1553 — John Calvin had Michael Servetus burned at the stake for heresy. From uudb.org: “During the trial, Calvin asked Servetus, “Is the devil part of God?” Servetus laughed and replied, “Can you doubt it? This is my fundamental principle that all things are a part and portion of God and the nature of things is the substantial spirit of God.” The devil was an important factor in Servetian theology. Servetus was a dualist. He thought God and the devil were engaged in a great cosmic battle. The fate of humanity was just a small skirmish in salvation history. He charged orthodox trinitarians with creating their doctrine of the trinity, not to describe God, but to puff themselves up as central to God’s concern. Because they defined God to suit their own purposes, he called them atheists. Servetus’s demonology included the notion that the devil had created the papacy as an effective countermeasure to Christ’s coming to earth. Through the popes the devil had taken over the church. Infant baptism was a diabolic rite, instituted by Satan, who in ancient days had presided over pagan infant sacrifices.”
I mean, really, after all that what choice did poor Calvin have? This all came about because people back then didn’t have more important things to worry about, like Fantasy Football.
1682 — William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania. Religious persecution was the order of the day in the 17th century. Catholics and Protestants practiced it against one another and both went after Quakers and Jews. And of course stealing land from the Indians was completely acceptable. Penn however treated the Indians fairly and purchased their land. And he was one of the first advocates of American liberty, including that women have equal rights with men. Because of him Pennsylvania had fundamental liberties in a constitution that also limited the power of government.
Oh William, William, where are you now? We need you. Alas, his vision was narrow however, for he did own slaves. That’s probably where that limited power of government came into play.
1941 — Less than two months before Pearl Harbor, the Chicago Daily Tribune editorialized there would be no war with Japan. Seven years later the Chicago Daily Tribune would have a headline: “Dewey beats Truman.”
I’m surprised this same newspaper, in 2003, didn’t have a headline reading: WMD’s found in Iraq.
1811 — Isaac Singer — Invented and manufactured an affordable sewing machine for use in the home. Singer was an American success story. Born into poverty, he left home at age 12 to go to work. He had several other patents before striking gold at age 39 when he invented the sewing machine. He died a multi-millionaire in 1875. Some little known information about this great example of American know-how. He once formed a traveling theater troupe. While on national tour with the Merritt Players, Singer frequently engaged in promiscuous behavior, resulting in the birth of some dozen and a half illegitimate children. After nine years on tour, Singer went broke and the group was forced to disband.
A dozen and a half! I can find no mention of whether the millionaire ever did right by these children. But I have my suspicions.
1924 — Ruby Dee — Equally well known as both an actress and civil rights activist, she also was a writer for both screen and stage. She was married to Ossie Davis, also an actor and activist.
Great actress and classy person. I really enjoyed her work.
1963 — Marla Maples — Actress and ex-wife of Donald Trump.
I’ve never seen any of her work, and as far as class, well, she was married to Donald Trump.