I recently discovered Wolfram|Alpha, it’s very cool, and does all sorts of things. For instance, if you type a date, it gives you news of the day, including who was born on that day. So, I started with Wolfram|Alpha, input today’s date to get some birthdays and other events to get to this page http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=10%2F2%2F09, and then did a bit of research to flesh things out. W|A provided the names of people – all other information and opinions are mine.
It’s not a holiday anywhere in the USA, but it is World Farm Animals Day
Born today in 1452 at Fotheringay Castle, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, England
King Richard III of England; Richard, the last of the House of York and of the Plantaganet dynasty, rule from 1483 until his death in 1485. He lost the Battle of Bosworth, which was decisive in the War of the Roses. He is probably best known today as the character in Shakespeare’s great tragedy, but many scholars believe that history and Shakespeare have maligned the man.
Today in 1836
The HMS Beagle finished its voyage; technically, this was the 2nd voyage of the Beagle as a survey ship, but it is the one which had, as a passenger, one Charles Darwin, and it was on the voyage, which had started in December, 1831, that he did a lot of the work that led to publication of his revolutionary theories. This isn’t the place to detail those theories, but I’d just remark on the fact that the trip took nearly 5 years. If it had been a modern ship, which could go around the world in a month or two, would Darwin have come up with his ideas?
Born today in 1847, in Posen, Prussia (now Poznan, Poland)
Paul von Hindenberg, or, to give his full name Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (wow! I wonder if anyone called him “Paulie”?). Hindenberg is chiefly known as the name of a zeppelin. He was a general in WW I, and second chancellor of the Weimar Republic. In old age, first ran against Hitler, but later supported him and appointed him Chancellor in 1933, and then signed the Reichstag Fire Decrees. He died on August 2, 1934.
Born today in 1869, in Porbandar in what is now Gujarat, India
Mohandas Gandhi was one of the towering figures of the 20th century, founder of the school of satyaghara – or nonviolent resistance to tyranny through civil disobedience – leader of the Indian Independence Movement. He inspired many, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Rabindranath Tagore was the first to dub him “Mahatma” or “great souled” – truly a fitting honorific. Some of my favorite Gandhi quotes:
An eye for an eye leaves the world blind (at least attributed to Gandhi)
I think it would be a good idea – his response when asked what he thought of western civilization
Even if you are a minority of one – the truth is the truth
To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowed in prayer
Born today in 1871, in Olympus, Tennessee
Cordell Hull who is best known as the secretary of state under FDR, but he was also the author of the federal income tax and inheritance tax laws in the 1910s and 1920s, and served 11 terms in the House of Representatives and part of one term in the Senate. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945, for his role in starting the United Nations. One blot on his career is his advice to FDR that, during World War II to not admit refugees. He died in 1955 in Washington DC from sarcoidosis.
Born today in 1879, in Reading, Pennsylvania
Wallace Stevens, his first published poems were under the name “Peter Parasol” in 1914; his first book of poems was published in 1923; he did not become famous for his poetry until he published his collected works, just before his death in 1955.
Born today in 1890, in New York City
Groucho Marx, the one, the only GROUCHO. His real name was Julius Henry Marx. As one of the Marx Brothers, he got started as a comedian early in life, was a vaudevillian, and, later, star of 13 feature films. On his own, he was star of televisions “You Bet Your Life”. He died in 1977 in Los Angeles, of pneumonia. Favorite quotes:
I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.
If I I held you any closer I would be behind you
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
Sources: Wikipedia plus the following
On Richard: http://www.richardiii.net/
On Hindenberg http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/hindenburg_paul_von.shtml
Some old reading of mine that I can’t fully cite (sorry) but his role on refugees is widely known
On Stevens http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/124
On Marx: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/groucho_marx.html