Today in History
History's Happenings for November 10
America's finest fighting force was created by the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775, when two battalions of U.S. Marines were authorized for service in the American Revolution.
Envisioned to serve the dual role of land and sea forces -- much later combined into the concept of amphibious assault -- the Marines charged their first hostile shore on March 3, 1776, capturing New Providence Island in the Bahamas from the British.
Deactivated after the Revolution, they returned to service to battle the Barbary Pirates of North Africa, taking Tripoli in 1805 after a 600 mile march across the desert. In 1815 they helped General Jackson defeat the British at New Orleans.
Marines were first into battle with Mexico in 1846, and were crucial in the taking of Mexico City in 1847. In 1859 they served with Lee to defeat John Brown's rebels at Harper's Ferry -- and then served both Lee and Grant during the Civil War.
Twenty-eight Marines died on the Maine when it blew up in Havana harbor in February, 1898 -- and the Marines were among the first onto the Cuban and Philippine beaches after war was declared with Spain. They marched across China to Peking in 1900 to the relief of the besieged legations during the 55-day Boxer rebellion.
After the fierce battle of Belleau Wood in 1918 France, the French renamed the forest Le Bois de le Brigade Marine -- the wood of the Marine Brigade -- after the heroes of the battle.
After World War I the Marines began to develop the amphibious landing and assault techniques that would win the oncoming Pacific War. By the late thirties they were in a position to teach their tactics to the Army as well. After the dogged determination of Wake, Bataan and Corregidor, the list of enemy strongholds that fell to the Marine amphibious onslaught can only be abbreviated -- Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa -- too easy to write out for the sweat and blood invested in their taking.
In 1950 they landed at Inchon, and pushed the invading North Koreans all the way back to the Yalu River, at China's border. Then they stood their ground against the initial onslaught of Red Chinese.
And again in Vietnam. And in the Persian Gulf. In all of America's wars, over 2 million Marines have served their country in battle, and 48,000 gave their lives for it -- 15,000 in Vietnam alone.
Semper Fi, Marines.
The monk who inadvertently became the founder of Christian Protestantism, and incited the great Reformation, Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany on November 10, 1483 of peasant parents.
Pursuing the study of law as his father wished, Luther received degrees from the University of Erfurt. But before he could complete his legal studies, he suddenly changed course and enrolled as an Augustinian monk. He later explained that close brushes with death had created in him an urge to find peace with God.
Perhaps because he continued to have difficulty, even as a monk, in finding solace with the Creator, Luther came to believe that salvation could only come from God's Grace, and not through earthly works. This perception not only put him at odds with Catholic theology, but enraged him against the Church's contemporary practice of selling indulgences -- the remission of earthly sins -- for money.
On a day in 1517 which is now commemorated on Reformation Sunday (last Sunday in October), Luther published his Ninety Five Theses, railing against the practices which he abhorred. His actions, which earned him outlaw status within the Holy Roman Empire and excommunication by the Pope, marked the beginning of the tumultuous Protestant Reformation.
When he supposedly nailed the first copy of his Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Luther had no intention of creating a schism within the Catholic Church, only of purifying it of what he saw as an affront to its Holy mission.
Called before the Emperor at the Diet of Worms in 1521 to recant, Luther refused, and the Church's resistance to reform ultimately drove him and his growing following into what would become Protestantism.
For the rest of his life, unable to converse formally with the Roman Church or its imperial supporters as an excommunicant, Luther nonetheless opposed the rising violence and extreme theologies of those who acted in his name. His sermons and further writings helped to quell the uprisings of the movement, and his position on temporal versus ecclesiastical power earned him the support of various princes who preferred the Church to deal with things spiritual and leave ruling to them.
Having established himself as one of Christianity's most memorable theologians, Martin Luther died in 1546, in Eisleben, Germany.
Dr. David Livingstone was a missionary and African explorer of singular repute, well-known for his explorations and discoveries around Lake Tanganyika and the Lualaba River in the modern Republic of the Congo -- then completely uncharted territory. In 1867, turbulent conditions in the area caused him to lose contact with the outside world for three years. International concern for the safety and whereabouts of the famous missionary mounted until James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald, detailed reporter/explorer Henry M. Stanley to journey into deepest Africa in search of him.
After an eight-month trek out of Zanzibar, Stanley found the not-really-missing Livingstone on November 10, 1871 whereupon, we suppose, he really said ... "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Ill with recurrent fever, Livingstone asked Stanley to remain with him to help with his explorations, that he might take word and proof of the doctor's discoveries back to the civilized world. After several months of exploration, Stanley returned to Zanzibar in 1872.
Livingstone died of dysentery in May, 1873, still exploring. His body was preserved and returned to England, where it was laid to rest in honor in Westminster Abbey.
Henry Stanley continued his African explorations, for the Herald and others, discovering much of geographic import in what was to become the Congo, and writing several books about his adventures, including How I Found Livingstone (1872).
(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.