Plus: The Green New Deal and Princess Margaret |

February 14, 2019

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By Lily Rothman

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love may be timeless, but this holiday — like all the rest of them — has a past firmly grounded in specific history.

From debunking its supposed Roman origins to investigating the real life of Saint Valentine, we’ve dug deep into how Feb. 14 came to be a day of romance. Now, you can celebrate like a 17th-century European by choosing a sweetheart at random, and send that lucky someone a card explaining why roses are associated with love and why Cupid, that embodiment of desire, is a baby. What better way to a history buff’s heart?

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

How FDR’s New Deal Laid Groundwork for the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal, championed by politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is in some ways a product of the programs that inspired its name

How Princess Margaret Revealed Her Secret Romance

It all came down to a subtle gesture

The Forgotten Civil Rights History of Military Executions

All eight white soldiers who were condemned to death during that period saw their sentences commuted. Not so for the black soldiers

Mark Kelly Isn't the First Astronaut to Turn to Politics

But most didn't have the right stuff

The Forgotten Northern Origins of Jim Crow

"Too often when Americans confront the nation’s history of racial injustice, we set aside or leave out the North’s role"


Feb. 14, 1964

55 Years Ago: The JFK Assassination Probe

“The burial symbolically sealed off for all time the best witness in the extraordinary case. The President has instructed the Warren Commission to ‘satisfy itself that the truth is known as far as it can be discovered, and to report its findings and conclusions to him, to the American people and to the world.’ The commission has managed to avoid the natural impulse to weave a webwork of sinister motivations and complex conspiracies to satisfy a puzzled nation. Instead, it has found so far that the act was committed by a rootless, aimless, driven young man.” (Feb. 14, 1964)

Read the full story

Feb. 14, 1955

Today in 1955: Carl Jung

“Freud, Adler and Jung—these names personify, above all others, modern man's restless exploration of his own mind, his struggles for self-knowledge and for control of his darkest drives. In the 20th century, impelled by the detailed theory and dogma of the Big Three, psychology has burst out of consulting room and clinic, spreading all through life and leaving nothing untouched—neither love nor the machine, war nor politics, neither art nor morals nor God. Of the three pioneers who built this Age of Psychology, Freud and Adler are dead. The third, Carl Gustav Jung, is still at 79 tirelessly adventuring through the vast reaches of the psyche.” (Feb. 14, 1955)

Read the full story

Feb. 13, 1939

80 Years Ago This Week: Picasso

“So, for 30 years, have the works of Pablo Picasso continued to delight the knowledgeable and confound the common man. Flying like a shuttlecock between the esthetic debaters of two continents, the very name of Picasso has been a symbol of irresponsibility to the old, of audacity to the young. To millions of solid citizens it has been one of the two things they know about modern art— the other being that they don't like it.” (Feb. 13, 1939)

Read the full story


Sealed With a Kiss Here’s some History Valentine’s Day content from Becky Little: the “bawdy acronyms” used by WWII troops in their letters to sweethearts back home.

Dividing Line With the Irish border making news as Brexit negotiations continue, Conor Mulvagh’s piece for the Irish Times is your primer on what to know about that boundary’s past.

Homework Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has said that, in the aftermath of the blackface scandal that has rocked his term, he plans to make a concerted effort to better understand African-American history. At the Washington Post, James Hohmann takes the lead in rounding up some expert reading-list suggestions for him.

Votes That Rocked For the Library of Congress Kluge Center blog, L. Marvin Overby provides a look into his research, with an overview of Congressional history’s most significant elections ever.

“It Is a Painful Sight” At Slate, Matthew Dessem’s work in the archives continues with a primary-source look at the Trail of Tears, courtesy of an account written by a Baptist missionary who was present at the time.

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