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H.L. Mencken Arrested in Boston

April 5, 1926
April 5, 1926

H.L. Mencken Arrested in Boston

On this day in 1926, reporter and literary critic H.L. Mencken was arrested on Boston Common for selling a magazine that had been banned by the New England Watch and Ward Society, the city's self-appointed...

Harvard Students Occupy University Hall

April 9, 1969
April 9, 1969

Harvard Students Occupy University Hall

On this day in 1969, Harvard students took over University Hall, one of the college's oldest buildings. Opposed to the escalating war in Vietnam, the protesters demanded Harvard end its Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or...

Massachusetts Passes First Education Law

April 14, 1642
April 14, 1642

Massachusetts Passes First Education Law

On this day in 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being...

The Birth of a Nation Sparks Protest

April 26, 1915
April 26, 1915

The Birth of a Nation Sparks Protest

On this day in 1915 Boston's African American community protested the showing of the racist film The Birth of a Nation. When 800 black women gathered at a Baptist church, one speaker suggested that "if...

Jury Finds Mary Parsons Not Guilty of Witchcraft

May 13, 1675
May 13, 1675

Jury Finds Mary Parsons Not Guilty of Witchcraft

On this day in 1675, a Boston jury reached a verdict in the case of Mary Bliss Parsons of Northampton: they found her not guilty of witchcraft. In seventeenth-century New England, virtually everyone believed in...

Complaint Filed on Toxic Pollution in Woburn

May 14, 1984
May 14, 1984

Complaint Filed on Toxic Pollution in Woburn

On this day in 1984, lawyer Jan Schlichtmann filed the first motion in the case made famous by the book and film "A Civil Action." For over a decade, children in Woburn had been falling...

Supreme Court Strikes Down "Separate but Equal"

May 17, 1954
May 17, 1954

Supreme Court Strikes Down "Separate but Equal"

On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the doctrine of separate but equal. "Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race . . . deprives the children of...

Newburyport Fire Leads to Execution for Arson

May 18, 1820
May 18, 1820

Newburyport Fire Leads to Execution for Arson

On this day in 1820, a barn filled with hay burned to the ground in Newburyport. Just three days later, cries of "fire" alarmed the town again. Terrified residents were convinced they had an arsonist...

Indians in Mashpee Demand Self-Government

May 21, 1833
May 21, 1833

Indians in Mashpee Demand Self-Government

On this day in 1833, the Mashpee of Cape Cod signed what amounted to an Indian Declaration of Independence. They reminded officials in Boston that "all men are born free and Equal, as says the...

Sumner Attacked in U.S. Senate

May 22, 1856
May 22, 1856

Sumner Attacked in U.S. Senate

On this day in 1856, Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina, viciously attacked Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the United States Senate. Three days earlier, in a passionate anti-slavery speech, Sumner...

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