This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
March 23 is the 82nd day of the year (83rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 283 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1775, Patrick Henry voices American opposition to British policy
During a speech before the second Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry responds to the increasingly oppressive British rule over the American colonies by declaring, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Following the signing of the American Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Patrick Henry was appointed governor of Virginia by the Continental Congress.
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786. Henry led the opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765 and is well remembered for his “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” speech. Along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he is remembered as one of the most influential exponents of Republicanism, promoters of the American Revolution and Independence, especially in his denunciations of corruption in government officials and his defense of historic rights. After the Revolution, Henry was a leader of the anti-federalists in Virginia who opposed the United States Constitution, fearing that it endangered the rights of the States, as well as the freedoms of individuals.
Responding to pleas from Massachusetts that the colonies create committees of correspondence to coordinate their reaction to the British, Henry took the lead in Virginia. In March 1773, along with Thomas Jefferson and Richard Henry Lee, Henry led the Virginia House of Burgesses to adopt resolutions providing for a standing committee of correspondents. Each colony set up such committees, and they led to the formation of the First Continental Congress in 1774, to which Henry was elected.
Patrick Henry is best known for the speech he made in the House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775, in Saint John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. The House was undecided on whether to mobilize for military action against the encroaching British military force, and Henry argued in favor of mobilization. Forty-two years later, Henry’s first biographer, William Wirt, working from oral testimony, attempted to reconstruct what Henry said. According to Wirt, Henry ended his speech with words that have since become immortalized:
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!”
The crowd, by Wirt’s account, jumped up and shouted “To Arms! To Arms!”. For 160 years Wirt’s account was taken at face value, but in the 1970s historians began to question the authenticity of Wirt’s reconstruction. Historians today observe that Henry was known to have used fear of Indian and slave revolts in promoting military action against the British, and that according to the only written first-hand account of the speech, Henry used some graphic name-calling that failed to appear in Wirt’s heroic rendition.
In August 1775, Henry became colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment. At the outset of the Revolutionary War, Henry led militia against Royal Governor Lord Dunmore in defense of some disputed gunpowder, an event known as the Gunpowder Incident. During the war he served as the first post-colonial Governor of Virginia and presided over several expeditions against the Cherokee Indians, who were allied with the British.
Henry lived during part of the War at his 10,000-acre Leatherwood Plantation in Henry County, Virginia, where he, his first cousin Ann Winston Carr and her husband Col. George Waller had settled. During the five years Henry lived at Leatherwood, from 1779 to 1784, he owned 75 slaves, and grew tobacco. During this time, he kept in close touch with his friend the explorer Joseph Martin, whom Henry had appointed agent to the Cherokee nation, and with whom Henry sometimes invested in real estate, and for whom the county seat of Henry County was later named.
In early November 1775 Henry and James Madison were elected founding trustees of Hampden-Sydney College, which opened for classes on November 10. He remained a trustee until his death in 1799. Henry was instrumental in achieving passage of the College’s Charter of 1783, an action delayed because of the war. He is probably the author of the Oath of Loyalty to the new Republic included in that charter. Seven of his sons attended the new college.
1400 – The Tran Dynasty of Vietnam is deposed after one hundred and seventy-five years of rule by Ho Quy Ly, a court official.
1708 – James Francis Edward Stuart lands at the Firth of Forth.
1775 – American Revolutionary War: Patrick Henry delivers his speech – “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” – at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia.
1801 – Tsar Paul I of Russia is struck with a sword, then strangled, and finally trampled to death in his bedroom at St. Michael’s Castle.
1806 – After traveling through the Louisiana Purchase and reaching the Pacific Ocean, explorers Lewis and Clark and their “Corps of Discovery” begin their arduous journey home.
1821 – Greek War of Independence: Battle and fall of city of Kalamata.
1848 – The ship John Wickliffe arrives at Port Chalmers carrying the first Scottish settlers for Dunedin, New Zealand. Otago province is founded.
1857 – Elisha Otis’s first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway New York City.
1862 – The First Battle of Kernstown, Virginia, marks the start of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign. Though a Confederate defeat, the engagement distracts Federal efforts to capture Richmond.
1868 – The University of California is founded in Oakland, California when the Organic Act is signed into law.
1879 – War of the Pacific: The Battle of Topáter, the first battle of the war is fought between Chile and the joint forces of Bolivia and Peru.
1889 – The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is established by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian India.
1905 – Eleftherios Venizelos calls for Crete’s union with Greece, and begins what is to be known as the Theriso revolt.
1908 – American diplomat Durham Stevens is attacked by Korean assassins Jeon Myeong-un and Jang In-hwan, leading to his death in a hospital two days later.
1909 – Theodore Roosevelt leaves New York for a post-presidency safari in Africa. The trip is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic Society.
1919 – In Milan, Italy, Benito Mussolini founds his Fascist political movement.
1931 – Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar are hanged during the Indian struggle for independence.
1933 – The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act of 1933, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany.
1935 – Signing of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
1939 – The Hungarian air force attacks the headquarters of Slovak air force in the city of Spisska Nova Ves, kills 13 people and began the Slovak-Hungarian War.
1940 – The Lahore Resolution (Qarardad-e-Pakistan or the then Qarardad-e-Lahore) is put forward at the Annual General Convention of the All India Muslim League.
1942 – World War II: In the Indian Ocean, Japanese forces capture the Andaman Islands.
1956 – Pakistan becomes the first Islamic republic in the world. (Republic Day in Pakistan)
1962 – NS Savannah, the first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship, is launched as a showcase for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative.
1965 – NASA launches Gemini 3, the United States’ first two-man space flight (crew: Gus Grissom and John Young).
1978 – The first UNIFIL troops arrived in Lebanon for peacekeeping mission along the Blue Line.
1980 – Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador gives his famous speech appealing to men of the El Salvadoran armed forces to stop killing the Salvadorans.
1982 – Guatemala’s government, headed by Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia is overthrown in a military coup by right-wing General Efrain Rios Montt.
1983 – Strategic Defense Initiative: President Ronald Reagan makes his initial proposal to develop technology to intercept enemy missiles.
1989 – Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announce their discovery of cold fusion at the University of Utah.
1991 – The Revolutionary United Front, with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, invades Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow Joseph Saidu Momoh, sparking a gruesome 11-year Sierra Leone Civil War.
1994 – At an election rally in Tijuana, Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio is assassinated by Mario Aburto Martinez.
1994 – Aeroflot Flight 593 crashes in Siberia when the pilot’s fifteen-year old son accidentally disengages the autopilot, killing all 75 people on board.
1994 – A United States Air Force (USAF) F-16 aircraft collides with a USAF C-130 at Pope Air Force Base and then crashes, killing 24 United States Army soldiers on the ground. This later became known as the Green Ramp disaster.
1996 – Taiwan holds its first direct elections and chooses Lee Teng-hui as President.
1999 – Gunmen assassinate Paraguay’s Vice President Luis Maria Argana.
2001 – The Russian Mir space station is disposed of, breaking up in the atmosphere before falling into the southern Pacific Ocean near Fiji.
2003 – In Nasiriyah, Iraq, 11 soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company as well as 18 U.S. Marines are killed during the first major conflict of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 654 Iraqi combatants are also killed.
2005 – Texas City Refinery explosion: During a test on a distillation tower liquid waste builds up and flows out of a blowout tower. Waste fumes ignite and explode killing 15 workers.
2007 – The Iranian Navy seizes Royal Navy personnel in the waters between Iran and Iraq.
2009 – FedEx Express Flight 80: A McDonnell Douglas MD-11 flying from Guangzhou, China crashes at Tokyo Narita International Airport, Japan, killing both the captain and the co-pilot.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Day of Hungarian-Polish Friendship (Hungary and Poland)
* Day of the Sea (Bolivia)
* Earliest day on which Easter Monday can fall, while April 26 is the latest; celebrated on Monday after Easter. (Christianity):
o Family Day (South Africa)
o Sham el-Nessim (Egypt)
* Lieldienas (Ancient Latvia)
* World Meteorological Day (International)