This week in Concord history

May 18, 2001: The Concord School District has been named one of the top 100 places in the country to get a quality music education, the Monitor reports. The survey was conducted by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, Yamaha Corp., the National School Boards Association, the Music Teachers National Association and the American Music Conference.

May 18, 2000: A 14-10 vote in the Senate makes New Hampshire’s legislature the first in the nation to approve a repeal of the death penalty since it was reinstated nationally in the 1970s. The state’s law will remain on the books, however, because Gov. Jeanne Shaheen will veto the repeal.

May 18, 1776: Josiah Bartlett of Kingston, a New Hampshire delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, writes home to his wife Mary: “Congress have sent out a General Recommendation to all the colonies to take up a new form of Government.”

May 18, 1946: Wendell Smith, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier, reports on his interview with Roy Campanella, one of two African American baseball players for the Nashua Dodgers. “(Don) Newcombe and I can go any place we want to, do anything we please, and are treated like long-lost sons,” Campanella says. “It’s wonderful and we’re going to give all we have for this grand little town.”

May 18, 1977: Three men escape from the state prison by sawing through the kitchen roof.

May 19, 1944: Mrs. Charles A. Morin of Monroe Street in Concord hopes a new postal policy aimed at improving communication with prisoners-of-war in Germany will bring word from her son. Lt. Antoine Robert Morin, a pilot, was shot down in February, and his mother received this note, dated Feb. 28: “Dear Folks: Am prisoner of war in Germany. Well and safe. No need for worry. Will write as often as possible. We’ll be together after victory. Will see you all in six months. Bob.” Mrs. Walker has not heard from her son since.

May 19, 1780: This day becomes known as the “Dark Day” in central New Hampshire. A local history reports: “The shades of night fell at noon and a deep gloom settled on the people, many fearing that the end of the world was coming. This darkness continued for several days and was undoubtedly caused by forest fires in the northern part of the state and in Canada.”

May 19, 1776: Under attack at a fort built by members of his command at the Cedars on the St. Lawrence River in Canada, Maj. Isaac Butterfield of Westmoreland surrenders his 390 New Hampshire and Connecticut soldiers to the British without a fight. Thomas Jefferson will brand Butterfield a scoundrel, and John Adams will say he deserves a harsh death and eternal disgrace. After months in the custody of Gen. Benedict Arnold, Butterfield will be court martialed and cashiered.

May 20, 1973: Gov. Mel Thomson declares recognition by the trustees of UNH of the Gay Students Organization “repulsive.” “As fast as I can replace the trustees, I shall,” he says.

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 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, 2001: Senior Jake Zielinski pitches a six-inning perfect game as Pembroke defeats Coe-Brown, 10-0.

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, 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, 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 22, 1985: Gov. John Sununu threatens to veto a bill reforming the state’s system for sharing its tax money with local school district.  Sununu is concerned that the bill obliges the state to spend too much money on education. He also opposes a section in the bill saying it will be the state’s policy “that all children in New Hampshire be provided with equal educational opportunities.”

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, 2003: Joining the procession of speechmakers passing through the state, actress Meryl Streep makes a pitch to the new graduates of the University of New Hampshire. But rather than pleading for votes, Streep urges her listeners to strive for their own goals. She focuses especially on the women in the crowd, who outnumber the men by a wide margin. “The glass ceiling is still in effect in the business world, the professions, politics and show business,” she says. “Imagine if the Senate were apportioned the same way as your graduating class.”

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 24, 1866: Birth of Joseph Bernier, publisher of L’Avenir National, Manchester’s French language daily newspaper in the first years of the new century.

Author: Insider Staff

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