Anything of note for June11?

On any given day of the year, much has happened. That thought always intrigues me. So I’ve done some looking around about the 11th day of June. June 11 is the 162nd day of the year with 203 days remaining till year’s end. In the Christian church, it is the traditional feast day of Barnabas the Apostle, one of the leaders of the early church in the city of Antioch and later the traveling companion of Paul. (Acts13:1 and following).

On this day in 173, a Roman army under the command of the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius defeated a vastly superior force of the Quadi in Moravia. It was during this campaign Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek his famous Meditations as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. The title of the work he simply called To Myself. Those who admire it have included John Stuart Mill and Goethe.

England knew interesting times on June 11th. In 1509, a slim and healthy King Henry VIII married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Europe was not yet upset by the upstart Martin Luther. On this date in 1572 Ben Jonson, the playwright and poet, was born.

In 1776 on June 11th, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston to a committee to draft a declaration of independence from Great Britain. Adams encouraged Jefferson to take the lead in writing, asserting that a Virginian ought to have a lead role and telling Jefferson that he (Jefferson) was the better writer. This time period marked the beginning of a strong friendship between Adams and Jefferson, a friendship which would sour between 1797 and 1808 but strengthened afresh as the two men aged. Many years after 1776, Jefferson hailed Adams as “the pillar of support on the floor of Congress, its ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults it encountered” during the fractious debate about adopting the Declaration of Independence, the “American Scripture” as one contemporary scholar has called it.

The year 1837 saw violence in Boston on June 11th, fueled by ethnic tensions between locals and Irish immigrants.

1880 saw the birth of Jeanette Rankin in Montana. She became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1917, when President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, Ms Rankin felt divided. She supported the campaign for women’s rights and for peace. Carrie Chapman Catt cautioned her that if Rankin voted against the war, she would harm the cause of women. (Imagine! A president following the mandate of the Constitution and actually going to Congress to declare war.) When the role call vote came, Ms Rankin was one of 50 members of the House to vote no. (Congressional Representatives voting their principles!) When she voted, she declared, “I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war.” The press had a field day, often criticizing her. When a reporter asked Congressman Fiorello LaGuardia, who also voted no, if it was true that Ms Rankin cried when she cast her vote, LaGuardia replied, “I do not know. I could not see her. My eyes were full of tears.” Rankin stated, “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.” Later she opposed United States involvement in World War II and still later in Vietnam. Regarding women in Congress, she said, “We’re half the people; we should be half the Congress.” That still hasn’t happened. Obviously, work remains to be done.

The wonderful scientist and explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born on June 11th, 1910. Those pictures and films of his work are still awe-inspiring.

In the United States, 1920 was an election year. The Republican National Convention was held in Chicago. President Woodrow Wilson, an incumbent Democrat, was ill and the nation was tired from the war which had concluded eighteen months before. The Republicans had many candidates in contention, the leaders being General Leonard Wood and Governor Lowden of Illinois. Senators in consideration included Warren G. Harding of Ohio, Hiram Johnson of California and “Fighting Bob” La Follette of Wisconsin. Progressives favored La Follette. Other potential candidates included Calvin Coolidge, governor of Massachusetts and Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University. [I wonder what chance a university president would have today to even be considered by a major party. Hhhmmmm!] After a series of ballots, the convention appeared dead locked between the two major contenders. So on June 11th, Republican Party leaders gathered in a room at the Blackstone Hotel to come to a consensus on the candidate, leading the Associated Press to first coin the political phrase “smoke-filled room.” As a result, Harding received the nomination on the tenth ballot, after some voting shifted to comply with the back room deal. (The same convention adopted a plank in the platform in support of woman suffrage. By the time the convention began on June 6th, thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states had ratified the Nineteenth Amendment. Seven states, including Delaware, Maryland and five southern states, had voted against ratification.)

In 1925 William Styron, the novelist, was born in Virginia.

In the sixties, the struggle for civil rights and the war in southeast Asia filled the news. On June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending the University of Alabama. Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they managed to register. That same day a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, rather calmly burned himself with gasoline at a Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom and the on-going war in South Vietnam. I will never forget the horror I felt as I watched the news footage.

On June 11 in 1985, Karen Ann Quinlan died at age 31. Ms Quinlan was a comatose patient whose case prompted a prolonged legal battle and much discussion about the right to die. Two years later, in 1987, Margaret Thatcher became the first British prime minister in more than a century and a half to win a third consecutive term of office.

The federal government executed Timothy McVeigh in 2001 on June 11, for his role in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. In 2003 David Brinkley, the wry American television reporter, died a month away from his 83rd birthday. I grew up watching the Huntley-Brinkley Report which ran on NBC weekday evenings from 1956 to 1970. Their friendly conclusion to each broadcast, “Good night, Chet” and “Good night, David,” became for me as for many, a required evening mantra. Interestingly, it was followed by the beginning of the second movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as the program credits rolled across the screen

June 11, 2008, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made an historic official apology to Canada’s First Nations for a century of governmental abuse in which children were isolated from their homes, families and cultures.

A Whitman’s sampler of the depth and breadth of any given day’s history. Wait, you do remember what a Whitman sampler is, don’t you?

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  • Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott  On June 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Good work, Clio. I can’t imagine anyone moe qualified to comment on history than you–and language as well: a peace-loving liberal who knows the difference between good news and bad news for people in general, not just for a small tribe of of people. Keep up the good work!

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