On This Day

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On This Day

June 30, 1864

During the height of the Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln turns his gaze west, granting Yosemite Valley to California, with the specific orders to preserve it for future generations of Americans.

On This Day

“I have seen persons of emotional temperament stand with tearful eyes, spellbound and dumb with awe, as they got their first view of the Valley from Inspiration Point, overwhelmed in the sudden presence of the unspeakable, stupendous grandeur.”

The first guardian of the Yosemite Grant, Galen Clark helped oversee the land known later as Yosemite National Park. Yosemite was the name of the local Native American tribe in the area.
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The Early Years

  • The Gold Rush led to conflict between settlers and Native American tribes.
  • A “Yosemite Board of Commissioners” was named to both preserve the land and make it accessible for recreation.
  • 1865: The man responsible for designing NYC’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, filed a report on Yosemite valley & nearby “Big Tree Grove” of ancient sequoia trees, raising concerns about how visitors impacting the area.
On This Day

“Nearly all the park is a profound solitude. Yet it is full of charming company, full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted grandeur and eager enthusiastic action, a new song, a place of beginnings abounding in first lessons on life, mountain-building, eternal, invincible, unbreakable order; with sermons in stones, storms, trees, flowers, and animals brimful of humanity.”

Naturalist John Muir
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By the 1870s, there were already concerns about too many visitors impacting Yosemite. Muir was one of the many voices who argued (successfully) for Yosemite to become a National Park in 1890 - the third in the nation after Yellowstone and Sequoia.

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On This Day

June 25, 1924

The Real-Life Rosie the Riveter is born.

Rosalind Walter *first* inspired female patriotism during WWII (and beyond).

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Rosalind “Roz” Walter

Born in 1924, grew up in Long Island & Connecticut attending prep schools.

At 19, she began working as a riveter (drilling fasteners) on WWII fighter planes at a factory.

In 1942, two men wrote a song called “Rosie the Riveter” after an article highlighting her work was published.

On This Day

All the day long,
Whether rain or shine,
She’s a part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory,
Rosie the Riveter.
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage,
Sitting up there on the fuselage.
That little girl will do more than a male will do.”

From the 1942 song "Rosie the Riveter.”
On This Day

Why It Matters

  • In 1942, *many* attempted to depict “Rosie The Riveter” as a way to recruit American women to traditionally male jobs due to a wartime labor shortage. Norman Rockwell painted one particularly famous version.
  • The image we *now* associate with “Rosie the Riveter” (1943 “We Can Do It!” poster) was NOT inspired by Roz, but by another woman supporting the war effort by working in factory.
On This Day

The wartime image of Rosie The Riveter was only used for several weeks by a private company in 1942 but gained popularity in the 1980s. A lifelong philanthropist, when Roz passed away at 95 in March, she was the largest individual supporter of NYC's local PBS station.

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On This Day

June 19, 1865

JUNETEENTH

Why today marks the end of U.S. slavery, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

On This Day

Historical Context

  • 1619: Commonly marked as the start of the African slave trade in the colonies.
  • By 1690, slaves existed in every colony.
  • By 1804, all the Northern states voted to abolish slavery, but slavery persisted in the North well into the 19th century since many laws took a gradual approach.
  • In 1861, the Civil War began.
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Emancipation Proclamation

Sept. 1862:  Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which states “all persons held as slaves… henceforward shall be free.”

  • Declared slaves free *in rebelling Confederate states* & allowed them to join the U.S. military, effective Jan. 1863.
  • The 10 states weren’t under Union control, so it couldn’t be enforced.
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13th Amendment

Jan. 1865: Congress passed the 13th Amendment, which states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States.”

  • Officially abolished slavery in the U.S.
  • Adopted in Dec. 1865 after the required three-fourths of the states ratified it.
  • Did You Know? Due to a clerical error, Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th Amendment until 2013.
On This Day

June 19, 1865

  • Two months after the end of the Civil War, a Union general & troops arrived in Galveston, TX to notify slaves of the end of slavery and the Civil War.
  • Although it was 2-1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery persisted in Texas & other Southern states.
  • Slavery in the U.S. didn’t end swiftly, but June 19 is observed as its official end, also known as “Emancipation Day.”
On This Day

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer & hired labor…”

Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger (June 19, 1865)
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From Texas & Beyond

  • African-Americans began celebrating Emancipation Day on June 19, 1866.
  • In 1980, Texas became the first state to celebrate Juneteenth as a state holiday.
  • Today it is not a federal holiday, but at least 45 states & DC observe it. It’s a paid holiday for NY state workers.
  • Many businesses are also celebrating this year. Ex: Twitter, Nike and the NFL are giving their employees a paid holiday, and Chase will close early.
On This Day

Juneteenth has risen in national prominence this year amid a reignited conversation about race in America that has sparked both fervent civil discourse and unrest. Pres. Trump rescheduled a June 19 campaign rally in Tulsa, OK (the site of a historic 1921 race massacre) to June 20 because the rally fell on Juneteenth.

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On This Day

Lady Liberty Arrives

June 19, 1885

 

The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor. Although 12M+ immigrants passed under her gaze, she was delivered (and constructed) years before Ellis Island opened.

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How Did Liberty Arrive?

  • 350 separate pieces; 214 crates.
  • A decade late. France wanted to gift “Liberty Enlightening the World” for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence (1776). Lack of funds held back production.
  • Eventually both USA/FR raised enough $$ through charity, lottery, & donation to bring “Lady Liberty” to life.
Click Here: Newspaper
On This Day

Liberty & Immigration

  • Statue of Liberty fully constructed in 1886; immigration wasn’t sole focus of statue, but celebration of American democracy overall.
  • Ellis Island Immigration Station opened in 1892.
  • Famous Lazarus poem “Give me your tired, your poor” written in 1883 to raise funds for the statue; engraved on base 20 years later in 1903.
On This Day

"Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/ A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/ Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/ Mother of Exiles ..." READ FULL POEM:

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On This Day

June 18, 1983

Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space

 

On This Day

‘I wasn’t really scared. I was very excited, and I was very anxious. When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.”

Sally Ride on her journey into space (and the history books) 37 years ago: "The stars don't look bigger, but they do look brighter."
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DR. SALLY RIDE

  • Born in 1951 in Los Angeles.
  • Earned bachelor’s, master’s & Ph.D. in physics from Stanford.
  • At 32, she became the first U.S. woman (and youngest American) in space.
  • Founded the Sally Ride Science company in 2001 to encourage girls to pursue careers in math & science.
  • Astronaut Hall of Fame (2003).
  • Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom (2013).
On This Day

“When I was a little girl, I dreamed of flying in space. Amazingly enough, and I still can’t believe it, that dream came true. And through hard work and a good education, all of you will reach for the stars and that dream will come true for you.”

Sally Ride at the 2002 Sally Ride Science Club's Boston Science Festival
On This Day

WOMEN IN SPACE

  • NASA: 65 women in space.
  • Ride became the third woman in space; 20 years prior (1963) a Soviet cosmonaut became the first, while another became the second in 1982.
  • Two American astronauts made space history last October in the first spacewalk by an all-woman team.
  • One of the astronauts from all-woman team, Christina Koch, spent 329 days – the longest spaceflight by a woman.
On This Day

Ride spent the final years of her life advocating for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for girls and young women.

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On This Day

June 14, 1777

The Continental Congress approves the design of the American flag.

The maker remains a mystery.

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The Final Resolution:

“… the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Red: valor
White: purity
Blue: perseverance

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Who Made The First Flag?

  • It remains one of the great mysteries of American history.
  • Common lore suggests Betsy Ross, a seamstress in Philadelphia, the city where the Continental Congress met.
  • Surprisingly, no facts support or document this story.
  • Historians generally agree Ross likely knew Gen. Washington & sewed flags in her family’s shop.
On This Day

Pres. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14th "Flag Day" in 1916, but it didn't become an official day until 1949 when Pres. Harry Truman signed it into law. Why does the flag get folded 13 times? Each fold has a meaning. Read more:

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On This Day

101 Years Ago Today

Congress Guaranteed Women The Right To Vote

Today, more women than men vote in U.S. elections.

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The Fight To Vote

  • The women’s voting (aka “women’s suffrage) movement began in the 1800s.
  • 41 years after it was first introduced, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
  • One year, two months & two weeks later, the necessary three-fourths of the states ratified the 19th Amendment.
  • Wyoming was first to ratify, Tennessee was the last.
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“When we shall have our amendment [for woman suffrage] . . . everybody will think it was always so . . . They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.”

American activist and women's suffrage pioneer Susan B. Anthony in 1894.
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The Female Vote

  • Women have voted at higher rates than men in every presidential election since 1980 & every midterm election since 1998.
  • 56% of women (vs. 44% of men) identify with, or lean toward, the Democratic Party.
  • 2016: Hillary Clinton won more female voters, but Pres. Trump won the white female vote – the largest female voting block, helping to secure his victory.
On This Day

While the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, The Voters Rights act, ending discriminatory practices (ex: literacy tests) that discouraged or prevented Black Americans from voting, wasn't passed until 1965

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On This Day

May 19, 1795

Johns Hopkins is born.

The namesake of a research leader in the COVID-19 pandemic started out at a grocery store.

On This Day

Don’t Forget The “S”

  • One of 11 children, Johns was his great grandmother’s maiden name.
  • Born to Quakers in Maryland who were early abolitionists.
  • Hopkins worked his family’s tobacco fields. One of his first jobs? Apprentice at his uncle’s wholesale grocery store.
  • Established himself as a trader (supplying goods), whiskey maker/seller, banker, investor, and leading business man in Baltimore.
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“It is my wish that the plan…shall provide for a hospital, which shall, in construction and arrangement, compare favorably with any institution of like character in this country or in Europe…”

Nine months before his death, Johns Hopkins wrote that he envisioned his $7M fortune would fund a hospital (and research university) that could provide equal care to the poor and wealthy. Comparable to about $11B in today's money, Hopkins' gift was the largest charity donation in America at the time.
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Claims To Fame

  • First hospital in America with central heat. Featured special ventilation systems to circulate air and curved corners in rooms to prevent the collection of dust.
  • First hospital to use rubber gloves in surgery.
  • First to discover CPR.
  • First major medical school in America to admit women; Hopkins purposefully also funded a school of nursing.
On This Day

Johns Hopkins never married, reportedly pledging never to do so after falling in love with a cousin as a teenager (his uncle disapproved). Hopkins set aside some of his fortune to also open an orphanage for African American children. Check out the interactive Johns Hopkins research models on our source page.

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On This Day

May 15, 1940

Two brothers open America’s first McDonald’s.

They didn’t start with hamburgers, or even french fries…and there was no “Ronald.”

On This Day

“At first it was a struggle and we didn’t know where our next cent was coming from. But we believed in our enterprise.”

Maurice McDonald, who with his brother Richard opened the first McDonald's. The two brothers left their home state of New Hampshire after the Great Depression, and headed to California to make it in the movie business. When their Hollywood adventure failed, they started with a hot dog stand, & later opened a restaurant in San Bernadino.
On This Day

Did You Know….

  • The first McDonald’s was actually “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q.”
  • 1948: A “revamped” McDonald’s opens, focusing on a limited menu with 15-cent burgers & fast service. Fries appear on the menu the following year.
  • 1954: Milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc visits restaurant, becomes a franchise operator & buys the business in 1961.
On This Day

“I was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.”

Ray Kroc developed the "McDonald's System" which later became the McDonald's Corporation. He focused on consistent, fast service across franchises, which also led to the development of Hamburger University where attendees received their degree in Bachelor of Hamburgerology. The program continues today.
On This Day

The world's largest fast food restaurant (by sales) just released guidance to its franchise owners in light of COVID-19. Some suggestions? Touchless sinks, automatic towel dispensers, and potentially face shields, a long with lingering questions about the expense for owners & the experience for customers.

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On This Day

April 24, 1800

Founded with $5,000 and not one book…the Library of Congress celebrates 220 years as the world largest library.

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ORIGINS

  • 1800: As part of moving the U.S. gov’t from PA to the newly formed capital in D.C., Pres. Adams approved $5k for a congressional library. First books took a year to arrive from England.
  • The Library survived two devastating fires (one when the British burned the Capitol in 1814, another accidental in 1851) – much of its early contents burned.
  • “The Library” now occupies 3 buildings.
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CONTENTS

  • 170 million items in 470 languages, including books, maps, pamphlets, manuscripts, photos, audio & video recordings, sheet music, drawings, comic books, and presidential papers.
  • An est. 50,000 items added each week.
  • If you put all the bookshelves in the Library of Congress end to end, they would stretch from Washington D.C. to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
On This Day

NOTABLE ITEMS

Can’t check them out but you can visit!

  • Drafts of American’s founding documents e.g. The Constitution.
  • Largest rare-book collection in all of North America.
  • The Gutenberg Bible (one of only 3 surviving copies printed on calf-skin. The 15th century book is the first printed with moveable metal type in Western Europe).
On This Day

Fun Fact: A rule in 1812 exempted Congressional members from late fees! You don't have to visit in person to benefit from the the Library of Congress. We use the LOC website every week, and they might be useful to you at home: Check out these fun (and free) learning resources for you and your family.

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On This Day

April 17, 1964

 

 

 

America’s “Flying Housewife” becomes the first woman to complete a solo flight around the world.

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Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock

  • Housewife in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Studied aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University, but left school early to get married.
  • She got her private pilot license with her husband between the births of her sons and daughter.
  • Mock’s husband reportedly jokingly told her to fly around the world when she talked about being bored at home. So she did.
On This Day

“I didn’t think it was such a great thing; it was just lots of fun.”

Jerrie Mock reflecting on her journey 50 years after completing the trip. When she was 38-years-old, she left her husband and 3 children (17-year-old, 16-year-old & 3-year-old) to spend 29 days flying around the world solo. During the journey, she managed a potentially deadly fire, brake failure, and wore a blue drip-dry skirt and kitten heels when outside of the plane.
On This Day

Mesmerized by flight as a little girl, Mock was 11-years-old when Amelia Earhart disappeared attempting her around-the-world flight. Like Earhart, Mock broke numerous flight records, but she insisted until her death that she flew mostly for fun.

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On This Day

April 3, 1968

 

 

 

The final speech

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“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. … Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will … I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

MLK, April 3, 1968, in his last speech before he was assassinated.
On This Day

24 Hours Later:

  • MLK Jr. was in Memphis on April 4, 1968 helping sanitation workers on strike when he was killed.
  • Despite MLK’s dedication to nonviolent protest, riots broke out across the U.S. after his murder.
  • Lone gunman convicted for MLK’s murder, but his family never believed he worked alone.
On This Day

Lasting Legacy

His leadership changed America…
leading to the end of segregation, the 1964 Civil Rights Act (ending discrimination based on race, gender, creed) & the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

MLK Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream speech” in 1963.

On This Day

MLK is one of only two people with a U.S. federal holiday honoring their birth (the other one is George Washington). How it became a holiday (and how it almost didn't):

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