On This Day
On This Day

January 16, 1919

The States Ratify The 18th Amendment & Prohibition Takes Effect Nationwide

Drinking in America then & now – a look at our drinking habits in the century since Prohibition.

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PROHIBITION

  • Who: Anti-alcohol groups date back to the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the 1900s that the idea that the gov’t should legislate public morals gained widespread popularity.
  • What: Prohibition banned the sale – NOT consumption of alcohol.
  • When: From 1919 to 1933.
  • Where: Maryland did not enforce the ban & other states followed.
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Average Annual Alcohol Consumption Per Person (in gallons!). This data strips alcohol content from mixed drinks, wine etc.

  • 1906 – 1910 (Pre-Prohibition): 2.6
  • 1916 – 1919 (Pre-Prohibition): 1.96
  • 1936: 1.2
  • 1956: 2.03
  • 1976: 2.66
  • 1996: 2.16
  • 2016: 2.33
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What Counts As A Drink?

An alcoholic drink contains 0.6 fl oz of pure alcohol, such as

  • 1.5 fl oz of hard liquor
  • 5 fl oz of wine
  • 12 fl oz of beer

Women recommended to drink no more than one drink a day &men no more than two.

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“Women metabolize alcohol more slowly than men, so alcohol stays in a woman’s bloodstream longer. Also, men tend to have more muscle than women; alcohol can be diluted into water held in muscle tissue, but not in fat tissue. A woman’s risk for breast cancer – the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women – increases with greater alcohol consumption.”

American Institute for Cancer Research
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DID YOU KNOW? America's drinking habit lead to the ONLY Constitutional amendment ever repealed in our nation's history. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, and put an end to Prohibition. Read more on why:

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“Motown was about music for all people – white and black, blue and green, cops and the robbers. I was reluctant to have our music alienate anyone.”

On This Day

Gordy who #OTD in 1959 at age 30 began Motown Records (originally called Tamla Records) with an $800 loan from his family. The Detroit music label would go on to discover & create music with legendary artists like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, & Stevie Wonder.

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On This Day

January 11, 1935

Amelia Earhart Starts Historic Journey

“All Ok”

The aviator departs from Hawaii & 18 hours later becomes the first person to fly solo from the Hawaiian islands to California.

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Why This Journey Mattered

Although Amelia became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo, the accomplishment of being the first person ever to fly from Honolulu to Oakland was arguably a bigger accomplishment.

Its a longer trip, more time over the water, with potentially more risk to the pilot.

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“The night I found over the Pacific was a night of stars. They seemed to rise from the sea and hang outside my cockpit window, near enough to touch, until hours later they slipped away into the dawn.”

Amelia Earhart describing her journey that included a rainy takeoff (complete with worrisome emergency crew nearby) and a hot chocolate at 8,000 feet above the Pacific ocean.
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Amelia’s Firsts

  • First woman to fly solo nonstop across America (1932).
  • First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (1932).
  • First person to fly solo from Hawaii to California (1935).
  • First person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City (1935).
  • In 1937, Amelia started her fateful final voyage, attempting to fly around the world.
On This Day

Amelia didn't just fly. She also created a fashion line for “the woman who lives actively" that included flight suits for female aviators and wrinkle-free clothing for the woman traveler.

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On This Day

CHRISTMAS MIRACLE

 


General Washington
‘s choice to cross the Delaware River, Christmas Night 1776, arguably changed the course of America history forever.

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These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.”

Thomas Paine's "The American Crisis" reportedly read to soldiers Xmas night.
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What Happened:

  • July 4, 1776 – Declaration of Independence signed. British have many high profile victories.
  • By Winter 1776, Gen. Washington’s Continental Army is in retreat & running out of men & money: high casualties, attrition & low morale.
  • Gen. Washington takes a gamble, and hatches a difficult plan to surprise British forces the day after Christmas.
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Dec. 25-26 1776

  • On Christmas night, the Continental Army took 10 hours to cross the Delaware River in a freezing cold snowstorm.
  • Once across, many didn’t have proper shoes to march hours to Trenton for the battle leaving bloody footprints in the snow.
  • Gen. Washington surprised the British side day after Christmas, winning Battle of Trenton quickly.
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Why It Matters

Washington’s victory changed the early course of the American Revolution & arguably, America’s fate.

“It’s really almost a miracle event, viewed by the population at the time. It looked as if the war was over…This victory is a huge morale confidence building victory that’s going to allow the war to continue.” Historian Clay Craighead

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Even the British felt a shift after this battle. Some, like Historian Clay Craighead, point to it as a real turning point in momentum. Listen to Clay tell the story from the grounds of Washington Crossing State Park - It was a perilous night that changed America forever.

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December 18, 2018

“The Nutcracker” debuted in
St. Petersburg

How the Russian ballet became the quintessential
American Christmas tale.

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Multinational Masterpiece

  • SCORE: Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (“Swan Lake”).
  • STORY: A French author revamped a dark German tale into a story about a girl who dreams her Nutcracker doll saves her from a Mouse King, becomes a prince, & takes her to the Land of the Sweets where dancers represent different countries & desserts.
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A 126-Year Tradition

  • 1892: Performed for first time ever in St. Petersburg, Russia to a lukewarm reception.​
  • 1934: Performed in England by Vic-Wells Ballet (now Royal Ballet).​
  • 1944: San Francisco Ballet stages USA’s first full-length production.​
  • 1954: Choreographer & New York City Ballet founder George Balanchine premieres own version at Lincoln Center.​
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“Ballet is important and significant—yes. But first of all, it is a pleasure.”

George Balanchine credited with establishing the link between “The Nutcracker” and the Christmas season in America. His version of "The Nutcracker" was broadcast nationally on Christmas Day in 1957 & 1958 and is now one of the most frequently performed ballets with professional and regional dance companies performing various versions across the globe throughout December.
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The Nutcracker keeps ballet a part of American culture. It's often a child's first experience w/ ballet & classical music and importantly, ticket sales serve in many cases as the economic backbone of dance companies, often contributing up to 40% of yearly income.

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On This Day

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

Your freedom of speech & worship weren’t secured with the
birth of America.

Those rights became official
on this day more than
3 years later.

Why The Bill of Rights Matters

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BACKGROUND:

 The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1788, established our federal gov’t & dividing power between
fed & state gov’ts
.

The Bill of Rights, written by then-congressman James Madison (who later became our 4th president), was added in 1791 to secure our individual liberties.

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The Rights

  • 1st Amendment: Freedom of religion, speech & press
  • 2nd Amendment: Bear arms
  • 3rd Amendment: Can’t be forced to house soldiers
  • 4th Amendment: No unreasonable search & seizure
  • 5th Amendment: Can’t be tried twice for same crime or forced to testify against yourself; gov’t must pay if it takes property
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  • 6th Amendment: Right to a speedy trial & a jury (criminal)
  • 7th Amendment: Right to a jury (civil) in cases over $20+
  • 8th Amendment: No cruel or unusual punishment; no excessive fines or bail
  • 9th Amendment: Individuals have other rights other than those mentioned in 1 – 8
  • 10th Amendment: Rights not given to feds go to states, people
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On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified. The Constitution has only been amended 27 times, most recently in 1992 - adding one of the original amendments that didn't make the cut in 1791. The 27th Amendment says a sitting Congress can't raise or cut its pay.

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On This Day

AMERICA ATTACKED

A bright, sunny, Sunday morning in 1941 the Hawaiian air became black with smoke.

7:55 a.m.
Japanese attack Pearl Harbor

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Why Pearl Harbor?

Japanese wanted to cripple U.S. Navy (but didn’t succeed):

  • Major aircraft carriers at sea
  • Shallow waters allowed for recovery of damaged ships.
  • Japanese missed strategic targets like fuel depots.
  • 2,403 Americans died; 1,177 on USS Arizona. 900+ bodies remain entombed underwater in the ship.
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A First in 2018

2018 is the first year, in recent memory, survivors from USS Arizona will not attend an annual memorial at Pearl Harbor.

The final 5 living survivors, all in their 90s, are unable to travel.

“My doctor said, ‘Lou, damn it, you’re old,” Lou Conter, 97, a pilot, explaining why he isn’t traveling.

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Not Just Soldiers Impacted

  • 68 civilians died in attack on Pearl Harbor, including 11 children under age of 16.
  • Many civilians killed not by the Japanese but friendly fire, as bombs targeting Japanese fell elsewhere on the island.
  • Real Fear: One mother, fearing atrocities of Japanese told an American soldier to shoot her hiding family if Japanese invaded.
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“I saw a formation of black planes diving straight into the ocean off Pearl Harbor. The blue sky was punctured with anti-aircraft smoke puffs…I saw a rooftop fly into the air like a pasteboard movie set.”

Elizabeth McIntosh, a journalist for Hono­lulu Star-Bulletin who wrote an article specifically to tell women about the atrocities of the Pearl Harbor attack. Her editor refused to publish it because of its graphic nature. The Washington Post printed it 71 years later (read it in full on our source page).
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"December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy" - a famous phrase by Pres. Roosevelt uttered the day *after* the Pearl Harbor attack. Japan planned the attack while all along engaging in diplomatic talks with America. Listen to the speech:

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November 19, 1863

 

 

 

President Lincoln Delivers Gettysburg Address

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President Lincoln was invited to play a small role honoring the dead at the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Here's What You Should Know:

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On This Day

October 18, 1867

America Buys Alaska From Russia

 

Alaska didn’t become the 49th state until 92 years later, but the state celebrates Alaska Day each year on October 18th to commemorate the Alaska Purchase.

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Road To Statehood

  • 1725: Russia starts exploring the Alaskan coast
  • 1861: Gold first discovered
  • 1867: U.S. buys Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million
  • 1891: First oil claims staked
  • 1939 – 1945: During WWII, the U.S. began to realize strategic location of Alaska
  • 1959: Alaska becomes 49th state
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“Alaska’s contribution to America’s freedom isn’t just the oil we provide or the food we harvest from the seas or our location which is the best in the world for our military. It is more than that. It begins with the fact that Alaskans are free-thinkers.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in 2004. Russia sold Alaska to America hoping the U.S. would counter Great Britain. Alaska remained a very lawless nation for decades after it joined the Union.
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All About Ala$ka

  • OIL: While Alaska’s oil production has dropped in recent years, it still produces about 7% of our crude oil. Today, a third of Alaska’s jobs are tied to the oil and and gas industry.
  • TOURISM: Alaska attracts over 1.1 million visitor each year.
  • FISHING: Alaska’s seafood industry creates $12.8 billion in economic output.
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The word Alaska is derived from the Aleut word "Aleyska," meaning "great land."

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On This Day

Oct. 15, 1860

 

 

A little girl gives beauty advice to Abraham Lincoln that may have forever changed his appearance and, arguably, the future of America.

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“If you let your whiskers grow, I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.”

Grace Bedell (11) writing to then-candidate Abraham Lincoln during his campaign. Shortly after, Lincoln started growing a beard. In fact, he had a full beard on the day of his inauguration several months later.
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The Beard Effect

  • Grace wrote the letter in Oct 1860, only weeks before Election Day.
  • In his response to Grace, Lincoln asked whether he might be made fun of for suddenly growing a beard; he was!
  • A beard likely didn’t impact Pres. Lincoln’s victory, BUT it did impact his appearance as the 16th President and his lasting legacy.
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Does A Beard Make The Man?

Research says: “Maybe!”

  • One recent study showed 8,500+ women photos of men with varying degrees of facial hair.
  • Those with heavy stubble deemed most attractive.
  • Men with full beards = LEAST attractive, but MOST DESIRABLE as long-term partners.
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Researchers say beards are perceived as a sign of masculinity and self-confidence.

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On This Day

October 10, 1886
Tuxedo Debuts in America

 

 

 

The revolutionary style originally considered informal menswear.

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History’s Tuxedo Mystery

Its origins aren’t exactly clear, but a few things are certain:

  • Created by famous, Savile Row tailor Henry Poole & Co in London, still in business today.
  • Made first for Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) 40 years before American debut in Upstate NY’s posh Tuxedo Park community – hence, its name.
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As The Story Goes…

Pierre Lorillard, a wealthy tobacco manufacturer, hosted an Autumn Ball & wanted a black jacket without tails interfering with sitting, dancing.

He enlisted Henry Poole to make it. But he never wore it to the ball; his son supposedly did.

Look caught on, with men asking for jackets “like the ones in Tuxedo.”

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SUIT VS. TUXEDO:
What’s the Difference?

  • They are constructed the same, but a tuxedo’s fabric is dressier, lapel includes satin & the pants have a decorative stripe.
  • Takes 8-12 hrs to make a tuxedo, many steps done by hand.
  • Etiquette says a tuxedo should only be worn after 6pm & not by boys under 15 (unless in wedding.)
  • Any color, typically black or blue.
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Americans popularized calling it a "Tuxedo" or "Tux," but around the world it may also be called a "dinner jacket" or a "smoking jacket." The origin for the word "tuxedo" is a Native American word, the original meaning of which is a source of debate.

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Oct 4, 1927

Construction Starts On
Mount Rushmore

 

“America will march along that skyline.”

Gutzon Borglum, Sculptor
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“More and more we sensed we were creating a truly great thing, and after a while all of us old hands became truly dedicated to it.”

Red Anderson, Mount Rushmore Carver. Approx. 400 men & women helped carve the granite memorial over a period of 14 years. The idea for a mountain sculpture started as a tourist attraction to bring people to visit South Dakota's Black Hills; now 2.4M visitors come every year.
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Why *These* 60 Ft Faces?

Each President represents an important chapter in America.

  • Washington: “birth” of the nation.
  • Jefferson: “growth” for his ideas & advocating westward expansion.
  • Roosevelt: “development” for economic growth & exploration.
  • Lincoln: “preservation” for holding country together during Civil War.
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Did You Know?

  • Mount “Rushmore” was named after a NY attorney surveying the area in the late 1800s.
  • Originally the monument was to feature faces of western figures (ex: Sacajawea), but the sculptor advocated for broader appeal.
  • Workers walked 700 stairs before being suspended thousands of feet above ground to carve with chisels & jackhammers.
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”The idea is so that people a million years from now will realize their significance. So many things are lost in history. The Sphinx, the pyramids, the heads on Easter Island. Archeologists are forever trying to figure them out.”

Lincoln Borglum, son of sculptor, who helped complete Mt. Rushmore after his dad's death. He advocated to complete the "Hall of Records"; a room carved into the mt. explaining the project & American history. The Hall of Records opened officially in 1998.
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90% of Mt. Rushmore was carved by dynamite. In fact, some dynamite was used to blast away the first face of President Jefferson. Pres. Jefferson was originally situated on the outside so Pres. Washington would be in the middle, but the stone turned out to be too weak.

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