80 years ago today, the King’s Speech of George VI was broadcast to the people of Britain upon that country’s Declaration of War against Germany. Unprepared to become king, he accepted the role suddenly and reluctantly after his brother took a wife and abdicated the throne.

A stutterer from the age of 8, it was almost impossible for him to pronounce the letter ‘k’, but thanks to a last-ditch speech therapist, Australian Lionel Logue (who was in the room during this radio broadcast), King George met the moment and offered great solace to the British people during a terrifying time—a feat that few thought him capable of, due to his years of stuttering. The portrayal of The King’s Speech in a 2010 film starring Colin Firth is among the most nominated films of all time, and is mostly accurate in its retelling of the close friendship between the royal and his unconventional therapist. WATCH a video and hear the famous radio address: “There will be dark days ahead”… (1939)

At the mercy of his greatest weakness—public speaking—he conquered the task with great dignity, after practicing with Logue, who taught him where to pause and breathe during the speech. You can detect one of the techniques used to overcome the stutter, when he uses a very brief “a-” before some of the more difficult words.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • San Marino, one of the smallest nations in the world and the world’s oldest republic still in existence, was founded by Saint Marinus (301 AD)
  • Officials opened the Trans-Canada Highway, which stretched over 4800 miles from coast to coast (1962)
  • Viking 2 landed on Mars; to shoot the first close-up, color photos of planet’s surface (1976)
  • Pope John Paul I, beloved for his outreach, compassion, and more modern outlook, was installed as the 264th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church (1978)
  • China and Russia ended their Cold War hatred and pledged they would no longer target nuclear missiles at each other (1994)
  • The leaders of divided Cyprus entered direct peace negotiations aimed at ending the 34-year-old division of the island (2008)

And, on this day in 1783, the United States won independence from Britain when the American colonists signed the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War.

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay, and Henry Laurens represented the United States in the Paris talks. David Hartley and Richard Oswald, representing Great Britain, ceded all the land east of the Mississippi River, north of Florida, and south of Canada. It was highly favorable for the US, with the British anticipating a highly profitable two-way trade between the two, which indeed came to pass.

Happy Birthday to Shaun White who turns 33 years old today. The champion snowboarder-skateboarder who underwent two open-heart surgeries before the age of one was the first person to compete in and win both the Summer and Winter X Games in two different sports–including historic wins four years in a row.

Shaun White 2009 CC Gina Hughes
By Gina Hughes, CC license

In both the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics he brought home the gold in the snowboard halfpipe event and won hearts worldwide with his flowing red hair and broad smile.  (1986)

And on this day in 1838, the future abolitionist Frederick Douglass, dressed in a sailor’s uniform and carrying identification papers provided by a Free Black seaman, boarded a train in Maryland on his way to freedom from slavery.

Age 20 at the time, he went on to become a great orator, writer, and statesman. Known for his incisive antislavery writings and speeches, he stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. (Watch a video below)

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