It’s Tuesday! Did You Know…
* 1608 – Samuel de Champlain starts building his Habitation at the foot of Cape Diamond Kebec
“I arrived there on the 3rd of July, wrote Samuel de Champlain in 1608, “when I searched for a place suitable for our settlement, but I could find none more convenient or better situated than the point of Quebec.” Champlain stepped ashore and unfurled the fleur-de-lys, marking the beginning of that city and indeed of Canada.
Until Champlain, the entire New World adventure had brought only disappointment and death for France. Explorers from Jacques Cartier to the Sieur de Monts had all failed to leave any permanent mark.
Champlain the visionary would change that history. He dreamed not only of adding a great domain to France but of bringing wealth through the fur trade, of spreading the faith and of penetrating the mysteries of the great and baffling continent. He persuaded the Sieur de Monts to write off his Acadian ventures and fired him with a new energy for an expedition to Quebec. There, he told De Monts, he would “plant himself on the great River of St Lawrence, where commerce and traffic can be carried on much better than in Acadie. De Monts got his trade monopoly renewed, appointed Champlain governor and set the shipwrights of Honfleur to work modifying vessels for the voyage to Canada.
De Monts sent one ship, Le Levrier, under the command of Gravé du Pont to trade at Tadoussac. Le Don de Dieu, commanded by Champlain, was sent to establish a post at Quebec.
Le Don de Dieu sailed from Honfleur on April 13, 1608, raised Cape St Mary’s, Nfld, on May 26 and reached Tadoussac on June 3. There, Gravé du Pont was a virtual prisoner of the tough Basques who ridiculed his claim to a monopoly on trade. Champlain, the consummate diplomat, made peace with the Basques and resumed his course up the St Lawrence, arriving off Cap Diamant on July 3.
Champlain set the men to work felling the butternut trees. They dug sawpits and sawed the logs into planks. Their “habitation was an ambitious structure of three stories, a kind of miniature Bastille. It had a gallery running around the outside and was embellished with a dovecote, which only nobles were allowed to set up in France. The whole structure had a moat around it and a drawbridge before the main entrance. Most of the materials were prepared on the spot but the handsome glazed windows were brought from France.
Before the work was done, Champlain had to put down a mutiny. Several of his men, angered that they were not to share in the profits of the fur trade, planned to murder him and sell out to the Basques. One of the conspirators lost his nerve and told Champlain, who arrested the gang of five. A hastily arranged trial found all five guilty. The ringleader, Jean Duval, was hanged and his head was stuck on a pike; the others were sent back to France in chains for punishment.
Champlain built the “habitation” which was part fort and part village in 1608 at the site of present-day Québec City (courtesy John Ross Robertson Coll/Metropolitan Toronto Library).
After the crisis, the work resumed through September and some land was cleared and planted with winter wheat and rye. Everything was made ready, but the first winter was severe. A harsh frost descended in October and snow in mid-November. Eighteen men were afflicted by scurvy and ten died.
When spring finally broke up the ice in April 1609, only eight of the 24 men who wintered at Quebec were still alive. Yet the ever-confident Champlain made preparations to set off on an expedition against the Iroquois.
* 1863 Battle of Gettysburg ends
On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s last attempt at breaking the Union line ends in disastrous failure, bringing the most decisive battle of the American Civil War to an end.
In June 1863, following his masterful victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Lee launched his second invasion of the Union in less than a year. He led his 75,000-man Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River, through Maryland, and into Pennsylvania, seeking to win a major battle on Northern soil that would further dispirit the Union war effort and induce Britain or France to intervene on the Confederacy’s behalf. The 90,000-strong Army of the Potomac pursued the Confederates into Maryland, but its commander, General Joseph Hooker, was still stinging from his defeat at Chancellorsville and seemed reluctant to chase Lee further. Meanwhile, the Confederates divided their forces and investigated various targets, such as Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital.
On June 28, President Abraham Lincoln replaced Hooker with General George Meade, and Lee learned of the presence of the Army of the Potomac in Maryland. Lee ordered his army to concentrate in the vicinity of the crossroads town of Gettysburg and prepare to meet the Federal army. At the same time, Meade sent ahead part of his force into Pennsylvania but intended to make a stand at Pipe Creek in Maryland.
On July 1, a Confederate division under General Henry Heth marched into Gettysburg hoping to seize supplies but finding instead three brigades of Union cavalry. Thus began the Battle of Gettysburg, and Lee and Meade ordered their massive armies to converge on the impromptu battle site. The Union cavalrymen defiantly held the field against overwhelming numbers until the arrival of Federal reinforcements. Later, the Confederates were reinforced, and by mid-afternoon some 19,000 Federals faced 24,000 Confederates. Lee arrived to the battlefield soon afterward and ordered a general advance that forced the Union line back to Cemetery Hill, just south of the town.
During the night, the rest of Meade’s force arrived, and by the morning Union General Winfield Hancock had formed a strong Union line. On July 2, against the Union left, General James Longstreet led the main Confederate attack, but it was not carried out until about 4 p.m., and the Federals had time to consolidate their positions. Thus began some of the heaviest fighting of the battle, and Union forces retained control of their strategic positions at heavy cost. After three hours, the battle ended, and the total number of dead at Gettysburg stood at 35,000.
On July 3, Lee, having failed on the right and the left, planned an assault on Meade’s center. A 15,000-man strong column under General George Pickett was organized, and Lee ordered a massive bombardment of the Union positions. The 10,000 Federals answered the Confederate artillery onslaught, and for more than an hour the guns raged in the heaviest cannonade of the Civil War. At 3 p.m., Pickett led his force into no-man’s-land and found that Lee’s bombardment had failed. As Pickett’s force attempted to cross the mile distance to Cemetery Ridge, Union artillery blew great holes in their lines. Meanwhile, Yankee infantry flanked the main body of “Pickett’s charge” and began cutting down the Confederates. Only a few hundred Virginians reached the Union line, and within minutes they all were dead, dying, or captured. In less than an hour, more than 7,000 Confederate troops had been killed or wounded.
Both armies, exhausted, held their positions until the night of July 4, when Lee withdrew. The Army of the Potomac was too weak to pursue the Confederates, and Lee led his army out of the North, never to invade it again. The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War, costing the Union 23,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Confederates suffered some 25,000 casualties. On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address during the dedication of a new national cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in April 1865.
* 1985 “Back to the Future” released – features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12
On this day in 1985, the blockbuster action-comedy “Back to the Future”–in which John DeLorean’s iconic concept car is memorably transformed into a time-travel device–is released in theaters across the United States.
“Back to the Future,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, starred Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager who travels back 30 years using a time machine built by the zany scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Doc’s mind-blowing creation consists of a DeLorean DMC-12 sports car outfitted with a nuclear reactor. Once the car reaches a speed of 88 miles per hour, the plutonium-powered reactor achieves the “1.21 gigawatts” of power necessary to travel through time. Marty arrives in 1955 only to stumble in the way of his own parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson) and keep them from meeting for the first time, thus putting his own life in jeopardy.
A veteran of the Packard Motor Company and General Motors, John DeLorean founded the DeLorean Motor Company in Detroit in 1975 to pursue his vision of a futuristic sports car. DeLorean eventually set up a factory in Dunmurry, near Belfast in Northern Ireland. There, he built his iconic concept car: the DMC-12, known simply as the DeLorean. An angular vehicle with gull-wing doors, the DeLorean had an unpainted stainless-steel body and a rear-mounted engine. To accommodate taller drivers (like its designer, who was over six feet tall), the car had a roomy interior compared to most sports cars.
Although it was built in Northern Ireland, the DeLorean was intended predominantly for an American audience, so it was built with the driver’s seat on the left-hand side. The company built about 9,000 of the cars before it ran out of money and halted production in 1982; only 6,500 of those are still in existence. Despite its short lifespan, the DeLorean remains an object of great interest to car collectors and enthusiasts, no doubt largely due to the smashing success of “Back to the Future” and its two sequels, released in 1989 and 1990. John DeLorean died in March of 2005, at the age of 80.
* 2012 TV legend Andy Griffith dies
On this day in 2012, Andy Griffith, famous for his role as the good-hearted, small-town sheriff of fictional Mayberry, North Carolina, on the iconic 1960s TV sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show,” dies at age 86 at his North Carolina home. The actor also was known for his starring role in the 1980s-1990s TV drama “Matlock,” in which he portrayed a shrewd Atlanta defense attorney.
Andrew Samuel Griffith was born on June 1, 1926, in Mount Airy, North Carolina. He majored in music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1949. Griffith went on to teach school for several years before finding success as a stand-up comedian. In 1957, he made his feature film debut in the critically acclaimed drama “A Face in the Crowd,” starring, in a serious role, as a drifter who becomes a manipulative, power-hungry celebrity.
“The Andy Griffith Show” premiered in the fall of 1960 and quickly became a hit. Griffith played the amiable Sheriff Andy Taylor, a widower raising his young son Opie, played by Ron Howard (now a successful Hollywood director, whose credits include “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Da Vinci Code”). Set in the small, idyllic community of Mayberry (based on Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy), the show included an ensemble of eccentric characters such as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), prim Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), gas-station attendant Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), Floyd the barber (Howard McNear) and Otis the town drunk (Hal Smith). The folksy sitcom, memorable for its whistled theme song, which played over opening credits featuring Andy and Opie on their way to go fishing, continues to air in reruns. Additionally, the program spawned the TV shows “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” (1964-69) and “Mayberry R.F.D.” (1968-71).
During the 1970s and 1980s, Griffith appeared in several short-lived TV series and various made-for-TV movies before again finding success in the legal drama “Matlock,” which originally aired from 1986 to 1995. The actor’s final role was in the 2009 feature film “Play the Game.” Also in 2009, the Andy Griffith Museum opened in Mount Airy. The TV legend died of a heart attack on July 3, 2012, at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina.
* 1969 Brian Jones and Jim Morrison die – two years apart to the day
Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones is found dead of an apparent accidental drowning on this day in 1969. Two years later to the day, in 1971, Jim Morrison dies of heart failure in a Paris bathtub.
For all the highly publicized brushes with the law that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would have in the late 1960s, it was the original leader of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, who was the group’s original bad boy—who lived, in the words of Pete Townshend, “on a higher planet of decadence than anyone I would ever meet.” A gifted musician, Jones helped create the sound of countless classic Stones tracks with his work on guitar, sitar, marimba and other instruments that were then considered exotic for rock and roll. But he also helped create the stereotype of the wasted rock star with his prodigious drug habit and his declining ability to contribute to the Stones’ recordings. “At first Brian was the most interesting Stone,” John Lennon recalled in a 1970 interview, “[but] he was one of them guys that disintegrated in front of you.”
Unable to show up for recording sessions due to his drug habit, and unable to play properly on the occasions that he did, Brian Jones was also refused an entry visa to the United States in the spring of 1969 due to his recent drug conviction, upsetting plans for a fall tour of the States. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards fired him on June 8, and a little more than three weeks later, the 27-year-old Jones was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Sussex. Rumors of foul play would persist for years among fans and conspiracy buffs, but the coroner’s official ruling was “Death by misadventure,” on July 3, 1969.
Two years later to the day, another 27-year-old rock star would die under uncertain circumstances: Jim Morrison. As the charismatic frontman of the iconic 1960s group The Doors, Jim Morrison created a template that charismatic frontmen are still emulating nearly half a century later. Young, good-looking and clad in skintight black leather pants, the Lizard King mesmerized a generation with his stage presence and his lyrics about funeral pyres and mystic heated wine. But the trippy mix of Nietzsche, Blake and Huxley that the young Dionysius peddled was usually filtered through heavy doses of bourbon and mescaline, or some other combination of alcohol and drugs.
While the precise circumstances of Morrison’s death on July 3, 1971, are fuzzy enough to have fueled persistent rumors that he is still alive, what is known for certain is that he was found dead in the bathtub of the Paris apartment he was sharing with longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson. Because no evidence of foul play was found at the scene, and because Courson told French authorities that Morrison had not been using drugs, no autopsy was conducted, and “heart failure” was cited as the cause of death. In the years since his untimely death, Morrison’s most prominent biographers, Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, have asserted that Morrison suffered an accidental heroin overdose that night, basing their claim on Courson’s allegation that he was, in fact, using drugs sometime before her own death by overdose in 1974 .
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* The Canadian Encyclopedia https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/champlain-and-the-founding-of-quebec-feature/
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/