Milestones: Monday, September 25, 2023
CENSORED AFTER JUST ONE EDITION — THIS MAY HAVE DEMONSTRATED AN EARLY NEED FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT: “Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick,” the first American newspaper published, on Sept. 25, 1690, was shut down after its first and only edition because the colonial government in Boston did not like the publication’s account of a battle during the French-Indian War. In a classic case of early censorship, the colonial government banned the publication of a second edition. What was also the New World’s first multi-page newspaper, “Publick Occurrences” had a format of 7 ½ by 11 ½ inches, and was intended as a monthly.
Its publisher, Benjamin Harris, an English bookseller and writer, had tried unsuccessfully to establish a free press in London. He had also published The New-England Primer, which was adapted from his earlier, savagely political speller, The Protestant Tutor (1679). The primer was for half a century the only elementary textbook in America.
PRECEDENT FOR BILL OF RIGHTS — THE FIRST CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES ON SEPT. 25, 1789 APPROVED 12 AMENDMENTS to the U.S. Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were drafted to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms. The amendments also stated that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people. The inspiration and model for the U.S. Bill of Rights were the English Bill of Rights of 1689 — from a century earlier — and Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, which George Mason, a champion of civil liberties, had drafted in 1776.
In December 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation.
FIRST FEMALE SUPREME COURT JURIST — SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR, THE FIRST WOMAN JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, took the oath of office on Sept. 25, 1981. A nominee of President Ronald Reagan, O’Connor had served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona and Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court. She served there until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. She was also a legislator, having been appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 after her predecessor resigned, and was subsequently reelected to two, two-year terms. During the early part of her Supreme Court tenure, Associate Justice O’Connor was described as a “classic conservative,” voting in a bloc with then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist and newly-nominated Antonin Scalia. However, during the latter part of her tenure, she became more of a moderate and centrist.
Justice Rehnquist and O’Connor had been in the same class at Stanford Law School. They would later serve together on the nation’s highest court.
STANDARD FOR CLOCKS — GREENWICH MEAN TIME WAS FIRST ESTABLISHED ON Sept. 25, 1676 (Old Style/Julian calendar) when two very accurate clocks were set in motion at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) became the standard for England; in 1884 it became the standard for the world. According to a website dedicated to Greenwich Mean Time, this refers to the yearly average (or “mean”) of the time each day when the sun crosses the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and is clock time rather than astronomical time, nowadays reckoned from one midnight to the rest. Making this possible was the invention of the pendulum clock in the 1650s, enabling calculations on the relationship between mean (clock) time and solar time. A time zone was also named for GMT.
GMT was the international standard for civil time from 1884-1972, but has been replaced by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in much of the world. GMT is still the legal time standard in Great Britain.
BROOKLYN BOY … BUT NOT A DODGER — PHIL RIZZUTO, BORN SEPT. 25, 1917, IN BROOKLYN, was a Hall of Fame baseball player whose entire career was played with the New York Yankees. His record includes the shortstop position from 1941-56, being named the league’s MVP in 1950 and helping to win seven of the nine World Series in which he played. After he left the field, he stayed in baseball as a radio host and then TV broadcaster for the Yankees for even longer — 40 years, with his signature home run call of “Holy cow!” He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.
Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto was also honored for his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, during which time he sacrificed some of his prime playing years.
FAMOUS DIPLOMATIC MEETING — FORMER PREMIER OF THE SOVIET UNION NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV had his famous meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Sept. 25, 1959, at Camp David. The two leaders reached a general consensus on several issues and clarified their perspectives on world matters, including how to handle East Berlin, and improving relations between the two superpowers that had been in alliance during World War II. However, the Soviet shoot-down of an alleged U-2 spy plane in May 1960 sabotaged any further talks of American–Soviet relations before Eisenhower left office.
During the next U.S. presidential administration, JFK and Khrushchev met at the Vienna Summit to discuss many issues of concern, most notably the Bay of Pigs Invasion two months prior to their meeting, and the question of East Berlin, which was partitioned from the rest of the city during the Cold War. During that state visit to the U.S. in 1959, Khrushchev was given a key to the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by then-mayor Thomas Gallagher.
See previous milestones, here.
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