The Thing About Today – February 15

February 15, 2020
Day 46 of 366

February 15th is the forty-sixth day of the year. It is National Flag of Canada Day, commemorating the inauguration of the national flag in 1965.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Gumdrop Day, Singles Awareness Day, and National Wisconsin Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1564, astronomer, physicist, and mathematician Galileo Galilei was born.
  • In 1835, the first constitutional law in modern Serbia was adopted.
  • In 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology was founded in New Jersey. The school offered the first Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering.
  • In 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • In 1898, the battleship USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana, Cuba. The event, during which 274 people were killed, prompted the United States to declare war on Spain.
  • In 1907, Cesar Romero was born. He played the Joker in the 1966 Batman series.
  • In 1927, Harvey Korman was born.
  • In 1935, American astronaut Roger B. Chaffee was born.
  • In 1946, ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
  • In 1950, Disney’s Cinderella premiered in Boston.
  • In 1951, actress Jane Seymour was born.
  • In 1954, Canada and the United States agreed to construct the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska.
  • Also in 1954, Matt Groening was born. He was the creator of The Simpsons.
  • In 1971, British coinage completed the decimalization process, thus inspiring Decimal Day.
  • In 1972, sound recordings were granted U.S. federal copyright protection for the first time.
  • In 1992, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to life in prison.
  • In 2001, the first draft of the complete human genome was published in Nature.

In 1820, American suffragist and activist Susan B. Anthony was born.

Susan B. Anthony was an American social reformer and women’s rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. Her family was committed to social equality, and even as a teenager she was dedicated to fighting for social justice. At the age of 17, she collected anti-slavery petitions, and by 1856 she was the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her lifelong friend and co-worker in social reform, Anthony fought for women’s rights. Together, the women found the New York Women’s Temperance Society after Anthony was prevented from speaking at a conference because of her gender. They worked together on several other projects and organizations over the following twenty years, fighting for both women’s rights and racial equality.

In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in her hometown of Rochester, New York. After being convicted in a very public trial, she refused to pay the fine and the government refused to escalate matters any further. This prompted Anthony and Stanton to present an amendment before Congress to grant women the right to vote. This amendment was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

When she first began campaigning for women’s rights, Susan B. Anthony was harshly ridiculed. In fact, she was accused of trying to destroy the institution of marriage.

Doesn’t that sound familiar nearly two hundred years later?

Public perception of her changed radically during her lifetime. Her 80th birthday was celebrated at the White House with President William McKinley, and she became the first female citizen depicted on coinage in the United States when her portrait was added to the dollar coin in 1979.

Susan B. Anthony died on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

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