February 15: Highlights of this day in history
In 1898 the U.S. battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbor, bringing America closer to war with Spain. . . In 1989 the Soviet Union’s last troops left Afghanistan, ending 9 years of military intervention. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan a few years later, establishing a theocracy and providing a base for al-Qaeda. . . .In 1564 astronomer Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. The Catholic Inquisition at the time vehemently opposed Galileo’s writings, and held him under house arrest for several years. . . . In 1820 suffragist Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Massachussetts.
Today in history – February 15:
Examining events of the past to find trends in history
Defying Institutions , Standing For Honor
It is an interesting day, February 15. There is a thread of “standing on principle” associated with this day in history.
Legend holds that it was on this day in 399 B.C.E. that the great philosopher and teacher, Socrates, stood before a jury and was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his own beliefs and teachings.
Lawmakers in the city of Athens had decided that specific gods were to be honored. Socrates would not recognize these gods. When given an ultimatum to either acknowledge the city’s gods or be put to death, Socrates chose death.
Kind of an extreme penalty for standing on principle. But that was Socrates.
More Stories Of Principles
After the American Revolution, there was ample talk of ending the practice of slavery. At first it was the responsibility of each state to decide whether or not it would hold onto slavery. The majority of the northern states abolished slavery. Most of the southern states didn’t. In 1804, New Jersey became the last northern state to abolish slavery.
In 1848, a little five-year-old African-American girl, Sarah Roberts, tried to enter a school close to home. She was immediately rejected because of her color. Sarah’s father brought the case before the public by bringing it to court. Sarah’s lawyers declared that all persons, regardless of race or color, stand as equals before the law in Massachusetts. The judge did not accept this idea, and ruled against Sarah. However, only 5 years later, the state of Massachussets came through. The schools were thereby desegregated. . .for a while.
In 1851, African American activists (abolitionists) stormed into a Boston court and pulled the defendant to freedom. Shadrach Minkins, the defendent, was guilty of being born a slave. Escaping to freedom was a crime under the new “Fugitive Slave Law.” In the end Shadrach Minkins went to Canada to live out his days. No country, but the honor of living in freedom.
Progress In The Making
In 1852 the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London took in its first patient. The hospital would move ahead in later years to provide much needed services for children. Princess Diana served as president of the Hospital. Other notable contributers include Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria. Famously, J.M. Barrie gave the hospital his copy rights to “Peter Pan,” from which the hospital makes revenue every year.
In 1879, an act of the U.S. Congress made it possible for women lawyers to present cases to the Supreme Court.
Jump to 1956, Birmingham, Alabama: The Pittsburg Pirates were gettng ready for an exhibition match against the Kansas City Athletics. The game never happened. Both teams refused to comply with the local law that prohibited white players to play against black players.
I’d like to think that every time someone stands up and rightfully defies authority, they are building something in this world for every one. With some countries looking like they are going back to the ways things were, we may need more activism – non-violent activism – to defy authorities once again.
More events that shaped the world on this day in history:
- In 1869 – The case against Jefferson Davis on charges of treason came to a close. The charges were dropped.
- In 1903 – First Teddy Bear introduced in America, made by Morris and Rose Michtom
- In 1922 – Marconi begins regular broadcasting transmissions from Essex, the world’s first regular wireless broadcast for entertainment.
- In 1933 – President-elect Franklin Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt after an impromptu speech in Miami. Anton Cermak, the mayor of Chicago was fatally wounded.
- In 1970 – Nationalists disrupt United Nations session on Congo
- In 1978 – Zaire (formerly, the Congo) revises its constitution
- In 1986 – Ferdinand Marcos wins rigged Philippines presidential election
What you think matters
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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.