Throwback Thursday for May 23

  • 1431: The British threatened Joan of Arc with being burned alive. She was a French military commander who wore men’s clothes and claimed to hear the voice of God. When the English captured her after a battle with France, they wanted to burn her at the stake for heresy. She eventually signed a document that renounced her earlier claims and was sentenced to life in prison. She resumed wearing men’s clothing in prison and her accusers used this as evidence that she was still acting as a witch and heretic. She was burned at the stake on May 30. Read about Joan of Arc’s impressive accomplishments and ultimate sainthood in Shapers of Society.
  • 1609: King James I granted the Second Charter of Virginia. The charter was put in place to overhaul the colony’s finances. These charters were part of a joint-stock company the king had established as a way to fund the new colony without worrying about financial or political risks. This charter gave investors more power, though King James could still veto their decisions. Read the full second charter in American History.
  • 1782: Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man and enlisted as Robert Shurtlieff. Sources disagree on the details of her service but she was likely part of dangerous scouting missions in New York. She once got hurt and managed to avoid being outed as a woman by digging the bullet out of her thigh herself. She got very sick later and a doctor found out the truth. Find out what happened to her (you might be surprised!) in the “Discovered!” section in Biographies.
  • 1788: South Carolina became the eighth state in the U.S. The Palmetto State is home to almost 5 million people. The largest city is Charleston and the capital is Columbia. The state bird is the Carolina wren and the state flower is the Carolina jessamine, also called a yellow jessamine. Find out how the state got its nickname in FactCite 123. Hint: It’s not just because they have a lot of palmetto trees!
  • 1814: The final version of Fidelio premiered at the Kärtnertortheater in Vienna. Beethoven had originally composed this work in 1804-1805. The original version was called Leonore and premiered on November 20, 1805, at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Beethoven revised it in 1806 and 1814. The story is set in a jail and involves romance, deception, and evil plots. Read the full synopsis in Essential Information.
  • 1906: Wilbur and Orville Wright received patent number 821-393, “For a Flying Machine.” They had applied for the patent after successfully building a plane that flew for 39 minutes, could do figure eights, and could carry passengers. They soon got a contract with the U. S. Army to create a plane that could fly 40 miles per hour for one hour while carrying a pilot and passenger. They also worked with French investors who were allowed to build aircraft based on the Wrights’ planes. Learn the details of the first successful flight in history in Biography for Beginners.
  • 1937: John D. Rockefeller, Sr. died of a heart attack in Ormond Beach, Florida. Rockefeller started learning about business as a teenager. He ultimately established the Standard Oil Company. Rockefeller fought against other refiners and controlled almost 90 percent of the oil produced in the United States by the 1890s. In the early 1900s, muckraker journalist Ida Tarbell published a series of articles about Rockefeller’s business practices. This led to an investigation that declared Standard Oil was a monopoly. Read about Rockefeller’s early secret scheming and why he was forced to stop in Defining Moments.
  • 1944: Tennis great John Newcombe was born in Sydney, Australia. As a teen, he became the third youngest player on an Australian overseas tennis team. At 17, he debuted at Wimbledon. Along with Tony Roche, he won the Davis Cup doubles competition, helping Australia win the cup. Newcombe also competed individually and won eight major titles in his career. Find out where Newcombe’s early interest in tennis came from in Sports Champions.