Saturday, November 20, 2010
1579 – Merchant Thomas Gresham, the man whose work with Queen Elizabeth put the pound sterling on a solid footing and who created the Royal Exchange, dies at age 60. "Gresham’s Law"—that bad money drives out good if the exchange rate is set by law—is named for him.
1694 – François-Marie Arouet is born at Paris. Under the pen name "Voltaire" he will go on to prove that you can earn a great reputation and a very good living if you can make clever sneers at others without actually accomplishing much yourself.
1787 – Future shipping tycoon Samuel Cunard is born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of loyalist emigrants from the United States.
1789 – North Carolina ratifies the United States Constitution and is admitted as the 12th U.S. state.
1861 –Judah Philip Benjamin is appointed Secretary of War to the Confederate States of America. Even more important than his Confederate service will be his Treatise on the Law of Sale of Personal Property, which is still in print today in its seventh edition.
1877 – Thomas Edison announces that he has created a machine that can record and play back sounds. It will come to be known as the phonograph, and will play an important role in the classic agency law case of Kidd v. Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
1899 – Lawyer and U.S. Vice President Garrett Augustus Hobart of New Jersey dies suddenly in Washington, D.C. This will open the way for Theodore Roosevelt to become President McKinley’s running mate in 1900.
1905 – The journal Annals of Physics publishes a paper, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?, by an unknown Swiss patent clerk. The publication, which posits the relationship between mass an energy, will eventually help Albert Einstein get a teaching job. Sound familiar?
1920 –On "Bloody Sunday" in Dublin, 31 people are killed in clashes between the Irish Republican Army and British troops. Final score, England 17, Ireland 14.
1922 – Eighty-seven year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia becomes the first female U.S. Senator. Her appointment to fill a vacant slot lasts only one day.