Friday, February 4, 2005
869: St. Cyril, the Greek-Bulgarian monk who devised the first alphabet for Slavonic languages—which later evolved into what we now call the "Cyrillic" alphabet—dies at Rome.
1783: The United Kingdom announces that it will cease hostilities with its former colonies in North America who have been revolting since 1775.
1794: The French Republic formally abolishes slavery. Nothing happens, so it has to do it again in 1848.
1801: John Marshall is sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States.
1840: American inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim is born at Sangerville, Maine. His "Maxim gun" will be the first fully automatic portable machine gun, and a staple for British troops fighting the "natives":
Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.
1861: Six U.S. states, meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, form the new "Confederate States of America." The number will eventually swell to eleven.
1862: In Santiago de Cuba, Catalonian immigrants Facundo Bacardi Masso and his brother José open a small distillery for making rum. It will grow into the world’s fourth largest distiller.
1913: Seamstress Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in 1955 will lead to an economic boycott and ultimate desegregation of the Birmingham bus system, is born in Tuskegee, Alabama.
1921: Betty Naomi Goldstein Friedan, author if The Feminine Mystique (1963) and first president of the National Organization of Women (1966), is born at Peoria, Illinois.
1927: The first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, opens. He says, prophetically, "You ain’t seen nothin’ yet."
1947: Vice President James Danforth Quayle III (Indiana-Indianapolis Law 1974) is born at Indianapolis.
1968: The most famous literary figure who never published a book, Neal Casady—"the catalyst of the Beat movement"—dies at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.