On This Day

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On This Day

August 11 1911

Duke Kahanamoku

The “father of surfing” sets a world-record, bursting onto the international scene on road to Olympic gold, and bringing Hawaii’s native sport along with him.

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“Out of the water, I am nothing. Surfing is the greatest thrill of my life.”

Duke Kahanamoku began his swimming career when he broke the world record for the 100-yard freestyle at an amateur swim meet on August 11, 1911. The three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer is even credited with introducing the flutter kick. Despite his prowess in the pool, his real love was his surfboard. Many credit him with bringing surfing from Hawaii into the mainstream and onto the "mainland."
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Outside of the water, Kahanamoku's career expanded to acting in Hollywood film to politics. He served as Honolulu's sheriff for over 25 years and Honolulu’s official greeter welcoming the famous to the island.

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On This Day

July 28, 1868

After the states ratified the 14th Amendment, it officially became part of the
U.S. Constitution.

Here’s how it continues to shape American civil liberties

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BACKGROUND

  • After the Civil War, Congress passed three constitutional amendments:
  • 1865: 13th Amendment outlawed slavery.
  • 1866: Congress passed the 14th Amendment, inspired by the question of whether freed slaves were American citizens. States ratified in 1868.
  • 1870: 15th Amendment gave Black men the right to vote.
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“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States …No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens … nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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WHAT IT MEANS

Citizenship: All persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens.

Equal Protection: State gov’t must apply laws fairly and equally to all people.

Due Process: State gov’t must follow certain procedures before it deprives an individual of a right.

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Equal Protection Clause: Big Supreme Court Cases

  • 1896: The court allowed segregation, ruling separate facilities for Black people can be “equal.
  • 1954: The court overruled that decision, finding that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” & ending segregation in public schools.
  • 1967 & 2015: The court prohibited states from passing laws outlawing interracial & same-sex marriages.
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The Due Process Clause:
Big Supreme Court Cases

  • Major legal cases related to the 14th Amendment aren’t limited to race.
  • 1936: The court ruled confessions obtained by torture are not voluntary and, therefore, inadmissible at trial.
  • 1973: The court ruled states cannot deny a woman her fundamental “right to privacy” to obtain an abortion without certain procedural safeguards.
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Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson said the 14th Amendment provides "the courts with the opportunity to override the will of the people when the will of the people discriminates against a segment of our society." The 14th amendment is the longest & potentially "most complex" in the U.S. Constitution: read why

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On This Day

June 23, 1904

An unexpectedly mysterious (and delightful) invention bursts onto the world stage:

The ice cream cone.

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Full Disclaimer

No one knows with 100% certainty who invented the ice cream cone.

  • FOR YEARS, however, the commonly-believed date was June 23, 1904.
  • The inventor: An original foodie, Charles E. Menches.
  • A twist? Others who claim to have invented the ice cream cone *also* appeared at the 1904 St. Louis Fair.
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The Story Goes…

Charles observed a girl(s) using baked goods for ice cream as a serving bowl.

He took a cake, rolled it around his finger, and filled it with ice cream.

“It is from the time of the Fair that the edible ‘cornucopia,’ a cone made from a rolled waffle, vaulted into popularity in the United States.” Library of Congress

 

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Something To Consider:

“The average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream per year.”

The International Dairy Foods Association
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An Italian patented an ice cream cone concept in 1903 but it described "edible cups with handles." Charles and Frank Menches also claimed to have invented the hamburger. Read more about the heated controversy over "who owns the cone" on our source page.

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On This Day

July 11, 1804

The Duel

Alexander Hamilton

Aaron Burr

Who Lives, Who Dies,
Who Tells The Story.

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Who & What

Who: Aaron Burr was Vice President of the United States under Pres. Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton was a “Founding Father,” the first U.S. Treasury Secretary and a powerful political figure. Both veterans of the Revolutionary War.

What: A duel. Dueling was illegal in New York and New Jersey, but NJ had a reputation for more leniency.

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Where & When

Where: Weehawken, New Jersey (across the Hudson River from New York City) in the early hours of July 11th, 1804

When: Each man left New York City from separate docks at 5 a.m.. Four men rowed them across the Hudson River.

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Why?

  • No one knows why specifically.
  • Over the years, their political differences put them on a collision course. Hamilton supported Jefferson who defeated Burr for the presidency. Hamilton also supported Burr’s opponent for NY governor.
  • Reportedly one particularly bad insult by Hamilton about Burr at a dinner sparked the face-off, but the exact comment remains a mystery.
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The Night Before

“But you had rather I should die inno⟨c⟩ent than live guilty. … God’s Will be done. The will of a merciful God must be good.”

Alexander Hamilton to his wife, Elizabeth (Eliza) the night before his duel to Aaron Burr, where he insinuates he doesn’t want to kill Burr. Conflicting accounts exist of who shot first and whether Hamilton missed on purpose.
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The Day After

  • Alexander Hamilton dies at 2 pm on July 12th.
  • Benjamin Moore, Episcopal bishop of New York delivered communion to him before his death.
  • Moore wrote an account that evening, relaying Hamilton said before he died: “I have no ill will against Col. Burr. I met him with a fixed resolution to do him no harm. I forgive all that happened.”
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“Let those who are disposed to justify the practice of duelling, be induced, by this simple narrative, to view with abhorrence that custom which has occasioned in irreparable loss to a worthy and most afflicted family: which has deprived his friends of a beloved companion, his profession of one of its brightest ornaments, and his country of a great statesman and a real patriot.”

Benjamin Moore
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Burr continued to serve as VP until 1805 and was never convicted for the crime. 200 years later, a Broadway musical "Hamilton" put the two men back in the spotlight again in their former home of New York City. Hamilton, the musical, just debuted on Disney's streaming service.

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On This Day

July 9, 1819

The man who invented the sewing machine was born.

His idea was revered, rejected and finally embraced, changing the world forever.

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Elias Howe

  • Born in Massachusetts.
  • He created the concept while working in a machinist shop; demonstrated & patented the sewing machine in 1846 but he couldn’t gain momentum.
  • Howe traveled to England to promote his invention to no avail.
  • Meanwhile, several U.S. companies started making sewing machines.
  • Howe, near broke, sued for illegal use of his patent and won.

 

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“The mechanical sewing machine was one in a series of technological innovations that transformed the nature of work over the course of the nineteenth century…By 1900, most Americans employed in manufacturing no longer worked at home with their hands but in centralized factories with powered machinery.”

The Library of Congress noting women & children started entering the workforce.
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One of America's largest retailers Wal-Mart, said demand for sewing machines and do-it-yourself projects have increased during the pandemic. Interesting to Note: Howe's legal victories made him a millionaire. He supported a regiment of Union troops during the Civil War, serving himself.

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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.

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“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.
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“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.

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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.”
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.”
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“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.
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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
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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.
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"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

 

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‘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).
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“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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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