This Day in History – December 12 – 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.




1878 – Joseph Pulitzer begins publishing St. Louis Dispatch.

Joseph Pulitzer was an American journalist and publisher who created, along with William Randolph Hearst, a new and controversial kind of journalism, yellow journalism, that being journalism based upon exaggeration and sensationalism. However, Pulitzer did support organized labor, attacked trusts and monopolies, and exposed political corruption. He was committed to raising the standards of the journalism profession. He was the founder of the Pulitzer Prize, currently the most prestigious award in American journalism.

From what I’ve read, he was mostly a credit to his profession other than in his competition with Hearst. Their “sensationalism” in trying to sell papers helped guide the U.S. into war with Spain over Cuba and the suspicious sinking of the USS Maine. 


1903 – Sir Roger Casement completes report about atrocities in Belgian Congo.

Casement had much in common with T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), who contemplated writing a book about him. Both spoke out for dark-skinned men, and both were suspected of having sex with them. Casement had an extraordinary career including being British Consul in the Belgian Congo. While there he compiled a report of Belgian atrocities including harrowing tales of enslaved children and hands being severed if they didn’t work. The Casement Report was well publicized and he became known as a great humanitarian, resulting in him being knighted in 1911.

Five years later he was hanged for treason and his body thrown naked into a pit of lime. His crime was importing German arms into Ireland for the Easter Rising. Also in the authorities’ hands were his diaries with descriptions of homosexual acts. These were used to suppress pleas of leniency, including those from such public figures as George Bernard Shaw and Arthur Conan Doyle. The threat was that it could be embarrassing to stand in support of such a man.

A gay, Irish, gun-running, humanitarian diplomat…seems like somebody I should read more about. Only one book has been written about him however, and it has yet to be translated into English.


1917 – Boys Town founded.

The village of Boys Town was established in 1917 as the headquarters of the Boys Town organization, also known as “Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home,” founded by Father Edward J. Flanagan. It was dedicated to the care, treatment, and education of at-risk children.

From “In 1943 Boys Town adopted as its image and logo a sculpture of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, captioned ‘He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother.’”

Noble organization and effort. Although I was unable to watch the 1938 Boys Town movie starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney because it was a bit too saccharine for my taste. 



1745 – John Jay.

Jay was one of our Founding Fathers as a delegate to both the 1st and 2nd Continental Congress.

After the war, Jay joined Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in arguing for the creation of a new and more powerful, but balanced, system of government. As the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Jay’s most notable case was Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), in which Jay and the court established that the federal government ultimately has power over the states.

A “balanced system of government?” I think we’re about to see whether or not that plays out.


1821 – Gustave Flaubert.

French novelist, author of the masterpiece Madame Bovary. Described as a classic French realist writer, he sometimes spent as long as a week to write one page as he searched for the best phrase or most perfect adjective. Wow!

Flaubert can be said to have made cynicism into an art-form, as evinced by this observation from 1846:

“To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.”

Why do I think about those people who so happily ignore the dire scientific reports about climate change?


1925 – Cora Lee Johnson.

Civil rights activist. Here is an excerpt from a speech she gave.

“I want to tell you about Black people and work in America. Black people do nothing but work in America, but we do not get paid, so they do not call it work. There is this myth that Black people are lazy, do not like to work, and only want to have babies and live on welfare. Black people cannot find jobs in the United States. It is hard to get a job even if you have an education. And there are no jobs for uneducated people.

“There are two factories in Soperton. That is where most women work. The men go out of town for jobs. These factories work with contracts. If they get a big contract, they hire experienced operators. A week later when they meet the contract deadline, they lay you off so that they do not have to pay unemployment insurance. After one week of work you have to wait 30 days before you can go back to food stamps, and 45 days for welfare, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. There is a sign at the factory that states ‘Help Wanted: Experienced Operators Only.’ Where are Black people going to get experience? Of course White folks do not need experience.”

Getting a little better but we’re still not there yet.



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.


The Global Campaign For Women’s Human Rights 


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

* Lead-In Image (Pulitzer Stamp) – Tony Baggett /

* John Jay (video) – The Federalist Society /

* Gustave Flaubert (video) – The School of Life /

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



December 2

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* Stay tuned for more!