Goya's Wellington: The Duke DisappearsJames Whitfield on why the theft of a Spanish master’s portrait of a British military hero led to a change in the law.On August 3rd, 1961 the National Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square proudly unveiled its latest acquisition: what is known as the bust portrait of the Duke of Wellington by the Spanish master Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), painted during the Peninsular War and completed in 1814. Eighteen days later the duke went absent without leave from the gallery. His unauthorised removal made headline news, stumped all attempts by Scotland Yard to solve the crime and, in 1968, prompted the Government to introduce a new criminal offence. Theories as to who may have been responsible for the theft, the first in the National Gallery’s 138-year history, abounded; all were to prove wide of the mark.
1960: Ceylon chooses world's first woman PMMrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, widow of Ceylon's assassinated prime minister Solomon Bandaranaike, has become the world's first woman prime minister.Her Sri Lanka Freedom Party won a resounding victory in the general election taking 75 out of 150 seats.Mrs Bandaranaike only entered politics after her husband was shot by an extremist Buddhist on 26 September 1959.She has become known as the "weeping widow" for frequently bursting into tears during the election campaign and vowing to continue her late husband's socialist policies.This week's election was called after Dudley Senanayake's United National Party failed to produce a working majority after winning elections in March.Aristocratic by birthMrs Bandaranaike was born into the Ceylon aristocracy and her husband was a landowner. She was educated by Roman Catholic nuns at St Bridget's school in the capital, Colombo, and is a practising Buddhist.She married in 1940 aged 24 and has three children - and until her husband's death seemed content in her role as mother and retiring wife.Her SLFP aims to represent the "little man" although its policies during the campaign were not clear.Mr Bandaranaike attributed her success to the "people's love and respect" for her late husband and urged her supporters to practise "simple living, decorum and dignity".Her husband came to power in 1955, eight years after independence, and declared himself a Buddhist which appealed to nationalists. But his government was wracked by infighting among Sinhalese and Tamils and lacked direction.Mrs Bandaranaike inherits a country in a state of flux and her party's proposed programme of nationalisation may bring her into conflict with foreign interests in commodities like tea, rubber and oil.
At the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y., a woman's rights convention--the first ever held in the United States--convenes with almost 200 women in attendance. The convention was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two abolitionists who met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. As women, Mott and Stanton were barred from the convention floor, and the common indignation that this aroused in both of them was the impetus for their founding of the women's rights movement in the United States.In 1848, at Stanton's home near Seneca Falls, the two women, working with Martha Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt, sent out a call for a women's conference to be held at Seneca Falls. The announcement, published in the Seneca County Courier on July 14, read, "A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July current; commencing at 10 o'clock A.M. During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and other ladies and gentlemen, will address the Convention."On July 19, 200 women convened at the Wesleyan Chapel, and Stanton read the "Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances," a treatise that she had drafted over the previous few days. Stanton's declaration was modeled closely on the Declaration of Independence, and its preamble featured the proclamation, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights..." The Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances then detailed the injustices inflicted upon women in the United States and called upon U.S. women to organize and petition for their rights.On the second day of the convention, men were invited to intend--and some 40 did, including the famous African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That day, the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was adopted and signed by the assembly. The convention also passed 12 resolutions--11 unanimously--which called for specific equal rights for women. The ninth resolution, which declared "it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise," was the only one to meet opposition. After a lengthy debate, in which Douglass sided with Stanton in arguing the importance of female enfranchisement, the resolution was passed. For proclaiming a women's right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women's rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the women's suffrage movement in America.The Seneca Falls Convention was followed two weeks later by an even larger meeting in Rochester, N.Y. Thereafter, national woman's rights conventions were held annually, providing an important focus for the growing women's suffrage movement. After years of struggle, the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, granting American women the constitutionally protected right to vote.
1988: Piper Alpha oil rig ablazeA fire on a North Sea oil rig is feared to have claimed the lives of most of those on board.The fire is believed to have started after explosions at about 2230 BST (2130 GMT) on the Piper Alpha drilling platform, 120 miles (193km) off the north-east coast of Scotland.Helicopters and boats were immediately sent out to rescue the oil workers in an operation co-ordinated by the Aberdeen coastguard.Pilots reported seeing an "inferno" up to 350ft (107m) high and a platform wrenched apart.It is thought approximately 225 men were working on the rig owned by Occidental Oil.Safety inspectionSurvivors are being airlifted to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary - some are said to be seriously injured.Most of those who have been rescued so far said they survived by sliding down pipes or jumping hundreds of feet into the sea which was covered in burning oil.The Piper Alpha platform is the largest and oldest platform in the North Sea oilfield.It was last inspected two weeks ago but last week there was a small fire on the rig.Since drilling began in the North Sea in the 1970s there have been 300 deaths on Britain's 123 oil installations, often in accidents caused by bad weather.
After Judge Hugo Friend denies a motion to quash the indictments against the major league baseball players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, a trial begins with jury selection. The Chicago White Sox players, including stars Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, and Eddie Cicotte, subsequently became known as the "Black Sox" after the scandal was revealed.The White Sox, who were heavily favored at the start of the World Series, had been seriously underpaid and mistreated by owner Charles Comiskey. The conspiracy to fix the games was most likely initiated by first baseman Chick Gindil and small-time gambler Josep Sullivan. Later, New York gambler Arnold Rothstein reluctantly endorsed it. The schemers used the team's discontent to their advantage: Through intermediaries, Rothstein offered relatively small sums of money for the players to lose some of the games intentionally. The scandal came to light when the gamblers did not pay the players as promised, thinking that they had no recourse. But when the players openly complained, the story became public and authorities were forced to prosecute them.The trial against the players was actually just for show. After a tacit agreement whereby the players assented not to denigrate major league baseball or Comiskey in return for an acquittal, the signed confessions from some of the players mysteriously disappeared from police custody.The jury acquitted all of the accused players and then celebrated with them at a nearby restaurant. But the height of the hypocrisy surrounding the entire matter came when Shoeless Joe was forced to sue Comiskey for unpaid salary. During this trial, Comiskey's lawyers suddenly produced the confessions that had disappeared during the criminal trial, with no explanation as to how they had been obtained.Arnold Rothstein never even faced trial, and Comiskey hoped to go back to business as usual. However, all did not end well for everyone. Other baseball owners, hoping to remove any hint that the games were illegitimate, hired Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to be the new commissioner of baseball. Landis was a hard-liner (and also a racist—he prevented blacks from playing in the major leagues during his reign into the 1940s) who then permanently barred the implicated Black Sox players from baseball.Landis' decision has come under considerable criticism for its unfairness to a few of the players. Buck Weaver, by all accounts, had refused to take any money offered by the gamblers. He was purportedly banned from baseball for refusing to turn his teammates in. And although Shoeless Joe Jackson probably accepted some money, his statistics show that he never truly participated in throwing the games—he had the best batting average of either team in the series.selected from History.com
1987: Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie gets lifeThe former Gestapo chief in Lyon, Klaus Barbie, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity.Nine jurors and three judges found Barbie - also known as the Butcher of Lyon - guilty of the 341 separate charges that were brought against him at the court in Lyon.The 73-year-old was accused of deporting 842 people - mainly Jews - to concentration camps in Germany during the Second World War.In one incident 44 children were rounded up from a farmhouse east of Lyon, at Izieu, and sent to their deaths.A total of 373 of the people transported under Barbie's command died.Surviving relatives of the victims filled the courtroom and heard Barbie's last-minute plea of innocence. "Barbie has been promoted to the rank of an expiatory victim, a scapegoat so that France can try and shed its own responsibility", argued defence lawyer, Jacques Verges.Coverage of the trial in France has been exhaustive and crowds of people waited outside the court to hear the judgement.The editor of Le Monde newspaper, Andre Fontaine, said: "It's a time in France where people are more and more conscious of the necessity of knowing something about history and especially about recent history."The man they call the Butcher of Lyon has already been condemned to death twice for his war crimes. Both of these sentences lapsed as Barbie was living under an assumed name in Bolivia.He was found by barrister Serge Klarsfeld in 1972, but it was not until over 10 years later, in 1983, that the Bolivian government agreed to extradite him.Barbie's trial began on 11 May this year with Mr Klarsfeld as chief prosecutor.It took the judges and jury six-and-a-half hours to reach their final verdict after they retired at 0530 BST (0430 GMT) today.Source: BBC
On 2 July, 1566, Michel de Nostredame died in Salon-de-Provence, France at age 62. Nostradamus was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties (The Prophecies), the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Since the publication of this book, which has rarely been out of print since his death, Nostradamus has attracted a following that, along with the popular press, credits him with predicting many major world events.Most academic sources maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus's quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power. Moreover, none of the sources listed offers any evidence that anyone has ever interpreted any of Nostradamus's quatrains specifically enough to allow a clear identification of any event in advance.By 1566, Nostradamus's gout, which had plagued him painfully for many years and made movement very difficult, turned into oedema, or dropsy. In late June he summoned his lawyer to draw up an extensive will bequeathing his property plus 3,444 crowns (around US$300,000 today) – minus a few debts – to his wife pending her remarriage, in trust for her sons pending their twenty-fifth birthdays and her daughters pending their marriages. This was followed by a much shorter codicil. On the evening of 1 July, he is alleged to have told his secretary Jean de Chavigny, "You will not find me alive at sunrise." The next morning he was reportedly found dead, lying on the floor next to his bed and a bench (Presage 141 [originally 152] for November 1567, as posthumously edited by Chavigny to fit what happened). He was buried in the local Franciscan chapel in Salon (part of it now incorporated into the restaurant La Brocherie) but re-interred during the French Revolution in the Collégiale Saint-Laurent, where his tomb remains to this day.
At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong revert[ed] back to Chinese rule in a ceremony attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles of Wales, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few thousand Hong Kongers protested the turnover, which was otherwise celebratory and peaceful.In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country's economic, social, and political affairs. One of Britain's first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. In 1841, China ceded the island to the British with the signing of the Convention of Chuenpi [Chuanbi], and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking [Nanjing] was signed, formally ending the First Opium War.Britain's new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking [Beijing]. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong's capitalist system. On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese, British, and international dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, formulated a policy based on the concept of "one country, two systems," thus preserving Hong Kong's role as a principal capitalist center in Asia.
I'm coming up with a way to generate regular content, as you all know. Don't forget to send suggestions my way. The plan is to start on July first. This doesn't mean you cannot post your own items. It simply means that, when there's no member-generated posts, there will still be something available to read/discuss.I start a new job on June 27, so my plan is to, each evening, contribute a post if there isn't one already submitted.See you July 1!
So I've been unable to post until recently. My laptop decided that it was no longer going to recognize any programs, and my desktop won't keep any programs open. For the second half of April and all of May and part of June I was without a computer. So...now starting again, the plan to kick start the community. Sorry that it's taken quite so long, folks! I obviously am not expecting to make this the hub for discussion on of all things history on LJ, but I will try to keep a steady string on content. I start a new job on the 27th, and since my evenings will be free from now on (yay, full time job!) I will have the time to do so. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way as I figure out how to make daily postings as diverse as possible.