Day By Day

Friday, October 16, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "Dictionary Day" so here goes:


–noun, plural -ar⋅ies.
1. a book containing a selection of the words of a language, usually arranged alphabetically, giving information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflected forms, etc., expressed in either the same or another language; lexicon; glossary: a dictionary of English; a Japanese-English dictionary.
2. a book giving information on particular subjects or on a particular class of words, names, or facts, usually arranged alphabetically: a biographical dictionary; a dictionary of mathematics.
3. Computers.
a. a list of codes, terms, keys, etc., and their meanings, used by a computer program or system.
b. a list of words used by a word-processing program as the standard against which to check the spelling of text entered.

1520–30; < class="ital-inline">dictiōnārium, dictiōnārius < class="ital-inline">dictiōn- word (see diction ) + -ārium, -ārius -ary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
On this day in 1701 a group of New England Congregationalists founded "The Collegiate School of Killingworth" as a conservative alternative to Harvard College. Today the school is known as "Yale University".

And on this day in 1793 "Prisoner No. 280", the "Widow Capet", better known as Marie Antoinette, was beheaded. The one thing that most people remember about her was that she was supposed to have said "Let them eat cake" but she didn't. Jean Jacques Rousseau, made that up. Anyone who closely follows today's partisan politics can sympathize with her tragic life. Read about it here.

And on this day in 1849 Avery College, for the education of free Blacks, was founded in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. You can read about it here.

And on this day in 1859 anti-slavery fanatic and domestic terrorist John Brown led a force of 21 men in an assault on the federal armory at Harper's Ferry (then VA). He thought this would provoke a slave uprising and race war in America. It didn't. Instead a troop of marines led by Robert E. Lee captured him. He was tried by the State of Virginia, convicted of treason, and hanged by the neck until he was dead. Anti-slavery politicians and intellectuals made a martyr of him while Democrats claimed that he was the true face of the Republican Party. Historians agree that the controversy surrounding his trial and death was important in exacerbating the tensions that led to the Civil War. A popular song commemorating his death ("John Brown's Body") became a national sensation and was the basis for Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic".

And on this day in 1909 the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series, beating Detroit 4 games to 3.

And on this day in 1916 eugenics fanatic Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, NY. Make of that what you will.

And on this day in 1934 a strong candidate for the worst human being ever to live, Mao Tse Tung, began the "long march" that brought Communists to power in China.

And on this day in 1978 Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, a Pole, was elected Pope and took the name John-Paul II. He was the first non-Italian Pope since 1523.

Happy Birthday to a gaggle of writers: Noah Webster (1758), Oscar Wilde (1854), Eugene O'Neill (1888), Cleanth Brooks (1906), Kathleen Winsor (1919) and Gunther "I vas not a Nazi" (but he vas) Grass (1927).