Milestones: Monday, July 24, 2023
EL LIBERTADOR — SIMÓN BOLÍVAR, born on July 24, 1783, was a Venezuelan military commander and later political hero who liberated much of South America from Spanish imperial rule. He was born into a wealthy Spanish-American family but as a child lost his parents and was sent to Spain to be educated. Disenchanted with Spain’s rule over South America, he fought in the Spanish-American wars of independence. He led the region which now comprises the nations of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire.
The country of Bolivia was later named for Bolívar, who was called El Libertador, or the Liberator of America.
ORIGINALLY PRONOUNCED THE FRENCH WAY — French explorers Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and Alphonse de Tonty on July 24, 1701, founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the French word for “strait” — a waterway that connects the Great Lakes with the St. Lawrence Seaway. Here French colonial settlements grew around both sides of the strait and dealt in the fur trade, farming and missionary work. The fort was built to protect the settlements from the British, but their armies laid siege and took control in 1763. Detroit, in what became the state of Michigan, became the leading city for the manufacture of automobiles. In fact, Henry Leland, who bought the Henry Ford Company in 1902, named the Cadillac after the early 18th-century founder.
The Cadillac is again manufactured in Michigan, after having relocated to New York City for a while to distance itself from the parent company and promote its own brand. Today, the word Detroit is also a metonym for the automobile industry.
FOUNDED PARIS’ FAMOUS THÉÂTRE HISTORIQUE — ALEXANDRE DUMAS, born on July 24, 1802, was a prolific French playwright and novelist, credited with more than 300 works, foremost among them The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. He is also called Alexandre Dumas père, indicating there was a son of the same name and profession. During the 1840s, the elder Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris. He was a playwright as well and several of his novels were later made into films.
Alexandre Dumas, fils, is perhaps best known for his 1848 play, La Dame aux Camélias (Lady of the Camilles, translated into English as “Camille.”) The drama gained such immediate success that Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi turned it into an opera, La Traviata, which made its premiere four years later.
AMELIA EARHART, born on July 24, 1897, in Kansas, was in 1928 the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger, and four years later, the first woman and second person to fly across the Atlantic solo, completing the journey in about 15 hours. Earhart was also the first person to fly solo across the Pacific, with a route from Hawaii to California. A pioneer at heart, she began a daring worldwide trip that she aimed to become her longest. Plotting a route along the equator, Earhart successfully flew the first 22,000 miles of her voyage. Stopping at New Guinea, she and navigator Fred Noonan took off from New Guinea for the remaining 7,000 miles. However, about a tenth into their flight, radio contact was lost; they disappeared and were never found. It would be 18 months before she was officially declared dead.
Earhart was presented with the Distinguished Cross for her earlier solo transatlantic flight. During her lifetime, she organized a group of women pilots called The 99s.
EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT — Each year, for a week starting with the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s birth, Oshkosh, Wisconsin holds the world’s largest aviation sporting event: the EAA AirVenture. Running from July 24–30, this annual event of the Experimental Aircraft Association attracts more than ten thousand airplanes and their pilots take part in daily air shows, forums, workshops and other special programs. Attendance at the EAA AirVenture has averaged 500,000.
Experimental aircraft are those designed to test new aerospace technologies and design concepts. They are distinct from research aircraft, which are modified to conduct scientific research.
PIONEER DAY — Religious leader Brigham Young and his followers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah on July 24, 1837, now celebrated as PIONEER DAY. Having experienced a religious experience that led him to organize the Mormons — or Latter Day Saints — he headed westward after a series of conflicts and a run-in with the law over counterfeit money. They wound up in the Salt Lake Valley, which the United States had acquired from Mexico by then.
Brigham Young told his followers, “We have been kicked out of the frying-pan into the fire, out of the fire into the middle of the floor, and here we are and here we will stay. God has shown me that this is the spot to locate his people, and here is where they will prosper.”
See previous milestones, here.
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