Saturday, August 3, 2013

Coast Gaurd and chocolate chips, sisters and single working women all on August 4

Congress created the Coast Guard on August 4, 1790, approving a proposal made by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton for the construction of ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Coast Guard Day, the service got its present name in 1915 when Congress "merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and provided the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws."

For years a creature of the Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was transferred to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1967 and then, after 9/11, to the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Coast Guard website, on August 4, 1949 Congress "confirmed that the Coast Guard was a branch of the armed forces of the United States, [and] confirmed it in its general functions of marine safety, maritime law enforcement, and military readiness to operate as a service in the Navy upon declaration of war or when the president directs."

Fair warning: Celebration of Coast Guard Day will almost certainly not be accepted as an excuse should you be accused of boating under the influence on Sunday.

Sunday will also be Chocolate Chip Day -- which seems rather random. Couldn't any day be Chocolate Chip Day?

Sunday is Sister's Day and, according to some of the Usual Suspects, Single Working Women Day. If your sister is a single working woman, you have a twofer. Perhaps you can bake chocolate chip cookies in celebration?

Percy Bysshe Shelley, the English poet, was born on August 4, 1822.

According to Wikipedia, Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901. If you thought ol' Satch was born on the 4th of July, you're not alone. Armstrong used to claim that he was born on July 4, 1900 -- but his true August birthdate was discovered years after he died (in 1971).

Samuel J. Tilden died on August 4, 1886. Tilden won the popular vote for President of the United States in 1876 -- but lost in the Electoral College to Rutherford B. Hayes when three states in the still-being-Reconstructed South (Florida -- what else is new? -- Louisiana and South Carolina) each sent two sets of electors. Without these three states, Tilden had 184 electoral votes. He need only 185 to win the election. A commission established to resolve the controversy, however, voted 8-7, along party lines, to award all the disputed states to Hayes... who thus received (just barely) the 185 votes needed for election.

The linked Wikipedia article quotes Tilden as saying, "I can retire to public life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office."

To this day, Tilden remains the only presidential candidate to receive a majority of the popular vote (he got 51%) and not be elected President.

We know... we know... you're thinking about Al Gore in 2000 and, yes, it's true that Gore did garner more popular votes that George W. Bush, 50,999,897 to 50,456,002. But Gore won only 48.4% of the popular vote, not a majority.

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