Good News in History, March 12

142 years ago today, Andrew Watson was “capped” at international level for the Scottish National Football team, becoming the first black man to ever play international association football. He played three matches for Scotland between 1881 and 1882, after immigrating there from his birth country of modern-day Guyana, then-British Guinea. He played in the full-back position, on either the right or the left flank. His first cap came against England in London, in which he captained the Scotts side. Scotland won 6–1, which is still a record home defeat for England. A few days later, Scotland played Wales and won 5–1, Watson captaining Scotland again. READ more about this little-known pace-maker… (1881)

Andrew Wilson in 1882

Described as the “most influential black footballer of all time,” Watson was educated at Heath Grammar School in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and then from 1871 at King’s College School, in Wimbledon, London, where records show he excelled at sports including football.

Much of his career happened before record keeping, and it’s difficult to know how many appearances he made or goals he scored, but his entry into the Scottish National Team came with this brief bio in the team’s monthly digest.

Watson, Andrew: One of the very best backs we have; since joining Queen’s Park has made rapid strides to the front as a player; has great speed and tackles splendidly; powerful and sure kick; well worthy of a place in any representative team.

Back row, third from right, Watson with the Glasgow Select Team in 1880

In 1882, he moved to London and became the first black player to play in the English Cup when he played for Swifts. In 1883, he was the first foreign player to be invited to join the leading amateur club in England, the Corinthians. The color of his skin was of no significance to his peers, and there is no specific historical record of racism on the part of the Scottish Football Association.

Finally, records indicate that Watson may have been part of a group of Scotts who pioneered passing the ball as the primary means of gaining territory and advancing towards the goal, where before mostly dribbling was used. The next non-white person to receive a full international cap for Scotland was Paul Wilson in 1975. The next black person selected to play for Scotland after Andrew Watson was Nigel Quashie in 2004, 120 years later.

MORE Good News on this Date:

Andrew Watson debuted as the world’s first black international football player and captain (1881)
The Girl Scouts was founded in the U.S., as “Girl Guides” (1912)
The firstFireside Chat was broadcast on radio by President Franklin Roosevelt to calm Americans’ fears during The Depression (1933)
Al Jarreau, the 7-time Grammy-winning singer and jazz musician—best known for his 1981 album Breakin’ Away—was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1940)
Aaron Copland‘s Fanfare for the Common Man premiered, played by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (1943)
The Church of England ordained its first female priests (1994)
The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO (1999)
The U.N. Security Council approved a U.S.-sponsored resolution endorsing a Palestinian state for the first time (2002)
Bob Dylan was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, marking the first time a rock musician had been chosen for the elite honor society—but officials who recognize music, literature and visual art were unable to decide if Dylan belonged for his words or his music, so inducted him as an honorary member like they did for Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, and Martin Scorsese (2013)

On this day 101 years ago, Jack Kérouac, the American novelist and poet considered the father of the Beat Generation (a term he invented) was born. He became an underground celebrity and, with other Beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements. He has a lasting legacy, greatly influencing many of the cultural icons of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Doors. In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking. Since then, his literary prestige has grown, and several previously unseen works have been published.

Jack Kerouac-CC-Tom Palumbo-cropped

Recognized for his spontaneous method of writing and his first novel, On The Road, he wrote about Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. In 1951 while living in Manhattan, he completed the final draft of his famous road-trip odyssey On the Road, over a period of 20 days, with his 2nd wife bringing him benzedrine, cigarettes, bowls of pea soup, and mugs of coffee to keep him going during the marathon writing.

In order to keep the flow of prose like an unbroken river, unburdened by as many pauses as he could eliminate, Kérouac would cut tracing paper into long 120-foot sheets to feed into the typewriter so as not to be burdened by page changing. It took 6 years for On the Road to get published, during which time he was divorced, he traveled around the U.S. and Mexico, and wrote drafts that would become 10 more novels. When On the Road finally met the heat of the printing press, a review in the New York Times hailed Kérouac as the “voice of a generation”. LISTEN to his poetry set to piano jazz… (1922)

52 years ago today, The Allman Brothers Band recorded their breakthrough album Live At Fillmore East. Performed at the famed New York City music venue Fillmore East, run by concert promoter Bill Graham. The double LP features the band performing extended jam versions of songs such as Whipping Post (written by Gregg Allman), You Don’t Love Me, and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.

The Southern rock/blues record rapidly escalated the band’s exposure and gained them a new legion of loyal fans. Many consider this Allman Brothers release to be one of the best live albums of all time—and was their first album to go platinum. The shows (recorded two nights) were also filmed, and included several covers, like Statesboro Blues (Blind Willie McTell). (1971)

The personnel included: Duane Allman – lead guitar, slide guitar;Gregg Allman – organ, piano, vocals; Dickey Betts – lead guitar;Berry Oakley – bass guitar; Jai Johanny Johanson – drums, congas, timbales; and Butch Trucks – drums, tympani

Happy 75th Birthday to singer-songwriter and musician James Taylor. Born in Boston, he was raised in North Carolina by a trained opera-singing mother and physician father. He wrote his first song on guitar at 14 and was soon playing coffee houses on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts where the family spent summers.

2008 photo by Paul Keleher, CC license

While applying to colleges as a teen, he was hit with a deep depression and spent 20 hours a day sleeping. After a 9-month stint at a local hospital, he came to see it as part of his personality and found a new reprieve (without college).

‘Sweet Baby James’ later overcame a heroin addiction after becoming one of the most popular musical artists of all time, selling more than 100 million records worldwide, with hit covers like You’ve Got a Friend, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You), and Mockingbird—the duet with his then-wife Carly Simon—and his own song Fire and Rain, written while in recovery. Taylor has won five Grammy Awards, including Pop Album of the Year in 1998 for Hourglass. He published a pop-up cowboy book last year inspired by his lullaby, entitled, Sweet Baby James. (1948)

1976 Capitol Records photo (public domain)

And, on this day in 1969, Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman, forming a union that would last 29 years until her death at age 56 from cancer. They only spent one weekend apart in three decades—when Paul was in custody for marijuana possession. Eastman, a photographer, musician, animal activist, and entrepreneur, had four children with Paul—Heather, Mary, Stella, and James who were raised in a happy, normal home in England.

93 years ago today, Mahatma Gandhi began his historic Salt March to the sea, a protest against British salt taxes in India. The crowd of marchers grew as Gandhi walked for 24 days, a 240-mile trek (390 km) to the beach at Dandi where he produced salt without paying any tax to the nation’s British rulers, sparking similar acts nationwide.

World media coverage helped to change attitudes toward Indian independence and inspire a nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement. After making the salt on the Dandi seaside, Gandhi, 61, was arrested in May—one of more than 80,000 Indians to be jailed as a result of the ongoing Satyagraha (“insistence on truth”) non-violent rebellion. It would take another 17 years to win independence, turning India into the largest democracy in the world. WATCH a historic newsreel… (1930)

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