July 28: This Day in History

bachJuly 28, 2015 – Segment 1

On this day in history, Johann Sebastian Bach died and the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified today.

Transcript of this day in history included below.

Johann Sebastian Bach – Air on the G String


That was “Air on the G String” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, whose use of chords and musical timing changed the course of Western classical music. He died today in 1750 in Leipzig, Germany.

History is full of and conspiracies in the courts of every land. There was a man named Thomas Cromwell, who helped the infamous English King Henry the VIII change history by breaking  from the Pope and the Catholic Church. He conspired to aid the King in beheading a couple of his wives, only to find himself executed by the King for treason on this day in 1540. The King had no more use for him. In celebration, King Henry the VIII married Catherine Howard, the fifth of his eight wives. The King had Cromwell’s head boiled and placed on a spike on the London Bridge.

And in a more ignominious reign, Maximilien Robespierre was executed by guillotine in Paris today in 1794. He was a leader of the French Revolution who some think went a little overboard. He arrested 300,000 people he thought were counter revolutionaries, executing 17,000 of them by guillotine  whilst another 10,000 died in prison. The French had had enough of this bloodshed and chaos, so after Robespierre was named President, he decreed that people did not have the right to a public trial and representation. 1,400 more people were executed and the people had enough.. Robespierre found himself arrested, with no trial and he was beheaded immediately.

The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified today in 1868. Some call this the most important amendment in our history. It guarantees the right to vote for all men – deeming it unconstitutional to deny any person the “right to life, liberty and property without due process of law…” or to “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The 14h Amendment was part of the post-Civil War Reconstruction Amendments the Southern states were forced to agree to or they would not be allowed back into the Union.

In 1917, 10,000 African Americans marched in total silence down the streets of Manhattan in New York City, calling for federal laws against lynching, and in the wake of racial violence in Waco, Texas and Memphis, Tennessee where 40 African Americans were killed and 6,000 were driven from their homes.  The march was organized by WEB DuBois, demanding that President Wilson live up to his promises and pass the anti-lynching act. The President did not, instead officially increasing federal discrimination against African Americans.

She now floats in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, but it was on this day in 1854 that the USS Constellation was commissioned, the last warship under sails. The ship had a storied history of running down and capturing illegal slave ships off the coast of West Africa and blockading Ft Sumter South Carolina during the Civil War. She was not decommissioned until 1955, and rests permanently now in Baltimore.

Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean called him “the pitcher with the greatest stuff I ever saw..” The great Joe DiMaggio said he was the greatest pitcher he ever faced.  He started playing baseball in the Negro Leagues for the Chattanooga White Sox in 1926, and he pitched his last game in 1965 with a shutout. Finally retiring in 1957, he had been the oldest starting pitcher in the major leagues at the age of 42 in 1948 when the baseball color line was broken … The great Leroy Rover Satchel Paige had his statue unveiled today at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Here’s a song for your July the 28th. This hugely popular song that would become a classic was recorded today in 1961. Despite it’s popularity, the originator of this song did not get rich off of the enormous profits of the song. In 1938 in South Africa, Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds recorded a song called “Mbube,” (Ma boobey)Zulu for “the lion.” That song became popular in South Africa. The story could have ended there if it were not for folklorist and audio recorder Alan Lomax saving a recording of that song from a pile of records destined for the garbage at a New York City record label. He sent the box of salvaged, African recordings to his friend, folksinger Pete Seeger. Seeger mistakenly transcribed the central chant as “Wimoweh” instead of the original “Mbube,” and “Wimoweh” would become the name of the song recorded by the Weavers and later by The Tokens. The Tokens recorded that song as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” today in 1961. That song made millions for U.S. music publishers, but not for the original artist Solomon Linda. Since the salvaged recording was considered “folk” material, Linda was not made part of the royalty stream. During his life, the only money he received for his song that became hugely popular in the United States was a personal check from Pete Seeger in the amount of $1,000. Later in 2006, an undisclosed settlement was reached for the heirs of Solomon Linda. It has been called “the most famous melody ever to emerge from Africa.”

And here’s the Token’s English-language version of that song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

To continue your exploration of this day in history, take a look at some of our favorite sources: Charles H. Wright Museum: Today in Black History; African American Registry; BlackPast; NYTimes on this Day; EyewitnessToHistory.com; The Civil War Trust; Voices in Labor: Today in Labor History; Union Communication Services at The Worker Institute: Today in Labor History; BBC On This Day; The Holocaust History Project; PBS African American World; PBS; Today in Women’s History; South African History Online; This Day In North American Indian History; Jewish Virtual Library; The People History; Wikipedia List of Historical Anniversaries; Yenoba; and This Day in Music