The Jefferson Davis Memorial, Richmond, Virginia
If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.
On this day in 1861 the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as its president.
Davis represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and House of Representatives prior to becoming president of the Confederacy. He also served as United States Secretary of War under U.S. President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857.
Davis was born in Kentucky, but grew up on his brother’s large cotton plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana. Prior to the Civil War, he operated a large cotton plantation in Mississippi where he owned over seventy slaves.
Davis opposed secession, he believed in the states’ right to leave the Union. He was not considered an effective leader and some consider that to be the reason for the weakness of the Confederacy.
Davis was captured in 1865 after fleeing the fall of Richmond. Accused of treason, he was imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe. By the late 1880s, Davis encouraged reconciliation and called for Southerners to be loyal to the Union.
Davis died on December 5, 1889. Although initially laid to rest in New Orleans in the Army of Northern Virginia mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery, in 1893 Davis was re-interred in Richmond, Virginia at Hollywood Cemetery, per his widow’s request.
On this day in 1693 the College of William and Mary was founded under a royal charter “make, found and establish a certain Place of Universal Study, a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good arts and sciences…to be supported and maintained, in all time coming.”
It was named for reigning monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II and is the second oldest college in the United States (after Harvard University, 1636) and the oldest in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
According to Wikipedia: William & Mary educated American Presidents Thomas Jefferson (third), James Monroe (fifth), and John Tyler (tenth) as well as other key figures important to the development of the nation, including the fourth U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall of Virginia, Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay of Kentucky, sixteen members of the Continental Congress, and four signers of the Declaration of Independence, earning it the nickname “the Alma Mater of the Nation.”
In other news, American composer, conductor, and pianist, John Williams, was born on this day in 1932. Williams is known and recognized for film scores that include the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman: The Movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, the first two Home Alone films, the first two Jurassic Park films, Schindler’s List, and the first three Harry Potter films.
On this day in 1990, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union agreed to give up its monopoly of power based on the recommendation of General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
In the aftermath, fifteen of the constituent republics of the USSR held their first competitive elections. the CPSU lost six of those republics.
According to Wikipedia:
The constituent republics began to declare their national sovereignty and began a “war of laws” with the Moscow central government; they rejected union-wide legislation that conflicted with local laws, asserted control over their local economy and refused to pay taxes. President Landsbergis of Lithuania also exempted Lithuanian men from mandatory service in the Soviet Armed Forces. This conflict caused economic dislocation as supply lines were disrupted, and caused the Soviet economy to decline further.
To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn than to the imperishable truth to be found in this treasure house, the Bible?
Queen Elizabeth II
On this day in 1952, Britain’s King George VI passed away, leaving his daughter Elizabeth to ascend to the throne. George became king upon the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII in 1936.
Elizabeth and her husband Philip were at Treetops Hotel in Kenya when they received the news of her father’s passing. Her private secretary, Martin Charteris asked her what she would choose as her regnal name. She replied “Elizabeth, of course.”
Her coronation occured on June 2, 1953. She is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch.
The Netflix series, The Crown, dramatizes the early reign and marriage of Elizabeth II.
Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. as the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954.
On this day in 1917, the United States Congress overrode the veto of President Woodrow Wilson and enacted the Immigration Act of 1917.
The act was also known and The Literacy Act and as the most sweeping immigration act the United States had passed until that time. It was the first such law to restrict immigration, rather than just regulate it. The law imposed literacy tests, created new categories of those who were inadmissible, and barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific Zone. It remained in effect until the Immigration Act of 1952.
Today is Groundhog Day, the day when Punxsutawney Phil is brought out to see, or not see his shadow and doom us to six more weeks of winter or promise an early spring.
In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, news anchor Phil is stuck in an endless loop that allows him to finally become a better person.
The Broadway musical of the same name opened in New York in early 2017.
Here’s the cast performing on The Today Show.
On this day in 1964, The Beatles had their first number one hit in the United States with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”