Plus: Prohibition and First Ladies |

January 17, 2019

By Lily Rothman

As the partial government shutdown in the U.S. approaches the one-month mark, we took a look at a crucial question about the situation: do politicians who instigate government shutdowns tend to get what they want in the end?

Considering the damage a shutdown does, a President who presides over one must do so in the hopes of some benefit to outweigh the cost. But, looking at a few prominent examples from the past few decades, TIME’s Katie Reilly found mixed results. You can click here to read more about the factors that help determine whether a shutdown can end ever in a “win.”

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

What We Can Learn From America's First Special Prosecutor

Ulysses S. Grant appointed the first special prosecutor in U.S. history. 'Let no guilty man escape,' he directed

Pelosi's Suggestion for Trump Has 112 Years of Precedent

She suggested he deliver the State of the Union address as a letter rather than a speech

The Surprising Link Between Prohibition and Women’s Rights

Prohibition and women's suffrage went hand in hand

Why Wives of Officials Have Long Been Called 'First Ladies'

California's Jennifer Siebel Newsom has other plans

How the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 Made the World Safer

The tank released its contents in a spectacular wave some 25 feet in height and 165 feet wide, a tsunami of syrup that moved at 35 mph


 Jan. 17, 1944

75 Years Ago: Women in the American Military

“By last week 1,170 WACs, dubbed ‘G.I. Janes’ in the European Theater of Operations, were undergoing these rigors. Most of them were at General Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters and Eighth Air Force stations, where they plotted, teleprinted, operated switchboards, made maps, assessed combat films, ‘sweated out’ missions in flight control rooms. With dignity and firm morale, they had survived difficulties due to early mistakes in organization and many other unforeseen obstacles. They had caught on with a speed which amazed U.S. and British officers. They had distinguished themselves as nice-looking, hardworking, cheerful girls. Commanding officers recognized their work by pleading for more of them.” (Jan. 17, 1944)

Read the full story

Jan. 17, 1964

Today in 1964: The Myth and Reality of Texas

“Even the trees—mesquite, cedar and scrub oak—shun the sky and hug the land. Except for a handful of city skyscrapers, most buildings, including acres of suburban-tract homes, sprawl rather than climb. But that sense of closeness to the earth is about all that Texans have in common. The state is so diverse that not even many Texans understand it as a whole. Outsiders think they do, but their notions are nurtured by pulp fiction, Hollywood shoot-'em-ups, and the rapacious oil and cattle barons of Edna Ferber's Giant.” (Jan. 17, 1964)

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Jan. 17, 2005

Today in 2005: The Science of Happiness

“For most of its history, psychology had concerned itself with all that ails the human mind: anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessions, paranoia, delusions. The goal of practitioners was to bring patients from a negative, ailing state to a neutral normal, or, as University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman puts it, ‘from a minus five to a zero.’ It was Seligman who had summoned the others to Akumal that New Year's Day in 1998—his first day as president of the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.)—to share a vision of a new goal for psychology.” (Jan. 17, 2005)

Read the full story


From “Trolley” to “Google” Ilia Blinderman and Jan Diehm at The Pudding have put together a really fascinating way to look at the last century of history: by combing the New York Times headlines and analyzing which words show up when.

“Enemy Aliens” At, Erin Blakemore looks at how the U.S. treated Italian-Americans during World War II—and why the persecution and indignities they suffered isn’t better known today.

Blue Period A bit of blue pigment stuck in some teeth from 1,000 years ago may not sound all that important, but Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic has the story on why the research that found that bit of ultramarine is “genuinely a big deal.”

The Next Shirley Chisholm? As Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to establish herself as a political influencer, New York’s Benjamin Hart talked to historians about whether she has any analogs in the country’s past.

Charting History The late 19th century is not particularly old for the actual elements on the periodic table, but it’s old enough that this periodic table chart found at St. Andrew’s University may be the world’s oldest, the BBC reports.

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