October 26, 1825, Technological Milestone & US Labor History: after eight years and at least 1,000 worker deaths—mostly Irish immigrants—the 350-mile Erie Canal opened, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop that "so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction (last rites) to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick." Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York, the driving force behind the project, led the opening ceremonies and rode the canal boat Seneca Chief from Buffalo to New York City. On October 26, 1866, the Texas legislature passed a law redefining the circumstances in which blacks could testify in court. Rather than simply establish that black people would have full and equal rights to testify, Texas lawmakers crafted a statute that provided that “persons of color shall not testify” except in cases where “the prosecution is against a person who is a person of color; or where the offense is charged to have been committed against the person or property of a person of color.” In civil cases between white parties and in criminal prosecutions of white people not charged with offenses against a black person, black people remained second-class citizens with no right to air their grievances in a court of law. In addition, even in the cases in which black witnesses were permitted to speak, few could have much faith in the promise of equal justice -- a court system that limited rights based on the color of one’s skin also was likely to judge credibility by those same terms.
October 26, 1916, Birth Control: Margaret Sanger's clinic was raided by the vice squad and shut down. The women are arrested and all the condoms and diaphragms at the clinic are confiscated. (click for followup article → Sanger freed on bail) October 26,1954, FREE SPEECH: the Comic Book Code adopted on this day paralleled the earlier motion picture code (June 13, 1934) and was intended to “clean up” comic books so that they would not cause young people to become juvenile delinquents. The context of the code was a national panic over juvenile delinquency in the 1950s. October 26, 1955, Teenage Culture: Rebel Without a Cause movie release. The NY Times states: It is a violent, brutal, and disturbing picture of modern teen-agers.... Young people neglected by their parents or given no understanding and moral support by fathers and mothers who are themselves unable to achieve balance and security in their home...It is a picture to make the hair stand on end. October 26, 1960, BLACK HISTORY & MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: Coretta Scott King and others were seriously worried that King might be lynched while in custody. Word of this reached John Kennedy’s presidential election campaign team, and they decided that Kennedy should call her. Kennedy did, on this day, and expressed his sympathy about her husband’s situation. He did not promise to take any action, but his brother, Robert Kennedy called both the governor of Georgia and the judge in the case, and that was thought to have had some effect. King was promptly released the next day, on October 27, 1960.
October 26, 1962, The Cold War & Cuban Missile Crisis: in one of the most dramatic verbal confrontations of the Cold War, American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asked his Soviet counterpart during a Security Council debate whether the USSR had placed missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped.
October 26 – November 1, 1963, a year after being the Billboard #1 album, Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Peter, Paul, and Mary was again the #1 album. [Pete Seeger and Lee Hays wrote If I Had a Hammer in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary. The Weavers released the song under the title "The Hammer Song" as a 78 single in March, 1950 on Hootenanny Records.
October 26, 1965, The Beatles: Queen Elizabeth presents the Beatles with the Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal. (click → NYT article) October 26 & 27, 1968, The San Francisco Pop Festival was held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
(click for more → from djtee’s site)
October 26, 1970, BLACK HISTORY & Muhammad Ali: certain states and boxing commissions had begun to consider allowing Ali to fight. After a three-year exile, Muhammad Ali returned to the ring in Atlanta to fight Jerry Quarry. Ali knocked out Quarry in the third round. October 26, 1972, Vietnam, National security adviser Henry Kissinger declared "peace is at hand" in Vietnam. October 26, 1973: the Yom Kippur War ends. October 26, 1976, ”SCOTTSBORO BOYS”: Alabama Governor George Wallace pardoned Clarence Norris. Norris and the others had been falsely convicted of the rape of Ruby Bates 45 years earlier on April 7, 1931. Ruby Bates died on October 27, 1976. October 26, 2001, TERRORISM & Fourth Amendment: President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act, giving authorities unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists. October 26, 2005, Iraq War II: American military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000