1736 James Watt was born.
1807 Robert E. Lee was born. (See April 9th entry.)
1825 Tin canning process for food was patented.
1839 Paul Cezanne was born.
1918 The Bolsheviks dissolved the Russian Constitutional Assembly. (See November 7th entry.)
1966 Indira Gandhi became prime minister of India. (See November 19th and June 6th entries.)
1983 The American Psychiatric Association urged a tightening of the rules for the use of the insanity plea in criminal trials.
Most of us are faced with an important decision at some point in our lives. But few of us ever have the kind of choices that were extended to Robert E. Lee, who was born on this day in 1807. He was offered the command of the Union Army. But he decided instead to become the Commander of the Confederate Army. People can find themselves in lost causes, but the nobility of the human spirit can somehow survive and triumph over defeat.
Some people and events stand as milestones in the chronicles of human progress. One such person is James Watt, who was born on this day in 1736. He saw how steam could be harnessed; and he actualized his thoughts by designing a steam engine. Since his time many other types of engines have been produced; but Watt inaugurated our machine-oriented age. Though his invention industrialized the industrialized world, it was not an overnight sensation. It had to prove itself more viable than other contemporary power sources like watermills, horses, and oxen.
Ezra Daggett and Thomas Kinsett. Their names are not household words; but their invention is in every household. In 1825, on this day, the Kinsetts of New York City patented a process for canning food in tin containers. They can be said to have pioneered the age of convenience for housewives and armies alike.
Some people are not affected by criticism. And Paul Cezanne, who was born on this day in 1839, was one of them. From the day he began to paint, he was severely criticized for the content and execution of his works. But he didn’t give in to convention. He continued to search for bold expression rather than realistic representation. At the 1899 Salon des Independents in Paris, he finally achieved the acclaim he deserved. And as the century turned, Cezanne was considered to be the strongest influence on twentieth-century Cubist painters like Picasso and Georges Braque.
Though our society attempts to help rather than punish those who are found to be mentally impaired, in many cases there can be no simple litmus test to determine a person’s sanity. On this day in 1983, the American Psychiatric Association urged a tightening of the rules for the use of the insanity plea in criminal trials.