Monumental occurrences happened this week in history, both physically and figuratively. Construction began on the White House and the Norman invasion of England succeeded. And this week is the “sweetest” week of the year.
White House Cornerstone
The White House’s cornerstone was laid on this day in 1792. Designed by James Hoban, the White House was originally called the “Presidential Palace” and first used by John Adams in 1800. It is the oldest building in Washington, D.C. During the war of 1812, the British burned the White House in 1814. It was rebuilt and reoccupied in 1817. The building has three stories and more than 100 rooms.
Battle of Hastings
One of the most important battles in history took place on this day in 1066. French-Norman forces under William the Conquer defeated Anglo-Saxon troops and killed English King Harold II. The English crowned one of their own, angering William, who then marched toward London. William defeated more English forces and was soon crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey. The Battle of Hastings marked the beginning of changes in England and around Europe. France had exerted its power and loosened some of the social strictures, such as slavery, in England. Language changed as well, with Anglo-Norman becoming the tongue of the elite.
“I Love Lucy” Premiere
On this day in 1951, “I Love Lucy ” premiered and was one of the best-reviewed and well-received shows in TV history. Through its six seasons and 181 episodes, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz made audiences laugh at their antics in the fast-paced New York entertainment business. The show, which was the first to shoot live in front of a studio audience, won five Emmy awards and continues to perform well in syndication.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche Birthday
The world moved beyond good and evil on this day in 1844 in Germany with the birth of one of the most important modern philosophers, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Trained as a philologist, Nietzsche developed a controversial philosophy centered on questioning morals and basic human interaction. His famous words “God is dead” build from this idea, as does the idea of the Ubermensch—a superman who is able to move past his morals and work solely for himself. Nietzsche’s work is especially influential in later existentialist and post-modern thought. His sister reworked Nietzsche’s writing as propaganda for the German military; the Nazi Party used it in ways contrary to his beliefs. Nietzsche died August 25, 1900.
America’s First Department Store
In the late 1800s, there was tension between Mormons and non-Mormons about price gouging; both parties were participating. As a solution, Mormon leader Brigham Young helped establish the Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution. This building in Salt Lake City consolidated much of the Mormon trade at the time and provided a solidly priced institution for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The building and company have changed hands in the subsequent years; Macy’s now owns the building and the business.
Noah Webster Birthday
“Birth – day.” noun. “The day of a person’s birth.” That is what today is for the father of the American dictionary, Noah Webster. Born in 1758, Webster was a successful teacher, but is most famous for his work defining the American language. He felt that Americans spoke differently than Englishmen. He changed spellings (color, not colour) and detailed words that English people did not know or use. His first dictionary covered 37,000 words. He published “The American Dictionary of the English Language” in 1828, 22 years after his first. That edition covered 65,000 words. He died May 28, 1843.
1989 San Francisco Earthquake
The most devastating earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay area since 1906, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused 60 deaths, injured thousands and damaged scores of buildings. A slip along the infamous San Andreas Fault caused the earthquake at 5:04 p.m. Most injuries came from the collapse of the double-decker section of Interstate 80 in Oakland, California.
First Newspaper Comic Strip
Cartoons and pictures coupled with words had been appearing in newspapers for years, but it was not until the introduction of “The Yellow Kid ” in “The New York Journal” that a paneled comic strip came into form. Created by Richard Fenton Outcault, the “Yellow Kid” first appeared in a weekly humor supplement on this day in 1896. The strips were collected into a booklet form in 1897, setting the stage for comic books.
Today marks the annual observance of Sweetest Day, a holiday celebrated mostly in the Midwestern portions of the U.S. Begun by Cleveland resident Herbert Birch Kingston, a candy company employee, in 1922, the Sweetest Day is a holiday to give gifts to the poor, the sick, orphans and anyone else needing a smile. Alternate stories state that a committee of 12 men in the candy industry began it. The holiday spread around the Midwest and an attempt was made to bring Sweetest Day to New York. Hallmark and American Greetings have created cards for the holiday.