March 11, 2015

It Happened on March 11th

Bureau of Indian Affairs Created, 1824
To be sure, this wasn't the first United States agency to deal with the Native Americans. The Second Continental Congress, back in 1775, had created three such agencies, to deal with the northern, central, and southern areas. These agencies concerned themselves with Indian treaties, and were particularly interested in encouraging Indian neutrality in the Revolutionary War. Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin were two of the first commissioners. 

In 1789, negotiations with the Indians were transferred to the newly-created War Department. In 1806, a post within the War Department was created by Congress called the Superintendant of Indian Trade. The chief responsibility of this post was overseeing the factory trading system (trading posts). 

John C Calhoun established the office without permission of Congress
When the factory system ended, there was no government position responsible for negotiations with the Indians. Secretary of War John C. Calhoun created the Bureau of Indian Affairs on his own authority, and appointed Thomas L. McKenny, who had been the last Superintendant of Indian Trade. (There was some confusion about the name of the agency: Calhoun called it the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but McKenney referred to it as the "Indian Office" or the "Office of Indian Affairs.") 

Over the years, the Bureau of Indian Affairs had engaged in many controversial practices over the years, including attempts to "assimilate" Native Americans into the mainstream culture, even when that meant eradicating Native American culture and languages, and removing children from their homes to be placed into boarding schools. The 1970's were a particularly challenging time for the nation, as the Bureau attempted to deal with the American Indian Movement, and such crises as the Pine Ridge shootout and the occupation of the Bureau Headquarters. Today the Bureau is attempting to change its mission to a more advisory, rather than supervisory, role in Indian development. 

Queen Anne
Queen Anne Vetoes the Scottish Militia Bill, 1708
This was the last time a British monarch declined to give "Royal Assent" to an Act of Parliament, and this event is actually more interesting from that perspective than it is in regard to the bill itself. Today "Royal Assent" is considered to be little more than a formality, although the capacity to veto a bill does still legally exist. 

The bill in question was the Scottish Militia Bill, which was intended to create uniformity in the military by extending certain Acts of Parliament which had previously applied only to England. (England and Scotland had only recently been united into the single country of Great Britain.) Anne vetoed it, apparently, on the advice of her advisors. 

Queen Anne produced five children out of 18 pregnancies (the other 13 resulting in miscarriages or stillbirths). Four of those children died at under two years of age. The remaining son, William, died at age 11, which caused some difficulties regarding the succession. William had been heir to the throne, and was a Protestant. The next 50 or so royals in line were Catholics. Parliament passed the Act of Settlement, which barred any Roman Catholic, or anyone marrying a Roman Catholic, from taking the throne. Upon Anne's death, the crown passed to George I, the first British ruler of the House of Hanover. 

The Roxy Theater Opens, 1927
It was called the "Cathedral of the Motion Picture." The Roxy Theater cost 12 million dollars to build. It had nearly 6,000 seats, multi-tiered balconies. and 4,500 marquee lights. The chandelier alone weighed a ton and a half. The orchestra could seat 110 musicians and the huge Kimball pipe organ had three consoles. For employees and performers, there was a gymnasium, a cafeteria, showers, a nap room, and two stories of dressing rooms. 

The Roxy Theater was managed by Samuel L. "Roxy" Rothafel, and it was a wonder. Even the ushers were famous -- for their efficiency, their politeness, and their immaculate dress. Cole Porter immortalized them in the song, You're the Top. ("You the pants on a Roxy usher.") 

In the first 12 years of its existence, the Roxy saw 50 million visitors. So what was its downfall? Roxy Rothafel opened a new venue -- the Radio City Music Hall. Some of the Roxy traditions moved on to Radio City, however. The "Roxyettes" became the Rockettes, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which originated at the Roxy, is still a holiday tradition. 

Johnny Appleseed
Johnny Appleseed's Death, 1845
Today is one of the dates cited as the date of John Chapman's death. Others are March 10th or March 18th.
Yes, there really was a Johnny Appleseed, and his name was John Chapman. Chapman was a nurseryman who left Massachusetts and traveled west, taking apple seeds with him. It wasn't quite so much of a random journey as some of the legends would suggest, however. John Chapman was a businessman. 

Chapman got his apple seeds for free (the cider mills were eager to promote their business) and sometimes the use of the land as well. He planted nurseries wherever he could, and left them in the care of locals. Sometimes the locals cheated him, but he figured it all worked out in the long run. He accepted practically everything in barter, and gave much of it away. 

Indeed, some of the strangest elements of the Johnny Appleseed legend are likely to be true. Chapman was a vegetarian, a lover of animals and nature, and definitely an eccentric. He kept the worst of the clothes he was given for his own use and gave the rest away. He owned only what he could carry in a pack on his back, although he did have two canoes which he tied together -- one for his precious apple seeds. And he may have actually worn a pot on his head -- it would surely have been the easiest way to carry it.
One thing that's important to remember about Johnny Appleseed is that the apple trees he was disbursing were pippins -- that is, they were trees raised entirely from apple seeds, without grafting. They would have been unsatisfactory for eating. What Johnny Appleseed was doing was bringing cider -- hard cider -- to the frontier.

No comments: