Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3 Potpourri

The Wikipedia entry for November 3 says that the Federal Income Tax was introduced in the U.S.A. on this date in 1913.

Our crack research staff has been unable to confirm this, but this is probably the anniversary of the effective date of the Revenue Act of 1913, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on October 3, 1913. Our current income tax regime was made possible by the passage of the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; Secretary of State Philander Knox declared the amendment ratified on February 25, 1913 -- in case you want to get started now in planning a centennial celebration.

It's certainly understandable that the anniversary of the introduction of the income tax would not be particularly well celebrated this close to an American presidential election.

Our crack research staff wanted you to know that, as originally constituted, the income tax was a tax on the rich -- until World War II, most taxpayers never even had to file a return.

Photo obtained from Wikipedia.
Today is also the 10th anniversary of the death of English skiffle king Lonnie Donegan. Skiffle music, and Donegan in particular, has been cited as a major influence on all of the major British Invasion bands of the 1960s -- yes, including the Beatles. And yet, poor Mr. Donegan went to his grave never really sure whether the chewing gum loses its flavor on the bedpost overnight.

Most of the Usual Suspects proclaim today Sandwich Day. You may wonder why the sandwich needs its own day -- and history supplies the answer. Today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1718, of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The Earl was said to have 'invented' the sandwich by instructing his servants to save some meat from an earlier and serve it to him between bread slices so that he could refuel while not missing a hand in a late night card game.

Sandwich did more than play cards, however. He also held a number of ministerial positions in several British governments, including three stints as First Lord of the Admiralty, the last of these during the American Revolution. The linked Wikipedia article notes that Sandwich's biographer provides another explanation for the origin of the sandwich: He may have invented it to keep working at his desk at the Admiralty.

And here's a fun fact for you today: The current Earl of Sandwich, John Edward Hollister Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, is a founder and co-owner of an American franchise restaurant operation called (have you guessed already?) the Earl of Sandwich.

But back to John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich for a moment: As First Lord, Sandwich was a patron and supporter of Captain James Cook. Cook honored his patron in putting Sandwich's name on dots all over the map -- the Hawaiian Islands, you may recall, were originally known as the Sandwich Islands.

And speaking of dots on the map, today is Independence Day in the Federated States of Micronesia, a chain of some 607 islands extending over 1,800 miles east of the Philippines. The Federated States of Micronesia became an independent country on this date in 1986 (they were formerly governed as a trust territory by the United States of America).

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