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Milestones: Monday, July 10, 2023

July 10, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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CLARENCE DARROW VS. WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN — John T. Scopes, a young high school substitute science teacher, was accused of teaching evolution, in violation of the Butler Act, a Tennessee law,  and was placed on trial starting July 10, 1925. But the Scopes Monkey Trial, which lasted about 11 days, was actually a showdown between Clarence Darrow, the defense attorney, and William Jennings Bryant, a fundamentalist Christian, U.S. secretary of state, and three-time unsuccessful presidential candidate. Interestingly, the prosecution made the case about Scope’s violation of the Butler Act, not whether that law was actually constitutional. The law, which had been passed in March 1925, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” Scopes and local businessman George Rappleyea asked the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Darrow, whose reputation as a shrewd and successful attorney was already established, joined the ACLU’s defense, and the trial proceeded, being moved outdoors because of the throngs it attracted and became a drama in itself, with Darrow publicly humiliating Bryan on an apparently scant understanding of scripture. By asking the jury to return a guilty verdict, Darrow also stole Bryan’s thunder, by denying him the chance to deliver his closing statement.

William Jennings Bryan died mysteriously six days after the trial concluded.


IMPROVED SAFETY BELT — The United States Patent Office on July 10, 1962, issued a patent to Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin for his three-point automobile safety belt, an improvement over the standard model that buckled only at the waste. Bohlin, who had worked in the aviation industry before Sweden’s Volvo Car Corporation hired him, designed the three-point system, consisting of two straps that joined at the hip level and fastened into a single anchor point, which was proven to significantly reduce injuries from crashes.

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Volvo introduced the three-point seat belt in its vehicle years ahead of the American manufacturers, and seat belts were not mandatory in the United States until 1964, the three-point belts were required starting in 1968. Even then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that only 11 percent of drivers or passengers used them.


‘ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT,’ — Millard Fillmore became the 13th President of the United  States on July 10, 1850, the night after learning of the death of President Zachary Taylor following a sudden stomach illness. One of five “accidental” presidents — vice presidents who had to fill the remaining terms of Presidents who died in office, Fillmore did not have a vice president, as the U.S. Constitution at that time did not provide for replacing deceased or departing vice presidents. He was also the last Whig-party President; afterward, all Presidents were Republicans or Democrats.

Fillmore was known for being anti-Masonic (against the Free Masons). Even though his father had reputedly owned only three books: a Bible, hymnal, and almanac, Millard did love books and established the first White House Library and even personally fought a blaze at the Library of Congress that broke out in December 1851, also signing a bill to finance the replacement of the destroyed books.


OPERATION HUSKY — The Allied forces during World War II invaded Sicily, an island off the southwestern coast of the Italian peninsula, in the early morning of July 10, 1943, exactly 80 years ago. The combined air-and-sea campaign, which was named Operation Husky, aimed to drive the Nazis from Italy. Military personnel included 150,000 troops, 3,000 ships, and 4,000 aircraft, all targeting the island’s southern shore. Although a storm the previous day almost derailed the assault, the bad weather also worked to the Allies’ advantage, as the Axis underestimated their enemies’ willingness to undertake an amphibious landing amid lightning and thunder. That afternoon, 150,000 Allied troops reached the Sicilian shores, bringing along 600 tanks; Axis’ naval and aerial posts had already been bombarded.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied commander-in-chief, called the operation “the first page in the liberation of the European Continent.”


A LIST OF FIRSTS — ARTHUR ASHE, born 80 years ago on July 10, 1943, in Virginia, was legendary for his “list of firsts” as a Black tennis player. Among these accomplishments: Ashe was chosen for the US Davis Cup team in 1963 and became captain in 1980. He won the U.S. men’s singles championship and US Open in 1968, and in 1975, the men’s singles at Wimbledon. After winning a total of 33 career titles, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. As he shocked the world in 1992, announcing that he had contracted HIV, believed to have happened during a transfusion he received when undergoing bypass surgery nine years earlier. He then embarked on a $5 million fundraising effort on behalf of the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and campaigned for public awareness regarding the AIDS epidemic.

Ashe also established inner-city tennis programs for youths and wrote the three-volume A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete.


FOUNDED SPECIAL OLYMPICS — EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, born on July 10, 1921, a member of the famous Kennedy political family of Massachusetts, was the sister of US President John F. Kennedy, and brother of Senators Robert F. and Edward Kennedy. She was also the younger sister of Rosemary Kennedy, whom she took under her wing and had a close relationship with. As an advocate for the mentally disabled, Shriver founded a summer day camp in her backyard for children with such disabilities, a program that grew into the Special Olympics. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is named for Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984.

Already busy, Mrs. Shriver in 1957 took over the direction of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, established in 1946 as a memorial to her oldest brother, who had been killed in World War II. It was this foundation that planned and underwrote the First International Special Olympics Summer Games, held in 1968 at Chicago’s Soldier Field, where 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 26 states and Canada competed in athletics. That December, Special Olympics, Inc. was established as a non-profit charitable organization.


FIRST POPULAR/ELECTED RUSSIAN PRESIDENT — BORIS YELTSIN was Inaugurated as the Russian President on July 10, 1991, the first one popularly elected in Russia’s thousand-year history. His win was a defeat for the Communist Party candidate. Yeltsin thus became a powerful political counterpoint to Mikhail Gorbachev, the president of the Soviet Union, of which Russia was the largest republic.

His popularity forced Gorbachev to make concessions to the republics in the new union treaty forming the Confederation of Independent States. Suffering from poor health, Yeltsin resigned as president at the end of 1999.


NOT ONLY HERMAN MUNSTER — FREDERICK HUBBARD: GWYNNE, born on July 10, 1926, in New York City, was a stage, screen, and TV actor, best known for the TV roles Herman Munster in “The Munsters,” which aired from 1964-66, a sitcom that depicted regular life for a family of benign monsters and vampires. Though hapless, Herman strives to be a model citizen and wonders why he winds up in trouble instead. Gwynne also played Officer Muldoon in “Car 54, Where Are You?” Although worried that he’d be typecast following the end of the Munsters’ original run he went on to film, playing  Uncle Hugo in the 1986 fantasy love story “The Boy Who Could Fly,” and Judge Chamberlain Haller in his final film “My Cousin Vinny” (1992).

Gwynne was also an accomplished singer and a children’s book writer and illustrator, focusing on dismantling the misconceptions children have about common American idioms.


LOVE A KITTEN! — NATIONAL KITTEN DAY is observed on July 10, a time to celebrate the adorable nature of these lovable furry animals. The Animal Miracle Foundation and Sanctuary established a day to honor kittens in 2002, Colleen Paige, an animal lover and rescuer also established a kitten day in 2012. The National Kitten Coalition, reports that approximately 1.4 million cats are euthanized each year in America, and the observance’s mission is to persuade people to adopt rather than purchase a kitten from a commercial supplier.

Description: A day to celebrate the kitten! And to learn how to properly care for them.

National Kitten Day is a separate celebration from National Cats Day, (USA) observed on October 29, and International Cat Day, observed on August 8. Whether adult or kitten, one can choose from many felines awaiting adoption here in this fair borough, at the Brooklyn Cat Café, 76 Montague Street.

See previous milestones, here.

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