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History's Happenings for October 26

Showdown at the O.K. Corral

Wyatt Earp, deputy marshal of Tombstone, Arizona in 1881

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
On the other hand, if you'd like to try writing
one  ... send it in! )

Erie Canal Opens

On October 26, 1825, the first canal boat, the Seneca Chief, eased down the new Erie Canal bound from Buffalo to New York City. Eight days later it arrived in New York, inaugurating a thirty year period of fevered canal-building in America.

The canal was originally the idea of a group of New York entrepreneurs headed by lawyer and politician De Witt Clinton. Unable to secure federal funding for the canal, Clinton ran for the governorship of New York on the canal platform and, when he won, started construction with state funds in 1817. The first section, from Rome to Utica, was completed in 1819.

The original canal traversed 340 miles from Lake Erie at Buffalo to the Hudson River at Albany. Generally 40 feet wide by four deep, it contained eighty-two locks to contain the elevation change of 689 feet. After its opening it became a major artery to the largely unsettled American near-west, and brought prosperity downstream through central New York state and, ultimately to the City itself, which soon overtook the likes of Boston and Philadelphia as a commercial center.

By the mid-1800's, railroads were giving America's 7000-plus miles of canals a run for their money. The Erie was widened and deepened in 1862 to help it compete and, in 1903, it became a part of the New York State Canal System, still playing a major role in commodities shipments.

The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 finally spelled the end of the Erie's long and profitable life, and it is little used today.

Japs Sink Hornet Off Guadalcanal

(Stay tuned for a write-up on this event.
On the other hand, if you'd like to try writing
one  ... send it in! )

Republic of South Vietnam Founded

The battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 was intended to free the Vietnamese people from French oppression. Little did they know that they faced another two decades of war, only to trade masters in the end.

After ruling Vietnam -- along with Laos and Cambodia -- since the nineteenth century, France became embroiled in the same nationalistic uprisings that affected most European colonies following the Second World War. In Vietnam, the revolt was led by long-time communist and leader of the resistance against the Japanese, Ho Chi Minh. At the close of the War, Ho declared an independent Vietnamese republic, with himself as president. The French weren't tickled.

For the next eight years, Ho battled the French for his country's independence, until the battle of Dien Bien Phu seemingly dropped it into his lap. Unfortunately at the negotiations following France's defeat, Vietnam was instead divided into two states, a communist North Vietnam, and an anticommunist South Vietnam, founded on October 26, 1955.

As we all know, Ho Chi Minh did not give up on his ultimate goal of one unified communist country. For the next twenty years he battled the U.S.-backed South -- as well as the United States itself -- until, six years after his death and two years after the U.S. pull-out, the communists finally achieved his objective, defeating the South and unifying the country in 1975.

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