One of the most amazing things about researching our family is thinking about the life-changing historical events they witnessed firsthand.
As you progress through this mid-December week, think about these incredible events that happened and how your family reacted. Do you have any stories to share about the historical memories of your family?
December 16th, 1773: The Boston Tea Party
Depiction of the Boston Tea PartyNathaniel Currier "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", 1846
This famous act of rebellion by the Sons of Liberty happened 242 years ago. We all know the story of how the protesters, some dressed as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea in defiance of the Tea Act, passed in May of that year. This iconic event was one in a chain that directly led to the outbreak of the American War of Independence, but how did our ancestors react at the time?
In Britain, this event was viewed as an appalling act and even those who supported the Colonies were now convinced a punishing response was necessary.
In America, colonists were inspired to continue their rebellious behavior, as Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty worked a furious public relations campaign to defend the event and spin it in a positive light.
Not all Americans wanted conflict, however - Robert Murray, a New York Merchant, went to British Prime Minister Lord North and offered to pay for the tea, but North refused the offer.
December 17th, 1903: First human flight
First flight of the Wright Flyer I December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip.United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division
December 18th, 1865: 13th Amendment goes into effect
Although many think of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 as the law that ended slavery, that act was done under war powers and a lasting measure was needed. Many feared that after the war ended the Emancipation Proclamation would be repealed or found invalid, so a Constitutional amendment was pursued as a permanent solution.
When Georgia become the 27th state to ratify the Amendment on December 6th, it achieved the 3/4 "yes" vote needed to become law. Secretary of State William H. Seward made a formal proclamation on December 18th that the 13th Amendment was now, for all intents and purposes, part of U.S. law. After the December 18th declaration, the remaining nine states ratified the amendment.
The effect was immediate. It's amazing to think that on this single day in history, hundred of thousands of people finally became legally free - a right that millions had died fighting for.
December 18th, 1932: First NFL Playoff Game
Photo of the game, being played indoors at Chicago Stadium
Since the NFL began in 1920, the league champion was determined by whoever ended the season with the best record. But in 1932, both the Portsmouth Spartans (from Portsmouth Ohio, who later became the Detroit Lions) and the Chicago Bears both had 6 wins and only 1 loss.
So the NFL arranged for one final game to be played between the two teams, determining the 1932 champion. This made it the first NFL championship game, and it was also the first modern game to be played indoors. Due to freezing temperatures, it was played inside the Chicago Stadium, and the Bears won by a score of 9-0. Gridiron legends Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange connected on a forward pass for the game's only touchdown.
The popularity of the game led the NFL to continue the tradition of playoff and championship games, leading to the first Super Bowl in 1967.
More history revealed: When Boston Banned Christmas