Today in history – February 3:
Something about this date connects with music. In 1809, Felix Mendelssohn was born. He composed the famous “Wedding March.” In 2003, record producer Phil Specter was arrested in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. And on February 3, 1959, 3 Rock ‘n Roll icons, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson were killed in a plane crash. That was the proverbial “day the music died.”
The Money and Trade Connection: In 1690, the colony of Massachussetts issued the first paper money in America. In 1941, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Federal Wage and Hour Law, setting minimum wages and maximum hours. In 1962, U.S. President Kennedy banned trade with Cuba. Only food and drugs were not affected. In 1994, U.S. President Clinton lifted the trade embargo on Vietnam. And in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It was about federal income tax.
Speaking of Constitutional amendments: In 1870 the 15th Amendment passed. This was the amendment that allows all citizens, regardless of race or color, to vote. At the time of its ratification, it specifically stated the rights of black people to vote. Included in the amendment is the phrase “previous condition of servitude.” Whatever attempts anyone may make to disallow a person to vote, because he isn’t white, or because he was born a slave, this amendment was written to put an end to it.
As much as the 15th Amendment speaks to the greatness of the United States, the actions and behaviors of many Americans to get around the law, to prevent black people from voting, speaks to a different side of the “American Story.” Southern white communities devised all sorts of ways to prevent black people from registering to vote, and from actually voting on election day.
The U.S. passed more laws under The Voting Rights Act that prevented the states from discriminatory practices designed to impinge on people’s right to vote. Unfortunately, one of the protections under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was taken down a couple years ago. And some states immediately went to work to find ways to keep minorities from voting. When Donald Trump first took office as president of the United States, one of his first acts was to delay a hearing on a challenge to a Texas Voter ID law. A court had already found the law to be discriminatory by design. The new president undoubtedly had an interest in seeing the law stay in place.
As we look back on the events that have come to define this particular date, we can probably make out some connecting threads. Whether it’s a day of money, or a day of music, or a day of Constitutional amendments, for us it is another day in the story of our world.
A few more things happened on this day in history:
- In 6 AD – The boy emperor, Ping Di dies of unexpected causes at age 14
- In 6AD – Wang Mang selects the new emperor, Ruzi Ying, age 2, starting Jushe era of Han Dynasty.
- In 1690 – 1st paper money in America issued (colony of Massachussetts)
- In 1743 – Philadelphia establishes a “pesthouse” to quarantine immigrants
- In 1867 – Prince Mutsuhito, 14, becomes Emperor Meiji of Japan (1867-1912)
- In 1870 – 15th Amendment (Black suffrage) passed
- In 1913 – 16th Amendment, federal income tax, ratified
- In 1919 – League of Nations 1st meeting (Paris)
- In 1941 – Supreme Court upheld Federal Wage and Hour law, sets minimum wages and max hours
- In 1962 – President Kennedy bans all trade with Cuba except for food and drugs
- In 1969 – The Palestine National Congress appointed Yasser Arafat head of PLO
- In 1973 – President Nixon signs Endangered Species Act into law
- In 1980 – Mohammed Ali tours Africa as President Carter’s envoy
- In 1994 – President Bill Clinton lifts U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam
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