December 21st: The Beginning of the Fredonian Rebellion, the Medal of Honor Is Established and Other Events of the Date
A number of important events have taken place on December 21st in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1826 – The Beginning of the Fredonian Rebellion
In our time Mexicans and the representatives of other ethnic groups from Central and Latin America are considered to be immigrants to the U.S., yet, there was once a time when White settlers were immigrants in Mexico and then fought for their rights to become fully independent with the white-red flag and the motto “Independence, freedom and justice.”
The Fredonian Rebellion that started on this date back in 1826 and lasted till January 23, 1827 was one of the first attempts made by White settlers in Texas to secede from Mexico. The settlers were led by Empresario Haden Edwards and they declared independence from Mexican Texas, creating the Republic of Fredonia near Nacogdoches in the eastern part of the state.
The short-lived republic encompassed the land the Mexican government had granted to Edwards in 1825 and included areas that had been previously settled. However, since Edwards’s men were far from being peaceful protesters, their actions soon alienated the established residents, and the increasing hostilities between them and settlers recruited by Edwards led Victor Blanco of the Mexican government to revoke Edwards's contract. Thus, the rebellion was over.
“It appears as though…the people in your quarter have run mad or worse…” – stated Stephen F. Austin in the letter written to Haden Edwards, after some of Edwards's men invaded Nacogdoches. Edwards died in 1849 though, aged 78, having witnessed the day when Texas became part of the U.S. as the result of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, and from his point of view – he was probably happy in his later years even despite the fact his own rebellion against Mexico failed.
1861 – The Medal of Honor is established
The Medal of Honor is considered to be the highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. It was established on this date 157 years ago.
What was the history of this medal? During the first year of the Civil War (1861–1865), a proposal for a battlefield decoration for valor was submitted to Winfield Scott, the general-in-chief of the army, by Lt. Colonel Edward D. Townsend, an assistant adjutant at the War Department and Scott's chief of staff. An interesting detail: since America didn’t want to be a “European” country, Scott was strictly against medals being awarded, which was the European tradition. However right after Scott retired in October of 1861, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles adopted the idea of a decoration to recognize and honor distinguished naval service: the Medal of Honor was introduced for the Army a year later, in 1862.
In just two months, December 21, 1862 the bill introducing the medal was passed and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The total number of the U.S. soldiers, sailors and other military personnel awarded the Medal of Honor has exceeded 3500 since the day it was created.
1937 – “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premieres
The movie beloved by millions of people all around the world, beloved by representatives of different generations, premiered 81 years ago on this date.
The animated musical fantasy film was produced by Walt Disney Productions and was originally released by RKO Radio Pictures. The plot of “Snow White” was based on the German fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm. This movie also became the first full-length animated feature film and the earliest Disney animated feature film. The story was adapted by storyboard artists Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Merrill De Maris, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dick Rickard, Ted Sears and Webb Smith. David Hand was the supervising director, while William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, and Ben Sharpsteen directed the film's individual sequences.
The premiere of the movie took place at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, and was followed by a nationwide release on February 4, 1938. And what a great success that was! With international earnings of $8 million during its initial release the movie briefly assumed the record of highest-grossing sound film at the time. The popularity of the film has led to its being re-released theatrically many times, until its home video release in the 1990s. As of 2018, adjusted for inflation, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is considered to be one of the top-ten performers at the North American box office of all time.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on December 21st, at least in our view.