Tom's Book of Days
      July 21-31  

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July 21


1831: Leopold 1 is inaugurated first king of Belgium. Though something of a schemer, he was not the really awful Leopold of Belgium -- that was Leopold II.

1873: Jesse James invents the train robbery.

1873: In Nancy, France, there's a rain of ants.

1899: Hart Crane is born in Garrettsville, Ohio.

1919: Thirteen people die when a 158-foot dirigible crashes through the glass skylight of a Chicago bank.

1943: Tess Gallagher is born in Port Angeles, Washington.

1959: A court rules that D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover is not obscene and can be published in the U.S.

2006: Neanderthal resurrection is proposed as a possibility.


July 22



1816: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron register at a Mont Blanc hotel. Byron lists his age as 100. Shelley, writing in Greek, gives his occupation as "Democrat, Philanthropist, Atheist" and his destination (in French) as "L'Enfer" (hell). Poet Laureate Robert Southey, staying later in the same hotel, would correct Shelley's Greek and spread word of the pair's blasphemy. Byron would pay him back in The Vision of Judgment. Oh, those wild and crazy Romantics!

1936: Andre Malraux flies to Spain, where he will command the Republican Escadre España and fly 65 missions against Franco.


July 23


henry thoreau


NEPTUNALIA: In ancient Rome a two-day festival honoring Neptune begins. Not much is known about the event, but, knowing the Romans, it is assumed that feasting, drinking, and other sorts of amusements are involved

1846: David Thoreau, protesting the U.S. invasion of Mexico,refuses to pay his $1 poll tax is put in jail in Concord, an incident he would write about in "Civil Disobedience."

2003: Amnesty International reports torture of prisoners by coalition forces in Iraq.

2006: Thanks largely to an extraordinary comback in the last mountain stage, a performance many call the greatest single-day performance in Tour de France history, Floyd Landis arrives in Paris as the overall leader and winner of the maillot jaune. The victory is all the more remarkable considering that one of Landis's hips is in such bad shape — he will need hip replacement surgery — that a doctor compared it to a piece of rotten wood.
   Landis, in contrast to his predecessor, Lance Armstrong, wins the hearts of the French ... momentarily. The feel-good story will curdle when drug tests prove that Landis's performance was fueled in part by synthetic testosterone. Spirits go limp all over the cycling world at the news.


July 24



1567: Mary Queen of Scots is deposed in favor of her son, King James VI (who is one year old).

1901: O. Henry is released from the Ohio penitentiary after serving three years of a five-year sentence.

1928: D. H. Lawrence writes of Thomas Hardy: "What a commonplace genius he has; or a genius for the commonplace."

1935: At the height of the dust bowl things get scorching: it hits 109 in Chicago, 104 in Milwaukee.

2005: Lance Armstrong wins his seventh Tour de France.


July 25


joaquin murietta

jack london


1853: Joaquin Murietta is killed. A symbol of Hispanic resistance against the new Anglo regime in California, he was the leader of a band called "the Five Joaquins," so named because it also included Joaquin Botellier, Joaquin Carrillo, Joaquin Ocomorenia, and Joaquin Valenzuela. After he is killed by California Rangers his head will beplaced in a jar of brandy and displayed at various locations around the state where it can be viewed upon payment of a dollar. The fictional character Zorro would be partly modeled after him.

1897: Jack London heads for the Klondike aboard the Umatilla.

1930: Nineteen-year-old Josh Gibson ia called out of the stands to substitute for the regular catcher for the Pittsburgh Homestead Grays of the Negro Professional League. He will go on to play 15 years with a variety of teams and compile a lifetime batting average of .423. He will be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.


July 26


Robert Graves

1775: Benjamin Franklin becomes 1st Postmaster General.

1895: Robert Graves is born in London.

1952: Eva Peron dies in Buenos Aires, at thirty-three, of uterine cancer.

1956: Egypt seizes the Suez Canal.

1968: Student riots begin in Mexico City. Police will arrest more than a thousand and kill dozens.


July 27



1586: Sir Walter Raleigh brings tobacco to England from Virginia.

1946: Gertrude Stein, with her last words, replies to Alice B. Toklas's metaquestion, "What is the answer?"

1974: The House Judiciary Committee votes 27 to 11 to recommend impeachment against Richard Nixon for obstruction of justice.

1990: More annals of crime: Zsa Zsa Gabor begins her three-day jail sentence (for slapping a policeman).


July 28


vincent van gogh at 13


1540: A busy day for Henry VIII of England. He has Thomas Cromwell executed, and he marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

1586: Sir Thomas Harriot introduces potatoes to Europe.

1821: Peru declares independence from Spain.

1890; Vincent Van Gogh shoots himself in the chest with a revolver. Never eat paint.

1900: Louis Lassing creates the hamburger in Connecticut.

1932: President Hoover evicts bonus marchers from their encampment.


July 29


dumas pere


1588: The Spanish Armada is defeated and scattered by the English.

1830: Among the mob looting the Tuileries is Alexandre Dumas, pere, who is flattered to find a copy of his novel Christine in the royal apartments. So he takes it.

1954: The Fellowship of the Ring is published in the UK.

1965: Queen Elizabeth attends the premier of Help.

1974: The House Judiciary Committee votes the second article of impeachment (abuse of power) against President Richard Nixon.


July 30



1839: Rebels take over the slaver Amistad.

1956: President Eisenhower signs into law a resolution making "in God we trust" the official motto of the United States. Compare the attitude to the supreme deity that motto expresses to that of the Mexican saying "Pity Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States."

1974: The House Judiciary Committee votes the third article of impeachment (contempt of Congress) against President Richard Nixon.

1975: Jimmy Hoffa disappears.


July 31


1485: William Caxton publishes Morte D'Arthur by Thomas Malory.

1811: In Mexico, the Spanish execute Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Triple father Hidalgo--"the father of his country" as well as a Roman Catholic father and the father of illegitimate children--had, under the banner of the Virgen de Guadalupe, led a force of Mexicans, many of them Indians and mestizos, to the gates of the capital, but he was defeated at Calderon. Nonetheless, his rebellion would lead to Mexican independence.

1815: Richard Henry Dana is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1962: The Federation of Malaysia is formed.

1972: In a shocking development, Thomas Eagleton withdraws as Democratic VP candidate (after revelations of electroshock therapy).

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