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The NAACP is founded

October 24, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On February 12, 1909, the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, a group that included African American leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett announced the formation of a new organization. Called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, it would have a profound effect on the struggle for civil rights and the course of 20th Century American history.

The conference that led to the NAACP’s founding had been called in response to a race riot in Illinois. The founders also noted the disturbing trends of lynchings, which reached their peak not during or immediately after the Civil War but in the 1890s and early 1900s, as segregation laws took effect across the South and white supremacists once again gained total control of state governments. Many of the organization’s early members came from the Niagara Movement, a group created by black activists who were opposed to the concepts of conciliation and assimilation.

In its early years, the NAACP spread awareness of the lynching epidemic by means of a 100,000-person silent march in New York City. It also won a major legal victory in 1915, when the Supreme Court declared an Oklahoma “grandfather clause” that allowed whites to bypass voting restrictions unconstitutional. Perhaps its most famous legal victory came in 1954, when NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund founder Thurgood Marshall won the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Marshall went on to become the first African American Supreme Court justice in 1967. In addition to other legal victories during the Civil Rights Era, the NAACP helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as the Mississippi Freedom Summer, a seminal voter registration drive. The campaign came two years after an NAACP field secretary, Medgar Evers, was assassinated at his home in Jackson.

Due to its prominent members, landmark legal victories, and lobbying for laws like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, the NAACP holds a place of distinction in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. It remains the largest and oldest active civil rights group in the nation, and its emphasis on voter registration, legal defense and activism have set an example for subsequent groups to follow.

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Source: HISTORY

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Three protestors die in the Orangeburg Massacre

October 24, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On the night of February 8, 1968, police officers in Orangeburg, South Carolina open fire on a crowd of young people during a protest against racial segregation, killing three and wounding around 30 others. The killing of three young African Americans by state officials, four years after racial discrimination had been outlawed by federal law, has gone down in history as the Orangeburg Massacre.

After decades of protests across the country, segregation was abolished in the United States by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While its passage was a major victory, many racists throughout the South simply refused to obey it, knowing local police would not care to enforce. In early February of 1968, a group of activists in Orangeburg tried to convince one such man, Harry Floyd, to desegregate his bowling alley, but he refused. Several days of expanding protests followed, during which protesters damaged a window of the bowling alley, police responded with arrests and beatings, and unrest spread to the nearby campus of South Carolina State University, a historically black college.

The night of the 8th, officers of the South Carolina Highway Patrol responded to a bonfire on the campus. When a protester pried a banister from an abandoned house and threw it at an officer, the police opened fire. The Highway Patrol would subsequently claim, and newspapers would subsequently report, that the students had used firebombs and even sniper rifles to attack before the police fired; however, multiple investigations of the incident failed to turn up any evidence to support the claims. The police barrage claimed the lives of two SCSU students, Samuel Hammond, Jr. and Henry Smith, as well as a local high school student, Delano Middleton, who had been sitting near the protest waiting for his mother to get off work.

The killings sparked outrage across the nation, but the Governor of South Carolina blamed “black power advocates” rather than his police. The massacre is still commemorated by the university and others in South Carolina, but social commentators have noted that its place in America’s collective memory is not as prominent that of the similar Kent State and Jackson State Massacres, both of which occurred during anti-Vietnam War protests and which collectively claimed the lives of six white students in 1970. Shootings on college and high school campuses continue to plague the United States, as does police violence against African …read more

Source: HISTORY

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First paper currency is issued in the Colonies

October 24, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On December 10, 1690, a failed attack on Quebec and subsequent near-mutiny force the Massachusetts Bay Colony to issue the first paper currency in the history of the Western Hemisphere.

France and Britain periodically attacked each other’s North American colonies throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries. In 1690, during one such war, Governor William Phips of Britain’s Massachusetts Bay Colony made a promise he could not keep. After leading a successful invasion of the French colony of Arcadia, Phips decided to raid Quebec City, promising his volunteer troops half the loot in addition to their usual pay. Soldiers were typically paid in coins, but shortages of official currency in the colonies sometimes forced armies to temporarily issue IOUs—in one case, in the form of cut-up playing cards—which troops were allowed to exchange for goods and services until receiving their actual pay. Despite Phips’ grand promise, he failed to take the city, returning to Massachusetts with a damaged fleet and no treasure.

With a shortage of coins and nothing else to pay the troops with, Phips faced a potential mutiny. With no other option, on December 10th, 1690, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered the printing of a limited amount of government-backed, paper currency to pay the soldiers. A few months later, with tax season approaching, a law was passed removing the limit on how much currency could be printed, calling for the immediate printing of more, and permitting the use of paper currency for the payment of taxes.

The currency was initially unpopular for anything except paying taxes, and was phased out. Within a few years, however, paper currency would return to Massachusetts. The Bank of England began issuing banknotes in 1695, also to pay for war against the French, and they became increasingly common throughout the 18th Century. Paper money continued to stoke controversy throughout the early history of the United States, and it was tied to the value of gold for a surprisingly long time. It was not until 1973 that President Richard Nixon officially ended the international convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold.

READ MORE: How Did the Gold Standard Contribute to the Great Depression?

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Source: HISTORY

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Facebook launches

October 24, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On February 4, 2004, a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg launches The Facebook, a social media website he had built in order to connect Harvard students with one another. By the next day, over a thousand people had registered, and that was only the beginning. Now known simply as Facebook, the site quickly ballooned into one of the most significant social media companies in history. Today, Facebook is one of the most valuable companies in the world, with over 2 billion monthly active users.

The origins of Facebook have been highly scrutinized (including in the critically acclaimed 2010 film The Social Network), but the exact source of the idea remains unclear. What is obvious is that Zuckerberg had twin gifts for coding and causing a stir, both of which served him well at Harvard. The previous year, he had become a campus celebrity by creating FaceMash, a website where students could vote on which of two randomly-selected Harvard women was more attractive, and quickly running afoul of both the administration and several women’s groups. FaceMash was short-lived but wildly popular, leading Zuckerberg to consider the value of creating a campus-wide social network.

Over the course of his sophomore year, Zuckerberg built what would become Facebook. When it launched on February 4, he and his roommates were glued to their screens, watching as an estimated 1,200-1,500 of their fellow students signed up for their site within its first 24 hours of existence. From there, Facebook expanded rapidly, moving to other Boston-area schools and the rest of the Ivy League that spring. By the end of the year, the site had 1 million users, angel investor Peter Thiel had invested $500,000, and Zuckerberg had left Harvard to run Facebook from its new headquarters in California.

From there, Facebook spread across the world, becoming not only an incredibly valuable company but also one of the most important institutions of the early 21st Century. The go-to social media site for a generation of internet users (and one which was readily adopted by older users as it transformed from exclusive to universal), Facebook was one of the major forces that brought the internet into the highly-participatory phase full of user-generated content sometimes referred to as “Web 2.0.” It has also remained controversial. In addition to accusations that it allows false news and fake accounts to proliferate, Facebook has drawn criticism both for selling its users’ …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks is born

October 24, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Rosa Louise McCauley—known to history by her married name, Rosa Parks—is born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913. A lifelong Civil Rights activist, Parks’ name has become synonymous with her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in 1955, a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.

Parks was born and raised during the Jim Crow Era, a time of ubiquitous and strictly-enforced racial segregation in the South. As a young girl, she watched white students ride to school on a bus while she had to walk. “The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world,” she later recalled. After moving to Montgomery, she married Raymond Parks, a barber who was heavily involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and became involved with the nascent Civil Rights struggle. In 1943, due largely to her being the only woman at the meeting, she was elected Secretary of the NAACP’s Montgomery chapter. In this role, Parks dealt with the local media, corresponded with other NAACP chapters and processed the many reports of injustice which the organization received.

It was partially because of her contributions to the movement and standing in the community that local leaders chose to rally behind Parks when, on December 1st, 1955, she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. Parks, like several other women that year, was arrested and fined for violating Jim Crow laws, but it was her action that set the Montgomery Bus Boycott into motion. Civil Rights activists in Montgomery, including the young Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been waiting for the appropriate moment to challenge the city’s segregated transit system. They succeeded in organizing the African American community of Montgomery to boycott the buses for over a year, until a court ruling officially desegregated them on December 20, 1956. The boycott and the triumph of its organizers received nationwide coverage and have gone down as one of the major early victories of the Civil Rights Movement.

Parks remained a civil rights advocate for the rest of her life. She moved to Detroit not long after the boycott, but returned to Alabama for the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches and made appearances around the country. For years, she served in the office of Rep. John Conyers, …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How Reagan and Thatcher Made Americans and Britons Happier

October 24, 2019 in Economics

By Terence Kealey

Terence Kealey

Americans are happier than ever before, and it’s all thanks to Ronald Reagan. This unexpected finding comes to us thanks to a study from the University of Warwick, in England.

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The Warwick researchers measured happiness by identifying, in over eight million of the books that have been digitized by Google Books, words that reflect mood. Words like “sunny” or “cheerful” or “joyful” were categorized as happy, while words like “miserable” or “sad” or “wretched” were categorized as unhappy. The researchers then chronicled the use of such words in books that have been published, since 1820, in the U.S., the U., Germany, and Italy.

The Warwick researchers assumed that, in happy times and in happy places, books would carry more happy words. And vice versa. To verify their hunch, the researchers calibrated their findings against other indices of happiness such as the United Nations’ World Happiness Report or the Eurobarometer survey of the European Commission, which asks respondents if they are “very satisfied,” “fairly satisfied,” “not very satisfied,” or “not at all satisfied” with the lives they lead.

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Having shown good correlations with current data, the Warwick researchers felt confident in studying books dating back to 1820, making allowance for words such as “gay” that might have changed their meaning. And the results were intriguing.

Some findings were unexceptional: namely, that Americans were unhappy during the Civil War, the Great War, the Great Depression, and World War II. Otherwise, though, we’ve consistently been a cheerful bunch of souls, stoically refusing to grumble while getting on with the business of transforming our continent into the greatest and richest on earth. With one exception. We hated the Bretton Woods years.

This seems perverse, for the Bretton Woods years of 1944–73 were objectively the best, not just in American but in Western history. It was at Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire, in 1944, that the British economist Maynard Keynes persuaded the Western powers to abandon globalization, laissez faire, and free trade. Instead, Keynes persuaded them to run …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How the Vaping Ban Will Hit Small Businesses

October 24, 2019 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Sudden concern over lung illnesses possibly associated with vaping has led to a rash of state and federal bans on flavored vaping liquids. Public attention has focused on the biggest e-cigarette company, Juul, which has taken to running full-page ads in newspapers proclaiming that its products are safe and only for sale to adults.

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But in this case, like many others, the dirty little secret of regulation is that it ends up imposing more costs on small companies than on the biggest players. Juul, which received a $12.8 billion investment from Altria (formerly Philip Morris), can afford legal and regulatory compliance costs that may squeeze out its smaller competitors.

Travis Pritchard, manager at Vaporz in Whitesboro, N.Y., told the Washington Post, “After the mom-and-pop stores are essentially flushed out of New York, the only devices you’ll find are Juuls.”

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University of Notre Dame economist Benjamin Pugsley agreed: “When you have regulations that are increasing the entry cost of any particular industry, that tends to favor the large incumbents.”

The same phenomenon has occurred in many industries over the years.

Prohibition in the 1920s shut down many small brewers and distillers, but the big companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Brown-Forman, the makers of Jack Daniel’s, had the resources to wait out the 14-year ban and emerged bigger than ever.

In 2016 the European Union passed sweeping new regulations on tech firms to protect data privacy. Big companies like Facebook and Google fought hard against the new rules. But once the legislation passed, they invested big in dealing with it. They mobilized hundreds of people in Europe and the United States, many of them highly paid lawyers, to study the detailed law and review contracts and internal procedures. They had frequent contact with EU regulators.

Smaller companies didn’t have such resources. Some online-ad companies including Verve and Drawbridge pulled out of Europe. Journalists began to report that the regulations were disproportionately burdensome to smaller firms. Investors worried that …read more

Source: OP-EDS