February 13: Highlights of this day in history
In 1935 in New Jersey Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted in the Lindbergh baby kidnap and murder. Hauptmann continued to contend his innocence up to his execution a year later. . . .In 1945 in the final months of World War II allied forces began bombing raids on the city of Dresden. The raids lasted two months and killed 135 thousand people and left 80% of the city destroyed. . . .In 1984 Konstantin Chernenko became the new Soviet leader when he was named Secretary-General of the Communist Party. He held the post for about a year until he died, and was succeeded by Mikhael Gorbachev. . . In 1950 Peter Gabriel, lead singer of Genesis, was born. As a soloist he is credited for advancing a new genre of music – world music. . . In 2002 country singer Waylon Jennings died. He was known for “outlaw” country music. . . .
Today in history – February 13:
Examining events of the past to find trends in history
Men Of Letters And Words
Scholarship is the key for this day in history. If tomorrow is the day of the heart (Valentine’s Day) today could be dedicated to the mind. Men of science and philosophy, statesmen and songwriters, all use the written word to share their discoveries and visions. Not only for their contemporaries, but also for generations to come.
In 1578, famed astronomer layed out a sketch of the solar system as he saw it. He called it the Tychonic system. It was revolutionary for its time. Common thought in Europe – enforced by a powerful church, held that Earth was the center of the universe.
Suggesting that planets revolved around the sun may have sent shock waves in some circles. However, the Tychonic system did not go so far as to suggest that Earth was one of those planets. He may have caved to pressure. Or he may have actually based his belief by what he observed. Whatever the reason, the Tychonic System held that the sun revolved around Earth. (If everything is relative, why wouldn’t that be true. The sun and the earth could easily be revolving around each other. Couldn’t they?)
Tycho Brahe was Danish by birth, and probably stayed in northern Europe while he watched the stars. Galileo Galilei was born in Italy, in southern Europe. The Catholic Church may have been more involved in Galileo’s life. On this day in 1633 – exactly 55 years after the Tychonic System was sketched – Galileo Galilei found himself going to Rome to stand trial before the Inquisition. What was he accused of? Saying the earth revolves around the sun.
Signs of the Times: 1633 Now, Galileo spent a lot of years under house arrest. He was forced to state that he did not believe the earth moved around the sun – or moved at all. He was forbidden to believe such a thing. Yet, when he published a book, a conversation in the book convinced Galileo’s adversaries that Galileo actually did believe the Copernican system. So he went to trial – again, and he was placed on house arrest – again. By the way, Galileo’s birthday is in a couple days. We’ll check in on him, then.
Scholarship Comes To The New World
1635: The oldest public institution is Boston Latin School. Any doubts about where it was built? Boston. . . . It was on this day in 1635 that (some hold) the Boston Latin School was founded. Others put date of establishment at April 23. . . .Let’s stick with the founding on February 13.
It was the first public school in English Speaking America, so far as I can tell. And it’s still around. Not only do kids still go to school there, the school does very well.
1693: Another famous institution of learning is the College of William and Mary. It opened on this day more than 320 years ago. It’s still open, and doing well. Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, quite a few historic luminaries studied at W&M, including 4 signers of the Declaration of Independence.
On this day in 1741, there was another first in North America. The first American magazine was published by Andrew Bedford. Guess what he called his magazine….American Magazine. . .It lasted about 3 months, then readers lost interest.
1795: This day in 1795 was a big day for scholars in North Carolina. They opened the very first state university in the nation – the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. (Some say it opened on February 12, which would have been Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Except Abraham Lincoln had not been born yet.)
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was declared President of the United States. I have to include this here because, even though Abe Lincoln was born and grew up in a poor family, his reverance for books and learning is legendary. Now Abraham Lincoln was not elected on this day. That was November,1860. He also did not take office on this day. That wouldn’t be until early March. What happened on February 13, 1861 was that the Electoral College revealed the results of the election.
But there’s more. As with most events in Abraham Lincoln’s career, this one did not escape drama. Lincoln was on a train trip from Springfield, Illinois to Washington. He stopped in Columbus, Ohio in the afternoon of February 13 to cannons and cheers of about 50,000 people. Just hours before he arrived in Columbus, his train was just leaving the station in Cincinatti when someone found a bomb in the president-elect’s car. It was diffused, and Lincoln carried on. But can you imagine how Lincoln must have felt for the next 4 years, always wondering if someone was going to kill him?
1914: Ever seen or heard of ASCAP. We see it all the time. It stands for American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. ASCAP was formed in New York on this day in 1914.
1955: Speaking of Great Literature, Israel acquired four of the seven Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in a cave in Qumran.
1981: The New York Times (allegedly) published the longest sentence it has ever published. . . 1286 words.
In summary, you can see how things have shaped up in the worlds of scholastics and writing. I could not say for sure that there is a great connection between the sketches of Tycho Brahe and an extra long sentence in a newspaper. But I believe this. Wherever you are, you can do no better than to read and gain knowledge. Especially today when some political leaders sneer at education, and hold contempt for educated people. We need to overcome their pessimism by reading and becoming knowlegeable, ourselves.
More events that shaped the world on this day in history:
- In 1566 – St. Augustine, Florida was founded
- In 1923 – First Black pro Basketball team, “Renaissance,” organizes
- In 1937 – “Prince Valiant” comic strip appears; known for historical detail
- In 2008 – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issues a formal apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia
What you think matters
What are your thoughts on this story? Anything we got wrong? Anything to add? How about starting a discussion - or joining a discussion - in the Comments.