Jan. 1, 1999

The Sound of the Sea

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Poem: "The Sound of the Sea," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

Itís NEW YEARís DAY. New Yearís celebrations date from about 2000 BC and the ancient Babylonians, who celebrated the start of the new year around March 23rd. The Romans changed the beginning of the year to January 1st in about 153 BC.

It was on this date in 1925 that the capital city of Norway changed its name from Christiania to OSLO. It had been called Christiania since 1624, when the city was rebuilt by King Christian IV after it had been destroyed in a fire.

Itís the birthday of novelist J. D. SALINGER—Jerome David Salinger—born in New York City in 1919, author of The Catcher in the Rye (1951). He grew up in New York City and studied briefly at New York and Columbia Universities. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After his return, he started writing and published many pieces in The New Yorker. The Catcher in the Rye was the only novel he wrote, although several of his short stories were published together in novel form: Franny and Zooey (1961) and Raise the Roof Beam, Carpenters (1963).

Itís the birthday of English novelist E. M. FORSTER—born Edward Morgan Forster in London in 1879, author of many books including A Room With a View (1908), Howards End (1910), and A Passage to India (1924). He once said, "Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wishes to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time."

It was on this day in 1863 that the FIRST HOMESTEAD was claimed under the Homestead Act, signed by President Lincoln in 1862. The Act provide 160 acres of land for a small filing fee to anyone over 21 years of age who lived on and farmed the land for at least five years. The first claim was made by Dan Freeman and his wife four miles north of Beatrice, Nebraska.

It was on this day in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln issued the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, which gave freedom to slaves in the Confederate states. Lincoln had warned in September that if none of the rebel states returned to the Union, he would free their slaves. >From this point on the Civil War turned from an argument over slavery in the new Western states and territories into a moral crusade against slavery. Part of the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation was that the Union Army began to recruit black soldiers, and about 180,000 of them volunteered.

Itís the birthday of English poet ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH (CLUFF), born in 1819 in Liverpool. He studied at the exclusive public school Rugby and at Oxford. He won a fellowship at Oriel College in Oxford to study for the Anglican priesthood, but gave it up because of religious doubt. He spent most of the rest of his life as an education official and in helping his wifeís cousin, Florence Nightingale, establish the nursing profession. He died at the age of 42 of malaria while on a trip to Italy. His collection of poems was reprinted over 16 times in the 40 years after his death.

It was on this day in 1660 that the English diarist SAMUEL PEPYS (PEEPS) made the first entry in his diary. He was the son of a tailor but rose to become Secretary of the Admiralty and a member of Parliament. His diaries contain about 1.5 million words and describe events such as the Plague and the Great Fire of London, as well as the everyday events of his life.

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