The Charlotte News

Friday, August 28, 1942


Site Ed. Note: Last night, on whimsy, we decided to take that number of days from Daniel 12:12, that number of days upon which we came on a ghostly night in 1994, as we have made mention previously, that number being 1,335, and run it backwards and forward from that dark day, beginning with so much sunshine and promise, November 22, 1963.

The number is significant to contemporary history, as we have pointed out since the beginning of this project in November, 1998, it being the precise number of days, as we determined on that ghostly night in 1994, from the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor, inclusive of its date, through and including the date on which Harry Truman gave on July 30, 1945 as the earliest date for deployment of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, August 2, 1945. Because of the fortuitous intervention of a typhoon in the Pacific, the actual date of deployment was delayed until August 6.

Running the number of days backward from November 22, 1963, we came upon March 28, 1960, inclusive of November 22 and March 28, as with the arrangement of days referenced above.

On the issue dated March 28, 1960, Life ran the cover below. It is a photograph of course of John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey during the Wisconsin Democratic primary, a particularly significant primary, along with the subsequent West Virginia primary, because Kennedy first beat Humphrey in the Wisconsin primary in Humphrey’s own geographic territory, next to his native Minnesota, there having been in that era only a handful of primaries held during the election cycle, fourteen in all, three of which, Florida, California, and Ohio, having been essentially favorite-son primaries. After the victory in Wisconsin, Senator Kennedy’s triumph in West Virginia cinched the deal and Senator Humphrey withdrew from the race.

The cover photo was taken on a dairy farm near Clintonville, Wisconsin, that being, as we know, the dairy state.

Life’s publisher, Henry Luce, wrote the foreword for the first edition of Why England Slept, the expanded and published version of John F. Kennedy’s Harvard senior honors thesis, published September, 1940 by Wilfred Funk Publishing.

Then, going forward 1,335 days from November 22, 1963, we find another curious thing. Not including November 22, we fall on July 19, 1967. On July 19, 1967, a "freakish" (not our word) plane crash occurred on a clear day over Hendersonville, N.C. just after takeoff from the nearby Asheville airport on its way to Roanoke. A Piedmont Boeing 727 jet, Flight 22, collided with an off course Cessna 310, N3121S, and fell to the ground, from its gash torn by the Cessna gruesomely spilling some of its 79 passengers and crew onto the fields and roads below as it did so, killing all remaining aboard upon impact, the worst airline crash ever suffered by Piedmont in its history from 1948 to 1989. The Cessna was owned by Lanseair, Inc. Its three occupants were also killed.

Among the killed onboard the 727 was the Secretary-designate of the Navy, John McNaughton, his wife and young son. The couple, originally from Illinois, had flown to Hendersonville from Washington to pick up their son attending summer camp nearby. Mr. McNaughton had been Assistant Secretary of Defense, chief advisor to Secretary Robert McNamara, before his appointment by President Johnson to head the Navy Department. Mr. McNaughton, a Harvard law professor in 1960, had been appointed to the Defense Department by President Kennedy upon his taking office in 1961.

As a memorial, the citizens of his hometown, Pekin, Illinois, named a bridge over the Illinois River along Route 9 for Mr. McNaughton. Likewise, a park on Route 98 near Pekin was named for him.

Mr. McNaughton, with a full state funeral, was buried in Arlington just a short distance from the graves of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, on the hillside below the Custis-Lee Mansion.

John McNaughton was born November 21, 1921, ten days after the first Armistice Day service at Arlington, memorializing on November 11, 1921 the re-interring of the remains of the Unknown Soldier.

President Kennedy attended services at Arlington, with his young son memorably in tow, as part of Armistice Day ceremonies at the Tomb on November 11, 1963.

The event was captured in pictures and story by Time.

In England, on January 20, 1843, precisely 118 years before the inauguration day of President Kennedy, there was an attempt by one Daniel M’Naughton (sometimes spelled with its Scottish nuances as M’Naghten, though usually pronounced on the U.S. side of the Pond with the "u") to assassinate then Prime Minister Robert Peel. Instead, M’Naughton shot from behind Mr. Peel’s secretary, Edward Drummond, as the latter proceeded by foot on Downing Street. Mr. Drummond survived initially but died after a series of blood-lettings and applications of leeches, procedures which a British surgeon of the day contemporaneously posited was the actual proximate cause of death, not the shooting.

Mr. M’Naughton pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming to have acted under a paranoid delusion that the Tories were trying to ruin his life, spying on him in the process, and that Sir Robert Peel, as head of the Conservative Party, was responsible for this activity. Mr. M’Naughton’s defense was successful after the jury instruction to the effect that he suffered from such a "mental defect" as either not "to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing"or "if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong".

This new test of insanity became widely known in the law, both in England and the United States, as the M’Naughton Test. We know that it was still being taught in law schools in the mid-1970’s and, presumably, some mention of it is still made today, even if its application has achieved wide disfavor in light of the elimination of malice aforethought achieved through its progeny, the diminished capacity defense reducing murder to manslaughter, in the widely publicized trial in 1979 of former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White, assassin of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, November 27, 1978 inside City Hall--a building which housed in spring through early fall, 1945 the United Nations Charter Conference which John F. Kennedy attended as a young journalist.

The insanity defense encountered further disfavor when in 1982 a District of Columbia jury found John Hinckley, attempted assassin of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, not guilty by reason of insanity.

Sir Robert Peel, having entered politics the same year Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, 1809, by representing the Irish village of Cashel, County Tipperary, was not injured in the attack on his secretary and continued his tenure as Prime Minister, serving until June 29, 1846. His defeat was attributed to his support for repeal of the Corn Laws, achieved in 1846, which removed traditional Tory protectionism of the landowning classes, accomplished in deference to the starving of Ireland in the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845 to 1849.

It was, of course, this Famine which caused one Patrick Kennedy, in near abject poverty, to leave the village of New Ross in County Wexford, Ireland and sail to America, where, three generations and 113 years hence, his great-grandson would be inaugurated the 35th President of the United States.

We reiterate the maxim set forth by James Russell Lowell in 1845 in America, "We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great."

Tonight, Saturday, August 29, 2009, as we write this, Edward Kennedy is being laid to rest on the same hillside, just below the graves of his two brothers, after faithful and honorable service in the United States Senate for 46 and two-thirds years, having begun his career with the 88th Congress on January 3, 1963.

The night before, in Woollen Gymnasium, on the campus of the University of North Carolina, just a stone's throw from Kenan Stadium, the former wherein, on December 5, 1938, President Roosevelt gave an address, and, in the latter, on October 12, 1961, President Kennedy gave an address, we watched a basketball game wherein the University of North Carolina beat Yale University 86 to 77, after a guard named Larry Brown put on a dramatically balletic dribbling exhibition, which we still recall, to run out the clock.

What does it all mean? We don’t know.

We don’t place any stock, incidentally, in the "magic" or "truth" of numbers, finding numbers to be wholly dumb, basically merely in origin being the symbolic representation of the number of toes and fingers benefitting, and sometimes harming, sometimes destroying, mankind. We do place significance, however, on the unconscious and the unconscious motivations within some who seek to divine "wisdom" from the "magic" or "truth" of numbers, cultishly so, as with the Pythagoreans, ignorantly so, ignoring the while the power and truth of poetry and substance as the better arbiter and diviner of any wisdom of which there is to be had in this feebly fleeting number of years allotted us to divine whatever of it we may, of which, we concede, numbers may be a poetic, only poetic, part.

We only know that, as chronicled elsewhere herein, on a ghostly night in 1994, something from somewhere told us that there was something wholly significant to be found in the tangent between the books of Jonah and Daniel in the Bible, and, on whimsy, we loooked first at the short Book of Jonah, then at Daniel, starting at chapter 12, verse 7, and read from there all the way to the end of that chapter. And then we thought about it awhile, ran the numbers against the dates in question, from December 7, 1941, finding it interesting but short of the mark by four days.

But then, in February, 1999, in Cleveland, Ohio, one morning, while visiting a friend, we looked at the David McCullough biography on Harry Truman, starting, as our childish habit has it, with the photographic plates, and thereupon coming to the above-referenced note from Harry Truman to Secretary of War Henry Stimson.

We add that, in 1924, having returned from Georgetown, Ky., after a year spent teaching literature at small Georgetown College, that after having dropped out of law school after a year at Wake Forest in 1922-23, finding the law surely to be one of the most boring of professions, requiring, he later told H. L. Mencken in an autobiographical sketch submitted to The American Mercury, too much mendacity, W. J. Cash taught high school for a year, his last attempt at teaching—a task which he found entirely frustrating as he concluded that the high school students of the day and locale were surely unfitted to think or find any appreciation of literature and poetry—at the small School for Boys in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Subsequently, having quit that post in the spring of 1925, just after John Thomas Scopes was charged on April 7, by deliberate arrangement to test the validity of the law, with illegally teaching evolution in the schools of Dayton, Tennessee, Mr. Cash decided to take up a career as a writer and journalist.

We also recall that in early April, 1964, probably the 6th, though, strictly speaking, we cannot recall the precise date, we visited Arlington and sat in the chair in the Amphitheater there near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, after being told that it was the chair in which President Kennedy had sat just the previous November 11. We shall never forget the immanent sense of the ectoplasmic which we felt while sitting momentarily in that chair.

But, perhaps, it's just the Irish in us.

We do believe that, while we pay homage to the departed often at the sites of the interment of their last earthly remains, it is not there that their spirits reside. For if it were so, then, as the remains pass to dust and that dust comingles with the sod of the earth into which the corse was laid, would pass, too, the spirit, to the absence of mind and memory.

It would thus be so by now for the earthly remains of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, name them as you please; yet the memory of them, the respect of them, remains with us. And so the spirit, we conclude by deduction, rests elsewhere than in the grave.

Which is why we have levity, we suppose, at the traditional Irish wake.

Mazel tov.

The front page is here. The editorial page is here. Not yet having read them, we shall let you peruse them today on your own.

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