The 11th Day of Christmas, Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, The Rump Parliament Votes to Put The King on Trial, The Fabian Society, Roman Civil War, Vikings, Seven Years War, Russo-Turkish War, Crazy Nancy named Speaker, and More.
Holidays and Observances on January 4
11th Day of Christmas
Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
St. Seton was the first American to be canonized as a Saint in the Catholic Church. Born into wealth and New York City society in 1774, she was a wife by age 19, a mother to 11 children (5 of her own) by 28, and a widow by the age of 29. She was confirmed into the Catholic Church in 1805. A French abbots’s who was then the President of St. Mary’s College in Baltimore, Maryland invited her to travel there and she accepted. Then, with funding from a rich benefactor, she establish the Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School, a school dedicated to educating Catholic girls.
The same year, Seton established a religious community in Emmitsburg dedicated to caring for poor children. This was the first congregation of religious sisters to be founded in the United States, and its school was the first free Catholic school in America. “This modest beginning marked the start of the Catholic parochial school system in the United States. The congregation was initially called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s.”
Over two centuries later, on the day Pope John XXIII beatified her in 1963, he stated, “In a house that was very small, but with ample space for charity, she sowed a seed in America which by Divine Grace grew into a large tree.” And that has been her legacy. The schools St. Seton founded now have branches across the nation and internationally. Moreover, six separate religious congregations trace their roots to the beginnings of the Sisters of Charity. Her life and work have made a positive difference in the world far beyond her mere 46 years on this earth.
Today, St. Seton is venerated as the patron saint of Catholic Schools; seafarers; widows; Shreveport, Louisiana; and the State of Maryland.
Major Events on January 4
On this day in 1649, the Rump Parliament votes to put King Charles I on trial, a major step to establishing a military dictatorship in England.
In 1642, Parliament went to war with King Charles I because of his numerous tyrannical abuses of power. Essentially, Charles I ignored Parliament, instituting laws and taxes without its vote.
By 1648, the Roundhead army had become even more tyrannical than King Charles I ever thought of being. It didn’t ignore Parliament, it pointed a musket at its head and then stacked it, turning it from a representative body into the “Rump Parliament” – the military’s own compliant tool with only a veneer of legitimacy. And then it used that tool to ensconce a military dictatorship.
At the start of the English Civil War, the army that arose to champion Parliament was filled with religious dissenters, mostly Puritans. In 1645, the army took on a life of its own. It restyled itself the New Model Army, England’s first professional – and essentially Puritan – army, led by “Black Tom” Fairfax.
In 1646, the Scots had captured King Charles I and the New Model Army had defeated the Royalists. The Civil War seemed to be over.
The Parliament sitting in 1646 was referred to as “Long Parliament.” All of the sitting members had been elected before the Civil War began in 1640. The majority in Parliament envisioned restoring King Charles I to power, but with severely circumscribed powers. They began negotiating with King Charles I while he was in captivity.
But Charles I had other ideas. He did not negotiate with either the Long Parliament or the New Model Army in good faith. While promising to accept Parliament’s terms, Charles I began negotiating in secret with the Scots and promised them that he would make their Presbyterian religion the state religion if they would attack the New Model Army and restore him to the throne.
Charles’ machinations started a second phase to the English Civil War in 1648 as the Scots attacked South and the Royalists rose in a 2nd rebellion. The New Model Army put down the Royalists and decisively defeated the Scots at the Battle of Preston.
The Long Parliament, at this point, feared the New Model Army more than Charles I. Still pursuing a settlement that would see Charles I restored upon its terms, the Long Parliament, on December 1, 1648, voted 129 to 83 to continue negotiations with Charles for reforming the government on terms it had proposed and he had accepted in 1646.
At least some in the New Model Army were having none of that. On December 7, 1748, in an event known as Pride’s Purge, troops of the New Model Army under the command of Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly removed from the Long Parliament all those who supported Charles I or who did not support the New Model Army. The Long Parliament had 487 active members.
After the purge, just over 200 members sat in what would become known as the Rump Parliament. Of the 200, 86 absented themselves voluntarily, 83 were allowed back in Parliament after formally dissenting from the decision to accept the King’s proposals, and 71 supported the army from the outset.
On this day in 1649, the Rump Parliament voted to put King Charles I on trial for high treason. Black Tom Fairfax, the New Model Army’s commander, would not countenance it and refused to participate. Oliver Cromwell, his second in command, stepped into the leadership of the New Model Army. Before the month of January, 1649 was out, King Charles I was tried and found guilty of treason, sentenced by the Rump Parliament, and executed.
Karl Marx, that hero of the working man who never worked a day in his life, citing to the example of the French Revolution, embraced violent revolution as the means to create a socialist / communist nirvana. As Marx wrote in an 1848 article, the same year that he wrote The Communist Manifesto, “there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.”
Not quite four decades after Marx penned that article, the Fabian Society formed in Britain. Billing themselves today as the “oldest political think tank” in the world, the Fabian Society exists as the ideological foundation of Britain’s Labour Party. The society’s goal is to ensconce Marx’s socialist and communist policies in Britain and throughout the world by peaceful and democratic means. The society’s original coat of arms, in a striking bit of honesty, shows a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Over the years, the Fabian society has been quite a qualified success. The Fabian society has been influential not only in promoting communism and socialism in Britain, but around the world. In Britain, the Fabians reached the pinnacle of their influence when Clement Attlee became Prime Minister immediately after WWII and immediately began to nationalize industries and create a massive welfare state. Elsewhere, in the mid-20th century, the Fabian Society was directly tied to the introduction of socialism into Nigeria, India, Singapore, and the B’aathist dictatorships that arose in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Fabian society members also founded other think tanks, such as The London School of Economics.
Where the Fabian Society failed was in making their Marxist and socialist policies a success for society. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher overturned significant parts of Clement Attlee’s socialist policies, thereby revitalizing the British economy during her tenure. Even after Thatcher left office and her Tory party degraded in quality, the New Labour government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (both Fabian Society members) rejected the more radical Marxist aspects of Fabian socialism. Most recently, British voters resoundingly rejected the wholesale return to communism that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised.
Elsewhere, wherever Fabian socialism took root, its policies have either failed and been rejected or, if still in place, are there simply by imposition of autocratic states hanging onto power by brute force.
Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, stated in his memoirs that his initial political philosophy was strongly influenced by the Fabian Society. However, he later altered his views, considering the Fabian ideal of socialism as impractical. In 1993, Lee said:
They [Fabian Socialists] were going to create a just society for the British workers—the beginning of a welfare state, cheap council housing, free medicine and dental treatment, free spectacles, generous unemployment benefits. Of course, for students from the colonies, like Singapore and Malaya, it was a great attraction as the alternative to communism. We did not see until the 1970s that that was the beginning of big problems contributing to the inevitable decline of the British economy.
The dark beauty of socialism, though, is that it combines with its fantasy, unrealistic expectations about human conduct a psychological gift for those that adopt it – a wholly unearned sense of moral superiority. Motives matter, results do not. Agree with socialists or be labeled evil. Thus, socialism is immune to facts and has proven virtually impossible to keep in the dust-bin of history, where it well and truly belongs.
Notable Events on January 4
46 BC – Julius Caesar suffers a rare defeat at the hands of his former lieutenant, Titus Labienus in the Battle of Ruspina. The setback was temporary. Caesar would soon win the civil war and Labienus would be killed in a battle against Caesar later that year.
871 – Battle of Reading: Æthelred of Wessex and his brother Alfred are defeated by a Danish invasion army. It was the first in a series of battles Alfred the Great would fight against the Viking invaders.
1717 – The Netherlands, Great Britain, and France sign the Triple Alliance aimed at meeting the threat posed by Spain’s growing power. Great Britain and France allying was a true marriage of convenience.
1762 – Great Britain declares war on Spain during the Seven Years’ War. Britain’s Prime Minister William Pitt, the grand strategist of the Seven Years War, had wanted to declare war on Spain a few months earlier. The new King of Britain, George III, greatly disliked Pitt. In an effort to drive Pitt from power, the King refused Pitt’s request and forced Pitt’s resignation. Once the Earl of Bute was seated as Prime Minister, King George III approved the declaration of war against Spain.
1798 – Constantine Hangerli, a puppet of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, arrives in Bucharest, Wallachia, as its new Prince. He would eventually be assassinated over his brutal imposition of heavy taxation.
1878 – Russo-Turkish War (1877–78): After five centuries of Muslim domination, Sofia is liberated from Ottoman rule and designated the capital of Liberated Bulgaria.
1896 – Utah is admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
1958 – Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, falls to Earth from orbit. The Russian launch also launched the Space Race with the U.S.
2004 – Spirit, a solar powered NASA Mars rover, lands successfully on Mars. Before it became stuck in soft martian sand in 2010, it had exceeded by 21.6 times the planned mission duration.
2004 – Mikheil Saakashvili is elected President of Georgia following the November 2003 Rose Revolution. Although a successful politician, he remains a murky figure.
2007 – The 110th United States Congress convenes, electing Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.
Born on January 4
1643 – Isaac Newton, the founder of classical physics who famously developed his theory of gravity after watching an apple drop from a tree. Afterwards, he stated: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”
1785 – Jacob Grimm – the eldest of the Brothers Grimm, he was a scholar, a linguist, a grammarian, and a historian. Two friends of Jacob were publishers who had an interest in publishing folk tales. That led Jacob and his brother Wilhelm to gather together a collection of eighty-six stories that they published in 1816 as Children’s and Household Tales, complete with scholarly footnotes and commentary. Realizing that they had an audience and that it was directed to children, they published several further volumes without the scholarly commentary and edited for their intended audience. For instance, “they removed sexual references—such as Rapunzel’s innocently asking why her dress was getting tight around her belly, and thus naively revealing to the witch Dame Gothel her pregnancy and the prince’s visits . . .”
Died on January 4
1804 – Charlotte Lennox, a prolific author and poet of the 19th century, her most famous work is The Female Quixote. She lived a life in the public light, regularly in the company of such literary luminaries of the time as Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Richardson.
2001 – Les Brown, a popular swing era bandleader and composer. He had nine number-one hits during the swing era, including the 1945 song that brought Doris Day to fame, Sentimental Journey.