Good News in History, February 20

As of 182 years ago today, fighting among U.S. Congressmen would no longer be lethal: the legislators voted to outlaw dueling among members.

Rep. William Morgan of Virginia drafted his bill, Resolution 8, following several high-profile duels in the District of Columbia, including the fatal one between House Members Jonathan Cilley of Maine and William Graves of Kentucky, which led to Cilley’s death. Rep. Sam Houston of Tennessee also dueled General William A. White, who was seriously wounded.

Morgan’s bill sought to amend the Constitution to prohibit dueling by any person holding federal public office and to bar anyone who took part in a duel forever onward from holding office. (1839)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the power of the federal government is greater than that of any individual state (1809)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in New York City (1872)
  • Lt. Edward O’Hare became America’s first World War II flying ace (1942)
  • One of the greatest Canadian hockey players, Phil Esposito, was born (1942)
  • Jimi Hendrix made his stage debut at 16-years-old when he played a show at the Temple De Hirsch Sinai synagogue in Seattle (1959)
  • John Glenn aboard Friendship 7 became the first American to orbit the earth (1962)
  • Protesters in Albania‘s capital, Tirana, toppled an enormous statue of the nation’s long-time dictator (1991)
  • Independent candidate Ross Perot announced he would run for president of the USA (1992)

And, 13 years ago today, an old Rolling Stones album bought for £2 at a garage sale sold for £4,000 at auction because the Black and Blue LP was signed by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Paul and Linda McCartney, George Harrison, as well as the members of the Rolling Stones. The seller even haggled down the cost from £3 before walking away with the seminal disk. Experts think the album was signed as part of a celebration to welcome Ronnie Wood, who replaced Mick Taylor in the Stones during 1976, according to the BBC. (2008)

Also, 23 years ago today, American Tara Lipinski became the youngest gold medalist in Winter Olympics history when she won the ladies’ figure skating title at Nagano, Japan at age 15. Lipinski began as a roller skater 10 years earlier, learning the moves from coaches in her Philadelphia hometown and winning the US Championship for her age group when she was 9. On ice five years later, she became the youngest ever to win a World Figure Skating title, at the age of 14 years 9 months, inspiring headlines of “Tara-Mania”. WATCH her gold medal performance… (1998)


Happy 94th Birthday to Oscar-winning actor and director Sidney Poitier. He became the first black performer to win a Best Actor Academy Award (for Lilies of the Field in 1964). Three years later he was the top box-office star with three films about race relations—To Sir, with Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Sidney Poitier
2001 photo by Kingkongphoto &, CC license

At the age of 16, after growing up in The Bahamas, he moved to New York City and held a string of jobs as a dishwasher, until a successful audition landed him a spot with the American Negro Theatre. Poitier, who also starred in A Raisin in the Sun, has written three autobiographical books, including The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography.

Sir Sidney Poitier was also once a Bahamian diplomatic ambassador to Japan. WATCH a 2016 tribute film from the BAFTA awards…

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