Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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December 31st
“We cannot escape our destiny”
In 1974, then Governor Ronald Reagan of California gave one of his most famous speeches, known as his “City upon a Hill” speech because of his allusion to those words by John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. These are good words with which to end a year and begin a new one:

You can call it mysticism if you want to, but I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage. This was true of those who pioneered the great wilderness in the beginning of this country, as it is also true of those later immigrants who were willing to leave the land of their birth and come to a land where even the language was unknown to them. . . .

Standing on the tiny deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop said, “We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. . . .” We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of America was all that stood between the world and the return to the dark ages, Pope Pius XII said, “The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.”

We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.
American History Parade
1879
Thomas Edison gives the first public demonstration of his incandescent lightbulbs by lighting up a street in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1907
A giant ball is first dropped in Times Square to bring in the New Year.

1929
In New York City, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians introduce Americans to the custom of playing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve.

1935
Charles Darrow of Pennsylvania patents the board game Monopoly.

1999
The U.S. transfers full control of the Panama Canal to Panama.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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