On this day 35 years ago, Lech Wałęsa, the leader of Poland’s outlawed Solidarity movement, was released after eleven months of persecution and internment near the Soviet border. Two years earlier the electrician had won a sweeping victory with communist rulers for the right to organize independent unions that could strike. He continued his activism, which culminated in semi-free parliamentary elections in 1989 and a Solidarity-led government, with a reluctant Walesa becoming Poland’s first popularly elected president the following year—the first non-Communist president in nearly a half century. (1982)

(Photo credit: Strike of 1980, by Giedymin Jabłoński -CC)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published (1883)
  • Journalist Nellie Bly began her successful Jules Verne-inspired attempt to travel around the world in 80 days; she succeeded—and needed only 72 (1889)
  • Albert Einstein presented his quantum theory of light (1908)
  • Czechoslovakia became a republic (1918)
  • The BBC, British Broadcasting Company, began radio broadcasts (1922)
  • President Roosevelt declared the Philippines to be a free territory (1935)
  • Detroit Red Wings hockey player Gordie Howe set a new NHL record with his 627th career goal (1964)
  • The first public trains used the Channel Tunnel to transport passengers under the English Channel (1994)



And, on this day in 1840 Claude Monet, one of the founders of French Impressionist painting, was born in Paris. Beloved for his later works of lily ponds at his countryside home in Giverny, he exemplified the movement’s core value of expressing one’s perceptions of nature through broken color and rapid brushstrokes. The term “Impressionism” was derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise, displayed in 1874 at the first exhibition mounted by the radical new school of artists. Look at dozens of his works on Wikipedia

Moby Dick illustration by A. Burnham Shute


And on this day in 1851, Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick was published. With one of the most famous opening lines in literature, “Call me Ishmael,” a sailor tells the story of the obsessive quest of Captain Ahab for revenge on a white whale that bit off the whaler’s leg at the knee. The novel was a commercial failure, and out of print at the time of the author’s death 40 years later, but during the 20th century, it earned a reputation as a Great American Novel. “The product of a year and a half of writing, the book draws on Melville’s experience at sea, on his reading in whaling literature, and on literary inspirations such as Shakespeare and the Bible. The detailed and realistic descriptions of life aboard ship among a culturally diverse crew, are mixed with exploration of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of God.” (Wikipedia)


Leave a Reply