December 24, 2015

“These are the times that try men’s souls…”


During the Revolutionary War, getting soldiers to stay in the Continental Army was one of the biggest problems facing the American commander in chief, General George Washington.

Many American soldiers were non-professional militiamen who volunteered for a limited number of months, usually during the spring or summer. After a short stint, they were legally allowed to go back their farms to harvest their fall crops — and typically did.

There were regular soldiers in the Continental Army. But many deserted once they experienced the horrors of combat or the miserable conditions in winter camps. Others left after becoming disgusted by the lack of reliable pay and supplies.

In 1776, Thomas Paine, an aspiring writer who had emigrated to America from England two years earlier, became an aide-de-camp to American General Nathanael Greene

That winter, Paine decided to write something to try to renew the patriotic spirit of American soldiers and discourage them from deserting or going home when their enlistment period was up. 

It ended up being the first in his series of “American Crisis” pamphlets.

The opening sentence became a famous quotation; the second embedded two related metaphors into our language: 

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Paine’s rousing treatise was first published in the Pennsylvania Journal on December 19, 1776, then issued as a printed pamphlet on December 23
 
The piece provided some very timely and welcome inspiration to General Washington.
 
In recent months, the British had repeatedly defeated the Americans in battle and forced the Continental Army to retreat from New York into New Jersey. Washington’s troop strength was severely reduced by a combination of death, disease, “summer soldiers” and desertion.
 
On December 18, a despondent Washington said in a letter to his cousin in Virginia:

“I think the game is pretty near up, owing, in a great measure, to the insidious arts of the Enemy…but principally to the accursed policy of short enlistments, and placing too great a dependence on the militia.”
Five days later, after reading Paine’s new pamphlet, Washington had it read aloud to his remaining troops to inspire them in advance of a upcoming attack he’d planned. 
 
On Christmas night of 1776, he and about 2,400 American soldiers made the legendary crossing of the Delaware River. The next day, at the the Battle of Trenton, they surprised and soundly defeated a group of 1,500 professional Hessian mercenaries who were fighting for the British. 
 
That victory renewed the morale of Washington and the soldiers of the Continental Army. It also attracted many new recruits to the American ranks.
 
During the next six years, Paine wrote a series of fifteen more “Crisis” pamphlets. They helped inspire the sense of patriotism and resolve that eventually led to the success of the American Revolution. But none are as significant or as remembered as his first.
 
It played a role in a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Its opening sentence became one of the best known quotes in American history. And, the second sentence made “summer soldier” and “sunshine patriot” common terms of derision that are still used today to refer to people who give half-hearted commitment to a cause or abandon it when the going gets tough. 
 

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December 15, 2015

“Elvis has left the building.”


Even people who aren’t Elvis Presley fans know the line “Elvis has left the building.”

 
Credit for popularizing this famous quote goes to Al Dvorin, a Chicago bandleader and booking agent hired by Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker in 1957 to help organize Elvis concerts and serve as an announcer at the shows.

From the late 1950s until Presley’s death in 1977, Dvorin spoke these familiar words at the end of “The King’s” concerts, to let audiences know a show was definitely over and that Elvis would not be coming back for any more encores.

The most widely heard use of the line by Dvorin is on the live album Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden, taped at a classic Presley concert at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972.

That album has been listened to by millions of people around the world. On the last track, titled “End Theme,” Al Dvorin is heard saying:

       “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night.”


Dvorin’s use of “Elvis has left the building” (sometimes preceded by “Ladies and Gentlemen…”) is so well known that many websites erroneously claim he coined the line. 

In fact, although he did make it famous, he didn’t say it first. 

It was actually coined as an off-the-cuff remark by Horace Lee Logan, the producer of Louisiana Hayride

Louisiana Hayride was a pioneering country and early rockabilly music show broadcast on radio from 1948 to 1960 and on TV from 1955 to 1960 from Shreveport, Louisiana. 

It helped launch the careers of many famous music artists, including Elvis Presley.

Elvis first appeared on the show in 1954, not long after his first single “That’s All Right, Mama” was released by Sun Records and before he was widely known.
Over the next two years, Presley had a string of hits and became a star. 

When he returned for a final appearance on Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956, his young fans mobbed the auditorium in Shreveport where the show was held.

Elvis was the third of many performers scheduled to perform that day. 

After he gave a final encore and exited the stage, many of the young people in the crowd continued screaming for him. 

Some stood up and began leaving, either hoping to see Elvis outside or not seeming to understand that the Hayride show was not over. 

At that point, according to various written sources, Hogan took the microphone and said: “Please, young people...Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away...Please take your seats.”

In an excerpt from an audio recording of the show, the words Hogan uses are slightly different (though it’s possible that the written sources and recording may both only include part of what he said that day). 

What Hogan can be heard saying in the audio version is: “All right, uh, Elvis has left the building. I've told you absolutely straight up to this point, you know that, he has left the building. He left the stage and went out the back with the policemen and he is now gone from the building.”

Further confusing the issue is the fact that at least one version of the audio posted on YouTube credits these words to KWKH disc jockey Frank Page, who was the radio announcer for Louisiana Hayride.

Based on what I’ve read and other recordings of Page’s voice I’ve listened to, I believe the voice in the Louisiana Hayride audio is Horace Logan. (Some sites credit audio clips to Hogan that I think are actually the voice of Al Dvorin.)

What seems certain is that the phrase “Elvis has left the building” was first used at at the end of Presley’s appearance on Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956 and that it was later picked up and popularized by Al Dvorin — whose most famous use was recorded at the Elvis concert at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972. 

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December 07, 2015

“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”


On December 7, 1941 — which President Franklin D. Roosevelt would memorably name “a date which will live in infamy” on the following day — hundreds of Japanese warplanes made a deadly surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

When the crew of the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans rushed on deck they saw devastation all around them.

Not far away, a huge cloud of smoke was rising from the battleship USS Arizona and it was sinking.

Beyond the Arizona, the USS Oklahoma was rolling over. Sailors were jumping from its sides.

Another nearby battleship, the USS West Virginia, was badly damaged and sagging amidships.

The New Orleans was docked for repairs when the attack occurred. As usual during repairs, the ship’s electricity was temporarily coming through a power cable from the shore.

Soon after they came on deck, the crew began firing the cruiser’s guns at Japanese planes.

But when they needed more ammunition they discovered that the power cable to shore had been cut, making the electric ammunition hoist inoperable.

Undeterred, the men formed lines and began carrying the heavy shells to the guns by hand. As they did, ship chaplain Lieutenant Howell M. Forgy walked along the deck encouraging them, shouting “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”

The Japanese pilots eventually flew away after sinking nine U.S. ships and damaging 21 others. Their attack killed 2,350 Americans, including 1,177 sailors on the USS Arizona.

The next day, America officially entered World War II.

In the months that followed, word spread about the memorable line shouted by a chaplain during the Pearl Harbor attack.

In some stories about the quote, the chaplain was unnamed.

In others, including a widely-read article in the

November 2, 1942 issue of LIFE magazine, he was identified as Captain W.A. Maguire — a senior Navy chaplain who outranked Forgy and was on a dock in Pearl Harbor that day.

According to the Life article, Maguire said he didn’t actually remember if he had shouted “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” But he didn’t deny it.

Stories about the incident inspired American songwriter Frank Loesser to write a patriotic song that used “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” as the title and chorus.

Loesser’s song was published in 1942, recorded by several artists and quickly became popular. The version by Kay Kyser and his band reached #1 on the pop singles chart in January 1943.

The LIFE article and the popularity of the song led the crew of the USS New Orleans to urge Chaplain Forgy to come forward and set the record straight about the fact that it was he — not Maguire — who said the now famous words.

At first, Forgy demurred, but eventually his shipmates persuaded him.

The officers of the USS New Orleans arranged a meeting with the press and the real story of this famous World War II quotation was finally revealed.

Chaplain Forgy made it through the war, returned to a civilian ministry and died in Glendora, California, in January 1972. His famous quote lives on.

In case you’ve never seen them, here are the lyrics of the song Forgy’s quote inspired, which opens with the chorus:

      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      And we'll all stay free

      Praise the Lord and swing into position
      Can't afford to be a politician
      Praise the Lord, we're all between perdition
      And the deep blue sea

      Yes, the sky pilot said it, you gotta give him credit
      For a son of a gun of a gunner was he

      Shouting, 'Praise the Lord, we're on a mighty mission
      All aboard, we ain't a-goin' fishin'
      Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
      And we'll all stay free'

      [CHORUS REPEATS]

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December 04, 2015

“Facts are stubborn things…”


In the years leading up to the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the rebel-rousing
Sons of Liberty used an engraving of what they called “The Boston Massacre” to encourage anti-British sentiments. 

 
The engraving, done by Paul Revere, shows a line of British soldiers coldly firing their bayoneted muskets into a crowd of Americans, several of which lay bleeding on the ground. 

A poem underneath that scene describes how the King’s men “With murderous Rancour stretch their bloody hands, Like fierce Barbarians grinning o'er their Prey.” 

It was good propaganda. But it did distort what happened at the “Boston Massacre” on the night of March 5, 1770. 

That night, a local resident got into an argument over a debt with a British soldier. Eight other British soldiers came out on the street to help their comrade. A group of Americans surrounded the soldiers. The Brits were soon being yelled at and pelted with snowballs, ice chunks and debris by the much larger, hostile crowd. 

The bloodletting appears to have started when a mulatto seaman named Crispus Attucks hit one of the soldiers with a piece of wood. The soldiers panicked. Somebody yelled “Fire!” and they shot into the crowd, killing Attucks and four other Americans. 

When the British soldiers were arrested and put on trial for murder, a Boston merchant asked local lawyer (and future president) John Adams to defend them. He agreed, knowing it would make him unpopular and could ruin his career.


Adams believed the soldiers deserved legal representation as a matter of principle. After looking into the incident, he also believed they were provoked and should not be executed for murder, as many Bostonians wanted. 
 
On December 4, 1770, the second day of the brief trial, Adams gave his summation to the jury. 

He argued that anyone might have reacted the same way the soldiers did in such a confusing and potentially life-threatening situation. He suggested Crispus Attucks was more to blame for “the dreadful carnage of that night” than the soldiers, because of his “mad behavior.”

Facts are stubborn things,” Adams said, uttering what became a famous quotation. “And whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence: nor is the law less stable than the fact; if an assault was made to endanger their lives, the law is clear, they had a right to kill in their own defence; if it was not so severe as to endanger their lives, yet if they were assaulted at all, struck and abused by blows of any sort, by snow-balls, oyster-shells, cinders, clubs, or sticks of any kind; this was a provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing, down to manslaughter.”
The jury was persuaded. Six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and punished by having their thumbs branded. 

Several years later, John Adams wrote in his diary that his defense of those British soldiers was “one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country.” 

“Facts are stubborn things” became one of Adams' best known and oft-cited quotes. However, contrary to what I once thought, he didn't coin that line. 


As noted by quote mavens Garson O'Toole on his Quote Investigator site and Dr. Mardy Grothe in his Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations, it was already a saying in England and America and dates back to at least the early 1700s.

Two centuries later, President Ronald Reagan uttered the most famous modern use and perceived “misuse” of that quote. 
 
It came in his speech at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 15, 1988

Reagan was there to speak in support of the current Republican presidential candidate, his Vice President George H.W. Bush, who was running against Democrat Michael Dukakis.

In the speech, Reagan recounted what he viewed as the successes of his administration and the reasons why he felt voters should elect another Republican as president.

Reagan repeated John Adam’s facts quote several times in the address. It was a rhetorical device he used in the part that focused on the economic problems he blamed on his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter.

“Before we came to Washington,” Reagan said, “Americans had just suffered the two worst back-to-back years of inflation in 60 years. Those are the facts, and as John Adams said, ‘Facts are stubborn things.’ Interest rates had jumped to over 21 percent…Facts are stubborn things…The median family income fell 51/2 percent. Facts are stubborn things.
Then he made what became one of his most-cited gaffes, saying:
“Fuel costs jumped through the atmosphere, more than doubling. Then people waited in gas lines as well as unemployment lines. Facts are stupid things.”
Reagan immediately corrected himself, adding: “Stubborn things, I should say.” But once the word stupid came out of his mouth, that’s the version that was picked up and cited by his critics. 

Today, thousands of websites quote Reagan as saying “Facts are stupid things” as if it were somehow a significant quote — without noting that it came from a speech in which he said “stubborn things” several other times and quickly corrected his brief slip of the tongue.

Of course, thousands of others note that Reagan said “Facts are stubborn things” — without mentioning that he was quoting John Adams, thus creating the impression that Reagan coined the line.

When it comes to quotations on the Internet, facts are often slippery things.

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November 28, 2015

The Timothy Leary political campaign slogan that became a famous Beatles song…


The best-known slogan coined by Sixties counterculture celebrity Timothy Leary is the one he created to promote the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

He first began popularizing this saying in his public lectures and comments around 1966 and used it as the title of a spoken word album released that year.

In 1969, Leary came up with another slogan that was eventually made famous, though not by him.

Leary seems to have figured that if a Hollywood celebrity like Ronald Reagan could run for Governor and get elected, maybe the times were right for a Hippie celebrity to take a shot at it.

Besides, he loved publicity.

So, he threw his mushroom cap into the ring and announced that he planned to run against Reagan in the 1970 gubernatorial election.

Leary came up with the tongue-in-cheek campaign slogan, “Come together, join the party.”

In June of 1969, while visiting John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their legendary Montreal “Bed-In,” Leary asked Lennon to write a campaign song to go with his slogan.

Lennon agreed. And, during the Montreal Bed-In days, in addition to writing and recording “Give Peace a Chance,” Lennon wrote an initial version of the song “Come Together.”

Although the melody was basically like the Beatles song we know today, the original chorus was different.

It went: “Come together, right now. / Don’t come tomorrow. / Don’t come alone.”

Lennon made a demo tape of the campaign song for Leary. Leary gave copies to local underground radio stations in California and the song got some limited airplay.

Shortly thereafter, Leary’s campaign was derailed by his mounting legal troubles from a past marijuana bust, and he was forced to, er, drop out of the Governor’s race. (Lucky for Ronnie, eh?)

But Lennon liked the song and took it to his bandmates, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, when the Beatles were recording their Abbey Road album.

Together, they reworked it a bit and changed the lyrics to those all true Beatles fans are familiar with:

“Here come old flattop, he come groovin’ up slowly
He got ju-ju eyeballs, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knees
Got to be a joker, he just do what he please
He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
He say, I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together, right now, over me.”

The first line of the “Come Together” was Lennon’s homage to a similar line from Chuck Berry’s classic 1956 rock ‘n’ roll song “You Can’t Catch Me.” 

Berry’s song was inspired by an informal car race he once had with some young crew-cut haired dude on the New Jersey Turnpike, who he immortalized with the words: “Up come a flattop, he was movin' up with me.”

Lennon’s variation on that and the chorus of his song — “Come together, right now, over me” — both became well-known pop culture quotations.

“Come Together” was released as a single in the U.S. on October 6, 1970 and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart on November 29, 1969 — which is how, by a trippy route, Tim Leary’s gubernatorial campaign slogan became the subject of posts for those dates on ThisDayinQuotes.com.

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November 25, 2015

Queen Elizabeth’s “Annus Horribilis” and it’s ancestor, the “Annus Mirabilis”…


On November 24, 1992, Elizabeth II gave a speech in London to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession as Queen of England and “the Commonwealth realms.”

The speech immediately became famous for her reference to the year 1992 as an “Annus Horribilis” — which means “horrible year” in Latin.

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” the Queen said. “In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’ I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so.”

There’s no doubt that the year 1992 was an unusually unpleasant one for Elizabeth and England’s Royal Family.

In March, it was announced that the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, would separate from his wife, Duchess Sarah Ferguson.

In April, her daughter Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips.

In May, the publication of the bombshell book Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words made it clear that the marriage between Elizabeth’s oldest son, Prince Charles, and Diana, “The People’s Princess,” was also on the rocks.

The book revealed that Charles had been having an affair with his old girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles (who later became his second wife). It also disclosed how miserably unhappy Diana was with Charles and the way she had been treated by other members of the Royal Family.

In August, the Sun tabloid newspaper ran a story about the “Squidgygate” tapes — intimate conversations between Diana and former EastEnders actor James Gilbey (who called Diana by the affectionate nickname “Squidgy”).

Also in August, The Daily Mirror tabloid published photos of Duchess Sarah, topless, having her toes sucked by American financial tycoon John Bryan.

In September, the Sun revealed that Princess Diana may have had an affair with British Army officer James Hewitt.

In early November, The Daily Mirror revealed the “Camillagate” tapes: secretly recorded phone conversations between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in which Charles said (among other embarrassing things) that he wanted to be Camilla’s tampon.

Then, on November 20, just four days before Queen Elizabeth’s speech, a fire broke out in Windsor Castle, the official Royal residence in London, destroying historic sections of the building.

Given all this, the Queen’s choice of the words “Annus Horribilis” is understandable. And, the fire at Windsor Castle made the phrase oddly ironic.

“Annus Horribilis” is a twist on an older phrase made famous by the British poet John Dryden.

In 1667, Dryden published a poem titled “Annus Mirabilis,” meaning “a year of miracles” (or marvels, or wonders) in Latin.

Dryden’s poem described several historic events that occurred in 1666.

First, it recounts a series of English victories in battles with the Dutch.

Then it talks about the Great Fire of London in September 1666. Although large areas of London were burned, the Great Fire was stopped before it destroyed the entire city.

Dryden took these events as signs that God had performed miracles to save England from destruction and looked fondly on the expansion of the British Empire — thus making 1666 an “Annus Mirabilis” in his view.

I don’t know if Queen Elizabeth’s description of 1992 as an “Annus Horribilis” a few days after the Windsor Castle fire was purposefully ironic. If so, I’d say she has a very dry sense of humor indeed.

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