Jun 12 2011

On This Day In History June 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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June 12 is the 163rd day of the year (164th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 202 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Virginia adopts George Mason’s Declaration of Rights

The assembled slaveholders of Virginia promised to “the good people of VIRGINIA and their posterity” the equal right to life, liberty and property, with the critical condition that the “people” were white men. These same white men were guaranteed that “all power” would be “vested in, and consequently derived from” them. Should a government fail to represent their common interest, a majority of the same held the right to “reform, alter or abolish” the government.

Drafting and adoption

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia.  A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom. It was later amended by Thomas Ludwell Lee and the Convention to add a section on the right to uniform government (Section 14). Patrick Henry persuaded the Convention to delete a section that would have prohibited bills of attander, arguing that ordinary laws could be ineffective against some terrifying offenders.

Mason based his initial draft on the rights of citizens described in earlier works such as the English Bill of Rights (1689), and the Declaration can be considered the first modern Constitutional protection of individual rights for citizens of North America. It rejected the notion of privileged political classes or hereditary offices such as the members of Parliament and House of Lords described in the English Bill of Rights.

The Declaration consists of sixteen articles on the subject of which rights “pertain to [the people of Virginia]…as the basis and foundation of Government.” In addition to affirming the inherent nature of natural rights to life, liberty, and property, the Declaration both describes a view of Government as the servant of the people, and enumerates various restrictions on governmental power. Thus, the document is unusual in that it not only prescribes legal rights, but it also describes moral principles upon which a government should be run.


The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence one month later (July 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (completed September 1787, approved 1789), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting just members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

 1381 – Peasants’ Revolt: in England, rebels arrive at Blackheath.

1418 – An insurrection delivers Paris to the Burgundians.

1429 – Hundred Years’ War: Joan of Arc leads the French army in their capture of the city and the English commander, William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk in the second day of the Battle of Jargeau.

1560 – Battle of Okehazama: Oda Nobunaga defeats Imagawa Yoshimoto.

1653 – First Anglo-Dutch War: the Battle of the Gabbard begins and lasts until June 13.

1665 – England installs a municipal government in New York City (the former Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam).

1758 – French and Indian War: Siege of Louisbourg – James Wolfe’s attack at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia commences.

1775 – American Revolution: British general Thomas Gage declares martial law in Massachusetts. The British offer a pardon to all colonists who lay down their arms. There would be only two exceptions to the amnesty: Samuel Adams and John Hancock, if captured, were to be hanged.

1776 – The Virginia Declaration of Rights is adopted.

1798 – Irish Rebellion of 1798: Battle of Ballynahinch.

1830 – Beginning of the French colonization of Algeria: 34,000 French soldiers land 27 kilometers west of Algiers, at Sidi Ferruch.

1860 – The State Bank of the Russian Empire is established.

1864 – American Civil War, Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor – Ulysses S. Grant gives the Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee a victory when he pulls his Union troops from their positions at Cold Harbor, Virginia and moves south.

1889 – 78 are killed in the Armagh rail disaster near Armagh in what is now Northern Ireland.

1898 – Philippine Declaration of Independence: General Emilio Aguinaldo declares the Philippines’ independence from Spain.

1899 – New Richmond Tornado: the eighth deadliest tornado in U.S. history kills 117 people and injures around 200.

1922 – At Windsor Castle, King George V receives the colours of the six Irish regiments that are to be disbanded – the Royal Irish Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, the South Irish Horse, the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

1935 – Chaco War ends: a truce is called between Bolivia and Paraguay who had been fighting since 1932.

1939 – Shooting begins on Paramount Pictures’ Dr. Cyclops, the first horror film photographed in three-strip Technicolor.

1939 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York.

1940 – World War II: 13,000 British and French troops surrender to Major General Erwin Rommel at Saint-Valery-en-Caux.

1942 – Holocaust: Anne Frank receives a diary for her thirteenth birthday.

1943 – Holocaust: Germany liquidates the Jewish Ghetto in Berezhany, western Ukraine. 1,180 Jews are led to the city’s old Jewish graveyard and shot.

1954 – Pope Pius XII canonises Dominic Savio, who was 14 years old at the time of his death, as a saint, making him the youngest non-martyr saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is murdered in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith.

1964 – Anti-apartheid activist and ANC leader Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison for sabotage in South Africa.

1967 – The United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declares all U.S. state laws which prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.

1967 – Venera program: Venera 4 is launched (it will become the first space probe to enter another planet’s atmosphere and successfully return data).

1978 – David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam” killer in New York City, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings.

1979 – Bryan Allen wins the second Kremer prize for a man powered flight across the English Channel in the Gossamer Albatross.

1987 – The Central African Republic’s former Emperor Jean-Bèdel Bokassa is sentenced to death for crimes he had committed during his 13-year rule.

1987 – Cold War: At the Brandenburg Gate U.S. President Ronald Reagan publicly challenges Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

1990 – Russia Day – the parliament of the Russian Federation formally declares its sovereignty.

1991 – Russians elect Boris Yeltsin as the president of the republic.

1994 – Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are murdered outside her home in Los Angeles, California. O.J. Simpson is later acquitted of the killings, but is held liable in wrongful death civil suit.

1994 – The Boeing 777, the world’s largest twinjet, makes its first flight.

1996 – In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a panel of federal judges blocks a law against indecency on the internet.

1997 – Queen Elizabeth II reopens the Globe Theatre in London.

1999 – Kosovo War: Operation Joint Guardian begins when a NATO-led United Nations peacekeeping force (KFor) enters the province of Kosovo in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

2009 – A disputed presidential election in Iran leads to wide ranging protests in Iran and around the world.

Holidays and observances

   * Chaco Armistice Day (Paraguay)

   * Christian Feast Day:

       * Basilides, Cyrinus, Nabor and Nazarius

       * Eskil

       * John of Sahagún

       * Onuphrius

       * Pope Leo III

       * Ternan

       * June 12 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Dia dos Namorados (Brazil)

   * Independence Day, celebrates the independence of the Philippines from Spain in 1898.

   * June 12 Commemoration (Lagos State)

   * Loving Day (United States)

   * Russia Day (Russia)

   * World Day Against Child Labour (International)

1 comment

  1. TMC

    Dalai Lama

    Friends, genuine friends, have much more to do with whether we have a warm heart, not money or power.

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