Nov. 19, 1998

Winter Winds, Cold and Bleak

by John Clare


Poem: "Winter Winds Cold and Bleak," by John Clare.

The FIRST PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY was begun on this day in 1939 when Franklin Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for his library on land that he donated in Hyde Park, New York.

It's the birthday in 1917 of INDIRA GANDHI, the prime minister of India for many years in the 1960s and '70s, assassinated in 1984 during her fourth term in office. She was the only child of India's first prime minister, Nehru, and she came to power in 1966. She was constantly challenged by the right wing in Indian politics; and in 1971 war with Pakistan broke out over the establishment of the Pakistani province of East Bengal as the independent country of Bangladesh. She was charged with election fraud and corruption; she suspended the Indian constitution in 1975 and declared a state of emergency, imprisoning her political opponents, until she finally lost power. But the peasants of India always loved her, and swept her back in power in 1980. Two Sikh members of her own bodyguard assassinated her, in retaliation for her ordering the Indian army to put down an armed Sikh uprising in India.

It's the anniversary in 1874 of the NATIONAL WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION. The Union was the outgrowth of dozens of local temperance societies that sprang up in the early 1870s. The Temperance women would march into saloons, and there they'd sing hymns, pray, and ask the barkeepers to stop selling liquor. Within 10 years, the movement had grown so much that the World Woman's Christian Temperance Union was organized. The temperance movement is still going today, with about a million members and chapters in 72 countries.

It was on this day in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln got up in front of several hundred people at a new 17-acre national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and spoke for only two minutes, delivering what has become one of the most memorable speeches in American history, THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS.

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