Design a site like this with
Get started

John’s Believe It Or Not… October 20th

1671 – New France Intendant Jean Talon orders bachelors to marry Filles du Roy or lose hunting and trading rights. 1947 Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood. 1827 Battle of Navarino. 1944 MacArthur returns. 2011 Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi is Killed.

It’s Friday! TGIF! Did you know…

* 1671 – New France Intendant Jean Talon orders bachelors to marry Filles du Roy or lose hunting and trading rights.

Jean Talon, Count d’Orsainville was the first Intendant of New France. Talon was appointed by King Louis XIV and his minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert to serve as the Intendant of Justice, Public Order, and Finances in Canada, Acadia, and Newfoundland for two terms: 1665 to 1668 and 1670 to 1672.

Talon attempted to change the economic base of the colony from fur-trading to agriculture but found this could not be accomplished without a larger population. Talon arranged for settlers to come to New France, including over 800 women known as the filles du roi – the king’s daughters. These were young orphans that came to New France to marry men present there. He encouraged population growth through marriage grants and baby bonuses, which was financial compensation given to a couple when they married, and again when they had children.

To further encourage the growth of the colony, Talon established various policies to promote marriage and bearing of children. To young women who married, the intendant gave 50 livres in household supplies and some provisions. According to the king’s decree, each youth who married at or before the age of twenty was entitled to 20 livres, called “the king’s gift.” During the years 1665-68, 6000 livres were used to support the marriage of young gentlewomen without means, and another 6000 livres for settlement and marriage of four captains, three lieutenants, five ensigns and a few minor officers. Furthermore, a family having ten children in their household were entitled to a pension of three hundred livres annually and four hundred livres were given to a family with twelve children.

To balance the number of men and women living in the colony and to promote further marriage, girls were carefully selected from France to be taken to Canada. Some of them were orphans, who grew up under the king’s protection in charitable institutions. They were called les filles du roi. The rest of the girls belonged to honest families, whose parents were willing to send them to a new country where they would be well provided for. When these young women arrived in Canada, they immediately married or were placed for a time in good families. Bachelors by law had to marry filles du roi under penalty of losing their rights to fish, hunt or engage in the fur trade.

Strenuous efforts of Talon gave great impulse to population. In 1665, there were 3,215 settlers and 533 families. After three years, the population composed of 6,282 settlers and 1,139 families. Jean Talon was hard at work in laying the foundation of an economic and political system and making commercial, industrial progress.

The Filles du Roi ("Daughters of the King") were 800 intrepid young women, between the ages of 16 and 30, who left everything they knew behind in France to start a new life populating the.
The Filles du Roi (“Daughters of the King”) were 800 intrepid young women, between the ages of 16 and 30, who left everything they knew behind in France to start a new life populating the colony. (

* 1947 Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood.

On October 20, 1947, the notorious Red Scare kicks into high gear in Washington, as a Congressional committee begins investigating Communist influence in one of the world’s richest and most glamorous communities: Hollywood.

After World War II, the Cold War began to heat up between the world’s two superpowers—the United States and the communist-controlled Soviet Union. In Washington, conservative watchdogs worked to out communists in government before setting their sights on alleged “Reds” in the famously liberal movie industry. In an investigation that began in October 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) grilled a number of prominent witnesses, asking bluntly “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Whether out of patriotism or fear, some witnesses—including director Elia Kazan, actors Gary Cooper and Robert Taylor and studio honchos Walt Disney and Jack Warner—gave the committee names of colleagues they suspected of being communists.

A small group known as the “Hollywood Ten” resisted, complaining that the hearings were illegal and violated their First Amendment rights. They were all convicted of obstructing the investigation and served jail terms. Pressured by Congress, the Hollywood establishment started a blacklist policy, banning the work of about 325 screenwriters, actors, and directors who had not been cleared by the committee. Those blacklisted included composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker, playwright Arthur Miller, and actor and filmmaker Orson Welles.

Some of the blacklisted writers used pseudonyms to continue working, while others wrote scripts that were credited to other writer friends. Starting in the early 1960s, after the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most public face of anti-communism, the ban began to lift slowly. In 1997, the Writers’ Guild of America unanimously voted to change the writing credits of 23 films made during the blacklist period, reversing—but not erasing—some of the damage done during the Red Scare.

Led by Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart a delegation of film stars marches to the Capitol in Washington, D.C, October 27, 1947 for the morning session of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearing on Communism in Hollywood. Immediately behind the leaders are, Left to right, Paul Henreid, June Havoc and Danny Kaye. Others are unidentified. (AP Photo)
Led by Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart a delegation of film stars marches to the Capitol in Washington, D.C, October 27, 1947, for the morning session of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearing on Communism in Hollywood. Immediately behind the leaders are, Left to right, Paul Henreid, June Havoc and Danny Kaye. Others are unidentified. (AP Photo)

* 1827 Battle of Navarino.

During the Greek War for Independence, a combined Turkish and Egyptian armada is destroyed by an allied British, French, and Russian naval force at the Battle of Navarino.

In 1821, the first nationalist uprisings by the Greeks against their Turkish rulers touched off a wave of sympathy in Britain and France, whose cultural traditions enshrined respect for ancient Hellenic values. The Russians also sympathized with the Greeks as fellow members of the Orthodox Church struggling against a mutual foe—the Ottoman Empire. After Turkey enlisted the aid of Egypt in the conflict, Britain, France, and Russia sent allied squadrons to the Bay of Navarin, on the southwest coast of the Peloponnese in the eastern Mediterranean.

The European allies had hoped to resolve the conflict by a simple show of force, but upon arrival, their squadrons were immediately fired on by the opposing Egyptian and Turkish naval force. British Admiral Sir Edward Codrington’s squadron led the European counterattack, and within hours the Europeans’ superior artillery completely annihilated the Turkish and Egyptian fleets. The Turkish defeat was so complete that in 1828, they began to evacuate Greece, and in 1832 Greece won its independence after nearly 400 years of Turkish rule.

Reinagle, George Philip; The Battle of Navarino, 20 October 1827; National Maritime Museum;
Reinagle, George Philip; The Battle of Navarino, 20 October 1827; National Maritime Museum;

* 1944 MacArthur returns.

After advancing island by island across the Pacific Ocean, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte, fulfilling his promise to return to the area he was forced to flee in 1942.

The son of an American Civil War hero, MacArthur served as chief U.S. military adviser to the Philippines before World War II. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, Japan launched its invasion of the Philippines. After struggling against great odds to save his adopted home from Japanese conquest, MacArthur was forced to abandon the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1942. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

After leaving Corregidor, MacArthur and his family traveled by boat 560 miles to the Philippine island of Mindanao, braving mines, rough seas, and the Japanese navy. At the end of the hair-raising 35-hour journey, MacArthur told the boat commander, John D. Bulkeley, “You’ve taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won’t forget it.” On March 17, the general and his family boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress for northern Australia. He then took another aircraft and a long train ride down to Melbourne. During this journey, he was informed that there were far fewer Allied troops in Australia than he had hoped. Relief of his forces trapped in the Philippines would not be forthcoming. Deeply disappointed, he issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, “I shall return.” The promise would become his mantra during the next two and a half years, and he would repeat it often in public appearances.

For his valiant defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and celebrated as “America’s First Soldier.” Put in command of Allied forces in the Southwestern Pacific, his first duty was conducting the defense of Australia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bataan fell in April, and the 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured there were forced to undertake a death march in which at least 7,000 perished. Then, in May, Corregidor surrendered, and 15,000 more Americans and Filipinos were captured. The Philippines were lost, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no immediate plans for their liberation.

After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, most Allied resources in the Pacific went to U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as commander of the Pacific Fleet planned a more direct route to Japan than via the Philippines. Undaunted, MacArthur launched a major offensive in New Guinea, winning a string of victories with his limited forces. By September 1944, he was poised to launch an invasion of the Philippines, but he needed the support of Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet. After a period of indecision about whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa, the Joint Chiefs put their support behind MacArthur’s plan, which logistically could be carried out sooner than a Formosa invasion.

On October 20, 1944, a few hours after his troops landed, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, he made a radio broadcast in which he declared, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!” In January 1945, his forces invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon. In February, Japanese forces at Bataan were cut off, and Corregidor was captured. Manila, the Philippine capital, fell in March, and in June MacArthur announced his offensive operations on Luzon to be at an end; although scattered Japanese resistance continued until the end of the war, in August. Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind in March 1942 survived to see his return. “I’m a little late,” he told them, “but we finally came.”

Leyte: MacArthur returns wading ashore from his ship.
Leyte: MacArthur returns(THE WAR . Search & Explore . Themes & Topics | PBS)

* 2011 Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi is Killed.

On this day in 2011, Moammar Gadhafi, the longest-serving leader in Africa and the Arab world, is captured and killed by rebel forces near his hometown of Sirte. The eccentric 69-year-old dictator, who came to power in a 1969 coup, headed a government that was accused of numerous human rights violations against its own people and was linked to terrorist attacks, including the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Gadhafi, who was born into a Bedouin family in June 1942, attended the Royal Military Academy in Benghazi as a young man and briefly received additional military training in Great Britain. On September 1, 1969, he led a bloodless coup that overthrew Libya’s pro-Western monarch, King Idris, who was out of the country at the time. Gadhafi emerged as the head of the new revolutionary government, which soon forced the closing of American and British military bases in Libya, took control of much of the nation’s oil industry, and tortured and killed political dissenters. It also made unsuccessful attempts to merge Libya with other Arab nations. Gadhafi began funding terrorist and guerrilla groups around the globe, including the Irish Republican Army and the Red Army Faction in West Germany. Additionally, in the mid-1970s, Gadhafi, whose followers referred to him by such titles as “Brother Leader” and “Guide of the Revolution,” published his political philosophy, which combined socialist and Islamic theories. Known as the Green Book, the manifesto became required reading in Libyan schools.

During the 1980s, tensions increased between Gadhafi and the West. Libya was linked to the April 1986 bombing of a West Berlin, Germany, nightclub frequented by American military personnel. Two people, including a U.S. soldier, were killed in the attack, while some 155 others were wounded. The United States swiftly retaliated by bombing targets in Libya, including Gadhafi”s compound in Tripoli, the nation”s capital. President Ronald Reagan called Gadhafi “the mad dog of the Middle East.”

On December 22, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, traveling from London to New York, was blown up over Lockerbie, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. The U.S. and Britain indicted two Libyans in the attack, but Gadhafi initially refused to turn over the suspects. He also declined to surrender a group of Libyans suspected in the 1989 bombing of a French passenger jet over Niger that killed 170 people. Subsequently, in 1992, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Libya. These sanctions were removed in 2003 after the country formally accepted responsibility for the bombings (but admitted no guilt) and agreed to pay a $2.7 billion settlement to the victims’ families. (Gadhafi’s government had turned over the Lockerbie suspects in 1999; one was eventually acquitted and the other convicted.) Also in 2003, Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction. Diplomatic relations with the West were restored by the following year.

Gadhafi remained a controversial and eccentric figure, who traveled with a contingent of female bodyguards, wore colorful robes and hats or military uniforms covered with medals, and on trips abroad set up a Bedouin-style tent to receive guests.

After more than 40 years in power, Gadhafi saw his regime begin to unravel in February 2011, when anti-government protests broke out in Libya following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia earlier that year. Gadhafi vowed to crush the revolt and ordered a violent crackdown against the demonstrators. However, by August, rebel forces, with assistance from NATO, had gained control of Tripoli and established a transitional government. Gadhafi went into hiding, but on October 20, 2011, he was captured and shot by rebel forces.

Libyan rebels abused and mass murdered Colonel Gaddafi, his son Mutassim, and 66 loyalists, after their capture
Libyan rebels abused and mass murdered Colonel Gaddafi, his son Mutassim, and 66 loyalists, after their capture (

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* This Day In History – What Happened Today              

* Wikipedia                                                      

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.

18 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… October 20th”

  1. Loved the photo of Bacall and Bogart. Says a whole lot. There is a humorous side story about McArthur’s walk to shore. He was supposed to be dropped off on dry land but could not get the right transport since a logistics guy refused to divert such a craft from battle. He told anyone who asked that if the brass wanted to come ashore before he had the craft available then they could walk. That is why MacArthur looks so grumpy. Good episode, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great story, John – thank you! I know that MacCarthur’s superiors thwarted his requests to liberate the Philippines for a long time – but I wasn’t aware of that story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder, John, if the death of Gadhafi was the right thing for Libya. This country and its people are in a worse state now than they were under Gadhafi’s dictatorship. Now they are the mercy of a whole lot of warring groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s too bad that the rebels who murdered him didn’t have the wisdom to set up a regime that would benefit the people. Having said that, has Libya ever had a democratic government?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, the mob mentality rears its ugly head once more – happening here in Canada and other countries that have been victimized by fanatical jihadist terrorism. The longer Trump stays in power, the worse it will become.


  3. Wow…I never knew of the Filles du Roi before your posting. Now I must investigate further, as the story is captivating. On another front, I love the photo of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart leading the way to the Capital. Their demeanor and “smarts” tell a story about the insidiousness of McCarthyism that needs no explanation. As always, thank you, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw that picture of Bacall and Bogey and looked no farther, Gwen! A class act, indeed. I’m interested in Les Filles du Roi too. I wonder how willing or eager these young girls were – yet the source I looked at said they were “recruited” and given information about what kind of life they could expect in the colony. They were chaperoned while suitors came to the boarding houses where they were living. The girls had the right to accept or refuse any suitor. Here’s a link, Gwen:


  4. My heart bleeds for those poor women – pregnant for over a decade, taking care of little kids the entire time, doing the back-breaking, non-stop “women’s work” throughout. I wonder how many died during pregnancy or in childbirth and what became of their offspring.

    Far right idealogues are always odious and frightening – and the McCarthy era will forever remain a BLACK blot on American history. May we never forget the bravery of those who faced prison rather than give in to the unconscionable bullying of a truly hateful man. I was unaware that film credits had been changed. RIGHT ON!

    SO much violence in so-called humanity – physical and psychological. Hard to read.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your point is well taken about the pioneer women, Madelyn. Certainly, those in New France had similar life challenges as pioneer women in the Thirteen Colonies, but they had a harsher climate as well. I can’t imagine surviving a winter in a farmhouse that was home to ten or a dozen people with a wood-burning fireplace for heat and cooking. Good grief!

      The violence is truly sickening in any time period under any circumstances. I have to admit that I didn’t shed a tear when Gaddafi was murdered. I guess that speaks volumes about me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tough for everyone back in those days – but especially for women. Then, as now, we’ve always had a 24/7 expectations put upon us — “men may work from sun to sun but woman’s job is never done,” as the old saying goes. It was a lot MORE work back then, as you point out. And they did it pregnant!!

        I don’t think anyone was sad to see Gaddafi taken out, John. It’s simply a sad comment on the violence in our society – still.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re right, the greatest burden of child care and housework has always fallen on the women – except the rich ones who could hire nannies and house staff. Today, it is a necessity for most women to work outside the home – the unfairness occurs when the males refuse to pitch in and do their share. Hopefully, those Neanderthals are a dying breed.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: