Monday, April 17, 2006

Ten Days that Unexpectedly Changed America

A lot of you don't know but I am a History Channel loving dork. This past week they ran a series of hour long looks at Ten Days that Unexpectedly Changed America. The catch being that these were turning points in American History that people didn't realize were turning points at the time but set off a series of events that shaped the country. Therefore July 4, 1776; December 7, 1941; and September 11, 2001 were not on the list. On the list, ranked by own perceived significance were.

10. The Scopes Trial- A trial in Tennessee about Evolution vs. Creation that has changed nobody's mind to this day.

9. Assassination of William McKinley- Brought about the unlikely ascent of Teddy Roosevelt to power causing a dramatic shift in policy from unregulated capitalism to a focus on environmental and consumer's rights.

8. Homestead Strike- A standoff at Andrew Carnegie's Homestead, PA Steel Mill the first major labor dispute. My high school US History teacher was from Pittsburgh and did a two week lesson on this that bored the shit out of me.

7. Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show- Changed music and pop culture as America knew it. Back then he was a generation's Marilyn Manson, now he's on a postage stamp.

6. 1849 Gold Rush- The impetus for Westward Expansion.

5. Battle of Antietam- A 23,000 casualty "tie" between the Union and Confederate armies that allowed Lincoln to give the Emancipation Proclamation and stalled foreign support for the Confederacy.

4. Massacre at Mystic- The first slaughtering of Native Americans by English settlers. Concessions to the Pequots allowed Foxwoods and Paul's bachelor party to happen.

3. Einstein's Letter to FDR- Made the U.S. aware of Hitler's Nuclear aspirations and started the U.S. Nuclear program.

2. "Freedom Summer"- The murder of three Civil Rights Workers in Mississippi, two of them white Northern students that brought nationwide attention to the Mississippi desegregation movement.

1. Shay's Rebellion- A near civil war between the farmers of Western Massachusetts and the merchants, politicians, and judges of Eastern Massachusetts that proved the Articles of Confederation to be toothless and spawning the Constitutional Convention and George Washington's comeback. Probably the inspiration for this entire series and a REALLY good name for a bar.

Other days that unexpectedly changed America in my lifetime were:

1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Game vs. USSR- Not that I need to see another special about it but its effect on America's morale was mind-blowing...

Surrender of the Republican Guard at the First Persian Gulf War- And the decision to keep a presence in Saudi Arabia and not remove Saddam Hussein from power led to the events of 9/11 and the subsequent War in Iraq...

1995 Government Shutdown- An example of the relationship between Bill Clinton and the Republican congress. But this event allowed Clinton some extra "down time" with Monica Lewinsky...

The Invention of the Internet and Stone Cold Steve Austin's 1996 King of the Ring Acceptance Speech


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