August 2015

This Day in History… August 31, 1997

Princess Diana’s Sudden Death 


On August 31, 1997, the world was shocked when Princess Diana was involved in a car crash that took her life.

Born on July 1, 1961, Diana had a privileged childhood, growing up at the Park House, owned by the Royal Family. She met Prince Charles at a party in 1977 and the two began to date. Diana quickly went from living a private life to being a public figure. She was photographed almost everywhere she went and became a fashion icon.

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This Day in History… August 30, 1967

Thurgood Marshall Appointed Supreme Court Justice 

U.S. #3746

On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became America’s first African American Supreme Court Justice.

The great-grandson of slaves, Marshall graduated first in his class at Howard University Law School. In 1934, he began a 21-year affiliation with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Marshall was the first director-counsel of the NAACP’s legal defense and education fund.

Marshall won a series of important civil rights cases during the 1930s and won 29 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on his impressive record, the United Nations asked Marshall to help draft the constitutions of the emerging African nations of Ghana and what is now Tanzania.

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This Day in History… August 29, 1869

Marsh’s “Railway to the Moon” 

U.S. #2463

On August 29, 1869, Sylvester Marsh demonstrated the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, earning the recognition and funds needed to complete it.

In 1857, Marsh, a businessman, visited New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Tourism in the era had just recently begun expanding, so roads and paths were not fully developed. On a sunny August afternoon, Marsh and a friend hiked up Mount Washington. After passing the tree line they became caught in the middle of a terrible storm with hurricane winds, freezing rain, and near-darkness. They lost their way, but eventually found one of the mountain’s hotels. Once they reached the safety of the hotel, Marsh realized what his new mission was – to create a safe and easy way to climb the mountain.

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This Day in History… August 28, 1963

March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech 

U.S. #4804

As African Americans struggled against segregation and mistreatment, Civil Rights leaders organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

Even after the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in 1954, racial equality didn’t exist in much of America. The civil rights movement of the 1960s, led by Martin Luther King Jr., changed that. Under his guidance, many people of all races united on behalf of equality. Continue reading

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This Day in History… August 27, 1908

Birth of America’s 36th President 

U.S. #1503 pictures Johnson’s official White House portrait. Painted by Elizabeth Shoumatoff in 1968, Johnson personally selected it as his official portrait.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was born on August 27, 1908 in Stonewall, Texas, and was the oldest of five children. He was an intelligent boy and began primary school at four years old. His grandfather predicted he would someday become a senator. But before beginning his political career, LBJ dabbled in teaching and a number of odd jobs as he pursued a college degree.

While taking some time off from school, Johnson taught at a segregated Mexican-American school in Cotulla, Texas. There, he witnessed the plight of the impoverished students, realizing not one of them would ever have an opportunity to go on to higher education. It bothered him to know that “the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.”

LBJ started his political career working as Secretary to Texas Congressman Richard Kleberg in 1931. Less than four years later, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him the Texas Director of the National Youth Administration. Within two years he was elected to the House of Representatives where he championed the fight for public housing and electricity in nonurban areas. Continue reading

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This Day in History… August 26, 1748

Creation of First Formal Lutheran Church Body
In North America 

U.S. #2065 – Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in 1517, laying the groundwork for the Lutheran Church.

On August 26, 1748, members of several Pennsylvania Lutheran communities met and agreed upon a common liturgy – the first in North America.

Swedes and Germans practicing Lutheranism had begun settling in Pennsylvania as early as 1638. They were drawn to the American colonies for the promise of religious freedom. Individual groups formed their own congregations. By the mid 1700s however, the need for well-trained preachers, elders, and deacons became apparent and a conference was planned.

Held in 1742, the conference hosted 24 German clergymen, including Henry Muhlenberg. However, tensions were high between the pious and orthodox sects both in American and abroad. The creators of this conference intentionally excluded orthodox representatives, who in turn disrupted the meeting. No progress was made at this time. Continue reading

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