1818 The Rush-Bagot agreement was ratified.
1867 Wilbur Wright was born. (See August 19th and December 17th entries.)
1889 Sir Charlie Chaplin was born.
1900 The first books of U. S. postage stamps were issued. (See May 6th and July 1st entries.)
1944 The city of Seattle, Washington, suffered a severe labor shortage.
I947 Bernard Baruch spoke of “a cold war.”
1962 Walter Cronkite became anchorman of the CBS Evening News television broadcast. (See November 4th entry.)
1987 The Federal Communications Commission warned broadcasters it would impose a broader definition of indecency over the airwaves. (See June 19th entry.)
1990 The U. S. Supreme Court let stand a ban on school dances in Purdy, Missouri. (See February 1st entry.)
This is a perfect day to study contrasts. On this date in 1818, the U. S. Senate ratified the Rush-Bagot agreement between the United States and Canada which led to the creation of the world’s largest demilitarized unfortified national border. The agreement was the result of meetings between British minister to the U. S. Charles Bagot and Acting Secretary of State Richard Rush one year earlier. Despite their differences in the War of 1812, these two nations forged a peaceful settlement. If every now and then we feel beleaguered by the throws of international politics, we have the comfort of knowing our longest border is a friendly one. But on this same day in 1947, Presidential advisor Bernard M. Baruch made a speech to the South Carolina state legislature in which he said “Let us not be deceived—we are today in the midst of a cold war.” Some have contended that this was not so much a diagnosis as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Perhaps the greatest appeal for partnership ever appeared in a Seattle restaurant window on this day in 1944, a time when the city was in the midst of a severe labor shortage. The handwritten sign read: “Woman wanted to wash dishes. Will marry if necessary.”
Humor aside, the foundations of a good marriage lay beneath it. It was an invitation to work together toward common goals.
When freedom of speech becomes freedom to offend insult, and degrade, how can we respond? One attempt was made on this day in 1987. In response to a rapidly growing trend in “shock jocks”, the Federal Communications Commission issued a warning to broadcasters that it would impose a broader definition of indecency over the airwaves. Shock jocks are radio commentators and disk jockeys who broadcast inflamatory programs designed to narrowly skirt the edges of the broadcast regulations on decency. The radio stations had encouraged this bad behavior because it attracted listeners, garnering more advertising dollars. But many of the listeners were not fans. They were offended and angry, yet they continued to tune in.
When motion pictures with sound began to mark the end of the era of silent films in the late 1920s, not everyone thought the new technology was an improvement. “Talkies are spoiling the oldest art in the world—the art of pantomime,” said Charlie Chaplin in 1929. “They are ruining the great beauty of silence. They are defeating the meaning of the screen.” He is remembered especially on his birthday, as one of the great masters of the silent screen. More than simply lambasting talkies, Chaplin’s words describe the art form he had studied all his life. Pantomime. Wordless communication. born in 1889 to British music-hall performers Charles and Hannah Chaplin, Charlie made his stage debut at the age of five. His first film premiered in 1914. And he went on to make thirty-five movies that year. In 1919, he founded the United Artists production company along with film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford as well as film director D. W. Griffith. His success paved the way for the subsequent achievements of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon, and Stan Laurel. Chaplin was even knighted for his work. Yet he will always be best remembered as the happy little tramp he played with his trademark mustache, bowler, and cane in such films as Modern Times, and The Kid.