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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 7th

In 1866 – 1800 Fenians raid Lower Canada. In 1929 Vatican City becomes a sovereign state. In 1692 Earthquake destroys Jamaican pirate haven. In 1893 Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience. In 1913 First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley.

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…

* 1866 – 1800 Fenians raid Lower Canada.  (Between 1866 and 1871, the Fenian raids of the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish Republican organization based in the United States, on British army forts, customs posts and other targets in Canada, were fought to bring pressure on Britain to withdraw from Ireland. They divided Catholic Irish-Canadians, many of whom were torn between loyalty to their new home and sympathy for the aims of the Fenians. The Protestant Irish were generally loyal to Britain and fought with the Orange Order against the Fenians. While the U.S. authorities arrested the men and confiscated their arms, there is speculation that some in the U.S. government had turned a blind eye to the preparations for the invasion, angered at actions that could have been construed as Canadian assistance to the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. There were five Fenian raids of note and all of them ended in failure. After the invasion of Canada West [Ontario] failed, the Fenians decided to concentrate their efforts on Canada East [Quebec]. However, the American government had begun to impede Fenian activities, and arrested many Fenian leaders. The Fenians soon saw their plans begin to fade. General Samuel Spear of the Fenians managed to escape arrest, and, on June 7, Spear and his 1000 men marched into Canadian territory, achieving occupancy of Pigeon Hill, Frelighsburg, St. Armand and Stanbridge. At this point, the Canadian government had done little to defend the border, but on June 8 Canadian forces arrived at Pigeon Hill and the Fenians, who were low on arms, ammunition, and supplies, promptly surrendered, ending the raid on Canada East.)

150th Anniversary reenactment of Fenian Raids.
150th Anniversary reenactment of Fenian Raids. (Acsu Buffalo)

* 1929 Vatican City becomes a sovereign state.  (The history of the Vatican City State is colorful, controversial, and complex. The world’s smallest country, at just 109 acres, it has a population of roughly one thousand, with citizenship being largely restricted to those employed by the Vatican. It operates, among other things, a mint, a post office, an astronomical observatory, and a world-class radio station, and it administers a legal system, although in criminal matters (such as the assassination attempt against the pope) Italian courts have jurisdiction. The Vatican uses the Italian lira as its currency. Certain other properties, such as the pope’s summer residence, Castle Gandolfo, located outside of Rome, have extraterritorial status similar to that enjoyed by embassies. The Vatican enters into diplomatic relations with other sovereign states but remains strictly neutral in political matters. The Vatican’s territorial independence is guaranteed by Italy in accord with the Lateran Treaty signed in 1929 and revised in 1985. The famous white and yellow flag featuring the papal tiara and the crossed keys, commonly taken as the pope’s flag, is actually the flag of the Vatican City State.)

Palace of the Governorate of Vatican City State on January 02, 2017 in Rome, Italy. Vatican City is a walled enclave within the city of Rome. With a population of 842 it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.
Palace of the Governorate of Vatican City State on January 02, 2017 in Rome, Italy. Vatican City is a walled enclave within the city of Rome. With a population of 842, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population. (

* 1692 Earthquake destroys Jamaican pirate haven. (On this day in 1692, a massive earthquake devastates the infamous town of Port Royal in Jamaica, killing thousands. The strong tremors, soil liquefaction, and a tsunami brought on by the earthquake combined to destroy the entire town. Port Royal was built on a small island off the coast of Jamaica in the harbor across from present-day Kingston. Many of the buildings where the 6,500 residents lived and worked were constructed right over the water. In the 17th century, Port Royal was known throughout the New World as a headquarters for piracy, smuggling, and debauchery. It was described as “most wicked and sinful city in the world” and “one of the lewdest in the Christian world.” Earthquakes in the area were not uncommon but were usually rather small. In 1688, a tremor had toppled three homes. But four years later, late in the morning on June 7, three powerful quakes struck Jamaica. A large tsunami hit soon after, putting half of Port Royal under 40 feet of water. The HMS Swan was carried from the harbor and deposited on top of a building on the island. It turned out to be a refuge for survivors. Residents also soon discovered that the island of Port Royal was not made of bedrock. The relatively loosely packed soil turned almost to liquid during the quake. Many buildings literally sank into the ground. In the aftermath, virtually every building in the city was uninhabitable, including two forts. Corpses from the cemetery floated in the harbor alongside recent victims of the disaster. On the main island, Spanish Town was also demolished. Even the north side of the island experienced great tragedy. Fifty people were killed in a landslide. In all, about 3,000 people lost their lives on June 7. There was little respite in the aftermath–widespread looting began that evening and thousands more died in the following weeks due to sickness and injury. Aftershocks discouraged the survivors from rebuilding Port Royal. Instead, the city of Kingston was built and remains to this day the largest city in Jamaica.)

The Underwater Pirate City of Port Royal
The Underwater Pirate City of Port Royal (Atlas Obscura)

* 1893 Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience. (In an event that would have dramatic repercussions for the people of India, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer working in South Africa, refuses to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and is forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg. Born in India and educated in England, Gandhi traveled to South Africa in early 1893 to practice law under a one-year contract. Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launch a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government. In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was the leader of the Indian movement for independence. Always nonviolent, he asserted the unity of all people under one God and preached Christian and Muslim ethics along with his Hindu teachings. The British authorities jailed him several times, but his following was so great that he was always released. After World War II, he was a leading figure in the negotiations that led to Indian independence in 1947. Although hailing the granting of Indian independence as the “noblest act of the British nation,” he was distressed by the religious partition of the former Mogul Empire into India and Pakistan. When violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims in India in 1947, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas in an effort to end India’s religious strife. On January 30, 1948, he was on one such prayer vigil in New Delhi when he was fatally shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi’s tolerance for the Muslims. Known as Mahatma, or “the great soul,” during his lifetime, Gandhi’s persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States.)

"Mahatma Gandhi carried out his first act of civil disobedience as a young lawyer
“Mahatma Gandhi carried out his first act of civil disobedience as a young lawyer (What Inspires Me)

* 1913 First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley. (On this day in 1913, Hudson Stuck, an Alaskan missionary, leads the first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the American continent at 20,320 feet. Stuck, an accomplished amateur mountaineer was born in London in 1863. After moving to the United States, in 1905 he became archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in Yukon, Alaska, where he was an admirer of Native Indian culture and traveled Alaska’s difficult terrain to preach to villagers and establish schools. In March 1913, the adventure-seeking Stuck set out from Fairbanks for Mt. McKinley with three companions, Harry Karstens, co-leader of the expedition, Walter Harper, whose mother was a Native Indian, and Robert Tatum, a theology student. Their arduous journey was made more challenging by difficult weather and a fire at one of their camps, which destroyed food and supplies. However, the group persevered and on June 7, Harper, followed by the rest of the party, was the first person to set foot on McKinley’s south peak, considered the mountain’s true summit. (In 1910, a group of climbers had reached the lower north peak.) Stuck referred to the mountain by its Athabascan Indian name, Denali, meaning “The High One.” In 1889, the mountain, over half of which is covered with permanent snowfields, was dubbed Densmore’s Peak, after a prospector named Frank Densmore. In 1896, it was renamed in honor of Senator William McKinley, who became president that year. Mount McKinley National Park was established as a wildlife refuge in 1917. Harry Karstens served as the park’s first superintendent. In 1980, the park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Encompassing 6 million acres, the park is larger than Massachusetts. Hudson Stuck died in Alaska on October 10, 1920. Today, over 1,000 hopeful climbers attempt to scale Mt. McKinley each year, with about half of them successfully reaching their goal.)

Jun 7, 1913: First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley
Jun 7, 1913: First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley (Dinge en Goete – blogger)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

11 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 7th”

    1. I’ve been to Jamaica once, Linda, and just loved it. The people are wonderful. I’m sure you’d like it too. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow…I loved reading each of these segments. I was particularly drawn to the ascent of Mt. McKinley. I’ve been to the Denali National Park twice – vivid memories of bears, wolves, moose, caribou. Oh goodness, now I want to return. I feel another trip in the making…… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gwen, glad you enjoyed these today. Bears? Wolves? Moose? Caribou? I’d be running the other way! Likely get caught too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if the Christian world felt that the Port Royal disaster was an act of God a la Sodom and Gomorrah? Great report, John. Also, it is amazing that Gandhi was killed 68 years ago but his influence still is felt in peaceful dissent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, I’m sure that upstanding Christians would have interpreted that disaster as a righteous punishment from God. Great people leave legacies that last for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

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