This week in Concord History

May 20, 1927: Filing his nationally syndicated column from Concord, humorist Will Rogers writes: “No attempts at jokes today. A slim, tall, bashful, smiling American boy is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, where no lone human being has ever ventured before. He is being prayed for to every kind of Supreme Being that has a following. If he is lost it will be the most universally regretted loss we ever had.” The next day, that American boy, Charles A. Lindbergh, will land the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris.

 

May 20, 1983: A crowd of women gather at a public hearing in Concord to describe the sorrows of alimony, child support and high legal fees as the state contemplates reforms to divorce laws. “We have to start with the girls and tell them this business about living happily ever after – that is a fantasy. It’s a fairy tale. They must face the world knowing they’re responsible for their own support,” says Susan Caldwell, head of the state Commission on the Status of Women.

 

May 20, 1727: A charter is granted to the town of Chichester.

 

May 20, 1981: In his first speech on the floor, U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire warns against reckless defense spending. “The public has condemned waste and profligacy in the administration of once-popular social programs,” he says. “This should alert us to what will be an even more vehement outcry against the defense sector if we fail to develop a rational, cost-effective approach to meeting our national security requirements.”

 

May 21, 2002: Police officers and rescue workers swarmed the State House, shutting down a section of North Main Street and its side streets so bomb experts could examine what a mask-wearing man had left in a FedEx box, the Monitor reports. The answer, they discovered after quarantining the area for about two hours, was an 8½-by-11-inch FedEx envelope, no explosives included.

 

May 21, 1941: Red Rolfe, the Pride of Penacook and the third baseman for the New York Yankees, triples in the 10th inning to drive in the winning run in a 5-4 victory over defending American League champion Detroit. It is Rolfe’s fourth hit of the day. His teammate, Joe DiMaggio, has two hits, running his modest hitting streak to seven games.

 

May 21, 1777: Workmen at the Portsmouth shipyard chop away the holding blocks, and the newly built Raleigh, a warship authorized five months earlier by the Continental Congress, slides down greased ways into the Piscataqua River. Thousands have gathered to watch the launch. The masts will be added a month later, and the outfitting will be finished in September. The Raleigh will set sail without guns and finally be armed after reaching France.

 

May 21, 1896: Death of Dr. Abel Conant Burnham, probably the oldest practicing physician at the time of the state. (He is 84 when he dies in Hillsboro.)

 

May 22, 2003: The state Senate narrowly passes a bill that requires a girl younger than 18 to tell her parents before she can get an abortion, moving the state a step closer to enacting its first restriction on abortion since Roe. v. Wade became federal law 30 years ago.

 

May 22, 2002: Laconia’s city licensing board denies Bike Week vendor permits to the Hells Angels. Citing a violation of free speech, the motorcycle club’s attorney, Scott Bratton of Nashua, files a petition in Belknap County Superior Court requesting a temporary restraining order against the city and the licensing board.

 

May 22, 2001: Concord Litho Group, one of the world’s largest printers of greeting cards, has laid off 31 of its 231 employees, the Monitor reports. The elimination of jobs is expected to be permanent.

 

May 22, 1879: The Monitor editorializes against a fountain in the State House plaza: “The fountain continues to squirt water all over those who have the temerity to walk in its vicinity, as in the days of yore. Its location ought to be changed.” In 1914, it is discarded to make room for the statue of Franklin Pierce.

 

May 23, 1834: Benjamin Brown French of Chester, a clerk in the U.S. House, visits Mount Vernon with his wife. Near Washington’s tomb, he writes, “I plucked a sprig of evergreen & a weed.” He decides there is no man “whose memory would be so dearly cherished as was that of George Washington.”

 

May 23, 1864: The Monitor is published for the first time. The city’s first daily newspaper, it is founded “to present the news . . . swearing to the words of no master.”

 

May 24, 2002: The Concord Police Department’s proposed budget includes $4,500 to install video surveillance equipment in Bicentennial Square, the Monitor reports. According to Police Chief Jerry Madden, business owners and residents have complained about vandalism and vulgarity there for years.

 

May 24, 1813: Daniel Webster, who has never before traveled outside of New England, takes his seat representing New Hampshire in Congress and is received by President James Madison. Webster, a Federalist, opposes Madison’s policies of war against England and restrictions on trade. He will write that he does not like Madison’s “looks any better than I like his Administration.”

 

May 24, 1844: Samuel F.B. Morse, who began his career as a Concord mechanic, sends the first message over his electro-magnetic telegraph. The previous year, Congress appropriated $30,000 to test the machine on a line laid from Washington to Baltimore. New Hampshireman Benjamin Brown French, who will soon join Morse and others in the Magnetic Telegraph Co., calls it “one of the greatest inventions of the age” and predicts it will “eventually be laid down all over the Union.”

 

May 25, 1983: Return of the Jedi debuts in Concord and 700 people turn out to watch. “My kids have been talking about this for three months,” says Lynn Ring of Northwood. “Is there any other movie?”

 

May 25, 1854: Believing it will quiet the debate on slavery once and for all, President Franklin Pierce signs the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Instead the act will split Pierce’s Democratic Party and bring on a wave of violence that leads directly to the Civil War.

Author: Insider Staff

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