From the Annals of Tejana Musica – In 1971, Tejana superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez was born in Lake Jackson. She was a Tejano superstar and attracted the then largest crowd in Astrodome history during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1994. Her 1992 album Entre a Mi Mundo made her the first Tejana to sell more than 300,000 albums. Her 1995 album Dreaming of You hit number one on the national Billboard Top 100 the week it was released. Tragically, her career was cut short when she was shot by the founder of her first fan club on March 31, 1995 just as Selena was on the verge of becoming a huge crossover star.
From the Annals of the Supreme Court – In1869, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Texas v. White which essentially eviscerated the argument of individual state sovereignty apart from the Union. The SCt ruled that Texas still had the right to sue in the federal courts despite having seceded in 1861. Texas has sued for an injunction prohibiting George W. White and others from transferring U.S. issued bonds they purchased from the secession-era Texas State Military Board during the Civil War. The bonds had been issued to Texas as part of the Compromise of 1850, but at the time of the Civil War not all such bonds had been issued. Texas sold the bonds to raise funds durng the war. After the war, the US Treasury refused to redeem the war-issued bonds. Texas sued to reclaim the bonds from the purchasers. Under Article III, section 2 of the US Constitution, which provides original jurisdiction in the Supreme Court in cases where the State is a party, Texas sued directly in the U.S. Supreme Court At the SCt, the issue turned on whether Texas, having seceded and not having completed Reconstruction, had status in the Union and therefore the right to sue as a federal court. Texas argued that the Union was indestructible and Texas’ status as a state remained unchanged by the war. White argued that Texas, by seceding from the Union and waging war against the United States, had lost the status of a state in the Union and therefore had no right to sue in the SCt. In a five-to-three decision authored by Chief Justice S. P. Chase, the court held the Union to be indestructible and thus not dissoluble by any act of a state, the government, or the people.
From the Annals of the Blue Northers – In 1899, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Texas occurred in Tulia. Thermometers recorded a temperature of minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit. The frigid air was part of the “Big Freeze” (a/k/a the Great Blizzard of 1899) perhaps the most famous blue norther ever to reach the state. Record lows that still stand today were recorded across much of the eastern U.S. including the only subzero temperature ever recorded in Florida. In Texas, the blizzard killed thousands of head of livestock and damaged crops.
From the Annals of the Republic – In 1842, sailors and marines stationed on the Texas Navy schooner San Antonio mutinied. The SA was anchored in the Mississippi River at New Orleans at the time. Most of the officers were allowed shore leave but sailors and marines were confined aboard because of fear of desertion. Some enterprising New Orleans citizen smuggled liquor to the ensconced sailors and marines who under marine sergeant Seymour Oswalt, began an unsuccessful mutiny demanding shore leave. Lt. Charles Fuller ordered the marine guard to stand ground at which point Oswalt attacked Fuller with a tomahawk. In the ensuing fight, Lt. Fuller was shot and killed. Most of the mutineers fled the ship where they were captured and placed in jail in New Orleans. Louisiana refused to extradite them back to Texas, but a few mutineers who had not escaped the ship met a different fate. The head of the Texas Navy, Commodore Edwin Moore court-martialed some of the remaining mutineers. Three were sentenced to flogging, and four were hanged from the yardarm of the Austin on April 6, 1843. Sgt. Oswalt himself escaped from jail in New Orleans and was never brought to justice. Shortly afterward, the San Antonio was dispatched to Campeche but was lost at sea.
From the Annals of the War Presidents – In 1966, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson met with South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky in Honolulu. At the time, American involvement in the Vietnam War was already spiraling out of control and the motivation for the talks may have been to address growing public opinion against the war. The talks resulted in the issuance of a joint declaration in which the United States promised to help South Vietnam “prevent aggression” and establish “the principles of self-determination of peoples and government by the consent of the governed.” As part of his public relations campaign for continuing the war, Johnson declared: “We are determined to win not only military victory but victory over hunger, disease, and despair.” Johnson referred to this as “The Other War” meaning the supposed effort to improve the lives of the South Vietnamese through increased security, and economic and social programs to win the so-called “hearts and minds.” Red does not need to point out the utter failure of all of this.
From the Annals of Racism – In 1840, the Congress of the Republic of Texas determined that the presence of any more free black citizens in the Republic was utterly intolerable. As such, the Congress passed the racist Law of February 5. These legislators (which included many of the founding fathers of the Republic) were apparently concerned that the presence of any more than the very few free blacks in the Republic would somehow affect the status of slavery. And after all, the protection of slavery had been a major motivating force for the revolution as slavery was outlawed in Mexico in 1829 by its partially black President Vicente Guerrero. The law declared that all free blacks who had entered Texas after the Texas Declaration of Independence must leave the Republic within two years or be declared slaves for the rest of their lives. Free blacks already in the Republic before Texas independence would continue to have all the rights of their white neighbors – which in practice they did not.
From the Annals of the Anagrams – In 1829, the Mexican government officially changed the name of La Bahía to Villa de Goliad. Coahuila y Texas state legislator Rafael Antonio Manchola had proposed the name change because neither the settlement around the mission and presidio of the same name was not located on “the bay.” He suggested the name of “Goliad” which was a partial anagram to honor Father Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the fight for Mexican independence.
From the Annals of Space Exploration – In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up upon reentry killing all seven astronauts. It was the second catastrophic failure of the Space Shuttle program following the Challenger which exploded about a minute after liftoff in 1986. The problem occurred during the launch when a piece of foam insulation broke off from the external tank and struck insulating tile under the left wing of the Shuttle craft. NASA was aware of this problem as previous shuttle launches had seen foam shedding damage in various degrees. Some NASA engineers suspected that the damage to Columbia was serious, but managers limited the investigation arguing that any fix was impossible even if a major problem was confirmed. The engineers were right and when Columbia re-entered the atmosphere hot gasses penetrated the heat shield causing the Shuttle to ultimately break apart. A massive search and recovery mission ensued with pieces of Columbia being primarily found over a 28,000 square mile area of Texas and Louisiana.
National Weather Service Radar Image of Columbia breakup upon reentry.
From the Annals of the Hoteliers – In 1859, The Menger Hotel opened on what is now Alamo Plaza in San Antonio. The hotel was the idea of William Menger was a local brewer. Menger hired an architect, John M. Fries, along with a contractor, J. H. Kampmann, to build a two-story, 50-room hotel which would be the first top rate hotel of its kind in San Antonio. The Menger has been in more or less continuous operations under several owners and has expanded several times since its opening. It is renown for its mahogany paneled Menger Bar (where Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders), the Spanish Patio Garden, an elegant and spacious main lobby and the Colonial Dining Room. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Although remodeled, the original part of the hotel still stands and one can imagine the wonder of travelers at finding such an oasis in San Antonio. The Menger continues to serve as a center for meetings and other social affairs in San Antonio. And it is one of Red’s favorite hotels in Texas.
From the Annals of the Blues – In 1982, Sam (Lightnin’) Hopkins passed away. Hopkins was a blues legend whose influence cannot be overstated. He was born in Centerville, Texas, in 1912. By age ten, Hopkins was already playing music with his cousin, Alger (Texas) Alexander, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He played all over for decades on the blues club circuit except when he was incarcerated in the mid-1930’s at the Harris County Prison Farm. In 1950 he settled in Houston and finally had his breakthrough in 1959 when Hopkins began working with legendary producer Sam Chambers. White audiences were exposed to his music and began to appreciate the blues legend. In the 1960s, Hopkins switched to an acoustic guitar and became a hit in the folk-blues circuit. During the early 1960s he played at Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, and by the end of the decade was opening for rock bands. Hopkins recorded a total of more than eighty-five albums and performed around the world. His most famous songs include Mojo Hand, Baby Please Don’t Go, Bring Me My Shotgun, Jail House Blues and Have You Ever Loved a Woman.