Good News in History, February 5

121 years ago today, the admired politician, soldier, and diplomat Adlai Stevenson was born. A one-time governor of Illinois, the Democrat was his party’s nominee for president in both the 1952 and 1956 elections—and though soundly defeated by Republican Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower both times, he inspired a new generation of activists.

President John Kennedy later appointed Adlai Stevenson to be the nation’s ambassador to the UN, a role he enjoyed until his death four years later. The historian Arthur Schlesinger, who served as one of his speechwriters, described Stevenson as a “great creative figure in American politics. He turned the Democratic Party around in the fifties and made JFK possible… To the United States and the world he was the voice of a reasonable, civilized, and elevated America. He brought a new generation into politics, and moved millions of people in the United States and around the world.” WATCH a newsreel from the day… (1900)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Finland celebrates every year the birth of its national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg on this day (1804)
  • Mexico adopted its current constitution establishing a federal republic with 3 branches of government and ushered in profound changes by restricting the power of the Catholic Church and establishing the basis for a free, mandatory, and secular education (1917)
  • The Royal Greenwich Observatory began broadcasting the hourly time signals known as the Greenwich Time Signal (1924)
  • Bob Douglas became the first African American elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame (1972)
  • The ‘Big Three’ banks in Switzerland created a $71 million fund to aid Holocaust survivors and their families (1997)
  • The new START nuclear arms control treaty between U.S. and Russia went into effect, raising hopes among officials on both sides that it will provide the impetus for Moscow and Washington to negotiate further reductions (2011)

Also on the day in 1988, the British charity Comic Relief held its first Red Nose Day and raised £15 million for anti-poverty programs. Since then, the charity, which gives 100% of its donations directly to programs, has raised an amazing £1 billion for charity.

Red Nose Day Mr Bean

87 years ago today, Hank Aaron, one of baseball’s greatest players, and the only MLB batter to hit 30 or more home runs in 15 seasons. Aaron also conquered one of sport’s most cherished records—Babe Ruth’s 714 career home runs. For the next 30 years ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ reigned as the all-time home run king with his total of 755 (until it was passed by a steroid-enhanced performer in 2007).

2010 Hank Aaron photo by John Mathew Smith, CC license

The legendary right-fielder who played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves—and two more for the Milwaukee Brewers—is often called the most underrated player in history, but he was always a model of humility, dignity, and competence. (1934)

And on this day, in 1936, Charlie Chaplin released the last ever “silent” movie, Modern Times. Written and directed by Chaplin, the film portrays his iconic character, Little Tramp, struggling to survive in the modern, industrialized world. 

As a factory worker employed on an assembly line, Chaplin endures the dreary conditions many people faced during the Great Depression. Expected to keep pace on an accelerating assembly line, he tries to screw nuts onto pieces of machinery, whizzing past, but ends up suffering a nervous breakdown. He runs amok, throws the factory into chaos, and lands in jail where he gets into more mischief.

WATCH the famous scene on the assembly line below, or watch the film in its entirety on YouTube here.

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