Oct 19, 1781:
Victory at Yorktown
~~"Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.
Lord Cornwallis was one of the most capable British generals of the American Revolution. In 1776, he drove General George Washington's Patriots forces out of New Jersey, and in 1780 he won a stunning victory over General Horatio Gates' Patriot army at Camden, South Carolina. Cornwallis' subsequent invasion of North Carolina was less successful, however, and in April 1781 he led his weary and battered troops toward the Virginia coast, where he could maintain seaborne lines of communication with the large British army of General Henry Clinton in New York City. After conducting a series of raids against towns and plantations in Virginia, Cornwallis settled in the tidewater town of Yorktown in August. The British immediately began fortifying the town and the adjacent promontory of Gloucester Point across the York River.
General George Washington instructed the Marquis de Lafayette, who was in Virginia with an American army of around 5,000 men, to block Cornwallis' escape from Yorktown by land. In the meantime, Washington's 2,500 troops in New York were joined by a French army of 4,000 men under the Count de Rochambeau. Washington and Rochambeau made plans to attack Cornwallis with the assistance of a large French fleet under the Count de Grasse, and on August 21 they crossed the Hudson River to march south to Yorktown. Covering 200 miles in 15 days, the allied force reached the head of Chesapeake Bay in early September.
Meanwhile, a British fleet under Admiral Thomas Graves failed to break French naval superiority at the Battle of Virginia Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his expected reinforcements. Beginning September 14, de Grasse transported Washington and Rochambeau's men down the Chesapeake to Virginia, where they joined Lafayette and completed the encirclement of Yorktown on September 28. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French troops carried by his fleet. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000 Franco-American troops gradually overcame the fortified British positions with the aid of de Grasse's warships. A large British fleet carrying 7,000 men set out to rescue Cornwallis, but it was too late.
On October 19, General Cornwallis surrendered 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships. Pleading illness, he did not attend the surrender ceremony, but his second-in-command, General Charles O'Hara, carried Cornwallis' sword to the American and French commanders. As the British and Hessian troops marched out to surrender, the British bands played the song "The World Turned Upside Down."
Although the war persisted on the high seas and in other theaters, the Patriot victory at Yorktown effectively ended fighting in the American colonies. Peace negotiations began in 1782, and on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally recognizing the United States as a free and independent nation after eight years of war."
Oct 19, 1991:
Fire Sweeps Through Oakland Hills
~~"On this day in 1991, a fire begins in the hills of Oakland, California. It went on to burn thousands of homes and kill 25 people. Despite the fact that fires had ravaged the same area three times earlier in the century, people continued to build homes there.
Fires had previously raged through the hills in 1923, 1970 and 1980. Each time, the fires occurred during autumn in a year with relatively little precipitation, and, each time, the residents rebuilt and moved back in as soon as possible. The deadly 1991 fire can be traced to a small fire at 7151 Buckingham Boulevard on October 18. Firefighters responded quickly and thought they had brought the blaze under control. However, heat from the fire had caused pine needles to fall from the trees and cover the ground.
When highly flammable debris, also known as "duff," accumulates on the ground, fires can smolder unseen. At 10:45 a.m. on October 19, strong winds blew one of these unseen fires up a hillside; changing wind patterns then caused it to spread in different directions.
The winds were so intense and the area was so dry that within an hour close to 800 buildings were on fire. The wind then blew southwest, pushing the fire toward San Francisco Bay. In some places, the temperature reached 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it virtually impossible to fight the fire effectively. Homeowners attempted to hose down their roofs, but were often thwarted when water pipes burst from the fire. Also, many homes had wooden shingle roofs that were particularly susceptible to fire—it took only 10 minutes in some cases for a house to be brought down by the flames.
Firefighting efforts were constrained by the fact that the affected homes were located on steep hills with very narrow streets. This made it difficult to maintain radio communications and to move large fire engines close to the flames. The fire spread so rapidly that firefighters were unable to establish a perimeter. When the fire was finally contained the following day, 25 people had lost their lives, 150 people were injured and 3,000 homes and 1,500 acres had been consumed. The total tally of damages was $1.5 billion.
In the aftermath, authorities attempted to reduce the likelihood of a similar fire breaking out the in the future. Laws were changed regarding the maximum height of trees permitted and the type of vegetation that was allowable in the area. In addition, most homes that have been rebuilt do not have wooden roofs."
(I LOVE this song but had no idea they were Norwegian)
"Take on Me" Music Video Helps Norway's a-Ha Reach The Top Of The U.S. Pop Charts
~~"From its beginnings in the early 1980s, it was clear that MTV, the Music Television Network, would have a dramatic effect on the way pop stars marketed their music and themselves. While radio remained a necessary engine to drive the sales and chart rankings of singles and albums, the rise of new artists like Duran Duran and the further ascent of established stars like Michael Jackson showed that creativity and esthetic appeal on MTV could make a direct and undeniable contribution to a musical performer's commercial success. But if ever a case existed in which MTV did more than just contribute to an act's success, it was the case of the Norwegian band a-Ha, who went from total unknowns to chart-topping pop stars almost solely on the strength of the groundbreaking video for the song "Take On Me," which hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart on this day in 1985.
By 1985 the medium was established enough that it took a unique angle to achieve music video stardom. Enter a-Ha, a synth-pop group that caught a late ride on the dying New Wave thanks to the video for "Take On Me," in which lead singer Morten Harket was transformed using a decades-old technology called Rotoscoping. The creators of the "Take On Me" video painted portions or sometimes the entirety of individual frames to create the effect of a dashingly handsome comic-book motorcycle racer (Harket) romancing a pretty girl from the real world, fighting off a gang of angry pursuers in a pipe-wrench fight before bursting out of the comic-book world as a dashingly handsome real boy.
The wildly popular video was an esthetic marvel at the moment of its unveiling, and it propelled a-Ha not only to the top spot on the pop charts, but to a still-unbeaten record of eight wins at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. Predictably enough, the F/X gimmick that seemed so fresh in "Take On Me" soon became something of a cliché, showing up in ads for everything from minivans to maxi-pads. As for a-Ha, they may be thought of by many Americans as one-hit wonders—or two-hit wonders for those who remember "The Sun Always Shines On T.V."—but internationally they have enjoyed a tremendously successful recording career without any further help from MTV."
Oct 19, 1796:
Editorial Accuses Jefferson Of Affair With Slave
~~"On this day in 1796, an essay appears in the Gazette of the United States in which a writer, mysteriously named "Phocion," slyly attacks presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson. Phocion turned out to be former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. The essay typified the nasty, personal nature of political attacks in late 18th-century America.
When the article appeared, Jefferson was running against presidential incumbent John Adams, in an acrimonious campaign. The highly influential Hamilton, also a Federalist, supported Adams over Jefferson, one of Hamilton's political rivals since the two men served together in George Washington's first cabinet. According to Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow, Hamilton wrote 25 essays under the name Phocion for the Gazette between October 15 and November 24, lambasting Jefferson and Jeffersonian republicanism. On October 19, Hamilton went further, accusing Jefferson of carrying on an affair with one of his slaves.
This would not be the last time such allegations would appear in print. In 1792, publisher James Callendar—then a supporter of Jefferson's whose paper was secretly funded by Jefferson and his Republican allies--published a report of Alexander Hamilton's adulterous affair with a colleague's wife, to which Hamilton later confessed. However, in 1802, when then-President Jefferson snubbed Callendar's request for a political appointment, Callendar retaliated with an expose on Jefferson's "concubine." He is believed to have been referring to Sally Hemings, who was part black and also the likely half-sister of Jefferson's deceased wife, Martha. Further, the article alleged that Sally's son, John, bore a "striking...resemblance to those of the President himself." Jefferson chose not to respond to the allegations.
Rumors that the widowed Jefferson had an affair with one of his slaves persist to this day and have spawned years of scholarly and scientific research regarding his and Hemings' alleged progeny. In 2000, a research report issued by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation used DNA test results, original documents, oral histories, and statistical analysis of the historical record to conclude that Thomas Jefferson was probably the father of Sally Hemings’s son Eston and likely her other children."