Today marks the 170th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention which is seen as the birthplace for the women’s rights movements in the United States. It also marks the day Nicaragua’s Sandinista National Liberation Front was formed in 1961 and the day it marched into Managua in victory in 1979.
Other events include the Great Fire of Rome, the debut of the Paris metro, the first Tour de France, the assassination of Burma’s independence leader Aung San, the fifth worst oil spill and deadly plane crash in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Seneca Falls Convention
The Seneca Falls Convention was a two-day convention convened “to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman”. It is considered the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States. The convention concluded with a “Declaration of Sentiments” largely drafted by suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton that called for women’s suffrage and property rights, among other things and which concluded as follows:
Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.
Stanton credited the presence of Frederick Douglas and his support for women suffrage at the convention.
Your voice, Frederick Douglass, was heard in our first convention, and but for you, I fear the resolution demanding the elective franchise for woman, would not have been adopted…May your voice be the first to congratulate us when our success shall be assured.
The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, however, was not adopted until 1920 – years after the death of both Douglass and Stanton.
Great Fire of Rome
Rome burned for six days in a devastating fire. A rumor that it may have been started by Emperor Nero who watched the fire from the hills while playing the lyre, led the Emperor to blame the Christian community and launched Rome’s first anti-Christian crackdown.
Paris Métro Opens
The Paris Métro, short for Métropolitain opened on this day in 1900 during the World’s Fair. From Wikipedia:
A symbol of the city, it is known for its density within the city limits, its uniform architecture, and its unique entrances influenced by Art Nouveau. . . . It is the second busiest subway system in Europe, after the Moscow Metro, and the tenth-busiest in the world. It carried 1.520 billion passengers in 2015, 4.16 million passengers a day, which amounts to 20% of the overall traffic in Paris.
First Tour de France
Maurice Garin won the very first Tour de France cycling race cover 1,509 miles throughout France over 19 days. The race now is the premier cycling event in the world. Current versions of the race cover approximately 2,200 miles over 23-days.
Aung San Assassinated
Aung San, who negotiated Burma’s independence from Great Britain, and was the leader of its provincial government was assassinated. In 1989, the military government changed the named from Burma to Myanmar, just as Aung San’s daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi was emerging as the leader of the opposition to military rule in Myanmar and today is the nation’s State Counselor (a position similar to a prime minister).
Sandinistas Overthrow Somoza
After being occupied by the U.S. from 1912-1933, Nicaragua was ruled by the hereditary dictatorship of the Somoza family. On this day in 1961, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (“SNLF”) was formed named after al Augusto César Sandino who had fought against U.S. occupation and was assassinated by the Somoza family. Eighteen years later, the SNLF overthrew Somoza and captured the capital of Managua two days after Anastasio Somoza Debayle had fled into exile.
The SNLF government, led by Daniel Ortega, pursued a socialist agenda that included nationalization of property owned by the Somozas and their supporters; land reform; improved rural and urban working conditions; free unionization for all workers, price-fixing for commodities of basic necessity; and improved public services, housing conditions, education.
The United States would fund a counter-revolutionary force (the Contras), but the SNLF was finally beaten at the ballot box in 1990. They returned to power in 2006.
SS Atlantic Empress Collides in the Caribbean
Greek oil tanker SS Atlantic Empress en route to Texas collided with Aegean Captain, a Greek supertanker en route to Singapore collided off the coast of Trinidad. The Atlantic Empress would burn for a week, until a series of explosion led the ship to sink on August 3rd, after spilling 287,000 metric tons of crude oil into the Caribbean Sea – nearly 8 times that of spilled by the Exxon Valdez a decade later. It is the 5th largest oil spill of all-time. Twenty-seven crew members were killed in the collision and ensuing explosions.
United Airlines Flight 232 Crashes
United Airlines Flight 232 (Denver-Chicago) with 296 passengers was forced to crash land in Sioux City, Iowa, killing 111 passengers. Despite the loss of life, the crew was heralded for an impossible landing given that they landed the airplane without conventional control.