This Day in History

Plessy v. Ferguson: "Separate but Equal" Ruled Constitutional (1896)
In this case, the US Supreme Court upheld a Louisiana statute mandating racially segregated railroad cars, ruling that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment dealt with political and not social equality. This provided constitutional sanction for the adoption of the Jim Crow laws. Justice Henry Billings Brown wrote the majority opinion, stating that "separate but equal" laws did not imply one race's inferiority to another. What prompted Homer Plessy to serve as the case's plaintiff? Discuss

Brown v. Board of Education Decided (1954)
In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas, by 13 African-American parents on behalf of their children. The plaintiffs argued that segregating schools along racial lines violated the students' 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. The case was heard by the US Supreme Court, which unanimously agreed that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." What future Supreme Court judge represented the plaintiffs?

Pope Benedict XV Canonizes Joan of Arc (1920)
Joan of Arc was a French military leader. As a girl, she began hearing voices—those of saints, she believed—exhorting her to aid the dauphin, who was being kept from the throne by the English in the Hundred Years War. Joan organized the French resistance that defeated the English siege of Orléans and had the dauphin crowned Charles VII. Captured and sold to the English by the Burgundians thereafter, she was tried for heresy and witchcraft. How old was she when she was burned at the stake?

Today

Isabella d'Este (1474)
One of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance, d'Este was a major cultural and political figure. She had a shrewd political acumen and ruled Mantua as regent for her son after the death of her husband. Known as "The First Lady of the World," she was well-educated, a skilled musician and singer, and a renowned patron of the arts. Her simple style made her a trendsetter, and her fashion was imitated throughout Italy and France. Which artist did she repeatedly ask to paint her portrait? Discuss

Edward Jenner (1749)
Jenner, an English surgeon, discovered the smallpox vaccine and laid the foundations of modern immunology. Apprenticed to a surgeon at 13, Jenner then studied under John Hunter, a pioneer in morphology. Jenner found that people who had been sick with the relatively harmless disease cowpox did not contract smallpox. His invaluable experiments, beginning in 1796 with the vaccination of eight-year-old James Phipps, proved that cowpox provided immunity against smallpox. What killed Jenner in 1823?

Pope Innocent XI (1611)
In 1676, Benedetto Odescalchi was elected pope despite the strong opposition of Louis XIV of France, with whom he had a long, bitter quarrel over Gallicanism—a French Roman Catholic tradition of resistance to papal authority. He took the name Innocent XI. As Pope, Innocent lived very parsimoniously and sought to curb nepotism among the cardinals. He closed all of the theaters in Rome—deemed centers of vice and immorality—and brought a temporary halt to the flourishing tradition of what?