August Oneth

William Clark, the Clark of Lewis and Clark, was born on this date in 1770. He died in 1838. Here is Clark’s journal entry on his 36th birthday [1806] from Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Online. He was on the Yellowstone River in what is now eastern Montana.

We Set out early as usial the wind was high and ahead which caused the water to be a little rough and delayed us very much aded to this we had Showers of rain repeetedly all day at the intermition of only a fiew minits between them. My Situation a very disagreeable one. in an open Canoe wet and without a possibility of keeping my Self dry. the Country through which we passed is in every respect like that through which I passed yesterday. The brooks have all Some water in them from the rains which has fallen. this water is excessively muddy. Several of those brooks have Some trees on their borders as far as I can See up them. I observe Some low pine an cedar on the Sides of the rugid hills on the Stard. Side, and Some ash timber in the high bottoms. the river has more Sand bars today than usial, and more Soft mud. the current less rapid. at 2 P. M. I was obliged to land to let the Buffalow Cross over. not withstanding an island of half a mile in width over which this gangue of Buffalow had to pass and the Chanel of the river on each Side nearly ¼ of a mile in width, this gangue of Buffalow was entirely across and as thick as they could Swim. the Chanel on the Side of the island the went into the river was crouded with those animals for ½ an hour. [NB: I was obliged to lay to for an hour] the other Side of the island for more than 3/4 of an hour. I took 4 of the men and killed 4 fat Cows for their fat and what portion of their flesh the Small Canoes Could Carry that which we had killed a few days ago being nearly Spoiled from the wet weather. encamped on an Island Close to the Lard Shore. two gangues of Buffalow Crossed a little below us, as noumerous as the first.

Francis Scott Key was born on August 1st in 1779.

Richard Henry Dana, author of the classic memoir Two Years Before the Mast, was born on August 1st in 1815. His trip to California was 1834-1836. Subsequently he graduated from Harvard Law School, practiced law and was a prominent abolitionist. Two Years Before the Mast (before the mast meaning among the crew, not as an officer) was published in 1840.

Herman Melville was born on August 1st in 1819. The Writer’s Almanac had a brief bio that included this:

The Melvilles then settled into a farm near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It was here, in 1850, that Melville would meet Nathaniel Hawthorne, whom Melville would come to think of as a dear friend and confidant. The following year, after an intoxicating period of exploring the ideas of transcendentalism and allegorical writing, Melville penned his enduring masterpiece, Moby Dick, the lyrical, epic story of Ahab and the infamous white whale, dedicating it to Hawthorne in “admiration for his genius.” Moby Dick was met with mixed reviews. The London News declared Melville’s power of language “unparalleled,” while the novel was criticized elsewhere for its unconventional storytelling, and Melville’s fans were disappointed not to find the same kind of adventure story they had loved in Typee and Omoo. It was the beginning of the end of Melville’s career as a novelist and, following a series of literary failures, he turned to farming and writing articles to support his family.

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor [excerpt]

Mary Harris Jones was born on this date in 1830 (or, more likely, 1837, or possibly May 1, 1837). She is better known to us as Mother Jones. The magazine named after her has a brief biographical essay that includes this:

The moniker “Mother” Jones was no mere rhetorical device. At the core of her beliefs was the idea that justice for working people depended on strong families, and strong families required decent working conditions. In 1903, after she was already nationally known from bitter mine wars in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, she organized her famous “march of the mill children” from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home on Long Island. Every day, she and a few dozen children — boys and girls, some 12 and 14 years old, some crippled by the machinery of the textile mills — walked to a new town, and at night they staged rallies with music, skits, and speeches, drawing thousands of citizens. Federal laws against child labor would not come for decades, but for two months that summer, Mother Jones, with her street theater and speeches, made the issue front-page news.

The rock of Mother Jones’ faith was her conviction that working Americans acting together must free themselves from poverty and powerlessness. She believed in the need for citizens of a democracy to participate in public affairs.

NewMexiKen has known about Mother Jones since the eponymous magazine first came out in 1976. What amazes me is that I had no knowledge of her before that, despite majoring in American history, and even though “For a quarter of a century, she roamed America, the Johnny Appleseed of activists.”

Robert Todd Lincoln, the first child of Abraham Lincoln and the only one to survive to adulthood, was born on this date in 1843. He died in 1926. (Lincoln’s son Eddie was born in 1846 and died in 1850. Son Willie died at age 12 in 1862. Son Tad (Thomas) died at age 18 in 1871.)

Jerry Garcia was born on this date in 1942. He died in 1995.

Elliot Charles Adnopoz was born 83 years ago today. He is known as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, prominent among the folk singers of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and very influential on Bob Dylan.