As Martin Luther King, Jr. had once expressed, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” Indeed, February 18 is the date that has witnessed a series of historical events. These events in turn have shaped the present. However, the roots of such events vary. Few were scientific while others were political, literary, and artistic. Here is a deeper understanding of the events that unfolded on February 18 throughout history.
1735- Performance of the first opera in North Carolina
The balled opera “Flora” took place in Charleston, North Carolina. It was the first produced in America. Soon after, operas became widely popular. Several others took place on different stages. Yet, Flora was one of the best operas of the eighteenth century. It was also the first opera that incorporated famous contemporary music along with the lyrics. Later, the American composer Neely Bruce recreated the music from Flora with his own.
1804- Establishment of the first US land-grant college, Ohio University
On 18th February 1804, the US history of education witnessed significant development. The establishment of Ohio University took place in Athens, Ohio. Manasseh Cutler, a graduate from Yale receives the credit for the establishment. Cutler along with other investors of Ohio Company of Associates followed the term of the Northwest Ordinance. Hence, they selected and kept aside land for the establishment of a public university. It is the oldest university in Ohio and the tenth oldest public university in the US.
1879- Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi received a patent for designing the Statue of Liberty
French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi earned a US patent for his design of the Statue of Liberty. In 1871, the sculptor first visited America. The Statue of Liberty was his most well-known project. Individuals regard it to be a gift to America from France. He had raised over a million francs in France to sculpt the statue. “Liberty Enlightening the World” i.e. the Statue of Liberty was the tallest construction of that period. Presently, it is one of the most well-known neoclassical structures around the world.
1885- Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published in the US
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in the UK in 1884. In the US, the novel released on February 18, 1885. Twain’s work is among the Great American Novels. Yet, the novel received constant critique since the first publication. This criticism was because of the use of coarse language. Readers consider this novel to be a sequel to Twain’s previous work i.e. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It is a satire on the attitude and belief towards racism that used to exist in society.
1930- Discovery of Pluto
American Astronomer Clyde William Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 18. Until 2006, Pluto was regarded as a planet. Later, it was recategorized as a dwarf planet. An interesting fact is that around the time of discovery there were three mythological names suggested. These were Minerva, Cronus, and Pluto. However, Minerva was already in use and the supporter of Cronus was unpopular. The American Astronomical Society as well as the Royal Astronomical Society approved the name “Pluto”. Tombaugh discovered the planet in the “Kuiper Belt”. He was also known for the discovery of several asteroids.
1975- Italy broadened the abortion law
An important event took place in the Italian legal history of women’s rights. Specifically, Article 546 of the Italian law prohibited abortion in any form or kind. Violation of the law included a penalty of two to five years of imprisonment. Nonetheless, on February 18, 1975 the Italian Constitutional Court declared Article 546 unconstitutional. This became the turning point. Finally, in May 1978 abortion became legalized in Italy after years of debate over the issue.
1979- Snowfall in the Sahara Desert
An incident happened on February 18, 1979 that would leave the world in complete astonishment. There was snowfall in the world’s largest desert, Sahara. The reports indicated the presence of snow in the Ain Sefra region. This happened after a snowstorm. It lasted for about half an hour. Meteorologists believe that this change in weather resulted because of the impact of high pressure over Europe. This pushed the low-pressure system towards the south in an unusual manner.
2000- Stjepan Mesić became the President of Croatia
Stjepan Mesić, a lawyer and a politician became the second President of Croatia in 2000. He was in power from 2000-2010. Thus, he served two five-year tenure as the president. Before, he was also the Prime Minister of SR Croatia. Stjepan Mesić was active at the forefront of international politics. He promoted Croatia to become a part of the European Union. Besides, he was also the last president to serve under the semi-presidential political system.
2009- Author Terry Pratchett received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II
On February 18, 2009, English author Terry Pratchett received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to literature. He was most well-known for his Discworld series. In the 1990s, Pratchett was among the best-selling authors in the UK. Over 85 million copies of his books were sold all over the world. However, in December 2007 he declared that he was diagnosed with an early onset of Alzheimer’s. Soon after, he also contributed $1 million to Alzheimer’s disease research.