Day By Day

Monday, February 01, 2010

This Day In History

Today is "National Freedom Day". It commemorates the date in 1865 on which President Lincoln signed a joint resolution of the House and Senate outlawing slavery. This text later became the basis for the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It became an official national day of observance [but not a holiday] in 1948.

The figure behind this observance is Richard Robert Wright, born a slave, he attended freedmen's schools as a youth and eventually graduated from Atlanta University and spent several years thereafter promoting the cause of African-American education as President of Georgia State Industrial College. During the Spanish-American War President McKinley appointed him to the rank of Major and made him Army Paymaster, the first African-American to hold that post. In 1921 at the age of 67 Wright retired and moved to Philadelphia, determined to start a second career in business. He enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania's, Wharton School of Finance where he studied banking. He then went on to establish the Citizens and Southern Bank and Trust Company on South Street, at that time the only Black-owned banking institution in America.

An amazing guy he was, one Philadelphia can be proud of. His son, Richard Jr., was pretty impressive too. He was the first African American to receive a Ph. D. in sociology from Penn, and went on to become President of Wilberforce University and a Bishop of the A. M. E. Church. So today, as you give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in America, take a moment to think of and appreciate the achievements of men like Richard Wright.

"Happy Birthday" to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, officially established on this day in 1920. Keep on getting your guys Mounties.

On this date in 1650 philosopher Rene Descartes stopped thinking and presumably at that precise moment ceased to exist.

And on this day in 1887 a failed rancher turned real estate speculator, Harvey Wilcox, began to market lots on a tract of land he had acquired in Southern California. The name of the development? Hollywood!