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On This Day: May 2

1856 - Wisconsin Poet Dies

On this date James Gates Percival died in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. Although he was a doctor, geologist, and linguist, poetry was his true calling. When his medical practice failed, he became the State Geologist for Connecticut, and then for Wisconsin. For the majority of his life his literary talent went unrecognized and he died poor and alone. In 1863, one of his poems was put to music and sung before President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes,  pg122-135]

1863 - (Civil War) Battle of Chalk Bluff, Arkansas

The Battle of Chalk Bluff was the last engagement in Confederate General John S. Marmaduke's second expedition into Missouri (also known as the Cape Girardeau Raid), April 17-May 2, 1863. Marmaduke's troops fortified a bluff above the flooded St. Francis River in order to hold off Union troops while a bridge was made. On May 1, they kept Union forces at bay and on May 2 escaped across the river. The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry fought in this battle.

1950 - Scott McCallum Born

On this date Wisconsin governor James Scott McCallum was born in Fond du Lac. McCallum's father worked as both an assembly worker at the Giddings & Lewis Manufacturing Company and as a letter carrier, serving as president of his Letter Carrier's Union. His mother was a homemaker and bank teller. McCallum grew up in Fond du Lac and graduated from Goodrich Public High School. He graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1972, with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science, and from Johns Hopkins University in 1974, with an M.A. in International Economics. In 1976, at the age of 26, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. From 1976 to 1980, McCallum was Chairman of the State Senate Campaign Committee. He served for 14 years as Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor, and was sworn in on February 1, 2001, as Wisconsin's 43rd governor when Tommy G. Thompson was confirmed as secretary to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [Source: Legislative Reference Bureau]

1957 - Sen. Joseph McCarthy Dies

On this date, Sen. Joseph McCarthy died of liver failure at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Born in 1908 in Outagamie County, McCarthy studied law at Marquette University. After graduation, he set up practice in Waupaca until WWII broke out; he spent most of the war at a desk as an intelligence officer in the Pacific Theater. Following the war, McCarthy used false and exaggerated statements about his military record to create a public image of "Tail-Gunner Joe" and launch his career in politics. On February 9, 1950, Sen. McCarthy gave his first public speech against communism. and for the next three years he and his staff investigated government departments and questioned a large number of prominent people about their political pasts. Being accused of possible communist beliefs by his highly publicized committee ruined the careers of hundreds of individuals in government, industry, and the arts. On December 2, 1954, after he had terrorized American public figures for several years, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to censure McCarthy for "conduct contrary to Senatorial tradition." He died less then 3 years later, spurned by his party and ignored by the media.  More than 100 pictures from all phases of McCarthy's career are online at our Wisconsin Historical Images site, and relevant documents are provided at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.[Source: Oddball Wisconsin, Jerome Pohlen, 2001, pg. 33]