The official name of the Wobblies is The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW. Founded in Chicago in 1905 and composed mostly of unskilled workers, the union advocated direct action to further the cause of worker control of the means of production. Their aim was to create “one big union” for all workers.
Mary Katherine Goddard published the first official copies of the Declaration, the first to bear the names of all the signers, in January 1777. At the time, Goddard was the only printer in Baltimore, where the Continental Congress had fled from Philadelphia. She had taken over the print shop and the city’s only newspaper from … Read more
Most of the employees in the early years of the Boston Manufacturing Company, which was one of the first American cloth factories, were young, unmarried women. Founded at Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1814 by Francis Cabot Lowell, the company ran the first American factories to produce both yarn and finished textiles. Its employees were daughters of … Read more
The 1793 invention, the cotton gin, by Eli Whitney mechanically removed seeds from a cotton bloom without harming its fiber. Previously, seeds had to be removed laboriously by hand. The invention led to an economic boom for the South by increasing the amount of cotton the southern states could provide to textile manufacturers. It also … Read more
On March 4, 1841, President William Henry Harrison gave the longest address, at about 8,500 words. Harrison delivered the 100-minute speech outdoors without an overcoat in bitterly cold weather. He caught pneumonia and died on April 4, 1841, one month after taking office. What president gave the shortest inaugural address? At his second inaugural in … Read more
Yes, the man behind the “Sherman Anti-Trust Act” was related to the man behind “Sherman’s March to the Sea”. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act, passed in 1890, was sponsored by John Sherman, the younger brother of William Tecumseh Sherman. It was the latter Sherman who, as a Union general, led the destructive march across Georgia in … Read more
Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry first brought an armed squadron to Tokyo Bay in 1853, when he delivered a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the emperor of Japan. In 1854, on a second expedition, Perry succeeded in persuading the Japanese to open their previously isolated society to U.S. trade.
According to many historians, the single bloodiest day of the Civil War was September 17, 1862, when General George McClellan’s Union forces and Robert E. Lee’s Confederate troops clashed in the Battle of Antietam. The savage struggle took place at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, ending with the retreat of Lee’s army into Virginia on … Read more
The surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii began at 7:55 A.M. local time on December 7, 1941, and lasted nearly two hours. Over 2,300 Americans were killed; an additional 1,100 were wounded. More than ten ships were sunk or severely damaged; more than 140 aircraft were destroyed.
This first great Chinese empire the Chin dynasty ran from about 221 to 206 B.C. It established the approximate boundaries and governmental system of China for the next 2,000 years, and gave its name to the nation. The effects of the dynasty lasted until the 1911 revolution, which overthrew the empire and created a republic.
Spiro Agnew resign from the vice-presidency on October 10, 1973. Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency less than a year later, on August 9, 1974, at 11:35 A.M. Gerald R. Ford replaced both of them. As representative from Michigan and House minority leader, Ford was chosen to replace Agnew as vice-president, then succeeded to the … Read more
Popularized by baseball announcer Red Barber, “sittin’ in the catbird seat” means sitting pretty or being in an enviable position. The Mississippi-born Barber used this 19th-century Southern expression while announcing games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s and 1950s, and in the 1950s and 1960s for the New York Yankees. A catbird is the … Read more
On October 1, 1946, in Nuremberg, 12 of the original 24 defendants were condemned to death by hanging. They were: Hermann Goring, Joachim Ribbentrop, Field Marshal General Wilhelm Keitel, Ernest Kaltenbrunner, Dr. Albert Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Fritz Sauckel, Colonel General Alfred Jodl, and Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Martin Bormann, who succeeded Rudolf Hess … Read more
Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn, a Quaker, in 1682 was one of the 13 Colonies was founded by pacifists. Members of the Society of Friends, or Quaker movement, rejected formal sacraments and clergy, trusted in the inspiration of an “inner light,” and forbade violence and war. Penn hoped Pennsylvania’s government would embody Quaker principles, practicing … Read more
The Granite Railway was the first chartered railroad in the United States. It began running from Quincy, Massachusetts, to the Neponset River, a distance of three miles, on October 7, 1826. Its principal cargo consisted of blocks of granite for use in building the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. The railway later became part of … Read more
President Reagan fired all of the 11,600 air traffic controller strikers after they refused to obey a court order to return to work. By decade’s end, there were 2,500 fewer air traffic controllers employed in the industry. Meanwhile, U.S. air traffic had increased by a third and safety records had worsened.
The Molly Maguires were a secret militant organization of Irish miners working in the Pennsylvania anthracite coal mines in the 19th century. They organized in 1854 to fight the mine operators. In 1875, a Pinkerton spy working for the owners infiltrated the group. That led to the conviction and hanging of 20 Molly Maguires on … Read more
People of Mexican descent founded the city of Los Angeles in 1781. Mexicans remained the major population group in Los Angeles (named for Our Lady of the Angels) until the Gold Rush of 1849 brought Anglo-Americans to California in droves. By then, as a result of the Mexican War in 1846-48, California had passed from … Read more
In an 1889 speech, the 54-year old steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie outlined his “Gospel,” a set of principles for amassing and sharing wealth. He wrote, “The millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it … Read more
In the early 20th century, these three Chicago Cubs filled the following infield positions: Joe Tinker, shortstop; Johnny Evers, second base; Frank Chance, first base. Their fielding, immortalized in a popular sportswriter’s phase, “Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance,” has become synonymous with crack teamwork.
Odd-numbered highways move north and south, while those with even numbers move east and west. Highways with one or two digit numbers are through routes, often long ones used for distance driving. Three-digit routes that begin with an even number are usually beltways around a city. Three-digit routes that begin with an odd number are … Read more
Kilroy was the hero of graffiti scrawled by countless U.S. servicemen during World War II, proclaiming “Kilroy was here,” but he may never have existed in person. Sergeant Francis J. Kilroy of the U.S. Air Corps and James J. Kilroy, an inspector in a Massachusetts shipyard, have both been suggested as the namesake of the … Read more
At least 146 women, mainly young immigrants, died in the sweatshop fire in the Triangle Waist Company that occurred on April 20, 1911. The sprinkler system was inadequate, the 500 female workers stood back-to-back on the crowded work floors, and the fire doors were kept locked to prevent theft. The company owners were later acquitted … Read more
The first known case of wiretapping in American politics occurred at the Republican convention in Chicago in 1912, when opponents of Teddy Roosevelt tapped the phones he used to communicate with his managers. When Roosevelt learned of it, he left his home in Oyster Bay, New York, and came to Chicago to talk to his … Read more
The young Republican congressmen from southern and western states known as the “War Hawks”, including Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, demanded war against Great Britain in 1810-11. They got their wish in the War of 1812. Dubbed “War Hawks” by their opponents, they wanted to stop Great Britain from … Read more
President John F. Kennedy said the line at his inaugural speech. Another form of the quote was spoken by the young Kennedy’s headmaster at Choate, a prep school in Wallingford, Connecticut. The headmaster told his students, “Ask not what your school can do for you; ask what you can do for your school”; and Kennedy … Read more
The famous mining town Deadwood, South Dakota from the gold rush days that now stands as the final resting place for Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, has 1,830 inhabitants. Every August it relives its frontier past in a three-day “Days of ’76” celebration, featuring a historical parade and rodeos. In 1992, Deadwood held its … Read more
The woman who sued the state of Texas for denying her the right to abort a fetus was named Norma McGorvey. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that women had the right to abort a fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion in that case. Justices William … Read more
As written by Francis Bellamy, editor of The Youth’s Companion, where is first appeared on September 8, 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and Justice for all.” In its present text (established by Congress in 1954), it … Read more
Born Joseph Louis Barrow (1914-83) near Lafayette, Louisiana, the African-American boxer defeated James J. Braddock for the world heavyweight championship on June 22, 1937. Known as the “Brown Bomber,” Louis held the title for 12 years, from 1937 until he retired in 1949. During this period, he defended his title a record 25 times.
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, founded in 1925 by A. Philip Randolph and other labor leaders, was the first African-American union. The Pullman Company, at first opposed to the Brotherhood, awarded the union its first contract in 1937. Later the Brotherhood became best known for its civil rights activism.
Formed in 1834 to oppose President Andrew Jackson, the Whig Party took its name from the British anti-monarchical party, the Whigs, to underline their conflict with the man they viewed as “King Andrew.” The word “Whig” itself was an old pejorative term meaning “cattle-driver.” In the 1836 presidential election, the party offered three regional candidates, … Read more
The fire that killed 491 people at the Boston night club The Coconut Grove on November 28, 1942, may have been started by a 16-year-old boy named Stanley Tomaszewski who lit a match near a palm tree while trying to replace a light bulb. However, the fire commissioner could not prove that the boy had … Read more
They began as the “Eight” but were reduced to the “Seven” when defendant Bobby Seale’s case was declared a mistrial. Tried in 1969-70 for crossing state lines to riot and conspiring to use interstate commerce to induce rioting at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, the remaining seven were: Rennie Davis David Dellinger John Froines … Read more