On this day:
1819 – The United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise for the first time.
The Missouri Compromise is the title generally attached to the legislation passed by the 16th Congress of the United States on May 8, 1820. The measures provided for the admission of the District of Maine as a state free to ratify a state constitution that both did not recognize and prohibited slavery within the state. Further, the Compromise provided that the Missouri territory was free to enact a state constitution that both recognized as legal and permitted (through affirmative state legislation and state government regulation), the institution of chattel slavery. In addition, it outlawed as a matter of Federal law both the recognition and legality of the institution of chattel slavery in the Federal territory that remained of the Louisiana Purchase that was still unorganized and north of the 36°30′ parallel (excepting Missouri, hence “Missouri Compromise”) within the Purchase lands. With these actions, the Compromise committed the largest remaining portion of Purchase territory to free soil. It did not permit either the plantation of or the expansion of slavery in the Purchase, as the territory became populated and organized first into Federal territories, and eventually into states of the union. However, South of the parallel no slavery restrictions were imposed in the Arkansas Territory, which later became Indian territory, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. There also were not any statements about restrictions or recognition of the institution of slavery at or South of the latitude, or in territory possessed by Spain. President James Monroe signed the legislation on April 6, 1820.
The compromise bills served to quell the furious sectional debates that had first erupted during the final session of the 15th Congress. On February 3, 1819, Representative James Tallmadge, Jr., a Jeffersonian Republican from New York State, had submitted two amendments to Missouri’s request for statehood. The first proposed to federally prohibit further slave migration into Missouri; the second would require all slave offspring, born after statehood, freed at 25 years of age. At issue among southern legislators was the encroachment by their northern free state colleagues in what they considered a purely sectional concern: slave labor.
Northern critics including Federalists and Republicans, objected to the expansion of slavery into the Louisiana Purchase territory on the Constitutional inequalities of the three-fifths rule, which conferred Southern representation in the federal government, derived from a states’ slave population. Nonetheless, the more populous North held a firm numerical advantage in the House. Jeffersonian Republicans in the North ardently maintained that a strict interpretation of the Constitution required that Congress act to limit the spread of slavery on egalitarian grounds.
The slave-holding states were acutely aware that maintaining a balance in the number of free-to-slave states was necessary to ensure political equilibrium in the US Senate. With the Senate evenly split at the opening of the debates, both sections possessing 11 states, the admission of Missouri would give the South a two-seat advantage in the upper house and diminish the Northern lower house majority. The South sought to enlist Missouri to maintain Southern political preeminence and ensure security of their institutions.
The Missouri question in the 15th Congress ended in stalemate on March 4, 1819, the House sustaining its northern antislavery position, and the Senate blocking a slavery restricted statehood. Antislavery agitation grew in the North in the aftermath of the debates, leading to widespread opposition to slavery in Missouri. As the 16th Congress assembled in December 1819, the two houses remained thoroughly polarized over slavery in the Louisiana Purchase territories.
When the free-soil District of Maine offered its petition for statehood, the Senate quickly linked the Maine and Missouri bills, making Maine admission a condition for Missouri entering the Union with slavery unrestricted. Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois added a compromise proviso, excluding slavery from all remaining lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36 30’ parallel. The combined measures passed the Senate, only to be voted down in the House by those Northern representatives who held out for a free Missouri. Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay of Kentucky, in a desperate bid to break the deadlock, divided the Senate bills. Clay and his pro-compromise allies succeeded in pressuring half the anti-restrictionist House Southerners to submit to the passage of the Thomas proviso, while maneuvering a number of restrictionist House northerners to acquiesce in supporting Missouri as a slave state. This was the Missouri Compromise.
The legislation extracted by the compromisers served to effect a “brokered truce” or “armistice” rather than a genuine compromise. The crux of the Compromise was that it circumvented the deepening disaffection among Jeffersonian Republicans.
The Missouri crisis would spur the formation of two powerful political organizations – the Democratic and Whig Parties – both committed to preserving the federal Union by means of sectional compromise and the suppression of the explosive proslavery and antislavery arguments that had surfaced over Missouri statehood. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 would hasten the growth of a mass antislavery coalition – the Republican Party – whose precepts of which were first formulated by Jeffersonian Republican restrictionists during the Missouri crisis.
1959 – Project Vanguard: Vanguard 2: The first weather satellite is launched to measure cloud-cover distribution.
Project Vanguard was a program managed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which intended to launch the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit using a Vanguard rocket as the launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Missile Annex, Florida.
In response to the surprise launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. restarted the Explorer program, which had been proposed earlier by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). Privately, however, the CIA and President Dwight D. Eisenhower were aware of progress being made by the Soviets on Sputnik from secret spy plane imagery. Together with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), ABMA built Explorer 1 and launched it on January 31, 1958. Before work was completed, however, the Soviet Union launched a second satellite, Sputnik 2, on November 3, 1957. Meanwhile, the spectacular televised failure of Vanguard TV3 on December 6, 1957 deepened American dismay over the country’s position in the Space Race.
On March 17, 1958, Vanguard 1 became the second artificial satellite successfully placed in Earth orbit by the United States. It was the first solar-powered satellite. Just 152 mm (6 in) in diameter and weighing just 1.4 kg (3 lb), Vanguard 1 was described by then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as, “The grapefruit satellite.”
Vanguard 1 is the oldest artificial satellite still in space, as Vanguard’s predecessors, Sputnik 1, Sputnik 2, and Explorer 1, have decayed from orbit.
Born on this day:
1781 – René Laennec, French physician, invented the stethoscope (d. 1826)
René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laennec (French: [laɛnɛk]; 17 February 1781 – 13 August 1826) was a French physician. He invented the stethoscope in 1816, while working at the Hôpital Necker, and pioneered its use in diagnosing various chest conditions.
He became a lecturer at the Collège de France in 1822 and professor of medicine in 1823. His final appointments were that of Head of the Medical Clinic at the Hôpital de la Charité and Professor at the Collège de France. He died of tuberculosis in 1826 at the age of 45.
René Laennec wrote the classic treatise De l’Auscultation Médiate, published in August 1819 The preface reads:
In 1816, I was consulted by a young woman laboring under general symptoms of diseased heart, and in whose case percussion and the application of the hand were of little avail on account of the great degree of fatness. The other method just mentioned [direct auscultation] being rendered inadmissible by the age and sex of the patient, I happened to recollect a simple and well-known fact in acoustics, … the great distinctness with which we hear the scratch of a pin at one end of a piece of wood on applying our ear to the other. Immediately, on this suggestion, I rolled a quire of paper into a kind of cylinder and applied one end of it to the region of the heart and the other to my ear, and was not a little surprised and pleased to find that I could thereby perceive the action of the heart in a manner much more clear and distinct than I had ever been able to do by the immediate application of my ear.
Laennec had discovered that the new stethoscope was superior to the normally used method of placing the ear over the chest, particularly if the patient was overweight. A stethoscope also avoided the embarrassment of placing the ear against the chest of a woman.
The first drawing of a stethoscope, 1819
A modern stethoscope
Laennec is said to have seen schoolchildren playing with long, hollow sticks in the days leading up to his innovation. The children held their ear to one end of the stick while the opposite end was scratched with a pin, the stick transmitted and amplified the scratch. His skill as a flautist may also have inspired him. He built his first instrument as a 25 cm by 2.5 cm hollow wooden cylinder, which he later refined to comprise three detachable parts.
His clinical work allowed him to follow chest patients from bedside to the autopsy table. He was therefore able to correlate sounds captured by his new instruments with specific pathological changes in the chest, in effect pioneering a new non-invasive diagnostic tool. Laennec was the first to classify and discuss the terms rales, rhonchi, crepitance, and egophony – terms that doctors now use on a daily basis during physical exams and diagnoses. In February 1818, he presented his findings in a talk at the Académie de Médecine, later publishing his findings in 1819.
Laennec coined the phrase mediate auscultation (indirect listening), as opposed to the popular practice at the time of directly placing the ear on the chest (immediate auscultation). He named his instrument the stethoscope, from stethos (chest), and skopos (examination).
One of the original stethoscopes belonging to Rene Theophile Laennec made of wood and brass
Not all doctors readily embraced the new stethoscope. Although the New England Journal of Medicine reported the invention of the stethoscope two years later in 1821, as late as 1885, a professor of medicine stated, “He that hath ears to hear, let him use his ears and not a stethoscope.” Even the founder of the American Heart Association, L. A. Connor (1866–1950) carried a silk handkerchief with him to place on the wall of the chest for ear auscultation.
Laennec often referred to the stethoscope as “the cylinder,” and as he neared death only a few years later, he bequeathed his own stethoscope to his nephew, referring to it as “the greatest legacy of my life.”
The modern binaural stethoscope with two ear pieces was invented in 1851 by Arthur Leared. George Cammann perfected the design of the instrument for commercial production in 1852, which has become the standard ever since.
Other medical contributions
Laennec auscultates a patient before his students
He developed the understanding of peritonitis and cirrhosis. Although the disease of cirrhosis was known, Laennec gave cirrhosis its name, using the Greek word (kirrhos, tawny) that referred to the tawny, yellow nodules characteristic of the disease.
He coined the term melanoma and described metastases of melanoma to the lungs. In 1804, while still a medical student, he was the first person to lecture on melanoma. This lecture was subsequently published in 1805. Laennec actually used the term ‘melanose,’ which he derived from the Greek (mela, melan) for “black.” Over the years, there were bitter exchanges between Laennec and Dupuytren, the latter objecting that there was no mention of his work in this area and his role in its discovery.
He also studied tuberculosis. Coincidentally, his nephew, Mériadec Laennec, is said to have diagnosed tuberculosis in Laennec using Laennec’s stethoscope.
Laennec advocated objective scientific observation. Professor Benjamin Ward Richardson stated in Disciples of Aesculapius that “the true student of medicine reads Laennec’s treatise on mediate auscultation and the use of the stethoscope once in two years at least as long as he is in practice. It ranks with the original work of Vesalius, Harvey and Hippocrates.” 
1864 – Banjo Paterson, Australian journalist, author, and poet (d. 1941)
Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, CBE (17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood. Paterson’s more notable poems include “Waltzing Matilda”, “The Man from Snowy River” and “Clancy of the Overflow”.
Andrew Barton Paterson was born at the property “Narrambla”, near Orange, New South Wales, the eldest son of Andrew Bogle Paterson, a Scottish immigrant from Lanarkshire, and Australian-born Rose Isabella Barton, related to the future first Prime Minister of Australia Edmund Barton. Paterson’s family lived on the isolated Buckinbah Station near Yeoval NSW until he was five when his father lost his wool clip in a flood and was forced to sell up. When Paterson’s uncle John Paterson died, his family took over John Paterson’s farm in Illalong, near Yass, close to the main route between Melbourne and Sydney. Bullock teams, Cobb and Co coaches and drovers were familiar sights to him. He also saw horsemen from the Murrumbidgee River area and Snowy Mountains country take part in picnic races and polo matches, which led to his fondness of horses and inspired his writings.
Paterson’s early education came from a governess, but when he was able to ride a pony, he was taught at the bush school at Binalong. In 1874 Paterson was sent to Sydney Grammar School, performing well both as a student and a sportsman. During this time, he lived in a cottage called Rockend, in the suburb of Gladesville. The cottage is now listed on the Register of the National Estate. He left the prestigious school at 16 after failing an examination for a scholarship to University of Sydney. He went on to become a law clerk with a Sydney-based firm headed by Herbert Salwey and was admitted as a solicitor in 1886.
In the years he practised as a solicitor, Paterson also started a writing career. From 1885, he began submitting and having poetry published in the The Bulletin, a literary journal with a nationalist focus. His earliest work was a poem criticising the British war in the Sudan, which also had Australian participation. Over the next decade, the influential journal provided an important platform for Paterson’s work, which appeared under the pseudonym of “The Banjo”, the name of his favourite horse. As one of its most popular writers through the 1890s, he formed friendships with other significant writers in Australian Literature, such as E.J. Brady, Harry Breaker Morant and Henry Lawson. In particular, Paterson became engaged in a friendly rivalry of verse with Lawson about the allure of bush life.
Paterson became a war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age during the Second Boer War, sailing for South Africa in October 1899. His graphic accounts of the relief of Kimberley, surrender of Bloemfontein (the first correspondent to ride in) and the capture of Pretoria attracted the attention of the press in Britain. He also was a correspondent during the Boxer Rebellion, where he met George “Chinese” Morrison and later wrote about his meeting. He was editor of the Sydney Evening News (1904–06) and of the Town and Country Journal (1907–08).
In 1908 after a trip to the United Kingdom he decided to abandon journalism and writing and moved with his family to a 40,000-acre (160 km2) property near Yass.
In World War I, Paterson failed to become a correspondent covering the fighting in Flanders, but did become an ambulance driver with the Australian Voluntary Hospital, Wimereux, France. He returned to Australia early in 1915 and, as an honorary vet, travelled on three voyages with horses to Africa, China and Egypt. He was commissioned in the 2nd Remount Unit, Australian Imperial Force on 18 October 1915, serving initially in France where he was wounded and reported missing in July 1916 and latterly as commanding officer of the unit based in Cairo, Egypt. He was repatriated to Australia and discharged from the army having risen to the rank of major in April 1919. His wife had joined the Red Cross and worked in an ambulance unit near her husband.
Just as he returned to Australia, the third collection of his poetry, Saltbush Bill JP, was published and he continued to publish verse, short stories and essays while continuing to write for the weekly Truth. Paterson also wrote on rugby league football in the 1920s for the Sydney Sportsman.
Paterson died of a heart attack in Sydney on 5 February 1941 aged 76. Paterson’s grave, along with that of his wife, is in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Sydney.
1877 – Isabelle Eberhardt, Swiss explorer and author (d. 1904)
Isabelle Eberhardt (17 February 1877 – 21 October 1904) was a Swiss explorer and writer. She was educated in Switzerland by her father, who was a tutor, and published short stories under a male pseudonym as a teenager. She took an interest in North Africa and wrote about the area with “remarkable insight and knowledge” despite having only heard about it via correspondence. Upon invitation Eberhardt relocated to Algeria in May 1897, where she dressed as a man and converted to Islam, eventually adopting the name Si Mahmoud Saadi. Eberhardt’s unorthodox behaviour made her a social pariah from both the European settlers in Algeria and the French administration.
Eberhardt was accepted into the Qadiriyya, which convinced the French administration that she was either a spy or an agitator. She survived an assassination attempt shortly thereafter. In 1901 she was ordered to leave Algeria by the French administration though was allowed to return the following year after she married her long-time partner Slimane Ehnni, an Algerian soldier. After returning to Algeria she found employment at a newspaper and also worked for General Hubert Lyautey. In 1904 she was killed in a flash flood in Aïn Sefra at the age of 27. The majority of her writings, which found critical acclaim, were not published until after her death. Anti-colonialism was a regular theme of her writings.