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Milestones: Monday, July 31, 2023

July 31, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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EXTOLLED FREE MARKET, LIMITED GOVERNMENT — MILTON FRIEDMAN, born in Brooklyn on July 31, 1912, was a Nobel Prize–winning economist, teacher and author. He won the Nobel Prize for his research on the history and theory of money, consumption analysis and the macroeconomics concept of financial cycle stabilization, including business cycle and credit cycle. Friedman became a professor of economics and flourished at the University of Chicago, he produced some of his most prominent work during this time. He challenged some points of Keynesian economic theory but adapted others.

A believer in the free market and small government, Friedman, after his retirement, became an advisor to Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


FIRST INDIGENOUS SAINT — Pope John Paul II, on July 31, 2002, canonized the Roman Catholic Church’s first indigenous American saint, an Aztec named Juan Diego. Juan Diego, who lived in the 16th century, experienced visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, and later saw her rose-framed image appear on his clock. Juan Diego gave testimony that the Virgin Mary instructed him to build a mission. The Church celebrates Juan Diego’s Feast Day on December 9, and the vision’s feast day, “Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe” on December 12.

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Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin is one of a select group whose visions of Mary were deemed authentic and who was later canonized as a saint. Others were Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, France, who discovered a stream in a grotto that gave healing to many; and, three children in Fatima, Portugal, whom Mary urged to pray the Rosary for the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of Russia. 


BUILT TO PRODUCE COINS — Construction began on July 31, 1792, for the first U.S.   government building, the Philadelphia Mint. Philadelphia at the time was still the nation’s capital, and Congress had earlier that year, on April 2, passed the Coinage Act, establishing the United States’ own currency. During the Colonial Period, monetary transactions were handled using foreign or colonial currency, or commodity barter, such as livestock, or produce. When it opened, the new Philadelphia Mint building, built at 7th and Arch streets, was the tallest in Philadelphia at three stories and was ready for the installation of the smelting furnace within five weeks, with operations starting on September 7.

President George Washington appointed scientist David Rittenhouse as the first director of the Philadelphia Mint, which was also the first government agency to hire a woman, in 1795.


IDLEWILD NAME LATER LOST TO JFK TRIBUTE — New York City’s iconic International Airport at Idlewild Field was dedicated on July 31, 1948, with President Harry S. Truman presiding at ceremonies. Originally named Idlewild after the Idlewild Beach Golf Course to keep alive the name of a golf course in Jamaica that the new airport was replacing, this new airport was also designed to relieve overcrowding at the pre-existing LaGuardia Field in northern Queens, which had become overcrowded after its 1939 opening.

Idlewild, whose name is immortalized in the closing scene of the 1958 classic film Auntie Mame, was later renamed as the John F. Kennedy International Airport on December 24, 1963, a month and two days after President Kennedy was assassinated.


MOBY DICK MARATHON — Every year in tribute to author Herman Melville’s birthday, born on August 1, 1819, his classic novel, Moby Dick receives a dramatic reading at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. The museum’s website confirms that it is hosting Melville’s 204th birthday from July 31 to August 31 with a 24-hour reading of Moby Dick, with attendees invited to stay overnight on the 1841 whaleship christened as Charles W. Morgan. Another special program involves a chantey song performance aboard the ship, just as the sailors would sing while working with the heavy sails or other equipment on board.

The museum’s drama group, The Tale Makers, also gives mini “Moby Dick in Minutes” performances and offers theme-craft activities for kids.


FOUNDER OF KMART — SEBASTIAN SPERING KRESGE, born on July 31, 1867, was born near Wilkes-Barre to a Swiss farming family, but later became a retail merchandising magnate. He established a chain of S.S. Kresge chain five-and-dime stores in the Midwest in 1912 and expanded through the United States, and was second only to Woolworths. When Kresge died in 1966, there were 670 Kresge stores and 150 more outlets with the Kmart name.  Eleven years later, the company was renamed Kmart.

Kresge was a staunch Prohibitionist who organized the National Vigilance Committee for Prohibition Enforcement. He was also a major donor to the Anti-Saloon League, although only for a while.


FIRST JEW ELECTED IN THE U.S. COLONIES — FRANCIS SALVADOR was the first Jew elected to office in colonial America, on July 31, 1776. His family had been part of an influx of diaspora Sephardic Jews from London and the Netherlands, where they had settled following the expulsion in 1492 from Spain and Portugal. By 1702, South Carolina saw a growing Jewish population, who voted at the general election. Francis Salvador was elected to the Provincial Congress in 1775. He wound up also gaining the distinction of being the first Jew to be killed in the American Revolution, during a fight against the Loyalists and the allies, the Cherokee nation.

There was already an existing 1669 charter of the Carolina Colony (the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina), that the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and his secretary John Locke drafted, which granted liberty of conscience to all settlers, and expressly noted “Jews, heathens, and dissenters.”


FIRST PATENT ISSUED — The U.S. Patent Office opened on July 31, 1790, but many history sources did not indicate where. Congress, on April 10, 1790, enacted the Patent Act. President George Washington and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson signed the first patent, granted to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a new method of making pearl ash and potash, which is used in making fertilizer.

The second patent issued was for a new way of manufacturing candles.

See previous milestones, here.

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