Brooklyn Boro

Milestones: Thursday, July 27, 2023

July 27, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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‘NICE GUYS FINISH LAST” — This was the catchphrase of famous Brooklyn Dodgers manager LEO DUROCHER, born on July 27, 1905, in Massachusetts, was perhaps named for his Zodiac sign. Known for his fiery, “must win,” attitude and his fights with umpires and even executive management, Durocher was player/manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers starting in 1939 and two years later, led “dem Bums” to their first pennant win in 21 years, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame website. He led the Dodgers until 1948 when he surprised everyone by becoming manager of the Dodgers’ crosstown rival, The New York Giants. However, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and joined the Dodgers, he had Durocher’s full support and went  on to lead the Dodgers to win the 1947 National League Pennant.

During his  time managing the Giants, Durocher led that team into two World Series. He took a hiatus from baseball but then returned to coach the Los Angeles Dodgers, then later as the Chicago Cubs’ manager.


RED SUMMER OF 1919 — The Chicago Race Riots broke out on July 27, 1919, continuing for eight days, in the wake of the stoning of 17-year-old African American Eugene Williams, who unknowingly crossed an “unofficial” and invisible segregation barrier in the waters off a Chicago South Side beach. A gang of white men stoned Williams, who was in the water, and he drowned. After the police refused to arrest the men, violence broke out that is believed to have been both instigated and fueled by white athletic club members claiming turf. The Black population, many of whom were veterans of World War I which had just ended the previous year, and who had fresh combat experience, fought back.

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By Aug. 1, 23 Black and 15 white men had been killed, more than 500 people were injured. More than a thousand Black families had lost their homes to fires, until the Illinois National Guard belatedly ended the conflict.


KOREAN WAR ARMISTICE — The Armistice to end the Korean conflict, which had begun in 1950, was signed on July 27, 1953. Igniting the war was North Korea’s invasion of South Korea. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a former military general, threatened nuclear attacks; these threats may have proven effective, as all sides readily agreed to signing the armistice to end the bloodshed. Among other points, the armistice established a committee of delegates from neutral countries that was in charge of deciding the fate of the POWs. The prisoners were ultimately given the choice of staying where they were or returning to their homelands. The armistice also established a new border between North and South Korea (the latter of which gained territory), with a demilitarized buffer zone.

The Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, (acronym M.A.S.H.) became the subject of a novel, a 1970 movie and then the popular TV series with three army doctors as the protagonists. The series, with its blend of humor and poignant chronicles of efforts to save lives during the war, ran from 1972-1983 (and now in syndication), and won 14 Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award “for the depth of its humor and the manner in which comedy is used to lift the spirit and, as well, to offer a profound statement on the nature of war.”


DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS — The US DEPARTMENT OF STATE was founded on July 27, 1789. Originally named the Department of Foreign Affairs, this was the first presidential cabinet department that Congress established and was renamed to the Department of State less than two months later, on Sept. 15, 1789. The First Secretary of State, serving under President George Washington, was Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who had experience as a foreign minister to France during the American Revolution, an assignment that had just concluded. Jefferson was commissioned 11 days after the Congressional act renaming the department.

Congress in 1789 also assigned to the Department of State several domestic responsibilities, including, according to the State Department’s historian’s webpage, publication and distribution of Acts of Congress, custody of the Great Seal of the United States, custody of Departmental records, the operation of the U.S. Mint, issuance of patents and copyrights, and administration of the census, which was later moved to Department of the Interior and, in 1902, to the Department of Commerce.


‘REIGN OF TERROR’S ARCHITECT — Maximilien Robespierre, considered the architect of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, was elected on July 27, 1793, to the Committee of Public Safety, formed in April to protect France against its enemies, foreign and domestic, and to oversee the government. Under Robespierre’s leadership, the committee took virtual dictatorial control over the French government. Although his dedication to civil morality garnered him the moniker “The Incorruptible,” he also gained power, and was head of the Jacobins, a political group that promoted the ideals of the French Revolution. He was also violent, sending to the guillotine anyone he believed to be his enemy and the enemy of France, executing them without due process. Exactly a year after he ascended to power in the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre and his disciples were arrested on July 27, 1794 and the next day was guillotine– also without the due process of a trial.

But the next dictator — who would become emperor — was already in queue: Napoleon Bonaparte.


ANOTHER FIRST IN AVIATION — The world’s first jet-propelled airliner, the British De Havilland Comet, made its maiden test-flight in England on July 27, 1949. The plane’s jet engine was an innovation that would revolutionize the airline industry, as it enabled planes to climb to faster and fly to higher altitudes, thus cutting travel time in half. The Comet’s designer was aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965), who had originally designed motorcycles and buses. Witnessing Wilbur Wright demonstrate an airplane in 1908 inspired De Havilland to build one, successfully designing and piloting his own plane two years later.

De Havilland, who later worked for British aircraft manufacturers before launching his own company in 1920, emerged as a leader in the industry, particularly for designing lighter engines and faster planes. He designed fighter jets during World War II to counter Germany’s lead in this. After the war, De Havilland began focusing on commercial jets.


RECOMMENDED IMPEACHMENT — The House Judiciary Committee, on July 27, 1974, recommended that Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President, be impeached and removed from office, and initiated proceedings to do so. The first article of impeachment against the president was passed on July 27; two more articles, on July 29 and 30, dealt with Nixon’s abuse of power and contempt of Congress. A week later, on August 5, Nixon complied with a Supreme Court mandate that he provide transcripts of missing tapes, which added to the evidence against him. Three days later he resigned, rather than face impeachment, making him the first President to voluntarily leave office.

Nixon was not the first President to face impeachment. Andrew Johnson, the 17th President was impeached, as were William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President, and Donald J. Trump, the 45th President – who was the first to be impeached twice during his single term in office. The Senate, which then hears the impeachment trial, has never yet convicted and removed an impeached President.


INSULIN BREAKTHROUGH — Medical scientists for the first time isolated the hormone insulin on July 27, 1921, helping create a successful and life-saving treatment for people with diabetes. Working at the University of Toronto, two Canadian scientists, Frederick Banting and Charles Best, successfully isolated insulin — that they believed could prevent diabetes. The scientists then received support from the University of Toronto’s J.J.R. MacLeod to prepare insulin treatments for a human subject, by first extracting a pure formula from cattle pancreas organs. The following January, they treated a 14-year-old diabetic boy, who began improving dramatically. The University of Toronto responded to the success by immediately granting pharmaceutical companies license — without royalties — to produce insulin.

Banting and McLeod (but not Charles Best) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1923.

See previous milestones, here.

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