News, Events, Birthdays, History - December 10 - December 23
Emily Dickinson - December 10, 1830
Emily Dickinson was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, and was a prolific poet. At the time, however, not many people knew that Emily was a poet. For that matter, not that many people knew Emily at all. She was extremely reclusive, reluctant to meet guests, and later in life reluctant to even leave her room. Only a handful of Emily's poems were made public before her death at age 56. After her death, Emily's younger sister discovered a cache of more than 1,800 poems, some written on scraps of paper. Despite unfavorable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, critics now consider Dickinson to be a major American poet. One of Emily's shortest poems...
In this short Life
That only lasts an hour
How much -- how little -- is
Within our power
Ludwig van Beethoven - December 16, 1770
Beethoven was a German composer and pianist, and is recognized as one of the most acclaimed and influential composers of all time. He studied the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and studied with Franz Joseph Hadyn - both obviously famous, gifted composers in their own right. Beehoven's musical genius is made even more striking by the fact that at the age of 26 he began to lose his hearing - yet he continued to compose incredible masterpieces. Over time, his hearing loss became profound: There is a well-attested story that, at the end of the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience; hearing nothing, he wept. After a failed attempt in 1811 to perform his own Piano Concerto No. 5 (the "Emperor"), he never performed in public again.
December 12, 2000 - Supreme Court Rules for Bush
The presidential election of 2000 was, literally, one for the history books. 270 electoral votes are needed to win, and with 49 states counted, Republican candidate George Bush had 246 and Democratic candidate Al Gore had 266. It all came down to Florida, and the popular vote results there were incredibly close. On November 8, the Florida Division of Elections reported that Bush won by a margin of 1,784 votes. This narrow margin triggered an automatic recount, after which the margin of victory dropped to just 327 votes. Additional recounts were halted when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Florida Supreme Court's method for recounting ballots was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court also ruled that no alternative method could be established within the time limits set by the State of Florida - clearing the way for Florida's Secretary of State previous certification of George Bush as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes to stand.
December 14, 1911 - Discovery of the South Pole
Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition (1910–1912) was a Norwegian expedition to Antarctica aiming to be the first to reach the South Pole. The expedition was a success, with five members of the mission arriving at the pole on December 14, 1911, beating another explorer - Robert Falcon Scott - by thirty-four days. The reasons for Amundsen's success and for Scott's failure in returning from the South Pole have always been the subject of discussion and controversy.
December 14, 1799 - George Washington Dies
George Washington, commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and the first President of the United States of America (1789-1797) died on this date in 1799. Washington had retired from the Presidency in 1797, and returned to Mount Vernon, his beloved home in Virginia. On December 12, 1799, Washington spent several hours inspecting his farms on horseback in snow, hail and freezing rain. He sat down to dine that evening without changing his wet clothes. The next morning, he awoke with a bad cold, fever, and a throat infection called quinsy that turned into acute laryngitis and pneumonia. He died in his bed the next day - and it is said that his wife Martha never again entered their bedroom. Washington's Mount Vernon estate is open to the public, where visitors can tour the house and the grounds.
December 17, 1903 - Wright Brothers First Powered Flight
In 1903 the Wright brothers- Orville and Wilbur - built the powered Wright Flyer I, using spruce, a strong and lightweight wood, and Pride of the West muslin for surface coverings. They also designed and carved their own wooden propellers, and had a purpose-built gasoline engine fabricated in their bicycle shop. In camp at Kill Devil Hills, Wilbur won a coin toss and made a three-second flight attempt on December 14, 1903, stalling after takeoff and causing minor damage to the Flyer. Three days later, Orville took off on a 12 second flight that covered 120 feet.
December 20, 1998 - Clinton Impeachment
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on this date in 1998. The charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power arose from scandals involving illicit afairs. The trial proceedings were largely partisan, with no Democratic Senators voting for conviction and only five Democratic Representatives voting to impeach. In all, 55 senators voted not guilty, and 45 voted guilty on the perjury charge. The Senate also acquitted on the charge of obstruction, with 50 votes cast as not guilty, and 50 votes as guilty. It was only the second impeachment of a President in American history, following the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868.
December 21, 1988 - Pan American Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. On Wednesday 21 December 1988, the aircraft flying this route - a Boeing 747-121 - was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members. Eleven people in Lockerbie, southern Scotland, were killed as large sections of the plane fell in and around the town, bringing total fatalities to 270. In 2001, a Libyan citizen was convicted of involvement in the bombing and sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland. He was released by the Scottish Government in August of 2009 and allowed to return to Libya as he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and had a life expectancy of less than 3 months.
Washington: A Life
by Ron Chernow
Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.