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Doc Holliday kills for the first time

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/doc-holliday-kills-for-the-first-time

Doc Holliday commits his first murder, killing a man for shooting up his New Mexico saloon.

Despite his formidable reputation as a deadly gunslinger, Doc Holliday only engaged in eight shootouts during his life, and it has only been verified that he killed two men. Still, the smartly dressed ex-dentist from Atlanta had a remarkably fearless attitude toward death and danger, perhaps because he was slowly dying from tuberculosis.

In 1879, Holliday settled in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he opened a saloon with a partner. Holliday spent his evenings gambling in the saloon and he seemed determined to stress his health condition by heavy drinking. A notorious cad, Holliday also enjoyed the company of the dance hall girls that the partners hired to entertain the customers–which sometimes sparked trouble.

On this day in 1879, a former army scout named Mike Gordon tried to persuade one of Holliday’s saloon girls to quit her job and run away with him. When she refused, Gordon became infuriated. He went out to the street and began to fire bullets randomly into the saloon. He didn’t have a chance to do much damage–after the second shot, Holliday calmly stepped out of the saloon and dropped Gordon with a single bullet. Gordon died the next day.

The following year, Holliday abandoned the saloon business and joined his old friend Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona. There he would kill his second victim, during the famous “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” in October 1881. During the subsequent six years, Holliday assisted at several other killings and wounded a number of men in gun battles. His hard drinking and tuberculosis eventually caught up with him, and he retired to a Colorado health resort where he died in 1887. Struck by the irony of such a peaceful end to a violent life, his last words reportedly were “This is funny.”

Rosetta Stone found

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rosetta-stone-found

On this day in 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.

When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for France. Pierre Bouchard, one of Napoleon’s soldiers, was aware of this order when he found the basalt stone, which was almost four feet long and two-and-a-half feet wide, at a fort near Rosetta. When the British defeated Napoleon in 1801, they took possession of the Rosetta Stone.

Several scholars, including Englishman Thomas Young made progress with the initial hieroglyphics analysis of the Rosetta Stone. French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), who had taught himself ancient languages, ultimately cracked the code and deciphered the hieroglyphics using his knowledge of Greek as a guide. Hieroglyphics used pictures to represent objects, sounds and groups of sounds. Once the Rosetta Stone inscriptions were translated, the language and culture of ancient Egypt was suddenly open to scientists as never before.

The Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum in London since 1802, except for a brief period during World War I. At that time, museum officials moved it to a separate underground location, along with other irreplaceable items from the museum’s collection, to protect it from the threat of bombs.

“God’s Operating Manual”: Marriage Theologies in Ultra-Orthodox and Evangelical Marital Guidebooks

Previously posted at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363199019859912?ai=2b4&mi=ehikzz&af=R

Journal of Family History, Ahead of Print.
Evangelical Protestant and Jewish ultra-Orthodox communities are two high-tension religious groups that share an emphasis on traditional family values. Their leaders must communicate the virtues of religious marriage to “curious outsiders” while supporting “distressed insiders” whose marriages have become unstable. This article analyzes thirty marital guidebooks, fifteen ultra-Orthodox, and fifteen evangelical Protestant to probe their strategies. A key finding is the abundance of marriage theologies in the guidebooks, that is, schemas that endeavor to make sense of marriage and its vicissitudes by explicating God’s role and expectations for the couple. Five shared and four denomination-specific marriage theologies are identified and discussed.

“In the Exercise of a Sound Discretion, Who, of This Class of Persons, Shall Have a Right to the License…”: Family, Race, and Firearms in Antebellum North Carolina

Previously posted at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363199019863839?ai=2b4&mi=ehikzz&af=R

Journal of Family History, Ahead of Print.
In 1841, North Carolina passed a law requiring free black people to acquire firearm licenses from their county court. This essay argues that the license requirement forced free black people to rely on their families’ support to access firearms, which sits contrary to the “individual right” framework that firearms are often viewed through. Family members helped free black people to construct racial identities, highlight trustworthiness, connect individuals to patrons and professional networks, and manage legal fees, all in pursuit of firearm access. This essay contributes to our understanding of antebellum black families and their connections to their broader interracial communities.

Lady Jane Grey deposed as Queen of England

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/lady-jane-grey-deposed

After only nine days as the monarch of England, Lady Jane Grey is deposed in favor of her cousin Mary. The 15-year-old Lady Jane, beautiful and intelligent, had only reluctantly agreed to be put on the throne. The decision would result in her execution.

Lady Jane Grey was the great-granddaughter of King Henry VII and the cousin of King Edward VI. Lady Jane and Edward were the same age, and they had almost been married in 1549. In May 1553 she was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, the son of John Dudley, the duke of Northumberland. When King Edward fell deathly ill with tuberculosis soon after, Jane’s father-in-law, John Dudley persuaded the dying king that Jane, a Protestant, should be chosen the royal successor over Edward’s half-sister Mary, a Catholic. On July 6, 1553, Edward died, and four days later Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed queen of England.

Lady Jane’s ascendance was supported by the Royal Council, but the populace supported Mary, the rightful heir. Two days into Lady Jane’s reign, Dudley departed London with an army to suppress Mary’s forces, and in his absence the Council declared him a traitor and Mary the queen, ending Jane’s nine-day reign.

By July 20, most of Dudley’s army had deserted him, and he was arrested. The same day, Jane was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her father-in-law was condemned for high treason, and on August 23 he was executed. On November 13, Jane and her husband, Guildford Dudley, were likewise found guilty of treason and sentenced to death, but because of their youth and relative innocence Mary did not carry out the death sentences.

However, in early 1554, Jane’s father, Henry Grey, joined Sir Thomas Wyatt in an insurrection against Mary that broke out after her announcement of her intention to marry Philip II of Spain. While suppressing the revolt, Mary decided it was also necessary to eliminate all her political opponents, and on February 7 she signed the death warrants of Jane and her husband. On the morning of February 12, Jane watched her husband being carried away to execution from the window of her cell in the Tower of London, and two hours later she was also executed. As British tradition tells the story, after the 16-year-old girl was beheaded, her executioner held Jane’s head aloft and recited the words: “So perish all the queen’s enemies! Behold, the head of a traitor!”

Seneca Falls Convention begins

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/seneca-falls-convention-begins

At the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, a woman’s rights convention—the first ever held in the United States—convenes with almost 200 women in attendance. The convention was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two abolitionists who met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. As women, Mott and Stanton were barred from the convention floor, and the common indignation that this aroused in both of them was the impetus for their founding of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

In 1848, at Stanton’s home near Seneca Falls, the two women, working with Martha Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt, sent out a call for a women’s conference to be held at Seneca Falls. The announcement, published in the Seneca County Courier on July 14, read, “A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July current; commencing at 10 o’clock A.M. During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and other ladies and gentlemen, will address the Convention.”

On July 19, 200 women convened at the Wesleyan Chapel, and Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances,” a treatise that she had drafted over the previous few days. Stanton’s declaration was modeled closely on the Declaration of Independence, and its preamble featured the proclamation, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” The Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances then detailed the injustices inflicted upon women in the United States and called upon U.S. women to organize and petition for their rights.

On the second day of the convention, men were invited to intend–and some 40 did, including the famous African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That day, the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was adopted and signed by the assembly. The convention also passed 12 resolutions–11 unanimously–which called for specific equal rights for women. The ninth resolution, which declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise,” was the only one to meet opposition. After a lengthy debate, in which Douglass sided with Stanton in arguing the importance of female enfranchisement, the resolution was passed. For proclaiming a women’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in America.

The Seneca Falls Convention was followed two weeks later by an even larger meeting in Rochester, N.Y. Thereafter, national woman’s rights conventions were held annually, providing an important focus for the growing women’s suffrage movement. After years of struggle, the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, granting American women the constitutionally protected right to vote.

Senator Ted Kennedy drives car off bridge at Chappaquiddick Island

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/incident-on-chappaquiddick-island

Shortly after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not report the fatal car accident for 10 hours.

On the evening of July 18, 1969, while most Americans were home watching television reports on the progress of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, Kennedy and his cousin Joe Gargan were hosting a cookout and party at a rented cottage on Chappaquiddick Island, an affluent island near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The party was planned as a reunion for Kopechne and five other women, all veterans of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Bobby Kennedy was Ted Kennedy’s older brother, and following Bobby’s assassination in June 1968 Ted took up his family’s political torch. In 1969, Ted Kennedy was elected majority whip in the U.S. Senate, and he seemed an early front-runner for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination.

Just after 11 p.m., Kennedy left the party with Kopechne, by his account to drive to the ferry slip where they would catch a boat back to their respective lodgings in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. While driving down the main roadway, Kennedy took a sharp turn onto the unpaved Dike Road, drove for a short distance, and then missed the ramp to a narrow wooden bridge and drove into Poucha Pond. Kennedy, a married man, claimed the Dike Road excursion was a wrong turn. However, both he and Kopechne had previously driven down the same road, which led to a secluded ocean beach just beyond the bridge. In addition, Kopechne had left both her purse and room key at the party.

Kennedy escaped the car and then dove down in an attempt to retrieve Kopechne from the sunken Oldsmobile. Failing, he stumbled back to the cottage, where he enlisted Gargan and another friend in a second attempt to save Kopechne. The three men were unsuccessful; her body was not recovered. The trio then went to the ferry slip, where Kennedy dove into the water and swam back to Edgartown, about a mile away. He returned to his room at the Shiretown Inn, changed his clothes, and at 2:25 a.m. stepped out of his room when he spotted the innkeeper, Russell Peachey. He told Peachey that he been awakened by noise next door and asked what time it was. He then returned to his room.

Was Kennedy trying to establish an alibi? In Leo Damore’s Senatorial Privilege–the Chappaquiddick Cover-up (1988), the author recounts an interview with Joe Gargan in which Gargan claimed that Kennedy had plotted to make Kopechne the driver and sole occupant of the automobile. Whatever Kennedy’s intentions, on the morning of July 19 he went back to Chappaquiddick Island and then returned to Edgartown. At 9:45 a.m., 10 hours after driving off Dike Road bridge, Kennedy reported the accident to Edgartown Police Chief Dominick Arena and admitted that he was the driver.

On July 25, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, received a two-month suspended sentence, and had his license suspended for a year. That evening, in a televised statement, he called the delayed reporting of the accident “indefensible” but vehemently denied that he been involved in any improprieties with Kopechne. He also asked his constituents to help him decide whether to continue his political career. Receiving a positive response, he resumed his senatorial duties at the end of a month.

There is speculation that he used his considerable influence to avoid more serious charges that could have resulted from the episode. Although the incident on Chappaquiddick Island helped to derail his presidential hopes, Kennedy continued to serve as a U.S. senator of Massachusetts into the 21st century. He died in 2009. 

READ MORE: The Chappaquiddick Incident: What Really Happened? 

Spanish Civil War breaks out

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/spanish-civil-war-breaks-out

On July 18, 1936, the Spanish Civil War begins as a revolt by right-wing Spanish military officers in Spanish Morocco and spreads to mainland Spain. From the Canary Islands, General Francisco Franco broadcasts a message calling for all army officers to join the uprising and overthrow Spain’s leftist Republican government. Within three days, the rebels captured Morocco, much of northern Spain, and several key cities in the south. The Republicans succeeded in putting down the uprising in other areas, including Madrid, Spain’s capital. The Republicans and the Nationalists, as the rebels were called, then proceeded to secure their respective territories by executing thousands of suspected political opponents. Meanwhile, Franco flew to Morocco and prepared to bring the Army of Africa over to the mainland.

In 1931, Spanish King Alfonso XIII authorized elections to decide the government of Spain, and voters overwhelmingly chose to abolish the monarchy in favor of a liberal republic. Alfonso went into exile, and the Second Republic, initially dominated by middle-class liberals and moderate socialists, was proclaimed. During the first two years of the Republic, organized labor and leftist radicals forced widespread liberal reforms, and the independence-minded region of Catalonia and the Basque provinces achieved virtual autonomy.

The landed aristocracy, the church, and a large military clique opposed the Republic, and in November 1933 conservative forces regained control of the government in elections. In response, socialists launched a revolution in the mining districts of Asturias, and Catalan nationalists rebelled in Barcelona. General Franco crushed the so-called October Revolution on behalf of the conservative government, and in 1935 he was appointed army chief of staff. In February 1936, new elections brought the Popular Front, a leftist coalition, to power, and Franco, a strict monarchist, was sent to an obscure command in the Canary Islands off Africa.

Fearing that the liberal government would give way to Marxist revolution, army officers conspired to seize power. After a period of hesitation, Franco agreed to join the military conspiracy, which was scheduled to begin in Morocco at 5 a.m. on July 18 and then in Spain 24 hours later. The difference in time was to allow the Army of Africa time to secure Morocco before being transported to Spain’s Andalusian coast by the navy.

On the afternoon of July 17, the plan for the next morning was discovered in the Moroccan town of Melilla, and the rebels were forced into premature action. Melilla, Ceuta, and Tetuan were soon in the hands of the Nationalists, who were aided by conservative Moroccan troops that also opposed the leftist government in Madrid. The Republican government learned of the revolt soon after it broke out but took few actions to prevent its spread to the mainland.

On July 18, Spanish garrisons rose up in revolt all across Spain. Workers and peasants fought the uprising, but in many cities the Republican government denied them weapons, and the Nationalists soon gained control. In conservative regions, such as Old Castile and Navarre, the Nationalists seized control with little bloodshed, but in other regions, such as the fiercely independent city of Bilbao, they didn’t dare leave their garrisons. The Nationalist revolt in the Spanish navy largely failed, and warships run by committees of sailors were instrumental in securing a number of coastal cities for the Republic. Nevertheless, Franco managed to ferry his Army of Africa over from Morocco, and during the next few months Nationalist forces rapidly overran much of the Republican-controlled areas in central and northern Spain. Madrid was put under siege in November.

During 1937, Franco unified the Nationalist forces under the command of the Falange, Spain’s fascist party, while the Republicans fell under the sway of the communists. Germany and Italy aided Franco with an abundance of planes, tanks, and arms, while the Soviet Union aided the Republican side. In addition, thousands of communists and other radicals from France, the USSR, America, and elsewhere formed the International Brigades to aid the Republican cause. The most significant contribution of these foreign units was the successful defense of Madrid until the end of the war.

In June 1938, the Nationalists drove to the Mediterranean Sea and cut Republican territory in two. Later in the year, Franco mounted a major offensive against Catalonia. In January 1939, its capital, Barcelona, was captured, and soon after, the rest of Catalonia fell. With the Republican cause all but lost, its leaders attempted to negotiate a peace, but Franco refused. On March 28, 1939, the Republicans finally surrendered Madrid, bringing the Spanish Civil War to an end. Up to a million lives were lost in the conflict, the most devastating in Spanish history. Franco subsequently served as dictator of Spain until his death in 1975.

Video of Titanic wreckage released

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/video-of-titanic-wreckage-released

On this day in 1986, new close-up videotapes of the sunken ocean liner Titanic are released to the public. Taken on the first manned expedition to the wreck, the videotapes are stunning in their clarity and detail, showing one of the ship’s majestic grand staircases and a coral-covered chandelier swinging slowly in the ocean current.

At the time of its launch, the RMS Titanic was the largest ocean liner ever built, measuring nearly 900 feet long and 150 feet from its water line to its highest beam. It was considered unsinkable owing both to its vast size and its special construction. On its maiden voyage, the Titanic carried more than 2,200 people, including several of the world’s most rich and famous. Its collision with an iceberg and subsequent sinking in the icy waters of the North Atlantic resulted in the death of some 1,500 people, many of whom could have been saved if the ship had carried a sufficient number of lifeboats.

It was not until 73 years later, in 1985, that the Titanic wreck was discovered. Marine geologist Robert Ballard, in conjunction with Jean-Louis Michel of the Institute of Research for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), located the remains of the Titanic 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, 13,000 feet down on the ocean floor. Ballard, who was from Massachusetts’ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, had the help of the U.S. Navy, which supplied him with Argo, a high resolution sonar device and submersible photographic sled.

Ballard’s discovery caused a great stir among the public, and touched off a new era in underwater exploration and scientific research, especially around the topic of the Titanic. The following year, Ballard returned to the wreck, this time to dive down to the bottom in a submersible craft called Alvin and acquire photo footage of the ghost ship. Ballard was accompanied by Ralph Hollis, the Alvin‘s pilot, and Mark Bowen, who piloted Jason, Jr., a robotic submarine, or “swimming eyeball,” used to explore the interior of the liner. Two miles beneath the surface, the explorers found, frozen in time, trappings of life aboard the Titanic, including a wood-burning stove and unopened champagne bottles being readied for a toast. Jason, Jr. also found the ship’s safes, but left them as they lay: It was decided that the Titanic expedition would leave the ship’s debris undisturbed on the ocean floor.

Even after several years of visiting the wreckage, not a trace of human remains has been found. Like other soft, degradable materials such as wood and carpet, human body parts were most likely scavenged by sea creatures not long after the ship’s sinking.