On This Day

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On This Day

November 14, 1732

How the simple hiring of a librarian in Philadelphia set the stage for the world’s largest library before America even existed.

On This Day

What Happened:

A young 20-something Benjamin Franklin helped found the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731

On November 14, 1732, the Library Company hired its first librarian.

Operating like a membership service (costing 40 shillings to join &10 shillings per year), patrons could visit & borrow books arriving from Europe that would be too expensive for them to buy.

On This Day

Historical Importance

  • The library became the first lending library in America.
  • “The Club” allowed members of the first Continental Congress to use it as a resource for free. This privilege continued for politicians post-revolution and set the groundwork for The Library of Congress – “the oldest cultural institution in the nation.”
On This Day

We discovered this "On This Day" while perusing one of our favorite websites: LOC.gov (Library of Congress). 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.

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On This Day

November 19, 1863

Pres. Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

 

But the famous speech would not have happened without this one man whose name isn’t as well known.

On This Day

“It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans that have been made almost friendless by the Great Battle here, to have you here personally.”

Gettysburg Attorney David Wills who wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln on November 2, inviting him to speak at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19.
On This Day

David Wills

32-years-old when the Civil War battle raged between Union & Confederate soldiers.

Helped care for those injured, clear the battlefield of dead, communicate with families looking for missing relatives.

One of the main forces behind purchasing 17 acres for a cemetery to honor the fallen.

On This Day

The Battle of Gettysburg

  • Brutal battle: July 1-3, 1863
  • 100,000+ Americans fought; 1 in 5 killed, wounded or missing.
  • Union soldiers pushed back Confederates, the victory arguably a tipping point in the war.
  • It took nearly another 2 years of fighting until the South officially surrendered.
On This Day

David Wills' home is still standing in Gettysburg, PA. You can visit the room where Pres. Lincoln slept the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Re-read the whole speech on our source page.

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On This Day

June 14, 1777

 

 

 

 

The Continental Congress approved the design of the American flag.
The maker remains a mystery.

On This Day

The Final Resolution:

a… 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.a

Red: valor
White: purity
Blue:perseverance

On This Day

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

June 12, 1924

Pres. George H.W. Bush was born.

 

 

 

America’s 41st president died last November & received an honor today seldom given to someone so soon after they have passed.

On This Day

A *Forever* Honor

  • On what would’ve been his 95th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service revealed a Pres. George H.W. Bush *forever* stamp.
  • This is an exception to a USPS rule that no one will be honored earlier than 3 yrs after his/her death.
  • Special twist to this news: Pres. Bush was a prolific letter writer to friends, family & beyond.
On This Day

Did you know YOU can nominate someone for a stamp? You just have to make the request in writing. You cannot nominate a living person and the USPS asks you submit a nomination 3 year prior to a potential issuance date (for research). Who would you nominate for a stamp?

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On This Day

June 2, 1953

 

 

 

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – the only time in British royal history a mother had her child present for her official ascension to the throne.

On This Day

Historic

  • Queen Elizabeth II remains the longest serving British monarch (67 years & counting).
  • first televised coronation – an important milestone for the ceremony which dates back more than 1,000 years.
  • first time a mother had her child present at a coronation. 4-year-old Prince Charles watched his 25-yr-old mother become Queen.
On This Day

Royal Style

  • Silver & gold thread adorned the Queen’s white satin dress featuring emblems of her kingdom – the U.K. & the Commonwealth. Sheas worn it again – 6 times to other events.
  • The coronation ceremony includes aanointing oilsa. The ones used in Queen Elizabethas coronation? aorange, roses, cinnamon, musk & ambergris.a
On This Day

Queen Elizabeth II formally invited Pres. Trump for a State Visit starting tomorrow June 3rd. The timing is as important as the invitation - an invitation only extended to two other U.S. Presidents (Pres. G.W.Bush & Pres. Obama).

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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 business in 1961.
On This Day

aI was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.a

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 brothers sold their McDonald's to Kroc for just under $3M. Now the company's market cap: $150B+.

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On This Day

May 13, 1995

“I am on the top of the world and I love you dearly.”

A British mother sends this message to her children as she becomes the first woman to summit Everest unaided.

On This Day

Alison Hargreaves

  • Developed a love for climbing as a child in Britain.
  • Her 6 & 4-year-old son & daughter stayed with her husband in Scotland as she attempted her summit.
  • Climbed Everest with NO supplemental oxygen (only second person in history to do so), and did not use ropes left by other climbers.
On This Day

“My kids are pretty active, and they need a lot of time and energy, which is great. But sometimes you need a break. I found that solo climbing was totally opposite to looking after the kids because it’s so self-indulgent.”

Alison Hargreaves describing how she got into "solo-climbing." She said it was hard for her to find climbing partners because her husband, a climbing photographer, was often traveling. When he got home, he'd watch the kids and she'd head to the mountains alone.
On This Day

3 months after her historic Everest summit, she also became one of the first women to summit Pakistan's K2, one of the world's highest peaks, but didn't survive the descent. Tragically, her 30-year-old son died climbing in Pakistan this past March.

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On This Day

8 years ago…

 

 

 

… the world learned the mastermind of 9/11 & leader of al-Qaeda was killed. Why some say the terror group is stronger than ever.

On This Day

You May Not Know…

  • The FBI put Osama Bin Laden on its Most Wanted List in 1999 due to his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania & Kenya that killed approx. 200 people; offered $25M reward.
  • Bin Laden had a large collection of American books in his Pakistan compound, reportedly used to find vulnerabilities in American culture & security.
On This Day

“Since 9/11, al-Qaedaas footprint has greatly expanded…al-Qaeda maintains an active insurgency, and in some, al-Qaedaas branches or allies control a significant amount of land.”

Bill Roggio, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, who testified Tues. before Congress on the "Global Terrorism Landscape." He says al-Qaeda has a footprint in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North & West Africa, Somalia, East Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar & Syria.
On This Day

Connecting The Dots

  • The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda to recruit and train in Afghanistan before & after 9/11.
  • Pakistan, where Bin Laden found safe haven, continues to provide safe haven for the Taliban and other jihadi groups.
  • The U.S. considers Pakistan an ally & is negotiating with the Taliban on terms of American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
On This Day

The U.S. recently offered $1M for info on the whereabouts of Bin Laden's son, Hamza, who reportedly lives near the Afghan-Pakistan border & has taken a leadership role in the terror group, calling for attacks on the U.S.

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On This Day

April 25, 1917

 

 

 

 

The First Lady of Song makes her “debut”: Ella Fitzgerald

On This Day

Ella Fitzgerald

  • Born 1917, just as the U.S. entered WWI.
  • Mother died when she was 15.
  • Ran away from reform school & danced on Harlem streets during Great Depression to make $$.
  • At 17, she won amateur night at the famed Apollo Theater & quickly joined a band.
  • Won 13 Grammy awards & sold over 40 million albums
On This Day

Fitzgerald could imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She initially wanted to be a dancer, but got stage fright and decided to sing instead. Let's just say everything worked out the way it should as she famously said: "If I was dancin', I'd have been starving a long time ago."

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On This Day

April 18, 1906

 

 


“like the roar of 10,000 lions”

Monster earthquake strikes San Francisco

On This Day

What Happened:

  • Shortly after 5 a.m. a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck San Francisco; one of the most powerful earthquakes on record.
  • An est. 3,000 people died.
  • The shaking reportedly lasted upwards of a minute.
  • While the earthquake caused immeasurable damage, a fire added insult to injury, burning the city for 4 days.
On This Day

Something To Consider:

  • Although history remembers the 1906 earthquake as a San Francisco event, the earthquake shook the California coast from Los Angeles to southern Oregon & inland to Nevada.
  • The USGS estimates this type of devastating earthquake will happen every 200 years. But warns smaller earthquakes can still do incredible damage.
On This Day

Dozens of unique & rarely seen photos of San Francisco in the aftermath of the earthquake are up for auction today on the 113th anniversary of what the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) still calls "one of the most significant earthquakes of all time." View them on our source page.

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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.

On This Day

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 didnat 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

154 years ago…

 

 

 

America wakes to the news of an assassinated President – the first in the nation’s history.

On This Day

Set The Stage

  • Days earlier (April 9) the South surrenders to the North, effectively ending the Civil War.
  • Pres. Lincoln speaks about his future plans for America, incl. offering citizenship to Black Union soldiers.
  • John Booth, confederate sympathizer, who previously conspired to kidnap Pres. Lincoln, decides to plot his murder.
On This Day

aOne Country, One Destiny.a

A quotation embroidered into President Lincoln's jacket lining from a speech delivered by one of his political heroes, Sen. Daniel Webster. He wore this jacket when he was shot at Ford's Theater, just after 10 pm the night of April 14th. John Booth, an actor, used his connections to sneak into the theater, and shot the President at point-blank range before escaping. Pres. Lincoln died the next morning, April 15th. Booth later died in a standoff with police.
On This Day

Something To Consider:

“Since 1865, there have been attempts on the lives of one of every four Presidents and the successful assassination of one of every five.”

Warren Commission Report, 1963, after Pres. Kennedy's assassination. It wasn't until *after* the assassinations of Pres. Garfield (1881) & Pres. McKinley (1901) that the Secret Service provided full-time protection for the U.S. president.
On This Day

The platform that held Pres. Lincoln's casket as he lay in state at the U.S. Capitol after his death continues to be used for those who lay in state today.

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