Franklin Pierce (1804)
In 1852, the Democratic party of the US was split into hostile factions, none of which could muster sufficient strength to secure the presidential nomination. The charming and unobjectionable Pierce was nominated as a compromise candidate. He unexpectedly trounced his opposition in the general election despite being largely unknown beforehand. However, Pierce proved unable to mediate slavery-related political troubles. As a testament to his unpopularity, he was the first US president to do what? Discuss

André Gide (1869)
A prolific and unconventional French writer, Gide was controversial for his confessional works, his frank defense of homosexuality, and his espousal of Communism—and subsequent disavowal of it after a visit to the Soviet Union. A champion of society's victims, he spurred reform of French colonial policy in Africa with books such as Travels in the Congo. In one of his most famous quotes, Gide advised that one should believe those who seek the truth and reserve doubt for whom?

Mollie Steimer (1897)
After immigrating to New York City from Russia as a teen, Steimer worked in the garment industry, where she became involved in workers' rights and anarchism. After joining a Jewish anarchist collective, she began publishing leaflets that opposed US involvement in World War I. Arrested for distributing them, she was convicted under the Espionage Act and deported to Russia. She was soon forced to leave Russia, and later fled both Germany and France. Where did she spend the rest of her life?

This Day in History

The People's Republic of China Joins the UN Security Council (1971)
The 1949 Communist takeover of mainland China created the People's Republic of China (PRC). The former government, known as the Republic of China (ROC), retained control only of Taiwan and outlying islands. However, for the next 22 years, the ROC also held onto its seat in the UN, representing the mainland it no longer controlled. UN Resolution 2758 finally transferred China's seat to representatives of the PRC. Since then, the ROC has repeatedly applied to rejoin the UN under what names? Discuss

Toy Story, First Feature-Length Computer-Generated Film, Is Released (1995)
Released to universal acclaim, Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-generated film, as well as the first such film from Pixar Studios. Steve Jobs had purchased Pixar in 1986, but the company had yet to find its niche. When its 1988 short film Tin Toy won an Oscar, Disney took notice, and the two companies soon formed a partnership that would prove to be extremely successful, beginning with the release of Toy Story. What popular toy was cut from the original plot?

Rebecca Latimer Felton Becomes the First Female US Senator (1922)
Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick unsuccessfully fought the 19th Amendment, which allowed women to vote—and to vote against him in retaliation when he ran for US Senate. Before the election, he tried to appease female voters by naming Felton, an 87-year-old suffragist and white supremacist, to be Georgia's interim senator for the shortest term in history—one day. Felton thus became the first woman, one of the last former slave-owners, and the oldest freshman to serve. Did Hardwick's ploy work?

Quote of the Day

Alexander Hamilton
The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. Discuss

Ambrose Bierce
Congratulation, n.: The civility of envy.

Miguel de Cervantes
Liberty…is one of the most valuable blessings that Heaven has bestowed upon mankind.

Word of the Day

Definition: (adjective) Relating to or involving blood or bloodshed. Synonyms: butcherly, gory, slaughterous. Usage: He was an angry youth with a sanguineous temperament and was always getting into fights. Discuss

Definition: (verb) Form a mental image of something that is not present or that is not the case. Synonyms: conceive of, envisage, imagine. Usage: Such characters represent a grotesquely blown-up aspect of an ideal man ... if not realizable, capable of being ideated.

Definition: (verb) Oppose and mitigate the effects of by contrary actions. Synonyms: counteract, counterbalance, neutralize. Usage: I hope that my letter of apology will countervail the foolish actions of my colleagues.