This Day in History: George Washington Signs the Postal Service Act

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On February 20, 1792, President Washington formally created the U.S. Postal Service with the signing of the Postal Service Act, which outlined in detail Congressional power to establish official mail routes. The act allowed for newspapers to be included in mail deliveries and made it illegal for postal officials to open anyone's mail.

This Day in History: Sir William Herschel Discovers Uranus

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On March 13, 1781, the German-born English astronomer William Hershel discovers Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun. Herschel's discovery of a new planet was the first to be made in modern times, and also the first to be made by use of a telescope, which allowed Herschel to distinguish Uranus as a planet, not a star, as previous astronomers believed.

Oh Nothing, Just Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller Hanging Out. No Big Deal...

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Charlie Chaplin historian JeTamme Derouet provides some interesting background info for this photo and describes the pair meeting in Hollywood during one of Miss Keller's speaking tours:

"They spent most of the day off alone together and they smiled and laughed a lot like they had their own private world, just walking the studio lot and talking privately together. (The picture seen here) is of her holding her hand to his mouth to feel what he is saying as he speaks to her."

To paraphrase Derouet on Chaplin's interest in sign language:

"Chaplin had worked with several deaf people throughout his career in an effort to improve his own pantomime communication skills and traveled with deaf artist Granville Redmond, who taught Charlie sign language and fingerspelling. He was also a great supporter of the deaf during a time when most people in America were trying to abolish sign language all together."

Ridiculously good guy Chaplin was a ridiculously good guy.

This Day in History: "The Scarlet Letter" is Published

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On March 16, 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne's story of adultery and betrayal in colonial America, The Scarlet Letter, is published.

Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804. Although the infamous Salem witch trials had taken place more than 100 years earlier, the events still hung over the town and made a lasting impression on the young Hawthorne. Witchcraft figured in several of his works, including "Young Goodman Brown" (1835) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851), in which a house is cursed by a wizard condemned by the witch trials.

Hawthorne worked at Salem's custom house following a period of poor literary sales and financial hardships in order to provide for his growing family. After leaving the job, he spent several months writing The Scarlet Letter, which made him famous.

This Day in History: Napoleonic Code Approved in France

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On March 21, 1804, After four years of debate and planning, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte enacts a new legal framework for France, known as the "Napoleonic Code." The civil code gave post-revolutionary France its first coherent set of laws concerning property, colonial affairs, the family, and individual rights.

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