Soviet Union refuses to play Chile in World Cup Soccer

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviet-union-refuses-to-play-chile-in-world-cup-soccer

The Soviet Union announces that, because of its opposition to the recent overthrow of the government of Chilean President Salvador Allende, it would not play a World Cup Soccer match against the Chilean team on November 21, if the match were held in Santiago.  The International Football Federation had given the Soviets until the 11th to decide whether they would play the game.

With the Soviet refusal, the Federation disqualified the Soviet team from World Cup play. It was the first time in the history of World Cup Soccer that a team had boycotted over political issues.

The Soviet team had played the Chilean team to a 0-0 tie in September, in a game that took place in Moscow. It steadfastly refused to play the rematch in Santiago, charging that the stadium in which the game would take place had recently been the scene of the torture and killing of Allende supporters during the coup. Allende, a Marxist, was killed during the takeover. The Soviets offered to play the game in a neutral country, but the Federation refused this compromise and the Soviet team, that had reached the quarterfinals in the last World Cup in 1970, was eliminated from competition. Despite fears that other Iron Curtain countries would join the boycott, teams from East Germany, Bulgaria, and Poland participated in the 1974 games held in West Germany. 

This would not be the last time that Cold War battles found their way into international sporting events. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, President Jimmy Carter asked the U.S. Olympic team to boycott the 1980 games to be held in Moscow. The U.S. team acceded to this request.

Police make a grisly discovery in Dorothea Puente’s lawn

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/police-make-a-grisly-discovery-in-dorothea-puentes-lawn

Authorities unearth a corpse buried in the lawn of 59-year-old Dorothea Puente’s home in Sacramento, California. Puente operated a residential home for elderly people, and an investigation led to the discovery of six more bodies buried on her property.

Puente was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had already been in trouble with the law. She had perviously served prison time for check forgery, as well as drugging and robbing people she met in bars. After her release, she opened a boarding house for elderly people. Beginning in 1986, social worker Peggy Nickerson sent 19 clients to Puente’s home. When some of the residents mysteriously disappeared, Nickerson grew suspicious. Puente’s neighbors, who reported the smell of rotting flesh emanating from her vicinity, validated Nickerson’s concern.

Although all the buried bodies were found to contain traces of the sedative Dalmane, the coroner was never able to identify an exact cause of death. Still, during a trial that lasted five months and included 3,100 exhibits, prosecutors were able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Puente had murdered her boarders, most likely to collect their Social Security checks. Though she was formally charged with nine counts of murder and convicted on three, authorities suspected that Puente might have been responsible for as many as 25 deaths. She died in prison in 2011. 

Louisa May Alcott publishes her first story

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/louisa-may-alcott-publishes-her-first-story

The Saturday Evening Gazette publishes “The Rival Painters: A Story of Rome,” by Louisa May Alcott, who will later write the beloved children’s book Little Women (1868).

Alcott, the second of four daughters, was born in Pennsylvania but spent most of her life in Concord, Massachusetts. Her father, Bronson, was close friends with Transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, whose progressive attitudes toward education and social issues left a strong mark on Louisa. Her father started a school based on Transcendentalist teachings, but after six years it failed, and he was unable to support the family and, afterward, Louisa dedicated most of her life to supporting them. After the publication of her first story, she made a living off sentimental and melodramatic stories for more than two decades.

In 1862 she went to work as a nurse for Union troops in the Civil War until typhoid fever broke her health. She turned her experiences into Hospital Sketches (1863), which established her reputation as a serious literary writer.

Looking for a bestseller, a publisher asked Alcott to write a book for girls. Although reluctant at first, Alcott finally agreed and poured her best talent into the work. The first volume of the serialized novel Little Women was an immediate success, and she began writing a chapter a day to finish the second. Her subsequent children’s fiction, including Little Men (1871), An Old-fashioned Girl (1870), Eight Cousins (1875), and Jo’s Boys (1886), while not as popular as Little Women, are still enjoyed today. She also wrote many short stories for adults. She became a strong supporter of women’s issues and spent most of her life caring for her family financially, emotionally, and physically. Her father died in March 1888, and she followed him just two days later.

READ MORE: Meet the Real-Life Family Behind “Little Women”

Poor leadership leads to Cherry Valley Massacre

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/poor-leadership-leads-to-cherry-valley-massacre

On November 11, 1778, Patriot Colonel Ichabod Alden refuses to believe intelligence about an approaching hostile force. As a result, a combined force of Loyalists and Native Americans, attacking in the snow, killed more than 40 Patriots, including Alden, and took at least an additional 70 prisoners, in what is known today as the Cherry Valley Massacre. The attack took place east of Cooperstown, New York, in what is now Otsego County.

Alden was a New Englander from Duxbury, Massachusetts, who began his military career in the Plymouth militia before serving in the 25th Continental regiment during the siege of Boston that followed the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Alden was then sent to command the 7th Massachusetts Regiment in Cherry Valley, New York, where he was strategically out of his depth in a state deeply divided between Loyalists and Patriots and with a significant Native American military presence.

Alden ignored warnings that local natives were planning an attack and left the 200 to 300 men stationed to defend Cherry Valley ill-prepared for the eventual arrival of 600 Iroquois under the adept command of Chief Joseph Brant and 200 men, known as Butler’s Rangers, under the command of Loyalist Major Walter Butler. (The Rangers had been trained by Walter’s father, Colonel John Butler.)

Ironically, on November 11, 1775, exactly three years before this so-called massacre executed by aggrieved Iroquois, the Continental Congress had engaged the missionary Samuel Kirkland to spread the “Gospel amongst the Indians,” and confirm “their affections to the United Colonies… thereby preserving their friendship and neutrality.”

Mary Anderson patents windshield wiper

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mary-anderson-patents-windshield-wiper

The patent office awards U.S. Patent No. 743,801 to a Birmingham, Alabama woman named Mary Anderson for her “window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window.” When she received her patent, Anderson tried to sell it to a Canadian manufacturing firm, but the company refused: The device had no practical value, it said, and so was not worth any money. Though mechanical windshield wipers were standard equipment in passenger cars by around 1913, Anderson never profited from the invention.

As the story goes, on a freezing, wet winter day around the turn of the century, Mary Anderson was riding a streetcar on a visit to New York City when she noticed that the driver could hardly see through his sleet-encrusted front windshield. Although the trolley’s front window was designed for bad-weather visibility—it was split into parts so that the driver could open it, moving the snow- or rain-covered section out of his line of vision—in fact the multi-pane windshield system worked very poorly. It exposed the driver’s uncovered face (not to mention all the passengers sitting in the front of the trolley) to the inclement weather, and did not improve his ability to see where he was going in any case.

Anderson began to sketch her wiper device right there on the streetcar. After a number of false starts, she came up with a prototype that worked: a set of wiper arms that were made of wood and rubber and attached to a lever near the steering wheel of the drivers’ side. When the driver pulled the lever, she dragged the spring-loaded arm across the window and back again, clearing away raindrops, snowflakes or other debris. When winter was over, Anderson’s wipers could be removed and stored until the next year. (This feature was presumably designed to appeal to people who lived in places where it did not rain in the summertime.)

People scoffed at Anderson’s invention, saying that the wipers’ movement would distract the driver and cause accidents. Her patent expired before she could entice anyone to use her idea.

In 1917, a woman named Charlotte Bridgewood patented the “Electric Storm Windshield Cleaner,” an automatic wiper system that used rollers instead of blades. (Bridgewood’s daughter, the actress Florence Lawrence, had invented the turn signal.) Like Anderson, Bridgewood never made any money from her invention.

Henry Wirz hanged for murder

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/henry-wirz-hanged

On November 10, 1865, Henry Wirz, a Swiss immigrant and the commander of Andersonville prison in Georgia, is hanged for the murder of soldiers incarcerated there during the Civil War.

Wirz was born in Switzerland in 1823 and moved to the United States in 1849. He lived in the South, primarily in Louisiana, and became a physician. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Fourth Louisiana Battalion. After the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861, Wirz guarded prisoners in Richmond, Virginia, and was noticed by Inspector General John Winder. Winder had Wirz transferred to his department, and Wirz spent the rest of the conflict working with prisoners of war. He commanded a prison in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; escorted prisoners around the Confederacy; handled exchanges with the Union; and was wounded in a stagecoach accident. After returning to duty, he traveled to Europe and likely delivered messages to Confederate envoys. When Wirz arrived back in the Confederacy in early 1864, he was assigned the responsibility for Andersonville prison, officially known as Camp Sumter.

While both sides incarcerated prisoners under horrible conditions, Andersonville deserves special mention for the inhumane circumstances under which its inmates were kept. A stockade held thousands of men on a barren, polluted patch of ground. Barracks were planned but never built; the men slept in makeshift housing, called “shebangs,” constructed from scrap wood and blankets that offered little protection from the elements. A small stream flowed through the compound and provided water for the Union soldiers, but this became a cesspool of disease and human waste. Erosion caused by the prisoners turned the stream into a huge swamp. The prison was designed to hold 10,000 men but the Confederates had packed it with more than 31,000 inmates by August 1864.

Wirz oversaw an operation in which thousands of inmates died. Partly a victim of circumstance, he was given few resources with which to work, and the Union ceased prisoner exchanges in 1864. As the Confederacy began to dissolve, food and medicine for prisoners were difficult to obtain. When word about Andersonville leaked out, Northerners were horrified. Poet Walt Whitman saw some of the camp survivors and wrote, “There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven, but this is not among them.”

Wirz was charged with conspiracy to injure the health and lives of Union soldiers and murder. His trial began in August 1865, and ran for two months. During the trial, some 160 witnesses were called to testify. Though Wirz did demonstrate indifference towards Andersonville’s prisoners, he was, in part, a scapegoat and some evidence against him was fabricated entirely. He was found guilty and sentenced to die on November 10 in Washington, D.C. On the scaffold, Wirz reportedly said to the officer in charge, “I know what orders are, Major. I am being hanged for obeying them.” The 41-year-old Wirz was one of the few people convicted and executed for crimes committed during the Civil War.

Cargo ship suddenly sinks in Lake Superior

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cargo-ship-suddenly-sinks-in-lake-superior

On November 10, 1975, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior, killing all 29 crew members on board. It was the worst single accident in Lake Superior’s history.

The ship weighed more than 13,000 tons and was 730 feet long. It was launched in 1958 as the biggest carrier in the Great Lakes and became the first ship to carry more than a million tons of iron ore through the Soo Locks.

On November 9, the Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin, with 26,000 tons of ore heading for Detroit, Michigan. The following afternoon, Ernest McSorely, the captain of the Fitzgerald and a 44-year veteran, contacted the Avafor, another ship traveling on Lake Superior and reported that his ship had encountered “one of the worst seas he had ever been in.” The Fitzgerald had lost its radar equipment and was listing badly to one side.

A couple of hours later, another ship made contact and was told that the Fitzgerald was holding its own. However, minutes afterward, the Fitzgerald disappeared from radar screens. A subsequent investigation showed that the sinking of the Fitzgerald occurred very suddenly; no distress signal was sent and the condition of the lifeboats suggested that little or no attempt was made to abandon the ship.

One possible reason for the wreck is that the Fitzgerald was carrying too much cargo. This made the ship sit low in the water and made it more vulnerable to being overwhelmed by a sudden large wave. The official report also cited the possibility that the hatches to the cargo area may have been faulty, leading to a sudden shift of the cargo that capsized the boat.

The Fitzgerald was eventually found 530 feet below the surface, 17 miles from Whitefish Bay, at the northeastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The ship had broken into two parts that were found approximately 150 feet apart. As there were no survivors among the 29 crewmembers, there will likely never be a definitive explanation of the Fitzgerald‘s sinking.

The Fitzgerald‘s sinking was the worst wreck in the Great Lakes since November 29, 1966, when 28 people died in the sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell in Lake Huron.

The disaster was immortalized in song the following year in Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Copies of “Slaughterhouse-Five” are burned in North Dakota

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/slaughterhouse-five-is-burned-in-north-dakota

On November 10, 1973, newspapers report the burning of 36 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Vonnegut’s book was a combination of real events and science fiction. His hero, Billy Pilgrim, was a World War II soldier who witnessed the firebombing of Dresden, as had Vonnegut himself. Pilgrim becomes “unstuck in time” and thereafter lives a double existence-one life on an alien planet where a resigned acceptance of inevitable doom expresses itself philosophically in the hopeless locution “And so it goes.” In his life on Earth, Pilgrim preaches the same philosophy. Some found the book’s pessimistic outlook and black humor unsuitable for school children.

Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Cornell and joined the Air Force during World War II. He was captured by Germans and held in Dresden, where he was forced to dig out dead and charred bodies in the aftermath of the city’s bombing. After the war, he studied anthropology at the University of Chicago and later wrote journalism and public relations material.

Vonnegut’s other novels, including Cat’s Cradle (1963), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Galapagos (1985), and others, did not generate as much controversy as Slaughterhouse-Five. His experimental writing style, combining the real, the absurd, the satiric, and the fanciful, attracted attention and made his books popular. He died in 2007. 

Osage Indians cede Missouri and Arkansas lands

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/osage-indians-cede-missouri-and-arkansas-lands

In a decision that would eventually make them one of the wealthiest surviving Native American nations, the Osage Indians agree to abandon their lands in Missouri and Arkansas in exchange for a reservation in Oklahoma.

The Osage were the largest tribe of the Southern Sioux people occupying what would later become the states of Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. When the first Anglo explorers and settlers moved into this region, they encountered a sophisticated society of Native Americans who lived in more or less permanent villages made of sturdy earthen and log lodges. The Osage-like the related Quapaw, Ponca, Omaha, and Kansa peoples-hunted buffalo and wild game like the Plains Indians, but they also raised crops to supplement their diets.

Although the Southern Sioux warred among themselves almost constantly, Americans found it much easier to understand and negotiate with these more sedentary tribes than with the nomadic Northern Sioux. American negotiators convinced the Osage to abandon their traditional lands and peacefully move to a reservation in southern Kansas in 1810. When American settlers began to covet the Osage reservation in Kansas, the tribe agreed to yet another move, relocating to what is now Osage County, Oklahoma, in 1872.

Such constant pressure from American settlers to push Native Americans off valuable lands and onto marginal reservations was all too common throughout the history of western settlement. Most Indian tribes were devastated by these relocations, including some of the Southern Sioux tribes like the Kansa, whose population of 1,700 was reduced to only 194 following their disastrous relocation to a 250,000-acre reservation in Kansas. The Osage, though, proved unusually successful in adapting to the demands of living in a world dominated by Anglo-Americans, thanks in part to the fortunate presence of large reserves of oil and gas on their Oklahoma reservation. In concert with their effective management of grazing contracts to Anglos, the Osage amassed enormous wealth during the twentieth century from their oil and gas deposits, eventually becoming the wealthiest tribe in North America.

George W. Bush addresses the United Nations regarding terrorism

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/bush-addresses-the-united-nations-regarding-terrorism

On November 10, 2001, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush addresses the United Nations to ask for the international community’s help in combating terrorism around the world. He also pledged to take the fight against terrorism to any place where terrorists were harbored.

In his speech, Bush called the war on terror a case of “light overcoming darkness” and warned that civilization itself was being threatened by those who used terror to achieve their political aims. In a poignant moment, Bush pointed out that only a few miles from United Nations headquarters in New York City “many thousands still lie in a tomb of rubble,” referring to the site where the World Trade Center towers formerly stood. Bush cited the U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan against al-Qaida and the Taliban regime that had sponsored them, begun a month earlier, as proof that the U.S. was fully prepared to attack other nations that harbored or financed terrorist groups. Bush went on to promise that the U.S. would stand by its commitment to peace in the Middle East by “working toward a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for” by the United Nations.

Bush concluded his speech by saying he expected the United Nations member states to live up to their global obligation to help root out terrorist cells. “The cost of inaction is far greater,” he said, and the attacks on September 11 proved that ”the only alternative is a nightmare world where every city is a potential killing field.” This speech was the first time Bush laid out a policy of pre-emptive action against regimes that sponsored terrorists. He followed up on his threat two years later by sending American troops to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whom he accused of funding terrorist organizations and developing weapons of mass destruction, though no such weapons were ever found.