Milestones: Tuesday, September 5, 2023
TEXAS BECOMES A REPUBLIC — SAM HOUSTON was elected as president of the brand new Republic of Texas on Sept. 5, 1836, after a successful military rebellion against the Mexican states of Tejas and Coahuila. Houston, whose family had come from Tennessee, ran away from home after the death of his father, and joined the Cherokee tribe, which later nationalized him as a Cherokee citizen after he served in the War of 1812. Yet, Houston later served as the Governor of Tennessee. President Andrew Jackson, Houston’s old Tennessee comrade from the Creek War, charged Houston with the task of negotiating treaties with local Native Americans for protection of border traders.
Notwithstanding a major defeat against Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the Alamo, Houston and his army were able to rebound. Santa Anna was captured and compelled to sign an armistice that granted Texas its independence from Mexico. Houston was named the first president, he later got Texas admitted to the Union in 1845, and served as a Senator and later the state’s governor. His refusal to envelop Texas in the Confederacy during the Civil War, however, got him deposed.
CONGRESS FORMED IN PROTEST — THE FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS CONVENED at Philadelphia on Sept. 5, 1774, in response to the British Parliament’s enactment of the Coercive Acts in the American colonies. Meeting at Carpenter’s Hall, 56 delegates, representing colonies but Georgia drafted a declaration of rights and grievances. They also elected as president of Congress a Virginian named Peyton Randolph. This first cohort of delegates included George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Jay and John Adams, who would also serve in the Second Continental Congress.
American opposition to British policy had first arisen in 1765 when Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which taxed the colonists to fund a British army that would be stationed in the colonies. The colonists boycotted the British and organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. Their persistence led Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act in 1766.
SIOUX LEADER CRAZY HORSE SLAIN — THE OGLALA SIOUX LEADER CRAZY HORSE WAS KILLED when he resisted confinement at the hands of the U.S. Army, with one of the white American soldiers shooting him with a bayonet. His people and territory had been usurped during the 1866 gold rush along the Bozeman Trail in Montana. Following the end of the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman had gone West to build forts within Sioux territory. Crazy Horse had been among an army of Sioux who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana Territory, the previous year. Little Bighorn, where Custer was killed in action, had brought a huge defeat to U.S. forces, historically the worst against United States warfare against the Native American nations.
Crazy Horse, whose tribe suffered from cold and starvation, had surrendered in May 1877 to General George Crook at the Red Cloud Indian Agency in Nebraska. He was sent to Fort Robinson. He died that Sept. 5 in a skirmish to resist confinement there.
NOTORIOUS OUTLAW — JESSE JAMES, born on Sept. 5, 1847, had two reputations: vicious murder, and Robin Hood figure. The child who would later become a notorious outlaw had a very difficult youth after his father, a preacher, disappeared during the California gold rush. Jesse and brother Frank, escaping their violent and unstable homes — and Missouri — joined the Civil War on the Confederate side and learned to kill, becoming guerillas and murdering 25 unarmed Union soldiers in August 1863. Seen by some as a vicious murderer and others as a gallant Robin Hood, the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James was born in Clay County, Missouri.
Repelled by the prospect of farming, Jesse and Frank James joined a band of outlaws, and committed the nation’s first daylight bank robbery on Valentine’s Day in 1866. They disappeared with $57,000 of the Liberty, Missouri people’s cash. But that was only the start of a long career, in which the James brothers robbed thousands of dollars from banks, stores, stagecoaches and trains.
MASSACRE AT THE OLYMPICS — THE 1972 SUMMER OLYMPICS WERE MARRED ON SEPT. 5 OF THAT YEAR, when a group of Palestinian terrorists known as Black September stormed the Olympic Village apartment of the Israeli athletes. The terrorists killed two of the athletes on the spot and then took the other nine hostage, demanding the release of more than 230 Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, as well as of two Germans known to be terrorists. A shootout at the Munich Airport unfolded, killing the nine Israeli hostages, a West German policeman and five of the terrorists. Olympic competitions were suspended so that the community could mourn the slain athletes, and memorial services were held for them.
However, the decision was made to resume the Olympic events to show that the terrorists had not won. That Olympiad saw some landmark victories: American swimmer Mark Spitz’s there were numerous moments of spectacular athletic achievement: American swimmer Mark Spitz won seven gold medals and teenage Russian gymnast Olga Korbut’s won two gold medals.
SENATOR HELMS AND THE CONDOM BANNER — A GROUP OF AIDS ACTIVISTS UNFURLED A GIANT INFLATABLE CONDOM in front of the home of North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms on Sept. 5, 1991. They were protesting the conservative senator’s vehement opposition to HIV/AIDS research, insisting that gay people were “weak” and “morally sick,” and that supporting such research would be tantamount to enabling the “homosexual lifestyle.” Helms also refused to accept scientific research about the HIV virus, even insisting that “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy. The banner bore a message: “A CONDOM TO STOP UNSAFE POLITICS: HELMS IS DEADLIER THAN A VIRUS.”
Helms (1921-2008), who served in the Senate for three decades (1973-2003), also gained a reputation as an aggressive opponent of rights that were not connected to sexual activity, including civil rights, women’s rights, affirmative action and even the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was ultimately passed in 1993 and that President Bill Clinton signed into law.
See previous milestones, here.
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