History, Holidays & Observances on January 10

Feast of Archbishop Laud, Margaret Thatcher Day, Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense, Caesar crosses the Rubicon, Norman invasion of Muslim Sicily, Standard Oil Co., Treaty of Versailles, United Nations, and more.

Holidays and Observances on January 10

William Laud

The Anglican Church celebrates a feast for Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud this day. He was a saint to the Anglicans; the devil incarnate to members of the dissenting Protestant religions in pre-Civil War England. As Charles I’s witty court fool famously quipped in warning to the King, “Give great praise to the Lord, and little Laud to the devil.”

Laud supported Charles I’s claim to a divine right to rule. An autocrat, when Laud was Archbishop, he imposed formalized rituals and methods of governance upon the Church. He persecuted the dissenters to Anglican Religion and, as to four in particular who published what Laud deemed blasphemy, he had them tried in the Star Chamber, following which the four were publicly mutilated. The court ordered their ears cut off and their faces branded.

The attempt to export his religious reforms out of England and to impose “Laudianism” on Scotland led to the Bishop’s Wars of 1638-40. When Charles I held elections for a new Parliament in 1640 in order to raise money to prosecute the Bishop’s War, the majority elected were Puritans.

In December 1640 . . . Parliament . . . impeached Archbishop Laud on charges of high treason. He was accused of subverting true religion, assuming pope-like powers, attempting to reconcile the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church, persecuting godly preachers, ruining the Church of England’s relations with the Reformed churches on the Continent, promoting the war with Scotland, and a variety of other offenses.

Parliament imprisoned Laud through 1645 as the English Civil War raged. Near the end of the 1st phase (1642-1646) of the Civil War (1642-1651), Parliament ordered Laud executed. He was beheaded this day in 1645. His mentor Charles I would follow Laud to the chopping block four years later.

Margaret Thatcher Day:

The 3,398 inhabitants of the Falkland Islands (far outnumbered by the sheep on the island) have set aside this day to celebrate Attila the Hen, Margaret Thatcher. In 1982, when she was Prime Minister, Argentina invaded the islands and Thatcher responded with a military expedition, driving the invaders back across the sea, making the island safe once again for her British subjects and ewes alike. In March 2013, the Falkland Islands held a referendum on its political status: 99.8% of voted to remaining a British overseas territory.

Given President Trump’s push-back against Iran’s terrorist regime, it’s worth noting that “The Argentine loss of the war led to ever-larger protests against the military regime and is credited with giving the final push to drive out the military government that had overthrown Isabel Perón in 1976 and perpetrated the crimes of the Dirty War.” Ms. BWR, who was living in England during the Falklands War, remembers it as a time when many British Labour supporters suddenly, and much to their surprise, discovered that they were patriots. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case with American Leftists.

Major Events on January 10

1776 – Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense

Relative to the number of people in the 13 colonies on this date in 1776, Thomas Paine’s anonymous, 47-page pamphlet, Common Sense (complete text here), was and still is the best selling publication of all time other than the Bible. The pamphlet would sell over 120,000 copies in its first three months in print, and would eventually sell over 500,000 copies. This in thirteen colonies with a combined population of only two and a half million people.

Thomas Paine was a thirty-eight-year-old near penniless man just recently immigrated from England. Ben Franklin had befriended Paine in England when Paine was a poorly paid civil servant. Possessed of a keen mind and an abiding hatred of the English class system, Paine so impressed Ben Franklin that Franklin paid for Paine’s passage to Philadelphia in 1774.

Paine embraced the American cause, and in Common Sense, he provided the ideological basis for an American revolution in such clear language that it was accessible to everyone, from the least educated to the most. As John Adams would later write, “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

Between 1760 and January 9, 1776, Britain did an exceptional job of progressively angering the American colonists to the point of rebellion. But what the majority of colonists wanted on January 9, 1776, even after the blood spilled at Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill, was a return to the relationship Britain and the colonies had enjoyed before 1760, when Britain treated the colonies with a policy of “salutary neglect.” Indeed, when the Second Continental Congress convened in May, 1775, most of the colonial delegations arrived with specific instructions not to vote for independence.

Almost overnight, Common Sense changed the mood in America. No longer was the popular sentiment one for rapprochement with Britain and the King. It was now for independence and the formation of a new nation. One by one, over the span of just the next few months, the Colonial legislatures would authorize their delegates to the Continental Convention to vote for independence.

In forty-seven pages, Paine dethroned the King, destroying the notion of monarchy as a desirable or legitimate form of government. He argued persuasively that reconciliation with Britain was neither possible, nor desirable. He argued for independence. And for his work, Paine accepted no recompense. All profits he donated back to the cause of the revolution. Here are some snippets from the pamphlet:

Common Sense

. . .

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; . . . Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others. . . .

. . .

But there is another and great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind. . . .

. . .

England since the conquest hath known some few good monarchs, but groaned beneath a much larger number of bad ones: yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honorable one. A French bastard landing with an armed Banditti and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it. However it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right; if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the Ass and the Lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.

. . .

In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it. . . .

In England a King hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which, in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived. . . .

. . .

[As to this rebellion against Britain,] the Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a City, a County, a Province, or a Kingdom; but of a Continent — of at least one-eighth part of the habitable Globe. ‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed-time of Continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.

. . .

I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage that this continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for buy them where we will.

. . .

Every thing that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART. . . .

. . .

Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen, an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter of the RIGHTS of MANKIND, and of the FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES OF AMERICA.

Notable Events on January 10

49 BC – The phrase to “cross the Rubicon” is commonly used to mean passing the point at which an action can still be changed or altered. The phrase comes from Julius Caesar’s decision, on this day, to cross the Rubicon River with his army, passing into Italy and igniting the Roman civil war.

1072 – Sicily had been conquered and occupied by Muslims for two and a half centuries when the Norman warlord Robert Guiscard began a campaign to drive them out. On this date, Guiscard conquers Palermo in Sicily.

1430 – Philip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy, establishes the Order of the Golden Fleece, the most prestigious, exclusive, and expensive chivalric order in the world.

1812 – The first steamboat on the Ohio River or the Mississippi River arrives in New Orleans, 82 days after leaving Pittsburgh.

1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil. It soon became the largest oil refiner in the world for its time. Its history as one of the world’s first and largest multinational corporations ended in 1911, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a landmark case, that Standard Oil was an illegal monopoly.

1901 – The first great Texas oil gusher is discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas, leading the U.S. into the oil age.

1920 – The Treaty of Versailles takes effect, officially ending World War I – and unofficially sowing the seeds for World War II less than two decades later.

1920 – Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations Covenant enters into force. On January 16 the organization holds its first council meeting in Paris. The League’s purpose was to foster and maintain world peace. It failed abysmally.

1927 – Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis is released in Germany. It was the world’s first full length science fiction movie.

1946 – The first General Assembly of the United Nations opens in London. Fifty-one nations are represented.

1962 – NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket launch vehicle, which became known as the Saturn V Moon rocket, which launched every Apollo Moon mission. It was largely built by Nazi rocket scientists who were brought to the U.S. after the end of WWII.

1966 – India and Pakistan sign the Tashkent Declaration, a peace agreement resolving the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Hindus and Muslims living together. . . . The peace held for four years until open hostilities broke out again.

1984 – The United States and Holy See (Vatican City) re-establish full diplomatic relations after almost 117 years, overturning the United States Congress’s 1867 ban on public funding for such a diplomatic envoy. Anti-Catholic sentiment, inherited from Britain, long had a home in the U.S.

1985 – Sandinista Daniel Ortega becomes president of Nicaragua and vows to continue to transform Nicaragua to a socialist country, maintaining strong ties with the Soviet Union and Cuba. American policy continues to support the Contras in their revolt against the Nicaraguan government. Ortega assumed the Presidency of Nicaragua a second time in 2007 and is still in office. He decided he has had enough of democracy.

Born on January 10

1896 – Yong Mun Sen, Malaysian water color painter known as the Father of Malaysian Painting.

1924 – Max Roach, one of the great drummers of the jazz era, who recorded often with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington.

1936 – Al Goldstein, the man who brought porn to America before the internet. “He was described in his obituary in The New York Times as “a cartoonishly vituperative amalgam of Borscht Belt comic, free-range social critic and sex-obsessed loser who seemed to embody a moment in New York City’s cultural history: the sleaze and decay of Times Square in the 1960s and ‘70s.”

1945 – Rod Stewart, one of the most popular singers of all time, having sold over 120 million records worldwide. His first big hit was in 1971 with Maggie May

Died on January 10

259 – St. Polyeuctus, a Roman military officer and a Christian who became the first victim of the Valerian persecution. He publicly tore up the Emperor’s edict requiring all citizens to worship Roman idols, an act for which he was tortured and then beheaded.

1761 – Edward Boscawen, a very successful British admiral who most famously signed the warrant to execute fellow Admiral John Byng for cowardice. After Byng’s death, the British Navy became at least ten times as aggressive, with British ship commanders preferring to fight to the death rather than avoid battle or surrender

1862 – Samuel Colt, American engineer and businessman, founded Colt’s Manufacturing Company. The company, which has seen its ups and downs, is still extant and recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

1917 – Buffalo Bill, who served in the Union Army during the Civil War and won the medal of honor serving as a scout during the Indian wars. He later became a showman and a self promoter, opening Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1883, touring throughout the U.S. and Europe.

2016 – David Bowie, one of the most popular singers of the rock era. His albums have sold over 140 million copies.