History, Holidays & Observances On January 8

Battle of New Orleans, Democrat Party, War on Poverty, Alfred the Great, Handel, the ’45, Washington 1st SOTU, Crazy Horse, Woodrow Wilson, and more.

Major Events on January 8

1815 – War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans:

British interference with American merchant ships during the Napoleonic Wars led to the War of 1812. Perhaps the most significant legacy of the war was that Andrew Jackson emerged as a national hero. He did so for commanding the American soldiers in a decisive victory this day at the Battle of New Orleans, unaware that a peace treaty had already been signed ending the war.

Andrew Jackson was a self-made man who fought (and dueled) his way to prominence. He was a lawyer, a judge, a militia commander, and a wealthy planter in Tennessee when the war of 1812 broke out. Jackson raised a volunteer army of over 2,000 men and offered his services to the federal government. When the government ordered Jackson to turn over all his supplies to the federal army, Jackson did so, but then kept the men together by paying for them out of his own pocket.

Later the Secretary of Defense took over the expenses for Jackson’s private army. In 1813, he ordered Jackson to attack the Creek Indians who were fighting on the British side. In a series of battles referred to as The Creek War, Jackson and his men completely neutralized the Indian threat. Those actions earned Jackson a commission as a Major General in the U.S. Army and the sobriquet, “Old Hickory.”

When the Indian campaign ended, Jackson received intelligence that the British intended to invade New Orleans. Without awaiting orders, he marched south and set up a defense outside of the city. Putting everyone he could find under arms, Jackson fielded 5,000 men against 10,000 British troops, most of whom were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars.

Jackson built a skillful defensive plan, taking advantage of the time available to him to prepare fortifications for his soldiers. When the British began their assault on New Orleans this day in 1815, the Jackson’s defenses and the Brit’s own poor execution of their attack plan combined to doom the British. The battle was over in half an hour. The Brits had lost a quarter of the force by the time the firing had ended.

Andrew Jackson’s fame immediately began to spread. As Alexis de Tocqueville later wrote in his seminal study of the young United States, Democracy in America, Jackson “was raised to the Presidency, and has been maintained there, solely by the recollection of a victory which he gained, twenty years ago, under the walls of New Orleans.”

1828 – The Democratic Party of the United States.

The combative Andrew Jackson was America’s first populist and an 1824 candidate for President. His story is also the story of the founding of the Democrat Party.

The Constitution of the United States, for all its laudable pragmatism, was written in part on the hope that American politics would not diverge into factionalism. That hope was ill-founded, for the young republic almost immediately devolved into factionalism. The first parties were the Federalist Party, which John Adams led, and the Democrat-Republican Party, which Thomas Jefferson led.

By the time of the 1824 election, the Democrat-Republican Party had won six straight elections and was the only national party. Four people – Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and two others – stood for President, all as part of the same party. Jackson won a plurality of the popular and the electoral vote, but not enough to win the election. For the first and, to date, the last time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives had to choose the President. They voted John Quincy Adams as President.

That was the end of the Democrat-Republican Party. The populist wing of the party, under Jackson’s leadership, broke off and, on this date in 1828, formally formed the Democrat Party. A separate wing of the Democrat-Republican Party formed the Whig Party. The Whigs would later fall apart over the issue of slavery in the 1850’s and were replaced by the new anti-slavery party, the Republican Party.

Fast forward to today and you have the populist Republican, Donald Trump, as President, while the Democrats, with their victim group categories and limited appeal to large urban areas, have broken from their populist roots. The pendulum ever swings.

1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a “War on Poverty” in the United States.

LBJ’s war on poverty put progressive politics and proposed societal solutions front and center in our society. Even granting that it started from laudable goals, it has failed with disastrous consequences for the nation, and particularly for minorities. And yet, not a single progressive will admit or learn from it, as their source of power is irrevocably tied to continuing those policies.

This from the preeminent economist, Thomas Sowell, in 2004:

. . . The War on Poverty represented the crowning triumph of the liberal vision of society — and of government programs as the solution to social problems. The disastrous consequences that followed have made the word “liberal” so much of a political liability that today even candidates with long left-wing track records have evaded or denied that designation.

In the liberal vision, slums bred crime. But brand-new government housing projects almost immediately became new centers of crime and quickly degenerated into new slums. Many of these projects later had to be demolished. Unfortunately, the assumptions behind those projects were not demolished, but live on in other disastrous programs, such as Section 8 housing.

Rates of teenage pregnancy and venereal disease had been going down for years before the new 1960s attitudes toward sex spread rapidly through the schools, helped by War on Poverty money. These downward trends suddenly reversed and skyrocketed.

The murder rate had also been going down, for decades, and in 1960 was just under half of what it had been in 1934. Then the new 1960s policies toward curing the “root causes” of crime and creating new “rights” for criminals began. Rates of violent crime, including murder, skyrocketed.

The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.

Government social programs such as the War on Poverty were considered a way to reduce urban riots. Such programs increased sharply during the 1960s. So did urban riots. Later, during the Reagan administration, which was denounced for not promoting social programs, there were far fewer urban riots.

Neither the media nor most of our educational institutions question the assumptions behind the War on Poverty. Even conservatives often attribute much of the progress that has been made by lower-income people to these programs.

For example, the usually insightful quarterly magazine City Journal says in its current issue: “Beginning in the mid-sixties, the condition of most black Americans improved markedly.”

That is completely false and misleading.

The economic rise of blacks began decades earlier, before any of the legislation and policies that are credited with producing that rise. The continuation of the rise of blacks out of poverty did not — repeat, did not — accelerate during the 1960s.

The poverty rate among black families fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent in 1960, during an era of virtually no major civil rights legislation or anti-poverty programs. It dropped another 17 percentage points during the decade of the 1960s and one percentage point during the 1970s, but this continuation of the previous trend was neither unprecedented nor something to be arbitrarily attributed to the programs like the War on Poverty. . . .

Do read the whole article.

Notable Events on January 8

871 – Alfred the Great, the most consequential ruler of Saxon England, led a West Saxon army on this day to repel an invasion by Danelaw Vikings, killing the Viking King Bagsecg,

1735 – The premiere of George Frideric Handel’s opera Ariodante takes place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

1745 – The ’45 (Second Jacobite Rebellion): Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of deposed British King James II of the Stuart line of Kings (descended from Mary, Queen of Scots) and supported by France, attempts to reclaim the British throne. On this day, he and his rebel army occupy Stirling.

1790 – As required by the recently enacted U.S. Constitution, Art. II, § 3, George Washington delivered to Congress the first State of the Union address:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity, which now presents itself, of congratulating you on the present favourable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of north Carolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received)— the rising credit and respectability of our Country — the general and increasing good will towards the Government of the Union — and the concord, peace and plenty, with which we are blessed, are circumstances, auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity. . . .

Read the entire text of the speech here. His primary concerns were building and supplying an Army to defend from hostile Indians, standardizing rules of naturalization, currency and weights and measures, and building out the post office and postal roads..

1877 – Crazy Horse, the iconic Lakota Indian chief, and his warriors fight their last battle against the United States Cavalry at the Battle of Wolf Mountain in Montana Territory.

1918 – President Woodrow Wilson, the father of the American progressive movement, announces his “Fourteen Points” for the peace negotiations with Germany and what he wanted to see in the world as it emerged World War I. Lenin loved the speech; Teddy Roosevelt did not. As Roosevelt opined after reading the Fourteen Points: “If the League of Nations is built on a document as high-sounding and as meaningless as the speech in which Mr. Wilson laid down his fourteen points, it will simply add one more scrap to the diplomatic waste paper basket. Most of these fourteen points… would be interpreted… to mean anything or nothing.”

1926 – Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, with support from Britain, captured Mecca in 1925, ending 700 years of Hashemite rule. On this date in 1926, the leading figures in Mecca, Madina and Jeddah proclaimed Ibn Saud the King of Hejaz. It would be another fifty years before the Saudi-Wahhabi poison began spreading outside the borders of the Middle East on the back of Saudi petrodollars.

1936 – Reza Shah, leader of a secular Iran, was determined to bring his nation into modernity. On this day in 1936, he issued the Kashf-e hijab decree, outlawing the wearing of the hijab in public and ordering the police to physically remove the hijab from any woman wearing it in public. Here we are not quite a century on and Iranian women are being jailed by the religious police of the mad mullahs if they appear in public without the hijab. Iran seems incapable of simply letting women decide.

1940 – World War II: Britain introduces food rationing. At least they had a daily bacon ration.

2002 – President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act. It was as idealistic as it was unrealistic. As Charles Murray deadpanned “The United States Congress, acting with large bipartisan majorities, at the urging of the President, enacted as the law of the land that all children are to be above average.” In 2015, the law was gutted and replaced.

2011 – A mentally disturbed man shoots 25 people, including Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Casas Adobes, Arizona, killing 6. The media later blames anyone on the right for the rampage, including a New York Times libel that Sara Palin motivated the attack by showing a map that had cross-hair graphics on congressional seats the right should target in upcoming elections.

2016 – “El Chapo,” Joaquín Guzmán, widely regarded as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker, is recaptured following his escape from a maximum security prison in Mexico. He is later extradited to the U.S. where he was tried, convicted, and is now serving a life sentence in Texas.

Born on January 8

1638 – Elisabetta Sirani, an Italian Baroque painter who established an academy for other women artists. She died in unexplained circumstances at the age of 27.

1680 – Sebastiano Conca, Italian painter famous during the late Baroque period.

1911 – Gypsy Rose Lee, the woman who became synonymous with burlesque.

1942 – Stephen Hawking, the disabled and much-heralded theoretical physicist and virulent atheist. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of his theories are unproven and thus, ironically, if believed, must be taken on . . . faith.

1943 – Charles Murray, the political scientist who drives the snowflakes wild. He follows far too many inconvenient facts to their logical conclusion, ones progressives have ruled must be ignored. Sounds very anti-science to me.

1947 – David Bowie, singer, songwriter and actor who was one of the most prolific recording artists of the rock era. His most popular song was released in 1983, Let’s Dance.

Died on January 8

871 – Bagsecg, a 9th century Viking warrior and leader who was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Bagsecg and his Viking army invaded the Kingdom of Wessex and died in battle with the Wessex King this day.

1198 – Celestine III, an active Pope. He condemned King Alfonso IX of León for his marriage to Theresa of Portugal on the grounds of consanguinity – she was Alfonso’s first cousin. Then, in 1196, the Pope excommunicated Alfonso for allying with the Muslims while making war on Castile. Then in 1198, Celestine gave his holy imprimatur to the Teutonic Knights as a military order.

1337 – Giotto, an Italian painter and also an architect, He designed Scrovegni Chapel and Giotto’s Campanile.

1825 – Eli Whitney, the engineer who patented the cotton gin in 1793. Before that that, many of Founders expected slavery to die a natural death in the ensuing decades. Whitney’s invention, though, made slavery economical, setting the stage for Civil War eighty years on.

1979 – Sara Carter, one of the early stars of country music. Sara was a singer, songwriter and harp player who performed as part of the Carter Family, a musical act in the 1920’s and 30’s. Sara recorded the song below when she was 68.