This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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June 20 is the 171st day of the year (172nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 194 days remaining until the end of the year.
On leap years, this day usually marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.
On this day in 1789, Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath.
In Versailles, France, the deputies of the Third Estate, which represent commoners and the lower clergy, meet on the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court, in defiance of King Louis XVI’s order to disperse. In these modest surroundings, they took a historic oath not to disband until a new French constitution had been adopted.
Louis XVI, who ascended the French throne in 1774, proved unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems he had inherited from his grandfather, King Louis XV. In 1789, in a desperate attempt to address France’s economic crisis, Louis XVI assembled the Estates-General, a national assembly that represented the three “estates” of the French people–the nobles, the clergy, and the commons. The Estates-General had not been assembled since 1614, and its deputies drew up long lists of grievances and called for sweeping political and social reforms.
The Tennis Court Oath (French: serment du jeu de paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789 so they made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court.
In 17 June 1789 this group, led by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, began to call themselves the National Assembly. On the morning of 20 June, the deputies were shocked to discover that the chamber door was locked and guarded by soldiers. Immediately fearing the worst and anxious that a royal attack by King Louis XVI was imminent, the deputies congregated in a nearby indoor real tennis court where they took a solemn collective oath “not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established” It later transpired that the most probable reason why the hall was closed was that the royal household was still in mourning the death of the Dauphin (the king’s oldest son) two weeks earlier; ordinarily, political matters could not be conducted until the King had emerged from mourning. The oath is therefore a contentious point in French political history, since pro-monarchists then and now characterize it as a duplicitous and hysterical over-reaction which deliberately made capital out of a private tragedy in the royal family. Other historians have argued that given political tensions in France at that time, the deputies’ fears, even if wrong, were reasonable and that the importance of the oath goes above and beyond its context.
The deputies pledged to continue to meet until a constitution had been written, despite the royal prohibition. The oath was both a revolutionary act, and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarch himself. Their solidarity forced Louis XVI to order the clergy and the nobility to join with the Third Estate in the National Assembly.
The only deputy recorded as not taking the oath was Joseph Martin-Dauch from Castelnaudary. He can be seen on the right of David’s sketch, seated with his arms crossed and his head bowed.
451 – Battle of Chalons: Flavius Aetius’ battles Attila the Hun. After the battle, which was inconclusive, Attila retreats, causing the Romans to interpret it as a victory.
1214 – The University of Oxford receives its charter.
1631 – The sack of Baltimore: the Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.
1652 – Tarhoncu Ahmet Pasa appointed grand vezir of the Ottoman Empire, served until 21 March 1653.
1685 – Monmouth Rebellion: James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth declares himself King of England at Bridgwater.
1756 – A British garrison is imprisoned in the Black Hole of Calcutta.
1782 – The U.S. Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States.
1787 – Oliver Ellsworth moves at the Federal Convention to call the government the United States.
1789 – Deputies of the French Third Estate take the Tennis Court Oath.
1791 – King Louis XVI of France and his immediate family begin the Flight to Varennes during The French Revolution.
1819 – The U.S. vessel SS Savannah arrives at Liverpool, United Kingdom. She is the first steam-propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic, although most of the journey is made under sail.
1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.
1863 – American Civil War: West Virginia is admitted as the 35th U.S. state.
1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother.
1919 – 150 die at the Teatro Yaguez fire, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
1944 – World War II: The Battle of the Philippine Sea concludes with a decisive U.S. naval victory. The lopsided naval air battle is also known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”.
1948 – Toast of the Town, later The Ed Sullivan Show, makes its television debut.
1956 – A Venezuelan Super-Constellation crashes in the Atlantic Ocean off Asbury Park, New Jersey, killing 74 people.
1959 – A rare June hurricane struck Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence killing 35.
1960 – Independence of Mali and Senegal.
1963 – The so-called “red telephone” is established between the Soviet Union and the United States following the Cuban Missile Crisis.
1973 – Ezeiza massacre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Snipers fire upon left-wing Peronists. At least 13 are killed and more than 300 are injured.
1979 – ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart is shot dead by a Nicaraguan soldier under the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The murder is caught on tape and sparked international outcry of the regime.
1982 – The Argentine base (Corbeta Uruguay) on Southern Thule surrenders to Royal Marine commandos in the final action of the Falklands War.
1990 – Asteroid Eureka is discovered.
1991 – The German parliament decides to move the capital from Bonn back to Berlin.
2003 – The WikiMedia Foundation is founded in St. Petersburg, Florida.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Adalbert, Archbishop of Magdeburg
* Pope Silverius
* June 20 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Day of the National Flag (Argentina)
* Earliest date for the summer solstice, and its related observance:
* Earliest day on which Day of the Finnish Flag can fall, while June 26 is the latest; celebrated on Saturday of Midsummer’s Day (Finland)
* International Surfing Day (June 21 during leap years)
* Litha / Midsummer celebrations in the northern hemisphere, Yule in the southern hemisphere. (Neopagan Wheel of the Year)
* Martyrs’ Day (Eritrea)
* West Virginia Day (West Virginia)
* World Refugee Day (International)