On this day in 1773 Henry "Orator" Hunt, radical reformer, was born. When his father died in 1797, Henry became the owner of 3,000 acres in Wiltshire as well as a large estate in Somerset. Henry married and during the next few years his wife gave birth to three children.
In 1800 Henry Hunt became involved in a dispute with Lord Bruce, a colonel in the Wiltshire Yeomanry over the killing of some pheasants. Lord Bruce took Hunt to court over the matter. Hunt was found guilty and sentenced to six weeks imprisonment. During his court case, Hunt met Henry Clifford, a radical lawyer who was involved in the campaign for adult suffrage. Clifford introduced Hunt to several of his political friends, including Francis Place, Thomas Hardy and Horne Tooke.
Hunt now became involved in radical politics. This brought him into conflict with local landowners and in 1810 Hunt moved to a new 20,000 acre estates at Worth, near East Grinstead. While living at Rowfant House, Hunt became more active in politics. Hunt had by now achieved a reputation as a magnificent orator and was constantly being asked to speak at public meetings. In 1816 Henry 'Orator' Hunt spoke at large reform meetings at Birmingham (80,000), Blackburn (40,000), Nottingham (20,000), Stockport (20,000) and Macclesfield (10,000).
On 16th August 1819, Henry 'Orator' Hunt and Richard Carlile spoke at a meeting of 80,000 people on parliamentary reform at St. Peter's Fields in Manchester. The local magistrates ordered the yeomanry (part-time cavalry) to break up the meeting. Just as Henry Hunt was about to speak, the yeomanry charged the crowd and in the process killed eleven people. Afterwards, this event became known as the Peterloo Massacre. Henry Hunt, Samuel Bradford and eight other leaders of the movement were arrested and charged with holding an "unlawful and seditious assembling for the purpose of exciting discontent". Hunt was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment in Ilchester Gaol. While in prison Hunt wrote his Memoirs where he attempted to explain why he had become a radical reformer.
After he was released in October 1822, Hunt returned to his campaign for adult suffrage. With the help of his friend, William Cobbett, Henry Hunt formed the Radical Reform Association. In 1826 he unsuccessfully stood for Somerset but it 1830 he was selected as the radical candidate for Preston, one of the few towns in England that had given the vote to all males who paid taxes.
As well as campaigning for parliamentary reform, Hunt addressed the other issues that concerned the working class people living in a town which employed over 10,000 people in the textile insustry. This included their desire for a ten hour day and an end to child labour. Henry Hunt complained about the way his campaign was reported in the local newspapers: "I have personally visited the factories, and witnessed the sufferings of the overworked children. but, my friends, you never heard of this. No, no, my speeches on the subject were all suppressed by the press."
When the election was held Henry Hunt successfully defeated Edward Stanley, the chief secretary for Ireland in the Whig government by 3,750 votes to 3,392. After his victory, Hunt and an estimated crowd of 16,000 people, marched to Manchester and held a meeting at the site of the Peterloo Massacre.
In the House of Commons, Hunt spoke often on the subject of radical reform. However, Hunt was opposed the 1832 Reform Act as it did not grant the vote to working class males. Instead he proposed what he called the Preston-type of universal suffrage, "a franchise which excluded all paupers and criminals but otherwise recognized the principle of an equality of political rights that all who paid taxes should have the vote." Some radicals disagreed with Hunt and argued that he should support any attempt to extend the franchise.
Hunt's decision not to support the 1832 Reform Act upset some radicals in Preston and in the 1833 General Election, Henry Hunt was defeated. After the election Henry Hunt told his supporters: "I have done everything in my power to maintain, uphold, and secure your rights, but I have failed upon this occasion. I shall retire into private life with the reflection, that I have never, upon any occasion, flinched from performing my duty to you, and the whole of the working classes of the United Kingdom."
On this day in 1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States with only 40% of the popular vote. Lincoln received 1,866,462 votes (18 free states) compared to Stephen A. Douglas (1,375,157 - 1 slave state), John Beckenridge (847,953 - 13 slave states) and John Bell (589,581 - 3 slave states).
Lincoln selected his Cabinet carefully as he knew he would need a united government to face the serious problems ahead. His team included William Seward (Secretary of State), Salmon Chase (Secretary of the Treasury), Simon Cameron (Secretary of War), Gideon Welles (Secretary of the Navy), Edward Bates (Attorney General), Caleb Smith (Secretary of the Interior) and Montgomery Blair (Postmaster General).
In the three months that followed the election of Lincoln, seven states seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Representatives from these seven states quickly established a new political organization, the Confederate States of America.
On this day in 1874 Katharine Stewart-Murray was born. In 1890 she married John Stewart-Murray, the eldest son of the 7th Duke of Atholl to whose title he succeeded in 1917. A member of the Conservative Party, the Duchess of Atholl was elected to the House of Commons to represent Kinross and West Perthshire in 1923. She therefore became the first woman in Scotland to be elected to Parliament. In 1924 Stanley Baldwin appointed Atholl as parliamentary secretary to the Board of Education. Later that year she was the only female MP to oppose women’s suffrage at 21. Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take their seat in Westminster, derided her as “Canute trying to keep the waves back.”
Atholl moved sharply to the left as a result of her close friendship with Sylvia Pankhurst. She took a keen interest in foreign policy and was a strong opponent of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and Non-Intervention in the Spanish Civil War. In April 1937, Atholl, Eleanor Rathbone and Ellen Wilkinson travelled to Spain on a fact-finding mission. The party visited Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia and observed the havoc being caused by the Luftwaffe.
In May 1937 Atholl joined with Charlotte Haldane, Eleanor Rathbone, Ellen Wilkinson and J. B. Priestley to establish the Dependents Aid Committee, an organization which raised money for the families of men who were members of the International Brigades. Later she became chairman of the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief. Atholl also wrote the book, Searchlight on Spain (1938) which made her extremely unpopular with the Conservative Party.
Atholl grew increasingly concerned about Adolf Hitler and his government in Nazi Germany. She totally opposed the British government's policy of appeasement and joined a group of rebel Tory MPs that included Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill, Harold Nicolson, Ronald Cartland, Robert Boothby, Jack Macnamara and Jim Thomas. Major Joseph George Ball, who worked for Neville Chamberlain as his political adviser, made attempts to persuade local constituency associations to de-select rebel Conservative Party MPs.
James Stuart, deputy chief whip, and the MP for Moray and Nairn, was placed in charge of the plot to oust Athol and organised a vote of no confidence in her by her local party. She responded by resigning and prompted a by-election. Athol stood as an Independent against the Conservative Party candidate, William McNair Snadden. She asked Winston Churchill to speak for her but he refused as he feared being deselected by his local party. Robert Boothby responded in the same way.
Freida Stewart was one of those who helped her during the campaign: "Her Grace was very calm and dignified under the strain, which must have been considerable; she had never been seriously opposed before in the feudal area, and the challenge was for her as much personal as political. In fact it was not. The challenge was one of principle against a whole party-political machine; and the Tories were determined that they were not going to be put in their place by one dissident individual, whatever her title. The Perthshire Conservatives rallied as never before to the true blue flag, and made sure their labourers and employers did the same. their cars were everywhere, taking farm workers to the polls, with the hidden implication that they must vote the conformist ticket or else."
According to Duncan Sutherland: "Fifty Conservative MPs travelled north to warn that a vote for the duchess was a vote for war, and in a more sinister twist local landowners were alleged to have offered their tenants bonuses - or threats - on the understanding that they vote against her. These various factors contributed to her narrow defeat by a Conservative opponent in a two-way contest. Subsequent events in Europe vindicated her position, and would have saved her political career had she remained in parliament a few months longer, but after Churchill assumed the Conservative leadership in 1940 she abandoned plans to return as an independent MP for the Scottish Universities."
On this day in 1884 Henry Fawcett died. While studying at Cambridge University he came under the influence of the radical political views of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. At the age of twenty-five Fawcett was accidentally blinded by a shot from his father's gun while the two men were out hunting.
This handicap did not stop Fawcett from being appointed Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University in 1863. Two years later he was elected Liberal MP for Brighton. Once in Parliament Fawcett joined a group of Radicals led by John Stuart Mill and Peter Alfred Taylor.
Fawcett, Mill and Taylor attempted to persuade the House of Commons to grant women the vote. In the campaign for women's suffrage, Fawcett met Elizabeth Garrett. For a time it was thought that Fawcett would marry Elizabeth but she decided to concentrate on her attempts to become a doctor. Henry later became engaged to Millicent, Elizabeth's younger sister. Although warned against marrying a disabled man, fourteen years her senior, Millicent and married Henry Fawcett in 1867.
For the next few years Millicent Fawcett, the future leader of the NUWSS, spent much of her time assisting her husband in his work as a MP. However, Henry Fawcett encouraged Millicent to continue her own career as a writer. At first Millicent wrote articles for journals but later books such as Political Economy for Beginners and Essays and Lectures on Political Subjects were published.
In 1874 General Election Fawcett became MP for Hackney. The couple moved to a large house in Vauxhall. In 1880 William Gladstone, leader of the Liberal government, appointed Fawcett as his Postmaster General. Fawcett, who introduced the parcel post, postal orders and the sixpenny telegram, also used his power as Postmaster General to start employing women medical officers.
Fawcett continued to argue for equal political rights for women and clashed with Gladstone's over his refusal to give women the franchise in the 1884 Reform Act. As Fran Abrams, the author of Freedom's Cause: Lives of the Suffragettes (2003), has pointed out: "As a member of a government which opposed the measure he could not vote for it; as a keen supporter of reform he could not vote against it. In the end he abstained. The measure was roundly defeated but Gladstone was furious with Henry, and wrote to him saying his action had been tantamount to resignation. Henry was reprieved only because the Prime Minister wanted to avoid the bad publicity which would inevitably accompany a ministerial sacking."
In the summer of 1882 Fawcett was taken seriously ill with diphtheria and although he gradually recovered, his political career had come to an end. Henry Fawcett, severely weakened by his illness, died of pleurisy on 6th November 1884.
On this day in 1884 May Brahe, Australian composer was born. She is best known for her songs and ballads. Her most famous song is Bless This House. It is estimated that she had around 290 of her songs published in her life-time.
On this day in 1901 actress Juanita Hall was born to an African-American father and Irish-American mother. After receiving classical training at the Juilliard School she became the leading black Broadway performer in her day. Hall was personally chosen by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to perform the roles she played in the musicals South Pacific and Flower Drum Song.
On this day in 1933 Else Ackermann, German pharmacologist was born. She became active in politics in East Germany. The report on the power relationships between the citizen and the state which she drafted, and in 1988 presented, known as the "Neuenhagen Letter", was a significant precursor to the changes of 1989 which led to the ending, in the early summer of 1990, of the one-party dictatorship , followed by German reunification later that same year.
On this day in 1935 the Hawker Hurricane, designed by Sydney Camm, makes its first flight. Like Reginald J. Mitchell, the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I, Camm was inspired by the announcement that the Air Ministry was looking for a new fighter plane.
The Hawker Hurricane prototype made its first flight on 6th November, 1935. It reached a maximum speed of more than 315 mph (506 km/h) at 16,500 ft (5,000 m). It was therefore the first fighter plane to break the 300 mph barrier. Like the Supermarine Spitfire, the aircraft used the 1,030 hp Rolls Royce Merlin II and carried 8 machine-guns.
On 3rd June, the Royal Air Force ordered 600 of these aircraft. The first of these came off the production line in October 1937. It was all-metal in structure and except for the metal nose was covered in fabric.
On this day in 1955 Maria Shriver was born. The second child of the politician Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She is the neice of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. Her journalism career began with KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was followed by CBS Morning News (August 1985 until August 1986), NBC News's Sunday Today (1987 until 1990). She was a contributing anchor on Dateline NBC from 1992 until 2004. In August 2003, Shriver took an unpaid leave of absence from NBC News when her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, became a candidate in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election.