Character is the result of two things: Mental attitude and the way we spend our time. ~Elbert Hubbard
1821 – Elizabeth Blackwell, American physician is born.
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in Britain. Her sister Emily was the third woman in the US to get a medical degree.
1870 – The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing voting rights to citizens regardless of race.
The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.
In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of the millions of black former slaves. By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black voters was important for the party’s future. After rejecting more sweeping versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude on February 26, 1869. The amendment survived a difficult ratification fight and was adopted on March 30, 1870.
United States Supreme Court decisions in the late nineteenth century interpreted the amendment narrowly. From 1890 to 1910, most black voters in the South were effectively disenfranchised by new state constitutions and state laws incorporating such obstacles as poll taxes and discriminatory literacy tests, from which white voters were exempted by grandfather clauses. A system of whites-only primaries and violent intimidation by white groups also suppressed black participation.
In the twentieth century, the Court began to interpret the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States (1915) and dismantling the white primary system in the “Texas primary cases” (1927–1953). Along with later measures such as the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which forbade poll taxes in federal elections, and Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), which forbade poll taxes in state elections, these decisions significantly increased black participation in the American political system. To enforce the amendment, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.
1966 – The unmanned Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft makes the first controlled rocket-assisted landing on the Moon.
Luna 9, internal designation Ye-6 No.13, was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union’s Luna programme. On 3 February 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft became the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, or any planetary body other than Earth, and to transmit photographic data to Earth from the surface of another planetary body.
1995 – Astronaut Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle as mission STS-63 gets underway from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Eileen Marie Collins is a retired NASA astronaut and a retired United States Air Force colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Colonel Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 10 minutes in outer space. Collins retired on May 1, 2006 to pursue private interests, including service as a board member of USAA.
Inspired by “Joey Marshmallow” and the millions of citizen-makers driving the next era of American innovation, we are thrilled to announce plans to host the first-ever White House Maker Faire. We will release more details on the event soon, but it will be an opportunity to highlight both the remarkable stories of Makers like Joey and commitments by leading organizations to help more students and entrepreneurs get involved in making things. Learn more at http://www.whitehouse.gov/makerfaire