March 23, 2023

#ThrowbackThursday – 23 March

Freedom, elevators and divorces, oh my (oh dear, for most folks). What do these have in common? 23 March, of course!

Take a look at these three events that went down in history on 23 March:

1775 – “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

These are the famous words of Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and revolutionary.

A self-taught attorney-turned-politician hailing from the Virginia colony, Henry had the gift of gab. An orator of note, he was known for giving rousing speeches that appealed to one’s humanity rather than cold reasoning. He was also vocal about his disdain about Britain’s increasingly oppressive rule over the American colonies, particularly their exorbitant taxation laws.

On 23 March 1775, Henry partook in a meeting held at St John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, whereby he and others were set to discuss the state’s strategy against the British.

When he took the floor, he gave his most famous speech, which included his iconic words:

“Gentlemen may cry, ‘Peace, Peace’, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? … Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Per historians’ accounts, his speech inspired those in attendance – including George Washington, the first president of the USA – to begin mobilising against the British. A mere month later, the American Revolutionary War began, lasting for seven years until the British surrendered.

1857 – Going Up

Up until 22 March 1857, the average New Yorker – and indeed, average people around the world – made do without an elevator.

On 23 March, though? Elevators have become a permanent fixture in our lives.

Today marks the day on which American inventor Elisha Otis installed the first safety elevator at the E.V. Haughwout & Co. department store at 488 Broadway in New York City, New York. The cast-iron building stood at five-storeys, which meant that rather than traversing staircases, customers could now make use of Otis’ invention to travel between each floor.

Otis had been tweaking his elevator design since the 1850s, whereby his initial design (which utilised a rope-and-cable system, complete with an automatic safety brake) was used to carry and support freight. Following his successful installation at 488 Broadway, Otis improved his design by incorporating a three-way steam valve engine, which allowed the elevator to move up and down, as well as be stopped.

Over the next few decades, the elevator industry boomed. The design of the contraption has seen various changes (elevator operators came and went, space widened to accommodate more than two or three people, steel ropes in place of actual ropes, etc).

Elevators also proved a boon for New Yorkers: rather than struggling to create buildings on smaller pieces of real estate, they could now take the buildings to the skies. Buildings became taller and taller, with elevators making for effective transportation for residents and renters alike.

2015 – It’s Over, Officially

When it comes to the Kardashian clan, they’re not exactly synonymous with long-lasting marriages (when there actually are any marriages, that is). Matriarch Kris Jenner seemed to defy this, thanks to her 22-year marriage with Olympic gold medallist Bruce Jenner.

Come 23 March 2015, however, their marriage was officially over.

After getting married in 1991, the Jenners seemed to have a perfect married life until they suddenly separated in June 2013; they would file divorce petitions a year later.

Per a report from the Los Angeles Times, each Jenner got “to keep all the money from financial accounts, business partnerships and all the property they owned or received prior to their marriage that were made solely in their respective names as well as intellectual property, trust interests and several life insurance and long-term disability policies, credit-card points, airline rewards, furniture and other personal items, clothing and jewellery.”

A sad caveat on what appeared to be a perfect marriage, but then again, Kardashians and divorce are in the same WhatsApp group: Kris Jenner was previously married to Robert Kardashian for 13 years, while Bruce Jenner (who is now known as Caitlyn Jenner after coming out as transgender) was married twice before to Chrystie Scott and Linda Thompson.