HISTORY OF BASTILLE DAY
Each year on July 14, Bastille Day is celebrated to commemorate the Storming of the Bastille in Paris on this date in 1789, an important date in the French Revolution. Also known as French National Day, it features feasting, fireworks, public dancing, and an address by the French President.
However, the center of this celebration is the largest and oldest European military parade along the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées. This wide boulevard runs through Paris and is called la plus belle avenue du monde. Lined by high-end shops and eateries, as well as the Arch of Triumph in the middle, it is undoubtedly the most beautiful avenue in the world that I’ve walked along.
Unlike last year, when Coronavirus prohibited the parade, this year, it will resume. Bastille Day is celebrated across the globe wherever French ex-patriots, people of French ancestry, and Francophiles live.
HISTORY OF FRENCH FRIES: NATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY
Today is National French Fry Day. While no one knows who began this celebration, placing in on July 13 is significant in that the important French holiday is the next day, July 14, for Bastille Day.
History of French Fries
Some French people might call the delectable potato confection Belgian Fries, and there is evidence that they may have originated there.
One story is that the phrase “French Fried Potatoes” first appeared in English in 1856 in the cookbook Cookery for Maids of All Work by E. Warren.
Another story, which is more likely, is that they were first called “French Fries” by American soldiers stationed in Belgium during World War I. After first tasting them, the Yanks called them “French” fries as it was the official language of their fellow Belgian soldiers.
A Belgian journalist claims that a 1781 family manuscript tells of deep-fried potatoes in the Spanish-Netherlands (now Belgium) before the 1680s. The fact that potatoes did not arrive in that area until around 1735 makes this a hot potato. Eating potatoes for food was popularized in France by King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who wore potato blossoms in their buttonholes and hair.
Potatoes are not native to Europe, but came from the New World, when Spanish conquistadors brought them back from Peru in the early 15th century. This is why J.R.R. Tolkien, at the suggestion of his careful readers, removed them from his mid-60s versions of his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, but the movies did not.
HISTORY OF JOHN CALVIN
On July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France, was born Jean Cauvin, known to us as John Calvin. Of all the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, none were more significant in forming biblical theology or ecclesiastic thought than this one man. Calvin’s teaching and tradition penetrated more of the world than any of the other Protestant traditions.
He would most influence the worldview of Western Europe, the UK, and the Americas up until the 20th-century. His organization of the church government in Geneva would influence the church polity of Presbyterianism. His theology would influence the Congregational (Puritan) as well as German and Dutch Reformed Churches. Though they did not fellowship with Calvinistic churches, some Baptists and Unitarians often contained aspects of his theology.
John Calvin’s Influence on America
Many of the ideas incorporated into the American Constitution were done so by men inspired by John Calvin. He had a healthy view of the depravity of man, the need for checks and balances in government, the division of powers, and provision for the rightful and orderly succession of rulers. Founding Father James Madison was strongly influenced by the Scottish Presbyterian (Calvinist) Reverend John Witherspoon, the only clergy signer of the Declaration of Independence.
HISTORY OF JAMES MADISON
In this, the last of our articles on the Founding Fathers, we look at James Madison. He has correctly been called “the Father of the Constitution,” and one might think that the Constitution became active on July 5, 1776, but this is not how it happened.
HISTORY OF THE 4TH OF JULY: ALEXANDER HAMILTON
Alexander Hamilton has gained new popularity recently, in large part due to the 2015 Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Birth of Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton was born in Charlestown, Nevis, in the Caribbean, out of wedlock to Rachel Faucette, of British & French Huguenot descent. She had been married to and had a son with Johann Michael Lavien when she fell in love with the Scottish James Hamilton. She left her husband and their son and moved in with James Hamilton, where she lived with him in Nevis and on St. Croix. Alexander took his natural father’s surname.
Though he owned his paternity of Alexander, his Scottish father had abandoned them when Alexander was around ten when he’d learned her original husband intended to divorce her on the grounds of “adultery and desertion,” hoping to “spare her the charge of bigamy.” His mother ran a small provisions shop operated by the five female slaves she owned. When she died of yellow fever when he was 13, she left him 34 books, and he was mostly self-educated.
We know this polymath as a writer, publisher, printer, merchant, scientist, moral philosopher, international diplomat, and inventor.
In music, he invented the glass harmonica, but he also invented the Franklin stove and started the first lending library and fire brigade in Philadelphia.
He did experiments in electricity and developed the lightning rod. He was considered:
America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical, though not most profound, political thinkers. — Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Ben Franklin in America
Born on January 17, 1706 *, in Boston, he was one of the earliest and oldest of the American Founding Fathers. He served as a lobbyist to England, was first Ambassador to France, and has been called “The First American.”
HISTORY OF THE 4TH OF JULY: JOHN ADAMS
Before John Adams became the first Vice President of the United States under George Washington, second President of the United States, the first resident of the White House, and writer of the Massachusetts State Constitution he had a role during the Revolutionary War period as one of the creators of the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams and the Committee of Five
HISTORY OF THE 4th OF JULY: THOMAS JEFFERSON
“The Third President is the Muse of American life, the chief articulator of our national value system and our national self-identity. Jefferson was a man of almost unbelievable achievement: statesman, man of letters, architect, scientist, book collector, political strategist, and utopian visionary. But he is also a man of paradox: liberty-loving slaveholder, Indian-loving relocationist, publicly frugal and privately bankrupt, a constitutional conservative who bought the Louisiana Territory in 1803.”
As the US will soon celebrate their Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single dominion. On that date the British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act, officially confederated Canada. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day as it was originally called (or Le Jour de la Confederation in French) marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.
Canada Day: Birthday of Canada?
Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday in that it did not become separate from the British Empire until 1982 when it gained complete independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. And they didn’t have to fight a Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, Canada still enjoys its status in the British Commonwealth as a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. So they get a Queen and live in the New World, something that the U.S. envies. We have created in her place a synthetic royalty: Hollywood movie stars.
HISTORY OF JULY
The month of July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born in that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin, meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year about the year 450 BC. We currently use the more contemporary Gregorian calendar — recent as in AD 1582 — which makes use of Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar, Jesus was born curiously 4 to 6 years BC or “Before Christ.”
Calendar and Julius
The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar, which was itself a reform of the previous Roman calendar. The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar himself in 46 BC, where he added — probably after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July) — an additional 67 days by putting two intercalary months between November and December, as Cicero tells us at the time. This took care of some of the leap year problems. The Romans, after his death, renamed Quintilis to Iulius (July) in honor of his birth month.
HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY
Independence Day or the Fourth of July celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the severance of the allegiance of the American colonies to Great Britain. It is the most significant secular holiday in the United States, observed in all the states, territories, and dependencies.
Although it is assumed that the Continental Congress unanimously signed the document on the 4th of July, in fact, not all delegates were present, and there were no signers at all, contrary to the theatrical musical 1776. Here is what really happened. (more…)
HISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 4, ROCK & ROLL
It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile
Rock & Roll in the late ’60s was exemplified when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S. on June 2, 1967. It was released in the U.K. the day before. No other rock & roll album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song, “A Day In The Life,” which urged
“I’d love to turn you on.”
In 1967 I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did now know it at the time, but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.
Four years ago this June, the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper was released by Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.
In this, the final article in the series on the 54th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.