Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind. ~W.H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand
Medieval History 1521 – The Diet of Worms begins, lasting until May 25
The Diet of Worms 1521 (German: Reichstag zu Worms, [ˈʁaɪçstaːk tsuː ˈvɔɐms]) was a diet (a formal deliberative assembly, specifically an Imperial Diet) that took place in Worms, Germany, and is most memorable for the Edict of Worms (Wormser Edikt), which addressed Martin Luther and the effects of the Protestant Reformation. It was conducted from 28 January to 25 May 1521, with Emperor Charles V presiding.
In June of the previous year, 1520, Pope Leo X issued the Papal bull Exsurge Domine (“Arise, O Lord”), outlining 41 purported errors found in Martin Luther’s 95 theses and other writings related to or written by him. Luther was summoned by the emperor. Prince Frederick III, Elector of Saxony obtained an agreement that if Luther appeared he would be promised safe passage to and from the meeting. This guarantee was essential after the treatment of Jan Hus, who was tried and executed at the Council of Constance in 1415 despite a promise of safe conduct.
Emperor Charles V commenced the Imperial Diet of Worms on 28 January 1521. Luther was summoned to renounce or reaffirm his views. When he appeared before the assembly on 16 April, Johann Eck, an assistant of the Archbishop of Trier (Richard Greiffenklau zu Vollraths at that time), acted as spokesman for the emperor.
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Reformation & Revolution – The Protestant Reformation and the American Declaration of Independence
The Protestant Reformation produced a new kind of consciousness and a new kind of man. The English Colonies in America, in turn, produced a new unique strain of that consciousness. It thus follows that it is impossible to understand the intellectual and moral forces behind the American Revolution without understanding the role that Protestant Christianity played in shaping the ideals, principles and institutions of colonial America.
America’s Christian Roots
Martin Luther – Diet of Worms 1521
American Revolution 1777 – British plan to isolate New England
John Burgoyne (Wikipedia), poet, playwright and British general, submits an ill-fated plan to the British government to isolate New England from the other colonies on this day in 1777.
Burgoyne’s plan revolved around an invasion of 8,000 British troops from Canada, who would move southward through New York by way of Lake Champlain and the Mohawk River, taking the Americans by surprise. General Burgoyne believed he and his troops could then take control of the Hudson River and isolate New England from the other colonies, freeing British General William Howe to attack Philadelphia.
General Burgoyne’s plan went into effect during the summer of 1777 and was initially a success—the British captured Fort Ticonderoga on June 2, 1777. However, the early success failed to lead to victory, as Burgoyne overextended his supply chain, which stretched in a long, narrow strip from the northern tip of Lake Champlain south to the northern curve of the Hudson River at Fort Edward, New York. As Burgoyne’s army marched south, Patriot militia circled north, cutting the British supply line.
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Battle of Saratoga
American Civil War 1861 – Louisiana State Troops seize Fort McComb. Louisiana
Fort Macomb (Wikipedia) is a 19th century fortress in Louisiana, on the western shore of Chef Menteur Pass. The fort is adjacent to the Venetian Isles community, now legally within the city limits of New Orleans, Louisiana, although some miles distant from the city when first built and still a considerable distance from the main developed portion of the city.
Chef Menteur Pass is a water route from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Pontchartrain and the lakeshore of New Orleans. (The other route is the Rigolets; both straits connect Pontchartrain to the Gulf via Lake Borgne.) An earlier fort at the site was called Fort Chef Menteur. The current brick fort was built in 1822, and renamed Fort Wood in 1827, with its current name being given in 1851.
The fort was occupied by a Confederate States of America garrison starting on 28 January 1861 early in the American Civil War, and retaken by the Union the following year.
Old West 1878 – Outlaw gang arrested in Kansas by Sheriff Bat Masterson and Posse
Dave Rudabaugh and his gang were arrested by posse led by Sheriff Bat Masterson of Ford County, for robbing a pay train near Kinsley the day before, netting $10,000. Rudabaugh and his gang had been trying to stay one jump ahead of Wyatt Earp who had been hired by the railroad to track him down for robbing a pay train in November of 1877. Today In Old West History >>
William Barclay “Bat” Masterson (November 26, 1853 – October 25, 1921) was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph. He was the brother of lawmen James Masterson and Ed Masterson. Read more at Wikipedia >>
“Bat Masterson – No Amnesty for Death”
DeForest Kelley in the 1961 TV episode “No Amnesty for Death”
World War I 1915 – Germans sink American merchant ship
In the country’s first such action against American shipping interests on the high seas, the captain of a German cruiser orders the destruction of the William P. Frye, an American merchant ship.
The William P. Frye, a four-masted steel barque built in Bath, Maine, in 1901 and named for the well-known Maine senator William Pierce Frye (1830-1911), was on its way to England with a cargo of wheat. On January 27, it was intercepted by a German cruiser in the South Atlantic Ocean off the Brazilian coast and ordered to jettison its cargo as contraband. When the American ship’s crew failed to fulfill these orders completely by the next day, the German captain ordered the destruction of the ship.
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General Interest 1917 – U.S. ends search for Pancho Villa
American forces are recalled from Mexico after nearly 11 months of fruitless searching for Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (Wikipedia), who was accused of leading a bloody raid against Columbus, New Mexico.
In 1914, following the resignation of Mexican leader Victoriano Huerta, Pancho Villa and his former revolutionary ally Venustiano Carranza battled each other in a struggle for succession. By the end of 1915, Villa had been driven north into the mountains, and the U.S. government recognized General Carranza as the president of Mexico.
In January 1916, to protest President Woodrow Wilson’s support for Carranza, Villa executed 16 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in northern Mexico. Then, on March 9, 1916, Villa led a band of several hundred guerrillas across the border and raided the town of Columbus, killing 17 Americans. U.S. troops pursued the Mexicans, killing 50 on U.S. soil and 70 more in Mexico.
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Pancho Villa: Clip from Documentary
www.panchovillastories.net – Pancho Villa & Other Stories is the personal stories of men and women —all now deceased— who witnessed or participated in the Mexican Revolution. These oral histories, conducted throughout Mexico and the southwestern U.S. from 1986 to 1994, flow seamlessly between historical incidents and the legends associated with the deeds of Villa and his La Division del Norte.
Science 1934 – First Ski Tow Rope In U.S.
The first ski tow rope in the U.S., built by Robert Royce, was used for the first time in Woodstock, Vermont to enable snow skiers to easily reach the top of the mountain. His idea was based on one he had heard was operating since 1932 in Shawbridge, Quebec. The Woodstock tow rope was built by David Dodd of South Newbury in less than 2 weeks for under $500. About 2500 feet of 7/8-in manilla rope was spliced in a loop, passed over pulleys and around a wheel attached to a Model T ford engine. The tow rope ran 900-ft up the hill, easily hauling up to 5 skiers holding on to it up the slope in a minute. The enthusiasts enjoyed riding the tow rope up the hill, adding to the thrill of the downhill journey.
World War II 1945 – Burma Road is reopened
On this day, part of the 717-mile “Burma Road” (Wikipedia) from Lashio, Burma to Kunming in southwest China is reopened by the Allies, permitting supplies to flow back into China.
At the outbreak of war between Japan and China in 1937, when Japan began its occupation of China’s seacoast, China began building a supply route that would enable vital resources to evade the Japanese blockade and flow into China’s interior from outside. It was completed in 1939, and allowed goods to reach China via a supply route that led from the sea to Rangoon, and then by train to Lashio. When, in April 1942, the Japanese occupied most of Burma, the road from Lashio to China was closed, and the supply line was cut off.
The Allies were not able to respond until 1944, when Allied forces in eastern India made their way into northern Burma and were able to begin construction of another supply road that linked Ledo, India, with the part of the original Burma Road still controlled by the Chinese. The Stillwell Road (named for Gen. Joseph Stillwell, American adviser to Chiang Kai-shek, China’s leader) was finally opened on this day in 1945, once again allowing the free transport of supplies into China.
WW2 – Campaigns in Burma
Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
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