Week Ending May 4, 2015

NEW:

Wunderkammer

 

1979 — Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

One of the most controversial British heads of state since King Charles I, Margaret Thatcher was 64 when she became Prime Minister, and had been in Parliament for twenty years. She rapidly became known for the strength of her convictions – which unfortunately included more than a few she’d developed after drinking the free market kool aid.

Margaret Thatcher would serve as Prime Minister until 1990, presiding over the privatisation of many government services and Britain’s successful prosecution of the Falklands War in 1982. Few world leaders have ever been as hated by the left, or as good at unintentionally recruiting for it.

Referenced in:
Prophets of Rage — Public Enemy

1868 — Tom Dula is hanged for murder

Tom Dula was a former Confederate soldier who was executed for the murder of one Laura Foster. However, there are a number of irregularities in the prosecution’s case, notably that although Laura was murdered in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Dula was tried, convicted, and hung in Statesville.

The evidence against Dula was almost entirely circumstantial: while he had threatened to kill whoever had infected him with the pox, it is not clear that he blamed Foster for this; and while he was found hiding out under an assumed name by the lynch mob, he clearly had reason to fear such a mob. Many of the details of the life of Tom Dula, nowadays better remembered as Tom Dooley from the folk songs about him, remain obscure – in no small part due to the inaccuracies of the folk songs.

Referenced in:
Tom Dooley — Neil Young

1919 — Sir Frank Crisp dies of old age

Sir Frank Crisp was an English lawyer and microscopist. He was an enthusiastic member of the Royal Microscopical Society, generous in his support of the Society: he donated furniture, books and instruments in addition to his work on technical publications.

Professionally, he worked as a solicitor, acting in many important commercial contracts. He counted several foreign railroad companies and the Imperial Japanese Navy among his clients, and drew up the contract for the cutting of the Cullinan diamond. In 1875, he bought Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, where he entertained the great and the good. He was a keen horticulturalist and developed spectacular public gardens there, including an alpine garden featuring a 20-foot (6-metre) replica of the Matterhorn. He published an exhaustive survey of medieval gardening titled “Mediaeval Gardens”, and received his baronetcy in 1913 for services as legal advisor to the Liberal Party. Crisp died on April 29, 1919.

Referenced in:
Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp – George Harrison

1965 — US Marines occupy Santo Domingo

The Dominican Civil War was not even a week old before Lyndon Johnson decided that it posed a threat to US interests (to be fair to Johnson, the Cuban Missile Crisis was only three years earlier, and Johnson was worried that ‘another Cuba’ was about to form). The US Marines landed near Santo Domingo (the capital of the Dominican Republic) on April 28, and had captured the city within a day or so – the Constitutionalist forces surrendered the city on the following day.

The Dominican Civil War dragged on until September, and American forces remained in occupation until July of the following year, when somebody the US liked could be elected.

Referenced in:
Send The Marines — Tom Lehrer