November 16, 1907: Oklahoma Celebrates its Statehood

A revolver shot rang out and the rejoicing began in Guthrie. After an existence of eighteen years, six months and twenty-four days, the Territory of Oklahoma with Indian Territory, became a memory today with the signing of the statehood proclamation by President Roosevelt. The news of the admission of the state into the Union was received here at 9:18 o’clock this morning, two minutes after the proclamation was signed.OK Statehood

J. C. Nelson, superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Company was here from Omaha and had secured a direct wire to the White House, thereby preventing any delay in the transmission of the message. This announcement was first made public by Hugh Scott, private secretary to Governor Frantz. Scott stood on the portico and fired an automatic pistol as a signal to the militia companies, which replied with volleys of blank cartridges. Instantly the city broke into a tumult of noise.

Bands began playing, bells were rung, steam whistles blown and every man and boy who could fire a gun added to the uproar. The firing of guns at public demonstrations was typical of Oklahoma. In early days volunteer fire departments were called out in this way. The air was sharp and crisp and the morning resplendent with sunshine. The crowds that had been pouring into Guthrie since the arrival of early trains were in a jubilant mood. Many women joined with men in the streets in shouting a welcome to statehood.
Governor Haskell’s apartments were jammed with people from every portion of the new state. Many of the women were handsomely gowned. The crush extended from his office at the Hotel Royal through the parlors, down the wide stairway, through the hotel lobby and across the sidewalk into the street. He was showered with congratulations and with kindly words for the success of his administration.

Governor Haskell had laid aside his customary sack coat for a Prince Albert, but wore it easily and moved from group to group as if he were at a big house party. Even before he had taken his oath of office Governor Haskell proceeded to the state’s business and his first act was against the Standard Oil Company. He had been informed at an early hour this morning that the Standard company was preparing to take advantage of the short interval in which neither the Territorial nor the State officers would be in existence, that it might lay an interstate natural gas pipe line from Washington County into Kansas.

During this interval it was believed that the United States Indian Agent at Muskogee also might not have authority to interfere with the Standard. Governor Haskell sent a telegram to the deputy County Attorney of Washington County instructing him peremptorily to prevent the laying of the gas pipe line. The question involved is one of greatest interest to citizens of the new state who wish, if possible, to prevent the exportation of natural gas outside the state, preferring that the vast natural gas resources of Oklahoma should be used to build up home industries.

J. J. Love of Woodward, member of the Corporation Commission, kept his promise made at home during his campaign and brought forty young women of Woodward to Guthrie in a special car at his expense. Love is a typical frontier Texan, about six feet three inches high and walks with swagger of a cowboy. For many years he was the close personal friend of the late Temple Houston.
“The young ladies with me today,” said Love, “run anywhere from the daughters of bankers to the daughters of laborers and you can’t tell them apart. They are all my friends and my people and I’m certainly going to show them a good time.”

November 13, 1787: Thomas Jefferson on the Tree of Liberty

God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. lIBERTY tREE

The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.

We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two?

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.

November 12, 1815: Birth of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

I urge a sixteenth amendment, because ‘manhood suffrage,’ or a man’s government, is civil, religious, and social disorganization.Elizabeth-Cady-Stanton_

The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!

The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature, until we know but little of true manhood and womanhood, of the latter comparatively nothing, for it has scarce been recognized as a power until within the last century. Society is but the reflection of man himself, untempered by woman’s thought; the hard iron rule we feel alike in the church, the state, and the home. No one need wonder at the disorganization, at the fragmentary condition of everything, when we remember that man, who represents but half a complete being, with but half an idea on every subject, has
undertaken the absolute control of all sublunary matters.

People object to the demands of those whom they choose to call the strong-minded, because they say ‘the right of suffrage will make the women masculine.’ That is just the difficulty in which we are involved today. Though disfranchised, we have few women in the best sense; we have simply so many reflections, varieties, and dilutions of the masculine gender. The strong, natural characteristics of womanhood are repressed and ignored in dependence, for so long as man feeds woman she will try to please the giver and adapt herself to his condition. To keep a foothold in society, woman must be as near like man as possible, reflect his ideas, opinions, virtues, motives, prejudices, and vices. She must respect his statutes, though they strip her of every inalienable right, and conflict with that higher law written by the finger of God on her own soul.

November 11, 1941: FDR asks “What did it get you?”

Among the great days of national remembrance, none is more deeply moving to Americans of our generation than the Eleventh of November, the Anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, the day sacred to the memory of those who gave their lives in the war which that day ended.Sgt York

Our observance of this Anniversary has a particular significance in the year 1941.

For we are able today as we were not always able in the past to measure our indebtedness to those who died.

A few years ago, even a few months, we questioned, some of us, the sacrifice they had made.  Standing near to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Sergeant York of Tennessee, on a recent day spoke to such questions.

“There are those in this country today”, said Sergeant York, “who ask me and other veterans of World War Number One, ‘What did it get you?’ ”

Today we know the answer — all of us.  All who search their hearts in honesty and candor know it.

We know that these men died to save their country from a terrible danger of that day. We know, because we face that danger once again on this day.

“What did it get you?”

People who asked that question of Sergeant York, and his comrades forgot the one essential fact which every man who looks can see today.

They forgot that the danger which threatened this country in 1917 was real — and that the sacrifice of those who died averted that danger.

Because the danger was overcome they were unable to remember that the danger had been present.

Because our freedom was secure they took the security of our freedom for granted and asked why those who died to save it should have died at all.

“What did it get you?”

“What was there in it for you?”

If our armies of 1917 and 1918 had lost there would not have been a man or woman in America who would have wondered why the war was fought. The reasons would have faced us everywhere. We would have known why liberty is worth defending as those alone whose liberty is lost can know it. We would have known why tyranny is worth defeating as only those whom tyrants rule can know.

But because the war had been won we forgot, some of us, that the war might have been lost.

Whatever we knew or thought we knew a few years or months ago, we know now that the danger of brutality and tyranny and slavery to freedom-loving peoples can be real and terrible.

We know why these men fought to keep our freedom — and why the wars that save a people’s liberties are wars worth fighting and worth winning — and at any price.

“What did it get you?”

The men of France, prisoners in their cities, victims of searches and of seizures without law, hostages for the safety of their masters’ lives, robbed of their harvests, murdered in their prisons — the men of France would know the answer to that questions. They know now what a former victory of freedom against tyranny was worth.

The Czechs too know the answer.  The Poles. The Danes. The Dutch. The Serbs. The Belgians. The Norwegians. The Greeks.

We know it now. ..

It is in our charge now, as it was America’s charge after the Civil War, to see to it “that these dead shall not have died in vain”. Sergeant York spoke thus of the cynics and doubters: “The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them.”

November 10, 1879: Birth of Poet Vachel Lindsay

Abraham Lincoln Walks At Midnight

It is portentous, and a thing of state
That here at midnight, in our little townvachellindsay_2
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
Near the old court-house pacing up and down.

Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards
He lingers where his children used to play,
Or through the market, on the well-worn stones
He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.

A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,
A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl
Make him the quaint great figure that men love,
The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.

He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.
He is among us: — as in times before!
And we who toss and lie awake for long
Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.

His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many peasants fight, they know not why,
Too many homesteads in black terror weep.

The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn
Shall come; — the shining hope of Europe free;
The league of sober folk, the Workers’ Earth,
Bringing long peace to Cornwall, Alp and Sea.

It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,
That all his hours of travail here for men
Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace
That he may sleep upon his hill again?

November 9, 1984 Cesar Chavez Address to the Commonwealth Club of California

All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: To overthrow a farm labor system in this nation which treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings.

Farm workers are not agricultural implements. They are not beasts of burden–to be used and discarded. chavez2

That dream was born in my youth. It was nurtured in my early days of organizing. It has flourished. It has been attacked. ..

All Hispanics–urban and rural, young and old–are connected to the farm workers’ experience. We had all lived through the fields–or our parents had. We shared that common humiliation.

How could we progress as a people, even if we lived in the cities, while the farm workers–men and women of our color–were condemned to a life without pride?

How could we progress as a people while the farm workers–who symbolized our history in this land–were denied self-respect?

How could our people believe that their children could become lawyers and doctors and judges and business people while this shame, this injustice was permitted to continue?

Those who attack our union often say, ‘It’s not really a union. It’s something else: A social movement. A civil rights movement. It’s something dangerous.’ …

Today, the growers are like a punch-drunk old boxer who doesn’t know he’s past his prime. The times are changing. The political and social environment has changed. The chickens are coming home to roost–and the time to account for past sins is approaching.

I am told, these days, why farm workers should be discouraged and pessimistic: The Republicans control the governor’s office and the White House. They say there is a conservative trend in the nation…

But 20 and 30 years from now–in Modesto, in Salinas, in Fresno, in Bakersfield, in the Imperial Valley, and in many of the great cities of California–those communities will be dominated by farm workers and not by growers, by the children and grandchildren of farm workers and not by the children and grandchildren of growers.

These trends are part of the forces of history that cannot be stopped. No person and no organization can resist them for very long. They are inevitable.

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.

You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. …

Like the other immigrant groups, the day will come when we win the economic and political rewards which are in keeping with our numbers in society. The day will come when the politicians do the right thing by our people out of political necessity and not out of charity or idealism.

That day may not come this year. That day may not come during this decade. But it will come, someday!

And when that day comes, we shall see the fulfillment of that passage from the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, “That the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

And on that day, our nation shall fulfill its creed–and that fulfillment shall enrich us all.

November 6, 1898: The Capitol Explodes

On a quiet Sunday afternoon in late fall of 1898, two policemen who were pedaling their bicycles through a Capitol Hill neighborhood were nearly knocked off their bicycles when a tremendous blast shattered the calm.

They turned instinctively toward the Capitol, three blocks away, and were aghast to see a sheet of flames rising from the building’s basement-level windows along the east front.explode2

Inside the building, another police officer had just detected the odor of gas – He was not unduly alarmed; gas was used to light the Capitol’s interior. He set out to investigate, but just then a huge explosion heaved the floor north of the rotunda on the Senate side upward spewing brick, plaster, and dense black smoke in all directions. Fire raced up an elevator shaft to the upper floors, where it melted steel, cracked stone, and incinerated priceless records.

By the 1890s, the Capitol was largely lit by new incandescent electrical lamps, but the Capitol still employed chandeliers outfitted with gas. Gas pipes had honeycombed the Capitol since mid-century, when gas replaced whale oil as the principal means of lighting the building. In 1865 1,083 gas jets provided lighting for the rotunda.

On those rare occasions when evening sessions of Congress coincided with gala White House entertainments, the city lacked sufficient gas to fuel, at the same time, the East Room’s chandeliers and the lighting apparatus above the Senate and House chambers.

Fortunately the explosion occurred when the building was mostly empty, it burned itself out quickly, and no one was injured. The explosion of November 6, 1898 hastened the Capitol’s transition from gas to electricity.

November 5, 1765: Pope’s Day is celebrated in Boston

“Tuesday last being the Anniversary of the Commemoration of the happy Deliverance of the English Nation from the Popish Plot, commonly called The Powder Plot, the Guns at Castle William and at the Batteries in Town were fired at one o’clock; as also on board the Men of War in the Harbour.Popes Day

It has long been the Custom in this Town on the Fifth of November for Numbers of Persons to exhibit on Stages some Pageantry, denoting their Abhorrence of POPERY and the horrid Plot which was to have been executed on that Day in the Year 1605; these Shows of late Years has been continued in the Evening, and we have often seen the bad Effects attending them at such a time; the Servants and Negroes would disguise themselves, and being armed with clubs would engage each other with great Violence, whereby many came off badly wounded; in short they carried it to such Lengths that two Parties were created in the Town, under the Appellation of North-End and South-End:

But the Disorders that had been committed from Time to Time induced several Gentlemen to try a Reconciliation between the two Parties; accordingly the Chiefs met on the First of this Instant, and conducted that Affair in a very orderly Manner; in the Evening the Commander of the South entered into a Treaty with the Commander of the North, and after making several Overtures they reciprocally engaged on a UNION, and the former Distinctions to subside; at the same Time the Chiefs with their Assistants engaged upon their Honor no Mischiefs should arise by their Means, and that they would prevent and Disorders, on the 4th.

When the Day arrived the Morning was all Quietness, about Noon the Pageantry, representing the Pope, Devil, and several other Effigies signifying Tyranny, Oppression, Slavery, were brought on Stages from the North and South, and met in King [State] Street, where the Union was established in a very ceremonial Manner, and having given three Huzzas, they interchanged Ground, the South marched to the North, and the North to the South, parading thro’ the Streets until they again met near the Court House: The whole then proceeded to the Tree of Liberty, under the Shadow of which they refreshed themselves for a while, and then retreated to the Northward, agreeable to their Plan; – they reached Copp’s Hill before 6 o’clock, where they halted, and having enkindled a Fire, the whole Pageantry was committed to the Flames and consumed:

This being finished every person was requested to retire to their respective Homes – It must be noticed to the Honor of all those concerned in this business that every thing was conducted in a most regular manner, and such Order observed as could hardly be expected among a concourse of several thousand people – all seemed to be joined, agreeable to their principal Motto Levely Unity – The Leaders, Mr. McIntoth form the South, and Mr. Swift from the North, appeared in Military Habits, with small canes resting on their left arms, having music in Front and Flank; their assistants appeared also distinguished with small reeds, then the respective Corps followed, among whom were a great Number of Persons in Rank: These with the Spectators filled the Streets; not a Club was seen among the whole, nor was any Negro allowed to approach near the Stages; – after the Conflagration the Populace retired, and the Town remained the whole Night in better Order than it had ever been on this Occasion.”

November 4, 1842: Abraham Lincoln Marries Mary Todd

Mary Todd was not quite 21 in the fall of 1839 when she moved to live with her older sister, Elizabeth in Springfield, Illinois. Shortly after her arrival, Mary had the pleasure of going to a cotillion where a tall young man came up and said to her, “Miss Todd, I want to dance with you the worst way.” Smitten, she asked her sister, “Who is that man?”lincoln & Mary 2

The following evening Abraham Lincoln came calling at Mary’s home. Over the next few years the couple would see each other, become engaged, break up, start to see each other again, separate and quarrel, and then see each other again. In the fall of 1842, the couple agreed to be married.

They thought they might have a small, quiet ceremony performed at the home of Reverend Charles N. Dresser, an Episcopal minister. On the morning of Thursday, November 3, 1842, Abraham dropped by the rectory. The Dresser family was still at breakfast when Abraham announced, “I want to get hitched tonight.” Reverend Dresser agreed that might be accomplished.

A little later that morning Abraham happened to meet Mary’s brother-in-law, Ninian Edwards, in the street. He told Mr. Edwards of the marriage plans he had just arranged. Mr. Edwards replied, “No, I am Mary’s guardian and if she is married at all it must be from my house.” He then informed his wife Elizabeth of the wedding plans and discovered that the Episcopal sewing society was scheduled to meet at their home that night and the supper had already been ordered. The marriage would have to be delayed by one day.

Abraham visited Chatterton’s jewelry shop located on the west side of the square in Springfield, and ordered a gold wedding ring. He had the ring inscribed “A.L. to Mary, Nov. 4, 1842. Love is Eternal.” About 30 relatives and friends were hastily invited. On the morning of the wedding, Abraham asked James Harvey Matheny, who worked at the circuit court office, to be his best man. Mary wore a lovely white muslin dress, but didn’t bother with a veil nor flowers in her hair. Her bridesmaids were Julia M. Jayne, Anna Caesaria Rodney, and Miss Elizabeth Todd.

Reverend Dresser solemnized the marriage using the marriage rite from The Book of Common Prayer. Judge Thomas C. Browne of the Illinois Supreme Court stood behind Abraham during the ceremony. As the tall young lawyer was putting the wedding ring on his young bride’s hand and repeating the words, “With this ring I thee endow with all my goods, chattels, lands, and tenements,” Judge Browne impatiently blurted out, “God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that.”

After a brief delay following Browne’s interruption, the ceremony was completed as rain poured outside. Supper was served on a long table covered with a linen table cloth embroidered with a turtledove design. The wedding cake was cut and merriment continued into the evening. Finally, it was time for the newlyweds to depart. They headed off into the dark rainy night, to the Globe Tavern where they would live through the following winter. On August 1st, 1843, just under nine months later, the couple’s first son, Robert, would be born.

A week after the marriage, Abraham wrote a letter to a friend, Samuel D. Marshall. Most of the letter dealt with legal matters, but Abraham closed the letter: “Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder.”

November 3, 1870: Jefferson Davis Remembers Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee was my associate and friend in the military academy, and we were friends until the hour of his death. We were associates and friends when he was a soldier and I a congressman; and associates and friends when he led the robert-e-leearmies of the Confederacy and I presided in its Cabinet. We passed through many sad scenes together, but I cannot remember that there was ever aught but perfect harmony between us. If ever there was difference of opinion it was dissipated by discussion, and harmony was the result. I repeat, we never disagreed, and I may add that I never in my life saw in him the slightest tendency to self-seeking. It was not his to make a record, it was not his to shift blame to other shoulders; but it was his with an eye fixed upon the welfare of his country, never faltering to follow the line of duty to the end. His was the heart that braved every difficulty; his was the mind that wrought victory out of defeat.

He has been charged with “want of dash.” I wish to say that I never knew Lee to falter to attempt anything ever man could dare. An attempt has also been made to throw a cloud upon his character because he left the army of the United States to join in the struggle for the liberty of his State. Without trenching at all upon politics, I deem it my duty to say one word in reference to this charge. Virginian born, descended from a family illustrious in Virginia’s annals, given by Virginia to the service of the United States, he represented her in the Military Academy at West Point. He was not educated by the Federal Government, but by Virginia; for she paid her full share for the support of that institution, and was entitled to demand in return the services of her sons. Entering the army of the United States, he represented Virginia there also, and nobly. On many a hard-fought field Lee was conspicuous, battling for his native State as much as for the Union…

Here he now sleeps in the land he loved so well, and that land is not Virginia only, for they do injustice to Lee who believe he fought only for Virginia. He was ready to go anywhere, on any service for the good of his country, and his heart was as broad as the fifteen States struggling for the principles that our forefathers fought for in the Revolution of 1776.

He is sleeping in the same soil with the thousands who fought under the same flag, but first offered up their lives. Here the living are assembled to honor his memory, and there the skeleton sentinels keep watch over his grave.

This citizen! this soldier! this great general! this true patriot! left behind him the crowning glory of a true Christian. His Christianity ennobled him in life, and affords us grounds for the belief that he is happy beyond the grave.

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