This Day in History – November 8 – 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.




1864 – Lincoln elected to 2nd term.

He defeated George McClellan, by getting 55% of the vote. McClellan, former general and head of the Army of the Potomac, was highly critical of Lincoln. Lincoln was equally critical of McClellan, having relieved him of duty for failing to take the fight to the Confederacy. The vote signaled that the Union was not willing to negotiate any end to the war. That an election took place at all was significant. It was the first time a nation had held an open election during a military struggle.

Lincoln said, “We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”

If the time comes, because of a national emergency, an elected official claims their importance trumps the need for an election, for the sake of our democracy, don’t listen.


1892 – Grover Cleveland elected president for the 2nd time.

He is the only president to serve non-consecutive terms. A Democrat, he was helped elected by reform Republicans known as Mugwumps. (Great name!) Cleveland wasn’t against angering people while in office. He was against the government giving aid to any economic group, vetoed a veterans benefits bill supported by the Grand Army of the Republic, forced the railroads to return 81 million acres of public land that had been given to them, imposed more federal regulations on the railroads but also sent federal troops to quell a strike by railroad workers in Chicago. He once said, “What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?” He seemed to have both admirable, and not so admirable, qualities. During the Civil War he paid a Polish immigrant to serve in his place.

It was a legal avoidance of duty at the time. Not all that different than having bone spurs.


1932 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected for 1st time.

In the midst of the Great Depression the country turned away from Republican Herbert Hoover and elected the charismatic Democrat. FDR responded by creating a number of government programs designed to put Americans back to work and stabilize the economy. The programs had some success but it wasn’t until America’s entry into WWII that it finally escaped from the effects of the Depression. Throughout the Depression and war years Roosevelt was a dynamic leader. Not all his ideas were great, however. He wanted to increase the size of the Supreme Court so he could stack it with liberals. His own party controlled Congress at that time and they were the ones who decreed it was a bad idea.

A political party standing up to its own leader? Now there’s a principled stance that could bear recycling.



1908 – Martha Gellhorn.

Writer and journalist, Gellhorn is recognized as one of the greatest war correspondents of any era. She was also one of the first female war correspondents ever. For over sixty years she covered conflicts around the globe. Her first assignment was in the 1930s for the Spanish Civil War and her last was in the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama. Incidentally, she was the third wife of Ernest Hemingway. But any focus on that fact annoyed her. As she put it once, “I’ve been a writer for over 40 years. I was a writer before I met him and I was a writer after I left him. Why should I be merely a footnote in his life?” From “She was a reporter who wrote about injustice and the hard lives of ordinary people, and it was as such, and only as such, that she wished to be known.”

Her ill-fated marriage, however much she resented talking about it, was a fact of her life. I read an autobiographical account of a trip she took to China during WWII with Hemingway. She never once used his name, instead settling on references such as: The man I was traveling with, or my husband at the time.


1922 – Christiaan Barnard.

The first surgeon to perform a human heart transplant. The medical history making surgery was performed in South Africa in 1967. It was an astounding accomplishment and received worldwide recognition. There was some Minnesota local pride also in that Barnard went to the University of Minnesota’s medical school for two years to improve his surgical skills.

As commonplace as transplants are now, it was unbelievable news at the time. I was in college then and it was another of those 1960s moments when there was a recognition that the world was changing in a significant manner.


1954 – Michael Brown.

Head of FEMA when Hurricane Katrina hit. Brown was widely criticized for his role in the Bush Administration’s poor handling of the natural disaster in 2004. Brown resigned from FEMA in 2005 and is currently a radio show talk host in Denver, Colorado.

Helluva job, Brownie.



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 (Lincoln’s 2nd Inauguration) –  Everett Historical / – “Abraham Lincoln’s delivering his second inaugural address (standing, center) on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol, March 4, 1865, his second inauguration.”

* Lincoln’s Second Term (video) – C-SPAN & Way Back /

* Cleveland’s Second Term (video) – C-SPAN & Way Back /

* FDR’s First Term (video) – FDR Presidential Library & C-SPAN /

* Martha Gellhorn (video) – BBC & Alexander Street, a ProQuest Company /

* Cristiaan Barnard (video clip) – Netcare /

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



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* Stay tuned for more!