Today But Then. June 25th.

June 25, 2018

On June 25th1876, on the banks of the Little Bighorn river in Montana US, General Custer and 265 of his men were killed in less than an hour in what has become known as Custer's Last Stand. 

 

The 7th Cavalry clashed with Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne in a bloody battle where the US army were defeated resolutely. The native forces were led by Chief Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, names we are still familiar with today, 142 years later.

 

You might not be surprised to hear that the conflict had its roots in gold. The Native Americans had been granted ownership of the Black Hills mountain range, South Dakota in the treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. Later though, when gold was discovered in the mountain range, the federal government intervened to protect the activities of prospectors and push the Sioux and the Cheyenne further north. General Custer was instructed to wait for reinforcements, but having heard that Chief Sitting Bull had been spotted nearby, he was keen to attack. 

 

This turned out to be a fatal mistake, and his army were surrounded and slaughtered. The victory for the natives was short lived though, as when the reinforcements turned up a few days later, they pushed the tribes back and took control of the Black Hills.

 

Twelve years later, in 1888, the Republican party nominated Benjamin Harrison as their presidential candidate. He went on to beat Grover Cleveland to become the 23rd President of the USA. This particular candidate and election have a few interesting elements. Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of William Harrison Sr, the 9th president, who has the dual honour of being the last president born before the American Revolution, and also the shortest tenure of any president, dying of pneumonia just 31 days after taking office. 

 

Benjamin Harrison defeated the sitting president, Grover Cleveland by winning 20 states to Cleveland's 18. In doing so he won more electoral college votes, winning 233 to Cleveland's168. He is however one of only five presidents who won the election, but lost the popular vote.

 

Cleveland won 90,000 more votes (out of about 11 million cast) so won the popular vote by .8%. George. W. Bush won the 2000 election, but lost the popular vote to Al Gore, and the current president, Donald Trump also won the 2016 election, but lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes to Hillary Clinton.

 

All this aside though, and also ignoring the fact that Cleveland came back four years later to be the only president to win a second, but not consecutive, election, 1888 was memorable for one huge event.

 

Frederick Douglass, born a slave in 1818, became the first African American to be considered for presidential candidacy. He won one vote in the forth round of the Republican voting which saw Harrison win the nomination. My little 500 word post won't do him justice today, but he had an absolutely amazing contribution to the politics of the time. Later I'll write a separate post about him, and link to it, so keep your eyes peeled. If you can't wait though, and you have a bit of time, this link is a good summary. He's attributed many inspirational quotes, but my favourite is "It is easier to build strong children than mend broken men."

 

In other news, a very happy Heinz 57th birthday to Ricky Gervais, and a posthumous happy birthday to both George Orwell and George Michael. If I hadn't maxed out my words I'd have said a few things, but you know, there's always tomorrow!

 

Enjoy the sun, and thanks for reading!

 

JC 

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