October 20th 1632: Christopher Wren born
On this day in 1632, famous British architect Christopher Wren was born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire. The son of a rector, Wren received a top education at Westminster School and then the prestigious Oxford University. Wren’s initial intellectual interest was in astronomy and physics but this eventually developed into architecture during the 1660s. When the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed a large portion of the city, Wren seized the opportunity and became a chief architect of the rebuilt capital. He designed fifty-two new churches for London, most famously St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s was London’s tallest building until 1962, having survived the Blitz during World War Two. The cathedral remains a major British landmark and is used for state services including the funeral of Winston Churchill (and more recently Margaret Thatcher), monarch’s jubilee celebrations, and the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. Wren’s work in London caught the attention of the crown and he received multiple royal commissions including designing the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, the front facade of Hampton Court Palace and several hospitals. Christopher Wren died on February 25th 1723 aged 91 after having caught a bad chill. His gravestone in St Paul’s Cathedral features the Latin inscription "Reader, if you seek his memorial - look around you."
October 15th 1860: Bedell’s letter to Lincoln
On this day in 1860 an eleven year old girl from Westfield, New York, wrote a famous letter to Republican candidate for President, Abraham Lincoln. In the letter the young girl suggested the candidate grow a beard as "all the ladies like whiskers" and it would improve the appearance of his thin face. She also tells Lincoln that she hopes he wins the election and "if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can". Lincoln, then an Illinois Senator, replied to Bedell on the 19th, expressing his concern that people will consider it a "piece of silly affection" if he grows a beard now. However he took Bedell’s advice to heart and in the last weeks of the campaign Lincoln grew his now iconic beard. On February 16th, when Lincoln was on his way to the White House for his inauguration after having won the election, the train stopped in Westfield. While there, Lincoln called out for Grace and he greeted her as she came forward, showing her that he had taken her advice. Lincoln’s story from that moment on is well known - he led the Union to victory over the seceded Southern states during the Civil War and pushed for the emancipation of America’s slaves, before being assassinated in 1865. Bedell wrote another letter to Lincoln when she was fifteen, after her family had fallen on hard times, asking for help in getting a job with the Treasury, but this time the President did not reply. She later married a veteran Civil War sergeant and moved to Kansas where she raised a family. Grace Bedell died in 1936 just before her 88th birthday.
“‘He climbed down and sat down with me on the edge of the station platform,’” she recalled. ‘Gracie,’ he said, ‘look at my whiskers. I have been growing them for you.’ Then he kissed me. I never saw him again.”
- Grace’s account of when she met Lincoln in 1861
This is a photo of the pyramids at Giza in the 1890’s during the flood season. Floods like this would typically occur annually before the Aswan High Dam was completed in 1970. I colorized it using the tinting tool on ribbet.com and did some additional coloring and editing with Photoshop Touch.
Original photo from the Library of Congress.
History. Vintage Photographs. Classic Art.
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