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Bitter Bierce

June 24 birthdays include Henry Ward Beecher, clergyman and reformer (1813); Ambrose Bierce [pictured], author of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and The Devil’s Dictionary — his dark, cynical wit earned him the epithet “Bitter Bierce” (1842); Karin Pilsäter, Swedish politician of the Liberal People’s Party (1960).

Victory Day

Today is Estonia’s Victory Day, which has been celebrated on June 23 every year since 1934. The date recalls the victory in the 1919 Battle of Vonnu of the Estonian military forces (and Latvian North brigade) and their allies over German forces (Baltische Landeswehr) who sought to re-assert Baltic-German control

Giants

On June 22, 1633, astronomer Galileo Galilei recanted his belief in heliocentrism, the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun. He didn’t do this based on scientific research, but under pressure from the Holy Office in Rome. Three hundred forty-five years later, to the date, American astronomer James W.

A Federation

On the 20th of June in 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Oliver Ellsworth moved to confine legislative powers to two distinct branches, and to strike the word “national” from the document. Edmund Randolph of Virginia had previously moved successfully to call the government the National Government of United

Happy Birthday, Václav

In 1941, Czech economist and politician Václav Klaus was born; other June 19 births include Salman Rushdie in 1947, Kathleen Turner in 1954, and Laura Ingraham in 1964.

Auberon Herbert

On June 18, 1838, Auberon Edward William Molyneux Herbert was born. Auberon Herbert was a Liberal Member of Parliament who, after reading the writings of Herbert Spencer, became a radical individualist and author of essays such as “The Ethics of Dynamite,” “A Politician in Trouble About His Soul,” and “The

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885. On the same day in 1930, progressive Republican President Herbert Hoover — eager to please agricultural states, and confident that protectionism would yield greater wealth — signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. The Great Depression deepened, ratcheting up as

Ballet & Political Economy

On June 16, 1961, dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union. The great Scottish moral philosopher, political economy pioneer, and Enlightenment intelectual Adam Smith (1723-1790), best known for authoring the 1776 masterwork The Wealth of Nations, was born on June 16.

Pig War!

The Oregon Treaty, signed June 15, 1846, established the boundary between Great Britain’s Canadian territory and the United States of America, from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, using the 49th Parallel as the handy marker. However, the treaty was not exactly clear on the territorial

Stars and Stripes

On June 14, 1777, U.S. Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the United States Flag.

Anti-slavery

On June 13, 1774, Rhode Island became the first British colony in the Americas to prohibit the importation of slaves.

Rights

In 1776, on June 12, the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia, unanimously adopted a Declaration of Rights, several weeks prior to the adoption of the state’s constitution. George Mason (pictured above), who drafted the document, stated clearly in the preamble that rights must be “the basis and foundation of

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