Today is April 11, 2010 and the 101st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 264 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 985 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date, in 1905, Albert Einstein reveals his Theory of Relativity. Here are five people born on this day.
James Parkinson (1755-1824)
If you’ve ever heard of Parkinson’s Disease, you now know where the name came from. Dr. James Parkinson was an English apothecary surgeon, geologist, paleontologist, and political activist born in London. His fame came from his book, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy (1817), in which he described the disease which is now named after him. He never was a physician, even though he is often confused as one. He was also a strong proponent for the French Revolution, which caused quite an uproar in British politics. He published over 20 pamphlets on reform for the underprivileged and political reform under the pseudonym “Old Hubert”, which may have hurt his early career in medicine. He was even brought in for questioning on a plot to poison King George III, although he refused to testify and was never put in jail for this. By the time he was in his 40s, Parkinson moved away from politics and worked, in earnest, in medicine. He published a series of medical works on the gout (1805) and one of the earliest writings on peritonitis (1806). He was also one of the first people to describe appendicitis, in which the perforation was shown to be the cause of death (1812). Other works by Parkinson were reminiscent of his political activism and dealt with helping the commoner in medical matters. He would go on to move away from medicine, in later life, to have an interest in paleontology. He wrote many volumes on geology, fossils, and creation theories and was a founding member of the Geographical Society of London, which included such members as: Sir Humphrey Davy, George Greenough, and Arthur Aiken. He died at the age of 69, in London.
Cap Anson (1852-1922)
This American was a National League Baseball player, born Adrian Constantine Anson, but nicknamed “Cap” by his team mates in the Chicago White Stockings (which later became the Chicago Colts and is now the Chicago Cubs), for which he played the majority of his career. He played for a record 27 consecutive seasons and was one of the first superstars of baseball. He played first base and also served as a manager and as a minority owner. He helped to lead the team to five National League pennants in the 1880s. He is the first baseball player to tally over 3000 career hits. Anson had a dark side – so to speak – as well. Most baseball historians agree that he is one of the major influences that baseball was segregated until the late 1940s. A known bigot, Anson refused to take the field if the opposing team had any black players. After his baseball career ended, Anson went on to have several businesses, a stint in vaudeville, and managing the New York Giants. He failed miserably as a businessman and ended up in bankruptcy. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, after his death, in 1939.
Jane Bolin (1908-2007)
Jane Bolin had a real thing for being number one. In this case, her life was spent breaking down sexual and racial barriers. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School and she was the first African-American woman to join the New York City Bar Association, and the first African-American woman to become a judge in the United States. She was bi-racial and was one of only two black students at her class at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Unable to live in campus housing, she lived off-campus in an apartment with the other black student. She graduated in the Top 20 of her class and – even though she was discouraged from applying – made it into Yale Law School, where she found herself the only African-American and only one out of three women in the entire school. She graduated in 1931 and passed the New York Bar exam in 1932. She ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the New York State Assembly in 1936, but was appointed as judge of the New York Domestic Relations Court in 1939 by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. She held that position for 40 years, until she was required to retire at the age of 70. She was an activist of children’s rights and education, served on the boards of the NAACP, the Child Welfare League and the National Urban League. She died in Queens at the age of 98, having lived a long and prosperous life.
Anton LaVey (1930-1997)
This guy is the sort of guy that can just give you the creeps. He was the American founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan, a writer, occultist, and musician (of course he was…). He is responsible for writing The Satanic Bible (1969) and developing LaVeyian Satanism, which was a way of understanding human behavior by advocating materialism and individuality. So what’s the story behind this guy? He was born Howard Levey, a Jewish kid from Chicago. His family moved to California and he dropped out of high school and went to join the circus (I am not making this up). In the circus, he played the calliope and did stage acts with big cats. He would later leave to play piano or organ in burlesque houses. It was about this time that he became interested in the occult and started becoming a minor celebrity at Los Angeles parties where he would read palms and talk about paranormal activities. This led to further lectures where he formed “The Magic Circle” of occult fans. One of these enthusiasts suggested that he form his own religion, which he formed as the Satanic Church in 1966, for which he declared, The Year One, Annos Satanis. Media coverage of the new “church” gave him some national awareness and soon he was performing Satanic weddings, baptisms, and funerals. He went on to write down some of the rituals and ceremonies and even produced a record album called “The Satanic Mass” (1968). Most of his writings were influenced by Ayn Rand, Aleister Crowley, H.L. Mencken, and Jack London. The media really turned this guy into a “celebrity” and teenage boys, spurned on by heavy metal music, turned his works mainstream. He died of pulmonary edema – ironically at St. Mary’s Hospital (a Catholic hospital) – at the age of 67. His daughter claimed responsibility for his death by placing a curse upon him.
Dean Acheson (1893-1971)
This American statesman, lawyer, and Secretary of State under Harry S. Truman played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War. He also helped create some important foreign institutions such as: The Marshall Plan (in which we helped rebuild Germany and Japan after WW2) , the Truman Doctrine (the containment of Communism, which eventually led us into Korea and Vietnam), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Historians claim that Acheson wasn’t just present at the creation of the Cold War, he was the primary architect of it. However, he did defend government employees that came under fire at the McCartney Hearings on weeding out Communism in the United States. During Vietnam, Acheson persuaded the United States to help the French in the area, then known as Indochina. He would later offer advice to escalate our involvement there and consult President Kennedy on the Cuban Missile Crisis. He attended Yale, where he was a member of the secret society known as the Scroll and Key. While there, he was well-liked and known as a prankster. He would go onto Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1918, fifth in his class. During World War One, he served in the National Guard. His political career started as a clerk for the Supreme Court, which he did until 1921. He would be promoted to Undersecretary of the US Treasury by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and later as Assistant Secretary of State during World War 2. This put him into position to be Truman’s Secretary of State when he took over after FDR’s death. After retiring from government work, Acheson went quietly back to his private law practice and died of a stroke at the age of 78.