FYI December 22, 2019

On This Day

1894 – The Dreyfus affair begins in France, when Alfred Dreyfus is wrongly convicted of treason.
The Dreyfus Affair (French: l’affaire Dreyfus, pronounced [lafɛːʁ dʁɛfys]) was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. “The Affair”, as it is known in French, has come to symbolise modern injustice in the Francophone world,[1] and it remains one of the most notable examples of a complex miscarriage of justice and antisemitism. The role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the conflict.

The scandal began in December 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason. Dreyfus was a 35-year-old Alsatian French artillery officer of Jewish descent. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, and was imprisoned on Devil’s Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years.

In 1896, evidence came to light—primarily through an investigation instigated by Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage—which identified the real culprit as a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. When high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army laid additional charges against Dreyfus, based on forged documents. Subsequently, Émile Zola’s open letter J’Accuse…!, stoked a growing movement of support for Dreyfus, putting pressure on the government to reopen the case.

In 1899, Dreyfus was returned to France for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between those who supported Dreyfus (now called “Dreyfusards”), such as Sarah Bernhardt, Anatole France, Henri Poincaré and Georges Clemenceau, and those who condemned him (the anti-Dreyfusards), such as Édouard Drumont, the director and publisher of the antisemitic newspaper La Libre Parole. The new trial resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence, but Dreyfus was pardoned and released. In 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1935.

The affair from 1894 to 1906 divided France into pro-republican, anticlerical, Dreyfusards and pro-Army, mostly Catholic “anti-Dreyfusards”. It embittered French politics and encouraged radicalisation.



Born On This Day

1884 – St. Elmo Brady, African American chemist and educator (d. 1966)
Saint Elmo Brady (December 22, 1884 – December 25, 1966) was the first African American to obtain a Ph.D. degree in chemistry in the United States. He received his doctorate at the University of Illinois in 1916.[1]

Saint Elmo Brady was born on December 22, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.[1] Greatly influenced by Thomas W. Talley, a pioneer in the teaching of science, Brady received his bachelor’s degree from Fisk University in 1908 at the age of 24, and immediately began teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Brady also had a close relationship with and was mentored by Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. In 1912, after his time at Tuskegee University, he was offered a scholarship to the University of Illinois to engage in graduate studies.

Brady published three scholarly abstracts in Science in 1914-15 on his work with Professor Clarence Derick. He also collaborated with Professor George Beal on a paper published in Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry titled, “The Hydrochloride Method for the Determination of Alkaloids.” Professor Brady also authored three monographs on Household Chemistry for Girls.

Brady completed a M.S. in Chemistry in 1914 and carried out his Ph.D. thesis work at Noyes Laboratory under the direction of Derick, writing a dissertation in 1916 titled “The Divalent Oxygen Atom.”[2]

Many years later, he told his students that when he went to graduate school, “they began with 20 whites and one other and ended, in 1916 with six whites and one other.”

Brady was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States, which he received from the University of Illinois in 1916.[2]

During his time at Illinois, Brady became the first African American admitted to the university’s chemical honor society, Phi Lambda Upsilon, (1914), and he was one of the first African Americans to be inducted into Sigma Xi, the science honorary society (1915).[3]

In November 1916, The Crisis—monthly magazine of the NAACP—selected Brady for its biographical sketch as “Man of the Month.”

After completing his graduate studies, Brady taught at Tuskegee University from 1916 to 1920. Brady accepted a teaching position at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1920 and eventually became the Chair of Howard University’s Chemistry Department.[2] In 1927 he moved to Fisk University to chair the school’s Chemistry department. He remained at Fisk for 25 years until his retirement in 1952. While serving as the chair for the Chemistry department at Fisk University, Brady founded the first ever graduate studies program at a Black College/University. After his retirement from Fisk, he taught at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi.[4]

Brady’s legacy was his establishment of strong undergraduate curricula, graduate programs, and fundraising development for four historically black colleges and universities. In conjunction with faculty from the University of Illinois, he established a summer program in infrared spectroscopy, which was open to faculty from all colleges and universities.

Talley-Brady Hall on the Fisk campus is named for Brady and another Fisk alumni, Thomas Talley.[5]

Personal Life and Death
Brady married Myrtle Travers and they had two sons, Robert and St. Elmo Brady, Jr. who worked as a physician.[6]

St. Elmo Brady died in 1966 on Christmas Day in Washington, D.C.



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