This Day In History – August 21

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Lieutenant-Colonel Banastre Tarleton by Joshua Reynolds.

August 21, 1754 – American Revolution

Bloody Ban Tarleton born in Britain

Banastre Tarleton is born as the fourth child of John Tarleton, the former lord mayor of Liverpool, and a money lender, merchant and slave trader.

After completing his education at Oxford, Tarleton became the most feared officer in the British army during the War for American Independence, memorialized in portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, as well as on film in The Patriot (2000), starring Mel Gibson, as the basis for the character Colonel William Tavington. The treatment of Patriot prisoners by Tarleton and his Loyalist troops in the Southern Campaign led to the coining of a phrase that came to define British brutality during of the last years of the War for Independence: “Tarleton’s Quarter.”

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
Battle of Waxhaws

Commemoration of the Buford Massacre, Lancaster, South Carolina. It was here that the British Banastre Tarlteton disregarded the flag of surrender and slaughtered American patriots returning home to Viriginia. This earned him the nickname of ‘Bloody Ban.’ The injustice of this small battle turned the tide of the American Revolution, and Patriots shouted “Remember Tarleton’s Quarter,” as they defeated the Redcoat forces, and won our freedom.


Slaves on a Virginia plantation

August 21, 1831 – Slavery In The Balance

Slave revolt erupts in Virginia

Believing himself chosen by God to lead his people out of slavery, Nat Turner launches a bloody slave insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner, a slave and educated minister, planned to capture the county armory at Jerusalem, Virginia, and then march 30 miles to Dismal Swamp, where his rebels would be able to elude their pursuers. With seven followers, he slaughtered Joseph Travis, his slave owner, and Travis’ family, and then set off across the countryside, hoping to rally hundreds of slaves to his insurrection en route to Jerusalem.

During the next two days and nights, Turner and 75 followers rampaged through Southampton County, killing about 60 whites. Local whites resisted the rebels, and then the state militia–consisting of some 3,000 men–crushed the rebellion. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, Turner and all his followers were dispersed, captured, or killed. In the aftermath of the rebellion, scores of African Americans were lynched, though many of them were non-participants in the revolt. Turner himself was not captured until the end of October, and after confessing without regret to his role in the bloodshed, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. On November 11, he was hanged in Jerusalem.

Turner’s rebellion was the largest slave revolt in U.S. history and led to a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the movement, assembly, and education of slaves.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
Nat Turner – Video – History.com
Nat Turner – Wikipedia

Nat Turner Captured


1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debate

August 21, 1858 – Presidential Debates

Lincoln-Douglas debates begin

The United States was descending into conflict and violence in the 1850s. As the country expanded west of the Mississippi River, vast territories that would be brought into the union of states had become the focus of a struggle over slavery. Would slavery be allowed in new territories? Who would decide: Congress, by passing federal laws? Voters in the territories? The U.S. Supreme Court by fiat? Much was at stake. The addition of territory as “slave” or “free” threatened to upset the delicate political balance of northern and southern states. Adding to the tension were abolitionists—those who believed slavery was morally wrong and promoted its end, sometimes violently. Could the United States remain united half-slave and half-free? Or must it become one or the other? In Illinois, two politicians vying in 1858 for a seat in the U.S. Senate met to debate the issues, as the country looked on.

Read more at The Lincoln Douglas Debates

Further reading:
Lincoln Pictures, Personal, Family, Politics, Civil War – AmericanPicturesLinks
House Divided Speech – June 16, 1858

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Lincoln Memorial


Early photo of Capt. William Clarke Quantrill

August 21, 1863 – American Civil War

Guerillas massacre residents of Lawrence, Kansas

The vicious guerilla war in Missouri spills over into Kansas and precipitates one of the most appalling acts of violence during the war when 150 men in the abolitionist town of Lawrence are murdered in a raid by Southern partisans.

The Civil War took a very different form in Kansas and Missouri than it did throughout the rest of the nation. There were few regular armies operating there; instead, partisan bands attacked civilians and each other. The roots of conflict in the region dated back to 1854, when the Kansas-Missouri border became ground zero for tension over slavery. While residents of Kansas Territory were trying to decide the issue of slavery, bands from Missouri, a slave state, began attacking abolitionist settlements in the territory. Abolitionists reacted with equal vigor.

Jesse James

When the war began, the long heritage of hatred between partisans created unparalleled violence in the area. In August 1863, the Union commander along the border, General Thomas Ewing, arrested several wives and sisters of members of a notorious band led by William Quantrill. This gang of outlaws had scorched the region, terrorizing and murdering Union sympathizers. On August 14, the building in Kansas City, Missouri, where the women were being held collapsed, killing five.

Bob Younger

Quantrill assembled 450 men to exact revenge. The army, which included such future western outlaws as the Younger brothers and Frank and Jesse James, headed for Lawrence, Kansas, long known as the center of abolitionism in Kansas. After kidnapping 10 farmers in order to guide them to Lawrence, the gang murdered each of them. Quantrill’s men rode into Lawrence and dragged 182 men from their homes, many in front of their families, and killed them in cold blood. They burned 185 buildings in Lawrence, then rode back to Missouri with Union cavalry in hot pursuit.

This incident incited the North and led to even more killing by both sides along the Kansas-Missouri border.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
Lawrence Massacre – Wikipedia
Sacking & Massacre Of Osceola

The destruction of the city of Lawrence, Kansas, and the massacre of its inhabitants by the Rebel guerrillas, August 21, 1863


August 21, 1883 – The Old West

Trial of Frank James begins in Missouri

The trial of Frank James begins in Gallatin, Missouri. It was held in the city opera house in order to accommodate the crowds of spectators.

After having robbed dozens of banks and trains over nearly two decades, Frank James finally turned himself in October 1882. Discouraged by the murder of his brother Jesse the previous spring, Frank feared it was only a matter of time before someone also shot him in the back for reward money. He decided to try his chances with the courts, hoping that his considerably public popularity would win him a short sentence.

Frank’s trial went even better than he had hoped. Although Frank and Jesse James and their gang of desperados had killed many people, the majority of Missourians saw them as heroes who took money from ruthless bank and railroad companies and redistributed it to the poor. The state prosecutor had a difficult time finding jurors who were not prejudiced in Frank’s favor. Looking at the panel of potential jurors, he concluded, “The verdict of the jury that is being selected is already written.”

After the trial began, several prominent witnesses testified to Frank’s character. General Joseph O. Shelby, who had known him during his days as a Civil War guerilla, encouraged the jurors to see Frank James as a defender of the South against corrupt big businesses from the North. When asked to identify Frank in the courtroom, the distinguished general exclaimed: “Where is my old friend and comrade in arms? Ah, there I see him! Allow me, I wish to shake hands with my fellow soldier who fought by my side for Southern rights!”

I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil.” He then ended his statement by saying, “Governor, I haven’t let another man touch my gun since 1861.” Spoken to Missouri Governor Crittenden upon self surrender. Five months after the killing of his brother Jesse in 1882, Frank James boarded a train to Jefferson City, Missouri, where he had an appointment with the governor in the state capitol.

Rural Missourians were unwilling to convict the legendary Frank James. The jury found him not guilty. The states of Alabama and Missouri tried to convict him twice more, on charges of armed robbery, with no success. In late 1883, Frank James became a free man. He lived quietly for 32 more years. The only shots he ever fired again were from starter pistols at county racetracks, one of the handful of odd jobs he took to earn a living. He died at his family home in Missouri in 1915 at the age of 72.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
The Outlaws Frank And Jesse James
A James Family In American Since 1650

Frank (right) and Jesse James in 1872


August 21, 1914 – World War I

The Battles Of the Frontiers Of France Fought

On this day in 1914, the second and third of what will be four “Battles of the Frontiers” fought between German and Allied forces on the Western Front during a four-day period in August 1914 begin near Ardennes and Charleroi in northern France.

During the first month of the Great War, with Germany advancing on France through Belgium, cutting a wide swath of violence on its way, French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre pushed his 1st and 2nd Armies into the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine—forfeited to Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871—against the German left wing. Joffre left the French 5th Army to counter the German right flank, which was swinging down north of the Meuse River, and sent his 3rd and 4th Armies to attack in the forests of Ardennes, where French army headquarters believed the enemy was relatively weak. Though German forces entered and occupied the Belgian capital city, Brussels, on August 20, French morale was strong, and Joffre remarked to his minister of war, Adolphe Messimy, that night: “There is reason to await with confidence the development of operations.”

Read more at This Day In History

Further reading:
Battle of the Frontiers – Lorraine and Ardennes
The Battle of the Frontiers – Wikipedia

French cuirassiers, wearing armoured breastplate and helmet, parade through Paris on the way to battle, August 1914.


August 21, 1959 – Hawaii New State

Eisenhower signs Hawaii statehood bill

On this day in 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill making Hawaii the 50th state.

Ike, as Eisenhower was known, entered the White House in 1953 in charge of 48 states; two more had been added by the time he left office in 1961. During his 1952 presidential campaign, Eisenhower had advocated for the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union but recommended adding Hawaii first. Congress, on the other hand, favored admitting Alaska first, as Alaskan oil would be beneficial to the nation’s economy.

Although he realized the value of Alaska’s natural resources, Eisenhower feared that statehood would interfere with his administration’s ability to establish and control defense installations in the territory closest to Soviet Russia. Hawaii, which had been annexed by the U.S. in 1898, possessed defense installations that were equally important to national security, but a strong congressional contingent of Democrats from southern states expressed concern over incorporating Hawaii’s predominantly non-white population into the Union.

Amidst continuing opposition from members of Congress to the idea of admitting Hawaii to the Union first, Eisenhower eventually relented, after receiving assurances that an Alaskan state government would not interfere in the federal operation of military installations in the region, or the president’s right to reserve territory for future bases. Alaska became a state in January 1959. Eight months later, southern opposition was finally overcome and Hawaii joined the Union.

Source This Day In History

Further reading:
Statehood In Hawaii


Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them. –Thomas Jefferson

America remember and honor your history – it will give direction, purpose and security to your future.


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