Jul. 1, 2000
My hopes retire, my wishes as before
Poem: "My hopes retire, my wishes as before," by Walter Savage Landor (1775 - 1864).
Itís the birthday of novelist and short story writer Jean Stafford, born in Covina, California (1915). She began her literary career with the best-selling novel Boston Adventure (1944). Her Collected Stories (1969) won the Pulitzer Prize.
Itís the birthday of the Ďfather of gospel music,í Thomas Andrew Dorsey, born in Villa Rica, Georgia (1899). He combined the blues with the traditional sacred music of his religious upbringing to create a new genre: gospel. By 20 he began writing the first of more than 1,000 gospel songs, including "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," written for his first wife, who died in childbirth, and his infant son who died the following day.
Itís the birthday of novelist James M. Cain, born in Annapolis, Maryland (1892). In 1934 he published his first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. He also wrote Double Indemnity (1936), Mildred Pierce (1941), and other books.
Itís the birthday of teacher and editor William Strunk, Jr., born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1869). He taught English for many years at Cornell University, where he used what he called his "little book of English grammar." It was revised by his student E.B. White, and came out as The Elements Of Style (1918). Strunkís guiding principle: "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail, but that every word tell."
On this day in 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg began. General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, 75,000 strong, decided to invade Pennsylvania and threaten Harrisburg, Baltimore and Washington: not only to carry the war to the enemy but to take pressure off the siege of Vicksburg. They crossed the Potomac in June; the Union Army of the Potomac 88,000 men led by General George Meadekept itself between the rebels and Washington. The Confederates were looking for a shoe factorythey needed shoes; Union troops were looking for Confederates. On July first the two armies met near Gettysburg. It was a terrible defeat for the South: at the end of the third and final day of carnage, a woeful General Lee was heard to say, "All this is my fault. Too bad! Too bad! Oh, too bad!" But Union General Meade, failing to make the decisive killing blow, permitted the remnants of Leeís army to retreatin a ragged 7-mile column back to Virginia. President Lincoln despaired at Meadeís caution, saying, "We had them within our grasp. We had only to stretch forth our hands and they were ours." Vicksburg later fell on July 4, 1863. Had Leeís army been destroyed, the twin victories might have ended the war; instead, it dragged on another 2 years.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®