History: June 19

June 19

240BC Greek mathematician Eratosthenes becomes the first to estimate accurately the diameter and circumference of the Earth, by comparing the lengths of the noon shadows in Syene (now Aswan) and Alexandria in Egypt. He derives his calculation by knowing the distance between the two cities and correctly assuming that the sun is so far away that its rays are essentially parallel when they reach the Earth. Note: The exact date varies by source, as indicated by the image date.

0325 First Council of Nice: The early Christian church opens the general council of Nicaea, which settles on rules for computing the date of Easter and sanctions the Christian Church of the Nicene Creed, still used in services today.

1566 Birth: James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, in Edinburgh.

1586 The remaining English colonists sail away from Roanoke Island, North Carolina, after failing to establish the first permanent settlement in America.

1623 Birth: Blaise Pascal, French philosopher, mathematician, scientist. "...Blaise Pascal was the third of Etienne Pascal's children and his only son. Blaise's mother died when he was only three years old. In 1632 the Pascal family, Etienne and his four children, left Clermont and settled in Paris. Blaise Pascal's father had unorthodox educational views and decided to teach his son himself. Eienne Pascal decided that Blaise was not to study mathematics before the age of 15 and all mathematics texts were removed from their house. Blaise however, his curiosity raised by this, started to work on geometry himself at the age of 12. He discovered that the sum of the angles of a triangle are two right angles and, when his father found out, he relented and allowed Blaise a copy of Euclid. At the age of 14 Blaise Pascal started to accompany his father to Mersenne's meetings. Mersenne belonged to the religious order of the Minims, and his cell in Paris was a frequent meeting place for Gassendi, Roberval, Carcavi, Auzout, Mydorge, Mylon, Desargues and others. Soon, certainly by the time he was 15, Blaise came to admire the work of Desargues. At the age of sixteen, Pascal presented a single piece of paper to one of Mersenne's meetings in June 1639. It contained a number of projective geometry theorems, including Pascal's mystic hexagon. In December 1639 the Pascal family left Paris to live in Rouen where Eienne had been appointed as a tax collector for Upper Normandy. Shortly after settling in Rouen, Blaise had his first work, Essay on Conic Sections published in February 1640. Pascal invented the first digital calculator to help his father with his work collecting taxes. He worked on it for three years between 1642 and 1645. The device, called the Pascaline, resembled a mechanical calculator of the 1940s. This, almost certainly, makes Pascal the second person to invent a mechanical calculator for Schickard had manufactured one in 1624. There were problems faced by Pascal in the design of the calculator..."

1783 Birth: Thomas Sully, American artist. Above: Sully's Jackson.

1787 The US Constitutional Convention votes to strike down the Articles of Confederation and form a new government.

1816 After telling ghost stories with his wife and Lord Byron, poet Shelley has a vision of a woman with eyes for nipples, becomes hysterical and runs shrieking from the room.

1856 The first Republican national convention ends in Philadelphia with the nomination of explorer John Charles 'The Pathfinder' Fremont of California for president.

1856 Birth: Elbert Hubbard, author.

1861 Birth: Field Marshall Haig, will be reviled as the WW1 general who will advocate the costly tactic of attrition. "...The first day of the Battle of the Somme saw the British Army suffer the highest number of casualties in its history: 60,000. Whether the attack was a success or not remains an area of controversy: however most historians agree that the cost in human terms was too high for relatively little gain. In any event the offensive was called off by Haig on 18 November 1916, technically a British victory. 1917 saw the campaign at Third Ypres from July to November - Passchendaele - which ultimately ground down German resistance, although at heavy cost in British manpower. In 1918 Haig oversaw the successful British advances on the Western Front which led to victory for the Allies in November. Haig has been criticized by many over the years for his tactics, which it is argued were deeply flawed. The wartime Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, was one such critic. He wrote that he sometimes wondered whether he should have resigned on more than one occasion rather than permit Haig to continue with his strategy. On the other hand, it is suggested that Haig's hand was largely forced by the pressure placed by the French for constant relief on the Western Front, on the Somme in 1916 and at Passchendaele in 1917. After the armistice Haig served as Commander in Chief of the British Home Forces until 1921, the year of his retirement. Haig was also awarded a grant of £100,000 by the government. He was made an earl in 1919 and then Baron Haig of Bemersyde in 1921. Haig dedicated the remainder of his life to service in the Royal British Legion (which he helped to establish), caring for the welfare of the troops who served under him during the war..."

1862 Slavery is outlawed in US territories.

1865 Emancipation of slaves is proclaimed in Texas.

1865 Birth: Alfred Hugenberg, Cofounder of the Pan-German League in 1890, the most powerful publicist in Weimar Germany, and one of the men most responsible for Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933. Hugenberg will be Krupp's general manager and during WWI will endorse Germany's most aggressive war plans. After the war he will purchase one of Berlin's leading newspapers and quickly gain control over some 1,600 newspapers with millions of readers. He also will own Germany's largest and most influential film corporation, UFA (Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft), which will control distribution of films to scores of theaters. In 1928, when Hitler's movement is faltering, Hugenberg will come to his assistance. Hugenberg's promise to serve in a cabinet under Hitler will help convince Hindenburg that Hitler can be controlled and used to unify German nationalists.

1867 Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, installed as emperor of Mexico by French Emperor Napoleon III in 1864, is executed on the orders of Benito Juarez, the president of the Mexican Republic.

1897 Birth: Moses Horwitz, AKA Moe Howard.

1905 Pittsburgh showman Harry Davis opens the world's first nickelodeon, showing a silent film called The Great Train Robbery. The storefront theater boasts 96 seats and charges only 5 cents, prompting the advent of movie houses across America.

1910 The first Father's Day is celebrated in Spokane Washington by Mrs. John Bruce Dodd. Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, is credited with the concept for Father's Day. Dodd sought a way to honor her own father, who had raised her as a single parent.

1910 The first Zeppelin airliner, Deutschland, is launched.

1911 The first motion picture censorship board is established on this day in Pennsylvania. It rates everything 'S' at the time - for 'Silent.' Talking movies will not be available for another decade. Films are also rated 'BW' for 'Black & White' as color film hadn't yet been developed. Ah, such innocent times.

1912 The United States government adopts the 8-hour work day.

1933 Leon Trotsky is granted political asylum in France.

1934 Hitler refuses to accept Vice Chancellor von Papen's (above, with pocket hanky) resignation.

1934 The US Congress establishes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to regulate radio, and later TV, broadcasting.

1935 The German consulate in Palestine warns Jews not to return to Germany, even for a short visit, because the Gestapo will arrest them and put them in concentration camps for "special education."

1935 Abyssinia (Ethiopia) asks the League of Nations to send observers into disputed areas of East Africa.

1936 In an event fraught with political implications, German boxer Max Schmeling knocks out African-American pugilist Joe Louis in the 12th round of their heavyweight boxing match at Yankee Stadium in New York.

1938 Birth: Charles Gwathmey, architect.

1939 Atlanta, Georgia enacts legislation that disallows pinball machines in the city.

1940 WW2: As France prepares to surrender, General Sikorski announces that Poland will continue to fight. Polish forces escape to England, Switzerland and Africa.


1942 Holocaust: German Jews are ordered to turn in all their electrical and optical appliances, as well as typewriters and bicycles. (Persecution)

1943 Holocaust: Professor C. Schneider's research ward at Wiesloch is closed due to problems caused by the war. (Science)

1943 Holocaust: Deportations of Jews from Holland and France continue throughout the month. (Atlas)

1943 Holocaust: The last 600 workers who had remained at Belzec to complete the digging up and burning of corpses are transferred to Sobibor and shot. (Apparatus)

1944 WW2: The Battle of the Philippine Sea begins. "...The Battle of the Philippine Sea was an air-sea battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II fought between the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy on June 19 and June 20 1944, off the Mariana Islands. The action was a disaster for the Japanese forces, who lost almost all of their carrier-borne aircraft and a third of the carriers involved in the battle. It was so one-sided that American pilots nicknamed it The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, and after the battle the aircraft carrier force of the IJN was no longer militarily effective...Shortly before midnight on the 18th Admiral Chester Nimitz sent Spruance a message from Pacific Fleet Headquarters indicating that the Japanese flagship was approximately 350 miles (560 km) to the west-south-west of Task Force 58. Shortly afterwards Mitscher asked for permission to head west during the night to an ideal launch position for an all-out attack on the enemy force at dawn. However, Spruance refused. Throughout the run-up to the battle he had been concerned that the Japanese would try to draw his main fleet away from the landing area using a diversionary force, and would then make an attack around the flank of the US carrier force—an "end run"—hitting the invasion shipping off Saipan. Instead he placed TF 58 on a purely defensive footing, leaving it to the Japanese to set the pace of the battle..."

1945 WW2: The fighting continues on Okinawa. "...In spite of the active role which tanks played in the fighting, a role which served to accelerate the battle, infantry combat went on as usual. One of the more conspicuous displays of recklessness occurred on 19 June when Company E, 305th Infantry, was attacked by several machine-gun nests. T/Sgt. John Meagher mounted a tank and was pointing out targets to the tank gunners when a Japanese raced toward the tank with a satchel charge. Meagher jumped from the tank, bayoneted the enemy soldier, and returned to the tank for a machine gun. Firing from his hip, he then moved through enemy fire toward the nearest pillbox, killed six enemy gunners there, and proceeded toward another machine gun. His ammunition gave out just as he reached the second pillbox. Meagher grabbed his empty gun by the barrel and beat the enemy crew to death. For this daring, one-man assault, Meagher was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor..."

1945 Birth: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

1946 Nuremberg War Crimes Trials: The elusive Franz von Papen continues his dodge and weave defense "...SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: ...Defendant, you have heard a number of your codefendants giving evidence and saying that they didn't know of the terrible repressive measures that were taking place in Germany. You knew very well about these repressive measures, did you not? You knew about the action of the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and later you knew about the elimination of the Jews, did you not? VON PAPEN: I only knew this much, that in the years 1933 and 1934 political opponents were interned in the concentration camps. I very frequently protested against the methods used in concentration camps. In various cases I liberated people from these camps; but at that time I was quite unaware that murders had even been committed in them. SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Well now, just let me take that up. It is good to get down to a concrete instance. VON PAPEN: Yes. SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: You remember that at the beginning of 1935 your secretary, Herr Von Tschirschsky, was ordered to return from Vienna to Berlin for examination by the Gestapo. Do you remember that? VON PAPEN: Yes, indeed. SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And you remember that he refused to go and he sent you a detailed report of his reasons for not going? Do you remember that? VON PAPEN: Yes. SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: Just let us look at that together very shortly...there is Herr Von Tschirschsky's own letter to you, in which he says, at the end of the second paragraph: "I am not in a position... to comply with the Gestapo demand to report to Berlin for interrogation." And then he says that-to quote his own words-that he has been influenced only by the "human, understandable desire to live" and then he sends a report, he encloses a report, to you of what had happened to him on 30 June which got him into the bad books of the Gestapo. Do you remember that? VON PAPEN: Yes. SIR DAVID MAXWELL-FYFE: And summarizing the beginning of it, which would be almost humorous if it did not show such a dreadful state of affairs, your secretary, Herr Von Tschirschsky, was arrested simultaneously by two competing groups of Reich policemen, I think the Criminal Police and the Gestapo, and there was a severe danger of Herr Von Tschirschsky and some of the police being shot before they could decide who was to take him into custody..."

1947 Birth: Salman Rushdie, author; Satanic Verses).

1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed by electric chair, at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. "...They were convicted of conspiring to steal US atomic secrets for the Soviet Union, yet supporters regarded the prosecution's case as flimsy, as it rested mainly on the testimony of Sgt. David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg's younger brother and himself a convicted spy. Greenglass, who worked as a machinist on the atomic bomb at the top-secret Los Alamos laboratory during the World War II Manhattan Project, had been convicted of giving the Soviets information about nuclear research. He was spared execution in exchange for his testimony. He spent 10 years in prison and was released in 1960, and has lived under an assumed name since his release. Decades later, in late 2001, Greenglass admitted that he had committed perjury and falsely implicated his sister Ethel. Greenglass said he chose to turn in his sister in order to protect his wife and children. At the widely publicized trial which started on March 6, 1951, Greenglass stated that his sister Ethel had typed notes containing US nuclear secrets, and these were later turned over to Harry Gold, a Swiss-born courier for the US espionage ring, and by him to Anatoly A. Yakovlev, the Soviet vice consul in New York City. (Gold had been arrested on May 23, 1950, in connection with Klaus Fuchs spy case, and the Rosenbergs were arrested soon after. Another conspirator, Morton Sobell, fled to Mexico City, but was later deported to the United States for trial.) As the notes typed by Ethel apparently contained little that was new to the Soviets, supporters felt that a capital charge of espionage was not only far too severe, but scarcely could be considered evidence of wrong-doing at all; but for the prosecution this was sufficient evidence to convict Ethel Rosenberg. It is believed that part of the reason Ethel was indicted in addition to Julius was so that the prosecution could use her as a 'lever' to pressure Julius into giving up the names of others who were involved. If that was the case, it didn't work..."

1961 The US Supreme Court strikes down a provision in Maryland's constitution requiring state officials to profess a belief in God.

1961 Britain ends its protectorate of the oil-rich sheikdom of Kuwait.

1961 A stone with the name 'Pontius Pilate' on it, is found at an Italian dig in Caesarea.

1963 Russia's first woman cosmonaut, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova successfully reenters the atmosphere and lands in central Asia after flying a three-day mission that took her around the world 45 times.

1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is approved after surviving an 83-day Senate filibuster.

1977 Pope Paul VI proclaims a 19th-century Philadelphia bishop, John Neumann, the first male US saint.

1978 The comic strip, Garfield, created by cartoonist Jim Davis and named after Davis's grandfather, debuts in US newspapers.

1987 The US Supreme Court strikes down a 1981 Louisiana law that required schools to teach the specious creationist theory of human origin espoused by fundamentalist Christians.

1990 Opening statements are presented in the drug and perjury trial of Washington DC mayor Marion Barry Jr. Barry will later be convicted of a single count of misdemeanor drug possession, and sentenced to six months in prison.

1991 The UN Security Council unanimously approves a plan to prohibit the export of military supplies to Iraq.

1992 Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels youth anticrime patrols, is shot and wounded by two men waiting in a taxi near his Manhattan home.

1995 Chechen rebels and more than 100 human shields ride a convoy of buses back to Chechnya following the end of a hostage drama at a Russian hospital.


2002 Finnish researchers claim to have found alarming evidence that normal levels of mobile phone radiation can harm the brain. Note: The claim remains unsubstantiated, but the body of anecdotal evidence grows daily.

2002 The US Supreme Court rules that prayers led by students at public high school football games are not permitted under the constitutional separation of church and state.







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