This Day in History – April 13 – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight


NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.




837 – Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to earth.

halley's comet

The comet’s orbit brings it close to our planet about every 75 years. Its last appearance was in 1986. 2062 is the next scheduled appearance. [Above photo from 1910.]

I better clean up my act if I intend to see it. But then again I anticipated its last coming in 1986 for decades. And it was a complete bust, nothing could be seen. Heck with it, why bother, think I’ll just go and crack a beer instead.


1556 – Pope threatens to burn at the stake any Marrano who converts back to Judaism.

According to The New World Encyclopedia: “Marranos or Secret Jews were Jews resident in the Iberian peninsula in the late fourteenth through seventeenth centuries who adopted Christianity, either through coercion or for convenience, publicly professing Roman Catholicism but secretly adhering to Judaism. The conversion of these Jews to Christianity soon became suspect, resulting in several waves of severe persecution against them, in which thousands died. The Spanish Inquisition was instituted in the late fifteenth century to expose Marranos whose Christianity was insincere, and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 resulted in part from accusations that Jews were tempting the Marranos to sin by reverting to Judaism.”

While godlessness had contributed to much of the horror and savagery in the world, the Nazis and the Killing Fields of Laos two fairly recent prime examples, religions certainly have done more than their share. From the Crusades to the Spanish Inquisition to Christianity putting its genocidal stamp on indigenous people to the current wave of bombings and killing in the name of Allah. Not to condemn all religions, I just think that most of them need something akin to a governor on an engine that limits speed. A governor that tells then that killing in the name of God is exceeding the limit.


1861 – Fort Sumter surrenders.

fort sumter

After 34 hours of unequal battle, Major Anderson and his force of 85 soldiers surrendered. The first salvos of the Civil War had been fired and the South was victorious.

This wasn’t the start of a religious war but I imagine both North and South thought God was on their side.



1743 – Thomas Jefferson. Author of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States.

thomas jefferson postcard

He had an innovative and creative mind and contributed greatly to the founding of our country. He managed to write the words “All men are created equal” while also owning slaves. He once stated that he opposed any tyranny over the mind. (Tyranny over the body apparently was a different matter.) Jefferson also favored the rights of states and opposed a strong centralized government.

There is nothing inherently wrong with states’ rights, other than so many in support of them seem to be doing so in defense of a truly bad idea. Even Jefferson, who in every other capacity was a great man.


1930 – Sir Jeremiah Harman. Senior High Court judge in England. Other judges and lawyers nicknamed him “Harman the Horrible.” He was also known as “the Kicking Judge” because he once kicked a taxi driver who he thought was a reporter.

He was a bully on the bench and according to the UK’s Independent newspaper:  “His unpopularity was reflected in being voted as one of the worst judges on the High Court bench in all three surveys of 100 solicitors and barristers by Legal Business magazine. One interviewee said: ‘He has reached unparalleled depths of awfulness. It is nothing short of an uncomfortable adventure to appear before him, and in terms of delivering justice he is nowhere. He is impolite. He is the judge I least want to appear in front of.'”

If he were an American I suspect he would be a candidate for the next Supreme Court vacancy.


1931 – Jon Stone. An award-winning writer for Sesame Street, a widely popular children show.

He is known for helping develop some of the notable characters for that show. Stone died of ALS in 1997.

With the new administration, maybe funding will be cut to propaganda tools such as PBS and there will be no place in our society for such subversives as the Jon Stones of the world. 



At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at



The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers:


Sir Jeremiah Harman –

We’d also thank to the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image  –  Greta Gabaglio / –   “LOS ANGELES, USA – AUGUST 17 2013: Mount Rushmore National Memorial Murales seen in Los Angeles.”

this day in history april 13 feature

* Halley’s comet (1910 photo) – Everett Historical /

* Fort Sumter (aerial view) – John Wollwerth /

* Thomas Jefferson (postcard) – Arkady Mazor / – “USA – CIRCA 1968: Vintage envelope and stamps in honor of the third President of the United States Thomas Jefferson with inscription “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence”, series, circa 1968.”

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio /



December 2

December 3

December 5

December 8

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 13

* December 15

December 16

December 18

* December 19

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 25

December 28

January 1

January 3

* January 4

January 5

January 6

January 7

January 8

January 11

January 12

January 13

January 14

January 15

January 19

January 20

January 22

January 24

January 26

January 29

January 31

February 1

February 3

* February 5

February 7

* February 9

February 10

February 13

February 14

February 15

* February 19

February 20

February 21

February 25

February 26

February 28

March 2

March 5

March 6

March 9

March 12

March 13

March 14

* March 15

March 17

March 18

March 19

March 21

March 23

March 24

March 27

March 29

* March 30

April 2

* April 3

* April 5

April 6

April 10

* April 11

April 18

* April 22

April 23

April 28

April 29

May 2

May 3

May 6

May 9

May 10

May 13

May 17

* May 24

May 26

May 29

June 1

June 3

June 8

June 10

June 13

June 17

June 18

June 21

June 24

June 28

June 29

July 2

July 3

* July 9

July 13

July 15

July 19

July 23

July 25

July 30

July 31

* August 3

August 7

August 10

August 11

August 16

August 17

August 21

August 24

August 25

* August 28

August 31

September 2

September 5

September 6

September 8

September 11

September 12

September 15

September 16 

September 17

September 21

September 23

September 25

September 26

September 27

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 4

October 5

October 7

October 10

October 11

* October 12

October 14

October 15

October 16

October 18

October 20

October 24

October 25

October 26

October 27

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 6

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 13

November 14

November 15

November 16

* November 17

November 18

* November 19

November 20

November 23

November 24

November 26

November 27

November 28

November 29

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!