February 21st is a day marked by some important triumphs (the dedication of the Washington monument and Nixon in China); tragedies (John Quincy Adams collapses on the House Floor, Malcolm X Assassinated, Watergate) and the debut of both the Oakland Tribune and The New Yorker Magazine. It is also the birthday of the late music legend Nina Simone and of Astronaut twin brothers Mark and Scott Kelly.
Fmr President John Quincy Adams Suffers Stroke on House Floor
John Quincy Adams was our 6th President and the first son of a President to hold office and first to serve in Congress after the Presidency. After losing reelection to Andrew Jackson, Adams won election to the House of Representative representing Massachusetts.
On this day in 1848, Adams collapsed at his desk on the floor of the House of Representatives. From the House website:
During a debate on whether to refer a resolution to the Committee on Military Affairs, Representative Adams voted in the negative. A short time later he collapsed at his desk. Representative Washington Hunt of New York interrupted the debate to bring attention to the ailing Adams. Members moved the 80-year-old former President to the Rotunda for fresher air and then relocated him to the Speaker’s Room (the present day Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room). Adams mustered the strength to thank the Officers of the House for their service. He then lapsed into a coma and died two days later.
The Oakland Tribune Publishes First Edition
On this day the Oakland Tribune was founded and it would become Oakland’s sole newspaper in 1950. Today the paper is part of the San Jose Mercury-Press which is the 8th largest daily in the nation and second in California behind the Los Angeles Times.
It has won 2 Pulitzer Prizes for photography – one for a near plane crash between a B-29 Superfortress and a small aircraft in 1950 and the other for a series of photographs covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Washington Monument Dedicated
The Washington Monument was dedicated on this date in 1885 but did not officially open until October 9, 1888. When it opened, it became the world’s tallest structure, surpassing Cologne Cathedral, but it too would be surpassed when the Eiffel Tower opened the next year. No building in D.C. is allowed to be taller than the Monument.
The New Yorker Debut
The New Yorker magazine debuted on this day in 1925. Founded as a sophisticated humor magazine, it soon became the pre-eminent forum for serious fiction literature and journalism with contributors including Truman Capote, John Cheever, Vladimir Nabokov, Dorothy Parker, Philip Roth, J. D. Salinger, James Thurber, John Updike, and Stephen King. Its publication of Shirley Jackson’s famed short story “The Lottery” drew more mail than any other story in the magazine’s history. But the Magazine is also much loved for its legendary cartoons.
Malcolm X Assassinated
Malcolm-X, the American Muslim and civil rights activist, was assassinated on this day two days after telling an interviewer that the Nation of Islam was actively trying to kill him. He was killed when three gunmen rushed towards the podium where he was speaking and shot him 21 times. Three Nation of Islam members were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Nixon Arrives in China and Watergate
President Nixon arrived for a week-long visit to China that would begin the process of normalizing relations between the U.S. and the Peoples Republic of China.
Three years later to the date, his Attorney General (John Mitchell), Chief of Staff (H.R. Haldeman) and top Domestic Policy Advisor (John Ehlichman) were sentenced to prison for their role in the Watergate cover-up.
The American music legend, whose life is featured in a documentary nominated for this year’s Academy Awards, was born on this day in 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina. She died in France in 2003 of breast cancer.
Mark and Scott Kelly (52)
On this day, the only twins to have flown in space – Mark and Scott Kelly – were born in Orange, New Jersey. Scott is currently finishing up his year in space as part of an experiment involving his brother studying the effect of space travel.