Day By Day

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Day In History

Today is International Human Rights Day, designated as such by the United Nations to commemorate on this day in 1948 the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For the full text of this declaration go here. It is interesting to compare it with the American "Bill of Rights".

On this date in 1862 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the creation of the State of West [by God!] Virginia. After Virginia seceded from the Union in April of 1861 and joined the Confederacy, delegates from several western counties where the population was opposed to secession met in Wheeling to decide how to respond. They held a series of conventions and organized elections that eventually led to secession from the State of Virginia, adoption of a new State constitution, and organization of a new State government which immediately applied for admission to the United States. This was a unique constitutional situation and so Congress passed an enabling act allowing the process of State formation to continue. The House vote was part of that process.

On this day in 1869 the Territory of Wyoming granted women the right to vote and to hold public office. This right was never rescinded and when Wyoming became a State in 1890 it was the first to grant women full political rights. Actually, New Jersey had granted women the right to vote in 1790, but had rescinded the right in 1807, so technically it was first, sorta.

On this day in 1936 King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of the United Kingdom in order to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Henceforth they held the title of Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Just think, if things had worked out differently for King Edward, Prince Charles might not be the heir to the throne today and we would never have heard of Princess Di.

Entering the Building:

Emily Dickinson [1830] considered by many to be America's greatest poet [I would hold out for Frost myself]. During her lifetime she wrote more than a thousand poems and published just seven.

Melvil Dewey [1851] -- He's the guy who created the Dewey Decimal System [for those of you who remember libraries -- that's a place where they used to keep books. Those are things that people used to read before Al Gore invented the intertubes. To find anything in the library you had to memorize Dewey's system.]

Mary Kaumeyer [1914]. You probably know her as Dorothy Lamour. She looked great in a sarong.

Leaving the Building:

Alfred Nobel [1896] -- Swedish arms and munitions maker, inventor of dynamite, and the man the prizes are named for.

Edward D. Wood, Jr. [1978] -- Worst-film-maker-evah". His magnum opus "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was voted the worst movie ever and his trannie drama "Glen and Glenda" has to be seen to be believed. At least, though, he got Johnny Depp to play him in his biopic. His title as worst ever, however, is in danger. Ewe Boll still lives and is making films.