Tuesday, February 12, 2008


1891. Hawaii's king, David Kalakahua dies at age 54 and is succeeded by his sister who will reign until 1893 as Queen Lydia Liliuokalani.

1891. The papal encyclical Rerum novarum by Leo XIII points out that employers have important moral duties as members of the possessing class and that one of society's first duties is to improve the position of the workers.

1891. The world's first old age pension plan goes into effect in Germany.

1891. U.S. workers strike throughout the year for higher wages and shorter hours.

1891. A New Orleans lynch mob breaks into a city jail and kills 11 Italian immigrants who have been acquitted for murder--the worst lynching in U.S. history.

1891. Oklahoma Territory lands ceded to the U.S. by the Sauk, Fox, and Potawatomie are opened to white settlement by a presidential proclamation, covering 900,000 acres.

1891. Construction begins at Vladivostok on a Trans-Siberian Railway.

1891. The University of Chicago is founded with help from merchant Marshall Field, but most of the funding comes from oilman John D. Rockefeller.

1891. Carnegie Hall opens May 5 in New York with a concert conducted in part by Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky.

1891. John Joseph McGraw, 18, joins the Baltimore Orioles to begin a 41-year career in major league baseball.

1891. Basketball is invented at Springfield, Mass. by Canadian-American physical education director James Naismith who is taking a course at the YMCA Training School in Springfield and who has been assigned with his classmates the project of inventing a game that will occupy students between the football and baseball seasons. Naismith sets up fruit baskets atop ladders and establishes rules that will be used in the first publicly held game in March of next year and will never be substantially changed.

1891. Tight money conditions bankrupt Kansas farmers. Some 18,000 prairie schooners (covered wagons) cross the Mississippi headed back east.

1891. Russian crops fail, reducing millions to starvation.

1891. President Harrison responds to an appeal by Cassius Marcellus Clay, who was Abraham Lincoln's minister to Russia. Harrison orders U.S. flour to be shipped to the Russians.

Main-Traveled Roads. Hamlin Garland. American. 1891. Stories. Set in Dakotas, Iowa; local color, realistic. Grim lives of farmers at the mercy of the elements and rapacious landlords. "Under the Lion's Paw."

Tess of the D'urbervilles; a Pure Woman. Thomas Hardy. British. 1891. Novel. Working for wealthy woman, Tess is forced into sexual relations and becomes pregnant. She falls in love with the rector's son. On the eve of their wedding, they make utual confessions. He expects to be forgiven, but he cannot forgive her past. She returns to her wealthy seducer and kills him. Flees with her true love. She is caught and executed.

New Grub Street. George Gissing. British. 1891. Novel. Grim, realistic treatment of the struggles and compromises of the modern literary world. Success goes to the critic with no moral or artistic integrity.

The Countess Cathleen. William Butler Yeats. Irish. 1891. Verse Drama. Countess sells her soul to the devil for the souls of the starving Irish peasants. God saves her soul in the end.

Gosta Berlings Saga. Selma Lagerlof. Swedish. 1891 Novel. Magnetic, impulsive, temperamental hero involves himself and those attracted to him in misfortune.

The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde. British. 1891. Novel. Painting mirrors a man's moral degeneration.

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