On This Day
1782 – Gnadenhutten massacre: Ninety-six Native Americans in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, who had converted to Christianity, are killed by Pennsylvania militiamen in retaliation for raids carried out by other Indian tribes.
The Gnadenhutten massacre, also known as the Moravian massacre, was the killing of 96 Christian Delaware by colonial White American militia from Pennsylvania on March 8, 1782 at the Moravian missionary village of Gnadenhutten, Ohio during the American Revolutionary War. More than a century later, President Theodore Roosevelt would call the massacre “a stain on the frontier character that time cannot wash away”.
The site of the village has been preserved. A reconstructed mission house and cooper’s house were built there, and a monument to the dead was erected and dedicated a century later. The burial mound is marked and has been maintained on the site. The village site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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1910 – French aviator Raymonde de Laroche becomes the first woman to receive a pilot’s license.
Raymonde de Laroche (22 August 1882 – 18 July 1919), born Elise Raymonde Deroche, was a French pilot and the first woman in the world to receive an aeroplane pilot’s licence.
Born on 22 August 1882 in Paris, Raymonde Deroche was the daughter of a plumber. She had a fondness for sports as a child, as well as for motorcycles and automobiles when she was older. As a young woman she became an actress and used the stage name “Raymonde de Laroche”. Inspired by Wilbur Wright’s 1908 demonstrations of powered flight in Paris and being personally acquainted with several aviators, including artist-turned-aviator Léon Delagrange, who was reputed to be the father of her son André, de Laroche determined to take up flying for herself.:9–10
After the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909, in New York, the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.
Today, International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries and largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood.
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1776 – The Wealth of Nations by Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith is published.
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.
Born On This Day
1900 – Howard H. Aiken, American physicist and computer scientist, created the Harvard Mark I (d. 1973)
Howard Hathaway Aiken (March 8, 1900 – March 14, 1973) was an American physicist and a pioneer in computing, being the original conceptual designer behind IBM’s Harvard Mark I computer.
Aiken studied at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and later obtained his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University in 1939. During this time, he encountered differential equations that he could only solve numerically. Inspired by Charles Babbage’s difference engine, he envisioned an electro-mechanical computing device that could do much of the tedious work for him. This computer was originally called the ASCC (Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator) and later renamed Harvard Mark I. With engineering, construction, and funding from IBM, the machine was completed and installed at Harvard in February, 1944. Richard Milton Bloch, Robert Campbell and Grace Hopper joined the project later as programmers. In 1947, Aiken completed his work on the Harvard Mark II computer. He continued his work on the Mark III and the Harvard Mark IV. The Mark III used some electronic components and the Mark IV was all-electronic. The Mark III and Mark IV used magnetic drum memory and the Mark IV also had magnetic core memory.
Aiken accumulated honorary degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Wayne State[which?] and Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1947. He received the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering Engineers Day Award in 1958, the Harry H. Goode Memorial Award in 1964, the John Price Wetherill Medal in 1964, and the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Edison Medal in 1970 “For a meritorious career of pioneering contributions to the development and application of large-scale digital computers and important contributions to education in the digital computer field.”
In addition to his work on the Mark series, another important contribution of Aiken’s was the introduction of a master’s program for computer science at Harvard in 1947, nearly a decade before the programs began to appear in other universities. This became a starting ground to future computer scientists, many of whom did doctoral dissertations under Aiken.
Howard Aiken was married three times: to Louise Mancill, later to Agnes Montgomery, and lastly to Mary McFarland. He had two children; Rachel Ann by his first wife, Elizabeth (Betsy) by his second.
Howard Aiken was also a Commander in the United States Navy Reserve.
After he retired at age 60 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Aiken continued his contributions to technology. He founded Howard Aiken Industries Incorporated, which was a consulting firm that helped failing businesses recover. During his years in Florida, he joined the University of Miami as a Distinguished Professor of Information. In addition, Aiken became a consultant for companies such as Lockheed Martin and Monsanto. On March 14, 1973, Aiken died during a consulting trip to St. Louis, Missouri . His widow, Mary, died in 2013.
Harvard Mark I
The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), called Mark I by Harvard University’s staff, was a general purpose electromechanical computer that was used in the war effort during the last part of World War II.
One of the first programs to run on the Mark I was initiated on 29 March 1944 by John von Neumann. At that time, von Neumann was working on the Manhattan project, and needed to determine whether implosion was a viable choice to detonate the atomic bomb that would be used a year later. The Mark I also computed and printed mathematical tables, which had been the initial goal of British inventor Charles Babbage for his “analytical engine”.
The Mark I was disassembled in 1959, but portions of it are displayed in the Science Center as part of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. Other sections of the original machine were transferred to IBM and the Smithsonian Institution.
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1892 – Vita Sackville-West, English author, poet, and gardener (d. 1962)
Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson, CH (9 March 1892 – 2 June 1962), usually known as Vita Sackville-West, was an English poet, novelist, and garden designer.
She was a successful novelist, poet, and journalist, as well as a prolific letter writer and diarist. She published more than a dozen collections of poetry during her lifetime and 13 novels. She was twice awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature: in 1927 for her pastoral epic, The Land, and in 1933 for her Collected Poems. She was the inspiration for the androgynous protagonist of Orlando: A Biography, by her famous friend and lover, Virginia Woolf.
She had a longstanding column in The Observer (1946-1961) and is remembered for the celebrated garden at Sissinghurst created with her husband, Sir Harold Nicolson.
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