Today In History Spotlights Dec. 18, 1865, Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution Adopted

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The first of the 3 Reconstruction Amendments, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.

The other two Reconstruction Amendments – the Fourteenth and the Fifteenth Amendments – extended citizenship rights, equal protection of the law, and the right to vote to all Americans irrespective of their “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

What Happened On This Day – December 18

  • 1966 Saturn’s Moon, Epimetheus, discovered. One of Saturn’s 150 natural satellites or moons, Epimetheus shares its orbit with another moon, Janus. Saturn’s largest moon is Titan, which is the only natural satellite in the Solar System with an atmosphere.
  • 1958 World’s first communication satellite launched. A product of a highly secretive project, SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was launched aboard the Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Once in orbit, it relayed the first message sent to Earth from space – a short statement by American President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • 1912 Piltdown Man Hoax. The announcement by British archeologist Charles Dawson at a conference of the Geological Society of London was received with very little skepticism in the field of paleoanthropology. The discovery of fossilized remains of an unidentified human ancestor in Piltdown, East Sussex, England, was thought to have provided valuable clues about human evolution. It wasn’t until 1953 that the Piltdown Man was discovered to be a hoax – with the skull consisting of the jawbones of an orangutan and the cranium of an adult human being.
  • 1892 The Nutcracker makes it debut in St. Petersburg, Russia. The two-part ballet was inspired by German author Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann’s novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Even though the ballet’s score was composed by the famous Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, it did not get good reviews. It was only in the mid-20th century, that The Nutcracker gained popularity among theater goers, especially during Christmas time in the United States.

Births On This Day – December 18

  • 1980 Christina Aguilera – American singer-songwriter, producer, actress
  • 1964 Stone Cold Steve Austin – American wrestler, actor, producer
  • 1963 Brad Pitt – American actor, producer
  • 1946 Steven Spielberg – American director
  • 1878 Joseph Stalin – Soviet marshal, politician, 4th Premier of the Soviet Union

Deaths On This Day – December 18

  • 2011 Václav Havel – Czech politician, 1st President of the Czech Republic
  • 2008 Mark Felt – American agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • 2006 Joseph Barbera – American animator, director, producer, co-founded Hanna-Barbera
  • 1980 Alexei Kosygin – Soviet politician
  • 1892 Richard Owen – English biologist

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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