 nominated Sandra Day O’Connor, an Arizona court of appeals judge, to be the first woman Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. She was succeeding retiring Associate Justice Potter Stewart, an Eisenhower appointee. The Senate unanimously approved Sandra Day O’Connor’s appointment on Sept. 21 and four days later, Chief Justice Warren Burger administered the oath of office to her. Although she was known as a conservative and had received the nomination of a Republican president, Associate Justice O’Connor gained a reputation as a moderate and it was she who voted to uphold the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade on more than one occasion during her tenure.
Sandra Day O’Connor gained a reputation for being able to moderate a sharply-divided Supreme Court and for her meticulously-researched opinions.
TAMING A RIVER, PROVIDING POWER — Construction began July 7, 1930 on the Hoover Dam, the largest of its time, and still one of the world’s largest manmade structures. The project was three decades in the making, when the government’s Bureau of Reclamation, engineer, Arthur Powell Davis, conceived the vision of a flood control structure, which was named for President Herbert Hoover, a respected conservationist. Nine years before construction began, Hoover had focused on building a high dam in Boulder Canyon in Nevada, with the purpose of taming the Colorado River and providing water and hydroelectric power for the Southwestern U.S.
Now a National Historic Landmark and popular tourist attraction, the Hoover Dam stores enough water in Lake Mead to irrigate two million acres.
NATIVE AMERICAN ATHLETE — Jim Thorpe, a native American, on July 7, 1912 won the pentathlon at the fifth modern Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, and built a reputation as the world’s greatest all-around athlete. He was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City, only to be stripped the next year of his medals for having played minor league baseball professionally before entering the Olympics. His mistake was using his own name, even though he was far from being the only amateur athlete of his time who needed to support himself financially.
Later in his career, Thorpe drew on his fame to help launch the American Professional Football Association, which eventually morphed into the NFL. Thorpe served as the APFA’s first president and played for the league professionally. He gained a reputation during his career for punting a ball with full force, sprinting down the field and catching it himself.
See previous milestones, here.
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