Milestones: Friday, July 21, 2023
GOT THE NICKNAME ‘STONEWALL’ — The BATTLE OF BULL RUN, which began on July 21, 1861, and actually consisted of two battles, fought some 13 months apart. The Civil War had actually begun two months prior, when Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The first Bull Run conflict was a victory for the Confederate troops. Leading the Confederates was General Joseph E. Johnston at the first Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, Virginia. Another Confederate general, T.J. Jackson, was nicknamed “Stonewall” for one the battle techniques he utilized. During the second Battle of Bull Run, fought on Aug. 29-30, 1862, General Robert E. Lee roundly defeated Union General John Pope.
The Union Army’s defeat at the hands of the Confederates was a shock, but also an eye-opener that the North would not be winning the war so handily or quickly.
BELGIUM’S OWN KING — BELGIUM got its own king, after winning independence from neighboring country, the Netherlands on July 21, 1831. The national public holiday, observed on July 21, commemorates the accession to the throne of the first Belgian king Leopold I. Previously, Belgium was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which reunified the Low Countries, liberating them from French rule after Napoleon abdicated his rule when the First French Empire was dissolved in 1814. During the Belgian Revolution, which lasted almost 11 months (from Aug. 25, 1830 to July 21, 1831), the southern provinces, which were predominantly Roman Catholic Fleming (Flemish, from Flanders) and Walloon, seceded from the kingdom, and the northern provinces which were majority Protestant and Dutch Reformed. The Belgian Revolution was an economic-class war also, as the working-class population considered King William I to be a despot.
Today, Belgium is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy with a laicized Napoleonic code of law.
CHAMPIONED WOMEN’S EDUCATION — FRANCES FOLSOM CLEVELAND, born on July 21, 1864, in Buffalo, NY, was a popular First Lady during two Presidential terms. Her husband, Grover Cleveland, was the 22nd and 24th President of the U.S. having lost an election in between his administration. Frances Folsom’s marriage to Grover Cleveland, 27 years her senior, marked the first wedding ceremony, on June 2, 1886) to be held in the White House. (However, Cleveland was not the first President to marry while in office). Folsom had known the future president all her life, as he and her father were friends. After the death of Frances’ father, Grover Cleveland became her guardian and ensured that she received good schooling, including a college education. Frances Folsom Cleveland, at age 21, was the youngest First Lady. She was a champion of higher education for women. She remained socially available to the public and in some ways was even more popular than her hard-working husband, although she did persuade him to be more sociable at events.
The Clevelands held events at the White House but did not live there, instead maintaining a private residence to maintain a boundary between their public and personal lives.
WOMEN’S HERSTORY CONTINUES AT SENECA FALLS — The NATIONAL WOMEN’S HALL OF FAME, having been founded a decade earlier, in 1969, moved into its new home on July 21, 1979, in Seneca Falls, NY. The Hall of Fame, established as a 501(c)3 organization both to honor the anniversary of the first Women’s Suffrage Movement Convention had taken place in 1848 and also to honor American women “whose contributions “have been of the greatest value in the development of their country,” was conceived in 1968 as a Founder’s Tea with notable women and town leaders. The first class of notable women was inducted in 1973, among them Susan B. Anthony, the contralto Marion Anderson, Clara Barton, Mary McLeod Bethune, Pearl Buck and Rachel Carson. The organization was housed in different spaces during those first 10 years, according to the organization’s website. On July 21, 1979, the National Women’s Hall of Fame moved into the former Seneca Falls Savings Bank Building until it got its own home.
In 2007, the organization was able to purchase the old Seneca Falls Knitting Mill, whose own history and the town’s history were tightly knitted as well. After extensive renovations, the National Women’s Hall of Fame moved there in August 2020.
A HAPPY INVASION — GUAM LIBERATION DAY marks the occasion on July 21, 1944, when U.S. forces invaded this southernmost land of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Allies liberated Guam, now a U.S. territory, from the Japanese occupation that began on Dec. 10, 1941, just three days after that nation’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The festival, which was established soon after the end of World War II (Japan was the last Axis power to surrender, on September 2), included a summer carnival, queen contest, fireworks displays, a mile-long parade along Marine Corps Drive and solemn memorials to those lost in the war.
According to some accounts, an Chamoru educator named Agueda Iglesias Johnston came up with the idea for a celebration, but she initially met more resistance from civilians than she did from the military personnel, who supplied a cake, band and transportation. Ms. Johnston found a venue and soon the partygoers were doing the jitterbug.
CREATED A NEWS AGENCY — PAUL JULIUS REUTER, born on July 21, 1816, in Germany, with the name Israel Beer Josaphat, later converted to Christianity, changing his name and working for a German publishing firm that specialized in political tracts. Reuters in 1850 began a carrier pigeon service called Reuters News Agency to deliver news between Brussels, Belgium, and Aachen, Germany. The next year he opened a telegraph office in London, and convinced publishers to subscribe to a service that would transmit breaking news. Aiding the growth of his news service was the proliferation of telegraph cables under the English Channel, a body of water between Great Britain and mainland Europe. For this, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha made him a baron; and Queen Victoria of England bestowed on him similar honors.
Today, the news agency he founded is known as Thomson Reuters, and has global coverage on six continents.
CREDIT MOONSTRUCK TO HIM — Canadian movie producer and director Norman Jewison was born on July 21, 1926, and turns 96 years old today. Notwithstanding his surname and his having produced Fiddler on the Roof, he is not Jewish, but rather has English and Protestant ancestry. Jewison directed the satirical comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russian Are Coming” (1966), “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971) and “Moonstruck” (1987), and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director three times in three separate decades for the latter three of these. He also directed The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)and Jesus Christ Superstar (1973).
Jewison also produced television specials with actors Danny Kaye and Harry Belafonte.
BROKE SOUTH POLE RECORD — The LOWEST RECORDED TEMPERATURE at the USSR’s Vostok Station in Antarctica, fell to 128.6 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (89.2 degrees below zero Celsius), on July 21, 1983, 40 years ago. This record low occurred during Antarctica’s winter, which, in the southern hemisphere, runs from June to December.
Temperatures are normally colder in the Antarctic than in its northernmost counterpart because the winds are stronger, serving as a block against warmer air coming in. Given global climate warming, these winds might be a valuable protection against severe ice melting.
See previous milestones, here.
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