Milestones: Friday, July 14, 2023
FÉTE NATIONALE — BASTILLE DAY is observed in France and Francophone countries to commemorate the fall of the Bastille prison and start of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789. The French Revolution drew its inspiration in part from the American Revolution (1775-83), including the ideals of liberty and equality of men; but that earlier conflict was also one of the factors. France’s support of the Patriots’ cause drained its own treasury, and King Louis XVI and wife Marie Antoinette lived extravagantly at the expense of their subjects. The French citizenry drastically altered their political and economic environment during the French Revolution, abolished the monarchy and rebelled against the aristocracy and Roman Catholic Church. By the time the revolution ended, both King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette had been guillotined, as had many religious clerics.
The French Revolution and the attack on the aristocracy and Church alike served as the backdrop for Francis Poulenc’s opera Dialogues of the Carmelites.
A DIFFERENT BIRMINGHAM — THE BIRMINGHAM RIOTS of July 14 1791 should not be confused with the violence that took place in Alabama in 1963 during the civil rights movement. The 1791 riots were a four-day violent frenzy of rebellion in Birmingham, England, when protesters against the French Revolution crashed a dinner party celebrating that war’s second anniversary. The main target of their wrath was English scientist and theologian Joseph Priestley, who supported American and French revolutionary causes. Even though he was a minister, Priestley held unorthodox and unpopular religious views. The mob burned Priestley’s home and laboratory.
Joseph Priestley is credited with having discovered the element oxygen during an experiment with mercury oxide, and wrote on burning and combustion. He also invented carbonated water and did early important work on electricity. Because his religious and philosophical views got him in trouble, he fled England for Pennsylvania where he continued his research until his death.
19th CENTURY PIONEER GEOLOGIST— FLORENCE BASCOM was born on July 14, 1862, and became the youngest in a Massachusetts family that supported and encouraged women entering professional society. She earned two bachelor degrees from the University of Wisconsin – one in arts and the second in sciences in 1882 and 1884, and then earned a master’s degree in geology from there. She went on to earn a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the first woman to do so from that institution. A professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, Bascom was the first woman to be appointed a geologist with the US Geological Survey, an associate editor of American Geologist (1890–1905) and became the first woman elected to fellow of the Geological Society of America.
Florence Bascom’s father, with whom she was close, was a professor at Williams College who later became president of the University of Wisconsin where she earned her bachelor degrees. The university’s Bascom Hill is named for her family’s legacy.
INFLUENTIAL FILMMAKER — INGMAR BERGMAN, born July 14, 1918 in Uppsala, Sweden, was one of the 20th century’s most influential filmmakers, directing the classics “Fanny and Alexander,” “Wild Strawberries” and “Cries and Whispers.” All told, he wrote or directed 62 films and 170 stage plays. Although he worked mostly in Sweden, he was respected worldwide. His films dealt with existential matters but have a strong sensual undertone, and the women characters were more sexually-confident than were the males. He once told Playboy Magazine in a 1964 interview, “I want audiences to feel, to sense my films. This to me is much more important than their understanding them.”
The actress Ingrid Bergman is sometimes confused with another woman, a Swedish diarist named Ingrid who was the movie director’s wife for a while. That woman was Ingrid von Rosen, and she did not take her husband’s surname. Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman, even though their names were similar, were not related.
NBC BROADCAST JOURNALIST — JOHN CHANCELLOR, born July 14, 1927 in Chicago, was a respected journalist who worked much of his career with NBC. Starting as a copyboy at the Chicago Sun Times, he rose to higher positions, including reporter and feature writer. He stood his ground when an angry mob surrounded him while he was covering a school integration case involving a young Black girl in Little Rock, Arkansas. Chancellor spent more than four decades with the NBC network, beginning in 1950. He anchored NBC Nightly News from 1970-1982. During that time he took a two-year respite from journalism to serve President Lyndon B. Johnson as director of Voice of America. He died on July 12, two days before his 69th birthday, in 1996, in Princeton, N.J.
The role of copyboys, whose job was to carry copy (paper versions) of a story from one desk to another, such as from a reporter to a managing editor, has long since been eliminated through Internet networks and shared Google docs.
OKLAHOMA-BORN STAR REPORTER — DOUGLAS EDWARDS, perhaps the CBS network’s counterpart to John Chancellor, was born 10 years earlier on July 14, 1917 in Ada, Oklahoma. Starting in radio, he became the first major announcer to switch to the television medium in 1947 and was anchor for CBS’s first nightly news program, with the straightforward title, “Douglas Edwards with the News” (1948–62), giving on-scene coverage of such events as the sinking of the Andrea Doria in 1956. Edwards presented news on CBS television every weeknight for 15 years, in a program that expanded from 15 minutes to a half-hour format and was called the CBS Television News and then the CBS Evening News. Walter Cronkite, another broadcast journalist who would become the most respected name in the industry, succeeded Edwards as anchor. But Edwards continued working for CBS until two years before his 1990 death.
Douglas Edwards received numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award and he was inducted in 2006 into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
A BIBLE OF BABY CARE — “THE COMMON SENSE BOOK OF BABY AND CHILD CARE BY BENJAMIN SPOCK,” the groundbreaking child care bible, was published July 14, 1946. The book, which presaged the postwar baby boom, provided a reassuring tone in its advice to new parents and became one of the best-selling books of the 20th century. By the 1990s, Dr. Spock’s advice remained so timely that his book continued to sell. One of his main points is that parents should give their babies the love and attention that is vital to happy families. Earlier child care experts had said that parents should withhold affection.
Dr. Spock’s politics, however, got him in trouble, and he was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War, and joined The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, otherwise known as SANE.
NEVER ELECTED TO TOP TWO OFFICES — GERALD RUDOLPH FORD, born on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska, as Leslie King, later took his stepfather’s first and last names. He became the 41st vice president in December 1973 after the resignation two months earlier of Spiro T. Agnew following a federal investigation of tax fraud. Eight months later, Ford found himself becoming the 38th President of the United States, when Richard Nixon resigned as President to avoid the impeachment process. Thus, Ford was both the first vice president and president who was not elected to their office. When he did run for re-election in 1976 with Bob Dole as his running mate, he lost to Jimmy Carter.
When Ford was appointed as vice president, he had served just under 25 years in Congress serving Michigan’s 5th District, which at the time encompassed Grand Rapids and the western part of that state’s Lower Peninsula.
See previous milestones, here.
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