This Week in History – June 20th to 26th

This Week in History UPPER

This week the “Time Traveling Adventures of the Pandora Society” witnesses the beginning of the Victorian Era, the hanging of an Irish gang, the birth of the US Department of Justice, the invention of the typewriter, the origin of the Canadian national anthem, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and more political unrest in Paris.


Young VictoriaOn June 20th, 1837, William IV died at the age of 71, and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. In her diary she wrote, “I was awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen.” Official documents prepared on the first day of her reign described her as Alexandrina Victoria, but the first name was withdrawn at her own wish and not used again.


On June 21st, 1877, the Molly Maguires, ten Irish immigrants convicted of murder, are hanged at the Schuylkill County and Carbon County, Pennsylvania prisons. The Molly Maguires was an Irish 19th-century secret society active in Ireland, Liverpool and parts of the eastern United States, best known for their activism among Irish-American and Irish immigrant coal miners in Pennsylvania. After a series of often violent conflicts, twenty suspected members of the Molly Maguires were convicted of murder and other crimes and were executed by hanging in 1877 and 1878. This history remains part of local Pennsylvania lore.


Seal_of_the_United_States_Department_of_Justice.svgPresident Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill into law on June 22nd, 1870 to authorize the formation of the Department of Justice; it officially began operations on July 1st, 1870. The “Act to Establish the Department of Justice” drastically increased the Attorney General’s responsibilities to include the supervision of all United States Attorneys, formerly under the Department of the Interior, the prosecution of all federal crimes, and the representation of the United States in all court actions, barring the use of private attorneys by the federal government. The law did create a new office, that of Solicitor General, to supervise and conduct government litigation in the Supreme Court of the United States. With the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, the federal government began to take on some law enforcement responsibilities, with the Department of Justice tasked to carry out these duties.


On June 23rd, 1868Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for an invention he called the “Type-Writer.” Typewriters with various keyboards had been invented as early as 1714 by Henry Mill and have been reinvented in various forms throughout the 1800s. It is believed to be Sholes among others, who have invented the first one to be commercially successful, however many contest it and couple his inventions with that of Frank Haven Hall, Samuel W. Soule, Carlos Gladden and John Pratt. Sholes was also the inventor of the QWERTY keyboard.


Flag_of_Canada_(Pantone).svg“O Canada,” the national anthem of Canada, was first performed on June 24th, 1880The song was originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony; Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The lyrics were originally in French and an English version was created in 1906. Robert Stanley Weir wrote in 1908 another English version, which is the official and most popular version, one that is not a literal translation of the French. Weir’s lyrics have been revised twice, taking their present form in 1980, but the French lyrics remain unaltered. “O Canada” had served as a de facto national anthem since 1939, officially becoming Canada’s national anthem in 1980 when the Act of Parliament making it so received Royal Assent and became effective on July 1 as part of that year’s Dominion Day celebrations.


The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to Lakota as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, and commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle began on June 25th, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a major defeat.


Horace_Vernet-Barricade_rue_SoufflotThe June Days Uprising (French: les journées de Juin) was an uprising staged by the workers of France from June 23rd to June 26th, 1848. It was in response to plans to close the National Workshops, created by the Second Republic in order to provide work and a source of income for the unemployed; however, only low pay, dead-end jobs were provided, which barely provided enough money to survive. The National Guard, led by General Louis Eugène Cavaignac, was called out to quell the protests. Things did not go peacefully and over 10,000 people were either killed or injured, while 4,000 insurgents were deported to Algeria. This marked the end of the hopes of a “Democratic and Social Republic” (République démocratique et sociale) and the victory of the liberals over the Radical Republicans.


 

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