Category: History by day

Today in History: May 11

  1647: In New Amsterdam Peter Stuyvesant arrived With a wooden gam.* *Stuyvesant became the new director-general of New Netherlands. His predecessor, an alcoholic, had badly mismanaged the Dutch colony. Stuyvesant provided strong leadership and restored law and order until the English took over in 1664. He was not a friend of religious liberty. Jews... Read more »

Today in History: May 10

  1752: Ben Franklin in lightning and rain Flew a kite And wasn’t slain.* *Franklin took precautions so he wouldn’t be electrocuted. He tried to stay dry by going under the roof of a barn [see above].  Contrary to what some believe, his kite was not directly hit by lightning. The electrical charge of the... Read more »

Today in History: May 9

    1914: President Wilson proclaimed that  in May, Henceforth, the second Sunday Shall be Mother’s Day.* *Anna Jarvis of West Virginia has been called “The Mother of Mother’s Day” for her efforts to promote a national holiday to honor mothers.  She later opposed the commercialism it spawned.  Sentiment and not profit, she insisted, was... Read more »

Today in History: May 8

[“The Discovery of the Mississippi River by De Soto A.D. 1541” a painting by William Henry Powell. It hangs in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.]   1541: Hernando De Soto* Discovers the Mississippi River, In part, not in toto. * In 1539 De Soto landed with a force of about 600 men on the... Read more »

Today in History: May 7

  1825: The demise of Mozart’s adversary, Italian composer, Salieri.* *Antonio Salieri  died at the age of 74, outliving Mozart by 34 years.  He was a key figure in the history of opera, especially in Vienna.  Among his students were Beethoven, Liszt, and Shubert.  His renown faded and his works were largely neglected in performance... Read more »

Today in History: May 6

  1837: Pulled by a horse and not a steer, The steel plow* was invented By blacksmith John Deere. *Later called “The Plough That Broke the Plains”,  Deere was, it’s said, inspired by the steel tines of a pitchfork.  His brainchild was converting a steel-bladed saw into the share or cutting part of the plow.... Read more »

Today in History: May 5

[Portrait of Kublai Khan; National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan]   1260: Kublai Khan* made his debut As Mongol emperor With his palace in Xanadu.   *Kublai succeeded his brother who had succeeded their father, Genghis Khan.  He technically ruled the sprawling Mongol empire, but his real base of power was in China.  He was an... Read more »

Today in History: May 4

  In 1677 Died Isaac Barrow* Alive yesterday But not tomorrow. *Barrow was a contemporary of Isaac Newton.  He shares Newton’s first name but not his celebrated renown among the general populace today. He was a churchman as well as a mathematician. He’s most famous for his work on the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus [shown... Read more »

Today in History: May 3

  !933: The first woman to be the boss* Of the U.S. Mint** Is Nellie T. Ross.*** *A.k.a. ‘Director’. **It has existed since the Coinage Act of 1792. ***Before her appointment by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she had been the first and, as of today, the only woman to serve as governor of Wyoming. Under Ross’s... Read more »

Today in History: May 2

    1949: Arthur Miller won the Pulitzer Prize For “Death of a Salesman” * It shows how success can demonize. *His name is Willy Loman.  Considered a tragic hero by many, Willy is an aging traveling salesman whose American dream, indeed his whole sense of identity, is based on material success. When his sales... Read more »