Today In History Spotlights Feb. 11, 1953, Eisenhower Denies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Appeals for Clemency

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Today’s History Spotlight

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President Dwight D. Eisenhower denies all appeals for clemency for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were American citizens who were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, as well as providing the Soviets with top-secret information on nuclear weapons designs.

They were executed on June 19, 1953. President Eisenhower said this of the Rosenbergs: “The execution of two human beings is a grave matter. But even graver is the thought of the millions of dead whose deaths may be directly attributable to what these spies have done.”

What Happened On This Day – February 11

  • 1990 Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years as a political prisoner. The anti-apartheid campaigner’s release was a high point in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy.
  • 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini seizes power in Iran. Few days after Khomeini’s triumphant return from French exile, the Iranian army steps aside, making way for the creation of an Islamic theocracy.
  • 1975 Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female leader of the British Conservative Party. Thatcher won the general elections in 1979 and became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  • 1938 The BBC broadcasts Karel Čapek’s “R.U.R.”, the world’s first science fiction TV program. The Czech play whose abbreviated title stands for “Rossum’s Universal Robots” introduced the word “robot” to the English language.
  • 1858 Bernadette Soubirous sees a vision of the Virgin Mary near Lourdes. The small town in southern France became one of the most important Christian places of pilgrimage.

Births On This Day – February 11

  • 1969 Jennifer Aniston – American actress, director, producer
  • 1964 Sarah Palin – American politician, 9th Governor of Alaska
  • 1934 Manuel Noriega – Panamanian general, politician, Military Leader of Panama
  • 1926 Leslie Nielsen – Canadian/American actor
  • 1847 Thomas Edison – American businessman, invented the light bulb, phonograph

Deaths On This Day – February 11

  • 2012 Whitney Houston – American singer, actress, producer, model
  • 2010 Alexander McQueen – English fashion designer, founded
  • 1978 James Bryant Conant – American chemist, academic, diplomat, 1st United States Ambassador to West Germany
  • 1963 Sylvia Plath – American poet
  • 1650 René Descartes – French philosopher, mathematician

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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