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Monday, November 22, 2010

Vintage Voice: It Happened in November

November 2, 1872: Victoria Woodhull, 'free-love' candidate for president for the Equal Rights Party, goes to jail for sending obscene material through the mail. ( The "offensive" material was an article congratulating the popular preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, for having the good sense to dally with a married lady parishioner but chiding him for his failure to openly advocate the free love he clearly practiced.)

November 2, 1948: Thomas E. Dewey fails to oust Harry S. Truman from the White House.

November 6, 1878: Grave robbers steal the body of merchant king A.T. Stewart and hold it for ransom. Along with William Astor and Cornelius Vanderbilt, Alexander Turney Stewart was one of the three richest Americans of his time. A millionaire by 1837, he made his fortune in the New York rail trade. Two years after his death in 1876, grave robbers spirited away Stewart's corpse. Henry Hilton, the late Stewart's attorney and long time friend, offered a $25,000 reward for it's return. He later doubled the reward with no response. Tales of the corpse's safe return circulated until 1886 when Mrs. Stewart died. Since she left no provision in her will for the search to continue, speculation increased  that the corpse had been returned and re-buried at some point, but nobody knew for sure. The memoirs of a retired policeman claimed that the body had been ransomed, but several dubious details were never verified and to this day, nobody knows where the remains of New York's first great merchant price now rest.

November 7, 1876: Secret Service agent Lewis Swegles foils grave robbers in their attempt to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln. Soon after, the Lincoln Guard of Honor was formed to protect the President's remains and the coffin was taken to a memorial hall. Later it was buried again; there were a dozen more moves before the coffin was sealed in 1901 in a steel and concrete vault beneath the burial chamber in Springfield.

November 7, 1916: Montana elects Jeannette Rankin to be America's first congresswoman.

November 7, 1918: World War I ends the first time. Just before noon on Nov. 7, the New York headquarters of the United Press received a cable from it's president which read, "Urgent. Armistice allies Germans signed 11 morning hostilities ceased two afternoon." The news set off celebrations across the nation. Everywhere people poured into streets, laughing and crying and delirious New York crowds cheered one of the largest tickertape parades in history. Problem was, the news was false, a hoax apparently put forth by German spies, which was discovered later that evening. Four days later, on the 11th, peace was officially declared.

November 11, 1833: Cornelius Vanderbilt is seriously injured in America's first fatal train wreck. Although 90 percent of his fortune came from railroads, Vanderbilt hated trains. His antipathy dated from a train trip in 1833 where he was a passenger, along with former President John Quincy Adams, on the Camden and Amboy Railroad. The train broke an axle and jumped the track, killing two people and critically injuring Vanderbilt. It was the first fatal train wreck in U.S. history. Vanderbilt did recover, and was 83 when he died in 1877.

November 11, 1918: World War I ends again.

November 15, 1902: Teddy Roosevelt's sportsmanship brings about the first 'teddy bear'.

November 16, 1800: Abigail Adams, arriving in Washington D.C. at the unfinished White House, finds she must hang her laundry in the East Room.

November 16, 1807: The women of New Jersey lose the right to vote. According to the state constitution drawn up by the Provincial Congress of New Jersey in 1776, women had the right to vote in that state. It may have been an oversight, but the document stipulated that "all inhabitants" meeting age and residency requirements could vote. No reference was made to gender. Oddly enough, the women of the state had not petitioned for suffrage and seemed actually quite indifferent to it. There is no record of a New Jersey woman voting before 1790, but during a particularly close running by two candidates for state legislature in 1797, a group of 75 women from Elizabeth, NJ cast ballots for their hometown candidate. After that, women ( many of them often underage as well)  were literally hauled to the polls in wagons and carriages by candidates and party leaders who were eager for votes. The result of this "corruption and abuse" made New Jersey lawmakers quickly pass new voting laws in 1807 that barred women from voting.

November 18, 1872: Susan B. Anthony is arrested for voting.

November 18, 1883: Railroads invent time zones.

November 19, 1863: Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

November 25, 1783: The British, who have held New York City throughout the Revolutionary War, go home at last. "Evacuation Day" is celebrated in New York until 1916.

And although we celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the final Thursday of the month of November, the date of the celebration had varied throughout history. By the mid-20th century, the last Thursday in November had become the customary day in most states. It wasn't until 1941 that President Franklin D Roosevelt signed a bill into law with Congress  to make Thanksgiving an "official" national holiday and permanently fixed the date. The date the bill was signed? December 26, 1941.

Thanks for stopping by!


Nancy said...

What a great post and title for it! I love reading these little historical tidbits of information.

Thanks for sharing these!


Mariette said...

Dearest Katie,

Very interesting and those history facts should be taught more at schools! Thanks for putting this on your blog.

Have a great Thanksgiving!