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Milestones: Wednesday, July 19, 2023

July 19, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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HARDER SELL FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE — The SENECA FALLS WOMEN’S RIGHTS CONVENTION marks its 175th anniversary on July 19. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized and convened this gathering, which took place at the Wesleyan Church in that New York town to address voting, property rights and divorce. The participants drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments” that paraphrased the 1776 Declaration of Independence, but substituting the word “man” for King George. The Declaration of Sentiments also demanded women’s “immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.” The women who participated in the Seneca Falls Convention were also staunch abolitionists, and after the inaugural day for women only, Frederick Douglass was invited as one of the orators. In fact, he gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his life on behalf of the resolution (#9) on women’s right to vote, which did not immediately pass.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in her opening statement of purpose, declared, “We are assembled to protest against a form of government, existing without the consent of the governed — to declare our right to be free as man is free, to be represented in the government which we are taxed to support, to have such disgraceful laws as give man the power to chastise and imprison his wife, to take the wages which she earns, the property which she inherits, and, in case of separation, the children of her love.”


INVENTED THE REVOLVER — SAMUEL COLT, born July 19, 1814, in Hartford, Connecticut, was the inventor and manufacturer of the multi-shot pistol. He applied for and received a U.S. patent for a revolver mechanism enabling a gun to be fired multiple times without having to be reloaded. He then founded a company to manufacture his revolving-cylinder pistol. Although the business struggled at first, the advent of the Mexican War in 1846 brought in a major client — the U.S. government — which ordered a thousand revolvers. He opened what became the world’s largest private armament factory and used advanced manufacturing techniques such as interchangeable parts. The company increased its production to 150 weapons daily. As Colton innately understood marketing, he succeeded in getting the Colt to be the best-known gun by the time the Civil War began, and he grew wealthy supplying both sides with weapons.

“God created men equal, Col. Colt made them equal,” was the slogan for the guns. Colt, however, died at age 46, never having fired a gun at another human being. The Colt .45 wasn’t even released until a decade after his death.


FIRST SINGLE AT AGE 19 — ELVIS PRESLEY’S FIRST SINGLE was released on July 19, 1954, with the songs “That’s All Right (Mama)” backed by “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” when the crooner was just 19-years-old. Sun Records produced what became  known as Presley’s first professional record, which he did with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips previewed the single on his radio show on July 7— and the listeners went wild, demanding continuous repeats.

Elvis Presley was already famous when he was drafted into the army at age 23. During his military service, he met the daughter of an army captain named Priscilla and married her. He was honorably discharged in 1960 with the rank of sergeant and later that year made a movie, “GI Blues,” whose soundtrack rose to #1 on the Billboard charts and stayed put for 10 weeks.


WAR HERO — GEORGE McGOVERN, born July 19, 1922, was a U.S. hero of World War II and politician who served his home state of South Dakota in both Houses of Congress during his career. Known as a staunch liberal, he advocated for civil rights and social issues and was an outspoken opponent of America’s participation in the Vietnam War. During the 1972 Presidential campaign, McGovern and the Democrats became the target of the Nixon administration’s wiretapping, which exploded into the Watergate Scandal. Even though Nixon won that election in a landslide, he wound up resigning the Presidency less than two years later — rather than face impeachment — over Watergate. McGovern returned to the Senate and later worked across the aisle with  Republican Kansas Senator Bob Dole and the UN to alleviate hunger, particularly in schools, and focusing on girls; for this, the pair received the 2008 World Food Prize.

McGovern once said, “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”


DISCOVERIES ON INSULIN — ROSALYN YALOW, born July 19, 1921, in The Bronx, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1977 for her work on radioactive isotope assays (RIA), a precise technique to measure small concentrations in the blood and other body fluids. The innovation of injecting patients with radioactive iodine was first applied to the study of insulin concentration in diabetic persons’ blood, and (according to the Nobel Prize website) made the discovery that Type 2 Diabetes is caused not by a lack of insulin but rather the body’s inefficient use of it. The RIA technique was later used in other medical applications. Also sharing in the prize for another application of peptide along with Andrew V. Schally and Roger Guillemin for their work on peptide hormone production of the brain. The men each received a quarter of the prize money; Yalow received the other half.

Yalow once expressed, “The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning you’re not old.”


UNPRECEDENTED THIRD TERM — PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president with a plan to lift the nation out of the Great Depression, on July 18, 1940, was nominated for an unprecedented third term, guiding the U.S. through its entry into World War II. Because of an unwritten rule that Presidents should be limited to serving two terms, thanks to a tradition that Founding Father George Washington started, Roosevelt received some criticism. The fact that voters re-elected him twice more is testament that they believed in his leadership in the midst of the growing threat from Hitler and the Nazis and the crises this caused overseas. Roosevelt’s bringing America into the war also helped bring her out of the Depression, as manufacturing for the wartime effort increased dramatically, thus creating jobs. Roosevelt would be re-elected again in 1944; but died less than three months after his January 1945 re-inauguration.

Roosevelt once said, “To reach a port, we must sail — sail, not tie at anchor — sail, not drift.”


HELD CLUE TO ANCIENT EGYPT — During Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, on or around July 19, 1799 (exact date uncertain), a French soldier near the town of Rosetta, discovered an irregularly-shaped black basalt stone inscribed with ancient writing from three different scripts: Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic and Greek. Archeologists translating the Greek portion learned that the text had been inscribed  by priests honoring King Ptolemy V around 200 B.C.E. Even more surprisingly, the Greek passage confirmed that the three scripts all carried identical meaning, which helped solve the puzzle of hieroglyphics, and revived a language that had heretofore been thought to  be dead for almost two millennia. A multilingual French Egyptologist named Jean-Francois Champollion was able to crack the code on what is known as the Rosetta Stone, and deciphered the hieroglyphics and thus opened the language and culture of ancient Egypt.

Today, the Rosetta Stone is housed in the British Museum in London, although Egypt wants it back. The phrase “Rosetta Stone” has since been trademarked to a language-learning website and app, offering lessons in 25 world languages, from Arabic and Brazilian Portuguese to Vietnamese.


FAMOUS PARTNERSHIP ON FUEL SOURCES — The agricultural chemist George Washington Carver, head of Alabama’s famed Tuskegee Institute, on July 19, 1942, arrived in Dearborn, Michigan, at the invitation of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company. Carver, who had joined the faculty of Tuskegee Institute to teach agriculture and convinced Southern farmers to plant peanuts, helped resuscitate the region’s agriculture; in the process, he became one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. He had previously visited Michigan five years before to meet with Henry Ford, who shared Carver’s passion in the regenerative properties of soil, in particular how crops like peanuts or soybeans could be used to manufacture plastics and fuel. Moreover, Ford presaged that an alternative to gasoline had to be found. Douglas Brinkley’s book, “Wheels for the World,” chronicles the history of this partnership: the automobile magnate became a generous donor to the Tuskegee Institute, and helped underwrite Carver’s experiments. Carver was invited to Dearborn to develop a synthetic rubber to compensate for the wartime shortages (rubber drives alleviated only some of the scarcity). Together, Ford and Carver set up a laboratory in an old water works building, and experimented with different crops from sweet potatoes to dandelions. They found their magic ingredient from the weed goldenrod.

Carver once said, “Education is the key to unlocking the golden door of freedom.”

Ford once expressed, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

See previous milestones, here.

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