History, Holidays & Observances on January 25

Holiday & Observances: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul; Burns Night; Dydd Santes Dwynwen
Major Events: Shay’s Rebellion; Battle of the Bulge
Notable Events: Battle of the Zab; Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn; Battle of Mikatagahara; Mendelssohn, Strauss, Alexander Graham Bell, 101 Dalmatians, Mother Teresa, Norwegian Rocket Incident; Execution by hanging; Human shields
Born: Govert Flinck; Nicolaes Visscher I; J. Marion Sims; Tobe Hooper
Died: Gaiseric; Al Capone

Holidays and Observances on January 25

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul

Saul, a devout Jew and a persecutor Christians, was on the road to Damascus when he had a divine revelation, as recounted in Acts 9:3-8.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, “Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And he said, “Who art thou, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

And he trembling and astonished said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And the Lord said unto him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

Saul, now Paul, writes in his Epistle to Galatians 1:11-16

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; . . .

Commenting on Paul’s conversion, Johann Peter Lange wrote:

The conversion of Paul, in spite of his attempts to completely eradicate Christianity, is seen as evidence of the power of Divine Grace, with “no fall so deep that grace cannot descend to it” and “no height so lofty that grace cannot lift the sinner to it.” It also demonstrates “God’s power to use everything, even the hostile persecutor, to achieve the divine purpose.”

Burns Night (Scotland)

Robert Burns was born on this date in 1759 and grew to become Scotland’s most famous poet. Tonight is an annual feast in his honor involving pipe music, Burns’s poetry, the eating of haggis, and toasts with scotch. The festivities end with the singing of Burns’s most famous work, Auld Lang Syne.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen (Wales)

Today is the Welsh version of Valentine’s Day, given to honor St. Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Dwynwen was a 5th century Welsh princess. She fell in love with a young man, but her father refused them permission to marry. She prayed for assistance that the young man might forget her and an angel appeared with a potion. Dwynwen gave it to the young man, turning him to ice. Dwynwen then prays, one, for the man to be released; two, that, through her, God look after all true lovers; and three, that she be allowed to remain in peace, chaste and unmarried.

Major Events on January 25

1787 – Shays’s Rebellion in post-war Massachusetts

There is a direct link between the uprising known as Shays’s Rebellion and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. The Confederation Congress was unable to raise a force to put down the uprising. That was the final justification for those seeking a strong federal government to call for a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation.

The rebellion came about because subsistence farmers in Massachusetts were being squeezed for taxes that they didn’t have the money to pay. The American colonies were economically chaotic prior to the Revolution, in part because of lack of a single, reliable currency in the colonies. (see here). The problem became acute in the years after the Revolution ended, on top of which was the poor treatment afforded to veterans of the war.

When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, Massachusetts merchants’ European business partners refused to extend lines of credit to them and insisted that they pay for goods with hard currency, despite the country-wide shortage of such currency. Merchants began to demand the same from their local business partners, including those operating in the market towns in the state’s interior.. Many of these merchants passed on this demand to their customers . . . The rural farming population was generally unable to meet the demands of merchants and the civil authorities, and some began to lose their land and other possessions when they were unable to fulfill their debt and tax obligations. This led to strong resentments against tax collectors and the courts, where creditors obtained judgments against debtors, and where tax collectors obtained judgments authorizing property seizures. A farmer identified as “Plough Jogger” summarized the situation at a meeting convened by aggrieved commoners:

I have been greatly abused, have been obliged to do more than my part in the war, been loaded with class rates, town rates, province rates, Continental rates and all rates … been pulled and hauled by sheriffs, constables and collectors, and had my cattle sold for less than they were worth. . . . The great men are going to get all we have and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it, and have no more courts, nor sheriffs, nor collectors nor lawyers.

Veterans had received little pay during the war and faced added difficulty collecting pay owed to them from the State or the Congress of the Confederation, and some soldiers began to organize protests against these oppressive economic conditions. In 1780, Daniel Shays resigned from the army unpaid and went home to find himself in court for non-payment of debts. He soon realized that he was not alone in his inability to pay his debts and began organizing for debt relief

Shays and other ringleaders led a group of 4,000 men, calling themselves “Regulators” after the movement in the pre-revolutionary Carolina by the people of the back country in response to corrupt and non-functional government. They began direct action in August, 1786, shuting down the operation of several courts in Western Massachusetts

The rebellion was news throughout the newly formed United States. The Confederation Congress tried to raise a federal force but was bankrupt and could do nothing. In Massachusetts, the people in the east denounced the rebellion. Samuel Adams was particularly vociferous. The people of Eastern Massachusetts raised two separate militia forces.

On this day in 1787, Shays’s men marched on Springfield Armory, intending to capture it. They found 1,200 militia occupying the armory when they arrived. The militia commander ordered two cannon to fire grapeshot into Shays’s men, killing four and wounding 20 of the rebels. The rebels withdrew.

The rebellion would be over within two weeks, crushed by the militia. It’s influence would last far longer.

Shortly after Shays’s Rebellion broke out, delegates from five states met in Annapolis, Maryland from September 11–14, 1786, and they concluded that vigorous steps were needed to reform the federal government, but they disbanded because of a lack of full representation and authority, calling for a convention of all the states to be held in Philadelphia in May 1787 . . .

In early 1787, John Jay wrote that the rural disturbances and the inability of the central government to fund troops in response made “the inefficiency of the Federal government more and more manifest”. Henry Knox observed that the uprising in Massachusetts clearly influenced local leaders who had previously opposed a strong federal government. Historian David Szatmary writes that the timing of the rebellion “convinced the elites of sovereign states that the proposed gathering at Philadelphia must take place”. . . .

1945 – The Battle of the Bulge ends

The Nazi Army had begun their last offensive of the WW II, the Battle of the Bulge, on 16 December 1944 with “410,000 men; just over 1,400 tanks, tank destroyers, and assault guns; 2,600 artillery pieces; 1,600 anti-tank guns; and over 1,000 combat aircraft . . .” The goal was to cut off the Allied forces from the port of Antwerp and “to split the Allied lines, allowing the Germans to encircle and destroy four Allied armies and force the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis powers’ favor.”

The Germans made strong advances initially, but were held up by unexpected U.S. resistance at Bastonge to the south and Elsenborn Ridge to the North. That bought time for the Allies to counterattack and, when the weather cleared on Dec. 24, to bring to bear Allied air power.

The battle continued throughout the month of January as the Nazis attempted a fighting withdrawal that was only partially successful. On this day in 1945, the battle ended as the last Nazi unit crossed back behind the initial lines occupied by the Nazis at the start of the offensive.

The battle was costly for U.S. forces, with 89,500 soldiers killed or wounded. In terms of manpower, the battle, cost much the same for the Nazis. Strategically, it was a major defeat. The offensive exhausted Nazi resources and opened the way for Allied offenses into Germany itself.

Notable Events on January 25

750 – In the Battle of the Zab in modern day Iraq, the Abbasid rebels defeated the Umayyads Caliphate. The Abbasid Dynasty would last until the 13th century.

1533 – Henry VIII of England formally marries his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne was a good girl who had refused Henry’s advances while he was still married to Catherine of Aragon. Henry became obsessed with wedding and bedding her. As soon as he was able to lawfully do so, Henry had wed Anne Boleyn on 14 Nov. 1533 in a secret ceremony. A second formal wedding was held on this date to satisfy everyone else. Anne would bear Henry a daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth, but after three later miscarriages, Henry was done with her. She would lose her head in 1536 so that Henry could marry his next wife.

1573 – 16th century Japan was a true life Game of Thrones. The ultimate winner of the game would be Tokugawa Ieyasu, but on this date, in 1573, he suffered one of his rare battlefield defeats at the Battle of Mikatagahara at the hands of Takeda Shingen. Only through a very bold bluff did Ieyasu stave off complete disaster.

1858 – The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn is played at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia, and becomes a popular wedding processional.

1909 – Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra receives its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.

1915 – Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

1961 – 101 Dalmatians premiered from Walt Disney Productions.

1980 – Mother Teresa is honored with India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.

1995 – The Norwegian rocket incident: Russia almost launches a nuclear attack after it mistakes Black Brant XII, a Norwegian research rocket, for a US Trident missile.

1996 – Billy Bailey becomes the last person to be hanged in the U.S.A.

2003 – A group of people leave London, England, for Baghdad, Iraq, to serve as human shields, intending to prevent the U.S.-led coalition troops from bombing certain locations.

Born on January 25

1615 – Govert Flinck, a lesser known artist who worked during the Dutch Golden Age.

1618 – Nicolaes Visscher I, Dutch engraver and cartographer and one of a well known family of Dutch cartographers.

1813 – J. Marion Sims, the “father of modern gynaecology” and a doctor famous for his contributions to surgery. He was a doctor in the deep south prior to the Civil War, and he did many of his experimental techniques on slave women. According to many in the modern day, “one would be hard pressed to find a more controversial figure in the history of medicine.”

1943 – Tobe Hooper, a producer and director who spent his career directing films in the horror genre, starting with the very low budget blockbuster, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Died on January 25

477 – Gaiseric, King of the Vandals, who led his tribe into the a major power of the era and was “one of the key players in the troubles of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century.” He is most famous for leading a sack of Rome in 455.

1947 – Al Capone, perhaps the most well known member of the Italian mob during the Prohibition Era. He was finally sent to prison for tax evasion in 1931. By the time he was released from prison in 1939, he was suffering from stage three syphilis and was no longer a player in organized crime.