Protesting slavery as well as the U.s. involvement in the Mexican War, Henry David Thoreau refuses to pay his $1 poll tax and was arrested on this date in history. That night, a relative came by and paid Thoreau's poll tax.
When he was told he could leave, Thoreau objected and was threatened with force to remove him. His written account of the experience is later read by Leo Tolstoi, Marcel Proust, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis and William Butler Yeats and it persuades them to advocate civil disobedience.
July 23, 1966 -
Frank Sinatra's song Strangers in the Night, hits the top of the charts on this date.
Sinatra despised the song, calling it a piece of 'crapola'. Even though it was his biggest hit in eleven years, Sinatra never included the song in any of his late 1960s specials.
Today in History:
July 23, 776BC -
A very large number of sweaty, muscular men poured into Greece, shaved their entire bodies, greased themselves up and ran naked through the streets on this date (and it wasn't even Greek Pride Day.)
The first Olympic Games opened in Olympia on this date.
July 23, 1885 -
One of the most famous residents of West 122th Street and Riverside Drive made a most fateful decision on this date.
He decided to give up the ghost.
In 1881, Ulysses S. Grant, American general, the eighteenth President of the United States and famous horseback riding drunk, purchased a house in New York City and placed almost all of his financial assets into an investment banking partnership with Ferdinand Ward, as suggested by Grant's son Buck (Ulysses, Jr.), who was having success on Wall Street. Very wrong move.
Ward swindled Grant (and other investors who had been encouraged by Grant) in 1884, bankrupted the company, Grant & Ward and fled. Ward had invented the Ponzi scheme before the term was invented.
Grant learned at the same time that he was suffering from throat cancer. Grant and his family were left destitute; at the time retired U.S. Presidents were not given pensions, and Grant had forfeited his military pension when he assumed the office of President. Grant first wrote several articles on his Civil War campaigns for The Century Magazine, which were warmly received. Mark Twain offered Grant a generous contract for the publication of his memoirs, including 75% of the book's sales as royalties.
Terminally ill, Grant finished the book just a few days before his death. The memoirs sold over 300,000 copies, earning the Grant family over $450,000. Twain promoted the book as "the most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar," and Grant's memoirs are also regarded by such writers as Matthew Arnold and Gertrude Stein as among the finest ever written .
Ulysses S. Grant died at 8:06 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1885, at the age of 63 in Mount McGregor, Saratoga County, New York. His last word was a request, "Water" (I'd like to believe it was actually, "Sir, cut my bourbon with water."
Grant's funeral was one of the greatest outpourings of public grief in history. A large funeral parade marched through New York City from City Hall to Riverside Park. It had 60,000 marchers, stretched seven miles, and took up to five hours to pass. Well over one million spectators witnessed the parade.
The funeral was attended by numerous dignitaries, including President Grover Cleveland, his cabinet, the justices of the Supreme Court, the two living ex-presidents (Hayes and Arthur), virtually the entire Congress, and almost every living figure who had played a prominent role during the Civil War.
Civil War veterans from both North and South took part, reflecting the high esteem in which he was held throughout a reunified country. General Winfield S. Hancock led the procession, and Grant's pallbearers included former comrades -- General William T. Sherman, General Philip H. Sheridan and Admiral David D. Porter - as well as former Confederates - Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Simon B. Buckner.
July 23,1886 -
New York saloonkeeper Steve Brodie claimed to have made a daredevil plunge from the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River on this.
However, having the perfect new New York spirit, few historians believe the jump actually occurred
July 23, 1904 -
According to popular legend, Charles E Menches invented the ice cream cone on this date at the St. Louis World's Fair.
It beats the old system of cramming your mouth with as much ice cream as you could hold in it before suffocating.
July 23, 1923 -
While driving his 1919 Dodge, retired revolutionary Pancho Villa was ambushed and assassinated. But even with 16 gunshot wounds he still managed to kill one of his attackers.
Curiously, Villa's head is stolen from his grave three years later and never recovered. Despite persistent rumors, Yale's secret society Skull and Bones denies they possess the artifact.
But we know better.
July 23, 1966 -
The "longest suicide in Hollywood" finally came to a sad on this date, with the death of Montgomery Clift of a heart attack brought on by his severe drug and alcohol addictions.
After his near-fatal car accident in 1956,(in which, Elizabeth Taylor saved the actor from choking to death by removing two teeth lodged in his throat) Montgomery Clift stumbled through life in a haze of pain and professional disappointments. Clift still managed to turn in some amazing performances during this period
(Monty got a raw deal indeed.)
He is now the most famous 'resident' of Quaker Cemetery in Prospect Park Brooklyn.
And so it goes.