Feb. 5, 2000
The Farms of Home Lie Lost in Even
Poem: "The Farms of Home Lie Lost in Even" by A.E. Housman.
President Franklin Roosevelt, in a surprise message delivered to Congress at noon on this day in 1937, proposed that the U.S. SUPREME COURT BE EXPANDED from nine judges to fifteen. He said the court was simply overworked and that adding more justices would help spread the workload. But his Republican opponents in Congress jumped all over the idea, arguing that Roosevelt was trying to "pack the court" with his own men. After great debate, the number of judges remained nine.
It's the birthday of the writer and Catholic priest ANDREW GREELEY, born in Oak Park, Illinois (1928). He has written over 60 books on religion, and 20 on sociology, but he’s best known for his 16 popular novels, including The Cardinal Virtues (1991) and Wages of Sin (1992).
The first issue of the READER'S DIGEST was published on this date in 1922. A former book salesman by the name of DeWitt Wallace started the magazine because he thought Americans didn't have enough time for reading and reflection. The first issue was mailed out to 1,500 subscribers; the formula has remained virtually the same ever since thirty-one condensed articles, taken from a variety of magazines, and published monthly.
It's the birthday of experimental novelist WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS, born in St. Louis (1914) an heir to the Burroughs adding machine fortune. He graduated from Harvard (1936), then drifted to New York City, grew addicted to heroin in the 1940's, then moved to Mexico with his second wife. There, in 1951, he put an apple on her head, tried to shoot it off, and killed her. Later he wrote: "I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan's death. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape it. So her death brought me in contact with the ugly spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle in which I have had no choice except to write my way out."
On this day in 1631, the founder of Rhode Island, ROGER WILLIAMS, arrived in Boston from England. An ordained Church of England minister, he came here after chafing under the religious intolerance of King Charles the First. Once here, he called for the American church to sever its ties with the Church of England, which drew the ire of the Puritan elders in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After five years, they tried and convicted him of holding opinions at variance with church elders and they banished him. He established the colony of Rhode Island on the principles of complete religious toleration and separation of church and state.
It's the birthday of writer MARIE SÉVIGNÉ, born in Paris (1626) who wrote over 1,700 letters to her daughter, Françoise, in an easy, conversational tone that influenced French writers ever after. "I have left all my business and all my husbands; I have taken with me only fair weather and my children, which is as much as I want." (1673 letter).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®