This Day in History – March 1 – 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.




1781 – Articles of Confederation ratified.

This was the first attempt by the original thirteen states to establish a federal government. It was soon realized the limitations imposed on the Confederation Congress rendered it ineffective. Although the Congress was authorized to regulate the Continental Army, it lacked the power to order the states to provide troops or funding. Also, it had no powers of taxation, but could only request funds from the states. Another weakness was its inability to conduct foreign policy. There were debts left over from the Revolutionary War and some states paid their share while others did not. George Washington had been an early supporter of a strong federal government. Alexander Hamilton also realized a strong central government was needed to protect against foreign intervention. By 1889, the Articles were replaced with the current Constitution which provided for a stronger federal government. 

Which is apparently still the bane of many malcontents. I searched but was unable to find which states did not pay their share of the Revolutionary War debt. 


1954 – Gunfire in the House of Representatives.

Four Puerto Rican nationalists, three men and one woman, opened fire with handguns from the spectator’s gallery at the Representatives seated below. They unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and shouted “Viva Puerto Rico libre!” “Long live free Puerto Rico.” Some Puerto Ricans wanted it wanted it to remain a territory of the U.S., others wanted statehood, and the four belonged to a group that wanted total independence. Five Representatives were wounded, one seriously, but all survived. Two of the assailants were overpowered by spectators and security while a third was captured by House member James Van Zandt, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the fourth was apprehended later that afternoon. They each received a sentence of 49 years in prison. President Carter released one in 1977 on humanitarian grounds because he was terminally ill and commuted the sentence of the other three in 1979 after they had served 25 years. 

An assault at the Capitol should result in 25 years, not the slap on the wrist sentences the January 6th insurrectionists are receiving. 


2002 – Operation Anaconda.

This was a military operation in Afghanistan designed to push Taliban and al Qaeda forces from the Shahikot Valley. It was a joint operation involving U.S. military, CIA paramilitary, and allied Afghan forces. The battle plan immediately began to unravel when enemy forces put up fierce resistance and friendly Afghan troops failed to advance. However with air power and superior tactics the valley was cleared of enemy forces. Allied commanders claimed hundreds of Taliban were killed, although only twenty-three enemy bodies were found. U.S. casualties totaled eight killed and fifty wounded. Heavy fighting continued for over a week before the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters were either killed or retreated. Operation Anaconda was deemed a military success. 

Through the heroics of American soldiers it was, but what did it achieve? Twenty years later the Taliban was still fighting and our Afghan allies still weren’t. We could have stayed in Afghanistan another twenty and nothing would have changed.



1910 – David Niven.

Actor. Niven went to a military school and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the British army. He had been a rebellious student and that trend continued in the army. Once after a long boring lecture the senior officer in charge asked if there were any question. Niven raised his hand. “Could you tell me the time, sir? I have to catch a train.” This pretty much ended his military caree,r and he left the army, came to America, and ventured to Hollywood. A non-speaking role in “Mutiny on the Bounty” was his start and he soons worked his way up until he played opposite Ginger Rogers in “Bachelor Mother.” When World War Two broke out Niven returned to England and rejoined the army. Recommissioned as an officer he was part of a commando unit that moved along the front lines in Europe. After the war, despite pressure to enhance his celebrity status, he refused to talk about his war experiences. Two good stories have surfaced, however. Niven eased the nervousness of the men he was about to lead into action by saying, “Look, you chaps only have to do this once. But I’ll have to do it all over again in Hollywood with Errol Flynn!” Also, during the Battle of the Bulge, a suspicious American sentry asked him who had won the 1943 World Series. Niven replied, “Haven’t the foggiest idea, but I did co-star with Ginger Rogers in Bachelor Mother.” Returning to Hollywood Niven became a leading star in many films. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1958 for his role in “Separate Tables.” Niven continued acting until he was stricken with ALS. The disease took his life in 1983. 

I hadn’t known about his wartime service. Admirable. 


1930 – Raymond St. Jacques.

Actor. St. Jacques is known as the first African-American actor to have a regular role on a TV western series. He played the role of Simon Blake in the eighth season of “Rawhide.” St. Jacques had a long career in TV, film and on stage, but he complained about a lack of roles for Black actors that weren’t stereotypical. He was also an activist for African-American civil rights. St. Jacques died of cancer at age 60 in 1990.

Although seemingly going against the trend at the time, he was being stereotyped in his role on “Rawhide.” About twenty-five percent of the cowboys driving the herds of cattle to market were Black. 


1971 – Tyler Hamilton.

Bicycle racer. Hamilton was a professional bicyclist, riding with the U.S. Postal team headed by Lance Armstrong in addition to riding on several other teams. He won the Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics. Implicated in the doping scandal that plagued professional racing, Hamilton came clean and wrote a book confessing his guilt. He has since returned the Gold Medal.

Another excuse for me to tell one of my biking stories. There is a bike path that leads from Fort Snelling State Park up to the base of the old fort. Not long, but it is extremely steep. Lowest gear, about three or four miles per hour steep. Barely maintaining enough speed to keep my balance steep. I was struggling up it one hot summer day and there were three quite overweight people standing at the top watching me. A middle-aged couple and a teenage boy, their son I assumed. The man was smoking a cigarette. They annoyed me, just standing there watching with rather vacant expressions on their faces. But then, as I successfully reached the top, the man stuck his cigarette between his lips, and with his hands free, began applauding. The other two immediately joined in. Then in heavily accented eastern European English, he began shouting, “Bravo!  Bravo!” I emitted a wheezing laugh and wide smiles were exchanged. Thousands and thousands of miles of biking and yet that is one of the little moments that still ride with me. 



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:


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

* Lead-In Image (Ferris Wheel) – Photo by Gary Lopater on Unsplash – The Capital Wheel, Oxon Hill, United States

* David Niven (video) – Tudorhead /

* Raymond St. Jacques (video) – Wiki4All /

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