July 6, 1944: Jackie Robinson Refuses to Move to the Back of the Bus

Lt. Jackie Robinson got onto the military bus returning from “the colored officers club,” to Camp Hood southwest of Waco one hot Texas evening in early July and took a seat next to Virginia Jones, the wife of one of his fellow officers in the all black the 761st Tank Battalion of the U.S. Army.jackie_robinson_military

Mrs. Jones was quite light skinned, and the white bus driver thought she looked too white to have a colored soldier sit beside her. After a few blocks, the driver abruptly ordered Robinson “to move to the back of the bus.” Lt. Robinson had read that segregation was no longer allowed on military buses, and suggested that the driver just tend to his driving.

The bus driver then “asked me for my identification card. I refused to give it to him. He then went to the Dispatcher and told him something. What he told him I don’t know. He then comes back and tells the people that this nigger is making trouble.

“Look here, you son-of-a-bitch, don’t you call me no nigger!”  I told the driver to stop f—in with me, so he gets the rest of the men around there and starts blowing his top and someone calls the MP’s.”

Robinson was handcuffed and his legs were shackled and he was placed under “arrest in quarters.”

On July 24, his commanding officer signed papers ordering a court martial.

On the afternoon on August 2, the case of The United States v. 2nd Lieutenant Jack R. Robinson began.” Robinson faced two charges:
– “The first, a violation of Article of War No. 63, accused him of ‘behaving with disrespect toward Capt. Gerald M. Bear, CMP, his superior officer’ …
– The second charge was a violation of Article No. 64, in this case ‘willful disobedience of lawful command of Gerald M. Bear, CMP, his superior.’

Robinson’s Army-appointed defense attorney, Capt. William A. Cline, a white Texan, skillfully brought out inconsistencies in prosecution witnesses’ accounts, including a denial by one prosecution witness, Pfc. Ben Muckleworth, that he had used the word “nigger” in referring to Robinson when another MP had acknowledged that Muckleworth had indeed done so, and Cline managed to introduce enough evidence to strongly suggest Robinson had been consistently confronted with a racially hostile environment.

Robinson’s fate was in the hands of nine men, eight of them white, One was black. Six votes were needed for conviction.”

After a four-hour trial, Robinson was found “not guilty of all specifications and charges.’”

July 5, 1916: The Van Buren Sisters set out on a Cross-country Ride

In 1916, America was teetering on the edge of sending troops to Europe and joining in the Great War enveloping the continent.Van Buren

Gussie Van Buren was 24 and her sister Addie was 22 and both were active in the national Preparedness Movement and wanted to prove that women could serve as military dispatch riders freeing up men for other tasks.

Gussie and Addie set out from Sheepshead Bay racetrack in Brooklyn, New York on July 4, dressed in military-style leggings and leather riding breeches, riding 1,000 cc Indian  motorcycles, and headed west.

Local newspapers published articles accusing the sisters of using “national preparedness” as an excellent excuse to escape their roles as housewives and “display their feminine counters in nifty khaki and leather uniforms,” but their trip was no picnic.

Gussie and Addie had to contend with poor roads, heavy rains and mud, and local police who took offence at their choice of men’s clothing. On the way they became the first women to reach the summit of Pikes Peak by motor vehicle, and finally arrived in Los Angeles on September 8.

A “Sisters Centennial Motorcycle Ride” is now underway, retracing the Van Buren’s ride across country, and all motorcycle riders are encouraged to join. The itinerary includes:

– Springfield, Massachusetts Launch Party (July 4-5, 2016)
– Latrobe, Pennsylvania – Lincoln Highway Experience (July 7, 2016)
– Columbus, Ohio – AMA Hall of Fame and AMA Vintage Days (July 8-9, 2016)
– Anamosa, Iowa – National Motorcycle Museum (July 11, 2016)
– McCook, Nebraska – Community Event (July 13, 2016)
– Colorado Springs, Colorado – Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum (July 15, 2016)
– Pikes Peak, Colorado – Pikes Peak Event (July 15, 2016)
– San Francisco, California – Grand Finale Party (July 23, 2016)

July 4. 1826: Deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

ADAMS and JEFFERSON are no more; and we are assembled, fellow-citizens, the aged, the middle-aged, and the young, by the spontaneous impulse of all, under the authority of the municipal government, with the presence of the chief magistrate of the Commonwealth, and others its official representatives, the University, and the learned societies, to bear our part in these manifestations of respect and gratitude which pervade the whole land. ADAMS and Adams and JeffersonJEFFERSON are no more. On our fiftieth anniversary, the great day of national jubilee, in the very hour of public rejoicing, in the midst of echoing and reechoing voices of thanksgiving, while their own names were on all tongues, they took their flight together to the world of spirits.

If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he lives, if that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors and its glory, what felicity is here! The great epic of their lives, how happily concluded! Poetry itself has hardly terminated illustrious lives, and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power, we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence. The great objects of life were accomplished, the drama was ready to be closed. It has closed; our patriots have fallen; but so fallen, at such age, with such coincidence, on such a day, that we cannot rationally lament that the end has come, which we knew could not be long deferred.

Neither of these great men, fellow-citizens, could have died, at any time, without leaving an immense void in our American society. They have been so intimately, and over so long a time, blended with the history of the country, and especially so united, in our thoughts and recollections, with the events of the Revolution, that the death of either of them would have touched the chords of public sympathy. We should have felt that one great link, connecting us with former times, was broken; that we had lost something more, as it were, of the presence of the Revolution itself, and of the act of independence, and were driven on, by another great remove from the days of our country’s early distinction, to meet posterity and to mix with the future. Like the mariner, whom the currents of the ocean and the winds carry along until he sees the stars which have directed his course and lighted his pathless way descend one by one, beneath the rising horizon, we should have felt that the stream of time had borne us onward till another great luminary, whose light had cheered us and whose guidance we had followed, had sunk away from our sight.

But the concurrence of their death on the anniversary of Independence has naturally awakened stronger emotions. Both had been President, both had lived to great age, both were early patriots, and both were distinguished and ever honored by their immediate agency in the act of independence. It cannot but seem striking and extraordinary, that these two should live to see the fiftieth year from the date of that act/ that they should complete that year/ and that then, on the day which had fast linked for ever their own fame with their country’s glory, the heavens should open to receive them both at once. As their lives themselves were the gifts of Providence, who is not willing to recognize in their happy termination, as well as in their long continuance, proofs that our country and its benefactors are objects of His care?

– Daniel Webster

July 1, 1863: Tillie Pierce flees the Battle of Gettysburg

We were having our literary exercises on Friday afternoon, at our Seminary, when the cry reached our ears. Rushing to the door, and standing on the front portico we beheld in the direction of the Theological Seminary, a dark, dense mass, moving toward town.

tilliepierce3Our teacher, Mrs. Eyster, at once said:
‘Children, run home as quickly as you can.’

It did not require repeating. I am satisfied some of the girls did not reach their homes before the Rebels were in the streets.

As for myself, I had scarcely reached the front door, when, on looking up the street, I saw some of the men on horseback. I scrambled in, slammed shut the door, and hastening to the sitting room, peeped out between the shutters.

What a horrible sight! There they were, human beings! Clad almost in rags, covered with dust, riding wildly, pell-mell down the hill toward our home! Shouting, yelling most unearthly, cursing, brandishing their revolvers, and firing right and left. I was fully persuaded that the Rebels had actually come at last. What they would do with us was a fearful question to my young mind.

Soon the town was filled with infantry, and then the searching and ransacking began in earnest. They wanted horses, clothing, anything and almost everything they could conveniently carry away.

Nor were they particular about asking. Whatever suited them they took. They did, however, make a formal demand of the town authorities, for a large supply of flour, meat, groceries, shoes, hats and (doubtless, not least in their estimations), ten barrels of whisky; or, in lieu of this five thousand dollars.

But our merchants and bankers had too often heard of their coming, and had already shipped their wealth to places of safety. Thus it was, that a few days after, the citizens of York were compelled to make up our proportion of the Rebel requisition.”

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