This Week in History

Lincoln Suspends Habeas Corpus:

April 27, 1862

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

Abraham Lincoln’s first presidential portrait

Lincoln’s first task was to secure for the union the neutral border states — Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, and Missouri. Delaware, with few slaves, had shown no signs of seceding. Kentucky, however, had a strong secessionist faction and could as easily go Confederate as remain in the union. Lincoln thought an insistence that Kentucky contribute to the war effort against the South would goad that state into secession. He thus assured Kentucky that he would respect her neutrality. No Federal troops would cross over onto Kentucky soil.

Missouri was divided between southern and union sympathizers, among the latter the numerous German population around St. Louis. Though in February 1861, a state convention voted to stay in the union, Governor Clairborne Jackson refused to send troops to Lincoln and plotted to seize the Federal arsenal in St. Louis. The commander of the arse­nal, Nathaniel Lyon, got wind of the plan and with Federal troops broke up a state militia encampment at St. Louis. Promoted to brigadier general and to the command of Federal troops around St. Louis, Lyon then marched on Governor Jackson, driving him from the state capital, Jefferson City, into the southern regions of Missouri. (more…)



This Week in History

A Pope Lays St. Peter’s Cornerstone and Undermines the Church: April 18, 1506

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. To peruses sample chapters of our books, go hereFor ordering information on Light to the Nations I and our other texts, please click here.

Pope Julius II, portrait by Raphael

In April 18, 1506, Pope Julius II laid the cornerstone for a new basilica church over the burial place of St. Peter the Apostle in the Vatican. A great lover of the arts and patron of artists, Pope Julius hoped to accomplish what Pope Nicholas V had begun, 50 years before: to replace the aging St. Peter’s Basilica (built by the Emperor Constantine) with a new church that would shine with all the splendor with which Renaissance architecture and art could adorn it.

A year later, Pope Julius proclaimed a jubilee indulgence to fund this great project. An indulgence is a full or partial remittance by the Church of the temporal punishment for sins (such as one suffers in Purgatory) following the forgiveness offered in the Sacrament of Penance. Julius’s indulgence did not differ from indulgences issued by earlier popes. To obtain the indulgence, one had to be truly repentant, receive the Sacrament of Penance, and perform a good work. In the case of the jubilee indulgence, the good work was contributing money to the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was not unusual for the Church to issue indulgences for the funding of churches—which was considered a very holy work. Yet, this jubilee indulgence, in a few short years, would have tragic results that no one, including the pope, could foresee in 1507. (more…)



This Week in History

Zapata Assassinated: April 10, 1919

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

Venustiano Carranza

Carranza was not the author of the more radical provisions of the Constitution of 1917, and he did nothing to enforce them. Indeed, it would have been difficult to deprive foreign companies of their land and mineral rights, for they would appeal to their governments for redress. Both the Church and the landowners resisted the government’s reforms. Too, even if Carranza had possessed the power to enforce the Constitution, he had not the desire.

But when Carranza did exercise power, he used it against radicals. He did nothing to redistribute lands to the peasants; he actively suppressed workers’ attempts to organize unions. He closed the House of the World Worker in Mexico City and arrested one of its most powerful leaders, Luis Morones.

Given Carranza’s violations of the new constitution, one might have expected some general to “pronounce” against him; but Mexico was exhausted by revolution; and, besides, Carranza had pledged that he would not seek re-election. (more…)



This Week in History

Death Dance at Shiloh: April 6-7, 1862

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

It took over 400 vessels to ferry the immense Army of the Potomac, 121,500 strong, from its base near Washington to Fort Monroe. McClellan’s army reached Fort Monroe in mid-March and began its slow advance up the York Peninsula. On April 5, McClellan’s advanced guard reached Yorktown where, some 80 years earlier, Cornwallis had surrendered to Washington.

General Joseph Eggleston Johnston

Joe Johnston’s Confederates lay between the Army of the Potomac and Richmond. At Yorktown itself, John Bankhead Magruder generalled 11,000 men. Magruder, knowing he was vastly outnumbered by union forces, fell back on his flair for the theater. By scattering artillery fire and marching his men across the same clearing several times, Magruder made it seem that he possessed far more than 11,000 men. He fooled McClellan, who believed no fewer than 100,000 men lay across the Confederate lines. It would be foolish, McClellan thought, to challenge such a host, ensconced as it was behind fortifications; so, even though Lincoln urged him to “break the enemy’s line . . . at once,” McClellan decided to dig in and lay siege to Yorktown. (more…)



This Week in History

Execution of the Cristeros’ “Maestro”:

April 1, 1927

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here. Please visit our blog to read our previous post on the Cristeros.

“Escena de Viernes Santo en pleno siglo XX” (A Holy Friday Scene in the Middle of the 20th Century) — a picture depicting Christ (center) as Clero (a priest), and his torturers as Calles, Morones, and Obregón.

In the early battles, the insurgents were victorious against local forces but were defeated when they confronted the federal army — which led the federal commander in Jalisco, General Jesús Ferreira, to boast that he would conduct, not a campaign, but a hunt in the state. But in the Pacific coastal state of Colima he met his match in the person of an ex-seminarian and leader of the ACJM, Enrique de Jesús Ochoa. When Ochoa removed his insurgent force from Colima city to Caucentla on the border of Jalisco, Ferreira met him there — and was repulsed.

Because of the insurgents’ war cry — Viva Cristo Rey! (“Long live Christ the King!”) — the Federals, perhaps in mockery, named them Cristo-reyes or Cristeros. But though they might despise them for being peasants, Federal commanders learned to their dismay that the Cristeros had a number of gifted leaders. These were not militarily trained but were men of the common trades who discovered in the crucible of conflict a gift for strategy and command. Along with Ochoa were Jesús Degollado, a druggist; José Reyes Vega and Aristeo Pedroza, priests; and Victoriano Ramirez and Miguel Hernandez, ranch hands. Under such leaders, in the early months of 1927, Cristero forces won significant victories against crack federal cavalry at San Francisco del Rincón in Guanajuato, and at San Julián in Jalisco. (more…)