This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
May 23 is the 143rd day of the year (144th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 222 days remaining until the end of the year.
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On this day in 1873, the Canadian Parliament establishes the North West Mounted Police, the forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The RCMP has its beginnings in the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP). The police was established by an act of legislation from the Temporary North-West Council the first territorial government of the Northwest Territories. The Act was approved by the Government of Canada and established on May 23, 1873, by Queen Victoria, on the advice of her Canadian Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, with the intent of bringing law and order to, and asserting sovereignty over, the Northwest Territories. The need was particularly urgent given reports of American whiskey traders, in particular those of Fort Whoop-Up, causing trouble in the region, culminating in the Cypress Hills Massacre. The new force was initially to be called the North West Mounted Rifles, but this proposal was rejected as sounding too militaristic in nature, which Macdonald feared would antagonize both aboriginals and Americans; however, the force was organized along the lines of a cavalry regiment in the British Army, and was to wear red uniforms.
The NWMP was modelled directly on the Royal Irish Constabulary, a civilian paramilitary armed police force with both mounted and foot elements under the authority of what was then the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. First NWMP commissioner, Colonel George Arthur French visited Ireland to learn its methods.
The group comprised 22 officers, 287 men – called constables and sub-constables – 310 horses, 67 wagons, 114 ox-carts, 18 yoke of oxen, 50 cows and 40 calves. A pictorial account of the journey was recorded in the diary of Henri Julien, an artist from the Canadian Illustrated News, who accompanied the expedition.
Their destination was Fort Whoop-Up, a notorious whiskey trading post located at the junction of the Belly and Oldman Rivers. Upon arrival at Whoop-Up and finding it abandoned the troop continued a few miles west and established headquarters on an island in the Oldman, naming it Fort MacLeod.
Historians have theorized that failure of the 1874 March West would not have completely ended the Canadian federal government’s vision of settling the country’s western plains, but could have delayed it for many years. It could also have encouraged the Canadian Pacific Railway to seek a more northerly route for its transcontinental railway that went through the well-mapped and partially settled valley of the North Saskatchewan River, touching on Prince Albert, Battleford and Edmonton, and through the Yellowhead Pass, as originally proposed by Sandford Fleming. This would have offered no economic justification for the existence of cities like Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Medicine Hat, and Calgary, which could, in turn, have tempted American expansionists to make a play for the flat, empty southern regions of the Canadian prairies.
The NWMP’s early activities included containing the whiskey trade and enforcing agreements with the First Nations peoples; to that end, the commanding officer of the force arranged to be sworn in as a justice of the peace, which allowed for magisterial authority within the Mounties’ jurisdiction. In the early years, the force’s dedication to enforcing the law on behalf of the First Nations peoples impressed the latter enough to encourage good relations between them and the Crown. In the summer of 1876, Sitting Bull and thousands of Sioux fled from the US Army towards what is now southern Saskatchewan, and James Morrow Walsh of the NWMP was charged with maintaining control in the large Sioux settlement at Wood Mountain. Walsh and Sitting Bull became good friends, and the peace at Wood Mountain was maintained. In 1885, the NWMP helped to quell the North-West Rebellion led by Louis Riel. They suffered particularly heavy losses during the Battle of Duck Lake, but saw little other active combat.
1430 – Siege of Compiègne: Joan of Arc is captured by the Burgundians while leading an army to relieve Compiègne.
1498 – Girolamo Savonarola is burned at the stake in Florence, Italy, on the orders of Pope Alexander VI.
1533 – The marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon is declared null and void.
1568 – The Netherlands declare their independence from Spain.
1568 – Dutch rebels led by Louis of Nassau, brother of William I of Orange, defeat Jean de Ligne, Duke of Aremberg and his loyalist troops in the Battle of Heiligerlee, opening the Eighty Years’ War.
1609 – Official ratification of the Second Charter of Virginia takes place.
1618 – The Second Defenestration of Prague precipitates the Thirty Years’ War.
1701 – After being convicted of piracy and of murdering William Moore, Captain William Kidd is hanged in London.
1706 – Battle of Ramillies: John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, defeats a French army under Marshal Villeroi.
1788 – South Carolina ratifies the Constitution as the 8th American state.
1805 – Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned King of Italy with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in the Cathedral of Milan.
1813 – South American independence leader Simon Bolivar enters Mérida, leading the invasion of Venezuela, and is proclaimed El Libertador (“The Liberator”).
1829 – Accordion patent granted to Cyrill Demian in Vienna.
1846 – Mexican-American War: President Mariano Paredes of Mexico unofficially declares war on the United States.
1873 – The Canadian Parliament establishes the North West Mounted Police, the forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
1900 – American Civil War: Sergeant William Harvey Carney becomes the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for his heroism in the Assault on the Battery Wagner in 1863.
1907 – The unicameral Parliament of Finland gathers for its first plenary session.
1911 – The New York Public Library is dedicated.
1915 – World War I: Italy joins the Allies after they declare war on Austria-Hungary.
1934 – American bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed by police and killed in Black Lake, Louisina.
1934 – The Auto-Lite Strike culminates in the “Battle of Toledo”, a five-day melée between 1,300 troops of the Ohio National Guard and 6,000 picketers.
1939 – The U.S. Navy submarine USS Squalus sinks off the coast of New Hampshire during a test dive, causing the death of 24 sailors and two civilian technicians. The remaining 32 sailors and one civilian naval architect are rescued the following day.
1945 – World War II: Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, commits suicide while in Allied custody.
1945 – World War II: The Flensburg government under Reichspräsident Karl Donitz is dissolved when its members are captured and arrested by British forces at Flensburg in Northern Germany.
1948 – Thomas C. Wasson, US Consul-General assassinated in Jerusalem.
1949 – The Federal Republic of Germany is established and the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is proclaimed.
1951 – Tibetans sign the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet with the People’s Republic of China.
1958 – Explorer 1 ceases transmission.
1967 – Egypt closes the Straits of Tiran and blockades the port of Eilat at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, laying the foundations for the Six Day War.
1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building are imploded.
1995 – The first version of the Java programming language is released.
1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is accepted in a referendum in Northern Ireland with 75% voting yes.
2002 – The “55 parties” clause of the Kyoto protocol is reached after its ratification by Iceland.
2004 – Part of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport’s Terminal 2E collapses, killing four people and injuring three others.
2006 – Alaskan stratovolcano Mount Cleveland erupts.
2008 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awards Middle Rocks to Malaysia and Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) to Singapore, ending a 29-year territorial dispute between the two countries.
* Birthday of Guru Amar Das (Sikhism)
* Christian Feast Day:
Aaron the Illustrious (Syriac Orthodox Church)
Desiderius of Vienne
Quintian, Lucius and Julian
May 23 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Declaration of the Bab (Baha’i Faith)
* Labour Day (Jamaica)
* Students Day (Mexico)
* World Turtle Day