Monday, December 17, 2007


1868. President Johnson dismisses Secretary of War Stanton, a violation of a law forbidding removal of certain officials without the Senate's consent. Johnson is impeached, but is exonerated by one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

1868. The Republican party rejects President Johnson and nominates Ulysses S. Grant for the presidency.

1868. Ratification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is proclaimed: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...."

1868. U.S. military authorities force Navajo chiefs to sign a treaty agreeing to live on reservations and cease opposition to whites.

1868. Congress enacts an Eight-Hour Law for U.S. government laborers but in private industry most laborers work 10 to 12 hours per day.

1868. Americans observe Memorial Day for the first time May 30. The holiday commemorates the Union dead of the Civil War.

The Ring and the Book. Robert Browning. British. 1868. Poetry. Based on an Italian murder case; dramatic monologues by 12 characters, each from a different point of view. Title: gold ring is shaped by use of an alloy. Story in an old book (gold) is shaped by the poet's imagination and interpretation.

The Idiot. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1868. Novel. Fate of a saintly prince in the world; he is an "idiot," who cannot return women's love and inadvertently destroys lives.

The Moonstone. Wilkie Collins. British. 1868. Novel. First detective story in English fiction. Who stole the moonstone that once adorned a Hindu idol?

"The Luck of Roaring Camp." Bret Harte. American. 1868. Story. Gold-rush miners' false toughness. Miners adopt child of a prostitute. Flood. Kentuck dies holding the infant in his arms.

Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Louisa May Alcott. American. 1868/69. Story. Heroine is Jo March, tomboyish, literary, who retires to the attic when "genius burns." Pretty older sister Meg marries young tutor, John Brooke; gentle, music-loving Beth dies young; fashionable, artistic Amy marries Laurie, high-spirited friend of Jo, who will not marry him. Jo marries a kindly old German professor.

Earthly Paradise. William Morris. British. 1868/70. Poetry. Norse sailors flee the Black Death. Tell 24 tales: medieval sagas, classic myths; in between each tale, a lyric poem celebrating the changing landscape.

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