This Week in History: 11/9 – 11/15

Sunday, November 9th: Coup of 18 Brumaire

On the 18th of Brumaire, Year 8, under the French Republican calendar which was November 9th, 1799 under the Gregorian calendar, a coup occurred in France, bringing General Napoleon Bonaparte to power as First Consul of France, thus ending the French Revolution. In 1795, Bonaparte was only a poor artillery officer, but by 1796, thanks to military success and links to Parisian politicians, he was named the commander of the French army in Italy. Bonaparte continued to further his career by defeating the Piedmonts and the Austrians in the War of the First Coalition. Bonaparte did witness some failure during the Egyptian Campaign, but not enough to dull his luster. When Bonaparte arrived back in France in 1799, the war in Europe was going badly with the territories of the former Austrian Netherlands in revolt. On the 18th of Brumaire, Bonaparte stormed into the French legislature demanding immediate changes to the constitution. The council rejected him, but the president of the Council of 500 the lower house of the government, who was also Bonaparte’s brother, summoned troops and told them that the deputies had tried to assassinate Bonaparte. The soldiers removed those who opposed Bonaparte and the remaining deputies voted to abolish the Directory the current legislative body and establish a new three-man executive called The Consulate. Napoleon received the title of First Consul, essentially giving him absolute power. While there were two other consuls, Bonaparte’s power over them was established in the new Constitution. Thus, Napoleon Bonaparte came to power.

Monday, November 10th: United States Marine Corps is Founded

On November 10th, 1775, the United States Marine Corps was founded by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress, which raised two battalions of Marines as an infantry force designed to fight both at sea and on land. The Continental Marines, as they were called, were later disbanded in April 1783, along with the Continental Navy. The Marines, however, were resurrected in 1789, leading to their most famous operation of the time: the First Barbary War in 1801 against Barbary pirates. Later, in the War of 1821, Marine naval detachments participated in the great frigate duels that characterized the war, including the first and last battles of the war. In 1834, the Marine Corps became a part of the U.S. Department of the Navy, and today there are more than 190,000 active marines, with 40,000 in reserve.

Tuesday, November 11th: Veterans Day

November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States, the federal holiday honoring those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans Day is different than Memorial Day in that it celebrates the service of all veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the men and women who died while serving. The holiday was originally established by President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day in 1919 as a day to celebrate those who had died during World War I. During World War II, a veteran, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans who had served in any U.S. war, not just those who had died in World War 1. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on May 26th, 1954, establishing Veterans Day in place of Armistice Day. Please, remember to take time on this day to remember those who have served to protect you and our great nation.

Wednesday, November 12th: Naval Battle of Guadalcanal Begins

Also known as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, this engagement occurred between November 12th and November 15th, 1942 during World War II. The battle consisted of several naval engagements between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy. Before the battle, allied forces mainly from the U.S. had landed on the island of Guadalcanal, seized an airfield, and repelledseveral attempts by the Japanese to retake the airstrip. Finally, in November, the Japanese mobilized over 7,000 soldiers planning to convey them to Guadalcanal and retake the airstrip once and for all. The U.S. discovered the plan and launched a counterattack. The battle was devastating for both sides, with almost 2,000 men lost to each side; however, the battle was ultimately a victory for the U.S. in that they forced the Japanese to turn back and abandon their reinforcement plan. The airstrip was a strategic site for the United States to help its air campaign against the Japanese.

Thursday, November 13th: Brice’s Day Massacre

On November 13th, 1002 AD, King Ethelred the Unready ordered the killing of a large number of Danes in the Kingdom of England. The order was a response to fear that the king held that the Danes would eventually kill him and take his kingdom. The Danes had ravaged England with raids occurring every year for the previous five years. So the king ordered the death of all Danes living in England. It is unclear how many people died, but the limited data suggests a significant death toll. In response, King Sweyn, the Danish king, invaded England in 1013. Ethelred fled to Normandy and Sweyn took control of the throne. However, when Sweyn died in 1014, Ethelred returned and retook the throne. The massacre’s name refers to St. Brice, whose feast day is November 13th.

Friday, November 14st: Moby Dick is Published

On November 14th, 1851 Moby Dick by Herman Melville was published by Harper & Brothers in the United States. The novel narrates the quest of Captain Ahab to seek revenge on an albino sperm whale, Moby Dick, which previously destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee. The novel was originally a commercial failure, falling out of print by 1891; however, in the 20th century, its popularity soared. The novel includes commentary on social class and status, diversity, the existence of good and evil and the existence of God. The novel had its title changed at the last minute in September 1851; originally it was to be called The Whale, but was published under its proper title Moby Dick on this day in history.

Saturday, November 15st: NBC News Radio Begins Broadcasting

Originally launched on November 15th, 1926, NBC News Radio is the radio division of NBC News. The network originally was called the NBC Red Network, and was launched alongside the NBC Blue Network, the two original radio networks of NBC. However, in 1943, NBC was forced to relinquish control of the Blue Network which later became the American Broadcasting Company, or ABC, and NBC changed the title of the Red Network to NBC News Radio. The program was launched by the Radio Corporation of America RCA, and featured a star-studded opening broadcast, including a four-hour performance by notable opera stars, Carl Schlagel, Will Rogers, and Mary Garden. Currently, the NBC Radio Network no longer exists. It was dissolved into other components of Westwood One, NBC’s parent company.