Good News in History, April 13

Good News in History, April 13

thomas jeffersonToday is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. President. He was a scientist, philosopher, farmer, self-taught architect and inventor, who was especially proud of his three years of legislative work to pass the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia. He was conversant in French, Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, and founder of the University of Virginia, unique for being centered around a library rather than a church, reinforcing the principle of separation of church and state. (1743)

Jefferson doubled the size of the United States during his presidency, orchestrating the acquisition of the vast Louisiana Territory from France, and sent out the Lewis and Clark Expedition–and later three others–to explore the new west. Though considered the greatest US president, he did have his flaws, one being personal money management, another being slavery. As long as he lived, he expressed opposition to slavery, yet he owned hundreds of slaves to run his 5000 acre farm, and freed only a few of them. (WATCH a short bio below, or see longer DVDs about this extraordinary man)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • George Frideric Händel’s Messiah performed for the first time in Dublin (1742)
  • Roman Catholics in the United Kingdom gained the right to vote and sit in Parliament with the Royal Assent of the Roman Catholic Relief Act (1829)
  • The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded (1870)
  • UN General Assembly condemned South Africa for apartheid (1961)
  • The longest doubles table tennis match ended after 101 hours (1979)
  • Harold Washington was elected the first African-American mayor in Chicago’s history (1983)
  • Tiger Woods (the first black golfer ever to win a major) became the youngest player ever to win the US Masters Tournament at Augusta, Georgia, leaving his opponents far behind and smashing every record Sidney Poitierin the book with a margin of 12 strokes (1997)

And, on this day in 1964, Sidney Poitier became first black man to win Oscar for best actor for Lilies of the Field. Poitier grew up in poverty in the Bahamas and his first months in New York were so poor, he slept in the bus station men’s room.