February 24th

Abe Vigoda is 94 today.

Steven Hill, District Attorney Adam Schiff of Law and Order, is 93 today.

Dominic Chianese, Corrado “Uncle Junior” Soprano, is 84.

Edward James Olmos is 68.

Honus Wagner Plaque

Honus Wagner was born on this date in 1874. He was one of the original five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame – with Cobb, Johnson, Mathewson and Ruth. He was the first to have his name etched on a Louisville Slugger.

Hall of Fame skipper John McGraw called Honus Wagner “The nearest thing to a perfect player no matter where his manager chose to play him”. Honus Wagner played 21 seasons, primarily with his hometown team the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was the total package. He could hit for average and power and could change the dynamics of a game on the base paths and in the field– he played every position on the diamond in his major league career except for catcher.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Winslow Homer was born on this date in 1836. That’s his Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), 1873-1876, below.

From the late 1850s until his death in 1910, Winslow Homer produced a body of work distinguished by its thoughtful expression and its independence from artistic conventions. A man of multiple talents, Homer excelled equally in the arts of illustration, oil painting, and watercolor. Many of his works—depictions of children at play and in school, of farm girls attending to their work, hunters and their prey—have become classic images of nineteenth-century American life. Others speak to more universal themes such as the primal relationship of man to nature.

The National Gallery of Art

Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) Winslow Homer The National Gallery of Art
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
Winslow Homer
The National Gallery of Art

Impeached

The House of Representatives voted 126-47 to impeach President Andrew Johnson on this date in 1868. The New York Times report on the vote begins:

The first act in the great civil drama of the nineteenth century is concluded. Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, stands impeached of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is of no use to argue whether his acts were right or wrong, whether the law he violated is constitutional or otherwise, or whether it is good or bad policy to proceed to this extreme. The House of Representatives, with a full realization of all the possible consequences, has solemnly decided that he shall be held to account in the manner prescribed by the Constitution for his alleged misdemeanors, and, be the result what it may, the issue is made. It must be met without delay, and the first step is already complete.

As the War ended in 1865, there were essentially two different approaches to Reconstruction. The first, shared by Lincoln and Johnson, was that the southern states had not left the Union. There had simply been a rebellion by their citizens. The Union’s purpose in the war had been to end the rebellion, replace the southern leaders and restore the state governments, albeit with freedom for all, black and white. The second approach took the view that the south was a conquered nation to be governed by the federal government. This view was held by many Republicans in Congress.

Johnson was a Democrat and slave-owner from Tennessee selected to run with the Republican Lincoln in 1864 in hopes of attracting pro-Union, pro-war Democratic votes. Johnson was far less inclined than Lincoln to support the former slaves or demand much from the new southern governments. He vetoed Freedmen’s Bills (which were passed over his vetoes) and he openly opposed the Fourteenth Amendment (citizenship and equal protection). The Reconstruction Act of 1867 was also passed over Johnson’s veto. It established military governments in the south.

Ultimately, when Johnson attempted to remove Secretary of War Stanton (the official charged by Congress with carrying out the Reconstruction Act) the House voted to impeach.

The trial was held in the Senate in the spring of 1868. The Senate voted 35-19 to remove Johnson from office, but 36 votes were required. He completed his term as President (until March 1869) and was elected U.S. Senator from Tennessee in 1875, but served only five months before he died.

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson has contemporary reports from Harper’s Weekly.

Vaya con Dios

New Mexico dumped Arizona 152 years ago today when the Arizona Territory was established. (Since 1850 New Mexico Territory had included both present-day states.)

In March 1861, following conventions in Mesilla and Tucson, the southern portion of New Mexico Territory declared its withdrawal from the Union. The Confederate congress approved and CSA President Davis proclaimed the action February 14, 1862. While all this had no legal force in the United States, it probably did influence the decision in Washington to create Arizona Territory. Congress passed a bill and President Lincoln signed it into law February 24, 1863.

AZ-NM Territory

The Confederate Arizona Territory consisted of the bottom half of both present-day states (dividing the two at 34ºN, just south of Socorro and Prescott). The U.S. Arizona Territory set the division along the north-south border we have today (dividing at 109º 2′ 59.25″ W).

Too bad. With the Confederate division New Mexico would have been the Grand Canyon State and Arizona would have had the Deming Duck Race.

The capital of the Confederate Arizona Territory was in Mesilla (near present-day Las Cruces). The first territorial capital of Arizona was Prescott.